The Seven Principles of Shamanism: Part 5
‘just as I remember your long life
as a fleeting moment,
yet I bathe in the radiance of your love
now and forever;
for now is forever and forever is now,
and if we see it any other way
we are doomed.’
(excerpt from the poem: The Year 2062)
Welcome to Part 5 of this article. To be honest, I didn’t see this going beyond two parts. However, as usual, I’ve gotten a bit carried away with things. I hope it made sense up ‘til now and hasn’t been too long-winded.
Anyway, I’m going to be a bit more direct in the remainder of this article (“phew,” you say) because there are still four more principles to discuss.
Forgive me if I just ignore the above statement.
Let’s get to it.
As I mentioned in Part 4, principle 5 is ‘now is the moment of power.’
No, not altogether correct, let me repeat that, ‘NOW is the moment of power.’
Shamanism is allergic to linear time. Don’t bring it near her, she'll disappear. When you're thinking in terms of linear time, you can't be thinking like a shaman. Period. The two can't mix.
This is a challenge for those of us who want to live according to shamanic thinking. Especially for those of us who're governed by linear time…quite frankly I don’t know who in this modern day and age isn’t subject to linear time.
We all have commitments: work, family, grocery shopping, doctor, panel beaters, mow the lawn, etc, and if we don't schedule these according to a date and time our lives would be chaos. Chaos like we spoke about previously. And we don’t want that…
Just quickly, for those who are unsure of what I’m talking about in terms of linear time. It’s the simple sequence: past, present, future. Past events lead to the present and present events result in future consequences.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow…aaand… next week (sigh), that appointment with the proctologist I’ve been putting off…, oh! darn, why did I say those things to my boss yesterday, I’m sure I’m unpopular now and he probably won’t approve my leave for next month…
Whoa!! hold your horses there… that mind! It works overtime. It’s constantly stuck in the past, the future, here, there, last year, 5 years from now; just…breath…
Excuse me, but what other kinds of time do you get!??
Good question. Time is time…isn’t it? You wake up, have breakfast, go to work, come home, etc, and it’s all governed by the clock: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Well, it’s not that there’s actually any other kind of time, because there’s not. In fact, there’s actually no time, and all the time in the world, both at the same time.
Confused? Don’t worry, so am I. If you don’t spend your life teetering on the edge of confusion then you must be very boring.
The shaman sees time as cyclical, actually a spiral. The whole of existence is spiraling within spirals…within spirals within spirals, infinitely. Just as size is infinite.
To answer the question: well, there is no other kind of time. Time is an illusion, and the linear sequence has been created by our ‘finite’ minds living in a seemingly ‘finite’ world.
The key lies in perspective. How events are viewed. To the shaman, a person’s response to an event is a matter of concern. In fact, it's everything, there is nothing else. When it happened, where it happened, how long it took, those concepts are illusions.
In shamanic thinking, the only time that exists is NOW.
Let’s not get sidetracked though, we will deal with shamanic time in a later article. Shall we get back to the safety of our clocks and watches? We all have a schedule to keep to…
So, what’s so special about ‘now?’
“Yes, it’s happening at this very moment and we need to make use of it,” you reason, “but why is ‘now’ so important that this guy Paul is trying to shove it down my throat like a…” (you can finish the analogy).
Well, it’s important. It’s very important. It’s very very very very important, because ‘now’ is all we’ve got.
‘Now,’ this moment right now…oh wait, it’s gone…but here’s another one…oh and that one’s gone as well. Sheesh! this ‘now’ doesn’t last long.
Think about it carefully. ‘Now,’ this moment that is here, that’s all we have to work with. We can do nothing in the past because we're not there anymore, and we can do nothing in the future because we haven’t reached there yet.
If you can fully grasp this concept, feel it deeply as a soul understanding, and not just ping-pong it around your head for a few seconds, you'll notice that it's an extremely powerful realization.
Everything that exists, the table, your chair, your thought, the shape of your mouth, the position of your hand, the laugh of your toddler, it only exists at that moment, and then it’s gone.
OK, there’s not much chance your chair would change or disappear in an instant. But It’s possible.
But those special things, the thought you had, the joy you heard, they’re gone, and exist only in your memory. That’s not to say they don’t exist anymore, but they're unchangeable (only in that moment, not in the future). For now, you can do nothing with them except remember them and derive joy from them…or regret, it depends on what the thought was.
