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EXTRA, EXTRA: The United States has had its credit rating downgraded for the first time in the nation’s 235-year history!!
“Chicken Little, the sky is falling!!”…If I watch the news and listen to the foreboding commentary, I can only see this image of Chicken Little in my head. The news stations are dramatically talking about absolute collapse and utter chaos. People are terrified. Even one of my own family members, in a state of shock and bewilderment, expressed to me that “we are doomed”! It is human nature to be scared of the unknown. But are the current circumstances something of which we ought to be scared? Or could it perhaps be something more positive…a radical and profound Shift…?
If you travel in any esoteric or metaphysical circles, you probably have heard people talking about “The Shift.” For the past few years, I have heard talk of this seemingly nebulous term in yoga circles, in alternative healing communities, in meditation circles and in artists’ groups alike. And as diverse as all of those communities are, I have heard people from all walks of life having a conversation with the same premise: That there is a much needed and long-awaited “Shift” occurring on the planet, a Shift in our ways of thinking, behaving and relating to each other as human beings, a Shift in our ways of viewing our precious Earth and her bountiful and at the same time limited resources…. a Shift in the consciousness of mankind.
I first became aware of this idea of “The Shift” when I went through my own profound personal Shift, between 2007 and 2008 while living in Los Angeles. During that period, I lived through what I can only accurately coin as my “dark night of the soul.” Out of this harrowing time came a desperate need to go within and meditate, and meditate I did, for months on end. As I practiced my meditation, which was further bolstered by my yoga practice, I began feeling a Shift of consciousness occurring within myself. As I went deeper and deeper in my practice, I began to have experiences of a spiritual and somewhat supernatural nature. I had many psychic visions and dreams, I had my first out of body experience, and I began to access levels of my consciousness and internal guidance and insight that I’d never dreamed of before. I knew a Shift was occurring within me, and I began to perceive that a greater Shift was starting to occur outside of and all around me.
Then I met my first Shamanic healer, a wise man by the name of James Hyman. Through my healing sessions with James, I was brought to even deeper places than I had been before. As I continued to study with him, he began to talk to me about “The Shift.” He explained to me that he and his family had moved quite spontaneously to Los Angeles, because he had received an intuitive guidance, a summoning to do so, that he was meant to go there to help prepare people for this Shift of consciousness that was coming to the planet. Intrigued by this first introduction to Shamanism, I began to read everything that I could on the topic and I learned of the similarities of native, Shamanic cultures all over the world, of how they live in a symbiotic harmony with the Earth and all of her inhabitants. The more I read, the more I was convinced that we had gotten something wrong with our “modern,” industrialized society, that although we had made immense technological progress over the centuries, that we had done so at the expense of the delicate balance of the Earth and of humanity.
Then came the fall of 2008—the collapse of the US Stock market and our entry into the deepest recession since the Great Depression. As the world watched in utter shock, day after day, we saw one major corporation after the next going defunct and laying off thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of employees. We watched the recession quickly spread like wildfire across the globe. No country was immune. Any country that was linked to the global reserve currency, our mighty Dollar, was now dragged unwittingly into the turmoil. It seemed as though we were in a free fall, and people everywhere were panicked. This was a crisis the likes of which I’d never seen in my lifetime. People were losing immense amounts of retirement savings with each passing day. The elderly began pointing out parallels to the Great Depression. According to how most people were reacting, one could think nothing other than the sky was falling. Although I was one of the casualties of this recession and was one of hundreds of thousands of people laid off, as I watched the shocking news and saw each additional wave of layoffs, I couldn’t help but feel elated.
“What? Did she just say what I think she said? Did she say she was ELATED?” Yes….Now I know many people will read that and be shocked and think that I am a horrible person. Let me preface this by saying that I was in no way happy about the suffering that any individuals or families were enduring, and bear in mind that I too was now on the unemployment line (as were two other members of my family at the same time). But my elation did not come from my rational mind, it seemed to come from a deeper, intuitive place. After what I had seen and experienced during my own meditation practices and what I had studied with various spiritual teachers, I felt that this “collapse” was actually leading to what would eventually be something for the greater good of mankind. I felt it was the beginning of “The Shift.”
