Manataka American Indian Council


 Proudly Presents







Knowing is Not Learning,

it is Remembering

A teaching from Lee Standing Bear Moore as given to his friend Takatoka



The night sky was as big, clear and open as I had ever seen.  Shooting stars occasionally drew my eyes to a particular part of the galaxy as sounds of the  night forest around us gave forth in a magnificent symphony of life.  Tree frogs, crickets, the owl and other night creatures were singing their beautiful songs in unison with the swaying branches of the standing people.  Grandfather Bear had wandered down off the sacred mountain sometime after midnight and now we sat by a small fire in the early morning dampness in the sacred circle at Manataka.  He sat silently staring for a long while, maybe contemplating the vastness of the universe, or the intricate pattern on the box turtle at his feet. 


As the fire settled down and its smoke was not more than a wisp floating upward, Grandfather looked at me and said,


"Knowing things does not come from learning things, it comes from remembering."


I started to offer a comment, but decided to let it ride to see where his line of thinking was going.  After so many years of listening to his words, I learned to always wait for the other shoe to drop.  Grandfather is a master of timing.  That is, after presenting a thought or idea, he allows sufficient time to pass for the recipient to chew the bread before offering a moral of the story, a punch line, or a special lesson. 


As we sat in silence, I noted to myself that Grandfather Bear is looking better these days.  His breathing is longer and deeper after years of struggle with heart and lung issues acquired during the war.  His color is good too, more tanned after an active summer.  He grew a white beard over the summer.  It is hard to tell if his moods are any better or not.  He is a grumpy old bear.  What more do you want?


He loves to sit in silence and in darkness at the sacred places of Manataka.


"God's voice is silence," Bear sometimes reminds us. 


On this night, I hoped he might be more talkative.  After an hour or more of sitting quietly, Grandfather signaled that he was ready to speak by giving me a quick glance and a nod.  It is our habit to always talk eye-to-eye so I turned my body to face him.   I took out my journal and wrote the date and time at the top of a blank page.  Not everything Lee Standing Bear Moore says is written down.  Whenever he holds up his left hand, it is a signal to stop writing.  By the time I was prepared and settled down, he was using his cane to toy with a colorful carpet bag at this feet nestled next to a turtle.  The bag is made from a rug with Indian design and holds all sorts of stones, herbals, tobacco, ceremonial medicines, necklaces and tiny effigies.  Grandfather has never shown me what all is inside his bag, so I only know from seeing the things that are taken out and used on occasion.


"Knowing comes from a place deep within us," Grandfather Bear began. 


"The Knowing is miraculous and instantaneous.  It is old wisdom that remains inside us since the time of conception like tiny sleeping seeds.  When it is needed by world, the seeds sprout giving birth to what seems to be a new idea or solution to a new problem but, in fact the seed comes from a long line or root of Knowing that is present at the time of our birth and long before."


Do you mean that humans are born with higher forms of knowledge that cannot be learned through the course of a lifetime?


"Yes and no.  Yes, the Creator of All Things gives humans special forms of higher Knowing that is buried within the DNA and inside our souls and hearts -- that cannot be learned from another human.  Other forms of knowledge can be learned by people who are given advantages of training, education, exposure, experience and spiritual orientation.  The realization of the Knowing is locked within until it is remembered at the right moment in time."


What evidence is there to prove that humans have higher forms of knowledge within their DNA at birth?


"Clearly there is ample evidence to show that humans do not possess higher Knowing at birth.  We are ignorant, helpless beings at birth.   Until the invention of the Roman library in 500 BC and books that came along in 1041 AD man passed along very little information from generation to generation -- it appears that humans do not retain a great deal of information from one age to the next.  A significant amount of information was passed along only when information was organized and a concerted effort was made to recall the information.  Until the modern era, humans retained very little of their over-all experience after thousands of years of existence.  


There is more evidence to prove the opposite -- that knowledge is only propagated from generation to generation by means of training and education and man has a memory not significantly longer than an ape.   But, we are not talking about information or knowledge.  We are talking about the Knowing -- and that is a different matter.


"All animals are born with instinctual gifts relevant to their environment and behavior.  But, humans who may lack some qualities of in-bred instinct, possess at birth a Knowing that transcends mere instinct.  On the bottom end of these Knowings are creative reasoning and conceptualization and moving up the scale is realization and spiritual knowledge. 


There is ample evidence to prove the presence of these types of knowledge found deep within the human psychic at birth.  Humans were given this knowledge by the Creator, it is transported and stored by the DNA throughout life and beyond to succeeding generations  -- all without the necessity of training and education in these areas.  It is a Knowing that all humans are given as a gift."


"The realization of this Knowing does not come for everyone at the same time.  In fact, many humans never do reacquire the ancient wisdom within. Some will experience a only a quick flash of it at a critical moment in their lives.  And a fortunate few will come to a point their lives where they have worked hard and climbed high to see past the veils of distraction and distortion and find the keys to opening the portals to remembering."


Moving past the veils of self (ego), social, psychological and environmental (worldly) distraction requires intense focus.  Many times, this level of concentration or focus can only be achieved in a spiritual trance.  We view this as a purification process, shedding one layer of the veil at at time, until clarity and purity of intent is achieved.  


"Then and only then may humans realize, take possession and utilize the Knowing -- after remembering -- a process of calling up the ancient secrets of wisdom and placing them firmly in present consciousness.  The Knowing cannot be learned from a book or other people.  These things cannot be taught -- even by the wisest of spiritual elders.  The Knowing can only be remembered." 


Why do some humans live their entire lives without realizing the depth of the Knowing within themselves?


