Shamanism is a Path of Love and as all in paths of love, it requires the kind of courage that our leader Martin Luther King had. Shamanism is not about how far you can get out there to meet the spirits but what you bring back for your community, how skillfully you can bring it back and how effectively you can deliver the medicine with love. It is a path with concern for the health of community.
This is why I encourage you, even in the rooms where spiritual people go to seek peace, especially there, to speak your truth.
In the alternative spiritual subcultures, spiritual people can sometimes be so afraid of conflict that silence opens the door for the old illnesses of the dominant paradigm to take root in our sacred settings. But believe it or not, conflict is a sign of healthy community. Conflict allows deep passionate differences to be clearly seen. Without it, there is no true growth. In political and spiritual circles alike, it is extra important for people to be aware of the value of conflict because in political and spiritual circles, conflict is inevitable. Why? Because in both politics and spirituality, if we are true to our path we are being motivated by our deepest values. When our deepest values are crossed, it causes strong emotional response. It’s kind of like math.
If you have tried to speak your truth and experienced being shut down with words like “you are being negative” or “you create your own reality”, don’t let this push you into a place of self doubt. Even if you were not entirely correct in your words, that sort of response only means that you are pushing up against people’s fear.
Every movement, whether spiritual or political comes with its rhetoric. When the rhetoric is used without context or insight, it becomes dogma. Dogma is often used to control others. The rhetoric of positive thinking and positive speaking has become dogma in many corners of our subculture and our nation. It is sounding a lot like the old “don’t rock the boat” of other oppressive cultural ribbons of the past.
Conflict is a place where people are outside their comfort zone, in a place of vulnerability and risk. It is when social interactions are not all tied up in a bow over a neat package. It can be scary, a place with high stakes, where bridges are easily burned…or deeper understandings made or where trust and growth can be forged. Without this risk we cannot learn about each other.
This is the practice of love. Love for the self requires speaking one’s truth. The cantankerous process of speaking one’s truth is more healing than the silence of covered wounds. Don’t let anyone pacify you with that “everyone has their own truth” dogma (remember that dogma is good rhetoric used in ungrounded and out of context circumstances, often as a way to wield power). We have a common truth, too. We CO-create our experiences together and in order for us to live together we have to negotiate. Truth is “what is” and if “what is” is not working for all, rather than shut each other down, why not break the box open? What’s the worst that can happen? Burned bridges and the old familiar isolation? Isolation is the prison of the developed countries. It is long due that we break out of that prison.
Have faith. Courage was explained to me as not a circumstantial thing like bravery but a way of living. Take heart. Truth is inevitably more healing than the silence of covered wounds. The courage to be oneself will allow others to do the same.
None of us has this stuff down all perfect. This essay is not perfect. It’s just a draft. Perfection is the enemy of love anyways-we all, so beautifully imperfect. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to wish we were able to say things differently. I do. But better to say something imperfectly than to not say it at all. There is not enough time to worry about being liked. If we are silent we will drown.. as gay activists around the world know too well, silence is death. Death of the soul and for many death all around.
Thank goodness we live in a country where speaking does not mean death. This gives us extra responsibility to speak when so many others cannot.
Let’s co-create our realities for common cause to bring more love and healing in the world for everyone, not just our friends and people like us. Let’s tune in today to the massive power behind the speeches of Martin Luther King and allow ourselves to be infected with that fire, to be inspired to do whatever it is that we are called to do.