the karma of a pure act

This is a story of the effect of karma related to a pure act, (an act done without attachment or any  hidden agenda), done by me.  As part of a background to this story, I want to explain an affinity I have with American Indians.  It started when I was about seven.  I was at a movie theater with my father watching a movie about Jim Thorpe, a great American Indian athlete, in track and field, football, and baseball;   the movie starred Burt Lancaster, as Jim Thorpe.  In the opening scene  a young Jim Thorpe, about seven, was running, full tilt across a wide field, jumping over creeks and hurdling log fences.  Seeing that young boy running so joyfully and in complete freedom immediately attached me to the boy, his enjoyment and freedom, and his Indianess.   This attachment has had an enduring affect on me.  I grew up on the South Side of Chicago where there was few open fields to run in, creeks to jump, or log fences to hurdle.  However, I knew joy and freedom, when my friend Tim Brennin and I raced every block on our way to school.  We had equal speed, and the winner of the race would always be the one who would start the race with the words ” ready-set-go.”  As for jumping and hurdling, the closest I came was climbing to the roof of a garage and jumping off, and a one arm flip over a neighbors’ fence, or a two arm flip over a mail box.  When watching Cowboy or Cavalry and Indians Movies, I always empathise with the Indians: their horse-men-ship, their nobility, and their fearlessness; even though my greatest hero was a cowboy named, Roy Rogers.

As I got older my affinity grew stronger by reading books like, “Black Elk Speaks,” “The Memoirs of Chief Red Fox,” “The Education of Little Tree,” “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” and many others.  My empathy also gained strength, when I move to Minnesota in 1970, and became interested in the history, culture, and spiritual practices of the local Indian tribes: the Dakota, Lakota, Mdewakanton, Ogalala.

It was my step-son Albert who brought me into the Mdewakanton community of Shakopee.  Albert did work for some of the Indian families on the reservation, and over a period of years he became a trusted worker on the reservation.  I was having chronic pain  in my right hip-joint.  I asked Albert if he would ask his friends on the reservation if they knew anyone who could perform a healing ritual.  My alterative to a healing ritual was having total hip replacement surgery, so I was highly motivated to participate in the less invasive healing ritual.  Albert found an Indian named Jerry, who was the pastor of an Indian/Christian Church on the reservation, and gave me his phone number.   I phoned Jerry, and set up an appointment.

Jerry did not live on the reservation, but in a house in Shakapee, Mn.  On my way to his house I happened to see a Bald Eagle flying west in the same direction I was traveling.  This I took as a favorable and reinforcing sign.  At the door, Jerry and his wife meet me and welcomed me in.  Jerry showed me to a lounge chair, and before I sat down he put a colorful, blanket with Indian symbols around my shoulders, then I sat down in the chair.  He asked me what it was that needed healing.  I told him it was my right hip.  He walked around me saying prayers in an Indian language.  I believe he was invoking the powers of the North, East, South, and West plus the Great Spirit in my healing.  Then he began to fire up a bundle of sage, and smoked me with the sage from head to foot and side to side, while saying prayers.  The healing ritual had now been completed. We then spend time talking about our individual lives in relation to our spiritual paths.

I had four additional healing session with Jerry.  I must say that I was feeling better, and my pain was more bearable.  On my last session, I had brought a gift for Jerry.  It had been a print that was given to me by my daughter for my birthday. It was mounted on a wood board, that was trimmed with a dull red paint.   It was created by an American Indian named, Nakoma, and was called, “The Circle is My Path.”  It was written in verse, and was a blend of poetry and prose, with drawings of Native Indians and the animals found in North America.  It is a kind of autobiography, and spiritual evolution of Nakoma.  Here is a taste, one verse of its poetry and prose: “We are all on the rim of the world and at its center at the same time.  We are attached to the ripples that emanate from the center- life is so.  We ride the waves – the wind turns us.  We flow as the prairie flows, and we are bound to the sacred land- walking our path in a sacred manner.”  I loved that print.  It had brought me great joy, insight and understanding.  Truthfully, I struggled intensely with myself  to give it up, but in the end I was able to release all attachments to it, and give it to Jerry with a pure heart of gratitude.

