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The meaning of Ho’oponopono
by Graeme Kapono Urlich

There are a number of different meanings or “spins” being put on the definition of this word. A couple of Hawaiian teachers suggest it means “to make right more right”,  from one of the meanings of pono, "right", being doubled and the prefix ho’o meaning “to make”. This is not incorrect in the context of what they are teaching but, as you will see below, “right” is only one of the many meanings of pono, and the meaning of ho’o is not fixed either.

It has been suggested to me that there was agreement reached on the meaning of the word ho’oponopono at a conference of a Kahuna council in the 1980’s but I can find no evidence of there having been any such conference. If anyone has any information about such a conference and who was in attendance I would appreciate it.

Supposedly, at this conference, it was agreed that straightening things up is the translation of ho'opono (making pono - doing the right thing - straightening things out) and it was different from ho’ponopono, which was to mean restoring harmony in a situation. Ho’opono does not show up in the Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert dictionary which is accepted as the most complete and accurate one.

From this dictionary we see:

Ho’o: is treated as a prefix because it only appears before bases; unlike prefixes however, it takes the stress of a word as does the following base;

Pono: goodness, uprightness, morality, moral, qualities, correct or proper procedure, excellence, wellbeing, prosperity, welfare, benefit, behalf, equity, sake, true condition or nature, righteous, right, upright, just, virtuous, fair, proper, beneficial, successful, in perfect order, accurate, correct, eased, relieved, should, ought, must, necessary.

Ponopono: neat, tidy, in order, arranged, cared for, attended to, administered.

Ho'oponopono: To correct, to put to rights, to put in order or shape, correct, revise, adjust, amend, regulate, arrange, rectify, tidy up, make orderly or neat, administer, superintend, supervise, manage, edit, work carefully and neatly, to make ready, as a canoe man preparing to catch a wave.

Ho'oponopono 'ole: slovenly, untidy, disorderly, careless.

Ho'oponopono hou: to revise, reorganise, re-edit.

Ka ho'oponopono 'ana: regulation.

Kanawai ho'oponopono: revised law b) mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships are set right (ho'oponopono) through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance and mutual restitution and forgiveness (kalana).

These are complex words and diluting them down to singular meanings, out of context, creates misunderstanding and confusion. When we begin translating these things into other very different languages the confusion becomes exponential.

Ho’oponopono is most commonly used conversationally in terms of cleaning house or tidying up the yard etc.

In terms of processes being taught to affect subconscious belief and make life better we are most interested in “Kanawai ho’oponopono

Kanawai is another complex word. From the dictionary, it means law, code, rule, statute, act, regulation, ordinance, decree, edict, legal, to obey a law, to be prohibited, to learn from experience.

The parts that most interest me about Kanawai and its relevance to the teaching of ho’oponopono as a way to improve life are the parts that say “to learn from experience” and “to obey a law” especially in connection with our beliefs and the rules we live our lives by. In life we create personal rules from experience, starting in the womb. This filters the experiences we are able to manifest so, if we want to manifest better experiences, we must change our internal rules.

In this context we are dealing with our subconscious beliefs, the assumptions we make about ourselves, life, the world, and the rules we live life by. By looking at the results of these, the things we experience in life and the way we react to those things, we can get a good idea of what rules and assumption we might like to change.

In my article “Western Ho’oponopono I took a look at a now very common technique, a single mantra that is supposed to magically fix everything, and why it doesn’t work well for many people. People who are already extremely stressed will struggle with applying techniques at first and may benefit from some guidance from an experienced coach.

I am not, by any means, an expert on Hawaiian language or the many variations of Hawaiian cultural practice but I know enough to have a sense that what I am hearing is valid or not and to check. There are many people out there now, misusing, and in some cases exploiting, some Hawaiian words. I encourage people to research and check what they are being told as far as possible.

Aloha New Zealand - School of Huna and Hawaiian Shamanism

These are notes from the first Hawaiian Shaman workshop I took with Serge Kahili King circa 1990 on Kauai.

Kanawai - The Rules of Life:

1.   All facts are assumptions formed by opinions that we turn into rules.
2.   Our rules shape our perceptions and experience.
      a) Generalisations & Stereotypes: The forest hides the trees.
      b) Specialisations and Tunnel vision: The tree hides the forest.
      c) Language & Culture influences the rules.
3.   All change techniques are effective to the degree that they change the rules.
      a) Practice treating facts as though they are not necessarily true.
4.   Shamanism includes the ability to switch and change the rules.

There a number of great articles on www.huna.org and www.hunahawaii.com

Ho'oponopono Revealed The Real Facts by Serge Kahili King

Further links can be found at http://www.hunahawaii.com/links.htm
A list of Alaka'i of Huna International can be found at http://www.huna.org/html/alakai.html
Huna International trained teachers and thereapists: http://www.huna.org/html/teachers.html
A wealth of material can be found at the Huna Store.

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