Monday, December 4, 2017

In the Time of Heyoka

If history repeats itself, then how did the ancient wisdom holders deal with times like we have today in America? What is actually happening in the United States if we step back and look at the pattern from a fresh perspective? We may not be able to go back before recorded history but we can go to Native American culture (and others native cultures around the world) to see a pattern repeating today and how they dealt with it.

In the Lakota Sioux there is a role usually played by an individual that emerges when needed. These individuals make the, often unconscious, choice to become the Sacred Clown of the tribe; the Heyoka. They are contrarians who violate the norms and taboos of the tribe by turning things upside down and backwards—forcing individuals to look outside traditional solutions and find answers from within. They are the only ones who can ask, “Why?” about sensitive topics. They shock people into an awareness that the fine balance between the extremes that creates the energy tension of life are off (the poles within which we in the third dimension operate—the extremes of good/bad, black/white, happy/sad, love/hate, science/magic, etc.)
Their role brings absurdity and paradox into the tribe in order to upset the status quo; shake things up to cause tribe members to loosen their hold on the assumptions that are hurting the tribe. They use satire to question the specialists and carriers of sacred knowledge or those in positions of power and authority. They penetrate deception, turn over rocks, teach backwards and create a deeper awareness by using the teaching tools of humor: jokes, puns, satire, nonsense and threats. They poke a stick at the soft underbelly.

They teach by negative example and cause imbalance at tribal ceremonies resulting in everyone being forced to understand the concept of balance. Everyone is jostled to realize that personal responsibility is at the heart of social order, survival and sacred power.

Black Elk (1863-1950) of the Oglala Lakota was Heyoka (2nd cousin of Crazy Horse--see the book, Nicholas Black Elk). His words, “Nothing can live well except in a manner that is suited to the way the sacred power of the world lives and moves.” 

As Chief Seattle said, "The Earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
I’ve been accused of being concerned with the spiritual path (please do not define this as a religious path—I’m far from having religious leanings). I probably have more of a heyoka mindset. I’m a contrarian in thought. I’m not afraid to turn over rocks and explore the forbidden. This is upsetting to many people. Mankind is off balance and needs to find its center again. It doesn’t take a genius to see that. Look at what we’ve done to the earth. And still, there are those that argue the earth is fine--nothing wrong there. But they haven’t yet seen what is under some of those bigger rocks yet to be turned over. I’m suggesting that this country has gotten so far off balance, that we have caused a Sacred Clown to emerge.

Do we have a Heyoka in the White House? True to heyoka tradition, he has brought absurdity and paradox into the “tribe.” By his Heyoka actions (whether conscious or unconscious) he is showing his disregard for norms, rules, social guidelines and acceptable behavior—thus illuminating reality by subverting our assumptions. He is shocking people into awareness. Whether you love him or hate him, he is shaking the very foundations of our democracy, forcing us to look carefully at all the institutions in place that are being upset. We are finding that some of these institutions are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. That those in charge who were supposed to be looking out for the People are not—but instead are corrupted by the quest for money and power at any cost.

Heyoka is causing us to look at our imbalance, and how we respond says a lot about where we are as individuals regarding the polarities. Liberal—Conservative. Democrat—Republican. All charity is good—no charity is good. All social programs are good—all social programs are bad. If we fail to see that balance can't be found at the extreme polarities, we are in danger of it all falling down around us.

As a writer, I’m familiar with archetypes. Heyoka is the archetype of the jester that entertains while slipping into absurdity, revealing truths we’re not willing to look at head on, also known as The Fool, the first Trump card of the Tarot? (Is that synchronistic or what?) Armed only with his knapsack of tricks, and his dog—his animal nature—to guide him, he takes us to the edge of the cliff over which he is willing to go to show us our need for balance. Will we go over the cliff or will we wake up before it’s too late?

How do we find our center? It has to be as individuals. Because the tribe is made up of individuals, we each need to find our center again. If we hope to heal the 'tribe' we need to find our own balance between the two extreme poles. If there is any truth, it is at the center, not at the edges.