There is a Hawaiian ritual tied to a polynesian belief system which came to my attention during my years of searching for Universal Truth.  The practice is called “Ho’oponopono” (HO-oh-PO-no-PO-no), and it is a ritual of forgiveness.  Practiced as a prescribed ceremony by many polynesian cultures, the principle of Ho’oponopono is actually pretty simple…and can be life-transforming!

The complex meaning of the actual principle is something akin to bringing about or actualizing moral correctness, true condition or nature, and virtue.  The simple, practical meaning is found, however, in the essential components of the ritual itself.  It consists of four basic statements:

  1. “I love you.”
  2. “I’m sorry.”
  3. “Please forgive me.”
  4. “Thank you.”

The idea is that if there is a conflict in your life, you should let go of the attachments we all seem to struggle with such as blame, guilt, shame, and anger.  Instead, to resolve our differences, we should approach each other with these four statements in mind.  By doing so, we shed the conflict-causing aspects of our ego, and focus on reconciliation and healing.  It’s simple, it’s direct, and the application to interpersonal disputes is easy to see.

One thing I’ve realized about Ho’oponopono, however, is that when we say these statements, we’re not really saying them to the other person!  When we truly feel the power of these four simple statements is when we realize we’re saying them to ourselves!  No matter what conflicts exist in our lives, peace is found when we take full responsibility for our circumstances and learn to forgive not just others, but ourselves.  If we have done wrong, we often beg forgiveness of those we have wronged, but how often do we take the time to actually have it out with ourselves and, ultimately, forgive ourselves?  If someone else has done wrong to us, we may choose to forgive them, but how often do we actually take a look at our own role as co-creators of our universe and ask our own forgiveness, too.  And how often do we actually let go of our attachments and truly forgive?

Upon learning about Ho’oponopono, I began using it in my daily life.  If conflict arose, I would silently utter the four statements toward the conflict – whether it was a person I was quarreling with or a situation in my life, I would tell it that I loved it, that I was sorry (even if my ego kept saying that it was their fault), that I would like their forgiveness, and that I was thankful for that forgiveness.

The more I practiced, the more I realized that I was always talking to myself when I did this, even if I had an external circumstance I thought I was directing my statements to.  I was letting myself know that the circumstance didn’t have the power to define me, and therefore was a necessary part of my experience.  When I say “I love you” now, I know that I’m really talking to my true self.  I accepted responsibility for all of the circumstances in my life and when I say “I’m sorry” now, I’m talking about my genuine remorse (NOT guilt or shame) over creating suffering for myself and others.  I began to seek forgiveness from my true self for allowing myself to get caught up in all of the chaos around me instead of remaining in the Now, and so when I say “Please forgive me” now, I know I’m talking to me.  And when I say “Thank you” now, I know it’s because the forgiveness is already there.  If I am truly in the spirit of Ho’oponopono, I can shed my ego and find absolute peace, joy, and unconditional love in any moment and under any circumstances.

Communion with Source

Meditation is nothing new.  For millennia, humankind has sought refuge from the stresses of daily life by retreating to a place of quiet contemplation.  For some, this refuge takes the form of prayer to their deity.  For others, it is a time of quieting the mind and focusing on relaxation.  Still others find this haven in pondering philosophic and spiritual questions or in taking time to study and learn about such things.  And some just take a walk in the park or curl up with the family pet and a good book.  All of these are just a few examples of the ways we humans tap into the power of this principle.

This seemingly universal human need allows us to break, if only for a little while, the constant cycle of stress in our lives.  More importantly, this introspective time helps us to reconnect with ourselves and our “source,” whatever that might mean to us individually.  And taking some time in meditation on a daily basis opens us up to experiences like inspiration, deeper understanding of our lives, and just plain peace.  It has also been shown to have tremendous health benefits as well, helping with stress-related ailments, lowering blood pressure, and regulating autonomic functions in the body.

