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All My Relations by Grandfather Duncan Sings-Alone

Grandmother Earth is alive. She is a conscious being. The stones over which we step have songs to sing and teachings to share. Trees are aware and open to contact with human beings. All are part of what the Lakota people and Native American (Red Path) Zen call Mitakuye Oyas’in, which means “All My Relations”. The universe and all within it are one, even in our separate appearances and functions. Grandmother Earth is a sacred being. By extension, all Mitakuye Oyas’in is sacred.

How I walk on this earth is a Great Matter. When my wife sees someone throw a cigarette or trash on the ground, she will pick it up and hand it to the individual saying, “Don’t do this to your Grandmother.” That person will respond either with embarrassment or will look at my wife with a most quizzical expression. Hopefully, the offender will think about it and understand her meaning.

I think that most people want to live more grounded and satisfactory lives. What so many fail to understand is that internal happiness begins by living in respect and balance with all creation. We are in this world together. We are mutually dependent. We are one. Respect for the Grandmother and ourselves is at the root of a successful life.

Our spiritual development depends on allowing consciousness to pervade all our actions. As we eat, we may be aware of how our food comes to us. Think of all the hands from the farmer though the truck driver to the grocer. We eat because of their labor. Think of the plant. Each head of lettuce also is Mitakuye Oyas’in, sacred.

When we eat meat, let us think of the animal that once was alive. It is important to know how that animal was treated and killed. What in its life expressed Oneness? It is important to live in conscious awareness. I eat the deer and when I die my body will feed the grasses that feed the deer. As we are one, we are interdependent. Mitakuye Oyas’in. Respect. Oneness.

Grandfather Duncan Sings-Alone is a Cherokee trained in Lakota ceremony. For the past 30 years he has led sacred pipe, sweat lodge and vision quest ceremonies for Native American communities. He is a Zen Buddhist priest and created Red Path Zen at Zen Garland to awaken humanity to our Oneness with Grandmother Earth. Zen Garland is located at 83 Campbell Avenue, Airmont . For more information, contact office@zengarland.org or 547-2004 or visit ZenGarland.org

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