Author Topic: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?  (Read 37871 times)

Offline Chaska

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2008, 02:40:20 pm »
Ask Mama Porcupine

Offline Chaska

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2008, 02:48:00 pm »
LOL..... (generalized example) Medicine Lodge is Anceint ways, a society of clans within a Tribe, who utilize natural medicines, the root, the stem, the branch, the flower, the seed, the whole plant to help in the healing of sickness or symtoms, for wounds, and curing of certain sickness's....The knowledge of the plants, was given by the Animal Nations and Plant Nations to the NDN people, the Medicine lodge societies have feasts and ceremonies year around and became the central foundation for many Tribes, Woodland Tribes.....this is a generalized description of Medicine Lodge, in order to understand more a person would need to talk to the elders who understand this and or a member of the Medicine lodge societies......

Offline earthw7

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #32 on: April 02, 2008, 02:54:12 pm »
LOL..... (generalized example) Medicine Lodge is Anceint ways, a society of clans within a Tribe, who utilize natural medicines, the root, the stem, the branch, the flower, the seed, the whole plant to help in the healing of sickness or symtoms, for wounds, and curing of certain sickness's....The knowledge of the plants, was given by the Animal Nations and Plant Nations to the NDN people, the Medicine lodge societies have feasts and ceremonies year around and became the central foundation for many Tribes, Woodland Tribes.....this is a generalized description of Medicine Lodge, in order to understand more a person would need to talk to the elders who understand this and or a member of the Medicine lodge societies......

I posted but decided to change it I think you should PM me.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2008, 02:57:44 pm by earthw7 »
In Spirit

Offline Chaska

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #33 on: April 02, 2008, 04:29:55 pm »
have sent you PM and yahoo messenger...waiting for confirmation from you

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #34 on: April 03, 2008, 02:31:09 pm »
Tansi;

I personally do not have a problem with people writing stories, in spite of the fact that written words can be abused, by some.  One of the reasons that I have allowed some of the stories that were given to me, by my father, to be used in an educational facility, is that I had not been hearing these, for some time and did not want them to be lost.

My wife has also shared some of her stories, in a project that was initiated by a Metis Cultural Heritage and education organization.  A very dear friend of ours, Maria Campbell, has also written many of her stories, as well.

Many of our Traditional stories have a great deal of relevance, in ways of teaching values and valuable lessons.  It would be a great loss, if they were not passed on or saved, in some manner, such as in writing.

We, as a people, have had periods of suppression of our Culture, lasting genrations, during which many of our stories were lost.  To have them preserved, would help to allow those yet to come, to learn of our vibrant Cultures and instill the Pride necessary for moving forward and surviving.

Currently, due to distances involved, we do not have as much contact with our Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren, as we would like and which was possible when people lived in the same communities for life, so having written the stories down, our children and grandchildren will be able to tell these stories to their children.

Just my opinion.
Ric


Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #35 on: April 03, 2008, 03:13:53 pm »
Tansi;

I would be interested in what Educated Indian's views on this are, since he possibly uses written materials in his educational purposes. 

Ric

« Last Edit: April 03, 2008, 03:21:35 pm by Ric_Richardson »

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2008, 03:14:13 pm »
I actually have my US History Part I class take a look at the Univ Az guidelines for Native websites and give them a long warning about exploiters and imposters. They have an option of doing a research paper on Native science and technology. A couple of them going into the health fields have written papers on Native medicine being integrated into today's healthcare, and I have to take an extra close look at their sources.

These topics come up a couple other times during classes. I've mentioned prophecies about the coming of whites, how spiritual traditions were used to unite NDNs by leaders such as Hiawatha and the Open Door (Tecumseh's brother), and the Hopi prophecy predicting the A bomb and the United Nations.

In general I'm reluctant to use written texts for anything less than a senior or graduate level class because they could so easily misinterpreted or misused. I generally just give them a general description of my own. And I always have to give them warnings about how (for example) many sites out there MISinterpret Banyacya.

All of the above is because, even when I taught at Arizona State, the classes are over 90% non-Native. If I taught at a tribal college it'd be entirely different. And professors who teach other types of courses have different issues. I know of some lit professors who insist on using Native traditional stories for their courses, but have to time them. Some stories aren't meant to be told at certain times of the year.

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #37 on: April 04, 2008, 03:55:51 pm »
Tansi;

Thank you, Al, I felt that your input would be meaningful and it was, to me anyway.

