In Memory of Bear Heart. Part 5.

English: Leaves of Utah mountain trees changin...
English: Leaves of Utah mountain trees changing color during autumn. Deutsch: Die Farbe der Blätter ändert während des Herbstes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

June 24, 2013 by Jerry Alatalo

After a year of training Dave Lewis took Bear Heart to the top of a hill and told him to “Wrap your legs around this tree, put your arms around it. You sit there like that, and I’ll be back.”

Bear Heart was full of questions he wanted to ask like “Why? When are you coming back?, What am I supposed to look for?…” Dave left no instructions, Bear Heart had no idea when he was coming back, and he sat there with his arms and legs wrapped around the tree.

He began thinking about many things like why would a grown man like him be sitting wrapped around a tree like this. What would his friends think about this after he was voted the most promising student of his high school graduating class? He thought they would say “This one we thought would go a long ways up the ladder, and look at him now, wrapped around a tree.”

Bear Heart came to understand that Dave was teaching him to get through his pride, ego and self-importance. He started to see that “When it comes right down to it, we are nothing until that nothing becomes so dedicated that it is like a vessel through which good things can move, an instrument for receiving knowledge and sharing it with others who might be in need.”

He surrendered and stayed sitting wrapped around that tree.

Bear Heart describes how thoughts and concepts were coming at him in the form of communications. “So you think you know a lot of things?” “Don’t you know that the only thing you can say you actually know is that which you have experienced? Other than that, it’s hearsay.”

He thought about all the books on mathematics, physics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and behavior in society in the library. The tree seemed to know his thoughts “Yeah, you’ve read a lot of books. But it’s someone else’s thoughts and experiences in those books. To you it’s hearsay, because you haven’t experienced it. You don’t know it, you only know something of it.”

He learned to get rid of his sense of great self-importance, his pride, and become just a human being. He learned to never claim to know anything until he experienced it for himself.

Dave returned and said to Bear Heart, “Okay, you can let go now. I want you to learn to be like that tree. If that tree could only talk, it would tell us many things. When you’re learning something, don’t be yakking away. Learn to listen. Listen to the wind. If you’re walking along and a covey of birds suddenly flies up in the air, stop. Something disturbed them. What was that something? Another animal, another human being?”

Dave and Bear Heart spent many hours that night focusing on the importance of learning to observe.

Bear Heart then explains how important it is to not get emotionally involved in any situation. He says that one will be of greater help to others if one is strong enough to lift the spirits of others up without allowing emotions to get in the way. He describes this as empathy, where you place your mind only in the person’s situation while you stand in a safe place and try to bring the person to that safe place as well.

He said “One of the most difficult parts of my training was learning to observe without judgment and without getting emotionally involved-but that’s the way you can better dispense your own power in ways that can truly help people.”

He gives a suggestion to go to the Creator if you are in a children’s hospital: “If at all possible, touch this child with your healing hands, and if it is within your will, please let this child be free from pain and begin to smile and enjoy life.”

“You can be of more use to that child by just observing what he really needs and tenderly trying to give him courage and lessen some of the fears and pain the child is feeling.”

Some days after the tree lesson Dave had Bear Heart take an entire day from sunup to sundown just observing. He would sit motionless and only slowly move his eye from side to side. The point was to not anything escape his awareness, to master the difference between looking and seeing.

This awareness can also be applied in cities where it may be more important to stay alert. Bear Heart advises that “Being aware of everything going on around you can save your life.”

“If you don’t think observation is all that hard, try to sit still for twenty minutes. If your nose itches, don’t scratch it. If your leg cramps, don’t stretch it. These are some of the things you have to contend with in observation. It’s a far-reaching training that allows you to take in a whole situation in seconds.”

He used his observation skills in winning many Fancy Dancing contests. He would sense the music and win over dancers who had been dancing much longer than him. In 1938 he won the National Fancy War Dancing Championship of the World and performed at Madison Square Garden. Fancy Dancing is a form of entertainment as opposed to ceremonial dancing which was inappropriate for public display.

He joined the army after college, did not feel good about teaching hand-to-hand combat and applied for Intelligence. After many tests it came down to five men. He describes his interview with the general. He was next to last of the five to be interviewed.

“Tell me how many pieces of furniture in the outer office.” Bear Heart told him right away.

“Where was the desk?” He told him.

“Anything on the desk besides paperwork?” He answered that there were some dried-up dandelions in the pot on the right hand corner.

“Was there anything on the walls?” He answered there were two pictures, one of Washington and that it needed to be straightened.

“Okay, next.”

