Tecumseh, one of the greatest men ever to be born on the American continent. A Native American, war chief and statesman he was essentially a Native American George Washington. He saw his family killed by the white settlers and the soldiers of the new United States of America yet he refused to kill women and children.
Among the tribes, there was no concept of Indians as a group i.e. you were a Shawnee or Mohawk, not an Indian. Indeed, even the whites were seen as “tribes” the British tribe, French tribe, Spanish tribe or, worst of all from their perspective, the American tribe. Tecumseh was a visionary and envisioned a Native American confederacy from the Great Lakes to the Gulf.
He sided with the British in the War of 1812 only to be abandoned after the end of the war. Abandoned to the Americans who destroyed him and his people.
Please note: No nation is all good or all evil. One must acknowledge the failings as well as the successes of a nation to truly understand it.
(Picture: Portrait of Tecumseh – Nineteenth-century portrait by Benson John Lossing, after a pencil sketch by Pierre Le Dru)
These five principles form the foundation of just about every major religion and philosophical system which emerged in that incredible span of years from the 8th to the 3rd century BCE called the Axial Age when Taoism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Classic Greek Philosophy, and Christianity all flowered in the same time period. Why? Simple, it is because they are universal and when put into active practice in our daily lives they work.
The practice of these principles will garb you in a suit of spiritual armor. Even in the midst of chaos and in the face of evil your heart will be unsullied, calm and serene.
The five principles: Wisdom of the Axial Age
1. Be compassionate. Compassionate in both thought and deed. Learn to recognize that the actions of others are often caused by spiritual pain. Avoid contempt. Avoid those mental judgments we always make of others. Compassion leads to harmony and harmony and balance is the key to inner peace.
2. Be kind. Very simple. In every interaction, you have you have an opportunity to add to the sum total of good. No act of kindness or charity is too small. It does not matter if you receive gratitude. At times your acts of kindness will even cause resentment in others. That is their way. Let yours be kindness.
3. Be Forgiving: Forgive others and mostly yourself. Forgiveness is not easy. It requires effort to let past harms and slights go. You may be perfectly justified in your anger, sorrow or resentment but it does not matter. Resentments do not harm the object of your resentment. They harm only you. Much of our spiritual disharmony is caused by our own self-contempt. We magnify our failings. We mull over our mistakes and shortcomings again and again. We compare ourselves to an impossible ideal and then hate ourselves when we fail to measure up. Forgive yourself. Let it go. There is so much that is good in you and tomorrow brings a new opportunity to achieve your dreams.
4. Be Loving. When you have been compassionate, kind and forgiving you will sense a flood of a unique form of love. Love of all. It will well up within you and influence your every action. It will baffle and confuse others. People who would confront you, engage you in argument or dispute and who would transmit their own anger to you will be astounded when they see that you are unruffled. They will not know what to do. Your calm and peace will affect them.
5. Be Accepting: You are not in control of the universe. Stop taking everything so personally. It is not all about you. Be humble before the majesty of the universe knowing that it is you and you are it. Things are often not going to go your way. You may be treated unfairly by others, or be the target of hatred or cruelty. You are not going to get everything you want. Accept this. Move on.
(Picture: Artist unknown)
One of the most interesting things about DNA is that we have discovered, in humans, the 3% of the code which builds our physical bodies also has encoded within the bodies of all of our ancestors. We can switch on these old systems (in animals of course since this would be highly unethical to do to human beings) and give a chicken teeth or scales. We are not just us. We are all the physical forms in our lineage.
Now, that accounts for 3% of our storage. What of the other 97%? It is memories. Now the skeptic will go “yeah right Mr. Science”. Hear me out here though. Why is it so hard to accept memories encoded into the helix? In fact all “instinct” is encoded memory. What beach to lay your eggs by the light of the full moon if you are a tortoise. Where to migrate if you are a starling or a monarch butterfly. Sharks even have maps of the magnetic markers on the seafloor. None of this is learned. It is there at birth.
There is a very good evolutionary reason for this. Rapid adaptation. We have a repository of past experiences so we do not have to reinvent the wheel every time our environment changes. Human beings have noted this for at least as long as we have records and this has given rise to theories of reincarnation which appeared in nearly every civilization on Earth. Science has resisted this because it sounds too “supernatural” in the same way they resisted the “Big Bang” because it sounded too much like creation. Yet, it is anything but supernatural. It is entirely natural and the only explanation which makes any sense.
(Picture courtesy of Ya-Webdesign)