The Longest Road: Developing the Wisdom of the Heart

The Longest Road: Developing the Wisdom of the Heart

A wise elder once told me, "Grandson, the longest road you will ever have to walk is the sacred journey from your head to your heart." Another elder said, "We will never solve the many critical and life-threatening issues before us solely through the intellect; for every problem the intellect solves it creates ten more."

Unto itself the intellect is a sacred gift of the Creator, but, equally, without an open, visionary, and creative heart, there is no wisdom. Both the mind and heart are sacred. Both are inseparably connected.

To help us develop the wisdom of the heart, the wisdom of peace, we must turn to Mother Earth. "You know Grandson, the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, has given all people wisdom," my grandfather told me. "To every living thing he has given something special. Some people receive their knowledge and understanding through books. In your life, Grandson, you too must read and study books, but remember to take with you on your journey only those things that bring more unity within yourself and others, that bring goodness and understanding and help us to serve one another in better ways."

"Wakan Tanka," he continued, "also gave our Native people, and all other people who live close to Mother Earth, wisdom and knowledge through dreams, visions, fasting, prayer, and the ability to see the lessons the Creator has put in every part of creation. Look at those trees standing over there; the alder does not tell the pine tree to move over; the pine does not tell the fir tree to move over; each tree stands in unity, their mouth pressed toward the same Mother Earth, refreshed by the same breeze, warmed by the same sun, with their arms raised in prayer and thanksgiving, protecting one another. If we are to have peace in the world, we too must learn to live like those trees."

"Look, Grandson," he said, "at the beautiful teachings the Creator has put in the little stream. Feel the water and see how gently and lovingly it touches your hands. It travels through deserts and mountains and many places, but it never turns its back on anyone or anything. Even though it gives life to all living things, it is very humble, for it always seeks the very lowest spot. But it has great faith, power, and patience, for even if a mountain stands in its path, it keeps moving and moving until finally that mountain is washed into the sea. These are the spiritual gifts the Creator has given each one of us. If we are to be happy within ourselves and with one another, we too must develop these sacred gifts."

Walking the Path

In all of our actions, we must seek to be living examples of the changes we wish to see in the world. By walking the path, we make the path visible. We must find the courage and dedication to use the wisdom of our elders on the path of a peaceful and equitable future. Using that wisdom, we will find we have the power to carefully and lovingly remove the barriers limiting our development as human beings and communities. The greater the difficulty in our path, the greater the opportunity for our growth and ultimate victory; we can always become more than we have ever been.

We know from our ancient teachings that the sacred eagle of humanity has two perfectly balanced and harmonious wings -- one representing woman, and one representing man. In our relationships as women and men, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, we must join together to eliminate all forms of disrespect, mistreatment, or lack of sharing in the responsibility of raising the world's children.

It is my deepest prayer that with every new sunrise, we can recognize more and more that the most sacred and holy of all the wonderful gifts the Creator has given us is the birth of a child. Everything we can do to provide our children and communities the best possible future is a sacred gift and responsibility.

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For is not the moment long, long overdue, my beloved relatives, through the unfailing power and love of our good creator, for us to free ourselves completely from the hurt of both the past and present, so we may truly soar like majestic eagles to the promised greatness of our sacred destiny and future?

Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library, Novato, CA 94949. ©2000.

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Architects of Peace: Visions of Hope in Words and Images
by Michael Collopy.

Seventy-five of the world’s greatest peacemakers — spiritual leaders, politicians, scientists, artists, and activists — testify to Architects of Peace: Visions of Hope in Words and Images by Michael Collopy.humanity’s diversity and its potential. Featuring 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and such visionaries as Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa, Dr. C. Everett Koop, Thich Nhat Hanh, Elie Wiesel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, Robert Redford, and more, the book profiles figures often working at the very nucleus of bitter conflicts. 100 black-and-white photos are included.

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About The Author

Phil Lane Jr. Phil Lane Jr., a member of the Yankton Sioux and Chickasaw tribes, has worked for the past twenty-eight years with indigenous people in North and South America, Micronesia, Thailand, Hawaii, and Africa. Founder of the Four Worlds Development Project at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where he worked for fifteen years, Lane is now president of the independent Four Worlds International Institute, which promotes sustainable, spiritually based economic and community development. He received the 1992 Windstar Award for his work, as well as the 2000 Foundation for Freedom and Human Rights Award in Berne, Switzerland. Visit the website of the Four Worlds International Institute, at

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