A new José Stevens Article

The Presidential Candidates and Personal Responsibility Pt. 2

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If you read my recent article (click here to read) you became familiar with the various candidates for president and vice president and how they are symbols for the public’s projections, both positive and negative. Let’s take these ideas a step further here. If we are to make progress as a human race then we are going to have to be brutally honest with ourselves, perhaps I should say ruthlessly honest instead. Let us take the position mystics and shamans hold that the world is as we dream it and our so-called reality is populated with the most amazing symbols and projections, the language of dreams. If we view the world from this perspective then everything that appears to be out there is actually an aspect of what is within each of us no matter how much we resist that idea. From this perspective then all the candidates represent hidden and perhaps unacknowledged or unrealized aspects of ourselves. Think of it this way. As adults we learn to ignore impulses that we once had as children. It is not as if the impulses have disappeared, only we don’t act on them anymore because we have become more sophisticated. On occasion we still want to punch someone in the face, eat too much candy, throw a tantrum, act defiant and gratify ourselves in the most childish ways. However, in most cases we simply note the impulse, ignore it and opt for a more mature approach. It is no different with how we view the candidates and other figures that dramatically people our world.

Consider the current much-maligned president George W. Bush (or you could consider Dick Cheney as well). A few of his faithful core group still project onto him the patriarchal father who can do no wrong. However, a large majority of the people at this time are aghast at his presidency and horrified at his legacy. People are fond of pointing the finger at him and calling him a moron, a warmonger, an incompetent, an imperial dictator and other less flattering things. Many people actually hate him with a passion and blame him for the nation’s ills. But if we are to be ruthlessly honest when we look at him and hear him speak we recognize at some level that we are looking at a part of ourselves that we have disowned. Instead of pointing the finger we could just as well say, “I am secretly afraid that I am a loser, an incompetent, a petty tyrant and so on. I hate myself.” This statement would be absolutely true. We have all been like that at one time or another and if we pretend that is not a part of ourselves then we are doomed to project it and recreate it out there in the world over and over. Of course he is us and as a group, by hook or crook, fairly or unfairly, we arranged for him to lead us for awhile and teach us what that part of ourselves looks like when it is allowed to run wild.

It is no different with Obama, McCain, Palin and Biden. We can argue and point fingers and proclaim who is right and who is wrong, who is a better leader and who is a moron, but in the end it is ourselves we are talking about. We project our hopes and fears onto these volunteers who take on our projections and play out our greatest hopes or our worst fears. This is why it is not a good idea to resist certain candidates or leaders too greatly. Certainly it is a very bad idea to hate them because in doing so we hate ourselves all the more. If you don’t like what a candidate represents, then acknowledge that they are playing out a part of yourself, perhaps a part from your past when you were less mature. Perhaps this is a part of you that you still feel badly about or feel guilty about. Have some compassion for them, forgive them their immaturity and then turn your entire focus on the candidate that holds the projections of yourself that you want to promote. Acknowledge that their skill is actually your skill, their wisdom is your wisdom, their charisma is your charisma and that their ideas represent your ideas now. In this way you resist nothing while promoting what you want.

Like it or not, from a mystic’s point of view, there will come a time in the distant future when the illusion of separateness will fall away and each one of us will recognize that the other is none other than ourselves and at that point we will combine. They will become us and we will become them because in reality all is one. The real truth is that this already exists and it is only our illusions that distort this understanding. So if you knew that one-day you would combine with the essence of Dick Cheney you would perhaps not agree with him but you might think about him differently. If you proclaim, “Never! Not in a million years” then you are only prolonging the inevitable and making sure that you keep getting leaders not of your choice. No one said that growing up would be easy and this is one of those things that is not particularly easy, just necessary like making up after a fight.

The next truth is this. If we did not have such contempt for ourselves we would select competent and good leaders, the one’s we deserve. They may not be perfect and may not be able to solve all the problems but they would certainly inspire us and help us to work together instead of antagonistically. No one wants to admit this but Americans are not proud of themselves otherwise they would not have to proclaim their pride so loudly and pretend so hard that they are so powerful in order to bolster up such a fragile self esteem. This is Psychology 101. The rest of the world sees right through this bluff but Americans have been in such denial that they really think that saying they are tough makes them great in the eyes of others.

For some time Americans have harbored a load of guilt for the actions of their leaders and for their own felt incapacity to relieve the suffering in the world. Every time a load of bombs falls on another people, every time another democratically elected leader is assassinated by the CIA, every time a countries’ environment is trashed in the name of commerce that feeds our greed Americans secretly feel guilty. But since they don’t know how to stop it, they feel anger toward what makes them feel guilty, and then they try to justify and rationalize these actions. This is not a productive cycle but only leads to self hatred projected outward onto others.

Americans truly are a wonderful people but they need to feel truly deserving of something better, not just a high standard of living, not just a good economic system, but something really better, the pride that comes from feeling generous, compassionate and loving toward all peoples and wanting the best for them. Greed is a mark of low self-esteem. We see greed in lower animals and in small children who don’t know any better. The rampant greed we see in American society should not be condemned but rather it needs to be understood for what it is. Greed is fear of lack that comes from the fear of emotional abandonment, from lack of intimacy. The road to healing America is intimacy, love, connectedness, understanding and above all the honoring of our children with time and attention. Self-esteem is restored through honesty and taking responsibility for our projections. This is the tough road ahead. We will succeed.

(Please feel free to forward this information to as many as you like, as long as you provide author and website references)

Blessings in these times,
Jose Luis Stevens

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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.