Science and Shamanism

“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso

Quantum physics, and modern theoretical physics, comes to some pretty odd conclusions. You hear of scientists happily admitting that an infinite universe, or infinite parallel universe, necessarily means that everything possible must exist. Yet when we look at these conclusions from a spiritual point of view, they can be used to understand reality in a very complete way. I’ve often joked that there should be a metaphysics expert at CERN (nominating myself, of course), but the truth is that science and shamanism can blend seamlessly together.

It is known that light exists both as a particle and as a wave. The waveform includes all possible paths the particle may take, and the wave is described as being “everywhere at once”. When forced into physical reality by being tested and observed, the waveform “collapses” and its reality manifests (in this plane of existence, anyway) as one of the potential particles, taking a single path. It is also said that this is not unique to light – that everything exists as both particle and wave. Even you.

I believe that the waveform, which is potential, is what we have been calling “spirit” all this time. It exists as a real thing but we can only ever observe the singular manifestations of physical particles in this plane of existence. You have a spirit, which is all your possibilities – and to me that equates to your higher self. Yet you can only physically observe the one manifestation of it out of an infinite set: your physical being as you know it.

Now, if potential is spirit, existing infinitely everywhere at once, how do we get to know it? I have another belief that answers this in a surprising way.

Our imagination is a direct sense of potential. How else can we know what is possible in an infinite universe? Well, everything we imagine is possible – somehow, somewhere. Thus, our imagination is a real sense, just like vision and hearing, but of spiritual things.

People don’t like to think that spirituality is made up or “all in our head”, and that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that through disciplined use of our imagination, we can see everything that is possible, which is the spirit realm.

Shamanism provides one such disciplined use of the imagination. You will hear great shamanic teachers saying things like, “Of course we’re imagining everything. That’s how we create reality.” The oft-used phrase “dreaming the world into being” speaks to this. What shamans do is to go into altered states of consciousness where they can get answers and see potential while feeling like they’re not making it up – the messages seem to come from outside our own heads.

As Pablo Picasso says, “Everything you can imagine is real.”  Shamans use the shamanic journey to see reality in a different way – to see the full power of potential and possibility, which is spirit. And every time a spirit comes to speak to us, it is scientifically true that there must be a real being (somehow, somewhere) that exists who would say this to us. So it’s real and imaginary all at once, and the real trick is just learning to navigate this infinite universe.

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My Book About the Power of the Imagination

I was going to write a book, but that would mean taking a lot of time away from my blog, and this is an important way for me to connect with people (since I can be too much of an introvert and don’t talk to anyone for days). So I thought that instead I would post installments of the book on my blog, as I write them.

Here’s the introduction blurb.

The world at large trains us to disregard our imaginations. What we imagine has no value, no reality, and no effect on the physical world, the world of actualization. This message renders us powerless in our own lives. With the imagination in full gear, we unlock our spirituality and creativity, and gain mastery over our intellect, our emotions, and even our health.

The imagination seems like mere child’s play: self-created fantasy that has no truth or bearing on our existence. We have been programmed to shun what feels self-created because we don’t believe we have power to create change in the world through our thoughts. But we do. If you are a spiritual person, you might know this in your gut, no matter what the world says. There is a popular spiritual statement you’ve probably heard: thoughts become things. Indeed, thoughts are the engines of our worlds. Shamanic cultures have long maintained that we dream the world into being – thoughts not only fuel the world, they create the world. Thoughts are the world. If you know in your heart this is true, then your thoughts (despite and because the fact that they are self-created) are the most powerful tools in your world.

Shamanic Journeying through Infinite Potential

Spirit is potential, as I explained in a previous post, but what does that mean for spiritual people?

When you recognize that spirit is infinite potential and that imagination is a direct sense of this infinite potential, it becomes clear that imagination is a direct sense of spirit itself. When you ask an indigenous shaman, such as one of the Q’ero people, how we can be sure we’re not imagining a shamanic journey (or other spirit communication), the answer you’ll likely get is, “well, so what if you are?” This is not to downplay the reality of our connection with spirit, not at all, but rather we are to respect our natural ability to communicate with spirit. The fact that this communication might occur within the realm of what we call imagination does not make it any less important or real.

