Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #38 – A Commentary on the Lakota Code of Ethics

September 23rd, 2019

True religion is not just a faith born at particular time within history that is confined to a geographical location and a culture. Rather it is the eternal nature of the soul within everyone to love God and the responsible choices in life that move us closer to such an awakening. We may have full trust in the authenticity of our faith and the depth of its presentation. I certainly do in mine. That’s fine, but to deny any manifestation of the same truths just because it is dressed in another culture is sectarian.


Recently Madhavananda dasa shared with me the Lakota Code of Ethics. Evidently, he saw some depth in it. I did also. The Code expertly encapsulates basic principles of behavior. More than the clarity and force of its presentation, what struck me is how it demonstrates the universality of truth. We say truth is veda, which means knowledge, but we don’t limit the manifestation of that truth to just within a book, no matter how comprehensive the presentation. Truth is embodied. It exists eternally and independently of human creation. The book just encapsulates it to communicate it appropriately according to the audience. Throughout the ages, and even occasionally in modernity, great thinkers have seen and realized aspects of that truth and have communicated it according to the language and capacity of the people of their time.


I often get feedback from my readers who appreciate that Monday Morning Greetings is sufficient in length to give substance, but not so long that working people won’t have time to read and digest it. That poses a problem here. After looking at the Lakota Code, I could write an article on each one listed. Therefore, I will just briefly comment on the first code and then just list the rest. The main thrust of this entry, therefore, is to use the Lakota Code to show the universality of truth. Before we begin, a definition is required of universal truth in the broadest terms (my own):


We are part of something greater than ourselves that we are meant to serve. If we want to be happy or satisfied our behavior should direct us towards that goal by developing selflessness and discouraging egoism.



Lakota Code of Ethics


  1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.




Rise with the sun to pray: According to Vedic calculations, the twenty-four hour day is better divided into thirty muhūrtās, or forty-eight minute periods that reflect the different effects that different parts of the day have on consciousness. The early morning around sunrise, especially the brahma-muhūrtā, the forty-eight minutes before sunrise, have by far the greatest impact on the mind for peace and concentration. Serious spiritual practitioners take avail of those hours to deepen their spiritual life.


Pray alone: For meditation we need a time and place reserved exclusively for Krishna where we sit alone separated from all of life’s other responsibility. That place is called our asana, literally a place to sit for exclusive concentration. When the mind does become focused, asana becomes upāsanā, which literally means “to sit near (upa)”. This conventionally implies worshiping, or serving, as one has to be present near the object of worship to do so, not just physically, but in the mind. Without that type of regulation where our worship can be exclusive, our mind will be divided between the object of worship and our responsibilities and attachments. Yoga or meditation will not take place.


Pray Often: To get true realization our thoughts need not only be concentrated and without interruption, but they have to be prolonged. “Practice becomes firmly established when it has been cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion over a prolonged period of time.” (Yoga Sūtras 1.14)


The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak: “To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” (Bg. 10.10)


  1. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy — and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.


  1. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.[1]


  1. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.


  1. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.


  1. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth — whether it be people or plant.


  1. Honor other people’s thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.


  1. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.


  1. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.


  1. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.


  1. Nature is not for us; it is a part of us. They are part of your worldly family.


  1. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life’s lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.


  1. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.


  1. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.


  1. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self — all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.


  1. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.


  1. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others — especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.


  1. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.


  1. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.


  1. Share your good fortune with others.



[1] One of the main principles on the bhakti path is to follow in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. This would be the truth of this principle in the bhakti tradition: “When flying an airplane, one cannot take care of other planes. Everyone has to take care of his own plane, and if there is any danger, no other plane can help another in that condition. Similarly, at the end of life, when one has to go back home, back to Godhead, everyone has to take care of himself without help rendered by another. The help is, however, offered on the ground before flying in space. Similarly, the spiritual master, the father, the mother, the relatives, the husband and others can all render help during one’s lifetime, but while crossing the sea one has to take care of himself and utilize the instructions formerly received.” (Bhāg. 1.15.50, Purport)


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