Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quick Summary

Playing the Game and Shamanic Death

The Universe loves infinitely, knows infinitely, and so plays at being finite—becoming separated personalities (you, me, Fido, whales, elephants, planets, galaxies, and roses) and playing fun and scary games that we call life, this world, or reality. Near-death experiences are just previews of the real Monday-morning quarterbacking, and after leaving this life we feel the calm of a match well played, even if I played villain this time and you played hero!

Much of our playing is dead serious, filled with grief and agony as we scramble to stay alive. Even more of it is enormously light-hearted: laughter, romance, song, travel, fantasies, meals, beauty. The Universe plays.

Since the Universe knows infinitely, there's nothing more to learn! Since the Universe loves infinitely, there's no fear of death, no fear of loss, no abandonment, no rejection. "It's all love." So shamans dance with Death, like directors who know the play, the audience, and the outside world, coaching their actors, who dive so deeply into their roles that they forget everything else. Shamans know Death not as an ending but as a boundary line you can cross—both ways, in fact.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ending the Play


I'm anti-doctrine. The doctrine says: Life is a school—learn your lessons! Ugh, such a downer! Then when you die, you'll return to Spirit where you'll find you already know everything. Huh? I'm not so sure, says my contrarian self. I'm here to play, to act, to sing, and I find it so riveting to play here that I (mostly) forget my Higher Self, Infinity, the Universe.

We play game after game, and games within games, we sing hymns or rounds or chants one after another, and we play our roles through every scene until the audience rises and applauds and the curtain falls. Intensely focused on our drama or music or sporting match, we find ourselves, here in ordinary life, hoping it will never end, and behaving the same way. Like a little child, I spend the whole day—I mean, my whole life on earth—playing and playing and playing, for good or ill, collecting praise or scoldings, making toddler-friends and toddler-enemies, until I'm so exhausted that I cry and scream, refusing to go to bed, howling and shrieking because I have to leave all the fun I've been having. No, I don't wanna die!! But life as part of the Universe is far, far greater than any single game.

Each drama we enact here ends—applause or no, full house or empty. Every concert finishes, even if we can manage an encore or two. The game may go on, but all the players eventually must leave. Maybe in the tryouts or maybe in the finals. Maybe your character never reappears after the first act, or perhaps you have top billing. Even the most dazzling soloist stands in front of the chorus for just that one stellar moment, but afterwards the concert goes on, absent the star. We are just playing, after all.

We have entered the game, and we will exit. And while we engage, the game's the thing—the ONLY thing. We perform so very well. We think we're working for points, or competing to outdo others, or to last longer than the others. We remain so entranced by the rules and the results, that we have momentarily forgotten facts of the matter: this is a game we play within the larger Universe, the Greater Life of which we form a part. We almost never shed our fanatical play, so that not many of us are ever ready for death.

Some people die too young. Perhaps they join the game intending not really to play but rather to assist other players. Perhaps they simply run in from the sidelines with some useful instructions from the coach. It could be they overacted their part and fell off the stage—the actor is unhurt but the character has vanished.

Some people, supposing the rules to be immutable and thinking all is lost, as they suffer in agony, or shame, or total loss of hope, think their only choice is to leave. They smash their game-piece while it is still on the board, or occasionally they sweep several chessmen onto the floor. A few people, hating their place in the standings or the effects of their fellow actors, drive their opponents off the board, whether swiftly and murderously, or slowly with abuse and torture.

Some just leave the field, stop singing, freeze in stage fright—while all the song and drama and sport of this world continue to swirl around them. Their eyes and ears are fixed on all the action, but they find they have to sit out the rest of the match.

The majority of us dance and perform and tally up points until something in us tires of this game. Until something in us quits. Perhaps it's time to go back and rejoin the Whole for a while. Perhaps we have become entranced by another song from elsewhere, another rearrangement of the rules, a different place to play.

Do we really need 70 or 80 years to learn some lessons? Has a 15-year-old who suddenly passed away somehow learned all the necessary instruction? We suppose a long life signals success or that the death of a child is tragedy beyond all remedy. But there is another perspective: the Universe is at play. And we are children of that Universe. We do not play for points. We play just because we want to play.

Shamans know death, and so they understand about playing and players. They are seers and knowers. Shamans experience pre-game and post-game, tuning up instruments and later putting them away, locker room, dressing room, and all the wider Universe. Shamans walk both life and death. They always know more than you suppose. Indeed, they always know more than they themselves suppose.