In this article we are going to revisit the topic of perception and how important changing our way of looking at the world and ourselves is in order to cope with new realities. This is a highly condensed opening sentence so let us unpack it a little. Perception can mean several things; for example, it may have to do with becoming aware of something through our senses such as the perception of pain or pleasure. In addition, it may have to do with how we perceive and interpret an experience such as the perception that someone we meet is angry, sad, fearful, amused, or maybe on drugs. Furthermore, it can have to do with our interpretation of an event as being unfortunate or discouraging versus seeing it as encouraging, fortunate, or a good omen.
How we perceive our world has a great deal to do with how it shows up according to our expectations as in the perception that the world is in terrible shape and it is all the fault of a particular political party or official. Our perceptions, then, are closely tied to our beliefs and expectations and these are what tend to form our reality over time. If I believe that the world situation is hopeful then I am inclined to perceive each event or experience as a sign that this is so, even if an event according to most people is seen as a disaster. If most people are discouraged and seeing climate change as hopeless then this will subtly make it so because they will be more inclined not to invest money in fighting the effects of it or by changing personal habits. Seeing climate change as something that can be influenced by changing our lifestyles is more likely to produce some beneficial results.
Some of the things I am going to say now reflect my own bias based on what I believe the long-term prospects of life on this planet will most probably be. Despite what appears to be much evidence to the contrary I believe that, come what may, the human race has already decided to have a future on this planet and that we will find ways to thrive and transform ourselves as a result of and because of a radical elevation in consciousness that is already beginning to occur. This bias has an influence in how I see the nature of the obstacles and what I believe must be done to realize our highest possibilities.
The nature of the obstacles
Despite the soaring visionaries, poets, musicians, and philosophers amongst us, the human race can be incredibly concrete at times. For example, we still believe verbatim the highly distorted, influenced, and reinterpreted words of sacred books written over two thousand years ago and take the parts we choose as gospel. We are still smiting the philistines, oppressing our women, and stoning our sinners in the name of a wrathful and vindictive God who we believe wants to control us, oppress us, and ultimately cast us into everlasting flames. So attached are our scientists to their theories that we are loathe to accept new discoveries and evidence that the world works in totally different ways than we thought.
When I was a sociology major in college, I took a class on the dynamics of social change and the professor shocked the class by informing us that social change becomes possible only by the holders of the present theories dying off of old age. In other words what he was saying was that most people tend not to change their minds once they are set in their ways despite all evidence to the contrary. This accounts for the relatively slow evolution of social change in relation to the rapid technological change we have experienced in these last few decades. Another way of saying this is that we humans tend to lag behind our discoveries and adapt rather slowly. While this viewpoint has proven to be fairly accurate it has not accounted for several other facts that sociologists don’t understand. We are living in a time frame where the children being born are much more adaptive to new ways than their forebears or ancestors. The difference between people of various generations is enormous compared with the differences say five hundred years ago, so while we are waiting for older generations to die away, the new generations are light years ahead in their attitudes, creativity, and beliefs. What is oppressing them right now from exerting more influence are a couple of things. They are outnumbered by the Boomers who dominate politics and positions of authority and they are oppressed by the fact that Boomers are favored economically and as hard as they try to catch up, the economics of the times prevents many of them from getting ahead. Ask any of the recent generations about buying their own homes and you see despair in their eyes. This too will pass.
Anyone can see that the new generations are born equipped with the skills to handle and understand all the new technologies and then some. They also seem to not care what their elders think about gender identification, social equality, and a host of other notions. Contrary to popular opinion the new generations are hard working and highly principled with regard to the environment. They are no slouches but they are somewhat handicapped by the hypnotic social media technologies that have interfered with their need for intimacy. They will overcome all that because of where we are actually going as a species.
When people see the world a certain way it tends to reinforce the reality of that way of seeing it. This has become an enormous obstacle to our evolution. Seeing the world according to fixed beliefs tends to fix the way reality shows up. The world however, is not waiting for us to evolve out of this problem. The amplitude of the physical plane has already begun to increase substantially in the last thirteen years and like a learning curve it is headed rapidly upward. This gives the impression that reality is speeding up and for all practical purposes, it is. So, while many humans march to a slow beat of the drum, the world all around, nature if you will, is marching to a much more rapid beat. This throws those humans who do not perceive the faster beat, the younger souls, into a very difficult situation. They march very slowly while the fires and floodwaters are racing up behind them, not a pretty sight. Their tendency is to double down in the belief that their pace is the right one, despite all contrary evidence. This is like watching a train wreck already in progress.
