The process of researching this topic has been an interesting one. It seemed that it would be easy to find information on the Twelve Cycles of Truth if it formed the basis for the Iroquois Confederacy. However, it didn’t take long to discover a distinct lack of information on the Twelve Cycles of Truth, while finding a vast amount of information on the Iroquois Confederacy.
It initially came to me that perhaps the person promoting the Twelve Cycles of Truth did indeed gain their information from an oral tradition, as it is acknowledged that there are no complete or exhaustive writings on Native American teachings.
Likewise, I considered that Carlos Castaneda is also highly likely to have made up his stories, yet much of his philosophies are coherent with teachings from various sources. I’ve seen it suggested that much of his philosophy derives from others such as Gurdjieff. So, Castaneda is promoting reasonable (in my opinion) philosophies based around a fictional teacher (Master) and fictional events, to illustrate his points on magic. As a willed suspension of disbelief is an important function of the magical process, writing about magical and spiritual teachings in an easy to read, fictional, way helps get the message across by stimulating the imaginative side of the brain.
However, checking further into the person promoting the Twelves Cycles of Truth, the only good reviews of her works seemed to come from people who had been recommended her books and hadn’t read them yet.
I discovered a whole web site devoted to exposing people who are ripping off the teachings of the Native American cultures, mainly for profit. Jamie Sams, who seems to be the only person claiming the Twelve Cycles of Truth to be traditional teachings, comes from a long lineage of people promoting concepts and beliefs that have never been part of any tribes cultural treasures, and often making a lot of money from it.
This, at very least, seems to be highly disrespectful to the cultures they claim to represent. Then, their only recourse at defending their claims is to counter that the tribes are only angry because they don’t want their teachings made public (implying that the tribes are in fact racist towards the Europeans who are lapping up the pseudo-native teachings).
Although I haven’t read any of Jamie Sams’ books myself, if the information reported about them was correct, then I couldn’t accept her teachings as being in any way authentic or useful (to me). For instance it is claimed she has created a 12-month lunar calendar (perhaps to fit with her Twelve Cycles of Truth), when most (if not all) native peoples, worldwide, have a 13-month lunar calendar. Likewise, if it is true that she promotes various acknowledged frauds, such as the ‘crystal skulls’ teachings, and the ‘medicine shields’ and is a member of the Wolf Clan (which has many alleged fraudsters operating under its banner), then it makes it incredibly difficult to take her Twelve Cycles of Truth seriously at all, especially as she doesn’t seem to be living them in the slightest.
All this information is compounded by the fact that the authors of the book The Paradigm Conspiracy (which from my cursory readings of it appears to be worth some consideration) have based the structure of their book on the Twelve Cycles of Truth, and relate that these Cycles formed the basis for the Iroquois Confederacy. It seems that no matter how much research is done, it is possible to overlook untruths because we identify strongly with them, and desire them to be the truth.
So, it is from this knowledge that I write my thoughts on how the Twelve Cycles of Truth correlate to the Buddhist teachings on the Twelve Link chain of causation, and how, along with the principles of Psychosynthesis, a model can be constructed providing a method through which Western Society can heal.
To be in the spirit of things, I will consider the Twelve Cycles of Truth on their own merit, free of any claims of falsity, or validity, although must state that from my research I cannot find any point of evidence that they formed the basis of a working model in the past. The merits of the Iroquois Confederacy stand on their own, including that they are acknowledged as helping inspire the Constitution of the United States of America, which in turn gave rise to the charter behind the United Nations. At the heart of the Iroquois Confederacy there is the respect for the sovereignty of each and every person (man and woman alike) and an aim of averting conflict through effective communication (to achieve peace).
