This paper is a comparison study between the spiritual teachings of the ancient American Indian Peace Shield and the spiritual journey described by Bahá'u'lláh in The Seven Valleys. In The Seven Valleys, Bahá'u'lláh describes the spiritual path that the seeker must travel to reach the nearness of God. In the Universal Peace Shield of Truths, Rainbow Eagle, Seventh Fire Peace Shield Teacher writes, "Native philosophy teaches us that we exist to learn our lessons in life so that we can eventually be reunited with the Creator, where we began." (p. 23, Peace Shield) In Native American teachings, the eagle is considered a powerful messenger from the Creator. The eagle reflects the attributes of the Creator, "such as power, beauty, skill, being in harmony with all life, ability to see into Native hearts and minds, to nurture and care for us and loyalty." (p 29, Peace Shield) Hanging at the bottom of the Peace Shield are seven eagle feathers which symbolizes the seven ways of learning and the seven sources of teachings to reach the side of the Creator. (p 29, Peace Shield) Each eagle feather's teaching will be summarized and then an attempt will be made to correlate the teachings of each feather to one of the valleys of The Seven Valleys.
1st Feather: Teachings of Mother Earth
Mother Earth symbolizes motherhood. God's creatures are all connected to Mother Earth and all are birthed and nurtured here. Mother Earth forces her children to respect her but nurtures all with unconditional love. She is also true to her own spiritual path and is continually renewing, purifying and evolving. She actively participates in the Creator's divine plan and gives herself completely to the Creator. Mother Earth also holds mysteries and truths planted within her for all to see and to learn from. (pp. 56 -58, Peace Shield)
The Valley of Search:
Here in the womb of Mother Earth we all begin our search and journey through her creation in search of our Beloved. Along our path, Mother Earth will reveal mysteries and truths to reach the side of our Creator. This path through Mother Earth is similarly described in the Valley of Search where the seeker travels through the mortal worlds.
"In this journey the seeker reacheth a stage wherein he seeth all created things wandering distracted in search of the Friend. . . At every moment he findeth a weighty matter, in every hour he becometh aware of a mystery; for he hath taken his heart away from both worlds, and set out for the Ka'bih of the Beloved." (p. 5-6, Seven Valleys)
"On this journey the traveler abideth in every land and dwelleth in every region. In every face, he seeketh the beauty of the Friend; in every county he looketh for the Beloved." (p. 7, Seven Valleys)
2nd Feather: Teachings of the Universe
The teachings of the Universe includes truths and lessons we learn when we look to the "sky, clouds, and above worlds." This feather symbolizes laws of the universe, such as having the courage to seek truth, seeing with clarity of vision, respecting eternal truths, and understanding the duality of life. Realizing that the Creator is "in everything " and looking beyond what one sees, feels, hears and "becoming the true-hearted eagle and having the courage to travel from one reality to another..." is a critical element in understanding the laws of the Universe. (p. 29, 35, Peace Shield)
The Valley of Unity:
In Native American teachings one must have the courage and vision of the eagle to understand the teachings of the universe, recognize the oneness of the universe and see the beauty of the Creator in all things. Similarly, in the Valley of Unity, the seeker "drinketh from the cup of the Absolute, and gazeth on the Manifestations of Oneness." (p. 17, Seven Valleys)
"In this station he pierceth the veils of plurality, fleeth from the worlds of the flesh, and ascendeth unto the heaven of singleness. With the ear of God he heareth, with the eye of God he beholdeth the mysteries of divine creation." (p. 17, Seven Valleys)
3rd Feather: Teachings of the North
The teachings of the North "holds the energy and spirit of the Ancient Ones ..." In the North live the winter months where purification is a great lesson that Mother Earth teaches. During the winter months, Mother Earth, as well as humans and animals, are purifying themselves through the harsh conditions of winter with sleep, prayer and dreams. We detach ourselves from the distractions of life to purify our hearts, seek clarity, create and bring light to others and prepare ourselves for the spirit of renewal in spring. Here, we prepare to open our hearts to "give all to life" in the spring. Also in the North are Seven Gifts: wisdom, love, respect, courage, honesty, humility and truth. (pp. 202 - 214, Peace Shield)
The Valley of Love:
In Native American teachings one must purify one's heart to prepare themselves to accept the wisdom taught by Mother Earth and be willing to give their all to her in the spring. In the Valley of Love, the travelers is burned and purified with the love of their desire to attain the object of their desire and are willing to give up themselves for their Beloved.
