A Talk of Elders - A Loss of the Sacred
By Grant Redhawk – AKA Two Feathers
Today we embark on a new and broad category of study. In a Talk of Elders lies a multitude of learning opportunities from knowledge available to all of us. I must say very early on that I am only a channel (I use that term very loosely), of that wisdom, not the wisdom keeper. I only Wish I knew how to integrate all that is taught to me in my practical life. If I did I would be so peaceful, I would have no need to strike these keys :) I must confess that I am like my Spirit friend the Red-tail, only a messenger.
What I hope to accomplish is a short, bite size insight of how much we are interconnected with all other beings of this universe. I hope to give you insights as to how much we really are responsible for each other. To show you the sacredness of your own path, and how to recognize the sacredness of all other beings. How to integrate that sacredness back into a sadly lacking society of even the knowledge of the sacred. Most don’t know the true feeling of Sacredness simply because they have not had the opportunity to experience it.
We know there is sacredness, because of one very special characteristic of Native People whose energy permeates this Turtle Island. When we are around them, we sense something different about them. An extra energy that has been bred out of the rest of society. Not all of them have this energy as many have followed paths contrary to their culture. But the majority who have not strayed from Original Teachings have this special energy of Sacredness.
In Blackfoot we have a special name for these folks: We call them NIIT-SI-TAPI – The Real People.
How does one know the difference between what is and is not sacred? See how this works!
Go into a tobacco shop and purchase a simple pipe for personal use. Or better yet make it with your own hands so that it has YOUR energy in it. If you were to use this pipe for ordinary smoking, there would be nothing sacred in the act.
However, we can then take this same pipe; cleanse it with sage, cedar and sweet grass. Fill it with specially prepared tobacco mix or Native Kinni-Kinnick , all the while giving Creator, the Grandfathers and the seven directions thanks for all that we have. We can then smoke the Pipe offering it and the smoke to the ancestors, directions and Creator. Then the pipe is sacred! Sacred energy is created when we do this. It is sacred when we create healing energy for the earth and its beings and give thanks for what we have.
Normally we would not use this same pipe in an ordinary way again. As soon as that happened it would no longer be sacred. The next time we attempted to make this same pipe sacred, we would not succeed. The first time, was because we intended to bring sacredness into our lives, so the conversion was allowed. The next time would be seen as manipulating our sacredness, not respecting it. We would not be given a second chance with this pipe. In addition, the next time we wished to smoke the pipe in a sacred way we would have to purchase or make it with the intent to use it in a sacred way.
In many other lands, greed and self-interest are not taught; rather the children learn to walk the sacred paths of their ancestors. We in our almighty readiness to judge have determined that because these people believe differently than we do that truly they are second and third class sub-humans. As was the case when the first white man set foot upon our shore and viewed the specter of half-naked Natives who knew nothing of land ownership. These same Real People who put their own families at risk during those first harsh winters, so that their brother the white man would not starve were so summarily destroyed in the years that followed because “anyone who would put themselves at risk for total strangers” MUST have hidden agendas.
If one thinks that, “surely we have grown from these attitudes in the last 300 years that our spiritual growth and intelligence has matured to a point far beyond that which would destroy a friend because of fear!” Then explain why we are still fighting the same wars! How can anyone conceive of doing to us that which destroyed more than 6000 people at one time? I.e. World Trade Center destruction!
“If we study the reactions and reasons of those that despise us, we can learn a lot about ourselves. If instead we hate those that despise us, we set in motion the wheels of our own destruction. “– Two Feathers
When was the last time you have knelt to pray five times a day to your GOD?
We have seen many people trade their sacred path for a piece of the “Cash Cow”. They have walked away from their own sacredness to follow in the path’s of those whom they see as better off than themselves. If they see someone with a new SUV and they have a Ford Focus, they have been taught by our twisted society to be ashamed of that Ford Focus. They then go buy an SUV and perpetuate the greed and the myth. If they see someone with a new home out in the suburbs and they live in a trailer, they see themselves as something less than equal to those who appear to be more fortunate. Then their focus shifts from a path of following white to a path of following green. They have sold their soul’s for perceived moments of bliss, which lasts only until their friends down the street buy a castle. They are no longer in a sacred place.
We see many people in divorce because they don’t want to deal with a difficult partner. They are taught by our society to see divorce and quitting as acceptable. This is the great denial of a society filled with the process of unawareness. If society accepts this behavior from others, it sets everyone up to easily walk away from accountability just in case the going gets a little rough for them. We have bastardized the sacred teachings of our Elders to fulfill the selfish cravings of a society collapsing upon itself. The prophesy of the Ghost Dance by Wavoka it seems may be coming true after all.
