The picture being painted for us by the idyllic life of perfect harmony with nature and with one another supposedly lived by indigenous peoples before the evil white man came along is not true. Concerned by such lies, Jungleman, one a powerful shaman of the Yanomamo Indians of the Amazon, told the bitter truth about the lives of indigenous peoples in Spirit of the Rainforest. It is a tale of continual sexual perversion and abuse, warmongering, brutality, living in terror of human and spirit enemies; of curses, suffering, and death. It is a story, too, of deliverance through Jesus Christ into a whole new life of peace and joy and hope for eternity.
There is a chasm of morality between animals and man which cannot be bridged by any natural process. Historian/philosopher Herbert Schlossberg reminds us: “Animals do not act morally or immorally; they only act naturally. A system of ethics that says human beings ought to base their behavior on nature therefore justifies any behavior, because nature knows no ethic.” In full agreement, Nobelist Sir John Eccles points out that any nature religion must of necessity be amoral:
“The concepts of injustice, unfairness, and perverseness—like the obligations to honor, to respect, and to permit—are intelligible only within a moral context and to moral beings. In the mindless universe of mere nature…there is neither justice nor mercy, neither liberty nor fairness.”
If there is one basketball payer in the NBA whom even the secular press holds out as lacking the basic moral behavior expected of human beings, that man is Dennis Rodman. When Phil Jackson interviewed Rodman for possibly joining the Bulls, Jackson claims that his spirit connected with Rodman’s because Rodman was also into native American spirituality. Jackson writes:
“He [Dennis] smiled and looked around and checked out the Native American artifacts on our wall and asked me about them. He told me that he had a necklace that was given to him by a Ponca from Oklahoma, and showed me his amulet. I sat for a long spell I silence with Dennis. I felt his presence…. We had connected by our hearts in a nonverbal way, the way of the spirit.”
The immorality and cruelty of indigenous people is never mentioned—only their “closeness to nature.” Phil Jackson sanitizes the evil practices of native religions. He tells how Lakota warriors loved to “sneak into an enemy camp and make off with ponies.” No hint that this is stealing, or that they took slaves as well. A few pages later he talks of the emphasis he puts upon good character in his coaching! In his oft-repeated high praise for Indian warriors, Jackson fails to mention that they scalped and tortured their victims and had been doing so for centuries before the white man invaded their continent.
Jackson refers respectfully to the “path of the warrior”; the subtitle of his book is “Spiritual lessons of a hardwood warrior.” Never does he acknowledge the bloodthirsty nature of their warfare and their brutal treatment of their captives, and even of their own wives and women. Such glamorization of native American culture is the context in which we must evaluate Jackson’s boast: “Over the next few years, I quietly integrated Lakota teachings into our [basketball] program.” In fact, it is a badly skewed view of Native American teachings and practices which Jackson has foisted on his team and the many readers of his book.