Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Excerpts from the book flow by mihaly csikszentmihalyi

Describing the Indian tribes of British Columbia: 

The Shushwap region was and is considered by the Indian people to be a rich place: rich in salmon and game, rich in below-ground food resources such as tubers and roots - a plentiful land. In this region, the people would live in permanent village sites and exploit the environs for needed resources. They had elaborate technologies for very effectively using the resources of the environment, and perceived their lives as being good and rich. Yet, the elders said, at times the world became too predictable and the challenge began to go out of life. Without challenge, life had no meaning. 
So the elders, in their wisdom, would decide that the entire village should move, those moves occurring every 25 to 30 years. The entire population would move to a different part of the Shushwap land and there, they found challenge. There were new streams to figure out, new game trails to learn, new areas where the balsamroot would be plentiful. Now life would regain its meaning and be worth living. Everyone would feel rejuvenated and healthy. Incidentally, it also allowed exploited resources in one area to recover after years of harvesting...

Well, I was thrilled reading this piece in the book flow. We always think about culture which has a major role to play in our lives to lead it meaningfully. It is so good to see the culture giving such an enrichment to the lives of the people. For them, without challenge, life has no meaning. And taking challenges often keeps us happy in whatever we do. 

Similarly there are so many cultures to quote; and the one I had experienced was the culture of the Tribes (called Soligas) of Chamarajanagar district. They plant a tree for every occasion; irrespective of whether it is good or bad. Their culture gives a complete meaning to what they contribute to the place they live in and they respect it. By doing so, they would reach the optimal experience in their lives. 

Such cultures have attained a good fit between the psychological needs of their people and the options available for their lives.


1 comment:

Narasim said...

Arnold Toynbee in his monumental analysis of 22 civilizations makes the same point.

Challenge and Response gives meaning to life, both at an individual level and at the civilizational level.

If the challenge is overwhelming and the response inadequate civilizations and cultures decline.
A good example is the decline and fall of the great Harappan Civilization State, c. 1800 BCE.

What is true for civilizations and cultures is true for groups and individuals. The two paragraphs that you have cited from the Schuswap Nation in British Columbia, Canada, shows the wisdom of elders in that group.