Angle on Prosperity: Native American Potlach


Posted on April 16th, by Jai Gopal in Philosophy, Prosperity. 1 Comment

got this from The Daily Om: www.dailyom.com – It’s a great site where you can sign up to receive daily messages such as this one and daily hororscope which is quite uncanny in terms of how accurate it is.

It’s interesting to read about other cultures and their traditions regarding prosperity. I really like this idea of having a party where you give your stuff away to all your friends. How cool would that be to have one of those?

April 16, 2008
Potlatch
Encouraging Generosity

chiefs at native american potlatch ceremony circa 1904

We can learn much from the Native American tradition of the potlatch. It is a tradition that values generosity above all else, and a potlatch, which is a very grand ceremony, is an exercise in giving away material possessions, food, and money. It is not uncommon for the host of a potlatch to give away so much of his own resources to his guests that he ends up with nothing. However, he can regain his wealth by attending potlatches at which he is a guest. In this way, a potlatch validates generosity and encourages the flow of resources in a community, while at the same time continually reaffirming the importance of community ties.

When we are held in a web of trust and connection, we can give generously, knowing that when it is our turn we will be supported. In this way, our whole sense of ownership becomes less individualistic and more communal. Resources are in an acceptable state of flux, moving within the community through the vehicle of the potlatch, which serves the additional function of strengthening community ties. This seems clearly preferable to isolating ourselves from one another and hoarding our resources.

Perhaps we can find ways in our own lives to create a community in which a flow of resources happens in this way, in which we support one another to be generous. We might begin by celebrating our own type of potlatch, having a dinner party and giving each guest an object that is dear to us. Or we could give everyone a little bit of money in an envelope to spend on themselves just for fun. Someone might get inspired to throw their own potlatch, and before we know it we might have a tradition that supports and validates generosity even as it creates a safety net for leaner times. In the most profound sense, that is what a community, a tribe, and family do best.





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