When I and my family started working with our Native elders, I had a slight advantage in that I was an American Sign Language interpreter.  Language is not a separate thing from culture.  Both are intricately entwined with each other so lose one, you lose the other.  Conversely, have one, have the other.  Which means that yes, there is a different between ‘deaf’ (the inability to hear) and ‘Deaf’ (being a member of Deaf culture).  A naturally occurring language means a culture, therefore ASL is the language connected with Deaf culture.  And to be an interpreter I had spent years not only learning the language, but learning the culture so I could actually interpret.  Because it’s not the words you need to worry about, it’s the meaning.  And what means one thing to one group can mean something completely different to another.

Which means that I had already confronted a number of the assumptions about life, how things are done, and the meanings of things which are built into any culture.  Every culture has ways of seeing the world that it teaches to its members.  For instance, western culture teaches people to look someone in the eye when speaking, chew with your mouth closed, science can determine the meaning of everything eventually, bodily function noises should only be heard if done on purpose for humor or annoyance purposes, the world is mechanistic which means the body is as well, and everything is ruled by cause and effect and logic.

When entering into Deaf culture I was confronted by things such as noises are a political issue because those who can’t hear them have status and those that do can be manipulated by their use or misuse in a variety of situations.  Also, eating with your mouth open is just fine, but talking with your hands full is beyond rudeness into personal insult territory.  So when I was confronted by yet another culture, one that I only vaguely understood by what had been handed down in a broken fashion through my family, I was prepared to feel like a tourist in a foreign country.  Which was handy to say the least.

native_american_storytellerOne of the first things I learned is that looking someone Native in the eye is a grave insult.  It’s a challenge to what they are saying as if you were in their face calling them a liar.  The proper way to listen to someone or to act while speaking with them was to look over their shoulder at something or to look down.  In that way you assured them that you were listening with your ears and your heart.  Because it’s impossible to listen with the eyes.  Another thing that was striking at the time was the struggle my elders had with attempting to teach students who had been raised in white culture because of our need for quick and easy answers to absolutely everything!  We seemed to them as if we had absolutely no patience and were like toddlers constantly asking ‘why?’ and not listening to the answers.  Because we had been taught to live in sound bites, advertising slogans, lectures with predetermined conclusions, being told what to think and what things mean.  And if we didn’t know the answer to something someone else must and it would be written down somewhere and we could simply access that information via the internet or a book or a movie or TV….

So we didn’t need to experience anything in order to know it.  We expected the answers to be handed to us.  We didn’t need to think for ourselves.   We had no patience for things that unfolded over time and we certainly didn’t think we would need to work to figure things out for ourselves.  But that’s the foundation of Native culture.  Everyone’s experience is valid, each person needs to figure it out for themselves like an apprentice to a master craftsman, and the point is not to get to some predetermined end in order to be productive, but to let the journey unfold in its own time and its own way and to be in harmony with it in order to come to your own understanding.

Which, in my experience, is how it works with the Akashics as well.  My students, when first experiencing the Akashics with their first two or three meditations, immediately want to know “What does it mean?”  Which is a great question.  But it reflects the immediate knowledge culture bias they come from.  My first question is, have you had the full experience yet?  Because what if the meaning isn’t to be derived from each individual meditation, but each is a chapter of a story, a piece of a puzzle, one section of an encrypted message, and you need all of them in order to make it all make sense?  Then struggling to understand the first, second, third meditation is just about struggle because you can’t know yet.  Some people’s experience of the Akashics makes sense right away because the conversation uses symbols and persons and places that are already known to them and concerns issues that are easily recognizable to them.  For others the story unfolds over multiple journeys and is rich with complex meaning and deep healing and exploration and becoming.

So set your analytical need to know ‘what does it mean’ aside for the moment.  Don’t worry about knowing. It is going to not only make sense, but is going to be transformative.  Have patience and allow the journey to unfold.