Opening the Aloha Mind: Healing Self, Healing the World with Ho'oponopono

Opening the Aloha Mind: Healing Self, Healing the World with Ho'oponopono

by Jim Nourse Phd


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“Opening the Aloha Mind is an inspiring discussion of the relationship of human consciousness and our sense of ‘I’ to the infinite, divine intelligence. It is a refreshing correction to the growing tendency of modern psychiatry to base its models of mental health on brain chemistry that can be modified by medication and a reminder that healing wisdom did not begin in the twentieth century, but in millennia past, and that these ancient approaches can still be accessed.”

—Larry Dossey, MD, author of Healing Words and One Mind and
executive editor of Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing

“More than sixty years ago, the Oglala shaman Black Elk predicted that with the closure of this cycle of ages, the primordial spirituality would reemerge and become the foundation for the next cycle. In Opening the Aloha Mind, Dr. Jim Nourse has made a great contribution toward expanding our western understanding of indigenous spiritual wisdom, and in doing so he has created very good medicine indeed.”

—Hank Wesselman, PhD, anthropologist and author of
The Bowl of Light and the Spiritwalker Trilogy

“This is wonderful work that can help many. Opening the Aloha Mind gives powerful tools for transformation and healing.”

—Sandra Ingerman, author of Soul Retrieval and
Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide

“This is a rare treasure of a book, weaving an incredible tapestry of the wisdom of the ages for any modern seeker and for anyone involved in service toward others. Jim Nourse shares his personal experience of an ancient, original world culture, and gracefully infuses it with tremendous insight into growing edge psychology and spiritual traditions. His simple, profound, and beautifully written message of the necessity for real self-empowerment is incredibly validating. To read this book is to have an experience of truth.”

—Tav Sparks, director, Grof Transpersonal Training;
author of The Wide Open Door, Movie Yoga and Through Thunder

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452581002
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 10/31/2013
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.39(d)

Read an Excerpt

Opening the Aloha Mind

Healing Self, Healing the World with Ho'oponopono

By Jim Nourse

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2013 James C. Nourse, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4525-8100-2


A Taste of Mana

... the human beings (Native Americans), my son, they believe everything is alive. Not only man and animals. But also water, earth, stone.

Grandfather Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man

This book is about a philosophy, a technique, a process called Self I-dentity Through Ho'oponopono®—simply referred to hereinafter as Ho'oponopono. This term traditionally refers to an ancient Polynesian system of conflict resolution and forgiveness. Here, Ho'oponopono refers to an inner process that is a natural development from its historical predecessor.

It is, first and foremost, a problem-solving strategy. What distinguishes it from most other such strategies is that it seeks to solve problems by working on oneself rather than on external circumstances. When using Ho'oponopono, one finds that, as the self is brought into a state of balance and clarity, the external world is experienced as less problematic. In fact, problems are seen as opportunities to achieve greater balance and clarity. In addition, the ongoing practice of Ho'oponopono can lead to a more harmonious experience of life, and the knowledge that one's happiness is not dependent upon external events.

While this subject can stand on its own, for me its beauty and richness are enhanced by reference to history and cultural context. Our modern western mindset reduces our healing interventions to the "active ingredient." Yet, that ingredient in an herbal medicine, when extracted, synthesized and concentrated, brings daunting side effects in the absence of buffering influences supplied by the "inactive" rejected plant components. So historical and cultural factors surrounding a practice add to a person's ability to assimilate it so it is no longer merely one more technique in the repertoire.

I trust that learning somethings about the soil from which Ho'oponopono springs will also help you appreciate its beauty as well as its utility. I believe you will come to see that, while Ho'oponopono is thoroughly Hawaiian, it carries a universal resonance that is needed to achieve a complete understanding of our human nature and, in turn, achieve healing and wholeness.

From Kaua'i to the Big Island of Hawai'i, Hawai'i is a land that is at once ancient and newly forming. As the lava of Klauea volcano flows into the sea, cooling and solidifying into new land, the ancient teachings are at the same time flowing into new forms and new expressions.

