I met Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len – Dr. Hew Len for short -, when I attended his two day seminar in June 2009, in Dubai.
During the coffee break, I was flipping through the seminar manual, when Dr Hew Len walked up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. I scrambled up from my chair. He pressed his hand on my shoulder gently and insisted that I continue sitting.
Then he asked me, in his calm serene voice.
“Do you know, you are one hundred percent responsible for all that happens in your life? “
I said. “Yes, Sir, I am beginning to understand that. “
“Yes, you should! Nothing happens in your life – nothing at all – which you are not responsible for. It is not your fault; but it is your responsibility.” With these words, he walked away to the podium, leaving me to ponder over the unfailing significance of the wisdom that he was sharing with us in the seminar.
Dr. Hew Len is a grand old man from Hawaii, full of life and ancient wisdom. He is a clinical psychiatrist by training and profession. He is a therapist, who healed a complete ward of mentally ill criminals in the Hawaiian State Hospital, using the ancient Hawaiian system called “ho oponopono“. Ho oponopono is a Hawaiian word, which can loosely translate as “to make perfect “. He never administrated any medicine on his patients. All that he did was a mental process in the privacy of his mind. You can read all about this wonderful healing system and more in the book titled “Zero Limits” which Dr. Hew Len co-authored with Dr. Joe Vitale.
Dr Hew Len’s Hawaiian system was about reaching the state of mental purity through taking cent percent responsibility in life.
“Responsibility” as an ethical tool
Ethics is an attitude of great concern and respect for the society’s greater welfare and goodness – in other words, it is the concern for the other person’s welfare and placing the other person’s welfare over pure personal interests! Contrary to the general misunderstanding, ethics does not change from country to country. It is universal in nature, since the concept of the other person’s welfare is immutable the world over.
Morality, on the other hand, is purely a personal attribute and can change from person to person or country to country.
In the ultimate analysis, at our core personal level, there is no right and wrong other than what label we are prepared to apply. This is because of the freewill we are all bestowed with. Individual sense of morality is the only yardstick here. When a second person is involved in the equation, it is no more a question of morality but it becomes a question of ethics. The whole set of interpersonal interactions – whether between just two individuals or between individuals and society – should pass the ethical litmus test to qualify for the highest order of behavior.
Understanding and practicing this principle in all inter personal interactions is a responsibility – at least when we start conscious practice of ethical behavior. A faint connotation of unwillingness or a degree of reluctance is automatically implied in the meaning of the word “responsibility”; but, that is how it would probably begin. However, as our understanding evolves ethical behavior becomes our second nature. That is the grand summation of human experiences.
“Responsibility” as tool for purifying mind
Can higher material education and comfortable living conditions bring about refinement of human minds? Why do educated and highly knowledgeable individuals smoke cigarettes knowing fully well that it does no good to them?
Once, a friend of mine made a very interesting observation. He said, during his childhood wicked men were often portrayed as cruel looking with red-shot eyes and perhaps, holding a sword in the hand etc. People could easily recognize such men and try to avoid them. Nowadays, he amusingly said, wicked men come as smartly dressed, well-educated and probably driving expensive cars. Although he might have said that in a lighter vein, there is some truth in his remarks.
Education and pedigree has nothing much to do with the real inner state of human mind. It looks like material education is coding only on the surface of our conscious mind and memory storage in the physical brain, whereas our choices and experiences in life are powered by the deep rooted codes which are already there in our subconscious mind. We do not appear to have the ability to modify the codes in our subconscious mind that easily. We can perhaps, scribe on the conscious minds, which has only limited applications in transforming us.
To me, the computers have always served as the best analogy to understand the functioning of human minds. Just as computers have hardware and software, we too have hardware as our body and our mind-stuff as our operating system driving our hardware that is the body. There are certain programs that the ordinary users of the personal computers can modify, by way of tweaking the applications they use, but only to the extend they are permitted by the program itself. However, the users cannot modify the operating system, without the help of the creators of the operating system. In the same manner, our body and mind can be healed to the extent possible by way of education, by way of medicine, by way of counseling etc. Please note that the “mind” I refer to, is different from the mind-stuff I referred to earlier. Mind is a useful hardware component. It is the applied aspect of the mind-stuff. The mind-stuff is the totality of subtle operating system and energy fields including various aspects of what is loosely expressed as mind and human consciousness. More on that is outside the scope of this article.
