I have the greatest privilege of being associated with Native cultures of many continents.. thus satisfying my curiosity and desire to travel and the chance to help them with my medical expertise. these notes are from those travels. I am a professor at the University of Havana
dimanche 16 septembre 2012
INDIANS SAY: POVERTY MAY BE FINE BUT MISERY IS NOT: MURAKAMI IN THE BLUE HOUSE
The alarm rang at 0630 as I was already
opening my eyes. I am in the Blue House among the Omaha Indians.
Sunlit Living Room at the Blue House
I step outside and check the temperature.
50 F, 10 C. what a change from the temperature just two days ago when it topped
97 F, 36 C!
I put on a pullover, red in colour, which
had laid dormant for many years, as a reminder of a visit to Buenos Aires,
walked out into the chill of the morning.
The day was just breaking.
When I reached the track, through the
village still heady in its sleep, I could see a fine mist hanging over the
track, as if a cloud had come down to give the earth a hug.
Neither human being nor animal to be seen around. I began walking briskly.
The trees were standing guard, gently moving to and fro, happy to wake up to
yet another day. How many of the ancestors have seen the same trees? Many years
ago I met a transplanted Indian from here who lived in Mediterranean splendour
in the west coast of Australia, Mrs. Blackbird said: I miss my village and its
trees. And I am looking at them, and thinking of the ancestors of my patients
who had seen them, and the trees would still be there for their children.
As I came around the further corner, I
could catch a glimpse of an early morning tender sun, trying to break through
the clouds that seem to cover the eastern horizon.
It is so beautiful, I said to myself, here
I am, walking along a poorly maintained walking track in a small village in the
middle of nowhere of America, but in the heart of an Indian country, where a
people who call themselves have lived for centuries, long before English was
heard here, long before the “civilization” brought an end to their peaceful
life and destroyed their spirits, their Gods and their bodies. May you all rest
in peace, I said to the wind, carry this message to them. An Australian, a Jew,
on the brink of another Jewish New Year, walking surrounded by peace,
tranquillity and calm of nature.. far away from my other lives in other places,
in other countries, and other dreams, but I am among my Indian family, among
people who accept me readily.
I thank you.
When I rounded the corner for the fourth
time, I could feel my fingers curling up against the cold, by the fifth, my
toes were revolting against the cold which has seeped through.
I thought of Haruki Murakami, who said:
Pain is natural, suffering is optional..
I am here to relieve the suffering of this
tribe of Indians with whom my life became intertwined many moons ago. I
remember my first Indian teacher telling me, we are used to poverty, it is the
misery that we object to.
My role during my days among the Indians to
relieve as much or as little as I can or possible that suffering, as a doctor,
using tools I have learned as a cultural anthropologist. To share my knowledge,
much of which they had taught me, with them, also to talk about inner freedom
and the liberty from fear which brought me to work among the Indians, rather
than in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Recognition for your work does not
matter when you are not looking for it.
While walking, one thinks of those who has
influenced your life and who indirectly brought you to this corner of the
middle of nowhere, where the Indians have lived for centuries. Jiddu/JK had
arrived very early in my life, introduced by one of my many informal teachers.
I had taken an instinctive liking for his way of talking and thinking, and
today I think of this, thanking him: any form of ambition, spiritual or
mundane, breeds anxiety, fear; therefore ambition does not help to bring about
a mind that is clear, simple, direct, and hence intelligent.
Feeling the cold, I return to the Blue
House, eager to get to the clinic. When I reached there, two young students,
pristine as the sky they live under were waiting. The colleague who directs
patient traffic to me kindly allowed me extra time so that I could talk about
the beauty of working, in a culturally sensitive way, among the ancient peoples
of this world.
It turned out to be a good day. 13
Now to get ready for the trip to Miami and
enjoy the affections there ..