Be Your Own Big Self

It’s lucky for bumblebees – and for us – that they don’t study engineering. If they did, they’d soon learn that they are unable to fly. If they reason the way humans do, they’d soon give up their youthful, unsteady attempts to learn, dismiss their shaky successes as mistaken folly, and laboriously crawl from flower to flower, brushing off any pollen clinging to their bodies and feet as they go, leaving it lying uselessly on the grass. Soon the flowers, unfertilized, would cease to bloom, and the food the bumblebees need to survive would die out – and the bees soon after.

Oh, it’s likely that they’ll find some other sources of food they’ve overlooked in their ponderous flights: some small blossoms that bloom close to the ground perhaps. Yet the end is certain, both for the bumble bees who ignore their gift, and for the plants that depend on them.  Flight is their gift and their birthright, no matter how little we understand the mechanics. That gift has caused an entire ecology of plants to evolve that are dependent on these great, striped bees, and that will wink out if they don’t use their gift of flight to continue the ancient exchange of food for pollination services.

It is part of the human birthright to see with inner vision that surpasses our self-imposed, ‘scientific’ limits. Science is in it’s infancy: People have been using their inner vision to see beyond limits for eons. Don’t question it. Just do it.

If you’ve never done it before it may take practice. And just like learning to ride a bike, there is a moment when you have to let go and trust. But just as in riding a bike, you’ll quickly learn if you are “making things up” or if you are seeing true.

Practice the way a baby learns. Try. Try again. Repeat. Classes make these things easier because alone we tell ourselves it’s impossible. But it can be done, and you can do it.

Just try. “See” the same way as bumblebees fly.

On Shamanism: A Perspective

The word  shamanism was chosen by Mircea Eliade for the title of his groundbreaking book, Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, published in French in 1951, and in English in 1964.  He chose it not because the word (from the Siberian) was commonly accepted, but because it was nearly unknown to his audience in the western world, and lacked the negative western connotations of medicine man/woman, witch, plant doctor, etc.

It was chosen again by Michael Harner for his own groundbreaking book, The Way of the Shaman, in 1980.

Most spiritual traditions pass through a period of intense consolidation and integration, which makes it relatively easy to talk about things like Buddhist, Christian, Islam, Jewish ‘beliefs.’ Shamanic practice is a path of direct revelation with modest reliance on ‘received truth’ to guide our paths. There are no texts that are universally accepted.

Shamanism, (still a vital part of indigenous life-ways in many parts of the world, and drawn directly from Spirit and the Ancestors where that connection has been lost)  is a collection of techniques and attitudes/approaches to Spirit bolstered by some shared agreements.

One central agreement is that personal Spirit Guides and Power Animals are available to to guide us.  Another agreement is that everything is alive, conscious, and can be communicated with. We speak to the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds, the winged ones, the rock tribe and the plant people. We send our prayers and words up to the cloud people, to Father Sun and Mother Moon; we send them down to Mother Earth and the tribes that crawl in and under the earth. And we listen for their responses, their words of wisdom, their advice. We two-leggeds do not see ourselves as above or below the others, but as an integral part of this enchanted world in which we live.

 

(for additional thoughts on shamanism, you may wish to read Nancy’s post here.)

Wholing as Healing

Shamanic work is centered on WHOLENESS: removing what doesn’t belong, and reclaiming that which does.  Shamanic healing is focused on wholeness to the extent that my Spirits often use that word as the healing message, telling me how to provide “wholing.”  While spellcheck hates the word, for me, in this modern western culture, I find it far clearer to use and understand than the enigmatic word “healing.”

Bodies are wonderful vehicles designed to experience this reality, but they are also limited: they sometimes suffer mechanical problems.  Our energy body is the template that forms our physical body – when it is distorted by losses and intrusions, or forced to share space with other energies, it causes distortions in the template and health problems in the physical body.  Soul retrieval and power animal retrieval are well-known examples of restoring or gathering energy to increase power.  Removal of thought forms, curses, extractions, and compassionate depossession are  common methods of eliminating energy losses.  The correction is to  remove that which doesn’t belong, and bring back that which belongs but has been lost.

In other cases, energy is  dissipated during fits of anger and/or emotional upheaval, or simply attached to too many memories of triggering events.  Energy attached to a memory can be reclaimed through recapitulation; energy thrown away in a fit of anger is simply lost.

