Source: Circular Time

“Nothing ever gets anywhere. The earth keeps turning round and gets nowhere. The moment is the only thing that counts.” ~Jean Cocteau

The traditional Native Americans conceive time as being circular similarly to changing seasons. This view of time as a circle or a repeating process creates continuous and unique outcomes that are infinite in possibilities. The circular view of time, if fully realized can do remarkable things to our modern concepts of time. For Example, a belief in continual or infinite time creates a calm refreshing feeling of ‘having time’. The opposite view,linear time, could be epitomized by a man running to the subway station to catch a train. Alternatively, the idea of ‘Circular Time’,which is ever repeating, has quite interesting effects on the concept of space and should not be thought of simply as outer space, but as the entire environment that encompasses their life.

Linear time requires a continous preoccupation with the past and future…as a result awareness of environment becomes secondary and considered an object to exploit to meet the questionable goals of linear time.

Again, this idea of Indian circular time or after a while the loss of ‘feeling’ of time creates unique bonds with the environment, which can be seen in Native Americans sacred mountains and lakes. Once, you lose the idea of time and think of environment first, the land you live on becomes your life. This land is than passed from generation to generation. As more and more people live and die on the same piece of land without the thought of time,the location allows them to find an identity within Nature.

The inherent feeling of connection to everything is felt by the circular thinker because Time has little meaning and location becomes their primary consideration. This connection to space creates a spiritual experience in everyday life. These experiences are felt as patterns due to their connection to time and the communal understanding of their environment.

Some years ago a study compared the self-imagery of Native American children of elementary age with that of children
of European descent. Children of each group were asked, “Please draw a picture of yourself.” The “American” kids
drew pictures of themselves with round face and features, body, arms, legs and a name written nearby.

The Native American children began by drawing in the sun, the moon, and stars. Then the mountains and hills, the river, the grasslands and trees,the village and its people, the extended family and parents, and then their own figure. Then they gestured to the whole thing: “This is me.”

One Response

  1. Great post that allowed me to shift thinking … and I love the difference in how the children of Europen descent differed from the N.American children.

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