Teachings – #4 Life’s Lessons

January 15, 2010

New Moon


Shamanic Teaching #4

Life’s Lessons

Life’s Lessons

We are here in this life to learn. Everything is a lesson. If I can learn what the lesson is in this situation, then I won’t have to keep repeating it.

Statements such as these are held by many to be ‘how it is’. But… what if there is another way of looking at life, one in which Life is not a classroom, but the ongoing unfoldment of the greatest journey into the non-determined experience of the All-That-Is?

Step with me into an exploration of this perspective. All that is required is that you place the coat and hat of your taken-for-granted paradigm of ‘how it is’ on the chair behind you and walk with me through a different perspective, that of the Shamanic paradigm. Consider it an adventure. When we are done you can come and reclaim your familiar wraps, if you should still choose to do so.

Metaphysical Meanderings

Imagine that you have gone to a University in order to earn a degree in a particular topic of your choosing. You have put in the time, aced your tests, diploma earned. The university to which you have gone offers the same course materials next semester. Do you return to the school and take the same course again? No, of course not. Why? Because you have got what you went there to get and now you are outta there! Next, let me ask you: Have you, or someone you know, ever gone into a relationship in order to learn? To learn about love, relating to another, patience, whatever it may be? And, when you or that person has learned what they went into the relationship to learn, what invariably happens to that relationship? That’s right, it ends, It’s done, You/they got what you/they went in the relationship to learn, and once it has been learned that relationship no longer serves a purpose. It ends. Done. Finished. And what about Life? Do you hold that you are here in this Life to learn? To learn something, anything… compassion, unconditional love, forgiveness? Should you learn what you came here to learn, what would be the ultimate result, the conclusion of that lesson learned? Following it through from the examples already given, there is but one conclusion: You are outta here! Done. Finished. And what does that look like? Right: Death. Life has served its purpose, you no longer need to be here, you exit, you leave, complete. You die.

However, we have this thing, a drive, within us, that we call the instinct for self-preservation. When the instinct for self-preservation is triggered it has the sole function of keeping us alive. As a consequence, in response to a perceived situation that equates with the end of our purpose for being alive, it will do whatever it can to prevent that situation from occurring. It will sabotage our every effort of fulfilling our Life’s Purpose. It will subvert, derail, distract and destroy the fulfillment of your Life’s Purpose in an attempt to keep you alive. Instincts are purely bio-physical. That is, they have no mentative capability about them. They are incapable of rational discernment.  An instinct is something that you cannot ‘talk down’.  An instinct cannot be talked out of its function.

The natural biological consequence of a belief that ‘we are here in this life to learn’ is that we will never fulfill that perceived purpose. When we finally get frustrated with not being able to fully manifest our Life’s Purpose, we will most often have a sudden realization that maybe that wasn’t our purpose after all… it is this! So we set off on a new path of seeking fulfillment. And another. And another. They will each end in non-completion. But at least we are alive, and so our biological imperative to survive has won out.

The Shamanic Paradigm

Lets take a look at these same examples, now from a Shamanic perspective. Let us simply change ‘we are here in this life to learn’ to ‘we are here in this life for the experience of life’. While that may seem a minor shift of language, it is a major shift of perspective. And the difference in outcome? Enormous.

Were we to go into a relationship, not to learn, but for the experience of relationship, when does that end? Never. As the relationship continues to change and grow, even come into completion, we, in experiencing that change, certainly will learn much. Yet we have not set ourselves up with an end game of having learned ‘it’, and so there is no imperative for the relationship to end with some purpose fulfilled.

Now, let’s look at Life.  We have seen that if we hold that ‘we are in this life to learn’ we inevitable end up sabotaging ourselves, not willfully or even subconsciously. Oh, for how long in vain have we searched for that hidden issue that causes us to self-destruct our relationships and our lessons in life? There isn’t one. Never was. We have been merely operating from a faulty belief system that is in opposition to the natural function of a biological urge to continue living. So let’s say that instead of being here to learn, that we are in this life for the experience of life. And when does the experience of Life end? Why, never, of course. We will always continue to experience life. Even the experience of our death becomes, not an end, but a part of the grander experience of Life itself. And during the course of the experience of Life we will learn much, and continue to learn even more… but without the set-up that causes us to instinctually sabotage our best engagements of compassion, unconditional love and forgiveness (or whatever yours may be). We now are freed to step forth upon our path of the Liberation of Consciousness.

I could let is lay there. Get up and walk away, let you consider all that has been presented, and say “It is good.” There is more, however, and it lies in the investigation of this paradigm of life-as-experience applied to the nitty-gritty of life’s situations. So take a look back over your shoulder. See your coat and hat upon that chair. They are still there and you may retrieve them later if you wish. But for now we are going down the hall to another room.

