To Cry for a Vision

Going on the Hill

There is a special kind of Faith that Jesus speaks of in the 17th chapter of Matthew. After his disciples try unsuccessfully to cure a boy who was possessed, the father of the boy asks Jesus to help, and Jesus cures the boy. Jesus' disciples then ask him why they had been unsuccessful. In verses 20 and 21, Jesus answers his disciples by saying,

"Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

In verse 21 (which begins with "Howbeit") Jesus also makes it clear that he is talking about a special (non-ordinary) kind of Faith since he does not say that "faith goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." but rather, "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Mustard seeds are peculiar in that they are extremely small seeds.)

Jesus speaks again about fasting in Matthew Chapter Six verse sixteen when, while talking about prayer, he says,

"Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."

The lesson that Jesus gives is about not showing off while praying, but we may note that he does not say "IF you fast" but rather "WHEN you fast" indicating that Jesus considered fasting to be a normal religious practice, and so common that people would fast while still engaging in their normal activities.

Silo Black Crow once said,

"When you go up on the hill [vision quest] there are four things that you expect: First, you expect that you will die up on that hill, and some have...
Next, you expect that you will go crazy, and when they come to bring you back down, there will be nothing left to do but put you in an institution. This also has happened.
The third thing that you expect is that you will disappear completely and no one will ever see or hear from you again. This also could happen.
The fourth thing that you expect is that you will come back down from the hill."

Going on a Vision Quest is inherently dangerous. There is no such thing a a safe Vision Quest. It is also far more dangerous for non-native people to Vision Quest than it is for native people, because we non-natives come from a culture and way of life that is completely out of balance and lacking a spiritual center. We tend to carry assumptions that make us feel good about ourselves, but these assumptions are illusions that we should tear down before attempting to Vision Quest. We need to be Brutally honest with ourselves, for how can we hope to stand before God if we are afraid to clearly see the person in the mirror?

Preparation for going on the hill is as important as going on the hill, and may be far more difficult (when done correctly.) To prepare to go on the hill, first carefully read The Hard Part.

It is also worth noting that Silo's cautions are also expectations and (if we do it correctly) a part of us, our egos, may die. We also may feel ourselves going crazy as we embrace aspects of ourselves that we normally keep well hidden from our conscious awareness. What's more, if we are able to make that mystical Leap of Faith into the void (a spiritual leap, not a physical leap), we will indeed disappear.

Pete Swift Bird said,

"If a mole comes to you while you are up on the hill and offers you a good medicine, tell it 'NO!' And if a buffalo comes to you and offers you a gift, tell it 'NO!' And if an eagle comes to you and says that it will give you its spirit and be your helper, tell it 'NO!' Say 'NO!' to all of these and hold out for God!"

When Jesus fasted for forty days he was tempted and said "Get thee behind me!" to the tempter and thus received the blessings of Heaven.

Similarly, The Buddha was tempted by Mara, and upon rejecting that temptation, became enlightened / awakened.

Let Go of Everything

Going on the hill is not about acquiring something, quite the contrary. It is about letting go of absolutely everything. We are attached to our desires and to our possessions, and these attachments must be relinquished. If a man comes to steal your wallet, offer him your car keys and title as well. (Luke 6:29) We become attached and maintain our attachment to things without even realizing that we have done so. The thought of handing ownership of our automobile over to someone who has come to steal from us is especially disconcerting, and shows us how deeply attached we are to our possessions. We need not necessarily lose our possessions, but we must lose our attachment to them. If we cannot lose that attachment, then it would be better to lose those possessions. We also must lose our attachment to our loved ones during the time that we are on the hill. We may still have the intent to put our lives on the line so that our relatives may live, and that is an exceedingly good thing, but feeling and mentally holding on to a loving connection to a sweetheart, a child or a parent can prevent us from letting go when we should let go. When we go on the hill, we go absolutely alone and empty of all possessions, attachments, desires, and expectations. This includes the desire to live. We should be ready to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the world.

Becoming that Hollow Bone means letting our ego die, and this sounds well and good until we realize that the part of us that has to die is the part that contains all of our personal desires, wishes and hopes. It is the one part of us that we would most like to hold on to. If our initial motivation for going on the hill is our desire, then at some point we must choose to cast aside our desires and everything we hold dear out of a deep sense of duty and gratitude to God for all of the blessings we have received. Our desires do not want to let go of us. They want to hold on to us in any way possible. They will create expectations of what will happen if we succeed in completely letting go of our egos, and these expectations will trip us up and prevent our success. Our only expectation should be that we will cease to exist in any way that we now understand existence. All other expectations are delusional traps.

The Lakota word for the Vision Quest is (roughly transliterated as) Hanbleycheya which literally means "to cry for a vision". Pitiful weeping silent resignation is the place in which one should sit in order to open oneself to God.

Grandpa Frank Fools Crow said,

"You could go up on the hill and be there five minutes and the Spirits could come to you. It is not about how hungry and thirsty you are; it is about how ready you are to receive them."

This is not to say that there is no point to fasting. After a day or two without any food or water, one becomes very lucid and collected. The body does its best to let us know that it needs water and nourishment, and it provides an excellent test for letting go of the desires for water and food by putting all such thoughts out of mind.

I was told a story of the early days of the formation of the spiritual community of Findhorn, how Eileen Caddy the humble wife of one of the founders, Peter Caddy was sitting on a toilet in a lavatory and heard a voice say, "Be still and know that I am God."

Don't Talk,....Listen!!

Hold your mind in complete silence. Do not allow yourself any thoughts whatsoever. Open your field of vision to encompass all that you see. Rather than focusing your visual attention on any single object, broaden your focus and force your sight to take in everything you can see.

If we are able to keep our mind completely still while broadening our focus to everything our eyes can see, then we may find that after a while, the shapes of the things that we see may begin to shift or change. A major portion of our understandings of the things around us are descriptions that we have built with our words. When we force ourselves into silence, those descriptions become disconnected from our perception and this causes the shifts and changes. A tiny change or shift in our perceptions is almost always enough to alarm us and get us to start recalling word descriptions of our environment. Try hard not to let this happen. Let things change and passively and broadly observe the changes without thinking about them.

You may find yourself becoming tense, and you may begin to perceive yourself going crazy. That is OK. Don't be afraid of the craziness. Embrace it and hold on as tight as you can, even if by so doing, you become completely undone.

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