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confilid

Spiritually confused

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Hello Shamanscave,

I found this forum after learning that another forum where I was a frequent reader (re: student) and scarce contributor had shut down. After a brief look around I feel peace and ease here. So, I think I might as well introduce myself as a seeker, by posting my question.

I will try my best to describe my dilemma in brief. 7 years ago I entered into a long-term relationship which lasted 5 years. In the end, it turned out to be a predatory, narcissistic, psychologically abusive relationship that left me reeling at the end when I finally had the courage to ask my friends for help to escape, and those friends had the courage to answer the call. During that time, I was introduced gradually to all kinds of things, and although the relationship was a bad one, there were many events that put me on a certain path of spiritual awakening. I learned these things from my ex, and in hindsight now I can see that she strategically led me down a rabbit hole, starting in a place of truth, leading into a narrative, ending up in a place of controlling fiction. I'll try to sum that up real quick; introduction to shamanism, followed by introduction to Toltec sorcery (a la Carlos Castaneda), followed by a completely fictional story revolving around us, our past lives and soul reincarnations, destiny to be together as eternal fairy beings incarnating as human, purpose to cleanse the world of human filth, etc. It started off light and got very dark.

I've been out of that environment for almost 2 years but I am still reeling. I did find much truth in my shamanic journeys. I also found truth in dreaming, and still do. But I feel like I am at a loss for direction. I guess my problem that I'm trying to present is threefold:

1) I find myself no longer able to do a shamanic journey. I have every intent and interest, but every time I try, I cannot focus at all and most often fall asleep during the process. This has been the case since I left her.

2) My support network of friends who helped me out of that situation, one key friend in particular, keeps pressing upon me the idea that Shamanism is just a belief system that keeps you tunnel-visioned in and unable to see the grand picture at large which has no belief system. (He has spent many years delving into connective modalities such as linking awareness and bodytalk) Which hey, to be honest that sounds amazing, but I cannot help but feel belittled just because I am where I am on the scale of spiritual development. Shamanic journeying used to help me to see the truth, even when it was not how 'she' said it was. I really believed in it. What's going on? Am I having some kind of "shamanic dysfunction" by allowing these thoughts of what she lied to me about, and what I might be missing on the grand scale, (in essence, the input of others) to intimidate me into impotence?

3) Is there any kind of litmus test per se, some kind of ringer for truth, some way or technique or process that any of you might employ when presented with new information or challenged on a belief? How do you decide on what you believe? How do you know what really resonates with you? What tests do you put it through?

I should cut it off there, I think that's pretty much the long-and-short of it. This is my best effort so far to put this problem into words, although I'm sure it's still found wanting. Thanks for reading. I'm happy to have found this community, I'm sure I have loads to learn.

Peace,
confilid

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Confilid,

First of all, it sucks that you went through what you had to go through. That sort of thing leaves deep scars. You received some good spiritual things out of it, but they will be mixed up within you with the trauma, until you sort it out. For that reason, I would expect things to be a bumpy ride getting there. Don't be too hard on yourself when you hit those bumps. A deep spiritual path is already personally difficult, and mixing in your relationship stuff is going to make it more complicated than that. It will take a lot of personal patience on your part, so don't judge yourself too hard when you hit some difficulties.

On all spiritual paths, the question of if it's "the truth" isn't the real question. The real question is whether it's "the truth" for you. What works for you, how you see and experience things, what helps you make sense of everything, could be very different than for the next person. People who tell you, "no, no, THIS is what is really the truth - how things REALLY are", they are selling you. This is true for religious and spiritual paths, but double for shamanism. In shamanism, it's all a a personal experience and a personal journey. What you experience follows no scripts, and not really any rules.

For the shaman, it's vital that we be clear on what we experience for ourselves, but it still remains a subjective experience. When we learn to connect to the outside world, through seeing, healing, etc., then we need to validate what we see, understand it and verify it, but it still remains a personal experience.

On to your questions:

1) if you find a particular way of doing things isn't working, I would suggest switching things up, or trying something different. Perhaps the way things used to work a certain way, now work differently. In shamanism it's important to not get too set into a particular modality of doing things - we need to remain flexible to circumstances, including ourselves.

2) shamanism isn't a "belief system" - it's not a religion. It's not a matter of belief so much as a matter of experiences. It's important to make sure that the path we're on matches our experiences, that what we're doing and feeling and seeing is shamanic in nature, of course. 

We can't simply put ourselves out there and say, "OK, universe, I'm just going to understand you directly. Hit me with it all!" If it were that easy, everybody would just "do it". Humans, even shamanically-inclined humans, have certain ways of thinking and approaching stuff which keeps us separate from "everything at once" - that's why shamanism exists, to give us a framework to go beyond our normal selves, to experience the universe in a different way. There's no sidestepping having to do that through a process. If somebody could experience it just by trying hard, they would probably be very, very insane.

3) I think the only true gauge for what works is a personal one. You have to ask yourself if this is working for you, if this is what you need to do, this way. There's nothing wrong with seeing what's out there and finding the path that matches you.  The key is finding the "path with heart" - the path that is your personal journey, the one you're meant to walk and choose to walk. It is usually one of the hardest ones. The easy ones don't lead anywhere.

What is it for you? I think you can tell it when it feels natural to you, like it "fits". It doesn't mean it's easy. Shamanism is not the only path out there, and it wouldn't suit most people out there, but the ones it does feel like it was meant for them.

-karl

 

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Hi Confilid -

I'd like to add to Karl's comment on your #2 question. I agree with what he says, first of all. But also, "Shamanism is just a belief system that keeps you tunnel-visioned in and unable to see the grand picture at large which has no belief system" is incorrect. The shamanic is not at all "tunnel-visioned." In fact, it's scope is breathtaking at the very least, and the "picture at large" very grand indeed. Perhaps your friend is referring to some of the paler imitations of shamanism out there these days.

A misconception people often have is that shamanism can be a choice. It can't, at least not very often. As Karl states, you will know if it is the path you need to follow. A great many people can learn various shamanic techniques, and schools have sprung up to teach these things. Unfortunately, knowing a lot of techniques is not at the core of shamanism, and very few find the shamanic way to be their own true way.

It's pretty devastating to experience what you did. These things take time and work to get past. Continue your journey. Eventually you'll sort it all out. My best wishes to you,

Beth

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