Perhaps you have noticed that even in the very lightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree. This we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit. For not only people but all things and all beings pray to that, continually, in differing ways. The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers. And when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit and that this center is really everywhere…it is within each of us. All things are our relatives. What we do to everything we do to ourselves. All is really one.
We should understand well that all things are the work of the Great Spirit. We should know the Great spirit is within all things. The trees, the grasses, the rivers, the mountains, and the four-legged and winged peoples. And even more important, we should understand that the Great Spirit is also above all these things and peoples. When we do understand this all deeply in our hearts then we will respect and love and know the Great Spirit. And then we will be and act and live as the Spirit intends.
As you walk upon the sacred earth then let every step you take be as a prayer. One should pay attention to the smallest crawling creatures because these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us. It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, so that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds.
Grown men may learn from very little children for the hearts of little children are pure and therefore the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss. Once we were happy in our own country and we were seldom hungry. For then the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds lived together like relatives and there was plenty for them and for us.
But the invaders came, and they have made little islands for us and other little islands for the four-leggeds and always these islands are becoming smaller, for all around them surges the gnawing flood of the European invaders, and it is dirty with lies and greed. Any man who is attached to things of this world is one who lives in ignorance and is being consumed by the snakes of their own passions. It is in the darkness of men’s eyes that they get lost.
I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with my own eyes, still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud and was buried in the blizzard – a people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.
There can never be peace between nations before there is known that true peace that is within the souls of all people. Peace will come to the hearts of people when they realize their oneness with the universe. It is everywhere like the grasses showing tender faces to each other. This should we do, for this was the wish of the grandparents of the world.
The Great Spirit is everywhere. It hears whatever is in our minds and our hearts. And it is not necessary to speak to the Spirit in a loud voice. Everything is sacred. All over the sky a sacred voice is calling your name. Behold this day. It is yours to make. Know the power that is peace. May you always walk in beauty.
- Black Elk, Hehaka Sapa, a holy man of the Oglala People