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Teaching SpiritsUnderstanding Native American Religious Traditions$
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Joseph Epes Brown

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195138757.001.0001

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Changeless at the Heart of Change

Changeless at the Heart of Change

Concepts of Time and Process

Chapter:
(p.9) 2 Changeless at the Heart of Change
Source:
Teaching Spirits
Author(s):

Joseph Epes Brown

Emily Cousins

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195138757.003.0002

This chapter focuses on Native American concepts of time and process. Western culture often perceives time as a linear progression that advances from past to present to future in a straight line. In contrast, many Native American cultures observe that the rhythm of the world is circular, as is the life of all beings and forms. In these cultures, time tends to be experienced as cyclical and rhythmic, rather than linear and progress oriented. Most Native American languages, for instance, do not have past and future tenses; they reflect instead a perennial reality of the present. These differing perceptions of time have contributed to the misunderstandings that characterize so many interactions between Native and non-Native Americans.

Keywords:   Native American culture, linear time, cyclical time, Zuni, process

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