"First, it is a matter of distraction.  We are distracted by the constant supervision of our parents, siblings, teachers, preachers, neighbors, friends and society in general who must and do teach us everything we need to know about everything.  We are never taught how to remember because the assumption is that babies know absolutely nothing about anything.  As young humans we are regimented to many varied forms and systems of training and education.  Our heads are filled with information coming from other humans and never is the opportunity given for the child to simply absorb lessons of the environment and remember the depth and breadth of knowledge contained in the DNA.  In this age of mass media and computer information, chances for a child to connect to their primal-self are nearly non-existent.


"Second, it is also a matter of orientation.  We are never told there is this special Knowing within us.  We are never shown ways to access this Knowing.  Instead our heads are crammed with rules, regulations, do and don'ts, and the dogma and doctrine of many dead and dying generations.  We are oriented to believe that the cup of our life began to be filled at the time of birth by other humans, and that is the direction we move for the rest of our days.  How can one remember anything, if there is not a belief that Creator gave us special knowledge at the moment of conception?  If we deny it exists, there is no way most people will ever begin to explore the depth of their memory and find the well of wisdom bequeathed by untold generations of ancestors before them. 


"Third, it is also a matter of convenience and commitment.  Most people are not motivated to discover things about themselves and the universe if the road to get there is not well lit.  When they discover there are no short cuts or window shopping along the way, they balk like a mule.  They want to know the pay-off in advance. 


How do you remember the Knowing Grandfather?


"Oh my goodness.  Becky Owl Woman often tell friends that Bear would forget his head if it were not attached.  Bear does not remember things well.  We do tend to forget things easily, including the dark events of the past and the darker side of people.  Forgetfulness is a way of surviving for the Bear, so it is not such a bad thing. 


You are teasing us now.  You know what I mean.  How are we to know how to remember the Knowing deep within us?  Is there a technique or tool you use?


"There is a difference between what is learned and the Knowing.  Things taught by humans are internalized, stored and processed by the brain in neat little electronic compartments.   To access this type of information we use one or more levels or pathways of memory.  There are useful recall techniques access this type of information.  Cognitive and recall skills can be practiced and improved over time and neat little memory tricks such as mnemonic devices can be employed.  For example, the word "HOMES" is a mnemonic device to help people remember the named of the five Great Lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.  But, the ways of recalling the Knowing are different.


The Knowing is something like intuition.  That is, intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason, but there is a vast well of Knowing that goes beyond intuition.   Like the Knowing, intuition gives us ideas or thoughts that cannot be justified, but intuition is limited to the confines of human thought and reasoning and does not necessarily move beyond itself.  However, it is said that intuition is a binder between human knowledge and higher spiritual knowledge and appears a flashes of insight and therefore moves freely between earthly world and the spiritual world in the same way of the Knowing.


The Knowing does not speak English, or any particular language.  The Knowing are images and movement that are not easily translated.  The Knowing is an understanding that flows like water or a cloud in the wind...  therefore, we cannot use tricks on our self to remember.   The Knowing is when our personal vibrations of movement, sound and color are in balance.  Knowing is the connection, the sacred connection between our inner-being and the Spirits of the Creator.   We do not control or decide when or what the Knowing will bring.  It happens by Grace.   It only comes to the surface of our consciousness after the flow is completed between the tiny seed within us and the power and spirit of the Creator.


How does the Knowing relate to American Indian beliefs?


There are many ways the Knowing is acknowledged among the people.  Even though indigenous people are spread over thousands of miles from the South, Central and North, there are common ideas and a Knowing that we all possess.  This Knowing tells us what is right and wrong.  We did not need a written code of laws or a multitude clerics to preach to us.  We know the Original Instructions given by the Creator to all races of mankind because they are embedded inside us as part of the Knowing .   As tiny babies, we understand the Universal agreements of Creation and spend the rest of our lives living that reality.  You can see the spirit of the Knowing contained in our ceremonies and daily lives.  It is part of who we are as a race of people.  


What is the Knowing, can you define it?


The Knowing is seeing the future. It is seeing the path and pointing the way.  It is seeing time fold back on itself and reveal a disagreement that must be corrected.   It is a deep wisdom that reflects the Universal agreements man has with all of creation.  The Knowing is immediately accepted 'as is' because it is truth.  When the Knowing begins to flow from somewhere deep within, there is an understanding that quietly flows upward in our consciousness and falls out in conversation. 


What do you do with the Knowing?


We do not know most of the time what to do.  We are grateful for blessing, regardless of how harsh or out of place it may seem, but we also know that it is acceptable and right to ask for help in being shown what to do.


Who do you ask?


The Great Mystery.  The Silent One.  The Creator of All Things.  God of Heaven and Earth.  We pray.  We perform ceremony and pray some more.  Yes, the Knowing comes from our ancestors in seeds planted within us thousands and hundreds of years ago, but it is only the Creator who can tell us how the Knowing is to be used.


Would you say you have the gift of wisdom and Knowing?


Grandfather Standing Bear looked from side to side, put a half-snarl on his face and began to rummage through his rug bag.  After a while he looked up and said, "Nope, sorry we must have forgotten it at left it at home in my other bag."     


Grandpa Bear then stood up, patted me on the shoulder and gave me a tiny object that I could not identify at the moment.  As we walked along the path leading to the parking lot we passed under a lamplight and I stole a glance at the small object in my hand.  I stopped and looked closer, but I still could not tell what it was.  A small ring?


What is this Grandfather? I asked.  


Smiling, Bear glanced at the object in my hand and said, "It is a gift from our friend the Turtle.  He worked very hard on it the whole time we sat in the circle.  With his strong jaws, he chewed and chewed on a broken lace from my moccasin until he fashioned this most beautiful gift -- a leather circle.  It is part of his Knowing." 



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