The iconic rock named Uluru sits in the middle of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park on Katiti Aboriginal Land, smack dab in the middle of Australia. From a physical perspective, Uluru is a mammoth singular rock taking hold of the eye from miles off and commanding respect. The rock was breathtaking but also quite oppressive in its sheer nature.
Not far away, in the same national park, sits Kata Tjuta (meaning many heads) which gently pulls the viewer to its many domed shaped mounds. Kata Tjuta in it's communal nature felt welcoming, serene and allowed for a time of contemplation.
From a spiritual perspective Uluru is a most sacred space for the traditional aboriginal people. It is a sacred place of ceremony likened to the Pagodas in Bagan, Myanmar, the Great Temple of Yandi Shennong in China, the Mahabodhi Tree in India, Nuestra Señora de Luján in Argentina,Mount Parnassus in Greece, Sergiev Posad in Russia, Ka’ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Vatican in Rome, Mount Sinai in Egypt, the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City Utah, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming and so many other sacred sites around the world. It is a place where “Tjukurpa” law for the Anangu people, is taught. And so, while there we took the time to learn what was offered to us about their sacred law.
On a side note: there is an on-going conversation/ argument about who's and what law should be practiced in this land. More specifically, should Australian law or should the Tjukurpa be the dominate law. Although I believe this is a valid and important conversation, that is not what this blog will focus on. This piece will however address law but from a viewpoint of the spiritual condition that law brings about regardless of the culture.
While visiting Uluru we followed the directions of the signs posted. We did not take photos in areas where we were asked not to and respected the wishes of the elders to stay off of the rock and kept to the walking tracks provided. Our understanding of the culture and place was limited to the information written on teaching plaques and videos and had I someone with local knowledge, I would have probably asked more questions. None the less, this is what I gleaned.
In the visitors center three stories of Tjukurpa (law) were shared. The first was about two ancestral beings – Kuniya, the woma Python, and Liru, the poisonous snake. In this story Liru kills Kuniya’s nephew. Kuniya enraged kills Liru with a blow to the head. This hit to the head, draws blood, and continues to be practiced during the “sorry business,” which is a part of their mourning ritual. The presence of these two ancestral beings – Kuniya, the woma Python, and Liru, the poisonous snake is believed to still be around the Mutitjulu waterhole and can be seen in the markings on the rock.
The second story shared was of Lungkata, the greedy and dishonest blue tonged lizard. In this story the lizard steals a meal from two pananpalala’s and when caught is put to death by fire. His story teaches the Anangu people what happens to the greedy and dishonest.
The third story was of the Mala, rufous hare wallabies, who came to Uluru from the north and west. They had come for an important men’s ceremony at Uluru. While in ceremony, their women and children gathered and prepared food in a cave at Taputiju (and can be seen on the northeast side of Uluru). During the ceremony the men received an invitation from the Wintalyka men, the Mulga seed men from the west, but because their ceremony had already begun they declined the Wintalyka men. This enraged the Wintalyka men and they conjured an evil monster called Kurpany to wreak havoc on the Mala men.
No one seemed to notice as the monster approached, except for Luunpa, the kingfisher woman who lives at the Ininti waterhole. She screamed out a warning and the women ran to the meeting place called Malawati. The ceremony ceased but many Mala men were devoured by the monster. The rest fled hundreds of kilometers to the south with the monster following behind. It is believed that Luunpa still keeps watch over that place.
Kuniya, Lira, Kurpany & Mala are ancestral beings who help form the basis of traditional law and customs for the Anangu today. They connect Anangu with county in all directions around Uluru. These stories along with many others that are not accessible to non-aboriginals are their families inheritance. They guide Anangu culture in all facets of life, organizing male and female roles in the community, child, adult roles and in the purest form, uncontested, Tjukurpa law should result in order throughout daily life.