The psychospiritual teachings of Hawai'i express the collective experience of a tropical island civilization and carry the spirit of this particular land and people. While the beauty and profundity of the teachings may be seen as unique facets of this beautiful land, their ultimate value is that they have tapped universal principles embedded deeply within human nature itself. These principles address the structure of mind, its relation to the Divine, and knowing how to use the energy that powers this structure to evoke internal freedom and healing.

Anyone who is open to the people of these islands soon learns that sovereignty is a big issue. Statehood was not welcomed by consensus, and there is lingering resentment concerning the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 and the annexation by the U.S. in 1898. While political issues are peripheral to the heart of this book, the desire of all people to be free, independent and self-determining is not. Just as the Hawaiian nation might find its fullest expression free of foreign domination, so individual human beings can find fullest expression freed from the domination of deeply imprinted thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that hide their true identity and highest potential. In a very real sense, we are all colonized people. We all struggle against powers that seem to dominate us—addictions, worry, self-defeating behavior, depression, disease, or other afflictions that overrun us with regularity and persistence, so that we often cast ourselves as victims, rather than the heroes in our own stories. The quest for personal sovereignty is, in a very real sense, the central sacred task of each person. A psychologically sovereign individual is comfortable in her own skin—self-assured yet flexible, at ease with change, and able to participate in the affairs of family and community in a way that benefits all.

The challenge is how to lay the groundwork for such a sublime state of being. Often, our desire to pursue it begins with a spontaneous and unexpected experience. I had never had any particular interest in Hawai'i, but in 1999 my wife Judith attended a professional conference in Honolulu and I went along. I spent the days driving around O'ahu.

Leaving Waikk on the first day, I headed windward on the Pali Highway and pulled off on a spur road with a view of stunning green cliffs descending to the ocean. When I was a very young child I used to play, over and over again, a 78 rpm recording of South Pacific in which Juanita Hall sang Bali Hai. This haunting melody resurfaced in my mind with all its original magic upon encountering this remarkable visage just minutes outside Honolulu. After lingering awhile and allowing myself to begin to ease in to these powerful new surroundings, I then proceeded north on Kamehameha Highway, named after the ali'i (chief) who united the islands under one rule in 1810. After passing through the city of Kne'ohe the scenery steadily merged into more rural stretches with blue-green ocean to the right and verdant mountains to the left, reflecting the long process of island-building by the central volcano. O'ahu actually consists of two such volcanic ridges, whose ancient lava flows merge into a central valley.

I began to enter an extraordinary state of mind, a sense of profound well-being that was clearly more than a sense of pleasure in the beautiful scenery or the relaxation associated with being on vacation. It was paradoxically ecstatic and serene at the same time. My internal being and the external environment seemed in resonance, an energy that felt loving, welcoming and powerful. This remarkable state persisted throughout the remainder of the day and beyond.

Later, in attempting to understand this experience, my reading led me to the Hawaiian notion of mana. Mana is supernatural energy or spiritual power contained and expressed by objects both animate and inanimate. People of outstanding ability or mastery in any field are thought to possess more mana than the ordinary person. It did not seem to me to be a far stretch to think that certain geographic locations could be regions of abundant mana, and that this might account for my experience of heightened awareness.

Our next trip to Hawai'i included a visit to Kaua'i, geologically the oldest of the eight main Hawaiian islands. On our first full day there we went to the Hikina A Ka L Heiau and adjacent Hauola City of Refuge. A heiau is a place of worship that served the indigenous religion. There are many heiau still standing. Most were abandoned with the dissolution of the old religion and what remain are often arrangements of volcanic boulders that give an impression of the contours of an ancient structure. These sacred sites suffered along with the rest of Hawaiian culture as foreign influences came to dominate the islands. The reawakening of native Hawaiian consciousness is restoring respect for the ancient practices, sites and institutions such that now the heiau are once again accorded the sacred status they deserve.

Judith and I felt moved to spend some time in silent meditation at this heiau and when we were finished we were approached by a Hawaiian man wearing sunglasses and a feathered hat. Because his eyes were invisible, I wasn't altogether sure of our situation. Had we angered him by unintentionally violating a sacred protocol? He said "I see you guys are hangin' out at the heaiu." I replied "Yes, we were meditating here. I hope that's OK." "Ohhh, that's good!" he responded. He then introduced himself as Kopa Kaluahine, a spiritual healing practitioner on the island. Further experience affirmed him to be a Kahuna Lapaau, an individual who had achieved a high level of mastery in this field, having been trained initially by his grandmother. We struck up a friendship that has continued to this day.

