Indigenous Wisdom

How Can We Reciprocate The Gifts Of The Earth ? Robin Wall Kimmerer

‘For much of human’s time on the planet, before the great delusion, we lived in cultures that
understood the covenant of reciprocity, that for the Earth to stay in balance,
for the gifts to continue to flow, we must give back in equal measure for what we take.

In the teachings of my Potawatomi ancestors, responsibilities and gifts are understood
as two sides of the same coin. The possession of a gift is coupled with a duty to use it for
the benefit of all. A thrush is given the gift of song—and so has a responsibility to greet
the day with music. Salmon have the gift of travel, so they accept the duty of carrying food upriver.
So when we ask ourselves, what is our responsibility to the Earth, we are also asking, “What is our gift?”

As human people, most recently evolved here, we lack the gifts of our companion species,
of nitrogen fixation, pollination, and 3000-mile migrations under magnetic guidance.
We can’t even photosynthesize. But we carry gifts of our own, which the Earth urgently needs.
Among the most potent of these is gratitude.

Gratitude may seem like weak tea given the desperate challenges that lie before us,
but it is powerful medicine, much more than a simple thank you.
Giving thanks implies recognition not only of the gift, but of the giver.
When I eat an apple, my gratitude is directed to that wide-armed tree whose tart
offspring are now in my mouth, whose life has become my own. Gratitude is founded on
the deep knowing that our very existence relies on the gifts of beings who can in fact
photosynthesize. Gratitude propels the recognition of the personhood of all beings and
challenges the fallacy of human exceptionalism—the idea that we are somehow better,
more deserving of the wealth and services of the Earth than other species.’

Robin Wall Kimmerer

For more about her work see:  Link

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Mind And Morality: Where Do They Meet? An Essay by Larry Merculieff

I have had a traditional Aleut (Unungan) upbringing in the Bering Sea which guides me in writing
this essay
My people were in the Bering Sea for over 10,000 years, and we are still there.
From an indigenous person’s perspective, I find the question to be critical in terms of the
violence around the world today in all its forms and the continuing decline of life support
systems of Mother Earth. The questions we ask about our plight as human beings are central
to where we go from here. Alaska Native Elders say that we must look at the root causes of
our challenges and not at the symptoms. The root cause of our plight is disconnection from
our hearts—which inform our minds, and our minds then direct what we do.

In today’s society, we are focused on how the brain works and what it produces.
The qualities of mind, according to The Free Dictionary, deal with “thought, perception,
memory and decision.” Merriam-Webster defines mind as “the organized conscious and
unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism.” If this is the case, where is the heart?
The “heart” I am talking about is the inexplicable aspect of us that is in connection with
the divine and guides us impeccably. “Heart” is the source of correct thinking and being.
Einstein is quoted saying,
“we cannot solve the problem with the same consciousness that created the problem.”
I would argue that the consciousness of the mind, as we define it,
is the consciousness that created all the problems faced by humans today.

When veterans returned from Vietnam, thousands came back with a peculiar disorder that the
doctors had to deal with. It was invisible until they put a name to it:
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The vets took to addictions and other behaviors: drinking alcohol, taking drugs,
watching TV for seventeen hours a day, and even isolating themselves in the wilderness or in other ways.
Most of these veterans had depression. They used these coping behaviors to try to escape from their
reality of remembering the horrors of war. To escape required detaching from the present moment
because it was too painful. One definition of an addiction is a strategy to escape the present moment.
These veterans used this strategy to detach, as much as possible, from the heart.
Native Elders say that this is like creating a big stomach that is always hungry and is never filled;
the result is addictions.
The Elders also say that when we swallow feelings we create a stagnant pool inside ourselves
and these stagnant pools create depression. The addictive behaviors were passed along from generation
to generation for coping with anything that hurt one’s spirit, and these behaviors remain with us today.
The addictions, one can argue, are society-wide wherever we take without thought to the consequences
and do harm to others and to Mother Earth.

Prior to the “beginning of time,” all people had an internal guide for how to behave and how to think.
Time began when we focused on guilt, shame, remorse, anger, rage, jealousy, and like feelings; or fear,
which is a projection into the future of something that has not happened yet.
Time began when we focused anywhere except the present moment where the “heart” can be found.
Instead, we simply replaced the present with feelings of the past or future, and so we live there today.
Someone once said, “God can be found in the silence between one’s thoughts” and,
according the Depak Chopra, “the point of power is in the present moment.”
Native Americans say that one who lives in the present moment
is the “real human being”: one who is whole, who knows their place in the world.
In the names they gave themselves as a people and cultures, Alaska Native peoples call themselves
the “human being” or the “real human being.” They understand that human laws and the study of morality
are creations of those who live outside of the present, necessitating that these things be memorialized
and made into laws and fields of study because they have forgotten how to be integrated into life as
real human beings. In the time before time began, we never had prisons. Why? We never had to deal with
human-caused things like warfare, felony, and climate change—the destruction of the life support systems
of the planet.
Why? We never invented the term “sustainability” as a concept to guide how we interact with the earth.
Why? Simply put, the Indigenous Elders say these society-wide struggles stem from a memory lapse:
we have forgotten how to be “real human beings” guided by divinely-inspired laws for living.