Occasionally, energy is stolen; more often, energy is simply leaked through various energy gates (chakras) and through rips and tears in the energy body.  Plugging energy leaks can be a powerful a way of restoring energy, and should be a more commonly used tool in the shamans bag of wholing tricks.

Always, to insure maximum health and strength – as well as that thing shamanic workers call power – bring the energy body into WHOLENESS!

 

 

 

Friendship

I’m incredibly lucky to have developed an amazing partnership with Jill Carter and Nancy Langston over the past year.   Located in different parts of the country, each week we set aside time to meet by telephone, and each week we over-run our budget of 2 hours.  We’ve talked as long as 6 hours at a stretch, and it’s not unusual to send many emails and have unplanned calls in between.

It’s a relationship like I’ve never had before, and sometimes seems to be both a shamanic meant-to-be as well as a deep, deep friendship.  We aren’t the same, we don’t complete each others’ sentences.   Our backgrounds, our training, our mundane lives are all quite different.  Instead, we surprise each other, and we inspire each other to deeper learning.

An amazing pattern has developed so obvious and clear that it’s undeniable.  Each time one of us is challenged in our lives, the lessons reverberate through all of us, and we each are suddenly ‘gifted’ with surprising experiences that show a deep similarity: as if spirit is intent on showing us multiple faces of each kind of event.  Of course we journey and do healing work for each other, and often that takes each of us far off of what had formerly been our “beaten path.”  But that’s what you do for friends, right?  You get inventive, you get involved, you try new things.  You experiment.  When all three of you are Healers, that can make things really interesting!

Is this really a “meant to be” or is spirit simply capitalizing on the opportunity?  I have no idea…

What I do know is that it’s accelerated my understanding of non-ordinary reality so much that I barely recognize myself and my self-imposed limits from a year ago.

More importantly, it’s given me an entirely new vision of relationships, and how independent people who don’t “need” each other can become stronger by choosing to work together.  And the web that’s winding us ever closer together feels much deeper than friendship, and more like true sisters.

We met in July of 2013, and soon we’ll finally be physically together again for a few days – teaching each other, sharing, gossiping and laughing.  I can’t wait!

Recapitulation

This is the third of my series of posts about my solo Vision Quest.  The 1st post is 
Your Job was to Show Up, and the second is And The Walls Came Tumbling Down.  

Right now I long for a human hand in mine, guiding me.  I want to hear a human voice chiding me, encouraging me: I want the comfort of someone who can listen to me as I stumble falteringly through this process and will say calmly, “yes of course, this is the way it works.”  How is it that I feel so confident of what I am advised by Spirit and so rewarded by my progress, and yet ache so for the simple comfort of a friend who can share this path with me?

How many times will I think I understand, only to learn that once more I’ve only scratched the surface, and the real answers lie still deeper within?

In the end, every deep dive is a journey into self and spirit, and there we must go alone.  For me, this deep dive is into the heart of myself, mediated through my shamanic practice.

In Shamanic practice, recapitulation means a concise but detailed review of one’s life, or of segments of one’s life, with a view towards reclaiming the power attached to past memories and events.  To that fairly standard definition, my spirits added that I was required to use this time to release all remaining patterns and both give and experience full forgiveness for missteps and mistakes.  Sometimes things we hold others accountable for turn out to be caused by our own fears: failure to love fully, failure to understand, failure to allow others the same grace we demand as our own right.  Atonement was, originally, a process of ‘wholing:’  at-one-ment, becoming at one with the universe.

This is not about wallowing in the past, reactivating old grudges and the illusion of victimhood.  This is about truly and deeply understanding your own full role in everything that has happened and releasing old ties.  During recapitulation we do not assume that because we were “young and innocent” our own harmful behaviors had no meaning or weight.  From the view of the other, they may have had enormous weight.  Nor does it mean that because we were young, we had no role in our victimization.

No, I don’t mean that a beaten baby is responsible for what occurred.  But most human interactions are far more shaded, more subtle than that, and sometimes our own ignorance/fears do play a role.

This is dangerous territory… we may have participated without ever rising to the level that our society calls guilt.  Finding that we played a roll doesn’t mean that the other’s behavior was justified, but it does mean that we have learning available to help us.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  This doesn’t mean you ‘deserved’ what happened, or that you were at fault.  It only means that somehow your behavior intermeshed with that of the other, and that combination allowed the situation to go to a very bad place.  It also doesn’t take the offender off of the hook: their behavior is their choice, and they own it.  But it does restore to us a role of agency; of understanding and reclaiming our own power.  It’s when we finally and fully understand and release our ties, our patterns, that they lose the power to ensnare us: only then can we be confident and free.

