Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin is a simple yet deeply meaningful statement. It is Lakota for “all my relations” and recognizes the human, plant, animal, mineral, and ancestor relatives. It is an acknowledgment that all are one. It is spoken during prayer and ceremony to petition God on behalf of everyone and everything on Earth. Mitakuye Oyasin honours the sacredness of all life and creates an energy of awareness which strengthens not only the person who prays but the entire planet.
Loneliness, depression, suicide, and crimes of all sorts are epidemic today. I believe it’s because modern man has lost his ability to feel this connection with his own family, friends, community, the plants, the rocks, and the ancestors. The Age of Reason created beings who are afraid to be curious, play, or use their imaginations. From the age of 6 onward, we spend eight hours a day with our head in books unlearning what our intuition tells us.
When we wake up from a bad dream, we are told, “Oh, that was just a dream.” When we talk of dragons, fairies, ghosts or psychic impressions, we are told to get our head out of the clouds. Those things aren’t real. When we romanticize about being an astronaut or a waitress, we are told to get practical. When we want to run barefooted in the grass, we’re told to put some shoes on before we hurt ourselves. When we are hurt, even this can be invalidated when people say things like, “You’re a big girl. Big girls don’t cry” or “Just get over it.” Soon we learn to cautious and only believe in what can be seen, touched, or heard. We live in our heads and lose our connection to own bodies and own inner knowing. We learn to distrust ourselves. We lose the connection to the spirits, other people, plants, and the stars.
I’ve been many places. I’ve seen many things. Nothing compares to the feeling that I’ve gotten when I am surrounded by people who understand in their bones what it means to have a connection to the past (through their ancestors), the present (through their families, communities, and strangers), and all of the rest of Creation. There is a majesty, a groundedness that both humbles me and lifts me.
Many in the west live life as if it is a solo journey. They pursue excellence, success, and even spirituality as a solo enterprise. If this is you, I ask you to contemplating the meaning of Aho mitakuye oyasin. Embody it. Live it.
A person who embodies this can never feel lonely. He can never harm the earth, animals, himself, or another creature. He can never feel in search of himself. He is you. He is whole. He is eternal.
This idea isn’t exclusive to the Lakota people. It’s found in most religions and certainly in extant aboriginal tribes. If this idea resonates with you, I invite you to get curious. Investigate your ancestry. Get in touch with your roots. Ask your ancestors to help you find this oneness within your life and your culture. If your ancestors were not the greatest people, find a way to heal them. They live within you. As you heal your past, your heal yourself, and all those who come after you. Do this for you. Do this for me. We are One.