The Refinement of Essence ,
An American Indian Insight into Life as a Spiritual Experience

Excerpt from Lightningbolt by Hyemeyohsts Storm
(pp 262 - 265)

Comment: In Hyemeyohsts Storm’s book Lightningbolt (a follow up to his highly successful Seven Arrows) we are given many insight to the profound teachings of the Native American spiritual teachers, or as they refer to themselves "Zero Chiefs." Their wisdom holds that through choice and life experience in the world of substance we are given the opportunity to refine our Essence. They state, "we have been gifted with Human Life and Choice. It is this freedom of action, our power of Choice, that decides Essence."

The following is an excerpt from the dialogue between the young man Lightningbolt and his seasoned woman teacher Estcheemah, giving profound insight into Life as a Spiritual Experience. It begins with Lightning bolt asking the profound questions: "What is Death? Why do humans have to die?"


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All humans are born from the Spirit World. The Spirit World is the place of Death. We die to enter back into the Spirit World. While we are in the Spirit World, we are known to be Dead for the People Living on Earth. However, this needs to be looked at more closely.

"While we Live we speak of the Spirit World as Death, because we must die and leave our bodies to enter the World of Spirit. Seen from the other side, this is reversed. In the World of Spirit to be Born on Earth means Death. To come to our Life World, or to Experience the World of Life, means that we have to Die in the World of Spirit.

"We die as a Pure Intellect, a Spirit, to be Born as Spirit into Substance here in Life. Pure Intellect, for the Zero Chiefs, meant Pure Knowing or Absolute Knowing about the Self and Spirit - which, the Chiefs taught, was Spirit and Knowing without Substance.

"In other words, this world we know as Life is really the Death World from the viewpoint of a Pure-Intellect, which is Spirit.

"We dwell much longer as Pure-Intellect, Spirit, than we do living in Life. Life and Substance is a much different existence than Pure-Intellect as Spirit. Life is not very long. Even the span of one hundred years, should we live that long, is a very short time.

"While we dwell in the Spirit World we are the Essence of Human. We know no form and every form because while we are Pure-Intellect we possess no physical form.

"Spirits can choose to be either female or male, because within every human's Spirit Essence there exists both Female and Male.

"We have lived many times in this, our Earth World. We have all been born many times. We have been both female and male. We have done all things."


"Why are we born?" asked Lightningbolt.

"We Humans are born to Experience the Essence of who we are. Each of us is the sum total, the Essence, of what we have done and how we have known the Self.

"Each time a human is born on Earth that human has a Life Experience. This Life Experience can be one of absolute mediocrity, and it then becomes part of the Essence of the Self. Or we can live our lives courageously and this becomes part of our Essence. Or we can be hateful and murderous, and this becomes our Essence. People can hide behind the mask of being spiritual or pious and this becomes their Essence.

"When we die we really do take it with us - our Essence, that is. What we were, we become. When we are born, all Memory is taken from us of our previous Existences, even as Pure-Intellect. You see, to be Born into Life Substance is the greatest challenge known in Creation. Here in Life we learn of exactly who and what we are - it is our Essence.

"There is never any lie in Life, for the lie becomes the Essence if we lie our Life long. Then it becomes the fact of who we are and what we will be.

"All Spirits born in Life were once Pure-Intellect, Spirit, and because of this WahKahn and SsKwan [mother/father Creator] Know us all Directly. Everything created is part of WahKahn and SsKwan. It is their Great Law that All Beings and Things Will Evolve. While we dwell as Pure-Intellect we, are formless and Exist Within the Spirit World of the Formless, which is the Source of all forms that Spirit can Imagine.

"The Chiefs called this Formless Spirit World, ‘The Great Dream.' Within The Great Dream, there is no Limitation.

"While we Live, Dwell in Life Experience, we have emotions and we possess a body that can hurt and die. We can laugh and we can cry and we can love. But Pure-Intellect cannot cry or laugh. Laughter must be imagined, as emotions must also be imagined.

