The Path of the Non-Dual Shaman
Part Two: The Shamanic World
The shamanic perspective is derived from the non-dual in a strange way.
Many shamans of the classical calling, (those who had a major illness, often with a near death experience thrown in, that transformed them into shamans), also sometimes gain the view that the Universe is One singular thing.
In the midst of their shamanic illness, they typically, through the conceptual block of separation, see that reality is infused by one infinite spirit that is all things. Spirit is equally in all things, and all is thus sacred. Objects and creatures of all sorts simply appear different and with different attributes based on their individual design.
Classic shamans often see the multidimensional nature of the Universe. This vision usually includes many levels of perceptual reality. However, for purposes of understanding the shamanic world, we will use a simple system to help clarify these many levels and group them into two basic categories.
There is the inner-world and the outer-world.
You already experience these two, perhaps unbeknownst to you, and have been working with them all your life, so no huge breakthrough here. You just likely don't fully appreciate them because of the moment in history in which you were born, where ancient wisdom customs and traditions are not openly practiced or passed down through the generations.
The outer-world is accessed via the five senses.
It is the physical dimension and includes all the stuff: planets, stars, people, cats, bananas, your body. etc. It is clearly and easily accessed via your five senses (touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste).
The inner-world is accessed via your imagination.
It is the symbolic world. It includes all your inner voices, dreams, inner feelings, fears, your entire experience of reality. In fact, you never really experience the outer-world as it actually is, because you only ever experience it inside you as sensations that you perceive, interpret and give meaning to.
That is fine, but also an important distinction to make.
We do have an outer, objective reality that we can all sense. There is a lot of agreement on how things are and how they work in the objective world, because the tools we have made work well for establishing consensus. In other words, there are agreed-upon rules for how this outer-world behaves and works. We call this science and wisdom. How the inner reality interprets the outer-world constitutes what we call psychology.
There are universally agreed ways things “actually” are, and we as humans are good at working within those constructs. Everything that is is not an illusion. Everything that is is a very real ornament of awareness and it all works in a very certain and specific way for us. It follows our rules.
So what does the shamanic perspective add to this mix, or in this case, add back in after it was cut out?
What it puts back in is the perspective that the inner-world is not just in your head. Your mind and imagination are needed to perceive both the inner- and outer-world. But, just like the outer-world does not require your mind to exist, independent from you (that is, you can die and the world will go on like it did before without a hitch,) so too, is there an inner collective Universe that exists.
The inner collective Universe is as real as the outer-world.
It will, and does persist before you and after you. That is what the shamanic perspective adds back into our worldview. The inner-world, or the realm of the subtle, is not only in your head, it is everywhere. Your imagination is simply the tool you use to access it.
This is not a belief for the shamanic perspective; it is a factual reality. Shamanism itself is very practical and reality-tested in its approach. And if this shamanic worldview was some fantasy that didn’t create concrete results in the outerworld, it would have been abandoned long ago, rather than being the longest running spiritual tradition in history. Anthropologists have dated shamanism back to the Paleolithic age, as early as 30,000 BC.
Just like science, shamanism is a practical approach to helping people survive and finally thrive in the outer-world. The shaman essentially uses an inner-world science to accomplish their aims.
Those aims can be quite tactical, such as "where are the fish in the lake?"
to more existential, such as "what is the meaning of my life and destiny?"
Answers to both of these questions can be discovered by traveling inward and communicating with the inner-world beings that shamans encounter and work with.
This raises some questions, such as:
Why does the shamanic inner-world perspective matter?
How does it help me live?
When we seek out and work with compassionate and wise beings in the inner-world, including our own celestial soul, or higher self, we can access information that can only be obtained from outside time and space as we perceive it.
A simple comparison is the idea that we have more information than fish about how things look from above the water. So, our perspective and the way we exist gives us certain insights and capacities that fish do not have.
Likewise, spending time in the inner-world gives certain perspectives and insights that are hard for us to access on our own through our outer-world senses.
When information is shared to us by the wise and compassionate beings, it can help us make decisions, heal, grow, and find what we need in order to thrive. Utilizing this knowledge will help us fulfill our purpose and live a more meaningful life.
Such beings can even help us fulfill deep, compelling longings for things that are not realistically achievable in the outer-world simply because the outer-world, no matter how good it gets, is not an idealized version of reality.
The outer-world is a place of remarkable possibility to try and create things under the outer-world conditions. These conditions require great effort, struggle, and often risk.
The results of those events in our lives shape us, empower us, and give us an experience that is both terrible and profound.
They give us depth, and can generate both wisdom and compassion in time if such are cultivated.
They give the higher self, the celestial soul, the opportunity to experience something beyond the idealized spiritual worlds.
This, it turns out has value, to the soul.
But what exactly is the soul?
We will explore this in Part Three: “What is the Soul?”
Here’s an exercise for you:
Sitting quietly, practice shifting between awareness of your outer-world (what it looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes like, sounds like) and your inner-world (your perceptions that arise in your imagination when you turn inward). Notice the subtle differences between sensations that arise in your awareness.