October 21, 2022
In this episode, Wendy speaks with contemplative scholar and Indigenous activist Yuria Celidwen. Yuria has worked across many sectors to bring Indigenous ways of knowing into conversation with Western approaches, particularly in contemplative science. This conversation covers many topics, including:
- the importance of Indigenous languages;
- her roots in a lineage of mystics, healers, and explorers;
- insights from the Mayan calendric system;
- bringing Indigenous ideas into a dualistic culture;
- her own experience of othering;
- the role of contemplative practice amidst today’s challenges;
- opening our awareness to interdependence;
- bridging and safety as we come together across differences;
- kin relationality and ecological belonging;
- subtleties of language and what they reveal;
- implications of the term “mechanism” in the scientific approach;
- Indigenous contemplative science;
- and an inspiring closing poem.
Yuria Celidwen, PhD, is Indigenous Nahua and Maya from the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Her research examines the experience of self-transcendence in Indigenous contemplative traditions wide-reaching, and how its embodiment enhances prosocial and pro-environmental behavior towards what she suggests is an “ethics of belonging” (ethics, compassion, kindness, reverence, and a sense of awe, love, and sacredness). Her interdisciplinary approach intersects Indigenous studies, cultural psychology, and contemplative science to bridge Indigenous and Western methodologies for epistemological equity. Within this work, she suggests an Earth-based identity to encourage relational wellbeing, purpose, and actions toward planetary flourishing. She emphasizes the reclamation, revitalization, and transmission of Indigenous wisdom and the advancement of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the rights of Mother Earth. She co-chairs the Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit of the American Academy of Religion and is a contemplative faculty and scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Paper: The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective, The Lancet: Planetary Health, 2022
- Essay: Why We Need Indigenous Wisdom, Mind & Life Insights Project, 2022
- Lecture: Indigenous Contemplative Science: An Ethics of Belonging and Reconnection, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, 2020
Yuria’s poem (in Tzeltal and English):
K’uxtaya, k’uxtaya, k’uxtaya
te sjocholil kuxinele – yu’un te lajele – te cha’tojkele,
ya sk’uxtabe sjocholil te sak’inale
sok te ijk’al lumilale!
Ya sk’uxtabe sp’ijil te Ch’ulme’tike
sok ya sk’uxtabe ak’ol k’inal yu’un te Ch’ultatike!
k’alal k’anuk ta nakomalil te kuxinele
bit’il tulan talelil te nojem nax ta ijk’al xab
peta nax aba te ta ch’ultesbil kuxinele
te xlemlun nax stilel ta sjamlejal te awo’tane!
Love, love, love
the emptiness of being—death—rebirth,
the emptiness of clarity
of the thickest mud!
Love the lunar wisdom
love the solar joy!
And when the inklings of life
appear hard and harsh and full of rifts
rejoice in the ecstatic bliss
burning in the openness of our shared core!