Words by Anneloes Smitsman
The Wholeness of Life
Kanyini is best expressed in English as the combination of the two words ‘Responsibility’ and ‘Unconditional Love’, but it is actually a relationship; it is an enormous caring with no limit – it has no timeframe: it is eternal. – Uncle Bob Randall
In our modern times, we are faced with the greatest challenges in human history. Never before has our conscious evolution been so required. There is growing consensus that we need to change and learn to work together for the solutions to address these challenges.
We know in our hearts that technology is not the sole solution. Somehow, we understand that a much deeper shift is needed, and sometimes we can feel this as an aching pain in our hearts and sorrow in our minds. Many of us do not feel whole and it may seem difficult to even experience a sense of peace in a world that demands us to constantly divide and be fragmented.
Many of us feel trapped in social-economic systems that give no meaning to the quality of our life or our intrinsic worth. It is not surprising that so many of us burn out; our inner flame slowly fading, lost in systems that compromise the very nature of our being and our relationships.
False Dream of Progress
By living in a world that designs its activities around clock-time, reducing natural cycles and rhythms to linearity, the pressure of this societal ‘dream of progress’ becomes unbearable.
In this constructed promise of ‘progress’, we are supposed to be better people, with more income, more social status, more achievements, more development, and more success in the future. And yet, deep in our hearts, we know that this dream is crashing.
Life is not linear; much of what we aim to achieve in this world of ‘progress’ has little meaning in the bigger context of life as a whole. And worse, this kind of progress has come at the expense of so many beings that were sacrificed for our pursuits for a ‘better life’.
This kind of ‘progress’ cannot fill our hearts with the sense of home that comes naturally by realising our communion with life and nature, in each of our relationships.
When faced with problems we often look to the future for answers in terms of new technologies and new inventions. Yet it is those very technologies and inventions that have trapped us. Perhaps our challenge today is to stop looking forward and, instead, look back to see the wisdom of the past? There we may find some of the answers we need.
Through this article, I would like to share with you some of the deep wisdom that I received from one of the oldest continuous living cultures: the Australian Aborigines. I had the great fortune to learn from, and about, them during my eight years of living in Australia from 1998-2006. Those years became the foundation for everything I do and share today.
Learning their ancient wisdom brought me back to my heart and gave me a sense of acceptance and love that I never experienced before in this human-made world of ‘progress’. It restored my sense of humanity and purpose and gave me strength to stay true to myself and my direct relationship with life.
I realised then that the solutions we seek are already within us. These solutions and medicines of the soul will only unlock when we come back to our connectedness with nature and life. We tend only to care for the worlds we feel a part of, yet how can we expect people to care for our natural world if we don’t experience our belonging and kinship with nature?
The Elders shared with me that they understood long ago that their purpose was to sustain the transmission of this living wisdom to the rest of our human family, until the time for the remembering and reconnection was called for, as it is now.
One of the Yankunytjatjara Elders and Custodian of the Uluru Sacred Heritage, also called Uncle Bob Randall, explains in this video below what it means to live from a deep sense of connectedness and relatedness with the whole ‘family of life’. This sense of connectedness is the foundation for Kanyini – unconditional love with responsibility.
The purpose of being on this Earth plane is to be of service to all that will be. Be willing to care for all things equally. – Uncle Bob Randall
Kanyini is based on four principles:
- Ngura – A sense of belonging to home and land.
- Walytja – Family connecting with life.
- Kurunpa – Psyche, spirit or soul.
- Tjukurrpa – Creation period, or also called the Dreamtime, and the right way to live.
Disconnection from Life as Family
When we look at the way humans have developed our modern societies, we can see how far we have moved away from these principles. To start with Ngura – many of us no longer feel like we belong to the natural world. Instead, we feel more and more divided, internally and externally.
It is becoming harder and harder these days to feel a sense of home and belonging where we can relax into the wholeness of our being. This madness of modern life emphasizes our worth only in terms of what we can produce and achieve, and not by who we are intrinsically or the land that supports us.
