by Joe VitaleÂ
“Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who curedÂ a complete ward of criminally insane patients–without ever seeing any ofÂ them. The psychologist would study an inmate’s chart and then look withinÂ himself to see how he created that person’s illness. As he improved himself,Â the patient improved.
“When I first heard this story, I thought it was anÂ urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How couldÂ even the best self-improvement master cure the criminally insane? ItÂ didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t logical, so I dismissed the story.
“However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that theÂ therapist had used a Hawaiian healing process called ho ‘oponopono. I hadÂ never heard of it, yet I couldn’t let it leave my mind. If the story wasÂ at all true, I had to know more. I had always understoodÂ “total responsibility” to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do.Â Beyond that, it’s out of my hands. I think that most people think ofÂ total responsibility that way. We’re responsible for what we do, notÂ what anyone else does–but that’s wrong.
“The Hawaiian therapist whoÂ healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new perspectiveÂ about total responsibility. His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probablyÂ spent an hour talking on our first phone call. I asked him to tell me theÂ complete story of his work as a therapist.
He explained that heÂ worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. That ward is where theyÂ kept the criminally insane was dangerous.
Psychologists quit on aÂ monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit. People wouldÂ walk through that ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of beingÂ attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.
“Dr. Len told me that he never saw patients. He agreed to haveÂ an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files,Â he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.
“‘After a few months, patients that had to be shackled wereÂ being allowed to walk freely,’ he told me. ‘Others who had to beÂ heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who hadÂ no chance of ever being released were being freed.’ I was in awe.’Not onlyÂ that,’ he went on, ‘but the staff began to enjoy coming to work.
Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more staffÂ than we needed because patients were being released, and all the staffÂ was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed.’
“This is where IÂ had to ask the million dollar question: ‘What were you doing within yourselfÂ that caused those people to change?’
“‘I was simply healing the part ofÂ me that created them,’ he said. I didn’t understand. Dr. Len explained thatÂ total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life- simplyÂ because it is in your life–is your responsibility. In a literal sense theÂ entire world is your creation.
“Whew. This is tough to swallow. BeingÂ responsible for what I say or do is one thing. Being responsible for whatÂ everyone in my life says or does is quite another. Yet, the truth is this: ifÂ you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see,Â hear, taste,Â touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility becauseÂ it is in your life. This means that terrorist activity, the president,Â the economy or anything you experience and don’t like–is up for youÂ to heal. They don’t exist, in a manner of speaking, except asÂ projections from inside you. The problem isn’t with them, it’s with you, andÂ to change them, you have to change you.
“I know this is tough toÂ grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is far easier than totalÂ responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr. Len, I began to realize that healingÂ for him and in ho ‘oponopono means loving yourself.
“If you want toÂ improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to cure anyone,Â even a mentally ill criminal you do it by healing you.
“I asked Dr.Â Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing, exactly, when heÂ looked at those patients’ files?
“‘I just kept saying, ‘I’m sorry’ andÂ ‘I love you’ over and over again,â€ he explained. Â Â “That’sÂ it?â€ Â Â Â Â Â â€œThatâ€™s itâ€.
“Turns out that loving yourself is the greatestÂ way to improve yourself, and as you improve yourself, you improve your world.
“Let me give you a quick example of how this works: one day,Â someone sent me an email that upset me. In the past I would have handled itÂ by working on my emotional hot buttons or by trying to reason withÂ the person who sent the nasty message.
“This time, I decided to tryÂ Dr. Len’s method. I kept silently saying, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you,’ IÂ didn’t say it to anyone in particular. I was simply evoking the spirit ofÂ love to heal within me what was creating the outer circumstance.
“Within an hour I got an e-mail from the same person. HeÂ apologized for his previous message. Keep in mind that I didn’t take anyÂ outward action to get that apology. I didn’t even write him back. Yet,Â by saying ‘I love you,’ I somehow healed within me what was creating him.
“I later attended a ho ‘oponopono workshop run by Dr. Len. He’s now 70 years old, considered a grandfatherly shaman, and is somewhat reclusive.