What is of importance to consider is our contribution to our spirit communication. We can speak with infinite spirit beings and they can tell us infinite wisdom, so you want to make sure you aren’t only seeking out precisely what you want to hear. We each have what I call a fear self, which maintains much of our ego, and our fear selves can get in the way by imposing their fears and desires on the messages we receive. If you are afraid of being challenged, you might receive messages that pacify you. These messages are not completely false insofar as the spirit world contains infinite and all truths. However, if you are seeking to grow on your path you must be watchful that your fear self is not hindering you. And if you deliberately seek to be challenged, you certainly will be met with challenges!

Spirit being infinite potential reminds us of our own responsibilities in navigating the spirit realm. We ought to visit with clear intentions, like having a well-defined journey question before you set out. We ought to be prepared if we find anything in the journey frightening or upsetting, as it needn’t be and you cannot be harmed if you are confident and in control.

Spirit is Potential

Spirit is, by definition, non-physical. That is spirit’s only clear and obvious attribute. This is also the only attribute we can name for potential. Potential is simply something that is not currently in existence, since a possibility is no longer a possibility when it is in fact actualized and happening – it is verified fact. Thus potential is inherently non-physical. There is nothing preventing spirit and potential from being defined by the exact same criteria, and in fact it answers a lot of questions when you assume that spirit is potential.

When spirit is understood to be potential, we can also call it an energetic force. The idea of potential can be expressed in terms of quantum physics which calls unobserved or non-actualized electrons wave functions, such as occurs in the double slit experiment, or with Schrodinger’s famous cat idea. The wave function is not like a material, physical electron. This wave function contains every path that the electron might possibly take – in other words, the wave function contains the electron’s full and infinite potential. When observed, the wave function “collapses”, being forced into materialization as a single electron and its single path. It sounds like magic but it’s simply the fact that the situation turned from potential into actualization, from spirit to physical. Everything that is unobserved has infinite potential because we don’t know exactly what it is doing, and we can’t verify it without observing it. Once verified, the infinite potential has actualized into a single potential-point, while keeping its future potential infinite because that it is unverified also.

When someone is alive, their potential is actualized moment by moment, but when they die, that potential is freed and completely infinite. You could also say that the deceased are released into spirit and enter the infinite. Spirit and potential are interchangeable.

Energy is also accepted in spiritual circles as an interchangeable concept with spirit. Scientifically, energy is a property or an attribute of matter, not really a physical thing itself. Energy is always the potential for things to happen. Energy creates change, but is not itself the change. It is the potential.

When spirit, energy, and potential are all understood to be the same thing, many doors are opened. I firmly believe that the imagination is our direct sense of potential (or spirit/energy). Anything we can imagine is possible as long as infinite time or space or dimensions are possible. Thus our imagination isn’t just fanciful but an actual sense of what is indeed possible. Since potential is equal to spirit, suddenly we come to the conclusion that through the imagination we can directly interact with spirit.

It is an idea that takes some getting used to, since the world at large would have us believe that our imagination holds no reality, and spiritual people don’t want to think that they are simply “making up” their spiritual experiences. Yet in a way our brains are “making up” even physical reality as we experience it! In a way, everything happens in our heads; everything can be thought of as imaginary. On the other hand, we often try to force non-physical reality to conform to the same parameters as physical reality. We want so badly for spirit to be real that we want to physically sense it – when there is no physicality to spirit anyway. One has to extend “realness” to both the physical and non-physical world. Both are equally real.

Your Power and Your Birthright

You are an instance of being, a single point that is one half of the greatest duality of all: the instance and the infinite. You are in relationship with the infinite (the great mystery of spirit) simply by existing. The instance and the infinite are a yin-yang of equal power on both sides. As such, we are co-creators of our reality. Everything we experience is a creation between our mind and soul and that of the infinite (the Source, or Great Spirit). Our half of that equation is no less mighty than that of the infinite, which is a statement baffling in the power it gives us. This power is our birthright. If you don’t claim your power to co-create your reality, you are allowing some other force to hold that power over you.