Manataka American Indian Council



Grandfather Speaks



Getting Out of the Box

By Robert Gray Hawk Coke


The elements of thinking “in the box” are: your self-concept, your beliefs, your assumptions, your habits and your points of view.


We are in the box because of early programming. We find safety and comfort when we follow the  rules of our culture. These rules taught us how to think, what to expect, and formed our viewpoint toward life. Many continue  this life style for the rest of  their lives.


Some of us decide we want to think “outside the box” in order to become more creative and open to new ways of being.  Although we think we get out of the box, in reality we have only done one of two things. We do get out of the box, but quickly return to the comfort of the box. Others of us just built a bigger box.


How do we change our lives to freedom of thinking? The first step is to obtain knowledge. This will change the way we perceive life, not only the mind and the physical body, but also the physical world we live in.


In general, we are looking to our past experiences to base our future position. However, if we continue doing the same things in the same way, we will always get the same results. To get a different result, we have to change our way of thinking.


There is much science to back these ideas. I hope this will move you to go deeper into this subject than I can in my “limited space.” Remember the most important words are perception and knowledge.


Let me give you a few examples of what I am saying: The earth looks flat, but no one believes that anymore, even though the spot I am standing on seems fixed and motionless. Science has proven that the earth is, actually,  rotating and speeding through space at thousands of miles per hour.


A few decades ago, Harvard Medical School experimented with animals. Newborn kittens were divided into two groups. One group was put in an area that had only vertical references and the other group had only horizontal references.


When they were adult cats, they were taken out and put in a normal area with both horizontal and vertical references. The result was that each group was blind to the references they did not experience.  Upon examining the brains of the cats,  researchers found that each group was limited in how the neurons connected.


Other research was done with flies.  A number of flies were placed in a bottle with a lid, After a period of time, the lid was removed. With few exceptions, none tried to escape. They stayed at the bottom of the jar. Fish were put in a tank with a glass in the middle which divided them into two separate groups. After a time, when the glass was removed, the fish would not cross the place where the divider had been.


By placing a large link chain on an elephant’s leg and attaching the other end to a immoveable object for a prolonged period of time, elephants have been conditioned to be restrained with a light rope. Scientist call this PCC or premature cognitive commitment. It is the PCC that creates “the box” from which people, as well as animals, operate.


If we use knowledge to change our perception around us, we can change the world around us. We must do away with this idea of “Seeing is believing.”  One State even has on it their license plate, “The Show Me State.” I urge you to actually do the opposite, experiment with the idea that “Believing leads to seeing.” If you have a true desire, you will create it in your thought,  and from there it shall become reality.


~Robert Gray Hawk, 5-15-08



Robert Gray Hawk King Coke, 77, Cherokee, is the newest member of the Manataka Elder Council. Coke graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1952 with a biology degree. He served in the U.S. Army with a tour in Europe.


After returning home, Robert Coke, entered pre-seminary school Austin College with a major in Philosophy.  He continued his education by earning a degree in Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor of Business Administration at Southern Methodist University where he later served on the faculty as an instructor. In 1996, Elder Coke was elected Chairman, of the American Indian Heritage Association and served as an ambassador for the American Indian Center of Dallas. Gray Hawk is now a semi-retired consultant.