Regardless of your spiritual, religious, philosophic, or scientific beliefs, developing a routine practice of daily meditation is an essential and universally beneficial means of maintaining peace of mind, focus, and even physical health.  Meditation doesn’t have to be a mystical spiritual practice, nor does it have to conform to any set of rules or criteria.  In other words, you can make your daily meditation time into something that resonates with and works for you.  If you belong to a specific religion, use the wonderful traditions of your religion – prayers, incantations, or rituals and ceremonies – to tap into the benefits of meditation.  If you are a nature lover, set aside some time every day to sit (or walk) outside and enjoy the beauty.  If you’re a fitness buff, do a little yoga or stretching every day to relax the body, mind, and spirit.  You get the idea…

The idea of meditation is to quiet the mind, focus on calming the body, and connect with your deeper self.  How you do it is up to you.  But doing it consciously and every day is the best way to tap into its power.  So, consider this commitment to yourself: Can you set aside an hour every day to meditate in whatever way works for you?  How about a half-hour?  How about 10 minutes?  Remember, there are no rules.  The key is to get into the habit of doing it daily.  With our busy lives, it can seem impossible to “squeeze in” a “luxury” like meditation.  I would argue that it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity – one of the most important and beneficial commitments you can make to yourself.  No matter how busy you are, you could always wake up 10 minutes earlier in the morning, right?  Or go to bed 10 minutes later?  If you do, you will quickly find that you’re better able to cope with stress, more focused throughout your day, and generally happier and healthier.  And you deserve those things!

The Beauty of Impermanence

“Everything flows and nothing abides.  Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” – Heraclitus (c. 540 – c. 475 BC)

So many of our conflicts exist because of our attachment to the idea that the circumstances of our lives are of tremendous importance, and that they are somehow permanent and real.  We adhere to this idea vehemently, even to the extent that we believe that our past and future circumstances are permanent and real, here and now.  We suffer over our past, allowing our regrets and past traumas to live in our emotional experience today as if they were still happening to us.  We suffer over our future, allowing our fears and our uncertainty to create a real experience for us now as if the future has happened already.  And we suffer in our present moment over the circumstances which overwhelm us on a daily basis.

In truth, however, our past circumstances are gone.  The only thing keeping them alive is our emotional attachment to them.  And, in truth, our future circumstances are unknown to us.  The only thing making them real now is our attachment to our emotional imagination of how they will be.  And, in truth, our present circumstances, no matter how dire, are temporary.  The only thing that makes them seem permanent is the significance we give them.

Everything changes.  Everything passes.  This universe functions in a state of impermanence.  We look around at things like mountains, buildings, and even our own bodies, and are struck by the illusion of solidity.  But in just a few short decades, our bodies wear down and pass away.  In a few centuries, buildings crumble and decay.  In a few millennia, mountains shift and heave.  These realities hold true for the circumstances of our lives, too.  No matter how weighty and important things may seem, eventually everything comes to an end.

At first blush, this universal truth may seem harsh, pessimistic, or fatalistic.  But when deeply pondered, impermanence is a wonderful gift.  When we can humbly accept that nothing in this existence is permanent, we can shed our attachments to the emotional addictions which hinder our experience.  When we learn to live each moment for all that it’s worth – as if it were our last – we can free ourselves from the limitations of past and future thinking, and even take control of our experience of the NOW.  When we can, with open mind and open heart, meditate of the impermanence of all things, we find that we are more likely to live our lives in a state of peace, accepting the gifts the Universe unfurls for us without questioning them.  Even our challenges become experiences of growth and opportunity because, deep down, we can accept that they, too, are temporary.

Some would argue that focusing on impermanence makes one indifferent.  I disagree.  Detaching from the sufferings I’ve attached to in my life allows me to live my life more fully.  Recognizing the finite nature of all things helps me to appreciate what I have while I have it.  Knowing that I have a limited time-frame (in this experience, at least), makes it possible for me to love more fully, taking nothing for granted and cherishing all those who are in my experience.  Getting past the stigma of pessimism attached to the concept of impermanence has allowed me to be present and truly live.

