Have you ever held resentment toward yourself, others, or a situation causing a knot in your stomach, tightness in your heart or tension in your body?
This disconnection or disharmony is not a comfortable place. It doesn’t ‘feel right’, because it is not a natural state of Being. And yet, it is a familiar experience for many of us. The stress caused by this habit of ‘holding on’ to bitterness or unresolved pain affects our quality of living.
Ho’opono Pono, the ancient Hawaiian practice of ‘setting things right,’ is the art of returning to Pono, our innate harmony with Self, Spirit, others and all of creation. Having lived in the grace of this Hawaiian way for twenty years provided me a fresh, Pacific perspective on forgiveness.
Crucial for the practice of Ho’opono Pono is the native Hawaiian wisdom of Aloha, Pono, and the Bowl of Light.
Aloha Spirit is the essence of everything Hawaiian. Aloha is the key element to Ho’opono Pono or ‘setting things right’. To live Aloha is to live knowing that we are the light and love of Spirit expressing through physical form.
Queen Lili’uokalani, (1883-1917) the last monarch and only queen of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, provides an intimate look at the sacred essence of the greeting of Aloha.
“Aloha was a recognition of life in another. If there was life there was mana (life-energy), goodness and wisdom, and if there was goodness and wisdom there was a god-quality. One had to recognize the ‘god of life’ in another before saying ‘Aloha,’ but this was easy. Life was everywhere…. Aloha had its own mana. It never left the giver but flowed freely and continuously between giver and receiver. ‘Aloha’ could not be thoughtlessly or indiscriminately spoken, for it carried its own power. No Hawaiian could greet another with ‘Aloha’ unless he felt it in his own heart. If he felt anger or hate in his heart he had to cleanse himself before he said ‘Aloha’.”
To live Aloha:
Pono, literally means right or righteousness. “According to actor Jason Scott Lee, who grew up in Hawai’i, living pono means living with a conscious decision to do the right thing in terms of self, others, and the environment.”
Pono is being at one with everything, knowing that all life flows from the same source. There is a deep sense of alignment and harmony in the state of pono. The ancient Hawaiians were attuned to the world of natural signs - the stars, ocean, wind, birds, fish. This pono awareness is how they navigated thousands of miles in the vast Pacific to reach the shores of Hawai’i around 242AD.
To live Pono:
Bowl of Light – In early Hawaiian times, there was a custom that before a child was born a family member would carve them a bowl. The bowl was presented to the child and during their childhood the following ancient Hawaiian story would be shared:
Each child has, at birth, a bowl of perfect light. If he tends to his light, it will grow in strength and he can do all things - swim with sharks, fly with the birds, know and understand all things.
If however, he becomes envious, jealous, angry, or fearful, he drops a stone into his bowl of light and some of the light goes out. Light and the stone cannot hold the same space.
If he continues to put stones in the bowl, the light will go out and he will become a stone himself. A stone does not grow, nor does it move.
If at any time he tires of being a stone, all he needs to do is turn the bowl upside down and the stones will fall away and the light will grow once more.
Tales from the Night Rainbow
Pali Lee & Koko Willis, 1987
To tend your Bowl of Light:
Each person is responsible for the caring and clearing of their own bowl. Daily living often pulls us out of alignment with ourselves, others and our world and we end up with more stones in our bowl. According to Mahealani Kuamo’o-Henry from the Big Island of Hawai’i, the practice of Ho’opono Pono is “about recognizing how best we can respond to life in order to navigate ourselves through the moment to moment adventures…”
The literal meaning of Ho’opono Pono is: ho’o - ‘to set’; pono – ‘right’ twice. The 1st ‘setting right’ is with our self, the 2nd ‘setting right’ is with another or a situation. Once we return to personal harmony, our self-respect is activated, our boundaries become clear, and life-giving choices are obvious.
Forgiveness the Hawaiian way:
Presence of Aloha – Absence of Judgment
Pono – Being right with Self, Others, all of Creation
Honor your ‘Bowl of Light’ and release resentments
Right Action flows from being in Harmony with Self
If you would like to ‘set things right’ with yourself, others or any aspect of your life, we are available in person, online or over the phone.
ILENE KIMSEY, PhD
Wholistic Life Coach
Resolve – Counseling and Wellness