Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.
The reigning paradigm to explain human behavior has two major variables: nature and nurture. Nature includes genetics, brain chemistry, archetypes; in essence, all that is inherited. DNA, physical traits, talents, and core perceptual structures, etc., belong to this category. Nature refers to all that we are; most recently as a function of who our parents were and more remotely our ancestral and species lines.
Nurture, in contrast, focuses on what we become as a function of our environment. How we are raised, the foods we consume, who our teachers are, our economic, social, and environmental conditions, etc., all mold our bodies and personalities.
Biologists, psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists enjoy lively debates as to which variable, nature or nurture, is more significant in determining who we are and who we become. Although extremists in each camp will argue the dominant influence of one variable over the other, nearly all agree that some combination of nature and nurture must be considered to explain human behavior. Thus, a musical virtuoso, as the genetic product of generations of musicians might also emerge, with no genetic antecedents, from the midst of an impoverished but musically enriched environment.
The shamans place major significance upon the nurture side of the argument. From their perspective the human potential for perception is nearly unlimited; here they acknowledge the role of nature. However, what is key for the shamans is the impact of socialization upon the individual, which, from their perspective, is the determining factor that both fixates and narrows our perceptual boundaries whereby generating a cohesive world that all agree upon; a consensual environment.
In our current world, the fascination with the brain has tilted the nature/nurture debate definitely in favor of nature and its “imperfections.” The drug companies would have us believe that all that ails us is a function of nature’s imperfection, easily remedied with balancing drugs with but “a few” side effects.
The nature/nurture debate is so engrossing and ripe for controversy that it consumes all our available explanations for why we are the way we are. Without disputing the value and truth of the role of either nature or nurture, I propose another variable be introduced into the argument: our soul’s intent. If we consider our soul’s journey through infinity as the backdrop to the lives we have lived and the life we are currently living, we have new considerations as to why we are in this life with a particular genetic constitution and social milieu. Perhaps, the soul has chosen to be born into this time, into this family, to encounter a set of circumstances critical to its own evolutionary needs. Though evidence for this argument might not pass strict, rationalistic, scientific method, there is significant evidence beyond reason, in the realm of experience, to support this conjecture. For instance, Jung pointed out and demonstrated that there is a dimension of the human psyche that exists outside of space and time. Although we may be born with a blank slate, remembering nothing of life before birth, many individuals have been capable of lifting this veil of memory loss and been able to recover many past life experiences. Shamans, as well as out of body explorers, routinely venture into other worlds freed of concrete time and space. All of these experiences point to a continuity of life beyond the human form, the life of the soul.
The consideration of our soul’s intent for necessary experiences, for its own advancement, is absolutely central to understanding our reason for being here now with the specific challenges our genetic and social contexts create. The point I am making is that our soul chooses the family we are born into and the conditions we will encounter for its own purpose: that of evolutionary advancement.
The challenges we will encounter are the same whether we include the variable of the soul’s intent or not. For instance, if I am born into a dysfunctional family and subjected to violence and abuse, I will, in my lifetime, be challenged both by the genetic predisposition I inherited, as reflected in my family’s behaviors, as well as by an ego heavily defended and compromised by the circumstances that my child self was exposed to at fundamental developmental stages. The challenge to heal and flourish from this compromised place is the same whether I am aware of my soul’s intent for this life or not. However, there is a fundamental advantage to awakening to the soul’s journey in the context of a present life. It offers us the opportunity to avoid the danger of fixating on victimhood in reaction to the life we have been born into. Victimhood is the scourge of the soul’s evolution. If we become captivated by victimhood we can spend our entire life bemoaning our fates, missing the deeper meaning of why we are here with the opportunity to complete the task of our soul’s intent. This would result in a cosmic “repetition compulsion,” where we would need to reincarnate to a similar set of circumstances to again attempt to complete a necessary task.
The shamans propose that the true culprit behind victimhood is self-importance, in a nutshell: “I don’t deserve what has befallen me.” Behind deserving is attachment to being special. When we are special we sit on our thrones with a deep sense of entitlement. In this state all our available energy is spent on expectation and disappointment; we have no available energy for the true purpose of our life.
Shamans call the circumstances and individuals that oppress us our petty tyrants. Shamans actually seek out petty tyrants as opportunities to lose their self-importance through mastering detachment as opposed to conquering the tyrant through ego triumph, which is merely another permutation of self-importance. For shamans, conquering self-importance provides the necessary energy to open the door to heightened perception, and the journey of the soul.
When we view our lives from the position of our soul’s intent, we ask ourselves: “Okay, why am I here? What challenges have I been presented with? Let me gather my energy to meet my challenges versus spending it protesting my fate.” This perspective does not negate the fact that we are all victims, beginning with birth trauma, or even in utero trauma. In recapitulation we relive the truth of all our traumas as we release all the feelings buried within, which accompany our lived experiences. The end result is release and neutrality, and an appreciation for the journey we have taken and the advances we have made. Perhaps the most significant test is to be able to view all the petty tyrants of our lives as necessary encounters to advance our soul’s intent. There is nothing to forgive. If we find ourselves feeling deserving, desiring, or withholding of forgiveness, our energy, on some level, is still bound by self-importance; we are not done with our recapitulation because we are still victims.
By including the variable of our soul’s intent, we do not change the facts of nature and nurture in determining who we are in this lifetime. However, this perspective opens us to the deeper truth of our soul in its infinite journey, and the relativity of the space and time of our current life. We are offered the opportunity to reconcile the relativity of this life with the infinite life of our soul, an alignment that opens us to ultimate adventure and magic, right now! In addition, it allows us the opportunity to take full responsibility for being in the life we are in, with all its genetic and environmental components, uniquely constructed to fit our soul’s requirements to advance ourselves in the ultimate journey.
As always, should anyone wish to write, I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to post a comment.
Until we meet again,