Shamanic perspective includes a recognition of our actions in past lives.  This is not a tit-for-tat view of karmic obligation, but a focus on learning; sometimes learning is best received by personally experiencing injustices similar to those we’ve perpetuated, but the goal isn’t punishment.  At any time it is possible to break the cycle of retribution by learning the lessons, integrating them, and moving on.  This is a profound process that can bring healing to both sides of a painful event.  It can also reverberate in all directions along the time line, bringing healing to both our ancestors and descendants.

Recapitulation is not about placing blame, but about understanding: understanding means coming as close as is possible to recognizing what happened from the perspective of everyone involved.  When you truly see through another’s eyes, when you see through their pain and misunderstandings, you come to understanding from a very different space than we usually access.  Intellectual understanding is not enough.  Intellectual understanding may give you the strength to resist the pattern, but it doesn’t erase it.  The attraction to the pattern still exists.  This is why we tend to feel like we are sucked into same-old/same old patterns, experiencing the same damaged relationship dynamics over and over again.  When you understand at a very deep level, the attraction falls away and there is simply no pull calling us to squander energy on a similar situation.  We see it for what it is, not for what we wish it was, and the magic falls away.

In my research, all of the references to shamanic recapitulation that I’ve found focus on reclamation of used energy.  Memories have life, have texture, have substance.  That substantial feel is energy – the energy spent by everyone that was part of the event.  During recapitulation one literally sucks the energy out, returning the not-mine energy to the universe, while reclaiming the personal energy.  Afterwards (and it may take several passes to complete the process) the memory is curiously thin, insubstantial.  It feels almost  like a story from someone else’s life.

Many people resist dissolving the energetic part of their memories: they feel like part of their foundation is lost in the process.  That accepts the energetic loss as valid while giving the memory priority.  This resistance is a misunderstanding of the process: the memories that form us have already formed us, that doesn’t change.  What changes is our penchant for being sucked into the same dramas again in endless repetition.

To reclaim an undefended, free heart, it is crucial to glean through the past and apply all of the learning available, so that the heart doesn’t repeat past mistakes.  It is strengthened by the energy retrieval and is prepared to face the world afresh.

Releasing ties (often called cords) doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to love and remember someone.  It does mean that you cut all mutual obligations, and you reclaim the parts of yourself that you may have forfeited in the relationship.  If the person remains in your life and is loved, new cords will form as appropriate.  Cutting old cords, however, keeps the relationship current and keeps us from acting out of old, no longer appropriate emotions.  An example of cords that need cutting would be seen when a parent refuses to allow their child to grow up and take on an adult role, but continues to hover and want to ‘fix’ things.  It may sound like love, but by preventing the child from learning they are depriving them of their right and need to grow.  Of course, there are also cords that should be cut with people we no longer want in our lives.

Cutting cords is a crucial part of recapitulation, but a small part.  The more intense and grueling part is the blow-by-blow remembering of all of the ways I succeeded in past relationships, and where I personally failed.  What is difficult is to agree to let go, to agree that these comfortable patterns will no longer drive my actions.

For my faults I offer up love and compassion for myself:  I ask for forgiveness from the other’s soul, and I ask for blessings from Spirit to ease the path of those to whom I’ve presented hardship and pain.  This is heart work: deep, poignant, draining and necessary.  Oddly, at the same time that it is draining, the recapture of the energy empowers me further.  It’s a paradox I can’t explain.

The gift, of course, is that to the extent that I succeed, the ache is eased and the instinctive ‘need’ to shield my heart is removed – I am again operating as Spirit intended in the World.  My heart and soul are free to learn and love again.

Most of us shut down from time to time.  Most of us find our burdens too heavy and recoil behind barriers.  The gift is to reset the clock and free oneself to begin to again live fully with an undefended heart.

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

(This is the second of 3 or 4 articles that I’m writing about my 3 day solo vision quest in New Mexico.  The first, “Your Job was to Show Up” can be found below.  There is a subscription feature on the right that will notify you of future posts as I publish them.)

The idea of having an open heart sounds good, just as it sounds good to have a closed heart opened – in the abstract.

