I used to visit this larger than life painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and with my high school French could read the tiny scrawl in the upper left corner:
D’ou Venons Nous
Que Sommes Nous
Où Allons Nous
I feel a lot of resonance now for Gaugin, who at a time of great personal crisis was compelled to travel from his home country, to faraway exotic lands to ask these questions. He was on a quest for some indigenous knowledge that could provide answers to the big questions.
Nowadays I keep meeting more people who are also tracing this thread. But instead of traveling afar, are looking for the indigenous roots in their own genealogical lines, before the conquests and migrations, before the original wisdom was covered over.
They are finding the “universal indigenous” that still lives in them, and that knows how to live in right relationship with the Earth and find the right medicine for these times.