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All About Assumptions: The Enormity Of Their Impact

All About Assumptions: The Enormity Of Their Impact

Miguel Ruiz, Toltec shaman and author of “The Four Agreements” includes “never making assumptions” as one of the four agreements to make with oneself for greater mastery in life. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what he is talking about. They think that perhaps they should not assume that everything will go easily and better have a plan B or that they should not assume that their job will always be predictable because one day there may be a new CEO or manager who will suddenly change their responsibilities.

While these things are quite true and it is best to never assume that everything will remain unchanged, this is not exactly what he was getting at. The fact is that our deepest assumptions about reality itself require examination because these are the assumptions that keep us completely trapped in self-deception about who we fundamentally are and what is actually possible.

We look around us and assume that we are seeing the correct and viable view of reality and that our version of it is of course the only right one. Never mind that a spider with its many eyes sees a totally different version of our world that gives them a leg up for their particular form of survival skills. Cats and dogs and many other animals do not see the world exactly as humans do but that does that mean that their version is limited or not right compared to ours. The truth is that there are many, many ways of seeing and experiencing what we call our reality that are equally valid. These many ways of interpreting the world are all based on information that comes in the form of light and sound. It would be fair to say that we live in a world of light and sound that carries information to our particular form of brain that interprets it for our purposes. Even people of different cultures do not experience our world the same way. Many indigenous cultures experience a world of constant action because their languages are verb based rather that noun based as is English. In English we say “The sky is above us.” In the Tewa language ‘sky is a verb so the sentence would be “The skying is happening above us.” This slight but huge difference changes entirely the way we might see and experience the sky. This is only one of the ways that language can influence how we see our world.

Our philosophies have an enormous influence on how we see and experience reality. For example, Descartes is famous for his formulation of the phrase, “I think, therefore I am.” There are many assumptions in this phrase. It assumes that because I can think, I am here. If I couldn’t think I wouldn’t be here. However, the Tibetan Buddhists say that thinking is mostly a distraction. That one can be aware of themselves without thought and that this way of being in the world is highly superior because it is unfettered or not limited by the thinking process. They say that it is possible to be perfectly functional in the world without the constant condensation of awareness into thought, that knowing is possible without relying on thought. This they call ‘rigpa’ or ‘enlightenment’. Thus, their phrase would be, “I am, therefore I know.” However, their version of “I” is not personal but infinite.

Let’s look at this business of making assumptions in other interesting ways. Most people believe that the physical body is responsible for their awareness. When you ask someone, “How do you know you are alive?”, almost everyone responds with, Well I can feel my body, I have an itch, I have to pee, I am hungry, I am breathing, I can feel my heart breathing. This is completely understandable but it assumes a great deal that is actually quite false. This is not anybody’s fault, it is just the way we have been taught for centuries and it seems like the most natural thing in the world to connect consciousness with physicality. The assumption here is that I am alive or aware because of my body, yet we know that there are thousands of reports that people experience awareness when they are having an out of body experience, when their bodies show no brain activity, for example after a terrible accident, a near drowning, an emergency surgery and so on. We call these experiences an anomaly or an exception to the rule but it is these very exceptions that suggest we may have it wrong, a body is not needed for awareness, aliveness, consciousness. After all a body is a chunk of meat and how can that be responsible for something as profound as aliveness. One minute a body can be perfectly alive and then the next second it can be deader than a doornail. Perfectly good eyes don’t see anymore, a perfect heart no longer beats, a perfectly good brain stops. Does meat, something that may or may not be animated, carry the responsibility of consciousness? Does consciousness just click on and off at the behest of a chunk of meat? Consciousness is in everything in reality at all times according to shamanic understanding. It does not depend on this or that hunk of meat being animate or inanimate permanently or for brief period of time.  Or is that wrong? Is it more true to say that nothing is conscious but our own personal slab of meat and when that goes everything goes? The Tibetans and Miguel Ruiz would say that it is the other way around. Without the consciousness within everything there is no personal ‘me. Actually, there is no personal me even with consciousness embedded in everything.

Academics say that shamanism and mysticism are two totally different things. That may or may not be true but I once heard a very famous Toltec shaman named Miguel Ruiz say, “There is no such person as Miguel Ruiz. He is just a narrative. A convenience. There is only universal love.” Shaman, mystic, holy man? Who the hell cares what you call it. He was speaking the truth.

