The Gentle Survivalist newsletter has American Indian underpinnings, not because
of affectation, but because I have spent a great part of my life within the influence
of that culture. The newsletter is a reflection of what I learned to hold sacred
through direct experience with nature, spiritual quests, and intense study. Like many
Native Americans, I am appalled by the rush to accept all thing's Indian, without regard
to appropriateness, respect, or understanding. Money-minded hucksters and teachers of
all varieties, attempting to package Native spirituality as a profitable commodity,
indiscriminately adopt several different tribes' teachings while, even adding pagan or
witchcraft practices, which no elder I have ever known would condone. In addition, Native
informants have duped and misled well-respected anthropologists by Native informants,
causing even more confusion in scholastic circles, which in turn further confuse many
young Native American students. The flood of Native seminars and conflicting new books on
Native spiritual practices often only serves further to bewilder truth seekers.|
those who want to learn Native culture to stop taking and start giving - dedicating
themselves to helping the People in any way they are qualified. If they have
construction, plumbing, electrical, or solar energy skills, let them offer their
services on a nearby reservation. If they are health care practitioners, let them
volunteer time at Indian Health Service facilities. Whatever their abilities and
talents may be, they could offer to share them with the People. If traditional elders
judge their service acceptable, they will, in their own time and way, share to what
they want. It may not be what the truth-seeker really wants to hear, but then, how
many of us are prepared for time-tested wisdom that might affect our delicate egos?
I have studied Islam, Judaism, diverse Christian doctrines, and other religions, and
always try to find ties that bind believers together . . . not separate them. Religion
has been the basis and justification for much bloodshed throughout history, but the
Indigenous Peoples of North and South America had many beliefs about God, or the Great
Spirit, and love to trade creation stories with other tribes. This exchange was always
friendly, and there was no arguing about who was right. Each tribe was allowed its own
unique stories. Tolerance and respect for diverse beliefs were, and continue to be,
the Native American path.
The Gentle Survivalist supports all God-centered religions in their desire to remain
faithful, balanced, and strong in these increasingly difficult times. I may not
personally believe everything a particular religion offers, but dwell on areas of
similarity, not division, and respect a person's right to believe what they may. T.G.S.
is not a conversion tool aimed at atheists or agnostics, but was created as a literary
forum to support honest-in-heart believers who shun bitter self-righteousness and
resentment while continuing to reach out with enduring faith in Divine purposes outlined
by inspired teachers and the Holy Books of all religions.
Gentle Survivalists have little in common with extremists of the Pagan persuasion
who worship creation, but not the Creator. We honor God by acknowledging that it is
His life-giving love and light that flows through our Mother Earth, indeed, the entire
universe. We care about the environment because we see it as a "unified field,"
where everything that happens affects the integrity of everything else, ourselves
We have even less in common with camouflaged weekend warriors or gun-obsessed
extremists who thrill in testing themselves against Mother Nature and their fellow
beings. Inner fears and insecurities draw these people to authoritarian allegiances
and racial/religious discrimination like a magnet . . . further separating themselves
from nature and humanity.
We admit that some of our past traumas were self-inflicted, but also realize that
most of our trials are the result of living in an imperfect world where disease, genetic
defects, poverty, radiation, strife and pollution are all part of the life experience
package. The scriptures state: "For it must needs be that there is an opposition in all
things." In a perfect world there would be no testing ground for growth and development . . .
no place for proving and becoming by making positive choices over dark ones. By our own
free will, we choose whom we will ultimately become as we refine our many rough facets
into beautiful reflections of God's perfection. Small daily triumphs over spiritual
darkness and negativity bring joy into our lives and the lives of those we love. We don't
give up because we know that God isn't finished with us yet. Any situation, however
hopeless or painful, can be reversed or alleviated by a change in attitude.
I believe that living a life of simplicity is far more than a frugal lifestyle of
penny pinching or finding a great bargain at a yard sale. Simplicity, in the deepest
sense, means throwing every form of dark and weighty ballast overboard, and like the
balloonist, rising higher toward the light. This process, while often painful, gets
easier with practice. As we put priorities in order, our lives are filled with service,
joy and dedicated focus.
Simplicity is never as simple as it sounds. It requires a childlike approach to
the universe, a sense of awe and gratitude, the discarding of worldly desires, false
pretenses, the praise of men, and every other form of vanity and excess materialism.
True simplicity requires that we forgive others and stop wasting our personal energy
wallowing in past hurts and injustices. To live a life of honest simplicity has
implications that extend light years beyond Webster's definitions and calls forth the
very best we have to offer.
Today, it is common to speak of the inner child and the needs of that child that
went unmet by parents, care givers, relatives and teachers. If we truly want to do that
inner child of ours justice, we need to learn to forgive as easily and completely as a
child would, thereby freeing us of the smothering emotional burdens that cloud our true
purpose and identity. When we learn to let go of all past resentments, pain and anger,
we will truly "Be Here Now," walk softly on Mother Earth, obey God's laws according to
the light given, respect each other as brothers and sisters, and recognize all life
forms as expressions of the Great Creator.
The spark of divinity we brought with us to this earthly plane is still within,
waiting to be recognized and nurtured into flame. Dedicating ourselves to a life of
simplicity and service will fan that spark, giving it the oxygen it needs to grow.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
- Rabindranath Tagore