Native American Daily Life and Spirituality Inseparable

Inseparability of Native American Spirituality and Everyday Life

I’m updating my original article because it gives another viewpoint of spirituality that is quite different from how many Americans and Europeans think of it. I find these concepts to be thought-provoking and profound. The more knowledge you can gain about a subject, in this case the broad area of “spirituality,” the more understanding you can come to.

I learned about this aspect of Native American life through the writing of Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman), a part Santee Sioux who lived from 1858 to 1939.* He was raised in a traditional Native American home and was later educated as a medical doctor in American colleges. He wrote eloquently about Native American life. He wrote that daily life and spirituality, as lived purely by original peoples, were not really even two elements tightly interwoven. Rather, the people viewed their existence and lived their lives AS a manifestation of spirituality and spiritual creation. To them, there was no difference; they were inseparable.

As I understand it, and according to Ohiyesa, every activity and element of life was recognized as a participation in the spiritual world.  All aspects of living were felt to be a manifestation of the spiritual world, and all the objects in the natural world were viewed as having Spirit – humans, animals, plants, birds, even stones and other inanimate objects. All creations were recognized to come from, or BE extensions of the spirit world. In other words, there was no abrupt division between the living of daily life and the people’s practice of spirituality, because being alive and going about daily living in the way that their elders taught them was spiritual existence and expression.   

Even religious rituals and ceremonies at their root were always understood in their proper perspective as symbols of, and recognition and acknowledgment of, spiritual realities and the Great Spirit without being mistaken for the only, or most important part of spiritual practice or expression.  A symbol for something is not the thing itself. To the American Indian, it was just as much a spiritual observation to take a few moments to appreciate the majesty and beauty of the (natural) world, or a colorful sunset in the wilderness.

I find this idea of the inseparability of Native American life and spirituality to be remarkable and admirable.  Unlike our modern society and culture, to the original peoples, spirit was life, and alive, and very real. Many had an inner knowledge and conviction that spirit and the spiritual world were more real than “this dream called life” (in the physical universe). While that may be difficult for many to grasp or agree with, I feel that it shows that Native American peoples had a firm and deep grasp of existence – more so than many in the current age.

The original peoples had a tradition of wisdom about every aspect of life that had been passed down in oral traditions for eons. Young children were taught these truths and wisdom.  They were taught how to become competent members of the tribe, able to survive and defend their people, and how to make decisions about every aspect of living. 

Perhaps that knowledge passed down that has so often been branded as “primitive” by supposedly modern scientists was really “advanced” knowledge. I believe it was. This can partially be evidenced by the stories of advanced spiritual abilities demonstrated by shamans and spiritual initiates through the ages. These are not all just legend. Stories of shapeshifters and wise men who could instantly transport themselves from one place to another have their roots in actual spiritual ability.

This is where the past meets the future head-on – as in science fiction and fantasy. It is also probably the connection point between far Eastern religions and the Native American traditions.  In my life I have been privileged to meet people with advanced spiritual abilities and awareness. What they can do is truly amazing and awe-inspiring.

My own belief is that all people contain within themselves the potential for virtually all the advanced abilities that anyone can imagine. These abilities are Divine, meaning that they do not come from “demons” or the devil. Rather, they spring from the limitless potential within each of us.  And they do not originate in our brains, but in ourselves as knowing, sentient spiritual beings. A very wise man once observed that the evil, if they have such abilities, do not retain them for very long. But the good can, and may. 

My wish is that the wisdom and traditions of the various Native tribes who lived in North America for thousands of years before the Europeans came will not be lost, but will be preserved and will become more accessible to those who wish to learn.

Check out my short novel written about the Tongva, the original, almost forgotten people of Los Angeles – a story about one young Tongva brave’s own spiritual journey in the days before the Spanish came.

The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening

Very best and all for now!
D.E. Lamont

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*Note that I refer to American original peoples in general, while acknowledging that there were certainly differences from one tribe and nation to another, and that what I say here may not be true for all American Indian tribes.

 

Happiness – Your Birthright and Native Condition

 

Many have said that happiness is our most desired quality and state of being.  When we are happy, we feel pleasurable emotions and states of mind – carefree, warm, active, loving, devil-may-care, adventurous – or secure and confident – or more powerful than anyone who would try to harm us!  When we’re happy, we feel at home in our skin and our world, or we are busting out of them with ambition and anticipation for the future. We take joy in our own endeavors and also in helping others achieve something they want.

Thinking about this, and thinking about how many countries in the world repress individual initiative and compel or coerce behavior and actions, and dictate where you can live and where you can go, I realized that the freedom to seek and find happiness is a precious human right.

But I’m not the first to say this, not by a long shot! The farseeing authors of the United States’ founding documents enshrined this beautiful idea in the U.S. Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Even today it seems amazing and wonderful to realize that such a basic freedom-promoting idea was stated as one of the key purposes for the founding of a nation.

Bringing this back down to the personal level, this is not to say that it is anyone ELSE’s job to make us happy, but that each human being, no matter where he or she is born or lives, has the inborn right to be left alone to discover and realize his and her own happiness.  Even those living under a tyranny realize this innately, because it IS part of them at the deepest level.

So life is most enjoyable when we have the reward of pleasure, joy and happiness – and are not being FORCED to do something, or live a life, that we do not desire.

At times on our journey through life, sometimes for extended periods, our inner spark may flicker and seem to dim down, and we lose our belief and feeling we can do whatever we wish, conquer the world, and be happy.  While people are often told that being depressed is a mental or emotional illness, common sense and ability to think tell us that life circumstances are often changing, often unexpectedly or frequently, and we change.  An accident or loss can’t always be prevented.  It is rational to reject that circumstance and to fight back against it.  To find we can’t change it back can deflate one’s mood.  But it is very true that we all contain within us the inner resources and ability to come back up.  The ability to bring ourselves back up from bad things which happen lies within us – not within a bottle.

