after seeing mom yesterday, feeding her what little morsels of dinner she could eat, she said to me, “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to me”
my heart broken for her suffering, all that came to me were the words that felt true:
“do you remember your faith? do you remember your connection to God? when you feel anxious, remember that connection. it is always there with you”
I don’t know if she heard a word or received that, but I gave it for it was all I had
This morning, I had the Grace of listening to a talk by Derek at Global Witness that served me deeply today. One of the truths that he makes to clear is that there’s so much more to what we “see” in this world, it is more than what we think we know.
This is only a short excerpt of the hour long discussion:
“What do you have that is valuable?
Do you love really well?
What is your gift, no matter how small?
How do you invest it?
Take what little you have and invest it in others.
If all you do all day is to encourage people to seek who they are, you are investing your courage, you’re investing what little you’ve been given.
To those who have been given, more will be given.so you have a responsibility to care for the things you have.
Speaking of this ascension:
The Ascent is the gift of Christ, which is humility of heart:
The acceptable sacrifice is a contrite heart
You just give all of this world away.
This is my posture all the time: Head down, hands out, I’ve got nothing.
And every single day, every time I do that, he puts something in my hands.
Every single day I come to him with that humble and contrite heart, he gives me something else, and never are they my possessions, they are always His.
That’s why you don’t take those things in vein like his name. You don’t take things to be your own because nothing is yours, all of it is ours.
These truths are already in you. You once knew them and they have been removed. You knew them because they are the blueprint of mankind.
The return of ‘the son of man’ is the return of that blueprint within you.
Christ is Everywhere but Nowhere. The father is everywhere but nowhere. It cannot be in a single place if it covers all places.”
photo: Christine Chan, Sukha Arts
Traditional American Indian Leadership
Traditional American Indian leadership displayed several distinct characteristics that developed out of a longstanding history of cultural traditions and values. American Indians lived holistically. They understood themselves to be interconnected with all physical and spiritual forms of life, and they did not compartmentalize their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual lives. Spirituality was a fundamental cornerstone of American Indian culture, and leadership was one of the ways the culture was sustained and nurtured.
Because spirituality was a core element of American Indian life, all leadership possessed spiritual significance. Strong leaders were those who had a strong spiritual core. Some leaders were elders who, because of their age, possessed knowledge and had earned the respect of the people. Elders had a close relationship with spirituality. Ojibwe elders, for example, had a special kinship with manitous, or spirits, that validated their status as elders and leaders (Johnston, 1982).
Full elder status was earned by those who displayed care for future generations and honored responsibilities of cultural traditions and tribal relations. Elders demonstrated generosity and kindness, and honored all living things including people, plants, animals and the earth. They were deeply respected and valued for the wisdom and experience they accumulated over time. Elders were the source of information for younger generations, and passed on knowledge through oral traditions. American Indians depended on this transfer of knowledge for their cultural survival.
The oral transfer of cultural traditions, spirituality and experience served to protect the existence of the tribe. Oral tradition also provided education and entertainment. Elders shared their knowledge with those who demonstrated respect for the cultural and spiritual traditions. In this way elders cultivated the leadership of future tribal generations. Ojibwe elders, for example, had nightly winter lessons for those considered gifted and caring of the cultural and spiritual heritage. Johnston (1995) tells how Ojibwe “young men and women who were chosen to receive special tutelage would be the learned elders when their time came, accredited to interpret and to adjudicate” (Introductory Pages). Winter lessons were special sessions where tribal customs and traditions were passed on through sacred teachings.
American Indian leaders were humble servants to the community.
Individual American Indians did not seek leadership or promote themselves for it.
Rather, persons with strong traditional values and persons who contributed to the community emerged as leaders. The community recognized and sought leadership from persons perceived as having the knowledge, wisdom, skills and experience to act as a leader for the tribe.
