The Power and Pleasure of Omnibeneficence

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A Visionary Message for Us from Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe, Diné, Lakota)

Excerpted and formatted by Martha O’Hehir

When I introduce myself,
I name my clans because they are my people,
The people who stand for me
And the people for whom I stand. 
When we meet, we say, “ I can’t be well if you’re not well. 
Is there something I need to do? 
Is there something you need?”

Every one of us was sent here with spiritual help swarming all around us.

We all have a name by which the spirit helpers call us by. 
It speaks to that unique, essential, piece that you bring.
Every one of us was sent here with spiritual help swarming all around us. 
Spiritual help meaning spirits, but also meaning, this natural world.  
This natural world responding to us, this natural world supporting us.
They say when you walk through the forest, the forest is aware. 
That includes the insects, the birds, everything, 
even the even the breeze, the wind:
all of that begins to adjust to incorporate your presence. 
So everything begins to recalibrate, to bring you into the life community. 
So, that’s part of why we say that we have that good feeling when we go out into nature, 
because we’re being enfolded into our place of belonging, 
deep inherent belonging, and we’re being supported with the recognition 
of that particular piece that you bring. 
When different animals show up, that’s part of that recognition. 
They are saying, “Let’s collaborate. Let’s cooperate, let’s contribute to this life community.”
And what does that really mean?

So I want to talk with you about how I came to start using and created this word, or how it came to me: Omnibeneficence.

Omnibeneficence…means to be a benefit and blessing to all.

And, what is Omnibeneficence?
It means to be a benefit and blessing to all.
So I always bring up my medicine wheel here to talk about this.

I hold up the Lakota Sacred Hoop,
the sacred hoop of life.</span
It holds up endless teachings on the nature of reality
With its four colors: the four directions each with its medicine, 
animals, spiritual helpers that we have encountered over time,
the four stages of a human life:
youth, mature (and childbearing), active, elder.

every single life form gets to have a seat on this Sacred Hoop

I look into the hoop and I am shown that
that every single life form gets to have a seat on this Sacred Hoop.
Every single one, including us. 
So we get to have a seat on the hoop. 
We’re not the whole hoop, but we do get to have a seat on it, 
which is a gift beyond measure. 

every single member has to uphold their part or the integrity of the hoop begins to fail.

So what does that mean? 
So, it’s a particular configuration, right? 
Every member must uphold its part, or the integrity of the hoop begins to fail. 
When I saw this vision of the Sacred Hoop, 
there were the peoples that had been annihilated: there were missing pieces on this hoop. 
There were the animals that were being brought to extinction. 
Those were like cracks in the hoop. 
That’s how I was seeing it. 
So, that’s why I speak this way. 
So, every single member has to uphold their part or the integrity of the hoop begins to fail. 
And so every single member has been given a way to uphold their part. 
A perfect design for upholding their part, a perfect design for thriving life. 
Because when the hoop is fully intact, and in its full strength, 
then every member is thriving, every member is experiencing Omnibeneficence. 

Barry Lopez would say that every member has an impeccable way to conduct life.
Impeccable in the sense that everything that they do 
has such a coherence and an elegance 
with all things around, furthering their life, 
their own kinds life, but also all the neighboring life around them. 
So there’s an inner relatedness, what Thich Nhat Hahn called “Interbeing.”
Not just humanity:
the flying ones, the swimming ones, the plants,  the four legged, the creepy crawly ones:
All of us together is a single organism. The hoop is a reminder of this.

Ultimately we are all clan together

This brings us back to the clan relationships:
Ultimately we are all clan together, 
and I can’t be well if you are not well, Orca.
I can’t be well if you are not well, Hummingbird. 

Now, everything out there is doing one thing.
It’s making more life, making more life. 
trying to figure out how to throw the next seed where it’s going to have success and grow, 
how to further the next seven generations.
The plan is LIFE around here, friends. 
We humans have lost sight of that.

We feel like we can put many other things at the very center of our activities,
at the very center of our consciousness 
at the very center of our relationship,
other than Life. 
Okay. And we’re finding that out. 
It’s a powerful thing for me to think that  I’ve been given a seat on this hoop here. 
Somehow or another, as a five fingered one, I also have a thriving design for thriving life. 
A perfect design for thriving. 
But the question is, do I understand what that is? 
Well, I always start here talking about this because 
I don’t think I’m going to be able to catch on to what my perfect design for thriving life is 
until I understand how I am related to everything else, 
and how everything else is related to me. 