And there are very practical things we can do to help us recover.

The first step toward doing so is the decision to do it.  A firm decision.  You know, you can actually make a positive decision even when you are feeling down.  You may not feel like it, but you can! Decisions are powerful energizers.

Then put your attention and focus on doing the things in life that interest you – things that you like or love or consider worthwhile.  Each of us can be a positive and inspiring spirit in our own world, circle, family, group.  It takes getting back into action.  And that action itself – even if you are initially just going through the motions – will boost you up and help you rise above it.  You have to keep at it, to persist. Keep going through the motions, and it will work.

You contain within you all that makes you a unique, powerful and happy individual.  Sometimes you have to work hard to get it to resurface – but it is always there.

Take more control over your life, learn about Scientology.  Check out our beautifully designed and interesting new TV network, Scientology TV.

Your life and fire deserve to burn bright in the world.  Shine on!

Are We Really Living in Wonderland?

Used with permission of iStockPhoto.com

Here’s some food for thought – a different view than you usually hear about.

Everyone agrees that the physical universe is solid and real. It contains awesome levels of energy, unimaginable reaches of space, and immense solidity of matter.  It also persists through infinite expanses of time. Most physical objects last indefinitely until they are either blasted into bits and components by some sun exploding (or a kid with a hammer) – or just break down slowly into their physical components, which go on existing in a different form, like the carpet of moss lying underneath the forest floor, formed from decaying leaves and other plant debris.

Now, to state the obvious, as humans we are affected in many ways by objects and spaces in the physical universe.  That’s what life consists of, for the most part.

But how do we affect the physical universe and exert our will and power of intention upon it? Of course, we do it by moving things around physically through contact with our bodies – or by directing other people or machines to do it.

But here’s the big question:  is it possible to directly and/or instantly have an effect on physical reality through the power of your mind or through a decision? Is the physical universe, as solid as it is, still in some way subject to the will and intention of an individual?

Well, simply put, it is. It is entirely possible and it is not even that uncommon.

How can it be possible?  It can be, if you first realize the following:  that a human being comprises several clearly definable parts, one of which is the individual spiritual identity that runs the body (which you can just think of as you).  If this is a concept that is not very real to you, that’s okay.  Consider what I’m saying anyway. Many truths about us have become obscured in the modern, machine and electronic culture we live in.

The capabilities and potential of the human spirit are many, and are described in detail in a book I’ll recommend below. But one of the spirit’s intrinsic, innate qualities, as amazing as it may sound, is that it is senior to the physical universe.

So can we actually see or use this capability in everyday life? Many people do it all the time, in the normal course of existence, without even thinking anything of it. One way we use this often, without really realizing it, is through our intention. If you have a firm but lighthearted intention for something to happen and you aren’t putting a lot of negative thoughts or emotion into the mix, you can often see quite startling things happen.

I used to have quite a knack for this when I lived in Los Angeles and had to drive somewhere and find a parking space. Perhaps you have done this as well. I would set out without any worry that I would have a parking space at my destination, even if it was in a crowded area. Notice that it was my intention to have a space when I arrived. And so it sometimes occurred that I would be driving along slowly, looking for a space, and a car would jump out right in front of me, leaving a space I could go right into. Sometimes they almost hit me, they seemed so eager to get out of my way!  More frequently, I would just come to an empty space right where I wanted to go, even if it was a crowded block.

What about other types of occurrences? What about the time you dropped a decorated birthday cake on the floor and it landed upright, undamaged? What about the time everything was riding on a seemingly impossible move, or sports play, or “coincidence” – and you did it? Two people’s intentions can also coordinate in this way – what about the time you had to meet somebody in a huge, crowded room or arena and you didn’t know how you were going to find them…but you just walked into the crowd and there they were?

You might be thinking that these are such mundane, everyday occurrences, it is just chance and good luck, right?  I went through my own doubts with it. But when this “ability” remained with me over a period of many years, my attitude gradually changed. And what is luck, anyway? Some people are lucky all the time. There is something apparently unseen at work with such people. My point here is that it likely was some kind of magic – the magic of willpower!

My realization about this and other similar happenings was that, with a very clear, clean intention, the physical universe, and even other people who may be involved in the scenario, can instantly bend or change. I think of it as pliable or plastic – it will change instantly and reconstitute to conform with your demonstration of clean, strong intention.

And this is why I pose the question: “Are we really living in Wonderland?” I want to bring your attention to the possibility that we all have the power to bring into existence control over the physical universe and the various aspects of our lives. Above I’ve mentioned simple examples. But this idea can be applied to help you change more important things in your life so that you are headed more in the direction you really want. Even if you’ve gotten where you are due to seemingly accidental circumstances, you can alter that and bring things more under your own control – the power of decision.  We can do this because of our real nature – that “X factor” part of us all with potentially unlimited ability: the living, intelligent and aware spiritual quality that is YOU.

Here is a one of the greatest inspirational quotations I’ve seen. This says exactly what I’ve been talking about here.  It is by the mountaineer/writer W.H. Murray, excerpted from his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition:

“This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence.  Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:  that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.  I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

“‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!'”

~   ~   ~

Start applying that!  Additionally, if you would like to learn more about the exact capabilities of the human spirit (you!), read a very unusual book called Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, by L. Ron Hubbard.  I think of this as the handbook on the human spirit.  Fundamentals of Thought reveals the makeup and actual capabilities of individuals, and it is written to be applied.  Also, the wisdom contained in this book is for anyone, no matter your religion or philosophy. If it makes sense and is useful to you, it is yours to use freely!

D.E.