Monday, May 25, 2009

Integral Shamanism, States and Stages of Consciousness

I've been involved in an email discussion about how indigenous spiritual leaders organize (or don't organize) sacred gatherings. No one showed up at a recent gathering, which okay for the elders. A few highlights as background:
  • If it is a sacred gathering it is not publicized. If someone is to be there they will find it. Gatherings are made hard to find on purpose.
  • Fliers are usually a no-no. It is like, if someone calls themselves a medicine man/woman or shaman--run as fast as you can. Only the people can give you that honor.
  • It does not matter if there are 2000 people in attendance or one. When an Elder speaks it goes out to the whole Universe. Elders are not attached to how many they speak to, only that they can speak.
  • They understand that the words "we are all related" are real. That the trees, wind, rocks, and water will carry their words forward. You were fortunate to be one of the ones to experience them first hand.
  • If there are hundreds of seats they are all filled, even if you can not see the people.
  • Elder gatherings never start on time. It is normal for an Elder to be several hours late. They will start when the energy is right.
I'm reminded of the story about a religious man who, caught on the roof of his house as the flood waters rose all around him, beseeched God to rescue him. As two boats and a helicopter came by and asked if he needed help, he told each that he was fine, God would save him. Finally, as he clung to the chimney with water just below his mouth and still rising, he cried out, "God, why hast thou foresaken me?" Suddenly, a booming voice rang out from the heavens: "Whaddya want, I sent you 2 boats and a helicopter!"

While I honor traditional methods and beliefs, I also see that Spirit moves through us, and that we are the manifestation of Spirit, and what we do in the name of Spirit and in integrity is Spirit in Action. I also see that we are evolving creatures, and as we evolve, so does our deepening understanding of God and the Universe, as we can only see where our current structure of consciousness enables us to see, not beyond, and our perspectives are limited by those structures.

In other words, that all states of consciousness, right up to awareness of the non-dual, are available to anyone at any level of consciousness, has been demonstrated throughout the ages. Shamans and Medicine Men have always had ready access to those altered states of consciousness (ever-present, never-changing, the formless), but they can only be interpreted from an individual's stage, or structure of consciousness (always changing, evolutionary). What it means to be enlightened in the Integral age is very different from what it meant a thousand years ago, as newer stages of consciousness had not emerged and simply weren't available.

Unless we become aware of ourselves as evolving spiritual creatures, we'll keep doing what we've been doing, and getting the results we've been getting. Yes, I agree that the talks go out through the oneness of everything, into the collective unconscious, but I'd prefer that it also goes into as much of the collective consciousness, as well.

Post-modernism must integrate the wisdom and altered state skills of the Shaman and the Medicine Man, and indigenous teachers must integrate post modern stage consciousness. Anything less is only partial enlightenment.

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