Lack mentality

One of the most common sources of stress in our culture is financial worry.  Towards the end of each month, we find ourselves worried about paying our bills.  When we receive our paycheck, we worry that we won’t have enough to make ends meet.  When an unexpected expense crops up, we worry about how it will fit into our budget.  Additionally, many of us find ourselves living with a feeling that we should be doing more – that if only we had greater resources, we could be accomplishing more of our dreams or helping more people.

For those of us who have begun our journey into the Law of Attraction, conscious manifestation, or abundant attitudes, these worries present another unique form of stress.  We can know (intellectually speaking) that the Universe is abundant, and we can believe that we are capable of manifesting all that we need and/or desire, but when the end of the month comes, our paycheck posts, or those unexpected expenses crop up, we often find ourselves right back in the same boat emotionally!  Furthermore, for those of us who have not conjured up the winning lottery ticket or the big win at the poker table, we often still feel that we’re not doing enough – that we’re missing something or that we are holding ourselves back because we still have something to learn.

So why is it so difficult to let go of the importance we seem to place on little slips of paper, discs of metal, and strips of plastic?  Why do we seem so unable to manifest financial security at will?  How come our lives don’t already look like the lives of the people held up as examples in movies like “The Secret” and other success and self-help films?  Do we need to read more books?  Pray more?  What are we doing wrong!?!

Do any of these questions sound vaguely familiar to you?  If so, then the answer to them lies in the emotions you’re feeling which generate these thoughts.  The underlying belief which drives these feelings of lack and the stress with which so many of us struggle is the belief in an “IF-THEN” formula.  It starts with the belief that “IF I don’t make X dollars on my paycheck, THEN I won’t be able to pay my bills” or something like that.  This seems like a perfectly logical argument, but rules out a wide array of means by which the Universe may be able to provide for our needs including an unexpected windfall, an unforseen bonus, a creditor willing to negotiate new payment terms, and so forth.  By believing that there is only one way in which our basic needs can be met only puts blinders on us and limits our ability to receive what the Universe may have in store for us.  Furthermore, the stressful feelings we generate keep us locked in a cycle of believing in lack, a condition which only serves to keep us in lack.

“Yes, Greg, but I already get that concept, so why does this keep happening?”

Again, the answer lies in an IF-THEN” formula.  “IF I can learn to let go of my belief in lack, THEN I’ll be able to manifest anything I want to!”  Look at the conditions we restrain ourselves and the Universe with: I can only manifest things once I’m doing this ONE thing.  A simple rephrasing reveals the flaw in this thinking: “IF I could just learn to let go of needing this money to come into my life, THEN I’ll get the money!”  Where is the importance placed in this statement?  On the MONEY!  Again, we limit ourselves and the Universe to a paradigm in which IF we don’t make X dollars THEN we won’t have our needs met.  For those of us learning about abundance and the Law of Attraction, our frustration is compounded by our belief that the Universe is abundant and generous, and therefore we must be doing something wrong if we’re not receiving abundance and generosity.  We feel, simply, that we are living in lack and that it’s our own fault.

There are two Universal Truths – taught in every philosophic and spiritual tradition – which allow us to be set free instantly from the conditional stress of these financial worries.  The first is Gratitude.  To be grateful for what actually is, not what we think needs to be.  Look around your life and find the little things which make you thankful – maybe they’re friends, family, or loved ones, or perhaps they’re the roof over your head or the job that you do have, or maybe it’s as simple as the fact that you’re alive and breathing.  And how often do we forget to be grateful for the “little things” like the sun on our face, the kind smile from the cashier at the grocery store, or the spring shower which waters our garden for us?  Practicing conscious gratitude helps us to shift our attitude from one of lack to one of abundance, and helps us with the second Universal Truth – Trust.

