Book excerpts from the Spirit and Flesh religion and spirituality online library.
Native American mystic elder: tobacco, peace pipe, devotion, and oneness: becoming the all
excerpted from OM, baby! a pilgrimage to the eternal self, by Jack Haas
Devotion comes in many different ways for each of us, since we are all unique expressions of the one. The hallmark of devotion, however, is whether an act brings us closer to that one, or drives us further away.
There have been many events along my odd and idiosyncratic journey which, on the profane plane, may seem either useless, or even sinful, but were in fact acts of devotion done with fervor and hope that they would lead me closer to freedom, union, and perfection.
One such odd undertaking began years after I had given up smoking tobacco. I had fought against the tug of that poison for quite a long time, and had finally dismissed it for good.
But then, all of the sudden, a number of years later, I had a few dreams in which tobacco was shown to me as a temporary means which would assist me to awaken into a level which I had not yet arrived at. I was admittedly a little uncertain as to the message of the dreams, and therefore did not partake of tobacco right away. However, soon after, and synchronistically enough, I was reading through a book of esoteric information, and the writer made the claim that for those people who have trouble connecting their lower self to their higher self, smoking some tobacco can be of assistance.
With that added bit of information, I plodded off to a nearby tobacco shop, purchased a small cigarillo, and later that evening inhaled a bit of the smoke into my awaiting lungs. Then I sat back and relaxed into myself.
I soon discovered that the tobacco had a relaxing effect and allowed me to sense a greater unity between myself and all things, the outcome of which was a very subtle, and yet profound, peace. This may sound like a bucket of errant hogwash to a world which has determined tobacco to be a carcinogenic calamity, which in fact it is when produced and used in the abusive way it has been by the modern world. However, there is good and bad in all things, and it is only for us to choose which side of the coin we include in our lives.
It is perhaps for the more positive aspect of the sacred plant that North American natives would ceremoniously smoke tobacco in a 'peace' pipe, thereby making it into an instrument for inner peace and for union with the all.
I recall the marvelous story of a wise Native American elder who lived during the twentieth century in the northern part of British Columbia, told to me by a man named Mark who had been a social worker for a year or so on the Native reserve in which this elder resided.
Mark told me that he and the elder had exchanged very little conversation during the year that he was there, for the elder spoke no English, and Mark spoke very little of the elder's native tongue. However, this negligible communication barrier could not prevent more sublime interactions from taking place between them.
This came about during a day when Mark was sitting in sunshine on the outskirts of the reserve, and as he sat there the elder arrived nearby and began throwing his tomahawk at the small stump of a sapling which was used by the villagers for target practice. It wasn't long before Mark recognized that the elder was hitting the bull's-eye every time, from a formidable distance. Apparently the elder had thrown his hatchet perhaps twenty or twenty-five times, hitting the center of the wood perfectly every time. Mark was impressed, and kept his attention on the elder. Soon enough the old wise man turned towards Mark and, though he said nothing, Mark knew the old man was impressing upon him the understanding that he, the elder, was in complete control of the situation, and that the next throw would prove it. The old man then launched his tomahawk and landed it just outside of the bull's-eye, and Mark knew it was an intended throw to show that wherever he aimed his axe, he would hit.
This action of the wise old man was not a prideful display of marksmanship; the elder had something far more important in store for Mark. Immediately after the last throw he then turned towards Mark and sent his spirit and consciousness out, enveloping Mark and uniting the two of them in the ethereal domain. Mark was spellbound, for he knew for certain that they were communicating perfectly and were united as one in consciousness and spirit. Then the elder somehow expanded himself and dissolved at the same time, and Mark saw him completely merge into the environment around him, and Mark knew that the elder and the earth were one. In fact, the elder was one with everything.
It finally made sense to Mark why this old man of the woods could go on hitting bulls-eye after bulls-eye, over and over again: it was because he had become everything- the thrower, the thrown, and the target. He had become the entire world of spirit and matter- the great cosmic Self aware of itself. He had lost himself into the whole, and so had become the whole, and therefore everything he did was in cooperation with the whole. He had crossed the river of separation, and had merged into the ocean of oneness. Amen.
 It is interesting that the literal definition of the word 'sin' is: to miss the mark. In this case, as in all cases, missing the mark is simply mis-understanding the universe as a divided cornucopia of individual events and beings, rather than as a oneness devoid of separation. The old man could hit the mark every time because he did not miss the mark- he did not recognize separation, only oneness.
by Jack Haas