“Then medicine men tell Indians to send word to all Indians to keep up dancing and the good time will come. Indians who don't dance, who don't believe in the word, will grow little, just about a foot high, and stay that way. Some of them will be turned into wood and be burned in fire. “
- Wovoka, the Paiute Messiah
It is seen as OK to deny the sacredness of the path that Creator has put us on in the coming together in love. Creator put us together in love and in the spirit of His beauty way. This is a Sacred gift, from Creator to be treasured and cherished and held to ones heart. There are always more reasons for the uniting of two than just a relationship, and it is a wise person who realizes that growth never is easy and the growth of relationship is no exception. When we question Creators wisdom in what He has done, we are in effect putting ourselves above His teaching. We all realize the terror that a dysfunctional relationship can bring, however to walk away is indolence and a failure to use the intellect Creator gave us to solve difficult problems. If you loved a person once, you still do no matter what curtains you raise between you and them. You can free the love within, again by simply putting more effort into resolving the issues than you have up until now. No problem is unsolvable….
Stephen Butterfield, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. 1, #4
The Buddhist challenge to conventional Western
notions of spirituality illuminates the way we set flesh
and spirit at war with each other. In Buddhism there is
no original sin. Although noticing how we express our
sexuality can certainly lead to an awareness of right
conduct, the flesh is not regarded as representing a
corruption or punishment of any kind, nor as an
obstacle to the attainment of enlightenment. The root
of human suffering is not sin, but our confusion about
ego. We suffer because we believe in the existence of
an individual self. This belief splits the world into "I"
These questions can be debated repeatedly:
What about the battered spouse? Then of course the relationship should end! What about infidelity? Then of course the relationship should end! What about entering a relationship using false premises, which feed our self-interest at the expense of the person one decides to prey upon? Then of course the relationship should end. What about falling out of love? The bigger question would be, “why did you fall out of love? “ There are many instances like this when the relationship should end! In all instances one or both in the relationship have lost their sacred path, they have not fulfilled their responsibility to each other to stay in love and stay in the intended energy that Creator provided. A sobering fact of leaving a relationship in this way is the intended healing of the relationship has been broken necessitating a repeat of the experience further on in the soul’s journey!
We are not innocent children victimized by a big bad
world; if our world is big and bad, we made it that
way. This is what the Buddha taught. The "other" is
the child's boogeyman, the projection of our own fears
onto a terrifying object of our imagination, which in
turn terrorizes us. Our ignorance is not seeing that we
are the other. We cannot afford to confuse innocence
with this ignorance. Violence is not a permanent,
immutable, fixed object. It is a state of mind, an
expression of ignorance, with no more solid substance
than a cloud. We cannot make a frontal attack on
violence. Even protecting ourselves from it fuels its
boogeyman existence. But the Buddha taught that we
can change. This was his good news: that there is a
way to alleviate suffering by freeing our minds from
greed, anger, and ignorance. Yet until we apprehend
the ways in which we are Oklahoma City, the bombs
and the baby bears, the victims and the violators, we
will continue to blame "them," all the while
proclaiming our innocence and evading our
Coming together in a love relationship is one of the most Sacred experiences one has in life. From the High feelings of exuberant energy, to the loss of appetite for food which is replaced by an unquenchable thirst to make love repeatedly. The incredible loneliness, one feels when they are not in the presence of their love partner is a direct correlation to the sacred gift that Creator has bestowed upon both. What other experience in life is so powerful as a true love relationship? I can think of only one other that matches this and that is to participate in the birth of a new child. Why in heavens name after experiencing this “Beauty Way” that Creator has given you, would you not fight tooth and nail to maintain it? What has gone out of us as a society that we would not take a stance against the failure of such relationships of our brothers and sisters, and step in and help to resolve the disharmony. Such things were common in my own experience of my Native relatives.
1 October 2001
Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart
The basic precepts are not passive. They can actively
express a compassionate heart in our life. Not killing
can grow into a reverence for life, a protective caring
for all sentient beings who share life with us. Not
stealing can become the basis for a wise ecology,
honoring the limited resources of the earth and
actively seeking ways to live and work that share our
blessings worldwide. From this spirit can come a life of
natural and healing simplicity. Out of not lying we can
develop our voice to speak for compassion,
understanding, and justice. Out of nonharming
sexuality, our most intimate relations can also become
expressions of love, joy, and tenderness. Out of not
abusing intoxicants or becoming heedless, we can
develop a spirit that seeks to live in the most awake
and conscious manner in all circumstances.