We need to listen to these Elders who know. They say that “nothing is created outside [of us]
until it is created inside first.” We are in conflict outside because we are in conflict inside.
We judge others because we judge ourselves first. We criticize and find fault in others because
we are finding fault inside of ourselves first. And we trash the environment outside because
we trash the environment inside. As long as this kind of consciousness exists,
we will never create anything truly new, inside or out.

So, where do the mind and morality meet? The answer is the heart, which directs our individual thoughts,
feelings, and actions if we have the “ears” to listen to what it is saying in any given circumstance.
It is the only aspect of us that guides without doubt or hesitation, and it guides us perfectly.
How do we get back to being heart-guided people? The Elders say that the model for our cultures
should be a two-year-old child. The two-year-old cries when she feels like crying; she laughs in the moment.
When she is angry, she deals with it in the moment, and then she is fine.
Two-year-olds are masters of moving energy.
We need to remember how to move energy to be real human beings’.

Quoted  from Humans And Nature http://www.humansandnature.org/

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Stop Take A Deep Breath

Stop, take a deep breath,

Listen to your breath,

And hear this

THE MOTHER IS MISSING YOU

Mama Earth is missing you.

Tioksin Ghosthorse – Lakota

creatrix

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The Way Of Council

‘When Native people speak they are not talking from the head,
relating some theory, mentioning what they read in a book,
or what someone else has told them.
Rather, they speak from the heart,
from the traditions of their people,
and from the knowledge of their land:
they speak of what they have seen and heard and touched,
and what has been passed on to them
by the traditions of their people.
It is their inner silence that allows them to
listen to the prompting of their hearts
and to the subtle resonances that lie within
each word of a language and which,
when uttered, reverberate throughout the world.’

– David F Peat –  Blackfoot Physics

THE FOUR INTENTIONS
Within the circle there are four intentions that hold the space together,
which when observed, create safety and allow truth and trust to build
in this very simple and powerful practice.

‘LISTENING FROM THE HEART’
Attentive listening, ‘witnessing’. Seeking understanding and
accepting others as they are, staying present and centred and
when we give full attention, helps another to reach their truth
more easily. Beyond ourselves and the other, is the soul of the circle.
This is heard from the heart.

SPEAKING FROM THE HEART’
Speaking our personal story, using “I” statements.
Favouring feelings and making as transparent as possible our process.
Speaking from the heart doesn’t necessarily mean using words – sound,
movement, spontaneous expressions from the heart in all forms that are
responsibly made are welcome. Even silence itself speaks.
Speak what will serve yourself, the circle, the highest good

‘SUCCINCTNESS’
Being of lean expression, helps us to attend to what is important,
recognise that our truth need not have to be re-enforced by repetition,
since we are being heard, and as there are often many in a circle,
allows time for all to share.

‘SPONTANEITY’
Surprise yourself by not planning on what or rather how you will speak.
Focusing on your own story while others have the talking piece will
reduce capacity to ‘listen’ when they speak. The heart does not plan.
Spontaneity encourages playfulness, realness and the “voice” of
the moment to be free.

CONFIDENTIALITY
Essential for sake of trust and respect,
Confidentiality is the fifth intention held outside of circle times.
What is said within the circle, stays within the circle.

Rob Dreaming

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Staying Here Now by Larry Merculieff


‘The wisdom keepers say that the only place to find the power of the Creator is to be present in this moment.
If we have fears, we are projecting them into the future. Into a future time that does not even exist.
If we have guilt, we are living in the past, for the past things we did. We are not living now.
All the spiritual keepers, of all groups in the world, be they Buddhists, be they Islamic, be it part Red Pack,
be it medicine pack– you name it– say [that] the only way to find the power that has been given to us from the Creator
is to be here, now. Not to escape.
How do we start this healing? When you are quiet within yourself and you sit next to the river– ask.
Do not be afraid to ask. Ask the Creator. Ask whoever you feel is your higher power,
“Please help me find the way because I do not know how to heal.” “Make me your history.”
And when you ask that, with humility in your heart,
you will get it. You will find it. And it will be given to you,
you will see this healing starting to spread like wild fire. It is just exciting.
Exciting to see. And the key to it is staying here, now.’
Larry Merculieff

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The Voice by Sandra Lee Stillwell

In a dream
I walked amongst the ancestors,
They tended their fires,
played flutes and drums.
and danced as only the elders could.

I watched as an old woman
took ashes from the fire
and spit on them.
Then rolling them
into a ball,
which she tossed
again and again into the air.
With each toss,
the ball changed,
until it was a tiny replica
of our own Earth.
With tears in her eyes,
she handed it to me.

I held it up against the sky,
and was amazed to feel it vibrate.
It was alive!
There were tiny birds in the skies,
the blue rivers and the seas
churned with fish and water creatures,

The land itself was alive
with animals, insects and reptiles,
many of whom have been extinct
for longer that I have lived.
This tiny blue and green Earth was perfect,
unblemished, it was as it had been
when the people themselves
were brand new.