I had noticed that there are a couple of my stories, on the internet, since I contributed them to a friend who teaches "Story Telling" in an online course.  Our friend is Dene (Dogrib) and I have faith in his values and methods.  The decision to contribute to this educational process was not made with a serious consideration of money, even though they paid a small "honorarium" for my sharing of these stories, for use in education.

I believe that there must be Real stories, available in order to have alternatives to those that have been pirated and retold, often incorrectly, by non Natives.

Ric
« Last Edit: April 05, 2008, 04:16:07 pm by Ric_Richardson »

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #38 on: April 06, 2008, 01:13:11 am »
I think writing down stories that convey cultural values is different from writing down details of ceremonies.

I also think that it's ok to write down personal experiences that mention ceremonies, as long as the details aren't given.  "I went to this ceremony, here's what it meant to me personally. This is why it's important that the ceremony be run in a traditional way, by those trained in the appropriate manner, etc."

Which of course still puts me in a difficult situation, personally. The reason those of us in Gaelic traditions are having to reconstruct most of the ceremonies is that very few details were written down. We still have the mythology, but only fragments or sketchy details of many ceremonies. On the one hand, I sometimes share the ceremonies I've reconstructed with the public, in hopes of getting people involved in the culture and working to preserve the sacred sites and languages. I also hope that if white people of my cultural heritage see that we have a spiritual history of our own, they won't feel compelled to steal from NDNs, or make stuff up and claim it's authentic. On the other hand, I'm reluctant to share publicly, because things get abused. So I try to find a balance - sharing basic things, keeping more involved things only among those I trust and work with in person. It's not an easy thing to always know what to do. I struggle with it almost every day, to one extent or another.


Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #39 on: April 06, 2008, 02:55:04 am »
 
Quote
I also think that it's ok to write down personal experiences that mention ceremonies, as long as the details aren't given.  "I went to this ceremony, here's what it meant to me personally. This is why it's important that the ceremony be run in a traditional way, by those trained in the appropriate manner, etc."

Even that can be tricky though , because ones persons experience in a ceremony might be very different than another persons, and what might be appropriate for one person to experience in a ceremony might be really different than what is appropriate for another person to experience. If one person hears another persons experience it can color their experience or expectations and instead of being a help it can work more as a distraction from them connecting with what is right for them. I would think this might be especially true if we were to share our personal special experiences with a wide audience through a book.

I recently had an experience where I told a close friend about something that had happened at a very difficult time in my life that was very special to me and really helped me . This hadn't happened in a ceremony , but it did make me feel like the Creator was very much a part of my life. And a couple times as I told this story ,  my friend said "Oh I wish something like that would happen to me". That made me realize what I shared from my own experience was probably more for my own enjoyment than for my friend, and  maybe what I shared hurt my friend more than helped them. Because what happened to me was special because it was right for me, not someone else. Thinking about what was talked about in this thread made me think of that...

I guess it's hard to say what is always right and always wrong in a situation like that, and it probably varies. 

But I do agree, if there is no objections, that writing traditional stories down can do a lot to help preserve them and in many cases the benefits might outweigh the potential for abuse...
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 09:03:18 pm by Defend the Sacred »

Offline A.H.

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #40 on: April 06, 2008, 05:04:39 pm »
As I read there was also a quite specific case attached to this question. But I am also interested in the direct meaning of this question and would just like to add that to the quite big majority of more or less non-religious people of the global technological civilization any information about "spiritual" or cultural ideas come from the books and written or in some other way organized "teaching" material - lectures, websites, documentaries, etc. Most of us also don't use it to recreate some rituals, but just to understand the diversity of the world and the various cultural and spiritual ideas better or at least to be informed what all people came upon and thought of.

As I've seen here and on some other sites in the last few months NA indigenous people are quite protective of their culture, so I don't know if any authentic written account about the "technologic" procedings of their spiritual ways will ever be given. Like - publicly passing down the knowledge of the past - or really write down the authentic "philosophy", accumulated knowledge of their (your) ancestors. 

Books written by authentic elders, "medicine men" or any other culturally important and knowledgable persons - about authentic issues. Where any particular spiritual/cultural knowledge exists, ofcourse. We should not be interested in something, just because it is NDN... or "european" if you want...