"Wherefore, O friend, give up thy self that thou mayest find the Peerless one, pass by this mortal earth that thou mayest seek a home in the nest of heaven." (p.10, Seven Valleys)
"Wherefore must the veils of the satanic self be burned away at the fire of love, that the spirit may be purified and cleansed and thus may know the station of the Lord of the Worlds." (p. 11, Seven Valleys)
4th Feather: Teachings of the East
The east holds the source of Divine illumination. The spirit of the eagle represents the messenger of the Spirit World and Great Mystery. One of the lessons to be learned here is that of the Life Line, the eastern path. This is the natural inclination to be near the presence of the Great Mystery, feel "the presence of peace" and harmony and "the oneness or love of all life." (pp. 133 - 155, Peace Shield)
The Valley of Contentment:
In Native American teachings the desire to feel the presence of peace and God can be compare to the wayfarer in the Valley of Contentment feeling the bliss of peace as one lets go of want and feels the divine breezes of contentment.
"He burneth away the veils of want, and with inward and outward eye, perceiveth within and without all things the day of: "God will compensate each one out of His abundance." From sorrow he turneth to bliss, from anguish to joy." (p. 29, Seven Valleys)
5th Feather: Teachings of the South
The teachings in the South are considered intense, painful and enlightening where we find our "true path or purpose in life" and reconnect with Mother Earth. This area of the Peace Shield is where "our convictions and beliefs" live. Here, resides love, compassion and total assurance and is also home to our physical, emotional and spiritual sides. (pp. 157 - 182, Peace Shield)
The Valley of Knowledge:
The Native American teachings of the South focus on learning one's lessons to establish their true path. In the Valley of Knowledge, the traveler moves from uncertainty into certainty and becomes aware of truth under the guidance of God.
" . . . and come of doubt into certitude, and turn from darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety ..." (p. 11, Seven Valleys)
". . . my God the Most High sanctify his beloved spirit -hath made a subtle point and spoken an eloquent word as the meaning of "Guide Thou us on the straight path," which is: "Show us the right way, this is, honor us with the love of Thine Essence. . . " (p. 16, Seven Valleys)
6th Feather: Teachings of the West
Here one looks within oneself and assesses one's inner strengths, weakness and fears. Introspective lessons are learned regarding personal power, respect, and humility. Emphasis is placed on one's inner spiritual journey as each person seeks "the honey of truth" and rebirths their spirituality by way of Vision Quests. Here, dreams play an important role and are filled with spirit messages where the darkness of the West is illuminated by the brightness of the truths of the East. (pp. 184- 200, Peace Shield)
The Valley of Wonderment:
In the valley of wonderment one is filled with awe at the beauty of God and secrets are revealed within dreams.
"Indeed, O Brother, if we ponder each created thing, we shall witness a myriad new and wondrous truths. One of the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed." (p. 32, Seven Valleys)
7th Feather: Teachings of the Great Spirit
The seventh feather represents the teaching of the Great Spirit and is "the hardest way to learn." Here, the true-heart eagle strives to understand the eternal Divine truths. The number seven is very sacred in Native American spirituality and many significant elements are numbered in sevens including seven feathers, seven fires, seven shells, seven gifts and seven sources of spiritual teachings. (p. 29, 49, Peace Shield)
The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness:
Within the teachings of the seventh feather one has to commit, persevere and open their heart to the ultimate truths revealed by the Great Spirit. In the Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness, which is also the last valley in the Seven Valleys, the wayfarer detaches himself, dies from self, and lives within God. The traveler becomes "poor in self" and "rich in the Desired One."
"For when the true lover and devoted friend reacheth to the presence of the Beloved, the sparkling beauty of the Loved One and the fire of the lover's heart will kindle a blaze and burn away all veils and wrappings. Yea, all he hath, from heart to skin, will be set aflame, so that nothing will remain save the Friend." ( p. 36, Seven Valleys)
This was a most interesting, challenging and enlightening comparison study. The teachings of the Ancient American Indian Peace Shield are numerous and profound. Condensing the sacred teachings of each eagle feather into a short paragraph for comparison purposes was an arduous undertaking. At first glance finding correlations between the two sources, The Universal Peace Shield of Truths and The Seven Valleys, appeared to be a formidable task but common threads were, indeed, found scattered throughout the writings. However, only a few correlations are listed under each feather to link it to a valley.
A Personal Note
My purpose for completing a comparison paper was to the deepen myself on both The Seven Valleys and The Universal Peace Shield of Truths. Furthermore, the Ancient American Indian Peace Shield Teachings have roots in the Chippewa Nation which is the heritage of my Great Grandmother. I am grateful to have this privilege to honor my Native American ancestors with this comparison study of the spiritual paths of humankind as outlined by these two deeply profound and beautiful writings.
The Seven Valleys and The Four Valley. New edition. Translated by Marzieh Gail and Ali-Kuli Khan. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1991.
Rainbow Eagle - Seventh Fire Peace Shield Teacher. The Universal Peace Shield of Truths: Ancient American Indian Peace Shield Teachings. Rainbow Light & Company, 1997.