Consciousness, something that science does not even acknowledge exists, predates bodies. Therefore, you cannot account for being alive by the fact that you have to pee or have an itch, it is deeper, much deeper than that. You are aware because you are aware that you are aware. There was never a time you were not aware. Never a time before you were aware. How can we say this? For the simple reason that there is no time. The moment of now is the only thing that is verifiable. The past is just conjecture or at best we could call it a memory. More accurately it is just what we make up so that we can have a narrative. The same is true for the future. All time is now and if you are conscious right now then there is no time in which you were not aware. We are all aware forever in this incredible moment of eternal now. Bodies are in the fiction of time. Fictional bodies do not create what is eternal.

Therefore, we humans are in a phenomenal state of self-deception in which our reality is backward and upside down. All our assumptions are faulty and have been throughout history (I am referring back to the fiction of time for convenience).  As a teacher of mine use to say amiably, “We all have our heads up our butts.” That’s sobering but I have to admit, I have come to appreciate his wisdom over the years when I first thought he was crazy. The human race has been addicted to thinking that aliveness depends on being physical, that it is separated into tiny unique fragments called you and me, and that it is all confined to time. This addiction has come at terrible cost. It is responsible for all war, violence, conflict, envy, jealousy, and suffering.

Knowing that consciousness does not depend on physicality, that time is an artifact of the physical plane and is not salient or important, that we are eternal and that there is no individuality or uniqueness to being aware, changes everything. Knowing that consciousness is the only reality is the beginning of truth. That awareness is shared consciousness, that reality is not really a bunch of separate things and bodies, most of which we judge and ultimately reject anyway, is ultimately freeing. Knowing that the world we think we are seeing and experiencing is just a bunch of ideas creating a fictional universe for our 1. Entertainment 2. Setting for learning and knowing 3. Exploration in the name of Spirit, is a wonderful relief. The only real challenge is remembering that this is true on a minute-by-minute basis (just a colorful phrase). The hypnosis is so strong because of the agreement to amnesia and to mass hallucination that we need to pinch ourselves regularly to wake up. This is best done slowly and deliberately in a way that does not alert the ego or false personality which will make it go into all out resistance out of terror. We have to tiptoe by it so as to make nice and make it seem like we are only changing the window dressing when we are actually deconstructing the reality the false personality lives within without it’s noticing.  Why do this? Well, would you rather stay in a world of non-stop anxiety and struggle or live in a world where you know everything is just fine the way it actually is, not what it is hallucinated to be, a world of separation and fear.

Even though there have always been wise women and men who have pointed to the truth, most humans have deliberately ignored their hints and clues to the actual nature of reality. In fact, they often made a point of getting rid of them. And then twisting their words to reinforce what is false. However, right now is a game changing breakthrough opportunity. Some people call it the second coming but this is not entirely accurate as the first coming just set the wheels in motion, a preview of coming attractions. Now is the main event and yes it comes with growing pains not unlike the pins and needles of a leg or arm waking up after it has had the circulation cut off for a while. We want it and need it to get circulation back but we resist it and dread it too because it’s damn uncomfortable. That is what we are going through as a world but it has already been decided that now is the time and this is the place for this mammoth waking up. In fact, it would be fair to say that this waking up has already happened because there is no real time. We are already awake. We just have to notice it and remember that we are. Although some will cling to sleep and very reluctantly wake up just like some late sleepers we might know, eventually all will join regardless of soul age which is just another convenience and hallucination of our experiment in consciousness. Those that want to return to dictatorship, war, repression, and slavery represent these parts of ourselves that want to go back to sleep. It always was and still is our projections because there is really only one of us. Our many separate selves are part of the hallucination, sometimes wonderful and sometimes horrible aspects depending on how we choose to play it.

Shakespeare ‘s character Macbeth had it right when he said life was a big passion play of sound and fury signifying nothing. It doesn’t mean a damn thing but it sure has been a wild ride, don’t you think? Does this mean that the end of the world is coming and the game will end now? No, it does not. There are plenty of things to do and experiences to be had, more than ever as we come to our senses. Maybe it’s all only just beginning and what fun!


© All rights reserved. www.thepowerpath.com 

You may make copies of this writing and distribute it in any media you wish so long as you do not charge for it or alter it in any way. You must credit the author and include this entire copyright notice. While the text may be shared, no audio files including lectures, music and/or sound meditations may be posted on any site for any reason without written permission from the Power Path.

José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism and a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.

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