Sunday, July 13, 2008

On A Pilgrimage Of Hope And Peace

Leon Secatero, Spiritual elder of the Canoncito band of the Navajo

This has been an interesting weekend for me, and a large number of other spiritual folks in my area. We have been visited by Leon Secatero and have been completely blown away with how this weekend is transpiring. Originally we thought Leon would be here to visit with a few of us as the first stop in a kind of pilgrimage he is undertaking through Canada, where he will be meeting with spiritual elders of the Six Nations and other Canadian tribes. In a sense I saw it as Leon's version of Benedict XVI staying in the Opus Dei complex in Australia. He would spend three or four easy days in preparation for his main objectives.

Instead, we have found out we are part of his main objective and have been exposed to some of the most sacred teachings of the Navajo nation. Some of these teachings Leon told us have been held in secret for hundreds of years within specific families, bands, and the tribe itself. He told us the elders had gotten together and based on dreams have decided the time is now right for this information to be released to all people so that the calendar for the next 500 years can be set and our children and future children can actually have a better future. His task is to give this information to the Canadian elders, but while here he decided he needed to give it to us as well.

Leon had a very specific vision while having a stroke in Canada in February of 2007, and you can read about this vision here:
With us Leon has been true to his vision and has stressed the positive, insisting we learn to see things from the other side of the coin, to find the ultimate positive which results from what appears to be an initial negative.

Although Leon didn't say this, this should in theory be an easy concept for Christians to get. It's what Jesus was all about. No crucifixion, no resurrection, no hope, no peace. But like Native tribes which are still coping with the historical trauma of white cruelty, Christians have gotten stuck on the crucifixion and have failed to move through to the ultimate understanding of the positive inherent in the resurrection. We need to move through to the positive if we are ever going to give our children a different world, one based in hope and peace, and not division and war. So that was my lesson number one.

Lesson number two was really interesting to me because Leon spoke eloquently on how difficult it is to get people in our current Western culture to understand the thinking behind Native stories and the way they tell their stories. We are too legalised and compartmentalized in our thinking. It's a product of the laws of the culture and the educational system and it effects his people as well. In other words, in my language, the culture is too left brained.

He told us this story about when he was invited to speak to a group of Native elementary students. He was scheduled to speak at 10:00 in the morning, but was held up and didn't arrive until the middle of the afternoon. In his morning slot the school had a grandmother elder tell a story instead, and she chose to tell the creation story of the coyote throwing the stars up into the sky. Leon said when he took his place at the podium there was this little boy, probably a second or third grader, who was beside himself waiting to ask Leon a question. So Leon recognized him and asked the boy what was so important. The boy asked Leon if it was physically possible for a coyote to throw stars up into the sky, because in the boy's opinion it wasn't, implying that the story wasn't real truth.

Leon said he just stood silent, speechless for a minute because in his mind the stories were not literal physical truth, but cosmic truth in metaphor. He didn't know how to answer the boy without embarrassing the grandmother, so he asked the boy if he didn't really belong out on the playground with that other group of children. Not to be put off, the boy said he was right where he belonged which forced Leon to admit that it was physically impossible for the coyote to throw the stars into the sky. Leon had been outdone by the spirit of an eight year old pursuing his own version of what was true.

But the incident taught Leon a lesson. It wasn't just that younger generations were losing touch with their historical culture and language, they were losing touch with the kind of thinking the culture was based in, and without that ability to think metaphorically, to understand that there is far more to any story than the plot line, it would be very difficult to teach to the red road or moral path which is necessary to activating so many of the beyond physical activities of the Navajo spiritual tradition. In other words, people needed to be taught to think with their right hemisphere. There's real power there to create new things, new perspectives, new solutions, and also access other modes of sense perception which aren't limited to this three dimensional reality, but which do effect this reality.

When Leon talks about creating the calendar for the next 500 years he is literally talking about creating the energy which will underlie and sustain the world cultures of the next 500 years. In his vision these centuries will actively work towards peace, unity, and a common vision which integrates mankind with mother earth and the cosmos in a matrix of hope and peace. Then 500 years from now, that generation of Time Keepers will set the calendar for the next 500 years based on the vision of the Time Keepers which set this coming one, and so on until we literally bring in what we Catholics would call the Kingdom of Christ on earth. It also describes a process of evolution in consciousness going from chaos and disunity to beauty and unity.

Of all the Catholic theologians I've read, I think the two who would most likely truly understand what Leon is talking about are Teilhard De Chardin and Thomas Merton. There are current theologians like Diarmud O'Murchu who are also onto this kind of quantum rather than Newtonian thinking. The fun thing about Leon is that one minute he can be talking about coyote lessons and the next minute photon belts, Chardin, or the inner workings of the nucleus. To give you a quick example of his thinking, he frequently points to the sky and says "what is out there is in here" and touches his heart. But he also means that in the quantum sense the workings of the macro universe are identical to the workings of the micro universe in the construction of atoms. As are galaxies so are atoms. As is the Creator so is the heart of man. As is the seed, so is the plant. To watch a seed grow is to watch creation in action. It is organised, it uses only what it needs in it's creative process, taking from the four elements of air, water, light, and earth, and it results in beauty. As is the plant, so is mankind. So in this sense it's the task of the Time Keepers to plant the seeds which will then grow into a beautiful flower in the next 500 year growing season.

We have two more days with Leon, so I will be writing more on what we learn of Leon's world view and Navajo knowledge. I can say he is an unbelievably gentle spirit, but with the eyes of an Eagle. This is a true gentleness backed with powerful 'knowing'. This is different than Benedict who seems to project gentleness backed by the power of historical position and accrued academic knowledge. There is a huge difference.