The shaman's way...is inexorable
It is my joyful sense that we—humanity—have turned a corner in our collective dreaming. I was running errands in Ojai yesterday and found that feeling reflected in various shopkeepers and cashiers, as well—an almost giddy excitement: We did it!
“We did what?”
“I don’t know really,” they’d shrug. “We turned a corner!”
Yes, we did. We survived 2012—and not only that, we anchored a new awareness, a collective longing-turned-to-commitment, for oneness, for ayni; for healing the Earth and all our relations. Even a scientist friend from the Methow Valley, Washington, shared an excerpt (below) from a talk given perhaps over a decade ago by the now-deceased evolutionary biologist Terence McKenna, calling for a return to the magical ways of the shaman. Here’s a brief quote: “At the centre of that ‘archaic revival’ impulse is the shaman: stoned, intoxicated on plants, speaking with the spirit helpers, dancing in the moonlight, and vivifying and invoking a world of conscious, living mystery. That’s what the world is. The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists. The world is a living mystery: our birth, our death, our being in the moment – these are mysteries. They are doorways opening on to unimaginable vistas of self-exploration, empowerment and hope for the human enterprise.”
One of the things I’ve been most excited about is the changes that have taken place in me, despite, or underneath, my habitual conditioning and even my conscious choices.
For example, I joked to Tomas that when I was supposed to be cutting my attachment to my roles during our journey to the North, I was (consciously, anyway) more like “renewing my vows.” Tomas looked at me somewhat dismayed. That wasn’t the lesson I was supposed to be learning; not the practice I was supposed to be integrating.
But my roles and my attachment to them have changed anyway. (This shamanic thing really works!) I’ve changed, and the old relationships are not what they were. They don’t satisfy in the way that they used to and so the attraction to them is gone. Even my urge to have a cocktail every night has changed…I suggest one to myself and myself says, “I don’t know; I don’t really want one.” I’ll pour myself one anyway, and all I feel is...nothing. Maybe a slightly upset stomach.
Same thing with food. I don’t really want another piece of fudge, thank you. Oh, all right, perhaps just one. Ugh. It doesn’t even taste good.
I finally find myself settling into myself. Last year I went to Peru to have a direct experience of God. I hoped the ayahuasca would enable me to overcome my linear mind, my rational conditioning, my ego, which gets in the way of that direct experience…but the experience I hoped for eluded me. Now I’ve finally reached the point where I understand there’s nowhere to go. Just as the teachers have always said, the place you find God is in the moment; in the present; inside of you. You ARE it. When I stopped chasing after “it” I turned to see…myself. OMG, it’s me! Just like they said! And this world right in front of me—these people and conditions, this right here right now—are my practice. I can reject them, resist them, or honor and bless them—either as co-creators or as teachers. I can honor myself by realizing they don’t have to have any power over me—and thus free myself from them.
As McKenna said in my friend’s excerpt:
“It’s as though the members of the culture are imprisoned in linear time and the shaman is not. And why not? Because the shaman has perturbed the brain states sanctioned by the culture – sanctioned by its educational processes, its habits, its attitudes.” And stepped outside of them.
These days I look at the people in the grocery store, in line at the movie theater, walking on the trail, and think, “How frickin’ AMAZING is it that we are traveling through space on this Earthship together! Who ARE you? Why have we chosen to incarnate simultaneously now? Isn’t this wild?”
Of course I remain a work in progress…but at least there’s progress. We’ve turned a corner, and there’s no going back…because the more we know, the more we want to know…and embody…and manifest.
And so it is.
Happy New Year, fellow Earthship travelers. May we heal the Earth and all our relationships.