As I contemplated the stories at the visitors center and walked around the rock noting the places of ceremony and ritual I noticed a similarly to the many stories I’ve read in ancient texts and stories from other oral cultures that we’ve had the privilege of learning about. The Anangu stories confirmed the age-old story of humankind with themes of murder, revenge, deceit, offense, and curses and was just one more confirmation to me that we are all made of the same mud. Every person, through the sands of time, has had to fight these demons within and the human solution has always been law.
This is what I know about law. Every religion, culture, people group or family has its own code or law to live by which defines the reality of those who live by that law. My father says, “those who define the process, control the process.” And so, some of us have been living by the same code for a very long time and some of us have had revisions over the centuries depending on the powers that have taken hold of the process.
Law teaches us how to navigate through the depravity, how to manage our circumstances, how to bring order but law does not bring harmony nor peace and law does not liberate or redeem the heart from the darkness of death. Law requires a hierarchy where some rule and some are ruled. As a result, the spirits of shame and condemnation run a muck, keeping many in their proper place. All the while, the self-righteous heart grows darker and the divide between creator and creation grows wider and wider.
As I walked around the rock, as much as I appreciated the opportunity to learn about Tjukurpa, the oppression of law in general laid heavy on my heart. I felt a deep longing well up within my soul, a longing to hear the stories of faith, hope and redemption and silently I cried out “Abba have mercy. Liberate us all from law and reconcile us to one another. Show us your grace, show us your glory.”
Abba heard my prayer and as the wind gently blew on my face, he answered, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Me, and I the Word. Through Me all things were made; without Me nothing was made that has been made. In Me is life, and that life is the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone has come into the world. I was in the world, and though the world was made through Me, the world did not recognize Me. I came to that which was My own, but My own did not receive Me. Yet to all who did receive Me, to those who believed in My name, Yeshua, I give the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of Me.” (john1)
My heart was overwhelmed as I reflected on Yeshua, The Word, there in the beginning, all things made through him, made flesh, dwelling among us. We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.
For many of us, the law was prescribed through Moses, for others through Mohammad, Buddha, Darwin, the Dali Lama, the Pope, Plato, Desmond Tutu, Confucius, the Emperor of China, the Government, the Illuminati, the Shamans and Oracles of oral cultures, or whomever else has taken the position of telling the stories of culture and tradition; but grace and truth, this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
I believe it’s good to have a healthy respect for law, to understand our histories, every tongue, tribe and nation, to learn the law so that there might be some sense of order. I believe it’s important for us to learn about and respect other religions, cultures and family laws for the more we understand each other, the more it reduces uncertainty and it helps us to communicate more effectively. However, it is also good to remember that law is limited and can be corrupted by the depravity of those defining and managing it. Thus I believe that law can not have the final say. For it is only through the mystery of grace, that Yeshua offers, that we find our way back to Creator, Abba, God and the result of that is we find true freedom.
Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” It is through Jesus that we find our way to peace and harmony. It is through Jesus that the truth liberates us from law and it is through Jesus that death is overcome and life eternal is found.
How that plays out practically in day-to-day life for me is Jesus becomes The Voice that defines my reality. Jesus prescribes and fulfills the law. And we, who are the God-begotten, are bound by this law that first and foremost says “love Abba with all your heart and love others as yourself.” The love mentioned here is not some romantic notion or a teaching of tolerance. No, it is a supernatural unconditional love that comes when we believe Abba is who he says he is and we believe we are who he says we are as sons and daughters.
Yet, there are many who know but do not believe. They call themselves children of God, they call themselves enlightened, they call themselves the originals but they run around this planet conjuring death and destruction, reckless with their words, betraying and forsaking, hasty in judgement, and closed in their thinking. They are ungrateful and selfish children who have bought into the age-old lie that law is all we need.
I purpose that law is not all we need. Law may sustain us throughout the centuries but law without love is hopeless.
Unconditional Love is the key to redemption and Jesus is the tie that binds all of our hearts in that love. He models this knowing through his teachings, miracles, life, death, resurrection, ascension and promise to return. He is unconditional Love and the source of all life. And, that’s what I’m after.
How about you? What are you after?