At first, precepts are a practice. Then they become a
necessity, and finally they become a joy. When our
heart is awakened, they spontaneously illuminate our
way in the world.
This brings us to an area of contention that weighs heavily on those who have meditated frequently on the sacredness of life. In native family, there is no one more sacred than children and the elderly. Children have just entered into the great circle of life, are unspoiled by society, and have not yet been taught to covet earthly desires. They only know the purity of that which they have come from. The elderly are in final preparation to complete the Circle and rejoin the ancestors from whence they have traveled. They indeed are walking with sacred energy. If we could only SEE…..
White Smoke, look can you hear it? - Michael Hull
In today’s society, a child is more tolerated than revered. The quantity and quality of attention given to children is directly proportional to their cuteness or how much attention their parents or relatives may glean by being seen as the “doting parent/relative”. There seems to be no awareness of the sacredness of their new arrival upon our plane of existence. A problem child stands no chance of attaining the same quality of love as one who appears to be more developed. Therefore, they are surreptitiously dumped into a “special class” which is equivalent to being given one last chance to acquire our society’s expectation of them or else they will be forever relegated to a cage of hopelessness. I often wonder if any of the so-called saviors of our children, give any thought to the psychological, long-term damage done to a child who has to undergo “special class stigma”! In my experience of problem children, I being one of them, all that most of them need is a little less Ritalin and lot more extra love and patience!
Sending our children to public school is a crap shoot at best and I for one am very uncomfortable at the thought of entrusting my child’s safety to say nothing of their education to a total stranger in today’s society of kooks, junkies and hypocrites. What does that say of us when we are so callus with Creators gifts to us? I understand the pressure is intense to conform to society’s dictates and customs but these are the same mindsets that so willingly accepted the kidnapping of Native American Children to such schools as the Carlisle Indian school in Pennsylvania. These schools were created for the express intent of genocide of the Native American Race.
I know many people out there do not want to acknowledge that there is any difference between what went on in the genocidal schools and the intent of other infamous figures in history who believed in a superior race, but the fact remains that it happened in this country. The fact remains that it is still happening in this country on many reservations where the Native people are not yet convinced that only they can make their lives different. The government has attempted to destroy the Native People. Why?
The Native People are a financial burden and an embarrassment to the Federal government. Much of Native land sits on rich mineral reserves, which public and private concerns would love to get their hands on. How did the entire imbalance in the Native circles start? Because you (Native People) allowed yourselves to be convinced that, the spiritual path of Europeans was acceptable for you to adopt. If creator wanted you to follow that path, he would have given it to you in a spiritual way, not by forcing it down your throats by men of greed and self-interest.
What has all this resulted in on the reservations? Alcoholism, high unemployment, low self esteem, sub-standard living conditions, low life expectancy, poor health and a dependence on the public dole. What do we think our ancestors are thinking about what we have allowed ourselves to become? What do we think they are saying to us now? I believe I know. They are saying, “take control of our lives back from these non-connected people”. They are saying “resolve our issues amongst ourselves, only then will we regain the pride in self that is so necessary to SEE clearly”. They are saying, “go back into the Sacred”.
The grave mistake that Native people made and still are making is that they believe that because the Europeans have superior material goods, that their religion must be superior as well. When in truth if they stayed true to their own spiritual path, they would know that they do not need the material products to make their lives complete. If in fact, the non-native people found fulfillment in their spiritual beliefs there would be little reason to strive for material goods to provide them with a false sense of accomplishment.
Look back through the True religions of history and one will find that the people who found perfect peace in their spiritual lives found little need for the material things in life. Native people, go back to your true paths, the one that has been provided for your survival and well being, thousands of years ago. There is a reason for that path on this Turtle Island.
The Dalai Lama, The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness, edited by Sidney Piburn
Lack of understanding of the true nature of happiness,
it seems to me, is the principal reason why people
inflict sufferings on others. They think either that the
other's pain may somehow be a cause of happiness for
themselves or that their own happiness is more
important, regardless of what pain it may cause. But
this is shortsighted, no one truly benefits from causing
harm to another sentient being. Whatever immediate
advantage is gained at the expense of someone else is
shortlived. In the long run causing others misery and
infringing their rights to peace and happiness result in
anxiety, fear and suspicion within oneself. Such
feelings undermine the peace of mind and
contentment which are the marks of happiness.
True happiness comes not from a limited concern for
one's own well-being, or that of those one feels close
to, but from developing love and compassion for all
sentient beings. Here, love means wishing that all
sentient beings should find happiness, and compassion
means wishing that they should all be free of
suffering. The development of this attitude gives rise
to a sense of openness and trust that provides the
basis for peace.
To be continued: