Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Where Do Our Bodies End?

This essay by Jack Forbes contains a fundamental wisdom that most of us have had socialized out of us long ago.

Excerpt from essay: "Most of us have been taught to think of our body as a physical structure, isolated from everything else. But if we think of it as a living system, then a different picture emerges. Traditional indigenous thinking points towards an open system, connected with the Universe and the Creator.

"In the mid-1970s I wrote down what I had been saying in many Indian gatherings: "I can lose my hands, and still live. I can lose my legs and still live. I can lose my eyes and still live. I can lose my hair, eyebrows, nose, arms, and many other things and still live. But if I lose the air I die. If I lose the Sun I die. If I lose the Earth I die. If I lose the water I die. If I lose the plants and animals I die. All of these things are more a part of me, more essential to my every breath, than is my so-called body. What is my real body?

"We are not autonomous, self-sufficient beings as European mythology teaches.... We are rooted just like the trees. But our roots come out of our nose and mouth, like an umbilical cord, forever connected to the rest of the world.... Nothing that we do, do we do by ourselves. We do not see by ourselves. We do not hear by ourselves.... That which the tree exhales, I inhale. That which I exhale, the trees inhale. Together we form a circle." (Forbes, Columbus and Other Cannibals, 1992, pp. 145-6, and Forbes, A World Ruled by Cannibals, 1978, pp. 85-6 ). "


Erik Schimek said...

Also related to this, the concept that humans are a superorganism with a plethora of other species living in symbiosis with us:


Anonymous said...

i'm glad you linked to your blog at the dj forum, i'm really enjoying reading.
i'm also glad that you posted this essay by jack forbes. the essay has made me even more excited about columbus and other cannibals coming back into print.
i've posted a link to this essay in my blog, as well as a thank you to you for writing about it in the first place.

Curt said...


I'm glad that you have found some of my posts useful.

The Jack Forbes essay was actually posted by Derrick Jensen on his old discussion list years ago. I never forgot about it after that.

Take care,


P.S Sometimes my computer lets me respond to the posts on here and sometimes it doesn't. So, if I don't respond it isn't because I'm ignoring you.

Willem said...

Ha. I've started asking this question, and I must've seen it here first months ago. Thanks!