seven sacred teachings

Sunday, March 21st, 2010 | Uncategorized

last week i had the great opportunity to visit an indigenous community in northern manitoba, canada (the O-Pipon-Na-Piwin- Cree Nation). i was (and still am) blown away by their positive leadership spirit in spite of an incredible uphill battle against four forms of violence that they (and other First Nations) had to suffer and endure:
1. direct physical violence: white man simply killing them (particularly rampant in the 19th century US after the civil war)
2. structural political violence: taking away their self determination (government dependent reserves)
3. structural economic violence: taking away their economic self reliance (government driven welfare economy)
4. spiritual/cultural violence: taking away the land, language and loved ones (forced residential schooling: taking kids away from their parents, putting them into residential schools, beating them when they use their mother tongue, abusing and often killing them afterwards). as one of them told me: “i got my PHD” in a residential school.” PhD?? “yes,” he said. “Physically Hurt and Damaged.”
So given that backdrop, its NOT surprising to see 90% of the parent generation being victimized by alcohol and drugs. but what IS surprising is that these communities still find some inspired leaders that try to take them to the next level…
the focus of this project is on developing multi-sector opportunities for indigenous people, particularly for young people…

returning from this very inspiring and somewhat transformative week i cant not think back: three weeks ago i was in namibia–and saw again first hand the damage and pain that germans and other europeans inflicted upon the people of the African continent. then the aboriginal people in canada and the US — again white men acting out as unbelievable cruel killing machines. closed heart. closed mind. closed will. the worst form of fundamentalism you can imagine. who are we as human beings that we do that to each other?

how is that continued today? direct violence still continues to be reproduced. as is structural violence. as is attentional violence.

i was struck by the seven sacred teachings that i found in the aboriginal community we saw:
1. wisdom, 2. love, 3. respect, 4. bravery, 5. honesty, 6. humility, 7. truth. if you mapp them onto the U process you could say that
–humility, honesty, and truth deal with opening the Mind (getting beyond the Voice of Judgment),
–respect and love deal with opening the Heart (getting beyond the Voice of Cynicism and anger), and
–bravery/courage deals with opening the Will (getting beyond the Voice of Fear)

all of which results into acting with the mind of wisdom…

i saw time and again how social violence (direct and structural) reproduces into attentional/spiritual violence (loosing the connection to your deeper source) which then results into increasing ecological violence (compensating inner void through external consumption and environmental destruction). could it be that the seeds of breaking this deadly cycle lies in the seven sacred teachings? could they help us to open the mind, heart and will?

where have you seen the deep shadow of who we are as humans (Xtreme fundamentalism) and where have you seen it transforming?

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8 Comments to seven sacred teachings

uberVU - social comments
March 22, 2010

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by kamyarh: the seven sacred teachings

andrew james
March 22, 2010

If i cn recall, GeneronReos or maybe Generon were involved with a north american indigenous project some years ago. If i also recall well, the vlaue of the intervention to the community was perhaps below zero.
I would love to read any materials on that project, and i will share them with mt friend Mel Lone Hill ( Lakota Souix ) who is very familiar with the things you describe.

March 22, 2010


Chris Corrigan
March 23, 2010

Yes that community that Generon worked in was Ahousaht on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Most of my work is here in indigenous communities in British Columbia and what you describe Otto, is an experience that I am struck with everytime I am at work in our communities.

I have been in a number of conversations with other Aboriginal leaders, teachers and consultants for many years on leadership models. Much of what I have found can be read at my blog, under the First Nations tag:

Much of my work these days is working with models of leadership that have strong echoes in Theory U. Most First Nations cultures in Canada have some version of presencing that takes us from the material world to the spiritual world and back. All of our cultures have a methodology for that journey. In Nuu-Chah-Nulth (the Tribe of which Ahousaht is a part) the methodology is called Oosumich, and has been very well articulated in a book called Tsawalk: A Nuu-Chah-Nulth Worldview by Richard Atleo. Richard’s book is a Nuu-Chah-Nulth version of Theory U and is as valid and useful a book as yours is, Otto, especially in Nuu-Chah-Nulth settings where I recently designed and delivered a workshop based on it’s core principles.

There is a whole world of inquiry here, and the beauty of North America is that there are literally dozens if not hundreds of different indigenous cultures, all with very different takes on these arts and practices. It is important to remember that as we fall into the temptation to illuminate one community’s methodology and declare it to be THE seven sacred teachings…just a word of caution against reducing these concepts to one universal statement. Each culture has a well developed and sophisticated methodology for presencing and all for different purposes, be it sacred work, community work, hunting, leadership, whaling or healing.


andrew james
March 23, 2010

Complementarity in Learning LO25020
Date: 07/03/00

Dear Learners

I have been asked to think upon matters of waste in the living learning company. In my researches I came upon the following and so it will not be
thought entirely useless if I dedicate it for the inter-est and amusement of Ray Evans Harrell.

