Category: The Inner Shaman Views: 2008
These acute times of transition have been, are, and will continue to be rather challenging to put it mildly. People in general are having a hard time and so this article will take a closer look at what ails us and will show ways of dealing with the times that can make things a little easier.
Among the many ways that people approach life are those behaviors that help us orient ourselves toward the future. We have dreams, we have ideas, we have goals, and we have plans. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with these approaches, as some spiritual traditions would have us believe. We are not here to sit and watch our navels twenty-four hours a day. We are here to live our lives, to learn, to grow, experience, and discover. These are all simply a part of our grand experiment as human beings on the physical plane. The problem lies in our expectations. Wide eyed we start a new business with big dreams and goals and the expectation that it will be a piece of cake since there is no apparent competition in our niche. We create a great product and then all of a sudden a dozen corporations jump on the bandwagon, copy it, create various versions of our product despite our trademark, and undercut us at every level. Perhaps we have no budget to sue them all and if we did they would tie us up in court for years. The result could be crushing disappointment and the reaction might be to feel terribly sorry for ourselves. This is the emotional scenario that exists right now as we go through such huge transitions.
Right now it is so easy to feel that everything we have worked for has gone for naught. I have spoken to so many people who are feeling that somehow their lives have gotten away from them and haven’t turned out the way they thought. Some say they thought they were going to change the world or that they believed they were going to be famous and so on. Suddenly years have rolled by and many things did not happen. Perhaps they did not meet prince charming or the princess bride. Perhaps they did not have children after all and will have no grandchildren. Perhaps the great business idea didn’t work out or that book didn’t get written or if it did it never found a publisher or a market. Perhaps they never anticipated the physical condition that showed up, the crushing food allergy that restricted them so, that immune problem, the accidents, the emotional condition and so on. Perhaps they never thought that taking care of aging parents would take so long or derail them from their careers or that the pension they worked so hard for would vanish in a disastrous economic climate. This is life and everyone experiences some version of restriction or limitation, everyone has some grave disappointments in life, no exceptions. After all this is the physical plane, a perfectly imperfect experience. That is how we wanted it to be, otherwise why did we ever leave paradise.
There can be huge differences in the various ways we can handle disappointment. Some nurture their disappointments, carefully feed them, grow them in their garden of specially cultivated weeds. This is the path of martyrdom, the stricken face meant to communicate that no one has seen the trouble they have dealt with. No one could ever know the depths of their pain. This may seem honorable or somehow heroic but it is nothing more than a terrible trap. Ultimately it is self-centered and serves no one. It is terribly debilitating in the end and only produces more of the same.
There is another way. If we know that disappointment is a part of life then we can make some improved choices about how we hold the inevitable frustrations. Everyone has stories about how a certain disappointment turned out to be the best thing that every happened to them. What if they had ended up with that partner who became an alcoholic or drug addict? They dodged that bullet. What if they had taken that job with that company that went bankrupt shortly after? What if they had not had that Down’s syndrome child that was such an important contribution to their lives and such a teacher to them. What a blessing after all!
You may be thinking, that is all well and good, making lemonade out of lemons, but what about X. That was really shitty, really bad. There is nothing good about my cousin who came back from Iraq blind, brain injured, with no arms and legs. There is nothing good about my friend’s death in a meaningless terrorist attack or my sister miscarrying or losing one of her children in an accident. These kinds of thoughts are nothing more than saying, “I know that secretly life sucks and is meaningless and it’s your fault for giving me hope, only to have it crushed forever in some horrible tragedy. I was right all along. I should kill myself. So should you.”
