Love of Possessions is a Weakness
“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.
If a child is inclined to be grasping, or to cling to any of his or her little possessions, legends are related about the contempt and disgrace falling upon the ungenerous and mean person…….
The Indians in their simplicity literally give away all that they have—to relatives, to guests of other tribes or clans, but above all to the poor and the aged, from whom they can hope for no return.”
Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa)
Sharing was a form of insurance in the non-agricultural tribal societies where people lived on what they gathered of nature’s bounty in the form of fruits, grains, roots; meat of animals they occasionally hunted; fish they caught in the right season, and a variety of other foods found in the forest. When one killed a large animal there was more meat than a family could eat. It made perfect sense to share the surplus for one soon got it back in a larger measure when the neighbors made kills. In this way food was shared and everyone ate quite well.
But the Indians also realized that sharing was spiritually beneficial to the giver. In their eyes that was a bigger gain. They knew that they were in fact the spirit that animates all living bodies including their own. This realization was cultivated in them from childhood. Rest of their lives they tested this truth and found it the foundation of all life. This gave them a sense of security and great stability to live through ups and down of living.
This way of looking at life was shared by all tribal (and other) cultures around the globe. Listen to what the Vedic Rishi sang in the ishavasyupanishad. Everything that exists around us is created by the ISHA (the Great Spirit). Whenever we eat or consume anything we must remember this and offer it first to its creator and the true owner. None of us is the real owner and all living beings have equal right to things that the Creator has made for us. So share with a large heart and do not boast of being generous, for you are giving something that is a gift from God and is in any case meant to be shared by all.
December 16, 2006