Monday, 19 March 2018

Wise Words: Original Instructions

… I think also about what so many indigenous people have said to me, that humans are to be guided by “original instructions” on how to live, including how to live in concert with one’s nonhuman neighbors, who presumably receive their own original instructions, too, all given them by their Creator. It is a person’s responsibility to live according to these original instructions. Many who do not live right lives do so not because humans are evil, selfish, and destructive, nor because of a Christian original sin, but rather because they have forgotten or actively ignored their original instructions, and they continue to forget about and actively ignore those who continue to give them their instructions.

Original instructions presume we come into this world carrying with us advice on how to live properly, how to fit in, how to do what is right; and even more crucially, we come into this world having been given a personal and social framework for looking for that advice, for finding it in our daily lives, in dreams, in our relationships with others, and in these others’ actions. These instructions are available to individuals through direct unmediated experience, and although one is often encouraged to ask assistance from one’s elders and one’s community in understanding these instructions and in comprehending messages one may get from dreamgivers, muses, others on other sides, and others on this side, one is also not only encouraged but expected to take increasing responsibility—from the root meaning, “to give in return”—for one’s own understanding and interpretations, and how this understanding translates into actions and behavior toward one’s community, which includes nonhumans and other sides. This is called “wisdom.” 

(Derrick Jensen, Dreams, Seven Stories Press: New York, p. 445)


  1. i wonder how many people trust themselves, their world, their intuition enough to live like this?

    those of us who do seem to feel a little...left of the modern world. which is fine, but occasionally a little lonely.

    1. Very few people, I think. Most would not even be aware that such a thing is possible, or necessary.

      I can't claim to know quite what my original instructions are, or to know how to live them—yet at least I am seeking them. And I do feel very left of centre, very exasperated and angry at times at how other people conduct themselves. Not that I am perfect! But it is lonely, being so at odds with most other people, and the modern world.

    2. I feel the same, and it is lonely indeed.

    3. It is. That's partly why I feel compelled to share these quotes, and to speak my truth, in the hope that other people will understand, or begin to come to an understanding. Silence will not achieve anything.


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