Saturday, July 19, 2008
Bhakta Dave has asked that I speak about Native American spirituality. He himself has stated that the culture and rituals were passed down from generation to generation. There was nothing like a Bible, a Koran or any other manual to experience that which is beyond.
I feel the first thing we must understand about these peoples is that they had a very deep connection to Mother Earth. Such a connection actually brought about their culture. Some were nomads and others were pueblo builders. Definitely, their way of life was much simpler and more respectful.
In many aboriginal tribes, there is the shaman or medicine men. These people are gatekeepers to the unknown. They usually have visions and intense dreams that lead them on a spiritual path. They then take shelter of another shaman who then initiates them into the practices. Fasting, dancing, rituals and herbs are used as tools. Shamans and medicine men can be compared to the guru in India. These spiritual leaders were sought for guidance and cures. They would go on vision quests that would guide their people.
The spirituality of Native Americans and other tribal groups centers around the Great Spirit or Great Mystery. they believe in animism, or seeing that each animal is the representative of a spirit. For instance a beaver would be called Brother Beaver and would represent the entire beaver kingdom. And each animal represents a certain trait such as power, knowledge and so on. Shamans often take shelter of a Power Animal which they receive their gifts from.
We can see that they tried to explain the world around them in spiritual terms.
The formula is the same: there's a creator or Godhead, the material world is not our home, and there is the Happy Hunting Grounds or Heaven. Some might say they are demigod worshipers, others would simply call them heathens or pagans, but one who has knowledge can see that they had a deep connection with God in many ways that people today cannot understand due to our dependence on machines, televisions and so many other comfortable gadgets that we take for granted.