Presentations continue in NW. Harrison, Willie, and Jason are up next.
NOTE TO STUDENTS: The first exam is on Monday, with 20 questions to be drawn from the quizzes. There should be time for two presentations beforehand. Essays are due from non-presenters a week from today.
In Nature’s Way today we read that whales (and dolphins) have intuitive powers of communication that leave our paltry human linguistic capacity in the dust. They’re telepathic, they know the minds and the arsenals of their two-legged predators, and they’re in touch with all of Nature.
We, on the other hand, have only modest powers of intuition– and what little we do have we fear and mistrust. Eagle Man is in touch with his own inner Doolittle, though, and drew vigorous nodding assent from his friend the “big very holy fish” about our mutual responsibility to Mother Earth.
I hope that didn’t sound “superioristic or belittling.” I’m okay with “skeptical,” though, and there’s plenty here to test the credulity of even the most modest skeptic.
Vision Quest, Sun Dance, and Sweat Lodge are said to stimulate intuition and displace the “pettiness of daily living.” I’m bemused to note, btw, that “a vision quest may include long walks in uninhabited, monotonous areas.” By that definition I’ve been questing all along myself, without knowing it. “It is an individual experience and often subject to the emotional, spiritual, and physical make-up of the person.” Precisely.
Sun Dance seeks “a continuity between life and death – a regeneration. It shows that there is no true end to life, but a cycle of symbolic and true deaths and rebirths. All of nature is intertwined” and mutually inter-dependent. It’s the circle of life, again, but with more piercing self-inflicted pain. Suffering is thought to be redemptive and natural. I think the amelioration of suffering is even moreso.
And “the lodge often ends on the statement mitakuye oyasin,”* being
a place of spiritual refuge and mental and physical healing, a place to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities, totem helpers, the Creator and Mother Earth for the needed wisdom and power.
Can’t hurt to ask.
*All is related to all. Is that mysterious intuition, or just good old-fashioned insight?
Wotai, a special stone allegedly containing picturesque images within, is another tough nut to crack. But Eagle Man is appropriately humble about it. “I am but a mere human. What do I know on this matter?” He’s definitely saying more than he knows.
“Will Creator intervene someday and save our world?” Eagle Man seems to urge a “beseeching” attitude, but I follow the Sagan line on this:
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. Reflections on a Mote of Dust
It disturbs me whenever I hear my fellow humans beseeching the gods or the stars or the aliens to come and bail us out. Bailouts clearly don’t work.
“Modern materialists” don’t care about generations unborn, but is that because they’re consumerists or atomists? Is it even true, in either sense of the term? Plenty of consumers are naively addicted to the horn of plenty, and blinded by its bounty; but materialists of my stripe are as caring as anyone. But maybe he didn’t mean my tribe.
I don’t honor Great Spirit, if that means acknowledging a designing, animated, pre-evolutionary intelligence at work in the Universe. I’m far from alone in that. Does Eagle Man really mean to say that all of us are, therefore, selfish and manipulative?
“What you never see does not exist, according to the Sioux.” But, being “owl-like” enables us to “connect with what ordinary senses cannot perceive.” Okay, owl really sees through the darkness. His night vision is impressive, but I’m still leery of the idea that we can be owlish in our metaphorical ability to see what’s permanently hidden from daylight. How do we detect and expose false sightings? How do we maintain integrity of vision?
The Yuwipi ceremony can “bring ancestors of the past into phenomenal, physical form.” Resurrection? Really? Or if not, what?
Maybe I need a few drags on that pipe Eagle Man says he put down. Sorry, I’m skeptical of that claim too.
This all sounds a lot like the Dhammapada insistence (on my notepad this morning) that “we are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” I just can’t bring myself to believe it. Our thoughts themselves are risen, emergent, evolved, evolving, both making our world and made by it. Native wisdom seems to me to be tapping into a fundamental part of our story, but only a part of it.
But, not to lose sight of the bigger picture here, Eagle Man and I share plenty of common ground. His Cuckoo’s Nest “go to hell” confrontation in the Bible Belt is priceless. “A ho! It is so!”
And after all, as a pragmatic pluralist I’m still bound to agree, too, with Eagle Man’s favorite Jesuit Father Stoltzman: “By their fruits you shall know them.” The fruits of sustainable living on a harmonious, holistically-integrated planet will stifle my skepticism more quickly than any merely verbal riposte. Let’s all agree not to proselytize. Pass that peace pipe.