Many people are suffering from depression, and the trend for this is increasing. One of the Elders, who I met during my time in Australia, explained to me that many of our ‘modern’ mental diseases and other diseases are something they never had in their traditional life. This same Elder explained to me that they see the root causes of these dis-ease patterns stemming from the disruption of ‘oursness‘ and disconnection from ‘life as family.’
Walytja, reminds us that if our sense of kinship with life erodes, we lose our sense of connectedness and we can no longer receive Spirit nourishment directly from the land. It is this spirit nourishment, also called Kurunpa, that provides inner peace and sustainability for our whole self.
Kurunpa refers to psyche, spirit and soul, it is our spirituality, our true spiritual nature. Through our spiritual connection with life and each other we can draw deeply from the living wisdom of nature that can guide us through the darkest of times. When we experience life as family, irrespective of whether we are living in nature or in the city, our heart is sustained by a deep unconditional love that is always here for us.
Our sense of kinship with life gives us spirit nourishment directly from the land.
The Whole of Life
By relating with all expressions of life as expressions of this larger Spirit that connects us all, it changes the way we relate with the natural world and restores our sense of wholeness. For many people, nature is now only a source of food and materials for things to make, own and consume. In that concept, there is no sense of sacredness and no gratitude for the sacrifices made by our living relatives of the natural world, like the animals, plants, trees, and insects.
When we have gratitude and deeply care for all living things, as shared by Uncle Bob earlier, we no longer just consume our relations. Instead, we honour our relations for their intrinsic worth by appreciating deeply the spirit of life that is also within each of them and their right to live.
It is by this gratitude and appreciation that we heal our own emptiness and restore our inner wholeness. This is the real food and nourishment that our souls and psyche long for.
The beauty of Kanyini is that it reminds us that there is nothing we need to do or prove in order to gain acceptance from this unconditional love. Every day is another opportunity to restore and appreciate our connectedness with the wholeness of life. This love is not withheld from us when we move astray or lose our way. It embraces everything and everyone unconditionally.
The Aboriginal Elders teach that this deeper understanding of psyche, spirit and soul comes from Tjukurrpa. In English, Tjukurrpa has been translated as ‘the Dreamtime’. This refers to the teaching that creation is an ongoing process in a multi-dimensional universe based on sacred principles; laws, by which we remain connected through all time and space while changing form.
Tjukurrpa relates to the invisible world behind what we see and know as the created universe. From this comes the understanding of the right way to live in accordance with these universal Laws and principles. The Elders believe that this sacred knowledge was passed on via a process of transmission from the Ancestral beings to humanity, to guide us as custodians for this world.
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love … and then we return home. – Aboriginal proverb
Sacred Law and Universal Principles
In our modern societies, the concept of ‘sacred law’ and the right way to live is not taught and transmitted to our children. Accordingly, many people do not know what it means and how to live their life by these core universal principles.
Yet the consequences of our modern ways of life show that whether we believe in Tjukurrpa or not, the effects of our actions on the web of life and our own sense of happiness and purpose is real. By becoming aware of these universal principles we learn how to balance, heal and restore our sense of inner worth and sacred communion with all life.
These sacred laws and universal principles of Kanyini can be observed in the way things unfold. We start to experience this directly by listening closely to nature, and by allowing our heart to guide our knowing. These principles were not created by anyone, they are not mental constructs. By living in close relationship with the wholeness of life we start to see these laws and principles as a foundation for all that is unfolding within our created worlds.
You are All That
You may ask, but how do I live in close relationship with the wholeness of life? This starts simply by remaining attentive to your whole self: your feelings, thoughts, dreams, desires, the quiet voice within, the spiritual presence both within YOU and all around you. By becoming aware first that you are ‘all that’, you can then start to see if there is any way that you divide, suppress, control or fragment these various qualities of yourself.
If you do notice inner division, gently ask yourself, why? What do you believe is so important that you need to do that to yourself? Then consider, why you would do this if life does not ask you to compromise your inner being, nor does it ask you to compromise the inner being of others. Through these inner enquiries, gentle observations, and deep listening, you slowly become aware of the universal wisdom principles of Kanyini that restore our wholeness, and our perception of unity with all life.
© Anneloes Smitsman 2017. This article was republished with permission of UPLIFT.