Indigenous People
The Anthology of Humankind(ness)
By Val Jon Farris



If I have learned anything in my years as a human being so far, it is that I have not yet learned what it really means to be human. While this may sound strange, it is nonetheless a true statement for me. Although I hold the title of “human being,” that doesn’t automatically make me an expert in the role.  

There are many who have come before me who knew much more about the full potential of humanity than I will ever know. And because of this truth I have devoted much of my life to rediscovering what has already been lived many times over by my ancestors, by the indigenous people who pioneered the ways of being human.

To be “indigenous” basically means produced naturally and belonging to a place, region or race. Well . . . I suppose I was “produced naturally” just like you, but do I “belong?” In a general sense I do because I’m here on this planet, experiencing along with the rest of my race — but to be completely candid, at an emotional level, there are times I feel very separate from my race because of the actions and behaviors I witness “us” acting out.

As a behavior scientist I have “witnessed just about every possible human attribute that can be displayed . . . and I have been humbled, inspired, shocked and deepened as a result. One of the biggest issues for people is the need to “learn things for themselves.” While I certainly have done my share of “hey, I’ll get my own lessons, thank you!” There is something to be said for not having to reinvent the wheel. After a decade of traveling to remote places on earth, interviewing thousands of indigenous peoples and sharing life with them, here are some of the “gifts” they have left with me.

Let us take a few minutes and discuss the condition of humanity at this point in time. There is no doubt the world is extremely unstable and teetering on the edge of grave danger. The natural question in our hearts and minds is, “What can we do to end the chaos and bring peace to the world?” While I share the sentiment, and it hurts me deeply to feel and see such an absence of reverence in the world, I believe we are asking the wrong question. Let me explain.

The question’s _expression “end the chaos” is the issue of contention. Every wise indigenous person I have ever spent time with has made it clear that trying to “end” something before its time was up was not only unwise, but impossible. I’m sure you can relate to this truth. As much as I want world peace, I do not believe for a minute that the majority of humanity is ready to give up the ignorance and fear that keeps it from manifesting.

So should we just give in?  No, but perhaps we should be asking questions of a different order. Perhaps the questions should be along the lines of, “What can we learn about being human from our ancestors that will enable us to effectively intervene in the world?”  To me, this question represents “levitated thinking” and thus has far more potential.

If we rise to this kind of questioning, each of us will probably get a different answer, but what will be similar is that we will realize there is far more power in learning how to “effectively intervene” than there is in trying to “end” something. Surrendering our desire to end things frees us from immature emotional reactions and puts us in a place of choice. Rather than rallying against chaos, let us instead master our ability to redirect destructive forces into a “pool of synergistic wholeness” — an infinite life-giving pattern of equilibrium. This is what the elders have told me.

This redirection can be achieved by a “critical mass” of individuals whose understanding of humanity is mature enough to hold the outer and inner opposing forces of chaos and peace in a manner of accordance with divine providence. For when there is accordance between the paradoxical forces of creation, equilibrium is assured.

What is “divine providence?”  In part, it is the wisdom of knowing that chaos, instability, good and evil, love and fear, and even devastation itself, are well organized, predetermined manifestations — “two-fold life-events” emanating from, and eventually returning to the source of their creation. We find this truth in the temples of India, to the ruins in Meso America to the pyramids of Egypt.

The “mature redirection” I speak of has to do with learning how to be more human as opposed to focusing on becoming more spiritual. Perhaps if we were to become more human we could elevate our spiritual selves naturally?  The wise ones, old ones, original ones have suggested that we must first aspire to being human, for when we finally arrive, divinity in all her infinite grace will be there to greet us.

For some, the ever-increasing litany of human tragedy is an omen, others are convinced it is our destiny, the fulfillment of ancient prophecy, still others feel it’s a curse to be endured, tolerated or contested through deed and action — be it positive or negative.

Some are perpetual pessimists. They predict that humanity will spiral down deeper into the darkness of irreverence and destruction no matter what we do. Others still blot out the darkness from their horizon and only choose to focus on points of light, like ancient seafarers they rely on pure starlight to help them navigate to what they think is safe ground.