In addition to this tendency to double down they are experiencing a world that seems to have run amok and this causes them massive fear and stress. In response to this anxiety, they seek strong authoritarian father like leaders who cater to their most primitive notions of who to blame, revealing the racism and bigotry that has been present all along but not acknowledged. They believe their leaders will solve everything and make them feel safe again, the blind leading the blind. Fortunately, this is only approximately 48% of the population of the world at this time which creates dangerous polarities considering how vocal the minority is and how willing to take action they are. That is another subject for another time.
Meanwhile the world is relentlessly moving on, climate change being only one of the visible aspects of this total transformation. Nature truly does mirror and reflect the inner dynamics of the consolidated consciousness that human beings are, but refuse to admit.
When perception is at odds with the way reality is there can be serious consequences. Let us take for example the reality of the flow of a particular river in an easterly direction. When someone perceives the flow of the river opposite to how it is actually running, they can produce all kinds of optical illusions and even hallucinations. This person might look at the river and actually believe it is running in reverse, to the west. This does not change the actual course or direction of the water in the river to the east. It only changes things in the mind of the beholder and can make them very vulnerable to danger. If according to a more accurate person’s perception they see that the river is actually running east, they are not only seeing things the way they are but they are able to perceive a whole host of things that the first person could not, for example what this does to the plant life and animal life living along the river, how it is impacted by the weather and climate as the flow goes further east. The first person who believes it is running west has to be in denial about all this and they will make assessments based on a false set of facts that could prove fatal for them in the long run as they think they are going west, not east.
When we see the world the way it is meant to be seen, life becomes so much simpler. Most people see the world as “not me.” I am here in this body and everything and everyone else is out there. This means that according to this perception I have to control the world to make it work for me. I have to effort and struggle to manage it and force it to bend to my will. It means I am always afraid I might not be able to succeed because the world is so big and I am so small. So, this means that fear always runs me and the world and this is based on a denial of Spirt, quite the hallucination, and a rather dangerous one. In an interesting way it makes this scary version of the world real, not because it is real, but because it is real in my perception of it.
Let’s consider the alternative. I see the world as my home, as within me just as it appears to be around me. It’s all me, it’s all Spirit, and I am intimately related to it. The whole business of me and my body and my inner world and the whole world I see and feel around me are all one vibration, the ancient sound of AAAAHHHH, the sound of Spirit, God, the Source, the Creator and so on. This is what the Tibetan Buddhists say in agreement with the Toltecs, the Mayans, the Ancient Egyptians, the druids of old and a host of mystic traditions. There is no in here vs out there. It is just one awareness. In this perception of the world there is nothing to fear, nothing to control, nothing to manage, nothing to fight with. It is in the words of the Buddha and the ancient Taoists, empty. It is the kingdom of heaven in Christian terms. It conforms with the ancient saying, “Be still and know! In this perception there is no need for racism, bigotry, fighting, polarizing, fearing, judging, saving, and so on. It just IS. When this becomes the perception, the truth of reality is quickened, is activated, is acknowledged. Since reality in this viewpoint is eternal, everywhere, and nowhere, it is never fixed and therefore always becoming, always new because there is no real past to fix it in place and give it a narrative. When we see it this way, we make it new because we are it, and we are always being new. We are in total harmony with it.
Now it is important that this not become just another theory. What would be the use of that? As the Mandalorian’s are wont to say, This is the way! To adopt this way of seeing is to see it as we always have known it to be on an essence level, like a diamond, beneath the dust and the dirt. It may need a good scrubbing after being in the dirt for so long. Try seeing reality as all one at least once a day, in the morning is best. You will like it. Then do it twice a day. You will like it. Then three times. Again, you will like it. You get the idea. This practice will gradually take over and your perception of reality will change in a good way. You have everything problematic to lose, everything great to gain.
All is blessed as are you. Spread it around.
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.