Mitakuye Oyasin is a Lakota phrase that reflects the belief that all life is interconnected. Often translated as “all our relations,” I usually encounter this phrase at the beginning or end of a Lakota prayer, or other prayers written by those who embrace this foundational concept of our relationship with all beings. Discoveries in science have led us to understand that we are all connected by the star dust of creation. “We are all related” can be an awe-inspiring concept to embrace. It can also call us to a greater sense of responsibility, connection, or engagement.
The philosophy in this phrase, Mitayuke Oyasin, goes beyond human relations to our relationships with all beings — from mammals to reptiles, whales to spiders, as well as to the ecosystems that sustain life near us and far away. We are part of a vast interconnected system … what happens in Las Vegas doesn’t really stay in Las Vegas!
Mitayuke Oyasin can also be translated as “all my relatives.” As we enter into the winter holidays, the complexity of our human relationships can become magnified. There will be joyful gatherings with family or friends, and gatherings that make us miserable. Some will gather with dear friends … their chosen family. There may be an empty chair where a beloved once sat who has now transitioned beyond this earth walk. It is a good time to be especially gentle with ourselves and with one another and move through the holidays with a full and compassionate heart.
What does Mitayuke Oyasin, “all our relations,” mean to you? Do you have a sense of connection with all the beings of the earth? If you did, how would it effect your thoughts, behaviors, and choices? Could those challenging family gatherings be less so to keep in mind that we all come from star dust?