We are beings of offense, collectors of rights and wrongs. Judgment is our guiding voice: “Look, over there, how hideous, how bold, how disgusting, how risque, how inappropriate, how divine, how unfair, how rude, how insensitive, how mean, how narcissistic, how beautiful, how perfect.”
Then there’s the voice from the Land of Me. “I’m not getting what I need,” it says. “I deserve more. I got screwed. They took advantage of me. They treat me like I’m invisible. It’s never what I want. I don’t matter. I’m not attractive. I’m better than him. She’d never be interested in me. Nobody cares about me. Why am I never chosen? Why was I born like this? Why am I singled out? Why am I being punished? How come nothing good ever happens to me?”
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico contend that we spend the lion’s share of our vital force, our life’s energy, judging and being offended by the world and those who inhabit it. To counter offense we might develop and accumulate an identity of accomplishments. “I can take it,” our accomplishments enable us to say. “I’ll survive. Inwardly I know I’m worth more. Look how well I dress—I’m coordinated. I have lots of friends who keep in touch. I’m well-respected where I work. I’m always polite. I say my prayers. I donate. I care. I walk for causes. I read a lot. I have many “Likes.” People like my pictures. I’m funny.”
So constructed are we of rights, wrongs and likes that we know not who we really are beneath those mountains of offense. We perceive ourselves and the world around us through the narrowly burdensome lens of where we stand vis-à-vis our fellow human beings. We navigate our lives to constantly improve that position, with better homes, bodies, cars, jobs, friends, lovers, companions, environments. Our obsession with improvement puts blinders upon our real possibilities.
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico claim that we are magical beings capable of stupendous actions and experiences. However, as long as we spend the capital of our human time in being offended we have no accrued savings, no energy for true self-actualization. The Shamans suggest that we can build our energy savings bank by thoroughly appreciating the petty tyrants who so offend us. Rather than spending energy capital on constantly being offended, Shamans bank their energy by stripping away the shackles of self-importance.
“This is the room they stuck me in, with that kid upstairs jumping on the bed for hours! I should complain!” we might say, taking offense at a situation we find ourselves in. Such complaining, the Shamans contend, will get us nowhere. “Thank you,” a Shaman would say, “for reminding me not to waste my energy on being offended. Let me instead be more fully present to the moment and all the magic that surrounds me.”
Eventually, we notice that the world is quite ready to open, expand and reveal its deeper truths, beauties, and mysteries as we drop the veil of offense and navigate instead with awe. As we follow the signs magically placed before us, by reinterpreting and reworking that which has offended us, we offer ourselves a new and different world in which to navigate. Without offense, life and the world we inhabit become a totally different and very inviting, magical place. We might even find ourselves suddenly offered something that we could previously only have dreamed of.
Navigating through the magic,