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The Miracles of Ho'oponopono

Dear Friends, I have a warning to give here, not about Ho'oponopono itself, but about the seminars that have come out of it under Joe Vitale and the trained seminar leaders. I loved Joe's book (with a few harrumphs!), and I do believe that Dr. Hew Len developed a wondrous clarity in one area of his life; however that other areas of his life have not been cleared in his consciousness. I saw Dr. Hew Len in person for an evening, and I felt all was not as it best could be. A very dear and trusted friend of many years, who observes very carefully and accurately, took the seminar and shared her experiences with me. I was pretty horrified. There is even an appearance of possible industrial marketing there. The seminars themselves I STRONGLY URGE AGAINST TAKING.

That said, I continue to feel that there are great benefits to this work. The seminars need not invalidate all that is good. If you still wish to, read on!

Many of us have now heard of the amazing work of Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len in the Hawaii State Hospital ward for the criminally insane: murderers, rapists etc. who were deemed unfit to stand trial. He went to work there, part time, as one psychologist among the many who came and went.

The ward was violent. Attacks occurred daily between inmates, and often by an inmate upon a worker. Staff members slid down the halls with their backs to the wall. The ward was always understaffed because so many took sick leave. Inmates were often shackled. There was little recreation and no outside work. The ward was in woeful physical condition.

Dr. Hew Len did not see patients one to one. Using an ancient Hawaiian Kahuna method expanded for our times, he would study the file of a particular inmate, and then begin to ask forgiveness of the divine that he saw violence in the world through this inmate. He took responsibility for creating this violence. He used the phrases “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” He would feel love for the inmate, sometimes voiced inwardly as “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Dr. Hew Len became a member of the ward family, as he tells it. Others of the staff noted that he always seemed to have fun. And to the amazement of every person there, violence gradually began to subside. Inmates started enjoying outside recreation and doing some work, like washing cars. Shackling stopped altogether, even with those who had been the most violent. Some of them healed and went home. The ward slowly morphed into a happy, safe, loving place (which became overstaffed!). Eventually all but two of the original inmates became whole again. Dr. Hew Len stayed for about three years.

Joe Vitale, an inspirational author and Internet marketer extraordinaire, discovered Dr. Hew Len’s work and sent out an email in 2006, telling about it—an email read by millions. Joe became so intrigued by this story that he contacted the doctor and began to correspond with him. He took Dr. Hew Len’s classes and the two became friends. The result is an awesome book they co-authored, Zero Limits. I recommend it beyond any work I’ve read in a very long time. I would like to tell little enough so you are encouraged to buy the book, which is so much more complete than anything I can write here; and enough so you can do the bare practice without it. (Also, forgive me if any of my facts are incorrect; the book is here on my desk, but I don’t always find something I want to verify.)

A basic understanding of Ho’oponopono is that what has held each of us back, from loving as we long to, from creating as we wish, are the things that are not us: memories from our past, including programs and beliefs of present and past lives. New life experiences come either from memory or from inspiration.

When we get to “zero”, then we are simply ourselves, our divine selves, able to love wholly, be wholly loved, and create what springs up from the divine within us. We come from inspiration. The idea is that “cleaning”, or what we usually call “clearing”, to get to zero, is all we need to do. A quote from Joe in the book: “Zero Limits is about returning to the zero state, where nothing exists but anything is possible.”

When Joe attends one of Dr. Hew Len’s workshops, a fellow attendee is a salesman of luxury cars who makes a stunning amount of money. Joe asks him his secret. He tells Joe that he has no goal to sell cars; when people come to the showroom, he just cleans. He loves. Joe is flabbergasted because he has worked so hard (and written so many books!) on how to create through intention. This is an example of the teaching that all we need to do is clean.

One understanding in Ho’oponopono is that we do not know everything and cannot control the flow of life. Obvious, yes? Yet how many of us have deeply accepted this truth? Another understanding is that it is not the conscious mind that creates. That’s why, as Joe says somewhere, we can say prosperity affirmations until we’re blue in the face “and still be broke.” The conscious mind often initiates an intention, but the subconscious is the creator. Cleaning clears the subconscious.

