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The shamans of the ancient world had so much more depth than spiritual leaders of today, right? Ok, maybe it’s time to chuck those rose-colored glasses.
More than one of us have heard a grandparent or elder say, “Back in the good old days…”
What surprised me is when I began to utter these words, about days that came before I my existence was even a contemplation. I think it is a by-product of studying alternative health, and more specifically, ancient medical and spiritual practices.
I think believing the Eastern spiritually-inclined of the past kinda knew better than we do, or were at least more tuned in than we are, is part of my generation’s burden. We have much more access to Eastern ideals than ever before, and spirit beyond Christianity has infiltrated pop culture.
So when I came across a recent article on Slate.com entitled, Do Shamans Have More Sex?, I chuckled a bit (at myself) when I read author Robert Wright’s opening paragraph:
Wouldn’t it be great to be back in hunter-gatherer days? Back before the human spiritual quest had been corrupted by the “relentless onslaught of Western scientific materialism” and “dogmatic male-dominated religion”? Back when there were shamans—spiritual leaders—who could plug us into “the realm of the magical,” show us “the reality behind apparent reality,” and thus lead us to understand “how the universe really works”?
Wright goes on to say is that he doubts “selfless, spiritual leaders” were any more common in the “heyday of shamanism,” or that the “spiritual quest was any less corrupted by manipulation and outright charlatanism” than today.
Though I’m not sure I agree that there was a heyday of shamanism, I can see his point. Along with our search for purity, we often like to grasp at the grass is greener on the other side.
The Conundrum of Inner and Outer Travel
I know I can also take this approach with travel, as the inner and outer travel are obviously deeply connected. I often think another place (in this case, physical land) is better, offers more, and has more depth than the place I currently find myself.
And so I set up in a new place, and for a few days, I see all of its greatness. But eventually, I begin to notice the less bright spots “hiding” underneath, as the varnish slowly comes off.
Suddenly, many of the issues that were there in the last place have shown up in the new place, and I start to dream of that next perfect destination. But what is the connecting factor here? Me.
If we are always looking outside ourselves for perfection – whether this be an ancient tradition that did spirituality right, or the ultimate place to set up shop – we’ll always be disappointed once we unearth the entire picture, which is bound to have some bad with the good.
So love your shamans and the world around you, but don’t forget to take off those rose-colored glasses and check into reality. It makes life, well, more real.
Do you often think somewhere else is better than the place you are, or are you satisfied with where you find yourself at the moment? Share your thoughts below.