Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bushman Spirituality - It's About the Feeling

In the book, The Bushman Way of Tracking God: The Original Spirituality of the Kalahari People (pub date: 2010), author, Bradford Keeney, Ph.D. explains that feeling, not thinking is the path of spirituality.

For those coming from more of a cerebral orientation to spirituality (as I am), this is an interesting and fun read. Below are some quotes I found most interesting and pertinent; re-enforcing the central themes of this blog from another perspective.

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... the original form of spirituality that predates all major religions by thousands of years. (iv)

There in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia and Botswana, a small number of Bushman elders hold our most ancient wisdom. (x)

Most highly literate spiritual teachers argue that abstract philosophies and theologies represent an evolution of spirituality over the "primitives" who danced around a fire rather than sitting to read and discuss a book. The Bushmen have a different story. They believe that language, ideas, theories, and abstract thinking too easily deceive. With language games, we are led away from how our heart can be fully awakened to bridge with eternal wisdom and guidance. (xi)

The original way to tracking God,what may be called original spirituality, is surprisingly found through embracing wild laughter, syncopated rhythm, and ecstatic love. In other words, we find enlightenment through bringing forth absurd talk, spirited music and heartfelt embrace. (xii)

Their invitation is for us to stop spending so much time sitting still in any meditative, classroom, boardroom stupor, and to be less attached to professed cognitive insights, explanations, and understandings. Original spirituality invites us to engage in more heartfelt caring, sharing and daring encounters with one another. (xiii)

Words, the Bushmen say, are only useful for teasing one another. In teasing, we are less likely to get stuck in any particular belief, attitude, or form of knowing. (2)

Something is not quite right about the people who come out here and ask us a lot questions. They think words will make them understand. They miss out on having the experiences that are beyond understanding. (3)

...do not allow a word to set up an illusory (and potentially arrogant) knowing of something that goes past the limit of our mind's ability to understand. (5)

Set your compass to aim for your emotions rather than your thoughts. (7)

You have to be softened and ripened to receive seiki. (13) [See Ikuko Osumi]

Softness has to do with your heart being open, free of barriers from a doubting mind. To much thinking, evaluation, conscious monitoring, comparing, performance anxiety, intellectual gamesmanship, and the like cover the heart with armor - the heavy metal protection of thoughts woven together as a kind of insulating fabric. (13-14)

[referring to tai chi] You aren't suppose to learn the movement. You are supposed to have the movement teach you. (14)

Your body has been waiting for your mind to get out of the way. Your mind has been waiting for your body to take charge.... You have been waiting to grant yourself permission to wed and release all parts of yourself. (21)

Trust your body's movement to teach you how to know what is important about words and understanding. It knows, and its knowing can't be easily written down. (22)

It ain't about the knowin'... It's about the feelin'. (27)

It has nothing to do with book knowing; this is a library of feelings. (39)

Thinking, as we habitually know it, is not necessary. (39)

When Bushmen say they own something it means not only that they own the feeling for it but also that the feeling has transmitted its essence, its complex nexus of relationships, into their very being. (40)

Your language-focused mind is an idiot; only spirit has wisdom. (45)

Black Elk once said that truth comes in two pure forms: through tears and through laughter. Both involve movement and can lead to convulsions. Both are medicines. (53)

...the futility and absurdity of teaching with words... (53)

"Tell your people that they must learn to wake up their feelings. Their heart must arise from its sleep...." (58)

Words get you stuck unless you play with them and move them around. (59)

The Bushmen feel its truth, ... It's not about a theology of words. (62)

Your mind has just been in the way of feeling it. (63)

I know you are capable of feeling all this because you are wired the same way as the Bushmen. You are a Bushman. The problem is that you have forgotten who you are and what you are meant to be. (65)

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And it goes on and on for 280 pages. Lots of great stuff. I love his writing style. There were even a few places where I burst out in convulsive Ha Ha Ha laughter. And though the book gets progressively more mystical (and hilariously funny), which is beyond me, I still got a lot out of the more functional aspects and exercises.

You may also want to check out one of Bradford's websites:
Shaking Medicine .
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