Ray, I understand there are things called ‘aeroplanes’ that, like great
silver birds fly people through the skies, I have often seen them from the fields and wondered at what they might be and where they come from and go to as they emit smoky trails from the wings. It seems that one day I may
even fly inside one of these creatures to visit you, and stepping off the plane it would be good to be greeted by you and maybe we shall go
straightaway to the ‘reservations’ and we shall dialogue with the elders and we shall seek their wise guidance on how we shall outlast the next
generational span and for this we must commission them for the making of a
‘generational song’ because I have begun to see the ‘silver skies’ and I am disturbed by it.

By 1744 the American colonies had three degree-awarding colleges, Harvard,
William and Mary, and Yale. These were based on English university colleges,
teaching young gentlemen Greek and Latin grammar, rhetoric, mathematics and
philosophy. In June 1744, after the commissioners of Maryland and Virginia
had negotiated a treaty with the Indians of the Six Nations at Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, they cordially invited them to send some of their sons to
William and Mary College to enjoy the benefits of a classical education.
The Indians considered the invitation. This was their reply:

“We know that you highly esteem the kind of Learning taught in those Colleges, and that the Maintenance of our young Men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinc’d, therefore, that you mean to do
us Good by your Proposal; and we thank you heartily. But you, who are wise, must know that different Nations have different Conceptions of
things; and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our Ideas of this kind of Education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some Experience of it. Several of our young People were formerly brought up at the Colleges of the Northern Provinces; they were instructed in all your Sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad Runners, ignorant of every means of living in the Woods, unable to bear either Cold or Hunger, knew neither how to build a Cabin, take a Deer, or kill an Enemy, spoke our Language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for Hunters, Warriors, nor Counsellors, they were totally good for nothing. We are, however, not the less oblig’d by your kind Offer, tho’ we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful Sense of it, if the Gentlemen of Virginia will send us a Dozen of their Sons, we will take Care of their Education, instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them.

Quoted in “Biography and History of the Indians of North America”, Ed.
Samuel G. Drake. Boston. Second edition,

End citation.

Here is some real time acausal information.~~~~~~~

In the forward to an exhibition of North American Native artifacts from the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, Quebec Gerald McMaster chose among the million artifacts to present a set of shoes, “In Someone Else’s Shoes”
almost a cliche;-) or rightly “Moccasin” from the Cree or Algonquian, “maskisina”. A generic term. The phrase, -To walk a mile in another man’s shoes came to life when it was discovered that the entire collection if each was representing a literal foot as man and actual measure would if exhibited end to end become almost a one mile long chain.

Po-wa-ha. “water-wind-breath”

Andrew Campbell

This became a thread at

Juergen Große-Puppendahl
March 24, 2010

Otto wrote: “i saw time and again how social violence (direct and structural) reproduces into attentional/spiritual violence (loosing the connection to your deeper source) which then results into increasing ecological violence (compensating inner void through external consumption and environmental destruction). could it be that the seeds of breaking this deadly cycle lies in the seven sacred teachings? could they help us to open the mind, heart and will?”

Otto, isn’t attentional violence the root cause of all afflictions akin to the delusion in Buddhist thinking? The blind spot in most individual’s and collectives’ actions by thinking, communicating, organizing and coordinating which brings forth the ‘incredible’ reality we are facing is according to my perception the starting point of direct and structural violence and leading further to compensation mechanisms. Of course, once you lost your connection to your deeper source you are prone to act violently. Hence, attentional violence becomes part of direct, structural, and cultural violence in an interdependent way. The one might feed the other(s) and vice versa. What do you think? Juergen

Jim McShane
March 29, 2010

There is much wisdom in what the indigenous people bring to the table. I agree with Chris that each tribe brings a wealth of knowledge and varied perspective on the issue of life. No one people hold an exclusive key to the truth.

I have been blessed by being friends with the Keeper of the Fire in the Ojibwa tribe.

Otto, my observations have been that there has been an attempt to merge into the euro centered population by the first nation peoples, yet there is a tribal knowledge that besides the distruction and submission by the governments, the destruction of the earth mother is where the most pain is felt.

Around the sacred fire one can sense and see the transformative effect this shaman has with those in the circle. I have witnessed it many times with Bruce. It is most powerful and aligned with the “open space” in the Theory U. It is where creativity and alignment to nature occur.

The shadow in this country by extreme fundamentalists will not prevail. It is opposing nature and life (regardless of what they say or preach). They are unaware of the incongruence of their behavior and their beliefs.

Our indigenous friends see this lack of awareness and are saddened by the lack of connection to the earth.

Kwo-nee-she-wii – Dragonfly Man

Dale Hunter
August 2, 2010

Hi Otto

I just love the phrase you have coined (attentional violence). It is phrases like this that can change the global collective mind set.
I am forwarding this thread to my colleagues and students and each time I do this I thank you once again. I also noted the PHD (Physically Hurt and Damaged) partly because from what I have heard many doctoral students do experience this along the way to graduating. I have to say I was fortunate to have a terrific supervisor Prof Stuart Hill (from NSW, Australia) as a supervisor for my doctorate in Social Ecology,in which I focussed on sustainable co-operative processes in organisations. Stuart was wonderfully visionary and supportive, so that I didn’t feel disconnected being based in another country to him, and he is now a great friend as well.

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