( At this point, McCabe explains how we are indoctrinated by “Modern Real Paradigm” to act as if we are separate, how we strive to make money to take care of our own needs, and not care much who is left scrambling below us, people or animals or nature, or soil. She discusses that even masculinity and femininity is distorted by the paradigm itself. This conditioning is counter to being a member on the sacred hoop, of being aware of our interbeing.)

The plan is life, it’s not beating another out. 
It turns out that the way of interbeing is like the organism of our body. 
It’s cooperation and collaboration. It’s coherence. It’s attending to the whole.

the logic follows that I have a perfect design for thriving life

Not only is every life form out there attending to its own contribution to the hoop, 
but it’s attending to its future generations, 
and it’s contributing to every other life form around it. 
So we call these ecosystems.
We could call them clans, maybe life clans. 
So each clan supports itself, it then begins to support the neighboring eco clan. 
Well, there’s a new word, “eco clan.” 
So we can really say that the way hummingbird takes 
attends to its contribution to the Sacred Hoop and ends up being a benefit and blessing to all. So that’s what I’m referring to when I use that word Omnibeneficence. 
Every single life form out there seems to know how to be of benefit and blessing to the whole. Wow. 
And I get to have a seat here. 
So I’m going to say the logic follows that I have a perfect design for thriving life. 
As a five-fingered one, my perfect design for thriving life can move into the place of being a benefit and blessing to all. 

I have that capacity, however impermanent as a human being, as a five fingered one, 
wherever I am, 
I have a capacity be of benefit and blessing. 

I encounter pretty frequently what I call “low self-esteem as a human species” right now. 
I hear people say, “Everything that we touch, we destroy. 
The Earth would do just fine without us.” 
And some people say, “In fact, she’s gonna do just fine without us, 
she’s gonna throw us off, ‘good riddance,’ 
and then go on her merry way, in a much better way.”
“And, you know, we deserve that fate because we blew it. And we’re a nasty species.”
 But this is not the mindset of the cultures that I have been brought into, one by blood (Diné) and one by ceremonial training (Lakota). 
That kind of thinking is not cultivated.

(McCabe describes her involvement in a dialogue group called The Language of Spirit, in which quantum physicists, linguists, native indigenous, elders, some Western educated, some drawing from traditional knowledge were all put in a talking circle. They used different words, but heard each other speak a common truth about interbeing. She also describes how the rainforest, with all its diversity and healthful medicine, is not a natural occurrence, but archeology shows it is the result of human cultivation. The five-fingered ones are ”seed-carriers.” She describes how, when the ships arrived in the Americas, the explorers thought there were no humans there because the land was unspoiled, not like the land they came from where human intervention left barrenness and depletion. In fact, there were millions of humans in the Americas, living in a way that supports interbeing. Living honorably as a unique member on the Sacred Hoop.)

At one point in the meeting (The Language of Spirit), a young person spoke up and said,
“Well, whatever happens, whatever’s coming, wherever we’re headed, isn’t doing the right thing, doing the right thing?

I intend to uphold the honor of being a human being. Come What May.

And that really struck me so deep. 
And it really changed a lot for me. 
The language that came for that is, 
“I intend to uphold the honor of being a human being. Come What May.” 
No matter what. 
And for me, understanding more and more about what this (the hoop ) is trying to tell me, 
helps me understand where that honor comes from. 
What kinds of actions speak to the honor of being a human being 
who has been given a seat on this Sacred Hoop? 
Knowing that I have a perfect design for thriving life. 
I am not a throwaway species. 
And in fact, I have a way of being a benefit and blessing to all. 
That’s a huge honor.

This article is an edited transcription of a talk given at the Gaian Gathering of the Work That Reconnects Network in November 2023.  A video of the full talk is available on the WTR Network website here.

Pat McCabe, or Woman Stands Shining, is a Native American elder whose work explores the meeting point between ceremony and deep social healing. Pat was born into the Diné (Navajo) Nation, and has also received a spiritual training with the Lakota tradition. She travels and teaches widely on the indigenous science of Thriving Life. Her work seeks to revivify human knowledge and meaning-making, by restoring the holistic knowledge practices known to indigenous people.  “To be the disembodied intellect and observer rather than passionate participant, and harmonious co-Creator, has led to a great mis-understanding of who we are, where we are, and how it is.”–

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