I have traveled a bit of a winding path spiritually, and I will not say the journey is over yet. What I have learned has helped me very much to see what we have done and the attitudes we have held and what those attitudes have done to our world. Part of my journey took me among some wonderful Native American teachers.
Their perspective has always been one of taking care of the planet on which we live so that there would be plenty for future generations, while the attitude of my ancestors from Europe has pretty much been to take what you can and if there’s any left for others, well that’s ok, too. We have come upon a time when it has become quite apparent that the indigenous peoples of all the continents, who share the attitudes of the Natives of America, were right, and that our European ancestors were mistaken.
Now we need to learn, and quickly, what it will take to turn things around, if it is not already too late. But it is not really enough to go after all the “fix-it” things that need done. Yes, they need to be first and must remain a priority until we’ve made some measurable progress, if that ever happens. But, we need to look at what got us there to begin with. What attitudes have we held that need discarded and what do we replace them with?
Well, here may be where we need to ask our Native brothers about their way of life, and what it has to teach us. Theirs is a spirituality, not a religion, as exhibited by the differences you find in the practice of one tribe from another. In their way of life there is an acceptance of individuality in living, worshipping and dying that is not present among our European ancestors. That honoring of the individual is part of a concept called Sacred Space.
There is much on the web and in books and at worship centers about the ‘Sacred Spaces” around the world and how to make a “Sacred Space”, and a lot of wonderful things that one can do to honor one’s own sacredness. These are exciting to see, but they are not what my teachers spoke of when they addressed this teaching.
Sacred Space ~
According to the teachings as I understand them, every living thing on the planet, (and remember that to the Native, stones are living things), has it’s own Sacred Space. This means that the tree has it’s own Sacred Space, as does the butterfly, or the ant, or the flower. Humans each have their own sacred space. If you live in harmony with this concept, you will respect all of life, not as though these things were “Gods”, but as though they were, indeed “family”. This is the key to understanding the phrase in Lakota, “Mitakuye Oyasin”, often translated “We are all related”. In this perspective, in other words, there are life blood deep connections between the individual and all other life forms on the planet.
There is also, as a part of this concept, the idea that the Earth is Mother, in that from her we receive the air we breathe, the food we eat, the clothes we wear. She is our Nourishment and Nurturer. In this concept, it is part of our life practice to make sure that what we do does not harm her, and leaves her resources in good shape for generations to come, taking measure of all we do in the light of all the possibilities that exist for a future. This is quite a different way of living than we have followed for several generations, and there is not doubt in my mind that it may take a while for such a concept to take hold, but, were this to happen, we might actually learn to live as responsible citizens of our world.