Custom and Tradition Against the Flow of the Natural World
Tom Brown Jr.
Many people do not know what I mean by this statement, but the meaning
becomes obvious whenever you go alone into the natural world and test these
philosophies against the laws of the pure and natural. The poem called
"Tiny Torrents" speaks of the purity of the Great Spirits' truths like
tiny torrents of pure and crystalline water which flows from the mountain peaks.
This water is pure and undefiled, crystalline and real, unchanged by the natural
laws or the thoughts or interpretations of man. As this pure water makes its way
down the mountain, it slowly gets polluted and changed from what it once was,
until it gets to the rivers of man where it has become so far removed from that
which it was. So it is when custom, tradition, or ceremony interferes with the
purity of the truth, shrouding the meaning with so many distractions.
What we must do is seek out and get back to the purity. "Seek not to
follow in the footsteps of the men of old, seek instead, what they sought",
that old Chinese saying, holds so true even today. The way I test out things is
to check them out in the forests and fields of the natural world, living close
to the earth, with no outside influences to warp my thinking. In other words,
seeking out what works for me in a real way, not that which has worked for
others in the past.
I find that the vision quest will work for anyone, no matter what religion or
background. This makes it a natural universal truth, thus withstanding the test
of time and nature. The sweatlodge also bears up for anyone under the same
Other truths will also become apparent as a person extends his alone time in
the natural world. There becomes at once, a sincere praying to the unseen and
eternal, that spirit that moves through all things, that which I call the Great
Spirit. The earth becomes a splendid provider, like our mother, where the
umbilical cord which attaches us to her is only broken in death, only to become
part of the earth again. A dialogue develops between us and the various entities
of nature, where in a real way all things are looked upon as brothers and
sisters. If these few traditions and customs hold up, then they are, in fact,
universal truths. Test all things this way to help you wade through the
multitude of shrouds and shackles that hold us back from that which is pure like
the tiny torrents.