It's All You’ve Got
We can only act in the present. We can only live our truth if we're in the present. We can only bring happiness in the present, hurt someone, or make a bad decision. These things can’t happen yesterday or tomorrow. They can only happen now. Right now.
It’s important we use this ‘now,’ this moment, very wisely. It’s precious, precious beyond gold, diamonds, money, a grudge, vengeance, worry, anger.
‘Now’ is all you’ve got. be the best person you can be in it. It’s just a moment. But carry that over to the next moment, and the next and the next…
All Very Nice, BUT…
If you’re not sitting there thinking, “this guy’s a bit soft in the head, what planet’s he from?” then I’d be a bit worried about your motivation.
“What…sorry I’m not messing with you.”
Look, I even battle to get my head around this stuff. It’s like, ‘yeah right, give me a tropical island, a hammock, and a bottle of rum and I’ll jump on your little ride no problem…but let’s get real.’
Yes, let’s get real.
We all have lives to plan, children to feed, jobs to go to (if we’re lucky), commitments to fulfill.
“I want to study next year,” you say, “how’s that going to happen if I live only in the ‘now,’ in the moment? Is the money just going to drop out of the sky?
We have lives to live. We live them within a system, not only governed by rules, laws, and institutions, but by set time periods. If we want to build a life of happiness and contentment, we pretty much have to operate within these parameters.
This requires a certain level of responsibility, a certain level of compliance. Yes, you may think you're a meaningless cog in one of the many ideological wheels of the great machine. A machine that drives exploitation and destruction in the name of consumerism, but can you do anything about it? Even more pertinent, does it really matter?
I’m going to say to you: the only thing that matters is your response…and growing love or fear. All else is baggage. You may disagree, that’s alright.
Changing the world is a discussion for another day.
Within the confines of this system, shamanism is asking you to be present. Be present in the moment. In as many moments as you can. This is called ‘living in the moment.’
Of course, large chunks of your time will be spent caught up in the past, trying to make sense of past actions; and the future, planning or worrying. Even arguing, being angry, being disappointed, stressing about your mistakes, and so on, you'll spend time in those spaces.
But realize one thing: every time you're in one of those spaces, you have relinquished your power. You are powerless, vulnerable, a sitting duck. You can't grow when you're powerless.
If you would like to explore some practical ways of living in the moment or conscious living, the book by SJ Scott and Barry Davenport, 10-Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment, is a useful read to get you on your way.
Your power is the only true power. All other forms of power are illusions. They can come and go in an instant. But your personal power is eternal. Nobody can touch you. Nobody can control the way you respond to something. That's your choice and yours alone.
If we're not present at an experience, we will not have the opportunity to recognize the gifts provided by that experience. It may just be a moment, but great gifts can come in a flash, in the form of knowledge, understanding, or wisdom
Take Ownership of the Moment
We all know those individuals who like to argue, to prove a point. More often than not they are trying to deal with some or other insecurity. They see everything as an argument and not as a discussion.
They're more focused on winning an argument than actually being right. They're not concerned with what is right.
These people fail to take ownership of the moment. They're constantly living in the past or the future, devising ways that'll show them to be right. They don't listen when someone else is speaking, because they're busy formulating their argument that will build on what they said previously.
There is no growth in this, only pain, stress, disappointment…fear. They're seeking false power, power over others, at the expense of true power, their personal power. They leave themselves vulnerable and exposed, which ironically, is the insecurity that they're trying to hide.
We need to remember that every moment is a gift to us from God or the Universe, whatever you wish to call him/her.
It's a wonderful gift because there's only one moment at any given ‘time,’ but it's given to all of us, every person, animal, plant, table, chair, entity, at exactly the same time. We share it, in our ‘oneness.’ It unites us.
We all have the power to do what we want with it, either to grow love or to grow fear. All we need to do is go deep inside, find our truth, and make a choice.
You might want to read more about mindfulness and living in the moment. Check out Matthew Sockolov’s book, A Mindfulness for Beginners Journal: Prompts and Practices for Living in the Moment.
Please join me for Part 6 of this article: ‘Love is to be in a state of joy with something.’
NB! Thanks and gratitude to Serge Kahili King for sharing the principles of shamanism far and wide so we may all learn from his wisdom and love as a shaman. Read his book, "Urban Shaman" to discover more about the principles I'm sharing in my series of principles of shamanism.
This post was originally published on January 26th, 2021, and updated on February 14th, 2022.
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