Maybe it is really all too connected to the specific nation, but when we all participate in a global media like internet, rules start to change. Want it or not - what everyone writes is absorbed, interpreted and used or abused by hundreds or thousands of others.

Now - being afraid that authentic information could be misunderstood or abused is probably reasonable, but it is not really practical - because this can only isolate or silence an important voice. And give way for thousands of fake voices.

Probably most of the "european" philosopher's ideas are misunderstood by vast majority of people, but that doesn't mean it would be better that they would never write it. If Marx wouldn't write his ideas there would probably never be communist states or much would play differently, but that would also mean that capitalism would never had any competitor and would not have to rethink its agressive ways... etc. Well, speculations aside - ideas and their misunderstanding can be dangerous, but hiding knowledge is even worse!

I think it is important that ideas are written down and passed to the masses, regardless of the effects. Do we only want to "survive the life" or live it in all the ways possible? Mistakes, evil-doing, harm, pain and death are part of life. We cannot escape that. Censorship and hiding the truth and ideas from people is worse than those things in my opinion. 

I would love to read a quality "NDN" philosophy book instead of any of those colourful self-help through "noble-savage" ways quasi spiritual booklets... (that I don't read btw, :) )

I don't care about shape-shifting or any other superstitious bull-shit if there is no meaning attached to it and it is unreliable or "sold" in some book as a means to itself...

But if there is really something extraordinary in some culture I am interested what it is all about. I would not ignore it. I would want to know what do they mean by it. How do they use it.. Why...

I was also wondering - sometimes when there is speaking about cultural appropriation... and "white-men" taking all the fat - I guess capitalist culture is like that, yes...

But I thought about my own (or yours, or anybody's) interests... Are you primarily interested in the problems of the many poor and unemployed in my obscure part of the world or are you interested (culturally) in music of Mozart (or Schoenberg or Fennesz or whoever) that lived (or live) some 300km from here where I write or scientific method developed mostly in Europe or maybe scientific achievements and ideas of Nikola Tesla, that lived in my town for a year and studied some years 80km from where I live... He is one of the geniuses that made technological society possible - also that we use electricity in such ways that we can communicate through internet, etc. You are not interested in thousands of raped and killed people in Srebrenica some 500km from where I live - you probably were for the five minutes it was making the News, but mostly you (we) are interested in science, culture, etc. from any part of the world. The FAT of the world if you will...
 
I questioned my motives (whose else could I?) - and yes, I was never specially interested how everyday NDNs live today - I knew distantly that it is probably a bad situation and knew little something about the reservations, but my interest was probably the same as is anybody's from (let's say) USA in the (let's say) current situation in Congo... you probably don't know much about it - it is not on headlines right now, it is not interesting to us and 100 years ago there would be no means of communication letting us know anything about that so quickly and instantly...

As I questioned my interests I admitted to myself that I am, too, interested in cultural "fat" - in cultural and/or spiritual ideas... Actually not really in "yours" (meaning NA indigenous), since I know too little about you - but this little that I am interested in your existance, I am surely not primarily concerned what average NDN is thinking, but what the rich culture of your different people realized through millenia... What is your message.. but authentic one - not some prophecies and superstitions and new-agey interpretations, etc.


So, yes... A good read written by your authentic "spiritual leaders" would certainly not be exploitation but a very good education. Esp. if the income doesn't end in some rich publishing companies' pocket but in authors' and his communities'.
Our misunderstaning is then entirely up to us (readers)...

And about the usage of such knowledge... I also disbelief and find mildly useless (except for some people's personal satisfaction and fun) any form of spiritual reconstructionism, mimicking, "playing", etc.

I think authentic knowledge and new "spiritual ways" whatever that is, can occur at any time in history...
And realise that many of the "traditional" teachnigs are often also superstitions or some dogmatic or "preserved" form of conduct...
I belive that what is important are the basic underlying ideas of those concepts, rites, rituals, etc.

It looks idiotic to me for some Europeans to try to fake sun dance or vision quests or try to become "brujos" in Castaneda fake way, etc.

But understanding the philosphy behind your authentic rites, the Truth behind your cultural and spiritual ideas, that is what matters... and that can be incorporated in any culture... and not being exploatation, but understanding and even cultural evolution and progress in the ideal realization...

And yes - culture can get distorted, but have we (you) really come to the end of history (as Hegel would say)?
Things change, evolve, get new meanings, probably some really great ideas and basic truths stay, much around them change eternally...

