Excellence Reporter: Manitonquat, what is the meaning of life?
Manitonquat: Life has no universal or absolute meaning, the concept of meaning is a human one and there never will be universal agreement among human beings, so each person must make his own meaning, the meaning that fits his own feeling, sense and intuition, the meaning that satisfies him.
I sought the meaning of life in my First Nation people’s traditional vision quest alone on the mountain and I found the unity of all nature and my part in it.
My own journey to seek the meaning of life began after I left my first career as a playwright and director, finding my own answers in the teachings of native elders as I reported later in my book Return to Creation. In 1972 I set down my sense of life’s meaning in a poem A Prayer to Humankind.
Here is the pertinent excerpt from that poem:
Life is the Sacred Mystery singing to itself, dancing
to its drum, telling tales, improvising, playing,
and we are all that Spirit, our stories all
but one cosmic story that we are love indeed,
that perfect love in me seeks the love in you,
and if our eyes could ever meet without fear
we would recognize each other and rejoice
for love is life believing in itself.
~Manitonquat (Medicine Story) is a storyteller, an elder and a keeper of the lore of the Assonet Band of the Wampanoag Nation of Massachusetts. Author of 12 published books and a former columnist and poetry editor with the internationally acclaimed journal Akwesasne Notes, he has also edited Heritage, a journal of Native American liberation. He continues to develop tools for creating a more humane society based upon teachings of the elders of the First Nations and the explorations of his camps under the designation The Circle Way.
Manitonquat has spoken to peace conferences and groups on 3 continents, was the keynote speaker at the United Nations observance of the 50th anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, directs prison programs for native spirituality, advises a nature school, and, with his wife Ellika, makes workshops and annual international family camps and advises new communities in 10 European countries and the US.
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