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Spirituality

The Navajo Concept of Hozho: Living in Harmony

Jaine Toth | May 26, 2017

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Jaine Toth | May 26, 2017

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

What does it mean to live in harmony? What does that look like? What does it feel like inside?

When I consider the idea of living in harmony, I think immediately of the Navajo concept of hozho:

A complex Navajo philosophical, religious, and aesthetic roughly translated to “beauty.” Hozho also means seeking and incorporating aesthetic qualities into life, it means inner life and harmony, and it means making the most of all that surrounds us. It refers to a positive, beautiful, harmonious, happy environment that must be constantly created by thought and deed. Hozho encourages us to go in beauty and to enjoy the gifts of life and nature and health. – Wayne Peate, M.D., Listening with Your Heart: Lessons from Native America

Sometimes we become angry and frustrated by outside forces. When we aren’t in harmony it is easy to blame our family, our boss or co-workers, our neighbors, our government leaders. But harmony and balance can be created even in the face of difficulties when we learn to love and trust God and, in turn, ourselves. As Peate wrote, hozho “must be constantly created by thought and deed.”

So if things aren’t going so well, and we begin to feel agitated, one of the first things to do is to slowly take a few deep breaths until you become still. Then ask God for guidance. If we can’t change the situation, ask him to help us through it.

Navajo Hozho Turtle Basket

Navajo Hozho Turtle Basket

I recall the story a woman told of traveling through a very poor country. She and her companion were dismayed by the lack of hygiene and how dirty the homes were in which they were hosted. They kept praying for the next place to be an improvement, but instead each was the same or worse. Finally they stopped to consider that they needed to ask instead for help to get through the trip with a better attitude. They changed their prayers and sought instead to become blind to the conditions. Almost  immediately they became calm, accepting, and the love and the generosity of the people were all they saw and felt. They became oblivious to the physical environment.

Through prayer and in deed, the deed being the friendship and kinship they developed with others, the respect and honor they gave them, these ladies developed an inner harmony which resulted in harmonious relations with others—and instructed their way of life from that point on.

Without inner harmony, we can’t have harmonious relations with others. In order to live in harmony with others, we must see them all as our equals. We need to realize God doesn’t play favorites. He created us all and He loves His creation. Thomas Aquinas said it so well, “How can we live in harmony? First we need to know we are all madly in love with the same God. “

From that point we can begin to appreciate our differences rather than see them as obstacles. That appreciation will dictate how we behave towards one another. Abdu’l-Baha wrote:

According to the direct and sacred command of God we are forbidden to utter slander, are commanded to show forth peace and amity, are exhorted to rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and harmony with all the kindreds and peoples of the world. – Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament, p. 7.

Brooke Medicine Eagle wrote about what it means to be Indian. I believe it is what it means to be human, whether we are Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Latino, Jewish, Irish, Italian, etc. She said:

Being Indian is an attitude, a state of mind, a way of being in harmony with all things and all beings. It is allowing the heart to be the distributor of energy on this planet; to allow feelings and sensitivities to determine where energy goes; bringing aliveness up from the Earth and from the Sky, putting it in and giving it out from the heart. – Brooke Medicine Eagle, legendsofamerica.com

If we would supplicate the Lord daily with this excerpt from a prayer by Abdu’l-Baha, it could help us learn to live in “hozho:”

O Lord! Grant Thine infinite bestowals, and let the light of Thy guidance shine. Illumine the eyes, gladden the hearts with abiding joy. Confer a new spirit upon all people and bestow upon them eternal life. Unlock the gates of true understanding and let the light of faith shine resplendent. Gather all people beneath the shadow of Thy bounty and cause them to unite in harmony, so that they may become as the rays of one sun, as the waves of one ocean, and as the fruit of one tree. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 101.

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Comments

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  • May 28, 2017
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    I lived on the Navajo reservation and so loved living with these beautiful people. Your article brings back so many memories of the time I spent there back in the early 70's. Thank you❤️
  • Mark David Vinzens
    May 27, 2017
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    We are always and already the waves of one ocean and the rays of one sun. The only problem is: the ego cannot believe it. Believing is seeing. As we shall see, duality is only a belief and the universe in reality one living, breathing organism.
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