How often, in a situation where there has been a difficulty, a challenge, have you pondered what the lesson is that is inherent within the given situation? Why has this occurred? What did I do to create this? What did I intend to learn by creating this situation? What is the opportunity for lessons and learning that Spirit has provided me by presenting this event in my life? If you are like many, then this is probably a pretty common conundrum, a metaphysical quest of self-discovery. What if, just what if, there is no lesson to be learned? If, indeed, as I have been presenting, life is not about lessons to be learned, but is truly about the experience of life itself, then we must take a fresh look at our metaphysical quandary.

Lets take an extreme example: A woman has been abused. The metaphysical approach would be for that woman to question ‘what is the lesson to be learned from my having been abused?’. What did she do to create this? What is the bigger lesson that Spirit has provided her with through her having suffered abuse? Really? Do you really think that Spirit has provided her with a lesson of growth and opportunity of learning through having been abused? Ahem. No Spirit I would want anything to do with, thank you. Spirit never provides us with lessons of growth and opportunities for learning through our being violated, degraded and desecrated. Never. That is not the action of Spirit.  There is no lesson inherent within the experience of abuse. None. Yes, it is an experience, and a horrific one. But it is not something that she created in order to learn something. ‘She’ is, after all, Spirit in embodied form, and Spirit never intends us lessons through violations.  True, it may be that from the experience this woman will learn much about the nature of humanity in its perverted expression. She may even learn to be more compassionate to others who suffer. But these are the things that she brings to her life, derived from her coming to terms with the suffering of her wound. They were not inherent within the situation of abuse. If you are still having a hard time with embracing the point of view that I have been presenting, if your coat and hat seem to call to you from the other room, then change the woman to a child of two years of age. Your child.

Okay, so abuse is, admittedly, an extreme example. Sometimes we can grasp the basic concept easier when there is no easy out. Let’s go now to the other extreme and look at this from a more simplistic situation in life.  You are out walking barefoot in the park. You love the feel of the ground and the grass beneath the skin of your feet. After a good hour’s walk you come home. As you are sitting removing the loose blades of grass from between your toes and brushing the sand from the soles of your feet you feel *OUCH!* a sliver in your foot.

Do you:

A)  Consider: At what moment did I get the sliver? What was I thinking in that precise moment that may give a clue as to what I was trying to tell myself? What is the lesson to be learned from this sliver? Do I have some karmic balance to resolve here?

B)  Pull the thing out, put some healing salve on it and get on with making dinner.

Option ‘A’ is silly, right? And yet, how often do we find ourselves injured by another’s act of inconsideration to us? Suffering out of proportion to the trigger event?  How often do we then expend time trying to figure out what we had to learn from that situation? We ask ourselves ‘Why? What was my karmic lesson? What was I seeking to learn by setting myself up to feel such hurt/anger/resentment?’ Yeah, it is easier in these less extreme situations to think that this line of investigation is reasonable. But if it is not reasonable in the extremes of both ends, what makes it reasonable in the middle ground? It is not. Why? Because there is no lesson inherent within the event. Spirit did not seek to provide you with an opportunity of learning by embarrassing you, causing you shame and suffering. These are not the actions of Spirit. Spirit is pure, unviolable, untarnished and untarnishable. Spirit does not partake of the attributes of being analytical, judgmental and reactive. These are of the domain of the Mind and Emotions.

The retributive and karmically indebted opportunities to learn that some believe are the lessons of Spirit are not of Spirit at all, but are of the Mind and Emotions. Spirit never presents us with lessons and learnings through that which can be analyzed, and from which we draw judgments and then react to as if they were real. These are the activities of a control seeking mind seething in unresolved emotions. This does not make them less real or valid as experiences of life. Indeed, that is all that they are: Experiences of Life. Once we accept that we are not being set up, that there is no cosmic plan to make us suffer in order to learn, that we did not choose nor create these sufferings for some higher purpose of learning some lesson, the sooner we can pull the sliver from our foot and get on with making dinner; we are free in the fulfillment of our Liberation of Consciousness in the experience of life.

Thanks for taking this journey of exploration with me into the Shamanic investigation of Life as Experience.  We have returned to the sitting room. Your coat and hat are on the chair. Pick them up if you feel you need them still. Otherwise, go forth into the world with your newly embraced perspective and give it a tryout. I find it a comfortable old sweater, myself.  It is a comfort that says: We are not here to learn. We are here for the experience of Life!

Jade Wah’oo Grigori