Everyone goes through moments like this, some for longer. In the end it is a huge energy leak. Should you find yourself in this state, all you can do is observe that you are in the grip of the false personality, the ego that wants to slurp up your misery so it can have you as its slave. Observation of something leads to the truth if you are patient with it. Everything else is resistance, trying to do something about it, trying to fix it, trying to find whom to blame, whom to judge, and so on. Just take a deep breathe and watch, notice, see what is happening. Ask yourself the following questions, “If I could see the truth of these feelings, of this situation, what would I observe, what would I notice?” Sit with this for a moment or two. “What would I see?” If nothing comes immediately then stick with this approach for a while. Or you can take another approach. Ask yourself, “What were my expectations, what did I think was going to happen. Watch for the martyred response, like, “Yeah, what was I thinking, it always goes to shit no matter what I do.” That is just more indulgence. Observe that as well. Keep your eyes open, watch carefully. All your rackets are there to be seen if you are really honest with yourself. Yes, you may feel furious with this process. That is only natural.
Here is the hard news. Anything you let yourself get away with will strengthen and torture you well into the future. You have a choice. Deal with the truth now or later. In the end, no matter how long it takes, whether in this life or another one, you will face the truth and it will set you on a new course of action. The longer it takes the more you will suffer. There are no exceptions to this reality. Fight all you want, struggle, put up furious resistance. You will lose. You may think that you are somehow winning over someone or something, but you will lose.
Transition, change, redemption will come upon your surrender. This is a world dominated by warriors and a warrior mentality. You may not be a warrior yourself but everyone is heavily imprinted by the warrior culture that has dominated this world for thousands of years. Warriors hate to surrender, will fight to the death before surrendering. They consider it totally dishonorable to surrender and at times believe that people should be heavily punished for surrendering. This is all a big drama, all a waste of time, all an illusion, all a means for suffering to continue and continue endlessly.
If we want change, if we want transition, if we want a new day, a new dream, and new earth then something has to give. We cannot demand that others surrender, that others give up their positions and expect this strategy to be successful. We tried it for thousands of years. It did not work. That way is the old way, an old paradigm that is passing. The new way is as follows. There is nobody out there. Everything you out-picture is projection. The only person that needs to surrender or let go is you. The world changes with your change. This is why the great teacher Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
There is another strategy that works and yes it is cornball. Everything you see, sense, or feel can be a blessing. Recently I was reminded of the origins of the word “Forgive.” I believe I have written about this before but a reminder is helpful. In ancient times fisherman used to go out in small boats off the treacherous coast of Scotland. For safety many would go out together and fish in tight groups. When one boat was filled with fish they would yell out “Fore shore, give way, give way” and the other boats would give way allowing them a clear passage to shore. Later this was adapted to golf where they would yell “Fore, give way, give way” to warn people a ball was coming. This became the word forgive. It means to get out of someone’s way by setting them free. Forgive them, give them a way, give them a way out, forgive their debt, forgive their transgression. We need to do that, again and again. More than anything we need to do that with ourselves. Forgive our disappointments, our expectations, our martyrdom. Let it go. Give a way out, fore freedom.
Bless all. Bless our intentions and goals. Bless our challenges. Bless the way it works out no matter what. Bless those that seem to get in our way. Bless the whole damn thing. This strategy sets us on the golden line, that golden line that gets us through the rapids unscathed, around the ripper rocks, the crushing waves, the boat eating holes and eddies. The golden line is always there in our lives. The questions are, “Are we on it? How do we get on it?” How do we stay on it.” How did we ever get off it? When we get off it we learn what we did wrong. When we get on it we learn what we did right. Not so difficult after all. Not so difficult unless we don’t want to learn, don’t want to surrender to a new way of navigating the waters.
To get on the golden line requires that we ask for unseen help. That takes humility. No begging, no whining, no groveling, just asking, just saying, “Show me; I’m teachable; I’m listening; I’m ready. Ahhhh, that’s better. I’m back on the golden line that has been there since my birth. Fore, I’m coming, give way, give way, give way! Oh, your going too. Fore give way, give way, give way.” Many Blessings.
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.
Go to: www.thepowerpath.com
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ॐ Namasté - Blessings!
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