Surviving Acculturation: Preserving Natural Laws with Transcendental Meditationby Nicola on 2012-12-28
Acculturation: Preserving Natural Laws with Transcendental Meditation
Christopher Collrin (Representative of the David Lynch Foundation)
Mike Webster (Executive Director, SBHK)
Edited by Dr Nicola Davies
This article examines issues of acculturation and Natural Law in Nunavut, with a specific focus on how Transcendental Meditation (TM) can allow these phenomenon to occur in harmony. Acculturation is defined as adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another culture (Sam and Berry, 2010). Natural Law is defined as a system of law that is determined by nature and which is therefore universal (Strauss, 1988). Acculturation has been fundamental for Inuit, but by relying on the Natural Laws of their culture, as advocated by the TM movement (Beaman, 2012), Inuit have been able to preserve their cultural values and beliefs.
Acculturation has occurred rapidly for Canadian Inuit, taking them from a traditional way of life to a modern industrialized one (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 2007). Before the 1950s and prior to this shift in Inuit way of life, most of the population lived on the land with their extended family. They would create small camps and move according to Natural Laws, such as wildlife migrations and changing seasons. By encouraging acculturation, the Canadian government began to persuade Inuit to settle in permanent communities where affordable housing, medical facilities, and modern stores were available (Bonesteel, 2006).
Permanent settlement has resulted in reduced mortality as well as a reduction in certain diseases. However, it has been claimed that Inuit have experienced such dramatic socio-cultural changes that the negative impact of this overshadows any long-term health benefits (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 2007). This has also been highlighted in The 2011 Nunavut Report on Comparable Health Indicators, as prepared by Tchouaffi Paul (MSc.; DSc.) and Isaac Sobol (MD, CCFP, MHSc.). Furthermore, the transition from the traditional Inuit way of life to a dependence on a wage economy has acted to disrupt Inuit social and environmental relationships. Indeed, acculturation has been recognized as contributing to social marginalization, stress, and increased rates of suicide.
The impact of Canada’s residential school program on Inuit society and culture has been of particular concern (Kirmayer et al., 2003). In particular, residential school experiences have created a tension between elders and youth, preventing the respected tradition of elders exchanging knowledge, cultural values, parenting skills and language with youth. In addition, abuse of a physical, psychological, and sexual nature has been reported in residential schools, as has cultural repression (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 2007). The consequence has been feelings of shame and alienation among some Inuit.
The tension between generations of Inuit today is not only the result of residential schooling, but is also due to Inuit youth being estranged from elders and their socializing influence. Consequently, elders and youth no longer have a clear role within the community, creating a sense of uncertainty and a loss of identity. This is especially the case for youth, who are finding it difficult to succeed in either the traditional or modern world; there is a sense of not 'fitting' in anywhere.
Preserving the socializing influence of elders.
Photo courtesy of David Ho.
As demonstrated in our most recent article, ‘Nunavut Health Indicators: The Role of Transcendental Meditation (TM)’ (Collrin and Webster, 2012), the use of TM can dramatically improve problems associated with acculturation. Another way in which cultures, such as the marginalized culture of Inuit, can be lived and experienced more effectively is by adopting what is known as the ‘Laws of Nature.’ As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi stated, Natural Law is “that infinite creativity of pure intelligence, pure knowledge, the Veda, which creates and maintains the whole universe in perfect order.” All the Laws of Nature indigenous to that particular part of the world emerge to create the culture, arising from the climatic and geographical conditions of the area. However, when cultural values and traditions collide, life can be less in tune with Natural Law.
In terms of Natural Laws, purity of the culture is what is believed to be the most beneficial for evolution, with the influence of other cultures causing disruption. When life becomes strained, some imbalance in Nature has arisen, and the Laws of Nature are not able to support fully the life in that area. Indeed, the pace of evolution will be retarded in relation to the imbalance, with negativity and suffering being the outcome. The more stressed the individual, the more disorderly their brain is functioning. As the disorderliness in the individual is reduced, Nature comes into balance.
Trusting in Nature.
Photo courtesy of David Ho.
The Infusion of Cultures
Even as Nature comes into balance, other cultures are needed for progress; such progress comes from the infusion of other cultures. Therefore, what is needed is to be able to accept those life-supporting aspects of other cultures, and disregard those non-life supporting aspects.
Indigenous people are considered “the traditional custodians of the Natural Law of the land.” Indigenous language is given to the people by Nature itself, as the precious expression of Natural Law in that region. The Mother Tongue is the Language of Nature of that area of the world and is rooted in the Natural Law of the land, which structures the area’s culture and language. It is intimate to everyone, upheld by the local Laws of Nature that structure the physiology of every individual.
This expression of Natural Law structures thought, speech, and action from their basis in the transcendental, self-referral field of consciousness, the omnipresent home of all the Laws of Nature (Yogi, 1995). Since time immemorial, the First Nations, Native American and Inuit, as Custodians of Natural Law, have carried out their roles and responsibilities to maintain harmony and balance and have enlivened Natural Law through their cultural traditions, languages and ceremonies.
The Transcendental Level of Consciousness
The Natural Law-based approach as described in the age-old indigenous Vedic system of knowledge, refers to the home of all the Laws of Nature, the most fundamental level of Nature’s Intelligence, which is available to everyone in their own transcendental level of consciousness, and that is expressing itself in the whole of creation - a worldview that deeply resonates with First Nations teachings.
TM cultures consciousness (awareness) to function from the Home of All the Laws of Nature, within itself, independently, and thereby maximizes orderliness in brain functioning. Over 600 published research studies verify the TM as being the most efficient and effective means for bringing Life in Tune with Natural Law, resulting in a mistake-free life, a life lived in fulfilment, prosperity, happiness and health (Yogi, 1995).
Bonesteel, S. (2006). Canada's Relationship with Inuit: A History of Policy and Program Development. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
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