The Shaman's Touch Part III
This article is Part 3 in a series of articles entitled, The Shaman’s Touch. The series concerns the path of self mastery through covenant relationship with higher purpose. The Shaman’s Touch is aimed at people who have heard the call of their dream and answered. Click here to read Part 1 of this series, Invoking the Refining Fire of Your Destiny.
Out of the Fire
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ∞ Victor Frankel
When you come out of the Fire you will see a sign that reads:
“Go on! What are you waiting for? Paradise dead ahead.”
You will be shocked to realize that it was there all along.
It’s just that now your eyes are open.
What I mean to convey is that pleasure is a natural byproduct of the Fire. This pleasure comes from awareness and from being content and well within yourself.
The Fire is about integration and mastery. Not only does it offer you opportunities to build a more present connection with the Inner Shaman, it invites you to integrate the scattered parts of your psyche.
The natural outcome of this work is an organic kind of pleasure, the joie de vivre if you will. You could say that the point of the Fire is to bring you face to face with your own essential nature, integrated, powerful, and naturally engaged in the joy of living.
The Pleasure Trap
Pleasure is a natural and beautiful thing.
It can be a tremendous catalyst for change. Sometimes the Fire will bathe you in ecstasy that far outstrips anything you ever imagined possible. Pleasure can also be a discipline and a practice. I will talk more about this later in this article. But for now I want to turn in a different direction.
Pleasure is a powerful motivator.
Therefore, it has been coopted by our consumer culture. It is used to manipulate, sell to, stimulate, and entertain us. It occupies a dubious place in the collective psyche as a result of its misuse.
Our relationship to pleasure is a mess.
Further, many people choose a hedonistic path in some vain attempt to layer pleasure over mountains of unresolved pain.
This is a dangerous game.
The danger has nothing to do with the essential essence of pleasure itself. Pleasure is a wonderful thing. I don’t see any reason to limit the amount of pleasure in our lives.
The problem arises from the desperate bid to remain constantly saturated by pleasurable stimuli to the end of avoiding yourself. Another problem arises when you wade knee deep into the pleasure culture in an attempt to meet or mask an unmet need. We go looking for sex, drugs, alcohol, food, consumer goods, and people to fulfill us. We engage in pleasure in a very unconscious manner that is directed more by social mores than discernment and awareness. This kind of pleasure seeking has nothing to do with the joie de vivre. You might even say that it is the antithesis of truly joyful living. It is a kind of numbing agent applied to facilitate denial. In fact, pleasure is rather a misnomer for something that is more like empty gratification.
Pleasure is an essential part of dream fulfillment. The Fire of the Inner Shaman knows very well how to heal your relationship with gratification and transform it into real pleasure. Our moments of gratification are often the entry points for the path of trials. If you pay close attention, these trials will provide you with wonderful opportunities to heal some of your deepest wounds and to bring awareness to some of your greatest blind spots. They will offer you the sobriety and self mastery that will allow you to work skillfully with pleasure.
The Transforming Power of Pleasure
Why all this emphasis on pleasure? Why isn't the Fire enough?
I’m glad you asked!
The practice of pleasure can bring about truly catalytic changes in your life. It has an amazing capacity to break through blockages.
Beyond the catalytic function of pleasure, fulfilling your dream really should be about enjoyment on some level. If it isn’t going to bring you joy, why do it?
So what is the role of pleasure on the path to your dreams?
The practice of pleasure is about moving beyond the Fire and beyond learning through pain. It is a path rooted in self love, awareness, and discernment. The practice of pleasure is the birthplace of your true empowerment.
Interestingly, the pleasure path originates in the Fire as awareness begins to emerge and set you free from the patterns of your past. I have presented the Fire and the joie de vivre that emerges after the Fire as a completely linear path. But really it is a kind of spiral that moves you to successive new levels. As awareness comes on line and combines with joy and intention, you are better able to separate the nuggets of gold life has to offer from the fool’s gold. Life naturally becomes more pleasurable as you progress.
The key to joy on the path of pleasure is discernment.
Rather than being led by the Inner Shaman into the Fire and its trials, you become consciously aware of opportunities to interact with the things that amplify your enjoyment of life and/or offer you opportunities for growth. You also become better able to choose your reactions to the situations you encounter.
Suddenly your dream is drawing you to it in a new and interesting way. Rather than struggling through the process of becoming equal to an aspiration, you begin living in full alignment with that aspiration and with your own joy and fulfillment.
You are no longer seeking pleasure.
You have become a being of pleasure.
You are no longer being challenged by your dream.
You are co-creating with it.
Put another way, you begin to interact directly with your dream and with your own fulfillment. You no longer need to struggle forward as you once did. You can begin to experience real magic and synchronistic events that carry you effortlessly forward (a.k.a., you begin to live in a state of grace). You may even find yourself laughing, and your laughter may begin to transform you as deeply as your pain once did. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
The reason I introduced the word, “stalking” into the title of this article is because it makes a very useful distinction. In the Toltec lineage described by Carlos Castaneda, stalking adds the element of sobriety and control to the practice of sorcery (the practice of shifting the assemblage point).
Stalking is the thing that delineates what Castaneda called the “new sorcerers” from the “old sorcerers.” The old sorcerers shifted between dimensions without sobriety and hence often got stuck someplace with no means of shifting back. The new sorcerers mastered themselves and the art of awareness. Rather than simply journeying into new dimensions, they used self mastery (intending, awareness, and will) to explore and move between different dimensions.
This is much like the distinction between the pursuit of pleasure (which is ripe with opportunities to become stuck by giving birth to new karmic patterns) and the practice of pleasure (which is grounded in sobriety and self mastery).
When you practice the art of stalking ecstasy in the way that a sorcerer does, you use the powers of awareness, discernment, intention, and will to achieve real fulfillment in your life. You become the master of your Passion Path.
I step forward,
Out of shadowless night.
Stripped skin bare,
Naked to the bone, and
Blistered from the inside out.
The last embers of my fire trial,
In a sudden breeze,
Wafting through the air.
Blue-grey ash envelopes me.
To my surprise,
Just a little.
Like an epiphany,
This sudden reflection,
This shimmering light.
© 2011 Rebecka Eggers