"The rain can be imagined. The cold, crisp winter day can be imagined. A friend can be imagined. We can imagine war or anything else. You see, it really doesn't matter what a Pure-Intellect Imagines because it is only Intellect. The Pure-Intellect, as a Spirit, can imagine eating a peach. But the peach is not there; it is not Alive. The Spirit can imagine being good, or indifferent, or warlike. Yet, it is all only imagined.

"Humans on our Sacred Mother Earth can taste the delicious peach. We can experience Life. We can also die. We cry, we feel, we love, we laugh, we hurt, we are surprised, we are within change.

"The Limit of Spirit, of Pure-Intellect, means that we have been born and we inhabit a body. How very wondrous!

"Now I struggle, I learn, I feel, work, run, and play I can make a mistake. I can even fly. When we are born on Earth, we are born Free.

"WahKahn and SsKwan build with Atoms. They know of our every fiber and being, they Know our Essence.

"The ancient Zero Chiefs sang:

All of Creation is With the Living.

All of Creation can Feel the tender kiss.

All of Creation is Learning.

All of Creation Learns of Beauty

We are Evolving Beings.


"It took four billion years for our wondrous Mother Earth-Life to evolve Substance Life to the point where we humans could be Born to Her.

"WahKahn and SsKwan, in the form of Sacred Earth, give us Human Self Spirits, Pure-Intellects, our Lives and our Bodies! Can there be a more grand Present given to a Spirit than our physical Life?

"As you can see, Lightningbolt, the program is bigger than you thought.

"It has taken another few million years for Humans to evolve to our present state. To Evolve and to become a Higher Being Within Essence is the Challenge for every Spirit Born into Substance.


"But we must look even further to understand what is meant by being Born Free. What does Self-Freedom mean?

"Free means to be Free of all things. We are Free while we are Alive to Experience and to interact with all things and every human we meet. We can build, destroy love, procreate, kill, heal, lie, tell the truth, hate. We can do anything we Choose to do. We can even deceive ourselves.

"The Pure-Intellect knows that Life is not long. Spirit does not fear Death. Pure-Intellect is Spirit and is Deathless. While we live we dream, but these dreams are far different from the ones we have known as Pure-Intellect. While we were Spirit, what we built we could tear down. But it was all only the Great Dream. There was no Substance. We could not die. Those other Spirits that interacted with us within the Great Dream also could not die.

"Yet, here on Earth when we act out our dreams, things happen! Our Present of Life is Precious.

"The Garden is picked in Life. The musical instrument can be broken. The body can grow old. What shall you do in this Garden? How will you touch in this Garden? What are your deepest responsibilities to your Self and Life?

"Humans play together in Life and they dwell together in Life. All the soldiers that we kill, die. All the toys of war in this Dream can be broken and they rot. We can also touch while we Live. We all are delicate.

"While we dwell within Pure-Intellect, in the Great Dream, there is no way for us Spirits to really Touch. We can Touch here in Life.

"Mother Life Gives. Mother Life Shares. She Births us all and everything. Great Giving is Life.

"It is called the 'Great Giving' because for Life to exist, the Earth Circle of Life and Death must be Present. The trees, all plants, are born and must die to give their lives, so that humans can have their food and homes. All plants and animals Live and Die. If the plant does not die by the knife it will die in the teeth. If it does not die in the teeth it will die in the caustic acids of the stomach.

"Death furnishes all things with Life.

"There is no separating Life and Death.

"The plants and animals Die to Give Life.

"On Earth we are Free of the Great Dream. Because of the Freedom that we are given from Creation and Our Mother Earth, we possess Human Choice while we Live.

"We must be Born here with Mother Life to have the ability to Change and Evolve within our Self Essence. We can do this by our every Choice of Thought and Action while we Live.

"We are Spirits Born into Substance to Learn and to Grow.

"The Deathless Pure-Intellect that we know as Spirit cannot die. Pure-Intellect learns of Love here in Life. There is no true Love within the Great Dream - there is only the Great Dream. All energies, all emotions, all images, all thoughts exist within the Great Dream.

"Here, within Life, there is danger and there is fulfillment. The Essence of what we are is tested here in Life. All Spirits born, one way or another, are in search of the Sacred Self. To discover the Self and Know the Self is the key to all Existence.

"Who am I? What am I? These questions are eventually asked to the Self of every Spirit born.''


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