A Shamanic Perspective of Life’s Purpose
I practice Liberation Shamanism. Sovereignty, Autonomy and Self-Determination are the keynotes of the paradigm within which I operate. From this viewpoint, the Shamanic perspective of life’s purpose is radically different than the psychotherapeutic or metaphysical way of looking at things. Try this on… I would bet that you look at life as being a school, a place in which you are here to learn? Correct? Let’s say you were going to a University in order to learn something, a particular skill set. You ace the tests, get your diploma, yada yada. The U offers the exact same class next year. So do you repeat the class? No, of course not! You got what you went there to learn, so you are outta there!
Next example: Maybe you have, or know someone who has gone into a relationship in order to learn…to learn how to share, to be giving, accepting…whatever. What invariably happens to that relationship once you have ‘gotten’ what you went in to it to learn? Yep…it is over. You got what you went to learn, so it no longer serves a purpose. Ok, now the biggie…stay with my logic of examples… Do you hold that you are here in this life to learn? If so, What? “I am here in this life to learn ______.” Fill in the blank, it matters not with what…compassion, acceptance, finding your true self…whatever. Now…what will happen once you learn that? (Stick with the flow of examples/logic progression I provided!) That’s right, you are outta here. And what does ‘outta here’ in regards of life equate with? Yep…death.
Here’s the rub…we each have an instinct for self-preservation. Its sole purpose is to keep us alive. Instincts are pre-conscious, and as such are incapable of rational discourse. You cannot argue or convince an instinct that you will not die just because you have moved into completion of your belief of what your purpose in life is. All that the instinct knows is that when you are nearing the achievement of what you are here in this life to learn, death will soon follow. The instinct for self-preservation then will do anything and everything in its power to keep you from ‘getting it’. It will derail, destroy and sabotage all further attempts to succeed. The end result is that whatever the ideal is that you have been thinking you have to learn in order to succeed…fails. The effective way of contending with this is rather simple, really, but it requires of you an absolute, across the board paradigm shift. It is this: We are not here in this life to learn. We are here for the EXPERIENCE of life.
When, in the example, say, of the relationship, we are present in it not to learn, but for the experience of relationship, when, of necessity must that relationship end? Right…never! And during the course of that relationship we will, of course, learn much. But we are not setting ourselves up to learn, we are there for the experience of relationship. Even if that relationship should end, that becomes a part of the experience of relationship…not an end in and of itself.
Now, apply this to Life. If we are NOT here to learn, but rather are here for the experience of Life…when does that end? Again, never. Even death becomes, not a consequence, but a part of the experience of life itself! And, therefore, that instinct for self-preservation does not kick in, as the experience of life does not lead to completion and death. Get it? Ok then… Now, the task is to apply this to EVERY situation in life. Rather than asking, in a situation where you have suffered or been betrayed or whatever: “What do I have to learn…or what is the lesson for me here” (the answer, BTW, is going to be “Nothing!”), ask instead, “What can I learn from this experience of life?”
Doing thusly moves the onus from one of doing one’s damnedest to pass the test that some external authority (God, Karma, etc) has placed before you, to one of owning your own creative intelligence and power in the situation you are experiencing. There is no set up. There is no test. Life is not a school of learning. This is the real thing. Live it, experience it in all its weirdness and awe. Live and experience life with gusto and passion and an acceptance that you will never figure it all out, nor do you have to. In summation: Release the belief that we are here in this life to ‘learn’…that somehow life is a school, or that some deity is testing you, and if you please the deity with your deeds and supplications that deity will reward you with an easier life. Or that you are suffering from karma,…and if you just are good enough you won’t have to suffer karmically (next lifetime!). Embrace life as experience. Oh, you will learn along the way. Probably you will learn lots. The reward comes from the results of your authentic and passionate engagement of Life…not from outside yourself!