I looked into the old woman’s face
and heard her say.
“Go back now,
be the voice for those
who cannot speak for themselves,
and for the Earth, our Mother.
Hurry child, time passes quickly.”

When I awoke,
I held in my hand a ball,
colored blue and green.
I held that tiny ball
up against the big sky,
and whispered,
“Yes grandmother.
Yes.”

In A Dress Made Of Butterflies   by Sandra Lee Stillwell

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Listening To A Deeper Way, Quotes from Linda Hogan

“Perhaps there are events and things that work as a doorway into a mythical world,
the world of first people, all the way back to the creation of the universe and the small quickenings of earth,
the first stirrings of human beings at the beginnings of time.
Our elders believe this to be so,
that it is possible to wind a way backwards to the start of things,
and in doing so find a form of sacred reason, different from ordinary reason,
that is linked to forces of nature.
In this kind of mind, ike in the feather, is the power of sky and thunder and sun,
and many have had alliances and partnerships with it,
a way of thought older than measured time,
less primitive than the rational present.
Others have tried for centuries to understand the world by science and intellect but have not yet done so,
not yet understood animals, finite earth, or even their own minds and behavior.
The more they seek to learn the world, the closer they come to the spiritual,
the magical origins of creation.

“There is a still place, a gap between the worlds,
spoken by the tribal knowings of thousands of years.
In it are silent flyings that stand aside from human struggles and the designs of our own makings.
At times, when we are silent enough, still enough, we take a step into such mystery,
the place of spirit,and mystery, we must remember, by its very nature does not wish to be known.”

“I am listening to a deeper way.
Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen.
You are the result of the love of thousands.”

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks.
Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough,
to pay attention to the story.”

“There are ways in, journeys to the center of life,
through time; through air, matter, dream and thought.
The ways are not always mapped or charted, but sometimes being lost, if there is such a thing,
is the sweetest place to be.
And always, in this search, a person might find that she is already there,
at the center of the world.
It may be a broken world, but it is glorious nonetheless.”

Linda Hogan

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Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime by Robert Lawlor

An Excerpt from Voices of the First Day: Awakening In the Aboriginal Dreamtime by Robert Lawlor

Robert Lawlor explores the rich legacy of Aboriginals to the world. Here is an excerpt on meaning.

“The earth holds an infinite profusion of seeds. Seeds contain forms and worlds yet to germinate; the roots, leaves, and flowers of the entire plant are invisibly enclosed in the seed. Paradoxically, the unborn potential of future life is fused, within a seed, to primordial patterns that were laid down in the very beginning. The seed’s capacity to engender new life seems to derive from the imprint of patterns carried through the ages.

“This image of the earth with its seeds is comparable to Carl Jung’s description of humanity’s collective unconscious: both hold the entire heritage of primal patterns that are continually reborn through nature’s seasons. Like seeds, myths, ideas, and images are dispersed throughout the world on the winds of thought, the waters of emotion, and the fires of passion.

“The Australian Aborigines speak of jiva or guruwari, a ‘seed power’ deposited in the earth. In the Aboriginal world view, every meaningful activity, event, or life process that occurs at a particular place leaves behind a vibrational residue in the earth, as plants leave an image of themselves as seeds. The shape of the land — its mountains, rocks, riverbeds, and waterholes — and its unseen vibrations echo the events that brought that place into creation. Everything in the natural world is a symbolic footprint of the metaphysical beings whose actions created our world. As with a seed, the potency of an earthly location is wedded to the memory of its origin. The Aborigines called this potency the ‘Dreaming’ of’ a place, and this Dreaming constitutes the sacredness of the earth. Only in extraordinary states of consciousness can one be aware of, or attuned to, the inner dreaming of the earth.

Lawlor explains that these people have grounded their culture in remembrance of “the first day” and a myth of creation which has lasted over 150,000 years. The Australian Aborigines are very cognizant of the presence of their “creative ancestors” and their contributions to their tradition. They have rejected many of the values the dominant culture cherishes such as agriculture, architecture, writing, clothing, and the subjugation of animals. Instead of money, the Aborigines cherish kinship, community, and the importance of the law of the Dreamtime. In fact, they  have no concept or word for time or the accumulation of possession.”    Quoted from book review in Sprituality & Practice

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Quote From Dreams Of The First Day by Robert Lawlor

‘Aborigines and indeed any indigenous tribal peoples believe that the spirit of their
consciousness and way of life exists like a seed buried in the Earth. –
Dreams,deep collective memories and imaginings are more potent than religious faith and
scientific theories in lifting us above the catastrophic ending that confronts us all.’

Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime by Robert Lawlor

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Quote From Ring Of Fire By Lawrence Blair

‘Only now when tribal peoples have almost gone has the West
awakened to the fact that rather than lands and possessions it is their subtle abilities
and environmental wisdom forged since the beginning of time which are of paramount importance
to us all.

The new psychologies of hypnotic suggestion and creative
visualization are increasingly aware that we are capably of infinitely more than the assumed
constraints of ‘physical laws’ on our bodies and minds would have us believe.’

Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey by Lawrence Blair

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