And so it is. Here’s the link to the entire transcript: http://www.matrixmasters.net/podcasts/TRANSCRIPTS/TMcK-ImportanceHumanBeings.html
And here’s the excerpt:
“It’s as though the members of the culture are imprisoned in linear time and the shaman is not. And why not? Because the shaman has perturbed the brain states sanctioned by the culture – sanctioned by its educational processes, its habits, its attitudes. And into that vacuum created by the perturbation of these cultural values rushes the raw, unanalyzed datum of reality. This is what Aldous Huxley called removing the reducing valve of consciousness. And suddenly, culture is seen to be a relative phenomenon, the stockbroker no different from the rainforest shaman.
"The human organism, outside the confines of culture, in a direct relationship to nature transcends time and space. This was a fact, I believe, that was known in prehistory and in fact was the source of paleolithic values, which were not material, not linear, not surplus-oriented, not class-oriented, not power-oriented but rather oriented toward a kind of egalitarian partnership in an environment of great material simplicity. And human beings lived like that for probably half a million years – with poetry, with dance, with mathematics, with magic, with story, with humor but not with the paralyzing and toxic artifacts of the late evolving, machine-worshipping, monotheistic, linear, phonetic-alphabet, tight-assed, straight culture that we are a part of.
"And when cultural values created by male dominance and science and linearity and so forth and so on, when those values are dissolved, what is waiting there is this incredibly poignant experience of matrix, what James Joyce called the Mama Matrix Most Mysterious. Nothing more than our bodies and the earth out of which our bodies came. History, as we have lived it in the West, has been a turning of our back on that. And now history has failed. Western cultural institutions, having become global cultural institutions, now show themselves to be inadequate to inspire, lead or carry anyone into a future worth living in. At this moment, then, this reconnecting to the Gaian mind becomes a kind of moral imperative.
"I think we have to abandon Western cultural values and return to the deeper wisdom of the body in connection with the plants. That’s the seamless web that leads us back into the heart of nature. And if we can do this, then this very narrow neck of cultural crisis can be navigated. Very little of the past can be saved. The architectonics, the machines, the systems of monetary exchange and propaganda, the silly religions, the asinine aesthetic canons, very little of that can be saved. But what can be saved is the sense of love and caring and mutuality, that we all put into and take from the human enterprise. You know, there’s a Grateful Dead song that says “You can’t go back and you can’t stand still. If the thunder don’t get you, then the lightning will.”
"The body politic, like any body, when it feels itself to be sick, it begins to produce antibodies, or strategies for overcoming the condition of dis-ease. And the 20th century is an enormous effort at self-healing. Phenomena as diverse as surrealism, body piercing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, jazz, experimental dance, rave culture, tattooing, the list is endless. What do all these things have in common? They represent various styles of rejection of linear values. The society is trying to cure itself by an archaic revival, by a reversion to archaic values. So when I see people manifesting sexual ambiguity, or scarifying themselves, or showing a lot of flesh, or dancing to syncopated music, or getting loaded, or violating ordinary canons of sexual behavior, I applaud all of this; because it’s an impulse to return to what is felt by the body – what is authentic, what is archaic – and when you tease apart these archaic impulses, at the very center of all these impulses is the desire to return to a world of magical empowerment of feeling.
"And at the center of that impulse is the shaman: stoned, intoxicated on plants, speaking with the spirit helpers, dancing in the moonlight, and vivifying and invoking a world of conscious, living mystery. That’s what the world is. The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists. The world is a living mystery: our birth, our death, our being in the moment – these are mysteries. They are doorways opening on to unimaginable vistas of self-exploration, empowerment and hope for the human enterprise. And our culture has killed that, taken it away from us, made us consumers of shoddy products and shoddier ideals. We have to get away from that; and the way to get away from it is by a return to the authentic experience of the body....and exploring the mind as a tool for personal and social transformation. "What we must do, I think, is spread the good news that what is out of control, what is in fact dying, is a world that had become too top-heavy with its own hubris, too bent by its own false value systems and too dehumanized to care about what happened to its own children. So I say, good riddance to it! Bring on the archaic revival and let’s create a new world! That’s it!"
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