Indigenous Life
By John English



Most of you are aware of the growing interest in indigenous wisdom and spirituality over the last several decades and I have become immersed in this also. I have been initiated into the Q’ero tradition of the Peruvian Andes. Rather than using this article to educate you about these amazing people, I am going to focus on the indigenous approach to life and the cosmos.

My hope is that you will be able to get a feel for a way of participating in life that has brought me peace and serenity beyond what I thought was possible. In fact, this approach to life allowed me to call off the spiritual search altogether and move into more of a mood that is always present. This mood is a state of being that comes from the core of what I call the indigenous heart. 

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary gives the following definition for indigenous: Having originated in and being produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment. The indigenous life is grounded in and produced from its origin in the life-giving force of the cosmos of which we are all a part.

Call it God, Great Spirit, Lord, the Unspeakable, or even energy. This force we are all a part of expresses itself here naturally in our environment on planet earth. It is a growing, living force and this force’s movement is ever present in the indigenous approach to the great mystery of life.

I feel that this approach has a lot to offer our culture, including the answers and balance we need to stop the destruction of our planet. Adopting the indigenous perspective of the cosmos and allowing it to become a part of me have made it much easier for me to make sense of struggles I have had in life.

There is a foundational difference at the core of the indigenous approach to life that is circular in nature and encompasses everything within their life. The foundational myth of our Judeo-Christian culture is one of separation. We were kicked out of the garden! To the indigenous mind, this is incomprehensible. They see themselves as a part of the garden.

The indigenous person’s spirituality is grounded in the belief that we are all part of the Great Spirit and this Spirit is at one with its creation as it expresses itself through it. The way I like to explain this is that we are all individuations of the One Spirit many of us refer to as God. Individuation does not mean separation.

Of course adopting this as a foundational principle will change every aspect of our lives. Every day there are people who are coming to this realization. I thank the Great Spirit for this because it has the potential to save us from the destruction created by our own separateness.

Another aspect of indigenous spirituality that I feel is very important is that the majority of teachings are passed on orally from generation to generation. At first glance one might suspect this would lead to confusion and dilution. Actually the opposite is true. When something is written down and strictly adhered to, it doesn’t account for the natural process of evolution, particularly as that evolution applies to awareness.

This is not to take anything away from sacred writings of any tradition. It is just to point out that all scriptures must be taken within the context of how, for whom, and when they were written. When a teaching is transmitted orally, it is much easier for the student to get a feel for what the teacher is expressing. Because the most profound truth cannot be expressed verbally, this is of great importance.

For the indigenous person, death is not something to be feared. It is just viewed as another part of the process of life. This life is not lived for the life after death. To the indigenous mind this is seen as not honoring the now and the great gift of life we have been given. Another aspect of the indigenous life I have found so helpful is the realization that we all have to walk on our own path in life. This has brought non-attachment and freedom from victim mentality and ego.

I feel that now is humanity’s hour of power. Our current challenges have the possibility of bringing global realization. In knowing who we really are, we can create a future based on  inclusiveness versus separation. If we take the very best from all of our cultures and religions, including those that are indigenous, then we will experience another quantum leap in evolution. It will be a leap into the heart, where collectively we will live and walk our path in life with heart.

In loving memory of Beth Ellenby

John English teaches and writes on a variety of subjects including energy medicine, shamanism and the Medicine Wheel. He is the Chairman/Founder of DreamTime, LLC. an award-winning author, international speaker and shamanic healer. He is available for private sessions and can be contacted at or 


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