I’m reading Jan’s blog and call her regarding typos. She tells me of energetic oddities: faxes won’t go through, computer glitches and, finally, as we talk, a loud noise, a smell. She discovers the true culprit, a motor that has burnt out. And then, to boot, she opens the door to the motor to be met by a swarm of bees!
These might be typical reactions to these events: What am I doing wrong? Why is this happening to me? Why am I being punished? Notice how immediately the mind—the foreign installation, as the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call it—drops its veil over reality and introduces its self-absorbed interpretation.
For the Shamans of Ancient Mexico this reflexive tendency to insert the self in all interpretations of events is the greatest blockage to seeing things as they really are and to opening to our fullest potential. How can we hope to fulfill ourselves when our vital energy is mired in self-absorbed fixation? This fixation manifests as worry, fear, guilt, blame, and self-doubt. A typical response would likely be a plan to change the self in some way, to improve our, assumed, “negative karma.”
The ancient Chinese sages had a different take on the happenings of natural phenomena. From their perspective, things that occurred together—things that intersected at a particular moment in time—shared some meaning in common. Not that one caused the other, but that each reflected the other. Events that occur together are acausally related, what Jung termed synchronicities. From this perspective, rather than taking events personally, the ancient Chinese sages read the energy of the moment, which became a guide to decision making, cutting out self-absorbed judgment.
Thus, a fax not going through suggests it’s not the right time to communicate something, or that it requires a different method. Or that outside energy was blocking willful intent. Perhaps it signals a time of retreat and patient waiting, not time to force one’s way across the river. These reflections on energetic configurations are beautifully summarized and outlined in the Chinese I Ching or Book of Changes.
Sometimes occurrences are signs showing us that we are approaching things at a time not energetically suited to our intent. If, instead, we read such a sign as a proposal for corrective action—as an opportunity for energetic realignment, such as patient waiting—we spare ourselves the labyrinth of judgment. Remember, it’s not personal. Just read the signs.
We are travelers whose journey has been interrupted. Our world is like a crowded airport with grounded flights, journeyers sequestered, forced to stay put. We are guarded by sentinels, unable to move beyond the confines of the airport.
According to the seeing of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, the guards at the airport, the guardians of our world, are an impersonal energy, not human at all, that has taken up residence in the brains of our species. Those shamans labeled that energy the foreign installation of “the” mind. We tend to call it “our” mind because we are helpless to know otherwise, so pervasive is its control over our lives. The effect of this control is universal. It can be seen everywhere in the form of self-obsession. We are a species so obsessed with the self that we are blind to the real interdependent nature of all things. In fact, our species’ obsession with self-interest has brought us now to the brink of destruction.
The truth is: If we don’t evolve beyond self-interest into a world that includes the needs of other—plant, animal, climate—we face certain extinction.
Perhaps a more benevolent interpretation of our predicament is one of necessary growing pains, for in truth we are a species bent on changing. Were this not so, we never would have left the Utopia of the Garden. Our need to grow, change, and explore got us expelled from the Garden and brought consciousness—the freedom to choose—into the brain, as we simply got bored with the known routines. Our growth, however, has once again become stunted and routine, completely swallowed up in self-absorption. We must crack the shell of this container of self-absorption in order to reopen the airport so we can continue our journey beyond the self.
Perhaps it was necessary to have this respite of selfhood—a fixed identity to hold onto for awhile—as we consolidated our evolutionary gains. But now that container can no longer serve us, as the reality of where we are now is forcing us to evolve beyond the obsessive absorption of the self or perish.
The obsession that we are now afflicted with comes in many forms, ranging from extreme narcissism to near total self-abnegation. Do not be deceived. Self-sacrifice seeks its own rewards, even the prize of avoiding the truths of the self for a lifetime. Is self-negation not but another form of self-absorption, reigning all powerful, controlling life through avoidance of the most basic of needs?
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico ask us to not take personally the impersonal reality of our tyrannized relationship with the mind. From their seeing, this is a condition all humankind shares in common. There is no avoiding it. No one is to blame. But we must face that we are all in this predator’s grip.
The Shamans state clearly that the first tool to counter the tyranny of the mind is to suspend judgment. Rather than personalize everything, observe the self and others from a perspective of objectivity—no blame—simply an intent to see things as they really are, without the filter of self-interest. If we stay in blame, we evolve no further. We stay within the compound of the mind like chickens in a chicken coop, naively and happily enjoying our captivity.
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico had no illusion about the deadly power of the tyrant of the mind to absorb all our energy, as in fact we spend our entire lives in the prison of self-absorption. Nonetheless, they did see the value of using actual tyrants to their own advantage. They discovered that putting themselves under the control of an actual tyrant offered them the opportunity to break the tyranny of the self-absorption of the mind.
They discovered that in order to physically survive the brutality of a tyrant, it is utterly necessary to break through the veil of self-pity, self-worth, in fact self-anything. The tyrant cares nothing for the selfhood of its victim, and thus to survive the tyrant one needs the complete objectivity that only selflessness provides.
Many Shamans perished in their encounters with tyrants. Nonetheless, the rewards of success were so great and so meaningful that they risked this encounter with death, for success meant freedom from the human form of self-absorption. Success meant freedom to experience an expanded self, unburdened of the confines of self-importance; a self free to explore reality with far greater powers and clarity than humanly possible. To those Shamans, the risk was worth it.
This past week, the New York Times Sunday Magazine explored, in depth, the dilemma of child pornographic images continually finding new life on the worldwide web. How is a victim to heal or find closure when images of their abuse continue to be preyed upon, beyond their control, throughout their lifetime? These victims will indeed be unable to heal, as long as they remain attached to the self in those photographic images.
As I see it, these girls/women, though they didn’t choose it, have already had their own encounters with brutal tyrants like the ones the Shamans of Ancient Mexico faced. They have already survived those encounters. However, they must complete their interrupted journeys to freedom through a thorough recapitulation if they are to heal. They must fully relive their experiences with their tyrants and in so doing retrieve all their life energy bound to those experiences. And so, I envision a different scenario, healing by facing the tyrant.
Imagine one of those children mentioned in the article, now an adult, giving a news conference with all the images of their abuse plastered around them, as they calmly and with utter detachment describe the full truth of what happened in each of those pictures. Such detachment breaks all attachment to shame, blame, and victimhood—in fact any identification of self with the images presented. Nonetheless, the full truth of what fully happened in each of those images is fully known, fully owned, and fully released. The images no longer hold any energetic attachment or charge. This is healing detachment.
In such detachment there is no longer any emotional or physical energy attached to those scenes from the past. All energy has been retrieved for a new and evolving life. Those images are the shells of a prior life, but life has actually moved on. This detachment offers the means to completely break free of the predator’s grip—to be freed of the tyrant to control life—and to be freed of the self defined by the predator.
This kind of detachment is life freed from its absorption with the self of those images. From this place the predator has no home, and thus no power. This new self is not a victim. This new self has moved on. This new self is a fluid ever-evolving being now, freed of all fixated definitions.
This kind of healing that I envision for the young women in the NYT article, frees the old self in those images from static interpretations and judgments, all the fixations of the self-absorbed mind. The freed self exists outside the predatory confines of the mind, as well as all who seek to feed off the torment of the once victimized being. That victimized being simply doesn’t exist anymore.
In fact, the evolved being can look back with compassion at all still caught in the confines of self-absorption. That freed being is fluid, able to resume its interrupted journey, in its evolved state having moved beyond the guardian mind of our limited world of self-absorption, a world that even says no one can heal from such a thing. Such an evolved being is now a beacon of developmental necessity, a shining example of where we all need to go now.