Seven Arrows

Harley Swiftdeer ReaganIn 1984 I had the privilege to attend a class given by Harley Swiftdeer Reagan.

Swiftdeer, as many people called him, was an extraordinary man. He was a Native American Elder, an accomplished martial artist and totally committed to helping raise consciousness in the world.

There was so much he offered in this weekend class. One of the ones that had the most impact on me was the idea of the Seven Arrows.

The Seven Arrows is a metaphor for our tendency to blame anyone or anything outside ourselves for our problems. In other words, for when we don’t take responsibility for our actions.

The metaphor goes like this:

Each of us carries a quiver of arrows on our back. These arrows have names like anger, sadness, blame, etc.

When something happens to us, our lower-level reaction is to metaphorically pull out one of these arrows and send it flying at whatever it is outside of ourselves that we want to pretend is the cause of the problem. “That S.O.B. – he’s the one who caused this!”

But as we become more conscious, we start to notice we’re doing this. At some point, before we let fly the arrow, we stop. “Oh, wait, this is mine.” The arrow goes back in the quiver without us blaming someone else.

Swiftdeer told the story that he was struggling with the fact that he kept finding himself pulling out arrows before he stopped the process. He went to one of his Elders and asked him about this.

“Grandfather, do you ever get to the point where you don’t pull out the arrow?”

“Oh, sure,” said the Elder, “You get to that place.” He paused, and then said, “But you don’t get to the place where you don’t reach.”

That lesson never left me. And it came in handy in many situations as time went on…

All the best for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

Liked this post? Share it!