Dreaming the World into Being: Yanantin

All creation owes itself to potential. Possibility, ultimately, brought you into being. I think this is one meaning of the shamanistic belief that we dream the world into being, even as the world likewise dreams us.

Indeed, at the heart of Everything and Nothing lies the real war — a dance of complementary duality between what is possible and impossible. This war-dance is what creates all things. This war-dance is yanantin, the concept of complementary opposites creating each other.

Thus possibility owes itself to the concept of impossibility. The important thing is that the two opposites, or two absolutes, always exist together simultaneously. You cannot really isolate one part of a complementary duality. You cannot show me, for example, “pure white” that is devoid of any defect, shadow, or even edge of darkness. Pure white depends on its edges of darkness, at the very least, to define it.

So I do not mean that some things are possible and some things are not. Everything is simultaneously possible and impossible. Everything is simultaneously light and dark, true and false, good and bad, real and unreal. Thus reality becomes a construct of story, and story a fabrication of reality.

Another key complementary duality is that of consciousness and unconsciousness (or non-consciousness). All the same aspects of yanantin apply here. Everything is simultaneously conscious and unconscious! You cannot isolate “pure consciousness” from “pure unconsciousness”. This explains the shamanistic belief in animism, that all things bear some consciousness or spirit. Consciousness, as a concept, is an absolute — but our instances of human consciousness are not absolutes, but one shade on the spectrum between consciousness and unconsciousness. So are the consciousnesses of trees, animals, rocks and rivers. Absolute unconsciousness does not exist in isolation.

How, then, are we to live, how are we to navigate a reality that is simultaneously a dream? I think the key is not to seek “reality” so hard as some seem to do. The shaman who journeys embraces more than one reality simultaneously — the “outside world,” or ordinary reality, and the “spirit world” or extraordinary reality. I believe that having a foot in both worlds means embracing imagination as an important, even sacred tool.

Ultimately, I believe that imagination is no less sacred or important than reality. So I feel that it is our duty to dream, create, and imagine as intensely as we engage with the everyday world. Nothing is wholly imagination in the sense that it is purely impossible or purely unreal. Nothing is wholly real either. So embrace both with open eyes.






2 thoughts on “Dreaming the World into Being: Yanantin

  1. This is great-
    Very important aspects of the experience of life we all share.
    Animism invites the spirit to open itself the beautiful possibility that other creatures feel, think, imagine, love.. to name a few. It opens the channels of connection and creates a spiritual bond that is purely felt–consciously and unconsciously.
    “reality” in its infinite shades and hues is a story, or rather a compilation of stories. I think it is important to remember as spirits that we have the power to create new stories, weave new patterns. Unfortunately in main-stream society & religion this powerful tool is somehow never mentioned–or it borders heresy.
    Invigorating mental journey.

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