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Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing Paperback – August 1, 2001
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“Robert Wolff’s moving autobiographical narrative takes us back to an older, wiser human time, when people knew that spirituality was not apart from the naturalness of things. This book demonstrates how the legendary “dream people” were not at all ephemeral, but vulnerably and exquisitely human.” (Stephen Larsen, author of Fire in the Mind)
“It will fill you with hope for a human future more in line with what it means to truly be human. Read it, dream about it, and share it with your friends. This is a message the world must hear.” (Thom Hartmann, author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight)
Top Customer Reviews
Having spent half his youth growing up among Sng'oi, Wolff says this: "I learned early on to be in two different realities." One reality was oriented around the clock, efficiency, technology, and harsh realism. The other was fluid, timeless, almost dreamlike - a world in which "people touched each other," a world in which "we knew animals and plants intimately." The bulk of this book is spent fleshing out differences between these worlds, in an attempt to teach us Westerners another way of knowing, another reality. Yet in the process of doing so, it quickly becomes apparent that the modern world doesn't quite measure up.
As slaves to an alienating industrial system, we civilized people must pay rent to live. A completely self-domesticated species, we live in a state of complete dependence on big industry and agriculture. We are ignorant of the flora and fauna that support our life, and helplessness to a capricious global market. Thus, the condescending glance "modern" humanity casts at so-called "primitive peoples" is extremely ironic.
Traditionally referred to as "Sakai," or slaves, by modern Malaysians, the Sng'oi do not take offense. Says one Sng'oi man, "We look at the people down below [literally, from up in the mountains] - they have to get up at a certain time in the morning, they have to pay for everything with money, which they have to earn doing things for other people. They are constantly told what they can and cannot do.Read more ›
While it is described as an account of a Malaysia tribe, it is, more importantly, a window into another way of thinking about WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN. That is also the name the book was originally given by it's author. Robert Wolff opens our eyes to see and think about possibilities for being human that our western world's schools and media do not teach, do not suggest.
Every person I know who has read this books says it changes the way they walk through the world, the way they see, the way they know.
It discusses ideas that impinge upon parapsychology, shamanism, Carlos Castaneda's works, intuition, healing...
The book is a precious gift that will make you feel joy and sadness-- joy from knowing the possibilities of being human, and the beauty of the Sng'oi, sadness, because the Sng'oi were reported to be "absorbed" by the Malaysian culture several years ago. They are gone.
Thom Hartmann, who wrote the forward to the book, has written several other books which share a similar vision-- Prophet's Way, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, and Greatest Spiritual Secret.
Read this book and see if you can find a way to begin seeing and knowing, of being human, as the Sng'oi did, and see if you can find a part of them in your heart.
The book took me into a very different world where things were simpler. In this environment I could unwind my restless heart, and observed the very foreign culture...
The effect this book had on me has been profound and long lasting. In fact I am writing this review two years after reading it.
As one who teaches anthropology, I found some very useful and concrete examples to share with my students to help clarify points that the texts we use don't really do justice to. Wolff makes them crystal clear and explains them in a way that is easily accessible. It will help in a classroom of college students who are only taking the course because it's required to see that our approach to life is not the only way and the assumptions we make are not universal.
This is an excellent book.
He does not seek to put them in a box or put a label on them, but to understand their way of living and thinking. They live simply, without many possessions or any interest in possesions. The eat when they feel like it and when they find food, which they seem to find easily in their jungle environment. This is not just a story of how the author learned to live simply and love his fellow man through contact with simpler people. He actually learned something of incredible value from a member of the Sng'oi who offered to teach him. The "teaching" mainly consisted of walking around the jungle together. But author Wolff came to a day when something "clicked" for him. Like the shaman with whom he wandered, he sudenly "knew" things without knowing how he knew them. Where before he would get thirsty and ask his companion to find water, now he "knew" that a certain leaf had water, but he also found he was not so thirsty. He found he could become one with the jungle and he also found his personal "animal that helps" was a tiger, just as his companion's animal was a snake.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Inspiring and devastating that these beautiful people have been wiped off the Earth by us "civilized" ones.Published 5 days ago by judylight
I liked it but I have not finished reading the whole book. It did not hold my attention but I may get back to it sometime.Published 2 months ago by Helen Quinn
There are many ways to describe the concepts of Shamanism, or concepts such as "The Old Ways". Read morePublished 2 months ago by TommyElf
Really enjoyed this book and its perspective on indigenous peoplePublished 4 months ago by audra graham
Wonderful Read. I could identify with several experiences in this book and they all restored hope in humanity. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Susan
It is a very interesting book though it takes a long time to discuss this différent way of knowing and how they use itPublished 8 months ago by Ismael Kabbaj
Well worth the time, almost a page turner, Recommend to all wishing to feel where we as a people should be.Published 8 months ago by J. Morgan