What Defines You And How Is That Working For You?

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For thousands of years, human beings have found themselves caught in the prison of their own story lines aided and abetted by the influence of prejudices of family systems, cultures, and religious programming. For the most part, humans have felt at the mercy of events and influences beyond their control and have often suffered greatly as a result. The reason for this has been the limits of their own beliefs, their amnesia about who they actually are, and the hypnosis delivered by the civilizations within which they live. Those who have escaped this prison have been a very small percentage of the whole and they have often found themselves alone with their new-found freedom or even persecuted for proclaiming it. Often the best solution for them has been to isolate themselves and live quiet lives in out of the way places or risk the wrath of the controlling elements.

Even in prison some people can find a measure of happiness. They have their friendships, their distractions, their everyday activities and they can sometimes have a life that others envy and that seems to others to be very fortunate. There have always been the wealthy, the popular, the ones who control the purse strings, or run the society and they seem to have all the good fortune and luck. Yet most of these people have been in the self-imposed prison of earth life and have simply been living out the scripts written for them, often shaped entirely by controlling influences of conditional love, fear of consequences, and the desire to be accepted.

In these extraordinary times of change, we have the possibility to globally escape the prisons of our narratives and storylines for good. People are just beginning to perceive that the human race is going through the most dramatic change in the history of the world and the consequence of this will be enormous and lead to an entirely different reality with an extraordinary new set of opportunities and possibilities. In order for this to be accomplished much or most will have to go by the wayside, most of the things we have grown used to and expect to comfort us. As the late Ram Dass was fond of saying, “Better get comfortable with change.” The price for this prison escape will be the comfort of the expected and the known. There is just no way to hang on to what is comfortable and known and at the same time discover the vast freedom that awaits us. We have become institutionalized without even realizing it and many of us don’t actually want to be released from jail to explore the possibilities of living a free life. We want to run back to our jail cells, keeping the same schedules, the same prison uniforms, and eating the same slop every day. Why? Because it’s known and freedom comes with mystery which can be scary. Better stay with the devil you know rather than the one you don’t.

Children love surprises and they naturally expect those surprises to be wonderful. If you say to a child, “I have a surprise for you”, they will beam with delight and anticipate some delicious dessert, candy, a new toy, or something wonderful. Adults are much less inclined to like surprises anymore. They meet the notion of surprises with suspicion and expect the worst.  Surprise, surprise, the transmission just went out in the car and it will cost thousands to fix and the warranty is expired.  Surprise, there are new taxes and the old write offs have been eliminated. Surprise, you have cancer. Surprise, your spouse wants a divorce. Surprise, your job has been eliminated by technology.

The reason that all of this sounds so grim to adults is that they have become accustomed to being in jail and that there is no escape from the bad news that their scripts call for. Why do people’s scripts and narratives have so much bad news? Because for the most part these narratives have been written by the false personality, the ego, and it is not your friend. That should be obvious by now. The only way the ego can dominate you is by making you suffer. It snares you with a little gratification and then smacks you down with terrific disappointment, leaving you to crave another little bit of gratification. Isn’t this the exact scenario of heroin addiction or alcoholism or any addiction for that matter. It is the exact pattern of domestic abuse and violence.  We will sell our life away for a few moments of self-gratification, a few silver coins right now, and pass up the huge treasure that is outside the gates.

Narratives involve identifications, and expected life patterns. The first order of business is to know what character you are playing, your role in the script. This character you are identified with was subjected to intense pressures and expectations provided mostly by your family unit and your subculture. This we could call your personal and family icon. The family has its own identity, for example: “We are the family that never gets ahead. We work hard but the game is fixed and we will always be on the low rung of the ladder”. “We are the X family and we are a bunch of losers whose men go to jail and whose women are left with all the work, childrearing etc. The women in this family always choose abusers to marry”. “We are the Y family and we are educated and expect all our members to be professionals. We know the right people and always seem to come out on top although our women tend take pills to cope and our men drink heavily to handle the pressure”. You get the idea, these are family programs foisted on all the unsuspecting children. Here is your script, now play your part.

However, in addition to this is the personal icon: “Rebecca is the good looking but stupid one. She will have to marry well”. “Thomas is the athletic one who will make us proud with his achievements which of course he must do, but he is lazy”. “Jacob is the saint who will make us proud by becoming a priest or minister and make our family respectable, but he has a wandering eye”. “Alberto is the playboy, witty and charismatic, but can’t be trusted”. “Ann is the book smart one. She will never marry but she will become a professional”. “Cathy is a good mare. She will give us lots of grandchildren”. “Poor John. He is isn’t very bright. He will have to work with his hands”.

