The sense of the word initiation is simple. It’s making sense of, and becoming responsive to, initial realities, at the essence and foundations of what appears in our Life. The meaning we give to “initiation” in our everyday usage, however, seems very distant from our day-to-day, somewhat exotic, primitive, unknown. But it’s about making sense of our world and coming into response-able relationship to reality.
In a very deep sense, the quality of this “making sense” is very different from our the very self-involved, self-centric way we approach “making.” This “making sense” is actually something that the Living World begins to do for and with us, once we allow our senses to notice it. This is a living process, not another mental process. It emerges from sense-able, open, attentive and patient connection with the Living, non-Domesticated World and the Expressions of Living Intelligence that People Life.
It took me a long time to grasp that words have a meaning which we receive out of the vast array of our cultural programming. Words they have a sense that is connected to the actual, living, sense-able reality we can access with our senses. All words, if we explore their etymology, literally “what they say in what-is,” we rediscover the living intelligence of human beings with their feet on the ground and real, sustaining, and enlivening relationships and response-abilities to living reality, who speak to living and not just mere “idealism.”
Modern cultural programming highly encourages us to make meanings while, at the same time, we get very little guidance in making sense. Please take a moment and consider what I am pointing to in this paragraph.
Curiously, I discovered that in cultures c(emerge after the conquest of our indigenous, Life-Affirming Ways of LIFE, imperial languages evolve meanings for words that are almost diametrically opposed to their sense. As a result, conquered peoples orient according to descriptive meanings that no longer help us to make sense of reality and of LIFE. This, of course, is part and parcel of keeping conquered peoples in submission: the confusion caused prevents us from engaging coherently with reality outside of the “official descriptions” we have received about it.
Look, listen and observe how often people say that “Life makes no sense!” Let me clarify something to take on as a question, a consideration worthy of time and attention:
Life makes perfect sense: as soon as we engage with Living, with our Senses!
I have often been so wrapped up in ideas that I forgot to check in with reality, by way of my senses and my attentive intelligence. An essential step in the initiatory pathways is to go to the essence, to the presence of things, to that which IS and not just weave descriptions of the world out of ideas disconnected from the reality we actually live in.
This is challenging because, time and time again, after being convinced that I have “become advanced” at something, I am challenged to rediscover it from the Beginning that I ignored.
Among people where initiation into natural, sense-able reality has been or replaced with false initiations, there’s a fundamental doctrine that “reality doesn’t matter,” “it’s all an illusion.” In classical Greek culture we have references to how slaves received mystical initiations and second-hand descriptions of “reality.” Look up Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and read it.
The free learned by walking, observing and engaging with Living, Sense-able Reality. The free learned self-mastery; the capacity to lead one’s own Life from first-hand observation and being and doing, with ability. Slaves learned to parrot and obey the “teachings” of “masters” rather than attaining a competent, coherent, self-led engagement with the world.
I spent years with three indigenous Cheyenne friends who spoke perfect English. In their company I had the first experience of being profoundly and intimately with other people from a non-imperial life-way. Most of the conversations I had with them continue to enrich me 30 years later. They were the first friends who showed me what a highly-developed heart-centered sensitivity and respect for the will and attention of another made possible. What I learned with them in the course of four years of time together and with their Lakota, Siletz, Klamath and Suswap friends set an altogether different standard for my appreciation of what it means to be human, to be spiritually adult and responsible.
One day we were talking and the eldest said to me:
“It’s difficult to talk with people who consider themselves “modern” because they don’t talk sense. They talk all kinds of ideas most of which they have never actually thought about IN CONNECTION TO LIVING REALITY and they have no idea how much they all think alike but they don’t think from LIFE. It’s like talking to a tape recorder. If you’ve talked with enough of them or watched enough television you know the next thing they’re going to say.”
“They talk about ideas without any need to look at the underlying reality, if there is any, of what they give so many opinions about. They’re looking for “the right perspective” and ask us if we agree with them or if we believe the same things. They ask us what we believe, how we see the world.
Our way of looking at the world is very simple: FIRST YOU OPEN YOUR EYES AND EARS AND PAY ATTENTION.
This is how we SEE the world. This is the first step. Not just open your eyes and name and define things. Not just come up with a bunch of ideas of how you think the world is. First open your eyes and pay attention. Then pay some more attention. Then continue. After a few decades of paying attention to Living Reality you will discover some very interesting things about Reality.