But like anything, be it a habit, a body joint, an idea – things allowed to grow stiff can be painful to loosen up again.  When I came down from my so-peaceful stay on the mountain and had my heart break open, I was shoved into the pain, self-doubt and internal dishevelment that is so often part of Spirit breakthroughs.

I’d gone to the mountain in part to release that which no longer served, and the first day I thought I’d done all of that.  It felt like weights dropping as outworn ideas and illusions fell away.  Most of what I dropped had already been working loose from the rigid framework that had held everything frozen in place.  I began my “pre-work” when I committed to the Vision Quest 9 weeks earlier.  I journeyed regularly, I harnessed my dreaming to the task.  Much of my  work cropped up in dreams: I can always rely on them to tell me the things I don’t wish to hear.  I did the work; spent time with both meditation and dream re-entry, consciously “let go” of much that no longer served.   Letting go with the  conscious mind and again with the emotions are not the same thing: so it was the second round, the emotional letting go, that happened without much fanfare during the first day I was up on the mountain.

I don’t know, really, how Spirit works – but in retrospect I suspect it knew that I needed the comfort and enveloping love of the next two days to heal me enough to withstand the final step – the breaking open of my heart, which was the necessary preface to releasing so much more.  When it did happen, I was completely taken by surprise.

Shamanic practitioners work with their hearts, not their brains.  It is heart that connects with Spirit, heart that sings songs of  joy and praise, heart that allows us to work with Spirit to bring healing.  The rest of us – mouth, voice, hands, brain, imagination – activate and manifest what is first born in the heart.  So my sacrifice must be made: the heart must be freed even if the pain is fierce.  Nor is this sacrifice endured only for the sake of the “other.”  My own life hangs in the balance: it is for me to decide if I will remake it with courage, or allow it to atrophy into a dumbed down version, a mockery of what a human soul can be.

After we experience injury and loss we typically wait out the storm then seek to ‘close the door’ on what has passed.  Too often we have yet to go deep and fully  understand before we close those doors – and the result is something like a scab that covers a wound while the poison within continues to fester.  The lesson is not yet learned.  Shamanic practitioners often say that when our souls fail to learn the lessons presented, the situation recurs until we do.  We continue to attract inappropriate mates, bad jobs, abrasive situations.  Too often, locked in a cycle of pain, we become discouraged and we decide “that’s what life is” or “that’s what men/women are like” or “that’s what work is like” or even “that’s what politicians are like.”  In fact, none of those things is true – life, men/women, work etc are many, many things; when we can learn to deal with our problems at a sufficiently deep level we can choose differently and free ourselves from patterns of repetition and suffering.

When we fail to learn, we lock ourselves into an increasingly difficult spiral down: we become discouraged, cynical, unable to trust.  We protect our hearts with walls and abandon our quest. Meanwhile, Spirit continues to send the lesson with increasing zeal, attempting to break through and finally achieve that “teaching moment.”

This is when the practice of recapitulation becomes essential.

Walls around the heart are more common than not in our culture: we accept them as a necessary protection against the vagaries of a world we think can’t be trusted.  Those who love fully and easily are scorned as naive.  Yet living with a heart muffled from the Wild Joy of the world is no life at all.  As the shielding increases one loses spontaneity, joy and finally connection. Worst of all, our souls lose the ability to learn.

An undefended heart is vulnerable, but strong.  Properly prepared and fortified, it avoids the old traps simply because it fully understands what happened,  the old mistakes and patterns are obvious, they do not attract.

When we are so swaddled in our protective wrappings that the world can’t break through; when we are not fully, bravely, trustingly a part of it, we block this process of learning.  We forfeit our souls’ ability to continue moving forward and risk leaving our life tasks undone.  While I still could access a manageably smallish joy, I knew that I’d wrapped my heart up in dent-proof packaging, and I knew that it was muffling the rich textures of the outside world.  I knew that the walls had to go – I just wasn’t ready for it to happen now.

Recapitulation is the process of re-examing our lives at a detail level and in depth.  It allows us to take a profound look at our own life, learn the lessons offered and release the suffering that simmers within us like a low-grade fever.  With successful recapitulation, we become ready to move forward, incorporating knowing without cynicism and self protection without blame or masking, and again take a vibrant role in our own futures.

