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Shamanism/Indigenous Peoples
Record Type: Review   ID: 270

Awakening Spirits

Brown, Tom, Jr.

 Tom Brown is a Native American outdoorsman, a teacher of the old ways in today’s setting, and a sharer of wisdom through writing. As in his other books and work, what he practices and teaches is what his Grandfather, Stalking Wolf, discovered as he traveled the world looking for the "basic common thread and purity that runs through all Philosophies and religions. It belongs to everyone and no one" (p. 4). For those who have not read his book on his grandfather [see below], he summarizes his life and work in the Introduction and in Part One, The Quest for Purity. In the second part, The Wisdom, he describes how he learned "the basic techniques and skills of the spirit" (p. 2). In the last part, "The Way," he teaches the reader how to use these techniques and skills in their own lives. Stalking Wolf’s mission was to distill the essence of the world’s spiritual and natural lore so it could be taught to anyone. Tom Brown’s calling seems to be to teach it to "white men." He was taught in the white way as a youth, but his Grandfather taught him the way of spirit, his ancestral way simplified. At first Tom Brown taught it in classes and workshops, transmitting the wisdom at first hand. In this book he does it in writing, but his way of writing is the way we are privileging in this Journal: to speak from the author’s own experience to the experience of others. He does this so well. He makes you feel you are right there with him, whether he is learning or teaching. The writing is direct, immediate, and compelling. It seems only fit, to me, that those who were here first should be among the leaders in helping all the white people to get us out of the chaos they have created. At a huge price, white science has given us the means to a global society. Now we need to listen and learn from the first peoples everywhere, in our case, the Native Americans. This book is a wonderful place to start. Perhaps the two most important lessons to learn are that in order to grasp spiritual wisdom we most learn to "move from the consciousness of modern society into the pure world of wilderness" (p. 93) [which is in ourselves as well as outside]. And we must learn to unlearn our unnecessary penchant for complicating the simple. Simple be.
Publisher Information:New York: Berkeley, 1994. 217p.
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