At one point the conversation turned to the subject of mana. He suggested that the unusual experience we had had from our first visit to O'ahu was that of the mana of the islands. He allowed that, for him, the mana of Kaua'i is stronger than that of any of the other islands, and having been to several of the others, I had to agree that this seemed true for me also. Whether the individual's experience of the mana is purely a function of the island itself or of one's connection to a particular island is unclear to me. "People have their own feelings about one island or another. For me, the connection to Kaua'i is stronger," he noted. One of his gifts to us was a Phaku, or stone, that he had used in his healing work. He had invested the Phaku with some of his mana so that we could make use of it in our own healing practices back on the mainland. The combination of a clear and powerful experience of the mana of the islands, with its linkage to the activity and vocation of healing via our Kahuna friend, formed the character of our introduction to Hawai'i. It also cued my attention to any practice that owes its origins to this remote archipelago. As a transpersonal psychologist I am naturally drawn to investigate any approach that has not artificially separated the psyche from the spirit, and the fact that a contemporary practice can legitimately claim ancient origins suggests a track record to be taken seriously.

My remarkable taste of mana on O'ahu and Kauai—including a sublime resonance between self and environment—is characteristic of being at ease, "in synch" or "in the flow." The fact that such an experience can happen indicates that we are equipped for it to happen—given the right conditions of specific environments or circumstances. While my own experience suggests that the particular mana of a given geography is supportive, if we limit our thinking to this sort of contingency, we are ironically setting a trap of dependency on external conditions of place and time in order to experience peace and happiness.

Perhaps the ultimate value of extraordinary experiences is to acquaint us with the fact that it is within our potential as human beings to be in a state of real connection with ourselves and our world, and that this may, in fact be our natural state. Once we have tasted such an experience, our assignment naturally becomes how to configure ourselves to remain in this state of flow regardless of where we are or with whom. This is true sovereignty and true freedom—and is the import of what will unfold in these pages.


It's A Beautiful Day

To see a world in a grain of sand And heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour

William Blake Auguries of Innocence

Our friend Joshua shifted the Nissan pickup into 4WD as we pulled onto what loosely passed for a road leading away from Polihale beach. For several days rain had pelted the island, even on the usually dry leeward side. The storm system hovering just off the north shore was stretching around to the margins of the southernmost pali (cliffs) that form the northern reach of Polihale. Where the sunny day met the boundary of the storm there was a stunning alchemical fog of a furious wind blasting and conjoining sand, ocean spray and rain with sunlight turned diffuse and orange in a chaos of sensation. Hawaiian legend holds that it is in this region that the spirits of the dead make their departure for the next world. The cocoon of orange light with rain and sand pellets assaulted me and launched me into a clearly altered state. In addition to the striking visual field, the acoustics seemed to form a murmuring drone that resembled human voices chanting a repetitive refrain, perfect for an excursion beyond the ordinary.

But the storm had created some very ordinary hazards on the road back. Many water-filled potholes were large enough to deserve names on a map and require fishing permits. There was no way to judge how deep they were, nor could we avoid all of them. We lurched and bounced ahead, coming upon a car whose radiator was well below sea level. Two young men stood helplessly beside it.

"You need some help there?," asked Joshua.

"Yeah, the axle is broke. Can you give us a lift?" "Sure. Come on up."

The cab being full of us verging-on-carsick mainlanders, they boarded the truck bed and we lurched along, praying that we had not taken on our new passengers' vehicle karma. Near the cutoff to the main highway we passed a sodden cultivated field in which a large piece of farm machinery was poised at an awkward tilt and a young woman was going about her work. The fellows in the back of the truck hailed her.

"Yeah, we stick our car back there in the pothole. Broke the axle. Don't know what we gonna do."

"Yeah," she said, "I know some that stick theirs and earlier we stick this one" (pointing to the farm machine).

They carried on awhile about the hardships caused by the storm. Catching pieces of their conversation, I was reflecting on how we would have dealt with "sticking" our truck: walk until we had cell connection, arrange for a tow truck, and do what one does to get back to normal.