What do I believe about the current world events? Again, if I return to the indigenous philosophy of life being sacred, of being real and of most importantly, being human, I must reflect into the ancient nature of my own humanity for the answer.

When I look into the ancient mirror, I have multiple perspectives regarding what is happening in our world in these days. One perspective is that it is disheartening, another that it is destiny, still another that what is occurring MUST occur in order for us to mature and evolve into a higher order of _expression as a race — and for some who know me, so many perspectives is a bit much to hold.

For me, it’s just an indicator that they may not yet have discovered the “ancient mirror” within their own consciousness — the finding of which would show them, by reflection, just like it did to all those who came before them, that their single-minded perspectives are just that, their own self-justified images bent toward their own investments.

As a student and seeker I have spent many years researching and charting the inner landscape of the human psyche, including my own. What I’ve found is that knowing something from one perspective produces intellect, but to know that same something from many perspectives produces wisdom — and there is a huge difference between intellect and wisdom. There are a lot of very smart people in the world doing many unwise things.

The indigenous people especially in Meso-America (the Inca, Mayan, Aztecs) all speak about a “levitation” of perspective and human emotion. They tell us we must “look from a different place” about the escalating chaos and violence in the world. They tell us to elevate our emotional reactions to a “high place,” a place away from time and meaning and importance — yet at the same time to not distance ourselves from the emotions we feel.

What shall we do with these all too human emotions while we are attempting to be more wise to be more “elevated?” We need to learn how to levitate our emotions to a higher order of wisdom prior to and during any actions we take. Sounds impossible doesn’t it?  This is why I always say at my events that I am a “human student” and am still learning how to be human.

Being human means learning how to experience our emotions in a way that will lead us to higher understandings and more wise choices in our lives. And so it follows that when wisdom is present, ANY course of action we take will be effective, but when ignorance is with us, ALL courses of action are doomed.

So how do we levitate our human emotions?  Remember that wisdom is holding many perspectives at the same time — even opposing perspectives or feelings. The ability to be unattached to the outcome while fully placing ourselves in the “battle of the moment” is the key according to shamans and people of ancient disciplines.

It has been said that Samurai warriors can hear and fully appreciate the singing of the nightingale bird sitting atop the branch of the cherry-blossom tree at the very same moment their blades cross in mortal combat. Can we do this with the world events and with our emotional reactions to them?

We must learn how to allow our “blades of our emotion to cross” in a wise way and use the resulting energy as a vehicle to deliver us to higher dimensions of understanding, maturity and power.

The challenge lies in our ability to experience our emotions for what they are, pure energy in motion (e-motion), rather than allowing our past baggage, victim thinking, fairness/unfairness issues, personal agendas, invested philosophies, gender issues, religious dogmas, political motivations, pity-parties, self-criticisms, and boring-holier-than-thou attitudes to cloud their true nature — the nature of being the most powerful “deliverers of wisdom” available to human’s being. Perhaps this is what it means to be indigenous.

What is the challenge of being human? Those who have come before us say it is to open up to life and feel everything from the chaos to the bliss that manifests in our lifetimes, and before swinging our “blades of justified violence” or “rallying our bandwagons for peace,” let us first realize that humanity is like a child — a child who must learn through trial and error, loss and gain, love and pain, until one day the children have committed enough hurts against others and themselves that they finally mature into the knowing that they were born out of the world rather than into it, and in so knowing, value it and care for it.

This day has not yet come, and unfortunately I do not believe it will come any time soon. What shall those of us who do have some degree of wisdom accrued do in the meantime? What all parents have known to do with their children since the first of us, the original indigenous humans knew to do . . .

Be there to comfort and love them when they fall
Be there to demonstrate how to use pain as a teacher
Be there to provide guidance when it’s needed and . . .
Breathe deeply and keep learning how to be more human

Val Jon Farris is an award-winning author, the Executive Director of The Wisdom for Humanity Network and the National Chairperson for The Humanitarian Political Party. For more information, please log-on to He will also be conducting a one-day workshop at the Learning Light Foundation in Anaheim, CA on Saturday, July 17. For more information or registration call (714) 533-2311 or you may log-on to

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