Trust (or Faith, as some call it) is the true act of letting it go or giving it over to God.  But true Trust isn’t conditional, it is honest and selfless.  If we are “trusting” in God to make us a certain amount of money, we are making that trust conditional upon the IF-THEN formula that the money matters!  Instead, we Trust that God never forsakes us and that, no matter what happens, our higher power is always mindful of what is best for us in the big picture.  In this attitude of Gratitude and Trust, we can face any challenge without fear and without limiting IF-THEN conditions.

The kicker to all of this is that, when we’re practicing Gratitude and Trust, there is no THEN to the formula.  I know that many of you have heard these principles before – after all, they’ve been taught for countless millenia!  But the catch-22 is that we still have a proclivity to practice them with an expectation of a specific outcome.  When we truly Trust, we are trusting that we are exactly where we need to be NOW and that this is ALWAYS true.  And that’s it!  Trust has nothing to do with how things are going to turn out tomorrow, next week, or next year!  It’s all about the NOW.  And when we are practicing Gratitude, we are grateful for what is NOW and that is all that matters regardless of any specific outcome in our limited expectations.

Does that mean we just give up, quit our jobs, and leave everything to chance?  Of course not!  We are here to do the best that we can do.  When our bills loom, we do our best to pay them – NOT because the future outcome means anything, but because that’s what we’re here to do.  We work hard, we look for areas in which the Universe may be trying to bless us that we’ve been ignoring, we follow our intuitions and our promptings, and we listen to our Source and our Guides.  But we do all of these things NOW instead of doing them for the future.  We do them because that’s all we can do.  Put another way, we simply do the work we know we’re supposed to be doing without knowing (or needing to know) the outcome.  In the meantime, we are Grateful that we can do these things – that we are still here – and we Trust that, no matter the outcome, we don’t have to face anything alone and whatever we face is in our best interest.  Period.  Letting go of the need for money is not a way to manifest money, it’s a way to open ourselves to the joy, peace, and love that the Universe is showering us with every day.  The money may come or it may not, but from a place of spiritual Truth, it couldn’t matter less!

The Difference Between Remorse & Shame

Human emotions interpreted through the insidious filter of the ego can create a powerful misconception about ourselves and those around us.  We have a powerful, built-in tendency to define ourselves by our prominent emotions (e.g., a person who is feeling sad thinks of him or herself as a “sad” person), and how we feel about someone else tends to automatically categorize them in our mind (e.g., that person made me angry, therefore he or she is a bad person).  But these conclusions are illogical.  Everyone feels every emotion at some time or another during his or her lifetime, and to say that the feelings define the person is to say that who we are changes moment-by-moment on a whim.  In no circumstance is this tendency of ours more obvious (or more dangerous) than when we feel and misinterpret the natural emotion of remorse. 

With the possible exception of sociopaths, all of us feel this emotion whether we are conscious of it or not.  It arises when our actions, habits, patterns, and interactions are out of integrity with our inner values and beliefs.  It is not our emotions that define us, but it is what we DO with those emotions – the power we give them to control our actions – that determines whether the way we are living our lives is in integrity with our inherent sense of morality.  I’m not talking about a dogmatic set of rules or commandments here, by the way, I’m referring to the divine sense of morality with which we are all endowed, which primarily tells us to do our best not to do harm to ourselves or others.

When something we have done or are doing is causing emotional or physical pain to ourselves or someone else, our natural tendency is to feel remorse.  This is perfectly understandable, and is actually a mechanism designed to help us evolve in our spiritual state by taking better and better care of ourselves and others.  When we are out of alignment with that Purpose, remorse is the signpost that guides us to correcting our actions in order to save each other from further pain.  Making a deliberate effort to make amends for harmful behavior in the past, and then consciously working on breaking habits of harmful behavior in the future, are a few of the ways in which we step closer towards inner peace and enlightenment.

