Many of my friends and colleagues are using the ancient Polynesian healing and forgiveness prayer known as Ho’oponopono.

In my opinion many of the recent versions are tending to miss the point and the true power of the prayer. So I would like to clarify my interpretation of it.

Its origins are in the village and clan communities of ancient Polynesian culture. 

In these communities no one was considered an isolated individual. Every single person was a member of the interdependent community and bloodline. Every single person in some way or another represented their clan/family/lineage/village.

So If one single person behaved criminally then the whole family, clan and village felt they were responsible for that behaviour. A criminal action belonged to and was the responsibility of the whole community.

If there was a wrongdoing therefore the whole family and village would come out to take responsibility for it, to redress it and to heal it.

In this spirit, the Ho’oponopono Prayer was communicated by the whole village and it was addressed to the spirits, to the gods, goddesses, the ultimate Spirit and Gaia.

The first line addressed to Spirit: We are responsible.

The second line addressed to Spirit is: We are sorry.

The third line addressed to Spirit is: Please forgive us.

Those three lines are the heart of the prayer as the community took full responsibility for one individual’s aberrant actions. It was in taking responsibility – as an adult who understands the interdependence of all life and the absolute need to take responsibility – that the prayer finds its fundamental power.

The two supplementary lines, the fourth and fifth, represent general truths and attitudes.
There is only Love.
Thank you.

So the whole prayer, according to this interpretation, when spoken by a single individual actually runs: (Always addressed to Spirit)

I am responsible for this. This is my responsibility
I am sorry
Forgive me
There is only Love
Thank you

Of course in essence the actual words do not matter as long as the sentiment is sincere and real. I write this only because I have witnessed a tendency for modern people to misunderstand and even avoid the element of responsibility which is the heart and soul and efficacy of the prayer  and also its miraculous power of grace. It is the polar opposite of denial. It is also at the core of the Christian action of turning the other cheek and Buddhist compassion.

I was originally introduced to Ho’oponopono by Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len in an evening talk in Glastonbury two decades ago.

I use the prayer very often.