Have you ever felt like you were holding a grudge against someone, even after you had consciously tried to forgive?
All of us need to forgive. It may be our spouse or a friend. It may be a co-worker or a former employer. After the mortgage and financial crises, some people may harbor resentment against real estate agents or stockbrokers they feel gave them bad advice. Wouldn’t it be great to start 2010 with a clean slate?
In our hearts we know that holding onto negative feelings against others only harms us. So why is it so hard to forgive?
Huna, the ancient Hawaiian system of my lineage and life experience, emphasizes the need to forgive others and seek forgiveness and provides practical ways to do it. The ancient Hawaiians saw forgiveness not as something optional, but as required, for several reasons:
Huna teaches the law of perception as projection — in some way,
shape or form, the world we see outside ourselves is a projection of
who and what we are. We must forgive others for them to forgive us.
In Huna the concept of making things right is called pono. Though pono does not have a specific English translation, the closest word is right — not as in “I’m right, you’re wrong,” but right with each other and the situation. Pono is a feeling of congruency and calmness to the extent that nothing needs to be said.
process of forgiveness I use and teach comes from ho`oponopono, which
literally means to make something doubly pono. In doing research for
my dissertation, I found the process works today just as it has for
thousands of years. The research showed that those who engaged in ho‘oponopono
experienced a statistically significant reduction in unforgiveness.
To take the first step in ho`oponopono, we need to rethink the process of forgiveness. In western thinking, our first approach upon wronging another person is often to say "I'm sorry." However, an apology is only one-sided, a statement that asks for no response from the one harmed.
Huna understands that it takes two to tango. So the first step is to ask for forgiveness, the second for the other to give forgiveness.
I've had heated arguments with people that definitely required an apology afterward. But within a short time after all the apologies and making-up, either I or the other person bring it up again.
Getting to pono is different. When you are pono with someone, nothing else needs to be said or done. You are right with one another.
To become truly pono with someone, you first ask for and offer forgiveness for anything you may have done. Saying, "I forgive you; please forgive me too" brings the other person into the picture and gets them actively involved. Rather than merely "being sorry," a two-way street of forgiveness is formed.
Next, allow the space for you and the other person to say everything that needs to be said without hiding or holding back. When you have both shared your thoughts and feelings, you should experience a sense of "I have said it all, and I am done." Once again, give and ask for forgiveness from one another.
Finally, move forward. Huna says that we must learn from all of our experiences in life. Once you are pono, ask yourself: what do I need to learn from this event that will allow me to continue to be pono?
Take this learning with you to help you change your behavior and thinking, make better decisions, and create the relationships and situations you desire.
A major advantage of this approach to forgiveness is the ability to have a fresh start. Although you may experience future difficulties with the same person, once you are pono, you won't bring baggage from the past into new situations. You will begin new interactions from a place of being pono and with insight from the learning you received.
To forgive and to never forget is to never forgive in the first place. Holding onto the negativity and even the memory of the negativity prevents true forgiveness and only hurts you. We owe it to ourselves to experience true forgiveness – to become pono.
Matthew B. James, Ph.D., international trainer, lecturer and educator, is President of American Pacific University and the Empowerment Partnership. His work is dedicated to creating personal transformation through the teachings of Huna, the ancient science of consciousness and energy healing, using cutting edge therapeutic techniques. His doctoral dissertation is titled: Ho‘oponopono: Assessing the Effects of a Hawaiian Forgiveness Technique on Unforgiveness.