The fundamental question here is how to upgrade our minds? How to remove the old programs from our subconscious minds?
Education, medicines or counseling have proven to be largely ineffective. Attempts by religions have only created further division and alienation, as we witness today.
Traditional spiritual practices such as meditation and contemplation have produced finer minds like Goutama the Buddha, J Krishnamurthy, Echart Tolle, Khalil Gibran etc. Here again, for the vast majority of humanity, meditation or contemplation is not an easy attempt. They are unable to rise above the dictates of their programming in the subconscious mind.
Dr. Hew Len’s Hawaiian system is to be seen in this context as a simplified approach of purifying the mind that is easier to grasp and adopt for the present day world.
Concept of Responsibility
Our traditional concept of “responsibility “is extremely limited. There are only very few things that we consider we are individually responsible for in our life. For all the rest, others are always responsible. We always blame others for everything. We blame the government, the society, the parents, the teachers, the boss at work, the colleges at work, our children , our spouses, our neighbors, our education system, our medical system, our rival countries, so on and so forth.
We are always the victim; aren’t we? Our familiar model of life is something where the rest of the world is a predator. It is always ‘me’ fighting a war with the rest of the world.
When we fall sick, it becomes the doctor’s responsibility to cure us. All that we are prepared to do is to pay the fee to the doctor, purchase the medicines and swallow them. If it does not work, we can always sue the doctor and blame a host of others.
Dr. Hew Len’s concept of responsibility is ultimate and uncompromising. Even the momentary appearance of characters in our brief experiences – including experiences like someone on the street comes to us and asks for directions to reach an address – is also happening to us, because we have somehow become responsible for that experience. We will never know why and how we become responsible for our every single experience. It is the result of a complex chain of cause and effect continuum.
We can get a grip on this concept, if we care to analyze many well-known and relatively re- traceable events in our own personal life. I can share, as a simple example, one of my personal experiences. I am living and working in Dubai today. This experience of my being in Dubai is the effect of a milestone-cause that happened some thirty years ago in Bangalore. On that particular moment in my life, some thirty years ago, I happened to go for breakfast in a particular restaurant, where I happened to occupy one particular seat , where I happened to read a particular advertisement in a particular newspaper that happened to be there on that particular table. This would be ordinarily seen as mere chance occurrence. But that advertisement catapulted me on to a series of long journeys , living in many places and meeting many people that eventually brought me to where I am today at this moment, keying away what I am writing now . It can be easily seen that many milestone-causes changed and directed my course in life exposing me to a myriad stream of experiences. If I had gone to some other restaurant on that day or had I occupied a different seat in the same restaurant, my experience in life would have been different – but it did not happen that way.
Imagine a dam in full spate. Torrential rains for weeks have filled up the dam. Finally, the dam will reach a point where it cannot take one more additional drop of water. That critical drop of water would break the dam. Would you blame that drop of water for breaking the dam? That drop of water cannot be blamed; in the same manner, it is the culmination and interaction of series of causes and effects that brought us to where we are at this specific moment. The setting of that moment and choices you make at that moment is not something in your absolute control.
Every incident in our life is occurring in our consciousness – from the trivial to most significant events in our life is nothing but blips in our individual consciousness. It is so complex and long drawn that we would never decipher as to why is it happening the way it happened. The way forward is to simply accept it, taking full responsibility for it but not with blame or shame or guilt. Ho oponopono tells us to send a sincere and heart felt appeal to the universal intelligence (the God principle in all religions) to change the coding (to tweak the operating system) and transmute it. Consequently, our experiences change.
A full treatise on this modality is outside the scope of this article. Readers are encouraged to read “Zero Limits “. This is an alternative method for refining minds and experiencing greater empowerment in life.
Mental Blockages to Subtle Concepts
More often than not, possessing education and an analytical approach to issues and events in life can be a stumbling block on our attempts to refine our minds. Education and logic are strengthening our left brain activities and can effectively deal with material objects and the science of the solid matter. On the other hand, the topic we dealt with in this article is in the realm of right brain – intuitively knowing, sensing, feeling and recognizing wisdom. The world today is too much obsessed with and indulged in left brain activities and hence the difficulty in accepting the subtle and non-visual aspects of life, which the ancient world knew automatically and intuitively.
There is an alternative way. Stop the blame game and start taking one hundred percent responsibility in life. It is a small step, but a “giant leap“in our evolution.