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Let me start by admitting that i can't learn anything FROM anybody if i do not spend some time with them and develop some relationship, some intimacy, a student/teacher connection.  By reading their ideas out of a book, i might learn a little bit ABOUT them, but that is all.  This is especially true if the teacher is from an oral culture and the student is from a literary (or worse, a technological) culture.  Learning an oral culture, especially its spiritual and mystical aspects requires long hours of apprenticeship , long periods of sitting and listening and smoking and silence.  Such secrets are properly shared with one's kin.  Yes, these oral cultures are dying out at a very rapid pace.  Perhaps it is better that we have watered down or corrupted copies of these traditions than have nothing at all.  But many of them are not dead yet, and some are showing signs of renewal.

The First Peoples have a legitimate complaint.  First we stole their living space and killed too many of them in the process; then we tried to convert them into third class versions of ourselves, and now, as our own culture threatens to self destruct because of its esssential nonviability, we try to take their's from them on our own terms.  Some "real" Indians are raging about "fake" Indians; or (now that Senator Warren's bio has come into the mix) "Pretendians."

From my very limited understanding, the rage focuses on at least four points;

First there are non Indians or people with very remote Indian ancestry who claim minority status when applying for jobs or benefits.  They did not share in the pain and struggle; they have no right to share the benefits.  This has both just and very unjust versions (Black Seminoles who did share in the pain and struggle being denied tribal status),

Then there are non Indians claiming spiritual power, "Indian spirit guides," or expertise in aboriginal spirituality.  They make a living off seekers/suckers who come to them for enlightment.  Their misuse of traditional rituals can be downright danerous ("Sweatlodge" burnings and deaths).

There are those who wittingly or unwittingly combine half remembered traditions with new age teachings and modern psychology to create a teaching which they call "Lakota," or "Toltec." or "Mayan," etc.

Finally there are those unenrolled persons raised without traditions who, as adults, feel called to rediscover or reinvest in some version  of their ancestral traditions.  To me, these people lost everything, even their connection to a tribal society and they should not be criticised for trying to recapture it.

Well,  which group is the author of Quest, in.?  Possibly none or several.  All i can do is study her book and see what, if anything, i get out of it.  So far it is promising.  She seems "interspiritual; she knows of Lame Deer and Black Elk.  She knows what qualities a good teacher should have.

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Comments

bobby1933
Jun. 10th, 2016 08:42 pm (UTC)
This is not a slam at your aunt, who has every right to her chosen identity, but i find it interesting that such a large portion of non-enrolled persons who claim Native American ancestry say that ancestry was "Cherokee" You would think that half the pre-contact population of North America were Cherokee or that they were by far the most fecund people ever.
reginaterrae
Jun. 10th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC)
True! And odd. They must have better marketing than any of the other 100s of native nations in the US. In my aunt's case, although she does make stuff up (e.g., she one told me "Tekakwitha" was her middle name, but Mom said it was actually Elaine), I believe her grandmother actually was Cherokee.

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