If a "wrong" (not belonging to the specific area, etc.) group of people is conducting a "ceremony" in a slightly "technologically" different way is probably less bad than not having any idea of the philosophy and underlying concepts needed for doing it in the first place - and i am not talking about the new-agers - but the wish to preserve the "historically accurate", never-changing way of any culture... it is impossible I guess - and also meaningless. But letting people know the real "secrets" - WHY (not how) doing those things in the first place, is much more important and meaningful in today's global world of super fast and diverse media...
If you know what is oxygen deprivation and increased heat good for - what do you want to and can achieve this way - is more meaningful to me than writing a subjective account of a certaing ritual in the sweat-lodge or giving away the instructions how to construct one... What is the meaning and basic idea, not what is the form is what's important and educational !! Ideas and concepts are universal and can be shared, but the FORM and conduct of specific rituals and forms of praise, worship, etc. are much less meaningful to the people not belonging to the specific culture - and I guess here lie many problems and misunderstandings... We don't need our own or anybody's rituals, we all need some more understanding of the many cultural - scientific and spiritual concepts already available today in the world and many more probably coming...


just my 2 cents as they say on the net... 
 

 



 
« Last Edit: April 06, 2008, 06:00:33 pm by A.H. »

Offline Kevin

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #41 on: April 07, 2008, 06:02:26 pm »
I think there several things to be considered when dealing with another culture's spirituality, namely respect, issues of  understanding and  issues of trying to apply the spirtual  power that culture. Respect can be taught and should be an inherent part of anyone's upbringing and it can be learned later in life too. Respect can be strong and well developed, and should be. Understaning the power of another culture's 'medicine' is another matter. IMO, it is a limited thing that takes a while and remains  very incomplete by nature of the culture, DNA, etc etc. In short, this understanding can only go so far no matter how many books are read, how many people one talks with and how much observation one does. The underlying question to be asked with the issue of understanding is why? Why the great need and what is the deficit of one's own spirituality that pushes one towards another way? I think many seekers don't understand and haven't really questioned their own spiritual deficiency and taken steps to strenghten it. Lastly, IMO, there can be no real application of the real 'medicine ways' of another culture by an outsider, other than some geralized herbal applications. Even with herbs, the efficacy and the sharing of their power  with us is contingent on many things other than simple plucking and preparing them. I have yet to see a white medicine man and never will, though many take great pains to pretend they are. Funny, when I was in Africa, I never came across anyone wanting to be a Maribou or Sarrin (medicine person). Lastly, IMO the luxary of comparative analysis and making a pot pourri out of the old time spiritual ways is limited to but a few, as most people neither have a need, the desire, nor the time and resources to do so.

Offline A.H.

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #42 on: April 08, 2008, 10:47:55 am »
I really liked your post, Kevin and I should apologize for being a little trigger happy with rudeness in another thread... When I see too many "witches", etc. mentioned or in another thread attacking some other person with un-asked for, but detailed animal skinning and other preparations seemed suspicious to me... But you write also many good things..

Actually I agree with your post almost completely. Only few details... I speak from a point of the non-religious person(s)... we don't have codified spirituality, we just belong to a certain cultural sphere (that is becoming increasingly global and ideas were exchanged already in the past). People like that usually  build their "spirituality" (there is an inherent need in most of us to have those feelings and ideas I guess) from universal metaphysical ideas that we don't take for granted but rethink over and over again...

If you don't have a strong contact with another culture and are not part of it there is really no way to really adopt its formal ways.. I agree. And there is no need to...

But I don't see the diverse people of the world as different cultures underneath the form - I think similar ideas are forming all over the world, only execution and level of understanding is a little different. I think we know much too little about the real nature of reality to stop searching around the globe - especially now when it is possible...
And here our ideas (and ideas of many new-agers) differ - I am interested in knowledge not ceremony... In meaning, not form. In "what is it all about?" not "how to".  And I see this as the foremost day-to-day concern, after supplying food and shelter.

Ideas and concepts are deeper than the cultural forms that apply them... and this can be shared in my belief.

And it is also a way of direct approach - naked ideas can be applied to different forms, while only mimicking ceremonies not - it is meaningless and I agree - also disrespectful.

