The master shamans were concerned with one theme: the discovery of an undying self and an undying joy, and bringing this realization to others.
While some shamans worked to heal the body, these master shamans healed the soul. The Undying is attained through skillful effort. Whereas most ordinary effort is aimed at improving our lot in life, or acquiring greater comfort or pleasure, skillful effort is aimed at bring us to the threshold of the Undying.
How, exactly, do we come to understand the concept of Undying?
The Great Awakening
The first awakening occurs when you taste of your own mortality. When you are young you know that death happens, but not that it will happen to you. A puppy dies, or someone’s grandfather passes. Later, you understand that death will come to claim you as well. Each of us awakens to our mortal nature.
The next awakening happens later, when we discover our Undying nature. It happens to you in your deathbed in a rush of insight lasting less than a second and for a whole eternity, as you witness your entire life playing like a movie in front of you. You will witness all the times you have lived and died previously. And then you will forget.
The shaman does not wait until the moment of death to discover the Undying. If it is truly available as a result of skillful practice, then it makes absolute sense that you invest your time and energy in discovering your own Undying while you live, and then live according to applicable laws.
Living By Life’s Laws
These laws are simple. First, there is ‘Universal Ethic‘ – we call it good and bad. It makes no sense to behave badly once you understand the price. These ways of acting are essentially unskillful. Living ethically you are aware of the consequences of every action you take, and how they ‘create’ the world you live in.
Second, there is ‘All My Relations.’ We are interconnected with everyone and everything, from the hungry child across the world to the most distant sun. The notion of an “I” separate from the ALL is a misunderstanding.
Skillful practice makes the discovery of the Undying – and living in accordance with its laws – possible. The essence of skillful practice is bringing beauty to the world, touching everyone and everything you touch with beauty. Like the Navajo poem says: “Beauty before me, beauty behind me, in beauty I walk.”
Walk in Beauty,
Alberto Villoldo Ph.D.