The test was what they observed in the outer office and Bear Heart was the only one of the five to be chosen.

He credits the teaching received by sitting with his arms and legs wrapped around a tree, taught by a man who he believed never went beyond the seventh grade in school.

Dave told him, “It’s one thing to live a long time, it’s another thing to learn something in that space of time. You’ve been given the gift of life – don’t just become an old man, learn something.”

Bear Heart describes a meeting he had with a vice-president of a major corporation while he was a fundraiser for Bacone College in Oklahoma. After waiting for quite a while outside the man’s office his secretary told him, “Mr. Sach will see you now. You have eight minutes.”

Staying focused on using his insight to stay aware that Mr. Sach may seem important but was still a human being, he entered. Mr. Sach had a check ready, said “I suppose this is what you want”, and threw the check at Bear Heart.

Bear Heart looked straight at him and said,”Mr. Sach, I know you are a busy man and have many things to do. I appreciate the time you’ve taken even to ask me to come in. I don’t want to take up any more of your time, so before I leave I’ll return this check to you.”


Without raising his voice, as Dan had taught him, he said “When you tossed that check at me, you placed me in the position of a beggar. But I’m representing a cause, and I believe in that cause very much. I don’t want to put the institution in the same position that you placed me in. So I’ll return it, but you have my thanks anyway.”

“Well, where is the school?”

Instead of eight minutes he was there for quite a while, received a check for $2,500 instead of $25, all because he looked the man in the eye and never raised his voice.

Bear Heart explained how the environment was the starting point in learning as much as possible from what was around them; the seasons, the plants, the animals, the birds and all life forms. He shared that then the long process would begin where they would learn about that which was within themselves.

He talked about an old man he called Methuselah he met in childhood who could make predictions from the stars and moon. Bear Heart was twelve and went over to the old man’s house, finding him looking at the night sky. He asked the old man what he was looking at.

“See those stripes up there?” Bear Heart lied and said yes. He looked harder and did see the stripes. The old man told him, “By the time you get of age, you’re going to be wearing the uniform of our country because there’s going to be a great war.”

Bear Heart forgot about it until years later in a cold foxhole he realized it came true. He said people like Methuselah didn’t call themselves great psychics but simply sensitive to the things around them, without any fancy labels.

He described how elders would take young people into the woods blindfolded and have them sit by a certain tree. “You stay here blindfolded until we come after you. Be with this tree, touch it, hug it, lean against it, stand by it.” After twelve hours or more they would bring the young people back to camp, take their blindfolds off, and tell them to “find your tree.”

They would touch a lot of trees and find the ones they spent time with. Those with highly developed intuition would go directly to their tree. Bear Heart calls this type of experience learning to connect. He said that trees can give us energy as they are emitting it all the time. He and his people have a great respect for trees, consider them relatives and call them “tall standing brothers.”

Bear Heart came to that day, after fourteen years, when he was through with his training. Dan said to him, “Chebon (son), I have tried my very best to recall all that I have learned in life and share it with you. It is time to go on your own now.”

Bear Heart would meet people who would ask him for help and he would direct them to Dan or Dave. Dan and Dave told him, “You should be using those chants and songs we gave you. That way, if you have any questions while we’re still around, you can come to us and we can talk it over. So it’s alright if people come to you and ask for help. Go ahead and help them.”

He did not advertise because that is not how it works. People can sense something special about one who carries medicine and know when to ask for help.

Bear Heart recounts his last conversation with Daniel Beaver. Daniel sat with his eyes closed for long time and said “Son, I’m very happy that I’m going to walk again.”  Bear Heart didn’t know what he meant. He would come back and tell Daniel about his experiences and his success in treating people with what Daniel taught him.

Daniel died a few weeks later and Bear Heart never got the chance to tell him.

A short time after Daniel’s death Bear Heart agreed to help someone, was fixing medicine after midnight as some of the songs had to be performed at certain times of the day. He sang a very long song as the illness was severe, after each stanza blowing four times with a blowpipe into the bucket of water and herbs.

He then heard Daniel behind him as Daniel had a unique way of clearing his throat. Bear Heart came to realize that Daniel was walking again. “Every time I take that medicine out and use it, he is walking again because that medicine, helping people, was his whole life.”

“And in turn, now I can sit on the side and watch the fruits of my labor, what I have invested in those I have taught. They’re carrying on now while I’m still living here and can be a recipient of the love and prayers that they make for me. Those are some of the things that give me encouragement to keep going on regardless of how tired I may get or the obstacles I may face.”

Continued in Part 6…