Later these scripts will get more subtitles. Karen gets raped and picks horrible men who abuse her. She identifies with being the worthless raped one. Nancy experienced incest by her alcoholic father and then by her uncle. She identifies with the narrative that she has been ruined for life. Fred gets into fights and starts drinking young. He is arrested for car theft and does some hard time. He identifies with being an ex-con and trouble finds him everywhere. Robert is hard working and generally a good guy but controlled by his mother. He picks controlling women that abuse him and endlessly find him inadequate and undeserving of respect.

These are all narratives, identities that are self-perpetuating. They are mostly built upon a solid base of fear and since fear begets more fear, the narrative becomes prophetic. The fear comes from thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that reinforce expectations of more of the same. The identity is an idea and ideas that get focused on heavily by the mind become reality. These ideas are given life by our awareness or consciousness that then compresses reality into a tiny little point, a jail cell.

Consciousness or awareness has a very simple job and that is to be aware of everything including itself. However, most people do not realize this and so their consciousness is focused on objects, ideas, perceptions, sensations that are then infused with energy and begin to manifest. In other words, most people’s consciousness is harnessed into producing a story line and this then appears to the person to be their reality which they feel enslaved by. This is how the prison comes about. What human beings forget is that consciousness is not only aware of the externals that we out-picture, but it is always aware of itself as well. Now listen carefully. Since consciousness is limitless and belongs to Spirit, it is liberation itself when it is not forced to produce narratives. If we humans could just shut up long enough to feel what consciousness is all by itself, we would discover that rather than collapsing everything into a cramped storyline, we would discover ourselves outside of the prison walls, in a free open space of pure being. The narrative, deprived of juice, would simply fade away leaving pure potential or space in its wake. This space is what awaits us. However, it already always exists within us. What awaits us is remembering it, that is all. All narratives are manufactured just like movies are manufactured for our entertainment. Consciousness is what is watching the movie or any movie we choose to show and it will infuse that with color and energy and life blood. What movie do we want consciousness to watch? How about a movie that is not prepackaged already? How about a movie with an open script that can be dreamed up as desired along the way? How about a movie that has a theme of following the golden line of unfolding perfection, deep satisfaction, unconditional love, forgiveness, gratitude, love, awe, and service.

Present this option to a younger soul and they will grimace and pass on it because it just does not grab them as interesting enough. Horror films are much more compelling to the younger soul.  So are narratives of violence, betrayal, deceit, and so on. Yet to the mature and older soul the golden line narrative focused on expansiveness and fulfillment sounds more compelling. This is where the planet is headed so take heart. Rather than a fixed menu of narrow identifications, loser, winner, tyrant, manipulator, cheater, slut, rock star, hero, asshole, and what have you, there is the possibility of escaping all these titles and just being who you truly are, none of those things.

How is your narrative going so far? Is it working for you? Does it have a locked-in prophecy that you will always repeat the same patterns until you die? Is it depressing or liberating? Do you want to change the game? Have a new open-ended script? Be without any script?  Well, prepare to get comfortable with change. Prepare to have moments when you no longer know who you are. Perhaps you will feel somewhat lost for periods of time. Maybe you will freak out and want your old patterns back?  Or maybe you will feel relieved by just admitting that you don’t know anymore who and what you are but you are finding out that it is way more than you ever thought possible. Perhaps who you really are will exceed your wildest expectations for this lifetime. Can you let go of your definitions, your old expectations, your fear of surprises, your fear of change? If you can, you will be richly rewarded because that is the way the river is going from now on. Easier to swim downstream. Don’t you think?


José Stevens

José Luis Stevens, PhD is the president and co-founder (with wife Lena) of Power Path Seminars, an international school and consulting firm dedicated to the study and application of shamanism and indigenous wisdom to business and everyday life. José completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol (Wixarika) Maracame (Huichol shaman) in the Sierras of Central Mexico. In addition, he is studying with Shipibo shamans in the Peruvian Amazon and with Paqos (shamans) in the Andes in Peru. In 1983 he completed his doctoral dissertation at the California Institute of Integral Studies focusing on the interface between shamanism and western psychological counseling. Since then, he has studied cross-cultural shamanism around the world to distill the core elements of shamanic healing and practice. He is the author of twenty books and numerous articles including Encounters With Power, Awaken The Inner Shaman, The Power Path, Secrets of Shamanism, Transforming Your Dragons and How To Pray The Shaman’s Way.

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You may make copies of this writing and distribute it in any media you wish, so long as you do not charge for it or alter it in any way. You must credit the author and include this entire copyright notice. While the text may be shared, no audio files, including lectures, music and/or sound meditations, may be posted on any site for any reason without written permission from the Power Path.

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