Sitting with Shamanism

A sunrise and painted sky over the Colorado Front Range

Sitting with Shamanism

I've been wondering what to do with this for awhile now. How do I practice zazen with my spiritual ancestors?  The correct answer, the one you've all been waiting for, is you don't.  You sit with silence, you sit with breathing and you sit with the knowledge and experience knowing that all things fade away, once you're tuned into your breathing.  In and out.  Soft and slow.  Flickering thoughts like a moth to the limelight.

With time, you may find that thoughts continual arise and a point of attachment comes to mind.  Not necessarily an emotional attachment, as one might expect, but rather an intellectual attachment to an idea or concept that possibly fuels your spiritual practice.  In this case, mine is shamanism, or the conscious effort of working with our spiritual allies to bring about change, here, in this waking reality.  Shamanism, as practiced outside of an indigenous culture, will often include the shamanic journey as an entry point into the wild, wonderful world of this multidimensional practice.

Psychic Readings

Although many of you will not profess into the accuracy of psychic readings, or clairvoyance, and the extrasensory perceptions that are associated with an awakened state, it's important to understand how knowledge comes to us, and why I'm so insistent with practicing shamanism within the context of American Buddhism.

This began many years ago, first as a teenager that was trying to understand his innate abilities, and then as an adult, who newly awakened, was encouraged to walk a shamanic path after receiving a life-affirming psychic reading on the sidewalks of London.  The year was 1998 and I was in town to attend the wedding of a fellow Marine, and his soon-to-be British wife.  The events were to be held in the northern countryside of the United Kingdom, and my then-romantic interest at the time, and I were spending time in the city before boarding a train north.

We came upon him in the early evening as his unkempt appearance, and his long, scraggly hair, gave me the impression of a being homeless man that was begging for scraps. As we approached, and our street-sense boundaries dropped away, we could see that he was a reader, and with the openness to my newfound experiences, and with her own insight into my spiritual awakening, I decided to sit for the reading, if only to see what the future would hold from this important time in my life.

His name was Pão, he would continue to tell us, as he pulled the flesh of a deerskin hide to the ground and handed me a deck of tarot cards.  Sprawling the hide at our feet, we settled in for the reading as she sat down next to me, and after a few moments of shuffling I handed him the cards and he began the reading:

“You will be like a shaman.”  He said, rather enthusiastically.
“Yeah, I'm psychic, and my brow just opened up.”  I cautiously replied.
“Yes, mine goes all the way out here.”  He said as his fingertips extended to the width of his temples.
“And your wife, she will be one too.”  He continued to say.

Huh.  I thought to myself, as I considered my date to the wedding as a close consideration for the nuptial agreement.

“Is this her?”  I asked Pão as he continued his gaze.
“No, not her.”  He quickly replied, as her eyes uncomfortably shifted away.

I knew this, I knew this date to the wedding wouldn't work out.  We had been through an attempt at a long distance relationship while I was in Riyadh, but it didn't work out.  I had found a fleeting love in the summer before, with a short-lived romantic relationship, that would leave a lasting impression.  Unfortunately, the decisions that I had made in that process left our relationship tarnished, and unrecoverable.  There was so much drama on this trip to London, and there was such an opportunity for love, that went unclaimed.  It was an important trip, though.  And it remains an important relationship to this day.

The Tao Te Ching #29

“And you, you will have a lot of money.  A lot of money.”  He said as he continued with his reading.

Of course, anyone can say this, that's what the skeptic is all about.  This is where the vague replies come from, and for many of you in the audience, you may still claim this is hogwash, but there is much validity in the psychic reading, especially when the intention to communicate and receive these messages is clear.  We're going to come back to the psychic readings with the Jewish psychologist, and why I responded in the ways that I have.

Dreaming the Future

With my first-term of enlistment nearing an end and with the flurry that a failed relationship will leave you with, I embarked upon this journey with the full knowledge and willpower to make it happen.  In the following months, and upon my return to the States, we'll see the shaman's power once again as I'm introduced to a circle of healers, and my first spiritual family, that's located in Kent, Ohio.  And we'll also see this failed relationship return to me as her loyalty to our shared goal has only waned in recent years.  From here, you'll see how an unfocused, and undetermined, path of academic study led me to a spiritual inquiry that includes a formal introduction to Zen Buddhism and its progressive path of freedom.