Living Bliss, or, My Awakening at the Hands of a Hawaiian Shaman

I’m back from my trip to LA.

It was bliss.

It was divine.

It was beyond all expectations.

It went from visiting the famous muscle beach area of Venice Beach, to dinner at sunset on the beach in Malibu, to discovering a treasured book at a famous book store in LA, to being wined and dined at an upscale LA restaurant, to the deepest and most stimulating conversations with a dear friend, to the actual experience of meeting the Divine in the ho’oponopono workshop, led by the world’s most unusual therapist, who lovingly picked on me throughout the event.

Here are just a few highlights…

My friend Mark Ryan picked me up at the airport, running a DVD camera as I walked up to him, filming every moment of my arrival. Nothing like being put on the spot and being treated like a movie star in LA. I should have shaved first.

When Mark realized I had never explored LA before, he became tour guide and took me to Venice Beach. The ocean waves, the people, the clear sky and cool air, were intoxicating. The quaint shops along the beach were fascinating. But the thing I found most interesting (due to my own fitness transformation) was the muscle beach area. This is where some of the bodybuilding legends used to work out, letting spectators watch and admire their bodies. Mark filmed me at this famous spot. (It’ll show up on my video blog down the road.)

From there, it was a two hour drive to get to Calabasas, a beautiful city where the workshop was held. It turned out to be convenient as we could leave it and get to Sunset Blvd or Rodeo Drive or Malibu or Pepperdine University or anywhere else we wanted in a short amount of time. The LA traffic was always slow, but it never bothered me. I wasn’t driving (being chauffeured is truly wonderful) and during the rides Mark and I had the deepest of conversations, about life, success, the workshop and more.

The only thing I really wanted to see in the LA area was the legendary Bodhi Tree Book Store. It’s a giant spiritually oriented store, with one building for new books and another for old ones. We went there Saturday night. I enjoyed it because I love books. But I never expected to find a real gem of a book there, let alone a fascinating author I had never heard of before.

We were wandering the store when a book seemed to leap off the shelf. It’s called Think: The First Principle of Business Ethics. It’s a collection of lectures by Walter Russell. Now get this: The lectures were given in the 1930s to the employees of IBM. And the lectures were on how to use your mind for success, how to listen to the universe and then take action, how to create your own reality with your thoughts, etc. Whew. This was a mystic teaching sales people how to become whole. He even told them that it was more important to forget money and just serve, than to focus on profit. The book shows IBM began from spiritual roots. I still can’t believe I missed that book or that author until now.

Mark knew about Walter Russell and said he was a modern day Da Vinci or Michelangelo. Russell excelled in numerous arts, from painting to sculpture to philosophy to science to writing and speaking. And he taught sales people how to improve themselves in order to profit. And he taught this in the 1930s, the Great Depression years here in America. He was an early practictioner of The Attractor Factor. Amazing.

After the bookstore (which alone was a memorable experience), Mark called a friend of his, a woman who owns the most famous dry cleaning service in LA. (Imagine how good it must be to have that distinction in LA.) She serves the rich and famous. Well, she made some calls and got us into a charming but busy little Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks called Tiramisu. The owner treated us like royalty. Even though Mark was in cut off jeans and I was dressed causally, the owner said, “This is Southern California. You wear whatever you like.”

That owner, Peter Kastelan, was a delight. His service was stunning. I told him about being in Rome, Italy and how the nuns there pampered Nerissa and I and even gave us home made wine and homemade grappa (potent alcohol made from the leaves of grape vines). He went behind the counter of the bar and pulled out a bottle of clear alcohol. “My father made this grappa in Italy,” and he poured us a glass. He refilled our cups, too. My world was spinning by the time I got back to my hotel. But oh, was I happy.

After reading my previous post (The World’s Most Unusual Therapist), you probably want to know about the therapist, Dr. Len, and the actual event I attended. Well, I’m forbidden to share the details of the workshop. I’m serious. I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. All I can tell you is this: It is about taking full resposibility for your life.

I know you’ve heard that before. So have I. But you’ve never taken it to the all encompassing extent taught in the workshop. Complete responsibility means accepting it all — even the people who enter your life and their problems. Because their problems are your problems. They are in your life, and if you take full resonsibilty for your life, then you have to take full responsibility for what they are experiencing, too. (Re-read that. I dare you.)