Having been gifted with a re-opened heart, it was essential for me to go deep and practice a thorough recapitulation of all of the events that led me to wall up my heart in the first place.  This isn’t about wallowing in sorrow, grief, misdeeds – it’s about deep learning.  It is about claiming the wisdom my own life offers, but doesn’t insist that I accept.

It is the price of keeping an open heart.

Your Job was to Show Up

(This is the first of what will probably be three or four parts following my Vision Quest odyssey.  I try to publish on Wednesdays.  There is a subscription service on the right that will enable you to sign up for notifications of further posts.  Thanks for your patience as this experience works through me and is integrated: I’m just barely a step ahead of whatever I write here!)

 

Too smooth, too easy: that’s how I felt a day and a half into my 3 day solo Vision Quest. The fasting felt easy, the solitude felt easy. The ground was boney but I had no need to sleep a whole night at a time, so I slept until my hips and/or back hurt and then got up and gazed back at the stars, the moon.

I began to get uneasy. Yes, I had visions. Yes, I was in a mild state of altered consciousness from the time we drove through the front gate, and that intensified once I was up in my solo site on the mountain. Check and Check. But there was no sturm und drang, no bring-me-to-my-knees dramatic breakthroughs.

It was lovely. Time passed simultaneously slow and fast – so much happening in the great patience of sitting still that sometimes it seemed like hours had passed and it was only minutes, at other times I could barely comprehend that another day had evaporated.

Day 2 slid by gracefully as I sat with lizards, birds, insects. I sighted a spirit bird unknown to the ornithological experts I consulted when my quest was over. Hummingbirds buzzed me repeatedly, nudging me to stay alert.

My inclination to worry raised it’s head: was I wasting time when I should be engaged in deep conversation with spirit? The message came back loud and clear, “Your job was to Show Up, you did that, so just relax.” As the last evening approached I was discouraged when my mind suddenly snapped into clarity and planned the details of my packing and departure the next morning: disgusted, I went to bed early, then awoke into the glory of a midnight sky spattered and layered with dustings of stars, some so infinitely far away that I’d never seen them before. I watched until after the moon rose at 1:00, then slept for a few hours before waking to watch the sun rise for the last time.

Soon after sunrise I snapped again into ultra this-world clarity: I broke camp, packed, I treated myself to a wet-wipe bath and dressed in fresh clothes for my re-entry. I carried my bundles down the path to the road below, keeping with me only my bug spray and the luxury of my folding chair. Within moments of returning to my site and resuming sitting, I was back in an altered state of consciousness: again alert and aware of messages flying between me and the tree people, the rock nation, the sky, the cloud people – all of the many tribes I met with from my mountain perch during those three days. I sent gratitude and love from the depths of my aching-with-the-beauty-of-it-all heart, and just before the truck was due I walked down to meet it.

There was no talking. Other Questers jumped off of the truck in silence and grabbed my pack, the water jugs, loaded us up: I slipped into the cab of the truck as my first tears began to fall. When everyone was retrieved we turned and headed back down the jostling, rutted road. At the base camp we unloaded in silence and filed down to the fire circle for a ceremony of return and release from our silence.

But I wasn’t fully back yet, and from the kabuki faces of one or two others, I wasn’t alone. So while most hugged and began halting conversations, and with laughter ringing harmoniously around me, I wandered back to the outside dining area and sat apart, tears now flooding
my cheeks. I had heard the words before, had heard someone say that spirit “broke my heart open” and thought it a metaphor, but as I felt the jagged ripping inside my chest I knew it as a literal experience. The physical sensation was vivid. The tears had their own lives, and seemed unconnected to any specific emotional crises, they simply flowed until they were done.

Each of us was given a beautiful, perfectly ripe peach. I know that food is grounding, it helps bring us back from an altered state, yet eating that peach seemed impossible at first. I prayed endlessly over it, thanking it for it’s exquisite beauty, for it’s willingness to sustain me physically; I prayed that it be in harmony with my body and bring me health, and that anything that I did not need would fall away.

The first bite was amazing. I knew in my body for the first time that food is sacred medicine, and how it should taste and feel.

Emptying for Change

Our lives push us to constantly ‘gear up.’ We put ourselves into higher gear/high alert and rev our internal motors; we also gear up by acquiring gadgets –  stuff we deem necessary to support what we do.