No one person in an American Indian tribe was always a leader, and many were leaders at different times. Leadership was distributed among capable and respected persons. The people chose an individual to lead a particular project which, when concluded, ended his or her leadership. The Ojibwe word for this person was ogimauh, which meant the foremost person for the one project (Johnston, 1995). Dan explains the process of choosing this person:
In the past when we needed a warrior we made a warrior our leader. But when the war was over and we needed a healer to lead us, he became our leader. Or maybe we needed a great speaker or a deep thinker. The warrior knew his time had passed and he didn’t pretend to be our leader beyond the time he was needed. He was proud to serve his people and he knew when it was time to step aside. (Nerburn, 1994, p. 175).
Just as the community recognized leaders it could also cease to recognize leaders. If tribal members did not like or trust the actions of a leader, or if they felt that the leader had violated their trust or acted inappropriately, they simply did not follow him or her.
As Dan states:
When our leaders don’t lead, we walk away from them. When they lead well, we stay with them….A leader is a leader as long as the people believe in him and as long as he is the best person to lead us. You can only lead as long as people will follow (Nerburn, 1994, p. 175).
American Indian leaders never ordered people to do anything because they strictly adhered to the principle that people have a right to self-determination. American Indians believe that people have a right to their own beliefs, and as a sign of respect do not attempt to impose their beliefs on others. According to Good Tracks (1976), in American Indian societies “no interference or meddling of any kind is allowed or tolerated, even when it is to keep the other person from doing something foolish or dangerous” (p. 497).
American Indians led by example rather than by authority or holding power over others.
Only those leaders who had a special bond with the spirits could invoke an imperative command. In this way, American Indian leadership was neither coercive nor hierarchical.
In American Indian culture, all people were treated with respect regardless of their position within the tribe. Certain persons were recognized as having special gifts, but those gifts did not make them “better than” another person. Ironically, Europeans viewed this as a flaw in the system of American Indian life. A French fur-trader who lived with the Ojibwe and Ottawa during the 17th century was shocked to find that “the chiefs who are most influential…are on an equal footing with the poorest, and even with the boys” (Smith, 1979, p. 311).
American Indian respect for all people regardless of their tribal status is derived from their belief in the circle of life and the interconnectedness it represents. Like the circle of life, natural growth and change, the pace of American Indian life was slow, patient, deliberate and unhurried (Johnston, 1982).
American Indian culture distrusted haste and urgency. American Indian leaders, therefore, were patient, and took their time when making a decision. The Ojibwe, for example, often took days, weeks, or even months to contemplate a matter before giving an answer. They always considered it better to take time when making a decision (Johnston, 1982).
Johnston (1982) explains the moral reasons behind this deliberate decision making. He states, “there were many practical reasons for ‘taking time’, but dominating them all was a reverence for ‘the word’. To be asked to make a decision was to be asked to give ‘word’, an awesome request” (p. 80). The ‘word’ was viewed as a final answer or decision. It was an irrevocable pledge, binding upon those who pronounced and agreed to it.
It was for this reason that American Indians believed that keeping one’s word was a measure of integrity.
When making a decision, American Indian leaders carefully considered the welfare of the tribe and future generations and did not make decisions lightly.
When tribal leaders met to make a decision, they would deliberate by pondering the question from many different perspectives. Different points of view were welcomed and respected.
Leaders did not argue for their points of view, and there was no debate. They sought understanding and consensus through mutual inquiry.
They stated their words as new interpretations on the matter and prefaced their remarks with statements such as ‘I have yet another understanding’ and ‘our brother or sister has provided us with an idea’ (Johnston, 1982). Ideas were put forth in this manner until a resolution presented itself to everyone involved. Dan explains: …no real Indian leader would try to speak for everybody before hearing from everybody. He might get the elders together, or the council of chiefs. It depended on the tribe. Then they listened to everyone. Everyone could speak. If someone didn’t like the decision that was made, they could leave. If the chief made a decision enough people disagreed with, they could make another chief (Nerburn, 1994, p. 178). In this way, decisions were the consensus of the tribe and not individual decisions made by any one leader. The process of consensus was central to the way in which decision-making was made and it assured that leadership was authentic to the community.
Only decisions reached by consensus were honored and followed by members of the tribe.
