It's Not a Religion, It's a Way of Life
Some people ask, “What is sacred?” But others ask a different question, “What isn't sacred?” When we recognize that all things in the cosmos are connected, it becomes impossible not to realize that all things are sacred.
Douglas Blue Feather, internationally renown Native American flute player, of Cherokee heritage and adopted Dakota (Zephier family Ihunktowan Band of the Yankton Sioux Nation of South Dakota), shares with us the idea of Mitakuye Oyasin (We Are All Related in the Lakota language), and shows us how many of the ways of wisdom from Native American traditions are in agreement with Unity teachings.
One of the things that is so fascinating to me about world religions and spiritual traditions, is not just the diversity of ideas and how they are expressed, but how most traditions share many of the same core values. One way to explain this is that different cultures teach one another their ways. Another way, and this is perhaps a more fundamental reason, is that humans, regardless of time, place, culture, language, or physical circumstances are all at the core of our beings much more alike than we are different.
There are at least four main things that are common to all religions or spiritual traditions. Following is a small sampling of wisdom teachings:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Certainly a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you; to the believers (he is) compassionate. Surah 9:128
Suppose a man were, all of a sudden, to see a young child on the verge of falling into a well. He would certainly be moved to compassion, not because he wanted to get into the good graces of the parents, nor because he wished to win the praise of his fellow-villagers or friends, nor yet because he disliked the cry of the child. Mencius, Second Sage of Confucianism
My friends, how desperately do we need to be loved and to love. With it we are creative. With it we march tirelessly. With it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others. Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation
Desire to Eliminate Suffering
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13-14
And him who seeks thy help, chide not. Al Quran 93:11
We were taught generosity to the poor and reverence for the Great Mystery. Religion was the basis of all Indian training. Ohíye S’a, Santee Dakota tradition
Bhikkhus, there is a noble truth about the cessation of suffering. It is the complete fading away and cessation of this craving [taṇhā]; its abandonment and relinquishment; getting free from and being independent of it. Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
Belief in Something that Connects Us All
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalm 133:1
You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, founder of the Plum Village Tradition
All things share the same breath: the beast, the tree the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. Chief Seattle, Suquamish & Duwamish tradition
Our Spiritual Beliefs, if Adhered to, Will Create a Better World
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama
If men possessed wisdom, which stands in the same relation to the form of man as the sight to the eye, they would not cause any injury to themselves or to others; for the knowledge of truth removes hatred and quarrels, and prevents mutual injuries. Maimonides, Jewish philosopher and scholar
You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight to our hearts. Chief Cochise, Apache tradition
In some Native American traditions, the Medicine Wheel is a metaphor for a variety of spiritual concepts. Douglas shared with us one such interpretation. The medicine wheel is represented by the four cardinal directions. The East represents new beginnings. The South represents growth and learning. The West represents emotion, introspection and ancestors. The North represents the natural world, rest and regeneration. At the center is the pivot point where we find balance. While it is natural to want to experience each of these areas deeply, it is important to find a healthy balance among them.
While many Native American traditions are very heavily steeped in ceremony and ritual and Unity is not, Unity teachings and The Red Road do share the goal of bringing individuals into harmony with God, nature, and themselves. Whether you choose to use The Medicine Wheel or The Five Principles as a guide for spiritual direction is less important than understanding that by holding firmly to and living by the Truth we know, is the way to express God through us and bring peace to our own lives and the world.
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind. . . . Job 12:7-10
November Community Prayer: Tuning into Spirit, God’s joy fills my heart, as I give thanks for life’s fullness. My thoughts are uplifted. I enter a state of grace, allowing a nourishing river of abundant blessings to flow through my life. The more I give thanks, the richer my life is. I am so grateful.
This week, as you consider our community prayer, allow God into your heart and find something different each day for which to be grateful. These two things feed into each other. You may just find that letting God into your heart makes gratitude easier, and being grateful makes letting God into your heart easier. Find something new each day for which to be grateful. It could be something as small as a purring cat, or something large like the joy your children bring to you. Once you begin a practice of gratitude, it will become easier and easier to recognize your blessings.