A central facet of the teaching is that we take responsibility for everything we notice in our lives, both pleasant and not. This is a hard one for most of us. Our outward sense impressions are carried to our brain and interpreted there; everything is inside us. We’re the creator at the center of our own universe. We’ve heard these things, and if you’re anything like me, the mind goes bonkers trying to wrap around it. I attended a talk by Dr. Hew Len, and he joked that “If there’s a problem, you notice you’re always there!” This means (if we know about it) that we are responsible for the war in Iraq; for George getting into office; for Barack Obama being elected (there’s one most of us can live with—hallelujah!).

I think the idea is that if we are totally harmonious inside, totally loving, we simply do not label anything a problem. We love; we allow. We can still act to change something.

When I was recently on a radio program, talking about Ho’oponopono, a woman named Julie called in to share her experience. She has a sister-in-law who seemed to hate all of her new family. Everyone was upset by this new person. Julie learned about the process, and began to say silently to her new relative, over and over, “I love you.” Within a very short time, family dynamics changed dramatically for the better. Now, if there seems to be some difficulty at a family get-together, Julie restarts her inner loving words and all becomes serene again. She was very excited about the endless possibilities of Ho’oponopono.

Cleaning happens in any number of ways. Dr. Hew Len says that because we are each different, different methods work for us. Many, including myself, balk at saying “I’m sorry, please forgive me” to the divine, even if it is only to help us—the divine certainly doesn’t need it! But “I love you,” and “Thank you,” feel excellent to most people— to the divine or to a person, a situation, anything that comes into consciousness.

Meditation is cleaning. Every spiritual teacher gives ways to clean. My own cleaning often involves being told about, even shown, past life difficulties by my spirit and going to work to forgive, empower myself, clear it all out and move on. We do it however we do it.

Dr. Hew Len lives, eats, and breathes cleaning. He has even trained his subconscious to clean while he’s asleep—he says you can talk to your subconscious and convince it to do this. Whenever he plans to fly, he begins cleaning the plane, the staff and the passengers to make sure all is well with the journey. He says “I love you!” to his food (he loves hamburgers) and then knows it is perfect for his body. Before speaking, he cleans on the group and the whole area days before he arrives. He loves to clean, and gives thanks when he learns about something that needs it.

This constant activity feels a bit fanatical to me; my own path seems a different one. But Dr. Hew Len has inspired me to silently say “I love you” and often “Thank you” to everyone and everything in my vicinity, as much as I can remember. Also to myself, my body, my food and my cats’ food. I often, and I know others who do this too, ask forgiveness inwardly of a person I have perceived as less than the Christ, and then affirm that they are indeed the Christ. These practices lift my energies, and I trust my love reaches all to whom it is directed. I don’t have miracles to report, I think only because I have been oriented to love, as best I can be, for a long time. But I do recognize that I can love a great deal more. Life seems to be more and more about seeing goodness and beauty (the divine) and loving it, in everything, all the time.

Ho’oponopono is a rare path that teaches eternal truths, unique and compelling. Dr. Hew Len is an evolving person in a baseball cap who’s promised himself a big ice cream sundae the first time he is able to make it through a day without judging. But he is also entirely himself, a being of love, compassion and humor, living pretty much 24/7 as A Course in Miracles tells us: use our life in a human body for the good of all life.

If you would like to hear a radio program with Dr. Hew Len, go to, Station 1, and to the archives of the show “Miracles Happen, Dreams Do Come True” with Iris Jackson, for Monday November 3rd of ’08, 2:00 pm. (There’s a small fee, I think less than $5, to become a member and have access to the archives.) This show is wonderfully fun, full of laughter and enlightenment. The following Monday November 10th Iris and I, and caller Julie, talk about Ho’oponopono, and the miracles that abound around it. The Ho'oponopono web page with Dr. Hew Len and Joe Vitale: (!) Blessings to you upon your path!

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©2008, Joanna Cherry. You are welcome to copy and distribute this article, as long as you acknowledge its source. Thank you.

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©2002, Joanna Cherry. Please do copy and distribute this vision of Joanna’s, acknowledging its source. Thank you.