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The Great Mystery from "The Soul of the Indian," Part 1 of 2

2021-09-24
Lingua:English

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The Native Americans are a diverse range of people consisting of many different First Nations inhabiting the North Americas. Although each First Nation has their own unique culture and beliefs, a common underlying thread of Native American philosophy is respect for nature and all living beings, as well as a strong belief in prayer, and reverence for the "Great Spirit" or "Great Mystery," the Creator of this world and all its inhabitants. Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman or Ohiyesa was a Santee Sioux. He is considered “one of the most prolific authors and speakers on Sioux ethnohistory and American Indian affairs” of the early 20th Century. Today, we are blessed to present to you “The Great Mystery” from the book “The Soul of the Indian,” An Interpretation, By Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa).

“The original attitude of the American Indian toward the Eternal, the ‘Great Mystery’ that surrounds and embraces us, was as simple as it was exalted. To him it was the supreme conception, bringing with it the fullest measure of joy and satisfaction possible in this life. The worship of the ‘Great Mystery’ was silent, solitary, free from all self-seeking. It was silent, because all speech is of necessity, feeble and imperfect; therefore, the souls of my ancestors ascended to God in wordless adoration.”

“That solitary communion with the Unseen which was the highest expression of our religious life is partly described in the word bambeday, literally ‘mysterious feeling,’ which has been variously translated ‘fasting’ and ‘dreaming.’ It may better be interpreted as ‘consciousness of the Divine.’”

“We believed that the spirit pervades all creation and that every creature possesses a soul. The tree, the waterfall, the grizzly bear, each is an embodied Force, and as such, an object of reverence. The Indian loved to come into sympathy and spiritual communion with his brothers of the animal kingdom, whose inarticulate souls had for him something of the sinless purity that we attribute to the innocent and irresponsible child. He had faith in their instincts, as in a mysterious wisdom given from above.”
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