What for us would be an inconvenience, to these individuals could easily be a profound hardship. In their shoes, would I have mentally amplified this inconvenience into a full-blown hardship? Had I become so soft and attached to agendas that this would rise to the level of emergency in my mind? Which was the problem—the situation itself or my appraisal of it? My attention was drawn back to the conversation that had by now established the fact that the situation sucked all around. The young woman paused thoughtfully, then looked up at the sky and swung her arm with hand upraised in a wide ark and announced for all to hear "But ... It's a beautiful day!!!" We burst into laughter and headed on down the road.

I remembered calling Joshua and Annaleah, when they lost their 23 year old daughter last year. Mary—what a beautiful spirit—had struggled with the complications of a congenital heart defect and finally made her transition. Joshua's voice was breaking in a grief still powerful as the island storm. After awhile, he paused. "But ... it's a beautiful day on Kaua'i." It was not with the exuberance of the young woman in the field, but it was nonetheless an affirmation of the spirit that soars above adversity and even death to touch the larger story.

How We Stick Ourselves

There are no limits to our ability to get stuck, to "stick" ourselves in the lesser story. Two factors conspire to keep us stuck. First is the Subconscious Mind, which warehouses imprints of all that we have experienced and have not made peace with. When cleansed of this debris, however, the subconscious is also a region of mind that can resonate with Divine Inspiration. Second is the universal human propensity to project blame—to see a person or thing "out there" as the source of our suffering. When these two are combined, you get war—between the sexes, between friends, colleagues, states, nations, or religions.

If I define something as a problem, whether it is a broken axle or a remark you made, something associated with it hooks onto it from the subconscious mind. Because subconscious content is beyond reach, we only are aware of the emotional charge. The here and now situation that is defined as a problem has become a much bigger problem than if the warehouse had been empty. If it's a remark you made, the emotional charge around every similar remark that I have not made peace with wells up. Because this internal arousal is so unpleasant, I project blame onto you to take my attention off my intolerable feelings.

This is a truly delusional state of mind that can take a problem that can be solved systematically with a minimum of bother and turn it into a nightmare. Or even if it cannot be solved presently, it can at least be viewed as difficult, but not catastrophic.

Our failure to deal with the subconscious and our tendency to blame others adds up to an inability to take responsibility for our lives. The feeling of powerlessness—and eventually hopelessness—that this engenders is an emotional cancer. If the Center for Disease Control dealt with emotional plagues, this stressful state of mind would be judged a pandemic. But this delusional state of mind is shared by nearly everyone, so it is regarded as normal.

There are many philosophies and techniques that have been developed, some recent and some ancient, for reducing stress. They all offer tools to help us move from helplessness to mastery of taking responsibility for ourselves. I can't take responsibility for the offensive remark you made to me, but I can, if I know how, take responsibility for my reaction to it—by cleaning the subconscious mind of all the experiences riding in on the coattails of the present situation. That greatly reduces the level of unpleasant arousal, so I don't have to project blame on you. Then I can comment on your remark without having to hit you with the full power of my emotion that flows from a history you had nothing to do with.


Excerpted from Opening the Aloha Mind by Jim Nourse. Copyright © 2013 James C. Nourse, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction, xiv,
Chapter 1 A Taste of Mana, 1,
Chapter 2 It's A Beautiful Day, 11,
Chapter 3 I Wouldn't Believe It, Even if it Were True, 21,
Chapter 4 The Structure of Mind, 35,
Chapter 5 Picking Up Stones, 51,
Chapter 6 The Rainmaker, 59,
Chapter 7 Cleaning: Making Snow With Ho'oponopono, 71,
Chapter 8 Ho'oponopono, Psychotherapy and Healing, 87,
Chapter 9 Creating the Life of Your Dreams, 97,
Chapter 10 A Final Word About Pono, 107,
Epilogue, 117,
Images of Hawai'i, 124,
Glossary, 126,
To Learn More, 132,
Appendix A - Five Questions, 134,
Appendix B - Modern Healthcare—an Opportunity to Clean, 136,
Permissions, 140,
Suggested Reading, 142,
About the Author, 146,

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