Without this you’re not seeing the world. Modern people don’t understand the sense of their own language. Part of the reason is that most of you come from people who haven’t been speaking English that long so you don’t have an ancestral connection to the language you are speaking. The reason you are speaking English is because something happened to your People that disconnected you from your Ancestors and your Homeland, and the Way of Speaking of those People in that Place. But that doesn’t even enter into your consciousness, precisely because you have been cut-off. It doesn’t even enter into your Way of Speaking, precisely because you have been cut-off. So you speak in a way that is cut-off. You are not even aware that there’s a SENSE to the words you use, that they’re not just ideas.
For us to speak implies speaking with SENSE, after paying attention to reality. To speak is consequent. A person who speaks without sense is suffering from the sickness of being cut-off. Beyond what you think a word means every word has a SENSE. We are ALL descendants of indigenous people. Every language, at its roots, speaks to reality. We all inhabit REALITY. Many modern people are oblivious to this fact. The SENSE of words refers to things in the real world.
For us, to be an adult means to enter into one’s own relationship with reality, to become responsible, aware. It’s not about adopting beliefs or somebody else’s conclusions. It’s not about everyone having their own opinion either. It IS about opening our own EYES and becoming responsible for what we do in the world, in and with reality. It’s about relating to reality with the understanding that our actions are consequent, not only for us, but for all Life and for generations after we are gone.
To live as free people every adult is responsible to engage with reality. This is a matter of our capacity to pay attention and to have our own comprehension of reality. If you really want to understand an indigenous person first you need to learn to speak your OWN language WITH SENSE, to speak from your experience in reality and not just talk about your ideas and opinions about other ideas and opinions you got second-hand. Slow down. Open your eyes. Pay attention to LIFE. It doesn’t matter where you are, you are in Life.
That was the first time that someone pointed out to me that speaking with sense was something different than just talking about my opinions or beliefs. I wasn’t really sure exactly what he meant about the difference between the sense of the words we use, and the meanings which we’ve learned to give them.
It took me several decades to realize that, indeed, there’s a whole dimension of sense at the root of all the words we use that are often almost opposite of the meanings we attribute to them.
You can discover this dimension of sense HERE.
We can talk from reality and not just from an opinion about reality. Our actions and words either care for and reflect reality, or they ignore and damage reality. Only by comprehending our surroundings and ourselves can we understand how we impact and engage with reality.
Living among many different people I began to notice that people who live their lives from and with Life itself, naturally speak sense. Their understanding is not only rooted in Reality but that rootedness supports an awesome, connected expansion, in Reality, over decades of living. Caring for plants, animals, land, waterways for a lifetime, and doing so in a way that offers Vitality to those who follow in their footsteps, reveals the sense that Life emerges from and in. I have had the good fortune of spending time with such people, around the world, learning with them, and receiving their guidance in making sense of the world and of the expressions of BEING that surround us. So when I wonder how to make sense of my world, or situations, I think of these people, who have their toes in the dirt.
We rarely imagine that the meanings we give to words in our daily usage could be so different from their etymological sense (from the Greek etymos- “real” which is in turn derived from the Indo-European esse meaning “that which IS” and logos “thought, word”). Logos is not just “the word” or “the thought.” It is “that which speaks-in-Being.”
Etymos, in Greek, comes from the ProtoIndoEuropean esse, which means “to be,” and has the same root as “is,” in English, est, in Latin, es, in Spanish. The etymology of the words is not just the historical use of words, as so many believe. The words points to “that which speaks-in-being, in-reality.” It points to the sense-able reality beyond the words and ideas we make about the world.
The real sense of the words we use is encountered by using our senses to discover the nature, in reality, of what is being spoken of. To make sense of our world implies a willingness to use our senses.
My words are not truth. WE are truth. Not our words, not our ideas, our BEING is truth. We are inside truth, inside reality and reality is inside of us. Everything is speaking in what it IS. The value of whatever I say is only real-ized when you use your real eyes to pay attention to what they are pointing to in living, sense-able reality, and not just your ideas or conception of reality.
There’s a Chinese saying:
When the wise person points at the moon the fool studies the finger.
I spent a long time in this kind of foolishness. I thought myself wise because I became an expert student of a number of fingers pointing at the moon. I never imagined that after “being initiated” I still had to go to the initial beginnings of things, to their reality, over and over and over again. This is something that only we can do for ourselves. The goal of initiation is not in someone “becoming an initiate” it’s in us being able to continually take ourselves to the essence of living reality.
You can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
To take ourselves to the shapes, textures, colors, flavors, sensations, sounds and changes of living reality only becomes real when we ourselves turn our attention to our reality. Pointing out helps, but only once we ourselves guide our attention to the nature of our challenges, aspirations and current experience.
Gather Seeds of Wisdom, which is Way-Finding, that we may make our Way to Living the Life we Love by Loving the Aliveness we are, and are in.