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"Ho‘oponopono" is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as "mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness." Pono, which is defined as:..goodness, uprightness, morality, moral qualities, correct or proper procedure, excellence, well-being, prosperity, welfare, benefit, true condition or nature, duty; moral, fitting, proper, righteous, right, upright, just, virtuous, fair, beneficial, successful, in perfect order, accurate, correct, eased, relieved, must, necessary. “Ponopono” is defined as "to put to rights; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, adjust, amend, regulate, arrange, rectify, tidy up, make orderly or neat". Preeminent Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui wrote that it was a practice in Ancient Hawaii and this is supported by oral histories from contemporary Hawaiian elders.

Hoʻoponopono corrects, restores and maintains good relationships among family members by getting to the causes and sources of trouble. Usually the most senior member of the family conducts it. He or she gathers the family together. If the family is unable to work through a problem, they turn to a respected outsider. The process begins with prayer. A statement of the problem is made, and the transgression discussed. Family members are expected to work problems through and cooperate, not "hold fast to the fault". One or more periods of silence may be taken for reflection on the entanglement of emotions and injuries. Everyone's feelings are acknowledged. Then confession, repentance and forgiveness take place. Everyone releases each other, letting go. They cut off the past, and together they close the event with a ceremonial feast. In a form used by the family the completion of hoʻoponopono is represented by giving the person forgiven the fruit of the tree.

“If we can accept that we are the sum total of all past thoughts, emotions, words, deeds and actions and that our present lives and choices are colored or shaded by this memory bank of the past, then we begin to see how a process of correcting or setting aright can change our lives, our families and our society.”

Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona

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