We rarely prepare for change by dumping things and relaxing. Yet there is much to discard: old ideas, old identities, old patterns of being. If we look objectively we see much that no longer serves us.  Both the accumulation of ‘stuff’ and the accumulation of outworn identities stifle us, make us feel choked.  Yet letting go is hard: instead of seeing traps, we use them as shorthand to self identify : we talk about our “stuff” from wardrobes to record collections to yachts – and the things we’ve done – traveled, made babies, held jobs — without regard for whether all of this is still current.  The experiences will never be deleted; each outworn identity contains skills and learning that are part of us forever.  Still, there is a crucial difference between continuing to identify with a role that no longer belongs to today, and simply holding it as a foundation.

It can be painful to let go.  We cling to roles that no longer fit.  We see this when a father dominates a son or daughter into adulthood, without letting them establish their own identity boundaries; when a politician leaves office but continues to engage with political detail that is no longer in his charge.  And we see it when men cling to their football hero self from high school, as their wives cling to their high school cheerleader self.  All of those identities inform who we once were, but no longer are.  Clinging to outworn identities keeps us from moving forward and finding a role that fully engages all of our abilities in the now. It keeps us from growing.

Tension freezes energy out: it stiffens our body and slows energy flow; rigidity and tension create less room than expansiveness and flexibility do. So all of the forms of ‘revving up’ must go too, so that our relaxed selves won’t exclude opportunities that wish to become part of our lives.   Right now, instead of ignoring everything that isn’t  familiar, I am taking a more flexible stance.  I am allowing my boundaries to become fluid instead of rigid, I am questioning the habits that automatically exclude those characteristics I am not yet comfortable embodying, and I’m taking the time to look again.

I’m looking to learn not who I am, but who I might next become.  I am conducting a Spring Cleaning of my Soul.

Having a Physical Moment…

It’s popular to prescribe seeing oneself not as a human having a spiritual moment, but as a spirit having a human moment.  While this is true, it’s not enough to say “human” without insisting on including sensation.   To be incarnated as a human  is to be entrusted not only with a brain and a heart, but also with a physical body.  Of the many realities we experience, this may be the only physical reality.  Is it our inexperience with the physical that so often leads to our mistrust and denial of our physicality?  Ascetics deny it by declaring it “illusion” and by avoiding the sensations that affirm it.  Many see it as a separation from spirit, yet spirit is fully here with us in our “human moment” whenever we choose to notice.

When we locate ourselves exclusively in the head and heart we forget how very wonderful it is to be in the physical, what a joy to be able to partake of the sensations of this world.  Of course that includes sex , but there is so much more!  The scent of the evening breeze, the soft prickle of grass, the shock then the gradual numbing of feet wading in a cold river, the shushing of the leaves as the wind dances through them – there is so very, very much to experience here, so much that can bring a wild joy to the heart.

Sensation is a very particular way of sidestepping the tyranny of the brain; that is why sex has been a sacrament and a path in so many religious traditions, and demonized in those that deny personal agency when connecting with the divine.  Personal connection with the divine is unruly, uncontrollable.  It encourages individuals to seek their own path instead of following rules and books of instruction.  It is dangerous to established religions that seek a governing role in lives.

We like to pretend that connecting to the divine means being without appetite, being untouched by the physical.  It’s a philosophy well suited to dividing the self against the self, to establishing a war within that can be mirrored in an external war against the ‘other,’  yet there is nothing so peaceful, so blissful as a human perfectly satisfied in her/his physicality.

A Guide instead of a Guru…

The age of the guru is over. There is something new in the air, something containing the mixed flavors of Learning, Being, Sharing and Wisdom.

Once learning was the province of children and Masters. That power and logical imbalance continued even when the learners were as often adults as children, but now there is a distinct whiff of something new, something that requires us to set ego aside and move forward together.

When you learn in the company of adults there are experts, but no masters. We accept that each of us has talents and experiences that carry us in different directions, and that we are entitled to respect in our own fields. We cede our authority to the resident expert and offer respect, but not fealty. We do not expect to bury our own experiences or rational and intuitive capabilities, though we may agree to set them aside for a short period while we learn the new language, the new nomenclature of the area we have chosen to explore.

This is an exciting way to learn! With a guide instead of a guru, we race ahead much faster and go more deeply. We free all of our joyousness and let it propel us forward, instead of letting ourselves become mired in hierarchy.

As in all times of change, different models will dominate in different areas and among different populations, but the time is ripe for spiritual learning to fully commit to this path.