Two years after I had my last healing session with Jerry, I attended, along with my wife and step-son Albert, a Pow Wow, on the Mystic Lake Cassino complex.  It was a North American gathering of Indian, dancers.  The dancers would compete for prizes  There were also tents where food was sold, and various arts and crafts were displayed and for sale.  As we were looking at the various arts and crafts displayed in the tents,  I found a tent with, not only arts and crafts, but also historical artifacts and portraits of old chiefs.  One of my deep affinities was with an Ogalala, Indian named Crazy Horse.  I have a strong desire to draw Crazy Horse, but could not find a portrait of him in any of my references.  I thought this might be a good place to ask about a portrait of Crazy Horse.

My eyes set on a short, middle-aged man, black hair in a ponytail. and a thin black mustache, who I assumed was the owner.  I moved to where the man was standing and asked if he had a portrait of Crazy Horse.  He said, “Yes,” and I followed him to a corner of the tent, and he pointed to a sketch.   “Is that Crazy Horse?” I asked dubiously, and he said,”Yes, I drew him.”   I asked, “What did you use as a  model?”  He replied, “My imagination.”

I told the owner that I got to know something of Crazy Horse by reading “Black Elk Speaks,” and  the”Memories of Chief Red Fox.”  The owner walked me back to the center of the tent and picked up the book he was currently reading and handed it to me.  It was about Custer’s last stand.  I don’t remember the title.   As I handed the book back to the owner I caught sight of the print, “The Circle is My Path.”  I told the owner that I had had this print and how much I enjoyed it.  He told me that when he created it there was confusion about which direction the verses should be read; he said “That the verses should be read left to right, and not down and up.”  Surprised and excited I said, “Your Nakoma!”  He said “Yes.”  I immediately pushed out my right hand and shook his hand vigorously.  I really wanted to give him a huge.  I told Nakoma the story of my healing sessions with Jerry, and how I gave Jerry my beloved print of “The Circle is My Path.”  Unknown to me at the time, Albert, after hearing my story of giving my copy of the print to Jerry,  had purchased a copy of the print, and Katie, Nakoma’s wife handed me the print.

There in that magical moment, all seeming incidental points were allowed to connect, and I stood with the return of my print, and Nakoma, the creator of the print.  This was the magnifying effect of  the eternal law of karma, initiated by my pure act of gratitude.

If there is any reader that would be interested in purchasing a copy of “The Circle is My Path,” you can contact Nakoma at,

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3 Responses to the karma of a pure act

  1. Nikki Di Virgilio says:

    I’m so glad you shared this story. It is poetically told. I did not realize Albert bought it for you. What a kind gesture.

  2. Eva Vigo says:

    I really enjoyed reading your story tonight. I just finished typing up “The Circle is My Path” from the large poster print I was so generously given by my dear friend Cynthia. She had it for years and it sports many a thumb tack hole at it’s corners and center edges from a multitude of moves and places it has been displayed. She was in the process of downsizing and thought of me straight away when she came across the print as I have been finding the Native Way to be a true path for me.
    My sister was visiting recently and stood in the foyer where I have it mounted (with thumb tacs I might add) and read it word for word. She was taken with it as much as I am and I promised to type it up for her.
    I had searched Nakoma before, when I first received it, noticing that it was actually signed by Nakoma (Cynthia missed that!) and decided to do so again tonight, wanting more information on the man Nakoma. Again my search ended up a bit spotty, but I do know more than before and of course stumbled upon your story, which is beautiful by the way.
    Now here’s a bit of a kicker and what added a little more than a nudge to respond to your posted story. I am in need of a hip replacement, albeit left, but still. I had to stop and reread that section of your story, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. What are the chances? Of course, what your story doesn’t exactly imply on the one hand, but does so on the other, is that you didn’t end up having a THR. Deep down inside that is what I am holding out for, a miracle. The very week I found out I needed a THR I also found out I have metal allergies. It will be two years this coming February since this all came to light for me and it has been one roadblock after another. Quite truthfully, after much research, I am terrified my body will reject the implant and then that will be “all she wrote” as they say. As my search for the best type of implant and surgeon drags on so does my continued physical decline. So, there you have it. Coincidence or God’s cover getting blown :).

    Miigwetch for your story and website. I look forward to reading more of what you are so moved to share!

    • Eva,

      Thanks for your comments on “The karma of a pure act.” To clarify, I did have a THR, only after trying alternative healing methods. My final descion came after about three and a half years of dealing with the pain and disconmfort. In that peroid of time my physical troubles compounded; just like what you described. I lost twenty ponds, and was diagnosed with diabetes. I am, so fare, happy with the results of my surgery. Any surgery is serious; ask around find a compatent surgern, ask questions, especially about your possible metale allergy.
      If you have any questions please contact by e-mail, at

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