A friend posted the following on Facebook:
"My father was a racist, a bigot, a Texas conservative and many other things. It taught me that humans can choose to change and be happy with the results that wind up providing paths forward into the future. I am proof that making difficult choices may cost all, except integrity and peace of mind. I live with those… quite nicely."
"Life provides opportunities to learn important lessons, though sometimes the circumstances challenge us greatly. Now that you accept what happened between you and your father, the question is, can you forgive him, love him and be grateful that he helped teach you this lesson? It's the Ho'oponopono way. I suspect that your answer is 'yes.'"
Ho’oponopono can be very valuable in dealing with the conflicts that often arise when families get together to celebrate the holidays. Someone might express with great conviction their concerns about the environment. Or someone might put out that they don’t believe that global warming is a result of human activity on the planet (farming and the burning of fossil fuels). You may find yourself reacting to such statements and launching into a heated debate. Your more noble self may want an amicable resolution, but do you have the tools to move the discussion to a peaceful ending?
I use Ho'oponopono to clear conflict from within myself and, simultaneously, from the world. As with many worldviews, Ho'oponopono recognizes that what we perceive as outside ourselves is actually within us. A perception of social conflict is taken to be a conflict within. Hence, to remove conflict from one's environment, one must clear it from within oneself.
In the Ho'oponopono clearing process, we start by saying "Something in me has created this situation." In doing this, we take responsibility — complete responsibility — for the conflict or situation that troubles us. This simple phrase does two things. 1) It acknowledges that whatever we experience is our experience; however we react, it's our reaction. 2) It causes us to accept responsibility for our experience, for our role in what is happening within ourselves and in the world.
After accepting the existence of the situation and taking responsibility for it, we move to forgiveness. We might forgive someone for something done to us. We might even forgive God for ill-fated events. We might forgive ourselves if we created a situation. The phrase: “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” can be very useful.
When we have accepted a situation and asked for or offered forgiveness, we naturally come to a place from which we can offer love — unconditional love — both to ourselves and to others, even to a savior, prophet or God. “Unconditional love” means completely open-hearted love, without any restrictions. Restrictions would mean that we still are judging. If we are judging, we have not fully accepted responsibility for creating the situation. Therefore, if we find that our love is not fully open-hearted, we go back and repeat the first two steps, again and again, until love flows without restriction.
In the final step of the process, we offer gratitude — gratitude for the opportunity to clear karma and learn an important lesson. No matter how painful or challenging the situation has been, we must come to a point where we fully accept the situation, seek or offer genuine forgiveness, open our heart to loving what is and whomever is involved, and feeling truly grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow.
The Ho’oponopono process is very simple. You may find that you must repeat it many times when a situation is particularly challenging. Sometimes, you will find that you do the steps in a different order. Of example, if you have conflict with a spouse or other family member, you may find your love coming first, then your apology, then your acceptance and finally, your gratitude.
Ho'oponopono is just one of many approaches that I use in my almost daily clearing sessions to deal with the unhappy feelings that the 2016 election cycle generated. Besides Ho'oponopono (from Ulrich E. Duprée and Mabel Katz), I use Nonviolent Communication (from Marshall Rosenberg and Miki Kashtan), The Option Method (from Bruce M. Di Marsico and Barry Neil Kaufman), Focusing (from Gene Gendlin and Ann Weiser Cornell) and Matrix Energetics® (from Richard Bartlett and Melissa Joy Jonsson). I'll write about each of these in separate posts on the social stress of the election and living with the half of the country you don't agree with on most social issues.
One of my clients asked recently how to know which to use. I told him to “use whatever comes into your awareness when you become aware that you are experiencing social stress.” You actually can use Ho’oponopono for any conflict or stress.
Here is a list of topics on the theme of Living with the Other Half of America:
#0: Transcendence — the Transcendental Meditation™ program
#1: Empathy — Nonviolent Communication
#2: Clearing Conflict — Ho’oponopono
#3: Choices — The Option Method
#4: Nurturing Parts Within — Focusing
#5: Changing the Energy of Conflict — Matrix Energetics®
This post is the third in the series. The last three will be posted in the coming week or so.