This is a head warping, mind opening, brain cramping concept. To live it is to transform your life as never before. But to even grasp the idea of 100% responsibility is beyond what most of us are ready to do, let alone accept.

But once you accept it, the next question is how to transform yourself so the rest of the world changes, too.

The only sure way is with “I love you”. That’s the code that unlocks the healing. But you use it on you, not on others. Their problem is your problem, remember, so working on them won’t help you. They don’t need healing; you do. You have to heal you. You are the source of all the experiences.

That’s the essence of the modernized ho’oponopono process.

Go ahead and chew on that for a while.

While you are doing so, I will just keep saying I love you.

Don’t get it? I understand. That’s why there are workshops to help ingrain this universal truth into us. And that’s why so many people keep repeating the workshop, especially the one led by Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len.

Dr. Len (that’s him on the right above) is a lovable, grandfatherly, modern day Hawaiian shaman dressed in dockers and sneakers. His teaching method is intuitive and Socratic. He called on me so many times during the three day event that others thought we were old friends. Some felt he was “picking on” me, mainly because he often asked questions I could not answer. But neither could anyone else. So I never felt picked on, and always liked the attention. Dr. Len told everyone to read my book, The Attractor Factor, saying he loved the concept of letting go (the fifth step) in it.

After the event, I asked Dr. Len if I could help him write a book or something about his experiences in that mental hospital for the criminally insane. (See my earlier post.) He agreed, and I’m excited to be following up on that later. That story just has to be told. Imagine: Healing mentally ill criminals by healing yourself.

I cou
ld go on and on about the weekend. Everywhere we went we met happy people. I still remember the server at Duke’s in Malibu, who radiated happiness. She admitted she was in bliss…and she confessed she had no good reason for it. She was just plain happy.

She understood the secret of the universe.

And to think we were finding this bliss in LA, which is no small Mayberry.

Gee, do you think Mark and I simply attracted all this good stuff?

Finally, here’s a funny story to end this post:

At one point a fellow student in the class walked up to me and said, “Did you know you have the same last name as a famous speaker?”

“I do?” I asked, surprised. I thought I would have heard of him. “What does he speak on?”

“He talks about Internet marketing.”

“That’s me,” I said.

The guy was slightly embarrassed and said, “I have all of your stuff and love it. I just didn’t recognize you.”

Mark piped up and said,”He’s lost 80 pounds. He’s a new man.”

And that I am. Both on the inside and on the outside.

All in all, my trip to LA was heavenly.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

I’m sure you have something to be grateful for.

I do.

In Love,


PS – Here are some resources for your pleasure:

Walter Russell
Italian cafe in LA
Bodhi Tree Bookstore
Mark Ryan
Dr. Len
My video blog
Joe Vitale main site


  1. karenhu-Reply
    November 25, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    Hi, Joe

    This post made me laugh, it made me smile, it warmed my heart, it made me curious (about grappa, among other things!), it gave me a different, eye-opening perspective on my life, and it showed me the value of blogging vs. just sending out another sales letter…it imparts great information while allowing the writer and reader to engage in a very genuine conversation.
    Thanks for become a blogger!

  2. Buttercup-Reply
    January 4, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I wasn`t sure about blogging – now I am, so thanks for setting one up.
    Taking full responsibility for your own life is a life transforming experience – as you know it means taking back all projections which I found both humbling and enlarging at the same time. What you say is difficult to understand as a concept, but once anyone has a real direct experience of their own limited mindset then transformation can begin to take place because `letting go` becomes easier due to what has been glimpsed or experienced. I do think this limited mindset set may be necessary until a person has grown strong enough to cope with, and understand, and act responsibly with the power that this knowledge brings.
    I personally had an experience of going beyond `reason` which allowed me to shatter the limited mindset I had been encased in – and because of this I do so agree with you that to live with this concept means to live your as never before.
    Joe what tends to concern me is that people chase happiness and bliss, and want to forget that they have a shadow side to contend with in order to experience anything of what you speak about.

  3. Nimbostratusdweller-Reply
    August 1, 2006 at 7:14 am

    Joe, hi! now I am interested, I read ho oponopono. on Daily Om first. I would love hearing more about what your experience was with this healer.

    It is similiar to Christian Science, and ACIM, and most of my background. ( as well as work with Bodhiavasa) who comes to your area, Austin to teach Non dualism.

    I had a healing experience with CS years ago, an awakening.

    Always looking for more healing,,, thanks, Nimbostratusdweller (SS)

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