Primal and Indigenous Spirituality; Other Ways of Knowing

August 7th, 2018 by JDVaughn Leave a reply »

Richard Rohr

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality
Other Ways of Knowing
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Though I have no family ties to indigenous religions, I have great respect for their wisdom. I was honored to serve as a deacon at Acoma Pueblo many years ago and I continue to learn about the Pueblo, Diné (Navajo), and Apache peoples here in New Mexico. But I only know enough to know that I don’t know much at all! Indigenous spirituality is not intended for non-Native use or understanding. When we try to interpret or apply these teachings in our own context, we run the risk of “drastic adaptation” and “severe reinterpretation to fit our conceptions of reality.” [1]
I also don’t want to romanticize Native spirituality. As in every religion, there are times, places, and people who “get it”—the mystery of divine/human union—more than others. There are different stages and states of consciousness, and all are part of the journey. We are accustomed to identifying stages of development as lower and higher. To some extent that may be true, but Western models of development usually focus on the rational mind, which offers one way of knowing reality. In fact, there are many other ways of perceiving and expressing human experience. We shouldn’t dismiss unfamiliar modalities as immature, superstitious, or silly just because we haven’t exercised those sensory muscles.
Barbara Holmes, one of our CONSPIRE 2018 teachers, writes:
I am grateful that terms such as primitive and preliterate are no longer acceptable descriptions of indigenous cultures. . . . [These are problematic words] used to preserve imperialistic presumptions about people and their cultures. This is particularly true since [as Graham Harvey writes] “indigenous religions are the majority of the world’s religions.” [2]
Most Native American tribes depend on oral teaching and story-telling more than written language. This very lack of codification allows the oral traditions easier access to nondual consciousness and embodied forms of knowing. Religious historian and Methodist minister Huston Smith (1919-2016) wrote that:
[Orality guards against the loss of] the capacity to sense the sacred through nonverbal channels. Because writing can grapple with meanings explicitly, sacred texts tend to gravitate to positions of such eminence as to be considered the preeminent if not exclusive channel of revelation. This eclipses other means of divine disclosure. Oral traditions do not fall into this trap. The invisibility of their texts, which is to say their myths, leaves their eyes free to scan for other sacred portents, virgin nature and sacred art being the prime examples. [3]
That really makes sense to me, even though I also know it is open to abuse, just as the three “religions of the book” (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have always been open to abuse in the hands of immature people. Still, one of the nondual gifts of Native traditions is their openness to inspiration and wisdom from community, ancestors, dance, drumming, nature, beauty, and signs and symbols that speak deeply to the unconscious. Because they are not tied to one sacred text, they are freer to discover and honor the sacred everywhere.


Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

August 7, 2018

UNDERSTANDING WILL NEVER BRING YOU PEACE. That’s why I have instructed you to trust in Me, not in your understanding. Human beings have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out in order to gain a sense of mastery over their lives. But the world presents you with an endless series of problems. As soon as you master one set, another pops up to challenge you. The relief you had anticipated is short-lived. Soon your mind is gearing up again: searching for understanding (mastery) instead of seeking Me (your Master). The wisest of all men, Solomon, could never think his way through to Peace. His vast understanding resulted in feelings of futility rather than in fulfillment. Finally, he lost his way and succumbed to the will of his wives by worshiping idols. My Peace is not an elusive goal, hidden at the center of some complicated maze. Actually, you are always enveloped in Peace, which is inherent in My Presence. As you look to Me, you gain awareness of this precious Peace.

PROVERBS 3:5–6; Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. [6] In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

ROMANS 5:1; Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 THESSALONIANS 3:16;  Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.





Comments are closed.