On the other hand the "herbs", that you (Kevin) mentioned again, can also induce the direct experience even without a mediator (medicine-man, etc.) and cultural context - it just works, acts - like love, sex, etc. - there are different rituals surrounding those two in different cultures, but the basic mechanisms and feelings are the same for all. And you can interpret those experiences according to your culture and understanding - they can reveal your subconscious and even trans-personal (like coming outside of your inner dialogue) ideas. But this is really a tricky subject and what can be achieved with their use is very dependant on a person that uses them I guess...

There are very many good and authentic books on different Asian systems of belief that can be read outside their religious context - as philosophy of ideas that can be applied in your way (not making up new fake rituals - instant yoga, tantra, etc...which is also done unfortunately) but understanding their point and finding your way to apply it in your life...  And not only moral code (which is more than similar in Buddhism and Christianity), but explanations of reality, human psychology, etc. 

I am certainly not satisfied with only a judeo-christian description of reality, while the scientific one does not address all the aspects of life... Especially when we have a unique opportunity to read Vedic literature, Taoist classics, Suzuki and other contemporary zen buddhist scholars and philosophers... This is not another culture to me - these are very good and universally applicable and valid ideas that we can try to understand and be more or less inspired and enlightened by them! And we don't have to shave our heads,  join monasteries, become lamas, etc. There are ofcourse also very good and more thought through and un-dogmatic "christian" texts - like slovene philosopher Tine Hribar's unique dealing with Christianity in "Nietzsche's Gospel"...
But this cannot be viewed as our culture anymore - this is global intellectual culture...
 
As little as I could glimpse into american indigenous culture I belive they have a very powerful philosophy that can surely be explained in an appropriate way to write it down - avoiding directly "selling out" the rituals, etc.

But on the other hand - yes - as I realized and also Jung mentioned in one of his books - that NA indigenous (he met with "Pueblo Indians") have a really strong feeling of sacred - they don't just throw religious secrets around to anyone and so their spiritual ways remain more sacred - reserved for the initiated, the closed community and this mistery gives them more importance, dignity, power and meaning.  It is not so profane. But probably also much have changed through years... Or not? Maybe it is really best to keep it that way. And not "throw pearls to the pigs". I don't know. I believe in sharing ideas and expanding knowledge, but maybe this (NA indigenous culture) is really a special case? You all know probably more abut that...





« Last Edit: April 08, 2008, 10:49:31 am by A.H. »

Offline Kevin

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #43 on: April 08, 2008, 12:33:49 pm »
For lack of better word(s), the old time earth spirituality is very much alive here in America with traditional NA cultures, in Austrailia, in South America, Africa and in remote places in Europe, even in the Orient. Natural barriers and sheer distance served to sustain the ceremony and ritual, the power of the various medicine ways but unique and distinct to each culture are the plants and animals and geographical features, an intricate part of an interactive circle. Take the person from the environment and much of the power goes away too IMO and likewise, attempt to insert something from another culture and its power is gone , i.e. A braid of sweet grass would be of no use and little meaning to say a Jola Sarrin from Senegal. We like to think technology with its real time circumvents natural barriers and distance and brings people closer togather and fosters better understanding and appreciation. I'm not so sure of that because it is man's use of technology that is changing the weather, making things go extinct, radically changing behaviors of animals and bringing about mass killing of human beings.  All these wannabes and crooks are essentially what I call earth rippers, those with a conquest mindset believing they have an inherent right to use and exploit anything they want in any way they want. If anything, technology is constricting the medicine ways of various cultures, making them tighten the circle around themselves in a survival mode, protecting their ceremonies.  Until man can better control the use of technology, all ceremonies of all cultures should be off limits to non-cultural members and large areas of wildnerness areas should be off limits to all people - let the tourists stay on the paved roads they have made and look out through the glass windows they have made and see what they have excluded themselves from.

Offline A.H.

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2008, 01:09:33 pm »
A braid of sweet grass would be of no use and little meaning to say a Jola Sarrin from Senegal.

Well - that is talking about the specific cultural FORMS... and quite obscure ones... I think NA indigenous have much more substantial ideas to share than just sweet grass braids... But even so - if he would understand what is it good for - yes it would be of use to him... because it is not only something abstractly ritual - it is practical...

Your reasoning scares me a little I must admit. Such a world as you describe would look like a prison and it would establish "caste mentality" - born a beggar, die a beggar, born ignorant, die ignorant, born without Reason, die without Reason...  and establish collective guilt...







« Last Edit: April 08, 2008, 01:24:03 pm by A.H. »