The authors of The Dreaming Path1 – Paul Callaghan and Uncle Paul Gordon – offer life changing insights and practices that ‘have been passed on for over 1800 generations.’ Paul Callaghan and Uncle Paul Gordon are First Nations men from the country now known as Australia.
The two of them braid together three strands of knowledge and wisdom that, combined, form a coherent and pragmatic whole.
Paul Callaghan draws on his experience of living through a mental breakdown, which he now acknowledges as a breakthrough. As you read his thoughts and the many exercises he offers, breakthrough is an highly apt description.
Paul also draws on his experience with the mental health system of modern-day Australia. He notes the helpful and healthy aspects of that system that enabled him to breakthrough.
Third, and most significantly (certainly the point of difference from other similar books,) Uncle Paul Gordon shares stories and myths that have been passed down over 60,000+ years of continuous cultural expression and development. Each story he writes has gems of wisdom and practical advice; all told with an intimate connection with land, sky, animals, fish, and birds of this world. We read, for example, of how Crow and Magpie got their black feathers. This story teaches us the need for respect and for listening to ancient wisdom of what the land has to teach.
The concept of Lore (not to be confused with Law) is well known within most indigenous cultures, and Uncle Paul refers to it when he writes,
‘If we don’t look and listen to the land, we create imbalance… we create disharmony. If we don’t look and listen to each other, we create imbalance… we create disharmony. If we don’t look and listen to ourselves, we create imbalance… we create disharmony.’
This happens, he writes, when Lore is forgotten. He finishes by announcing that, ‘There is no time like the present to restore it.’
This book offers simple, no-nonsense, practical wisdom. It is highly readable. The many exercises offered within it are easily undertaken. The combined wisdom of Paul Callaghan, Uncle Paul Gordon, and 1800 generations is offered graciously and honestly.
If you want to change your life for the better, read this book.
If you want to create harmony in your life and those around you, read this book.
If you want to understand 60,000 years of Aboriginal culture, read this book.
Towards the end of the book Paul Callaghan declares that the journey is more important than the destination. Then, anticipating that some may mock this as New Age gobbledegook, he succinctly states, ‘Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of how cheesy it may sound.’
This is a book of wisdom and practical advice. It is a simple book; therein is its appeal and its great achievement.
Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of how simply it may be written.
1. Paul Callaghan with Uncle Paul Gordon, The Dreaming Path: Indigenous Thinking to Change Your Life, Pantera Press, Neutral Bay, NSW, Australia, 2022.