"Grandfather, Great Spirit . . . You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road, and the road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of all things."
— Black Elk, Oglala Sioux
"Each moment and each day of our lives, we are called on to acknowledge and find harmony with a larger sphere of relationships and forces in our world. Living in dynamic interdependence with the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that in order to find happiness, harmony, and balance in our busy, personal lives, it is essential for us to learn to expand our personal concerns to include a more global, whole-systems view.
"In this spirit, the elders of the Seneca nation traditionally encouraged their people to reflect on four essential questions in order to determine if they were living in balance with their world. We have found these questions to be helpful in our own lives, and often share them with those with whom we work. These questions are especially relevant for us on our modern-day 'earthwalk,' as we look at our lives, set our priorities, weigh our choices, and gauge our progress towards our most cherished goals. As you read each of these four questions, pause to reflect and honestly answer each one:
"1. Are you happy living how you are living and doing what you are doing?
"2. Is what you are doing adding to the confusion?
"3. What are you doing to further peace and contentment in your own life and in the world?
"4. How will you be remembered after you are gone — either in absence or in death?
"If you are happy doing what you are doing, what brings you the greatest joy? What is your next frontier for satisfaction and fulfillment? If you aren't happy living the way you are living, is balance to be found in changing what you are doing, or in changing your mindset or attitude toward what you are doing?
"If you find that what you are doing is actually adding to the confusion and creating more problems or imbalances in your life, say 'Whoa,' and ask yourself, 'What is driving me to act in these ways?' Often, the forces that drive us into self-defeating or destructive ways of living are unconscious to us. When we are able to look and listen deeply into our hearts and minds, and to look squarely into the eyes of our own 'inner enemies,' we are better able to shine the light of our compassion, forgiveness, or wisdom into these aspects of ourselves in order to heal our wounds, and restore our balance.
"These four essential questions offer us a powerful tool for helping us to bring greater awareness and accountability to creating the quality of life that we want to create for ourselves, for others in our lives, and even for generations to come. If upon reflection you find that you could be doing more to bring greater peace and contentment into your life, listen deeply for what a step in that direction might be for you. Is greater balance for you to be found in taking more time alone, or in spending more quality time with your loved ones and friends, or helping others in your community? Is balance for you at this time in your life to be found in taking on more activity, or creating more quiet time? Listen deeply, pray, reflect, do whatever it takes for you to know what your next step is!
"Compare how you would like to be remembered with the realities of the legacy that you have created thus far. Ask yourself, 'If I were to die next week, what would I be most proud of? What wounds would I most like to heal or forgive? What words do I need to speak, and what actions most need to be taken for me to leave this world, or this job, or to complete my watch at this station of my life with integrity, dignity, and balance, as a true pilgrim on the path of wholeness?' Within the laboratory of your own mind body and relationships, experiment with refining and distilling what is most essential, most powerful and most beautiful in your life.
"These compelling and poignant reminders call our attention to how much there is to learn from people who for centuries lived in harmony with one another and with the whole of Nature in all of its beauty. On the journey, according to the elders of the Seneca tribe:
"• Self-knowledge is the need.
• Self-understanding is the desire.
• Self-discipline is the way.
• Self-realization is the goal.
"Take some time to ponder these ideas . . . to take them to heart . . . and see how these simple but profound principles can help you to live in greater balance."