The problem is that when we feel remorse but then use it to define ourselves, the end result is a belief that we are a bad person.  This results in a transmutation of remorse into shame.  And that shame can manifest consciously or subconsciously.  We either sink into a morass of guilt for the way we have been living our lives, or we try to cover our shame with denial, justification or rationalization, and blame.  Either way, by giving undue and unwanted defining power to the natural emotion of remorse, we compound our suffering, and that manifests in continuing harmful behavior.  Which compounds shame, which perpetuates the downward spiral.

Patterns of destructiveness – dishonesty, casual indifference to the pain our actions are causing ourselves and others, rationalization of behaviors which we know are feeble attempts to fill a void in our self-esteem, and constant anger with others for judging us (which is almost always a symptom of self-judgment) – are the evidence that we are dealing in shame or blame instead of remorse.  Remorse is there for a divine Purpose, and healing these cycles comes from a proper understanding of that Purpose.

There is a principal in the twelve-step program promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous which really captures spirit of what it means to be in integrity with our true selves.  It is the ninth step, which is to make direct amends to anyone harmed through unconscious actions whenever doing so will not cause further harm.  In other words, it is absolutely essential to our karmic and emotional well-being that we be willing to set aside blame and shame, and instead feel the real remorse that our shortcomings – and we ALL have them – have wrought in our lives.  When we are in blame and shame, we react, jumping to self-righteousness, denial, anger, or self-loathing and depression.  When we are in tune with the Purpose of remorse, we consciously act, doing our best to apologize, make amends, and change the cycles of behavior which have left in our path a wake of destruction.

Identifying the differences between genuine remorse and ego-induced shame and blame is tricky, and the ego will do its level best to try to keep you from growing.  But swallowing pride and facing the Truth that remorse isn’t telling you you’re a bad person, it’s there to help you continue to evolve into a better one, is the first step towards breaking the habituated cycles of suffering in your life.  Being willing to say you’re sorry, and then changing your behaviors one step at a time, is the key to liberation.

The First Step in an Exciting Journey


Welcome to the weekly blog of ASPIRE Publications and founder, Gregory Kirk.  In conjunction with the release of Greg’s new book,Perfectly Flawed – How to Stop Suffering and Start Living,” we are also launching ASPIRE Publications, LLC, a new Independent Publishing company devoted to producing and promoting a variety of media designed to feed the soul and encourage the growth of humankind towards enlightenment.  Our mission is to educate and collaborate with earnest seekers of inner peace in order to inspire the sharing of light and to promote Truth without dogma, Love without condition, and Understanding without preconception.

Although initially, ASPIRE will focus mainly on promoting the new book and the various messages it shares, we plan to seek other like-minded authors, musicians, artists, philosophers, scientists, and spritualists in order to promote their materials as well.  Our goal is to start conversations – to learn together rather than preach – and to help people expand their horizons while expanding our own.  This sort of collective growth is how we believe evolution towards enlightenment is achieved.

We believe that Truth is Universal, and that dogmatic thinking is what stands in the way of a common understanding of the things we all desire most – Joy, Unconditional Love, and Peace (JULP).  ASPIRE Publications is committed to promoting an open-minded exploration of the human experience, seeking Truth in the Arts, Sciences, Philosophy, Intuition,
Religion, and Enlightenment (ASPIRE)

In order to reach the maximum number of fellow journeyers and build a growing community of people helping each other expand, we are counting on the power of connection made possible by the Internet.  That means we need all of you to participate!  We humbly ask that you help us by spreading the word.  Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, pin us on Pinterest, network with us on LinkedIn, +1 us on Google, subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel, and most importantly, participate!  To evolve together, we need your insights and inspirations every bit as much as you may need ours.  So add your comments to this blog, comment on the various status updates and messages we will be promoting across the social networks, and invite your friends to do the same.  Over the next few weeks, we will begin publishing a weekly inspirational message here on this blog, and sharing messages of joy, love, and peace on all of our sites.  Be sure to subscribe, and thanks for joining us on this exciting journey.