This is an ongoing US and global project to help enthusiasts, scholars, practitioners, and curious parties learn more about shamanic living in a contemporary culture. The space here is devoted to sharing info, experiences and opinions about all forms of shamanic expression covering shamanism's multiple permutations. Among subjects explored are traditions, techniques, insights, definitions, events, artists, authors, and creativity. You are invited to draw from your own experiences and contribute.

What is a SHAMAN?

MAYAN: "a technichian of the Holy, a lover of the Sacred." CELTIC: "Empower the people...by changing the way we think." MEXICAN APACHE: "Someone who has simply learned to give freely of themselves..." AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL: "...a teacher or healer, a wisdom keeper of knowledge... (who) takes people to a door and encourages them to enter." W. AFRICAN DIAGRA: "views every event in life within a spiritual context." HAWAIIAN: "...human bridges to the spiritual world and its laws and the material world and its trials..." QUECHUA INDIAN: "embodies all experience." AMAZON: "...willing to engage the forces of the Universe...in a beneficial end for self, people, and for life in general."

-- from Travelers, Magicians and Shamans (Danny Paradise)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Roots of Suffering: Micro and Macro

The Emerald Tablet has tuned me into many personal challenges as well as societal patterns. Are they ever really different things? Does each not serve as the other's feedback loop? I sense more signals that give away the fundamental workings of consciousness and its absence; mirrors within mirrors all around. Do others feel like there is a hidden script lying in between the lines of the text, playing on the subconscious? I sense a sublime processing of the book's teachings in a way that I'm not quite able to understand yet.

What I Do Understand
For me, ego and its manifestations are the main struggle. Ego and attachment are everywhere and they are my source of fleeting happiness and perpetual suffering. Suffering is viewed as a relative and subjective concept dependent on the individual's life-circumstance, but the book implies that the real subjectivity is the degree of value we place on ego and the objects that prop up the ego.

On a societal or civilizational level, I believe we can analogize the ego and its materially-dominated satellites with the concept of "Empire" or expansionism. In the meantime, the "Source", otherwise known as the Republic, crumbles or is placed under extreme pressure. Given the teachings of alchemy, is it natural for one society to impose the occupation of another? What does that say about the occupiers?

Another analogy might be humanity's efforts to explore outer space. Rather than driving ourselves into the farther reaches and repeating potentially destructive cycles elsewhere in the universe, those resources can be redirected to exploring and bridging the space between each other and ourselves. Hence, the distance the ego places between the outwardly perceived self and the hidden inner self largely reflects how far we must return to find true nature, according to the book.

Ego likely explains why a CEO with all manner of luxury at her/his disposal often finds life more damnable than the poor laborer from the developing world. The question is, who is more at the mercy of attachments and ego? Ego governs expectation, perverts ambition, and dictates attitude. Ego misdirects energy, hardens the body into a tank and its occupant into a cyborg. The toughest metal makes an excellent weapon, so ego's connection to bloodshed is no surprise. It is fueled by the fear of imperfection.

Different parts of me may be at different stages of alchemy, but I'm chasing the inferno's cleansing forces. In the last week or so I've sensed fire everywhere. I imagine myself bathed in flames before I slip into unconsciousness at night. At a concert today, the music introduced visions of fire; I sensed parts of my personal armor melting; transforming into mercury and releasing into the ether. . .

Healthy Ego
The healthy ego (which is relatively new to me) is the self-caretaker, it's the part of me that knows my limits and when to draw the line; where to set a boundary and enforce basic nourishment, preservation, and balance. It is a shield not a spear. It is a shelter not a citadel. What do others see it as?


fearless.woman said...

I have been struggling with the idea of ego and relating both to the Emerald Tablet and to my own work with the animal cards. I'm coming to the idea theat the specifics of what my guides tell me are another way of dissolving the unhealthy aspects of ego, to build a deeper relationship of trust between me, my guides, and Spirit. I was asking these questions today when I drew Dog. For me, this is not a craven blind loyalty, but a mutuality of trust. We develop our trust in being guided by Spirit, and Spirit needs to trust us to be strong, insightful, and ready to do the work that has to be done, trusting in Spirit when our insights are not enough, and trusting that we will be supported when we venture into the harder and more dangerous aspects of our work. This requires a healthy ego, sense of our strengths and limits, but an ego that can collaborate and not need toclaim its own success when doing the work of Spirit in the world.

Robin Rice said...

yes, there is animation between the lines... it is called the dark matter, and it makes up the vast majority of all things...it is exactly written into the code, and so those who read about alechemy, have access to much more than the words, when read "at the edge" where transformation occurs.