NATIVE MIND VERSUS WESTERN (SCIENTIFIC) MIND

FROM WISDOM OF THE ELDERS

1. Traditional Native knowledge about the natural world tends to view all - or at least vast regions - of nature, often including the earth itself, as inherently holy, rather than profane, savage, wild, or wasteland.

2. The landscape itself, or certain regions of it, is seen as sacred and quivering with life. It is inscribed with meaning regarding the origins and unity of all life, rather than seen as mere property to be partitioned legally into commercial real estate holdings.

3. The Native Mind is imbued with a deep sense of reverence for nature. It does not operate from an impulse to exercise human dominion over it.

4. Native wisdom sees spirit, however ones defines that term, as dispersed throughout the cosmos or embodied in all inclusive, cosmos-sanctifying divine being. Spirit is not concentrated in a single monotheistic Supreme Being.

5. Native wisdom tends to assign human beings enormous responsibility for sustaining harmonious relations within the whole natural world rather than granting them unbridled license to follow personal or economic whim.

6. Native wisdom regards the human obligation to maintain the balance and health of the natural world as a solemn spiritual duty that an individual must perform daily - not simply as admirable, abstract ethical imperatives that can be ignored as on chooses.

7. The Native Mind emphasizes the need for reciprocity - for humans to express gratitude and make sacrifices routinely - to the natural world in return for the benefits they derive from it - rather than to extract whatever they desire unilaterally. Nature’s bounty is considered to be precious gifts that remain intimately and inextricably embedded in its living web rather than as "natural resources" passively awaiting human exploitation.

8. Human beings are to honor nature routinely rather than only intermittently when it happens to be convenient.

9. Human violations of the natural world have serious immediate (as well as long-term) consequences rather than comfortingly vague, ever "scientifically uncertain," long-term ones.

10. The Native Mind tends to view wisdom and environmental ethics as discernible in the very structure and organization of the natural world rather than as lofty products of human reason far removed from nature.

11. The Native Mind tends to view the universe as the dynamic interplay of elusive and ever-changing natural forces, not as a vast array of static physical objects.

12. Native wisdom tends to see the entire natural world as somehow alive and animated by a single, unifying force. It does not reduce the universe to progressively smaller conceptual bits and pieces.

13. Native wisdom tends to view time as circular (or as coillike fusion of circle and line), as characterized by natural cycles that sustain all life, and as facing humankind with recurrent moral crises - rather than as an unwavering linear escalator of "human progress."

14. The Native Mind tends to accept without undue anxiety the probability than nature will always possess unfathomable mysteries. It does not presume that the cosmos is completely decipherable to the rational human mind.

15. It tends to view human thought, feelings, and communication as inextricably intertwined with events and processes in the universe rather than as apart from them. Indeed, words themselves are considered spiritually potent, generative, and somehow engaged in the continuum of the cosmos, not neutral and disengaged from it.

16. The Native Mind tends to emphasize celebration of and participation in the orderly designs of nature instead of rationally "dissecting" the world.

17. It tends to honor as its most esteemed elders those individuals who have experienced a profound and compassionate reconciliation of outer- and inner-directed knowledge, rather than virtually anyone who has made material achievements or simply survived to a chronological old age.

18. The Native Mind tends to reveal a profound sense of empathy and kinship with other forms of life, rather than a sense of separateness from them or superiority over them.

19. It tends to view the proper human relationship with nature as a continuous dialogue (that is, a two-way, horizontal communication between Homo sapiens and other elements of the cosmos) rather than as a monologue (a one-way, vertical imperative).

20. Within Native worldviews, the parts and processes of the universe are, to varying degrees holy; to science, they can only be secular. Sacred ecology looks upon the totality of patterns and relationships at play in the universe as utterly precious, irreplaceable, and worthy of the most profound human veneration. To indigenous peoples around the world, the sacred is, and always has been, waiting to be witnessed everywhere - and "everywhen" - continuously, throughout all time.

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