Having written this, new information has come to light, in the form of Jamie Sams’ Sacred Path Cards book ? so I have now skimmed through one of her books. It doesn’t change my impression that much of what is passed off as Native American teachings is done in order to make money (not to genuinely promote Native teachings, or even relevant spiritual teachings in the guise of Native teachings). It does give an insight that Jamie Sams’ claim of the Twelve Cycles of Truth being the basis for the Iroquois Confederacy has been blown out of proportion (most likely by the authors of The Paradigm Conspiracy). It seems likely they wanted a 12 fold structure for their book and chose the Twelve Cycles of Truth as this, perhaps reading into Sams’ statement that the Cycles formed the basis for a very powerful (empowering) and successful form of Democracy.
Jamie Sams’ brief statement on the Twelve Cycles of Truth is a little ambiguous, and I can actually read it two ways. She writes, “Our intention follows the Iroquois Peace Confederacy Tradition that uses the Twelve Cycles of Truth to bring peace.” (Card 18 ? Whirling Rainbow, Sacred Path Cards)
To me, this could mean her intention uses the Twelve Cycles of Truth, or that the Iroquois Confederacy uses the Twelve Cycles of Truth.
Okay, so the validity (or “truth”) of Jamie Sams’ claims leads me to another issue. What is “truth”? Is there a Universal Truth that the Twelve Cycles refer to, which each of us needs to be aligned with in order for a peaceful world? Or is truth rather subjective?
To me, both answers are correct to some degree. Truth is mainly subjective when viewed by us as an individual, and it is our personal truth that we must express, as it is our individual purpose and identity in this incarnation.
So this led me to ask, what does truth mean?
The words truth and troth both stem from the Old English word for loyalty, firm, trustworthy. Further back, the words true and tree are related etymologically. Via their Germanic lineage trewam (tree) and treuwaz (true) they extend back to the Indo-European root deru- or dreu- referring to wood, and hence firmness. This therefore gives the word truth a meaning of “something firm”. It is said that the word Druid derives from the root words dru- and wid- meaning “strong seer”. (Etymological notes were researched via www.dictionary.com)
This sits well with me personally. I get the sense that truth (for me) is our personal truth, and what we feel strongly about in our expression of our own uniqueness. It is a loyalty to our Self via the expression of our Self, our expression of our own unique Tree of Life, and that in turn we are strongly connected with the Universal Tree of Life. It is the expression of our own unique essence as provided by our Higher Self ? our Higher Self perhaps being our essential truth (and us as an individual the potential of expressing it).
The Twelve Cycles of Truth are: learning the truth, honouring the truth, accepting the truth, observing the truth, hearing the truth, presenting the truth, loving the truth, serving the truth, living the truth, working the truth, walking the truth, being grateful for the truth. To me, this all relates to the various aspects of expression of our own personal truth.
Each of the Twelve Links is dependent on the one after it:
Ignorance is dependent on Karma; Karma is dependent on Consciousness; Consciousness is dependent on Name and Form; Name and Form is dependent on Six Sense Fields; Six Sense is dependent on Contact; Contact is dependent on Feeling; Feeling is dependent on Craving; Craving is dependent on Grasping; Grasping is dependent on Becoming; Becoming is dependent on Birth; Birth is dependent on Old age / Death; Old age / Death is dependent on Ignorance.
Francesca Freemantle sums up the Buddha’s view of worldly phenomena by saying, “The Buddha described all worldly phenomena as having three characteristics: impermanence, suffering and nonself. We suffer because we imagine what is not self to be self, what is impermanent to be permanent, and what, from an ultimate viewpoint, is pain to be pleasure.”
These fits well with Psychosynthesis as we understand people tend to strongly identify with various things external to themselves, or with sub-personalities, so are not centred within their own Self. Material things are seen as permanent and lasting, as perhaps are such things as reputations and how powerful we become (how much power we exert over others). When acting from sub-personalities various concepts are considered right, or noble (and we should therefore find them pleasurable), such as being an achiever (doing a lot), struggling to achieve things the ‘tried and trusted’ way, rather than re-evaluate its effectiveness and worth, and whether a new and better way could be achieved. There is the soldiering on when we are ill, or being a “hard man” and continuing to play on in a game of rugby even though we are in pain and perhaps aggravating an already serious injury.
