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  Every Branch in Me — Who are we as "human" beings? Back to the List of Slideshows
Joseph Epes Brown
slide 13 of 19

that had as its root the constant and pervasive awareness of the Divine Presence in all beings. Joseph Epes Brown's essay, "On Being Human" (1),  also focus on the Native American perspective on man's place in the world.

Brown is perhaps best known for The Sacred Pipe (1953), his famous recounting of the sacred rites of the Oglala Sioux, and the inner meaning of those rites. "On Being Human" demonstrates that the traditional Indian way of being can only conceive of an active participation in spiritual realities, with everything in life recalling to humans the vibrant 'branches' of the spirit that intertwine with all other life:

Many Native American peoples today retain, even though often in fragmented manner, elements of a heritage of ancient primordial origins. Present within all the dimensions, forms, and expressions of this heritage, or rather of these multiple heritages, is a pervasive sense for the sacred. In one manner or another all life is seen to participate in the sacred, all cultural forms express the sacred, so that inevitably within this context the lives of those peoples who live close to their sacred traditions may be called religious, and they are thus beings who are religiously human. Religion pervades all of life and life’s activities leading a native person once to remark, “We do not believe our religion, we dance it!”

(1)  Taken from page 207 of Every Branch in Me,  this chapter is also found in Joseph Brown's book The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian, The Crossroad Publishing Company, copyright l982, pages 123-129.

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