An important part of American Indian culture was the significance of spiritual ceremonies which helped to provide guidance and knowledge in decision-making. Once a decision had been made and agreed upon by the participating parties, there was often a spiritual ceremony to make the decision official. For example, when Ojibwe leaders gave their promise, they lit the sacred pipe. Smoking of the pipe sealed a pact and acknowledged their pledge was not given lightly, but was binding. As Johnston (1982) explains:
The ritual smoking of the pipe was an essential part of every conference, performed before deliberations began in order to induce temperance in speech and wisdom in decision (p. 160).
As with leadership, American Indian tribes also had their own ways of resolving social conflict. American Indian methods of resolving social conflict were based on the concept of restitution instead of retribution. Tribal restitution reconciled the people involved in a conflict and restored respectful relationships. The Supreme Court case, Ex parte Crow Dog (1883), which involved the murder of one American Indian by another, concerned one of the most widely known examples of this process. The interaction between traditional American Indian reconciliation and the U.S. system of retribution exemplified in the case of Ex parte Crow Dog will be discussed in more detail later in this report.
This is a summary description of some of the main characteristics of traditional American Indian leadership. It is not meant to comprehensively describe the leadership of all American Indian nations, although many aspects are inter-tribal in nature. We also emphasize that while we describe traditional American Indian leadership in the past tense, traditional American Indian leadership practices continue to influence American Indian people today.
This Excerpt from:
A report prepared for the American Indian Research and Policy Institute by Tracy Becker, supervised by John Poupart, President of AIRPI. Technical Assistance by Cecilia Martinez, Ph.D. September 1997.
This paper is the result of a collaboration between the American Indian Research and Policy Institute and the Building Communities Across Cultures initiative. Building Communities Across Cultures is an effort, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, to support projects developed by American Indian organizations that are addressing current issues of concern.
Special thanks to Brian Klopotek, Jessica Kramer, Tammy Lauer and Carl Johnson for their editorial assistance, and to Dawn Blanchard for her computer expertise.
Copyright © 1997, American Indian Research and Policy Institute. All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced without permission. References must cite the American Indian Research and Policy Institute
photo: Kirby Sattler
After watching the Chef’s Table episode about the Korean Buddhist monk, Jeong Kwan, I have a new understanding of the relationship between mind and food.
The episode is definitely worth watching; every stunning moment of the film points to the essence of compassion and truth within Everything as expressed through the life of this simple and awesome woman and her ability to create amazing vegetarian food from nature.
As she so perfectly articulates:
“Creativity and ego cannot go together.
If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly.
Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment.
You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you.
You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free.
There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. That is my belief.”
Watch Chef’s Table: Season 3 Episode 1 on NETFLIX:
Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan believes food and cooking serve a spiritual purpose beyond physical nourishment. Based at a remote temple complex south of Seoul, her simple vegan meals are inspiring top chefs around the world.
Published on 7 Sep 2018 A woman asks for clarification with respect to creation and non-causality.
So much of my spiritual inquiry has been around this very question for so long, and here I find a beautifully, precisely articulated pointing, one to share for sure….
These were some of the highlights for me:
- EVERYTHING IS REAL; there is a reality to an apparent object, but one (object) is a limited version of the other (awareness) My first yoga teacher often expressed this; however, I had no clarity of its essence at the time.
- There is ONLY eternal infinite AWARENESS.
- All experience is REAL – but not all experience is what it appears to be.
- ILLUSION and NON-EXISTENCE are NOT the same. Illusion: It’s there, but it’s not really what it appears to be (matter). Non-Existence: something that does NOT exist; i.e., a square circle – utterly non-existent, we can’t even visualize it.
- The ONLY Being that there IS is the screen of awareness: No independently existing thing stands out from awareness with its own being.
- When these teachings are wrongly interpreted this can lead to a life-denying point of view. Then they appear to be very nihilistic from the point of view of the separate self.
- From the Bhagavad Gita: What is sleep for the SAGE (awareness) is waking for the IGNORANT (mind). What is sleep for the IGNORANT (mind) is waking for the SAGE (awareness).
- Can awareness remain awake while the mind awakens? YES, it’s called LUCID waking; i.e.; John Smith can play King Lear while still knowing John Smith.