In my understanding, an aim of Buddhism is to allow one to break free from the distortions, and find one’s true Self (Buddha nature). So breaking any of the links of the Chain of Causation assists one in breaking down the illusions. In Psychosynthesis we talk about clearing away blockages, synthesising sub-personalities and becoming more aware and centred in the Self.
This then is a connection between the Twelves Cycles of Truth and the essence of the Twelve Link Chain of Causation. Ultimately there is a truth relating to expressing our own truth, by becoming aware and acting from our True Self. The two are coming from different viewpoints. The Twelve Cycles of Truth are about expressing the truth, whereas the Twelve Links of Causation describe processes that obscure or distort the truth ? the truth being an expression of one’s True Self.
To me, expressing the truth of each individual’s True Self will be the core of any model which can help the Western world heal and bring about the necessary change for a sustainable society that lives in harmony with the environment rather than trying to fix the things we keep breaking, or fix the things we don’t understand (which aren’t broken).
The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) people embodied this in their recognition of the sovereignty of each individual. The Great Law of Peace contained three principles (although I find two of them repeated in various sources, the final one is varied depending on the source).
When making decisions under the Great Law of Peace, the Three Principles are:
Righteousness: meaning that the good of all the nation (which is viewed as a family) must be taken into account, and the needs of seven generations to come. This would effectively mean that decisions would have to offer viable solutions for the next one to two hundred years.
Power: meaning that the power of the people must be maintained, including the equal sovereignty of men and women. It also means the people acting in accordance with what is best for all, ie. United in their decisions. This is the ultimate in democracy, power to the people, for the people, by the people. It is important to recognise this is not power over, which is what the current paradigm and current regimes embrace.
Peace / Health: Peace fits in with the fact it is the Great Law of Peace, so is included first. Basically the Law is around maintaining peace at virtually any cost. If people are willing to work towards what is best for everyone then this is easily achievable. As a last resort a nation (or person) is entitled to use reasonable means protect themselves. Health is related to peace, in that a healthy mind, body and spirit (and emotions!) create a healthy individual. This leads to a healthy society that promotes peacefulness and well being of all individual members of the society.
There is much more of great worth that the Haudenosaunee people had within their Confederacy, which fleshes out the common law and rules. The proof is in the pudding, and the common Law allowed six nations (originally five) to co-exist and put an end to constant warring and cannibalism.
I believe this model can still work. It, however, needs a commitment from those involved to actually live the principles, which I believe can be summarised in terms familiar with Psychosynthesis practitioners.
Self-responsibility is necessary to maintain one’s health and personal power. Being in touch with one’s own needs and emotions, and preferably one’s own Higher Self. One needs to be working towards living their own truth, their own purpose in life. While in line with their Higher Self they will be acting in the best interests of all involved.
One needs to work towards good health, especially emotional health, which is a part of Western Society, especially amongst men, which is in desperate need of healing and renewal. When one is in harmony within they are able to be more in harmony with the external world also.
There has to be a willingness to practice forgiveness and unconditional love of self and others, accepting that we are human and will make mistakes.
The most important thing for inter-personal relationships, whether in partnership, community, or nation is open communication and a willingness to work together to find solutions to problems that meets the needs of everyone best. In Psychosynthesis this is finding the “And”.
Ultimately, I believe it is the only way the world can go if we want to sustain it (and our human race) for any reasonable length of time. At current rates we are serious damaging the planet, and destroying societies and lives through our actions. We need a global shift in consciousness allowing people to move into a new way of thinking where all citizens of nations can genuinely participate in the governance of their people. This is achievable, I do not doubt it, but until (collectively) we are willing to let go of the model of power over and allow a model of self empowerment to be our guiding principle for attaining peace things will not change.
However, on a not so gloomy note, I believe the implementation of any of the principles, even partially, by groups, societies, or nations, will began a process of healing which will allow the necessary changes to take place.
If you enjoy this article then you can find more on similar topics at my Magical Path website – http://www.magicalpath.net/.