Final Thoughts: I’m learning to play “Janet” much better lately. Less attachment to the suffering. More freedom, more trust.
I continue to perceive and believe that this individual inner work (self inquiry) is how we are meant to find our way into a more conscious planet.
(Just my humble opinion on the meaning)
When time is non-existent. The thought and action appear/manifest at the same time.
In ego consciousness we are stuck in time system, and so first there’s the thought/idea, then the action/manifestation in the world.
In Divine consciousness we are no longer stuck in time system. The thought/idea shows up without any personal action to “create” it. It says, “here I am” in a way that seems ridiculously coincidental.
Here’s my recent synchronicities, which all occurred within the past 48 hours:
1. I was in nature, on a lake, enjoying holiday, speaking with a Mother and daughter who I had just met. Conversation led to a memory that the daughter had about vomiting. Which led to my relating a childhood story about a neighbor who baked a rhubarb pie and offered it as a gift. After eating a large piece of pie, I vomited up purple, and never forgot it. And I haven’t eaten rhubarb pie since then!
That evening, the family style meal served by the AMC lodge volunteers included dessert – rhubarb pie.
2. Driving home from this fabulous vacation time in nature, my husband was unusually interested in a sign placed on the grass at a street corner in Harriman, NY. The sign was posted to announce a local Bluegrass event. I don’t even think my husband knows what Bluegrass music is, so I was quietly surprised that he seemed to be so interested.
At home, catching up on my email, I am drawn to a You Tube post about wildfires around the world. A music video is posted below the article, and I decide to listen. I’m immediately intrigued. I’ve never heard of or seen this band, and the song is so catchy – I just loved it. It’s Bluegrass music (which I’ve NEVER listened to prior to this).
The Dead South:
In Hell I’ll be in Good Company
3. On the morning hike with friends the subject arises about my days working as a dental assistant, and I relate the story about my dentist/employer who I’ve known since I’m 5 years old. Returning home that evening I get a phone call. It’s Herman, my dear friend/dentist/past employer. Though we do try to keep in touch, we haven’t spoken in a several months. Something spurred him to “check in with me and see how I’m doing”.
Maybe all that nature brought me closer to Divine Consciousness. 🙂
watching documentary on Steven Spielberg, and re-experiencing the emotions evoked from the movie Schindler’s List.
each time I re-witness scenes of the Holocaust, or read a book describing events of that time in history, I find myself in an emotional state of extreme sorrow where the tears are overflowing, and the tears are so necessary, as if to release all of the (remembered?) horror.
did I live through this?
is that possible?
did we all live through this?
did we all create that experience?
An interesting analogy by Alan Watts about the past:
He likens it to a boat on a lake (The Present) and the wake behind the boat (The Past). The moving water behind the boat does NOT create the boat. It’s just the opposite. The boat (the Present) creates the wake (the Past)
The Present creates the Past
So the past only can exist in the present. Our memories of the Past occur only in the present, and that is what informs our present (and future).
That’s where this innate human quality of compassion comes in. A feeling that is Real and Exists in the Present. And is imperative for the truth of Love to exist in the present moment.
My teacher, Adyashanti, expresses it so exquisitely:
“On a human level, it’s really useful — not just to know, but to feel — that that part of your being that is unconditioned has no problem with your humanity. It’s really important for the humanity to feel that, because that’s what it’s looking for — something in the universe that’s not judging it, condemning it, or even praising it.”
“Dualistic consciousness is also a manifestation of the ultimate ground. There’s no part of us that’s apart or other — even though there are different qualities and different experiences — there is no apartness. It’s so important to let yourself experience that. Because to receive that in the human heart feels like love.”
“Compassion is selfless love. It is what gives all of our other impulses balance. It is why, from the level of consciousness, we can be self-interested and rightly so — and simultaneously — have these very selfless impulses. This is all part of our nature.”
“Compassion literally comes from the ultimate ground because compassion is that feeling that: I will do something for someone even if it is not in my self-interest.”
“Compassion is actually quite a common occurrence in human beings. You don’t have to look very far for it — that feeling that you love something or someone in such a way that your sense of your own well-being is transcended.”