Our society had become one of corporate and individual greed, lavish and wasteful indulgence, an expression of the selfish desire to have the most wealth and power, no matter at what expense, no matter what other human beings, animals or elements of the natural world were exploited or hurt in the process. If there is one thing of which I am certain, it is that that is not how this life was intended for us. We had built up our society on the premise of this seemingly impenetrable illusion that this material structure was somehow what mattered. In the wise words of Gandhi,
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
I became more and more convinced that the native, Shamanic cultures around the world had it right and that there was an important lesson for us to learn from them. In my readings, I came across the work of Alberto Villoldo, one of the foremost experts on Peruvian Shamanism, and author of the book Shaman, Healer, Sage, among others. While attending a workshop with him in Colorado, in February 0f 2009, he too was talking of “The Shift.” He told us of an experience he had just recently had with the Shamans in the high Andean mountains in Peru. These Shamans, who were very simple men and had had very little interaction with the world outside of their native mountain community, and who certainly had had no contact with western society (with the exception of Alberto and his team), talked to Alberto about the Inkan Prophecy of 2012. Alberto recounted to us that as they threw the tea leaves and quickly analyzed their scattered pattern, they explained to Alberto and his colleagues that it is not that the world is going to end in 2012… yet simply that the world as we know it will change. He then went on to explain that there would be a shift of consciousness on the planet, and that in order to facilitate this shift, there would be all sorts of crises in the world: there would be wars and political and economic strife, there would be natural disasters: tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires, and that all of these were meant to Shift the planet, and to allow mankind to change on a profound level.
Here is a video excerpt from this encounter:
As I delved deeper into my studies on Shamanism I was intrigued by the similarities of Shamanic cultures all over the world, how they all hold a deep respect and reverence for the Earth and Sky, how they take great care to honor all of the spirits of both realms, and how they believe that we as humans are PART of the earth and that we need to behave as though we are: we need to treat Mother Earth with deep respect and honor and give thanks for her resources. And moreover, in addition to honoring her, that we need to live in a sustainable fashion which does not abuse or exploit her generous bounty. (I just recently witnessed such a society in action, on a trip to Bali. I wrote about the valuable lessons to be learned in my recent piece “Lessons from the ‘Third World‘.”) As I watched Wall Street collapse, I couldn’t help but feel with every bone in my body that this was the beginning of the end of this corporate structure as we knew it; that we were meant to get back to a simpler and more sustainable society, one where we live off the land within locally sustained micro-economies, much as all of these Shamanic societies are doing.
So could it be any surprise that the movie “Avatar” was just about to come out, only a year after this collapse of Wall Street? While some may view it as merely a Hollywood blockbuster, to me this movie could not have been more poignantly, karmically and cosmically timed. James Cameron had been working on this film for close to 15 years, and yet it came out just after the collapse of 2008, in a time when there was so much uncertainty on the planet. I believe this film was just one of many messages that we were meant to receive, the message that we cannot continue to live as we are living…. and survive as a species.
James Cameron’s “Avatar”—Official Trailer
But James Cameron wasn’t the only one with a message to send. Early in 2011 a powerful documentary film called “The Economics of Happiness” was released. The entire theme of this film is about Shifting, away from old structures that are threatening our very own survival, to a more sustainable and happy way of living. In the filmmakers’ own words,”
“‘Going Local’ is a powerful strategy to help repair our fractured world—our ecosystems, our societies and our selves. Far from the old institutions of power, people are starting to forge a very different future…”
Official Trailer for “The Economics of Happiness”
As we watched the banks of Wall Street fall like dominos, I truly felt that this was all happening for a greater karmic reason, that it was the tearing down of industrialized, exploitative and unsustainable structures, that it was the beginning of what would eventually lead to a shift of consciousness on the planet…of course, that is if we had allowed it to happen. Instead, driven by the human instinct of fear, we spent billions of tax-payer dollars to bail out the banks. Before we knew it the executives were back to paying themselves million dollar bonuses and the companies were back to recording immense profits. We had prevented a complete meltdown, yes. But only temporarily…
If I can coin the title used by Leonardo DiCaprio for his film, I believe we have reached “The 11th Hour” on this planet. It is not the United States’ credit rating, whether or not the USD is the world reserve currency, or the United States’ position of wealth and power in the world about which we should be concerned. In the larger scheme of humanity, that is frankly irrelevant. What we should be concerned about right now is the survival of our species. If we want to avert a true global crisis, it is imperative that we change the ways we think and behave as a species, it is of consequential importance that we begin to treat the Earth as the living, breathing organism that she is, and it is critical that we shift the consciousness of mankind.
As I have watched the breaking news all weekend long, of our credit rating being lowered, I find myself once again feeling jubilation. There are forces larger than us at play, forces spoken about by the Inkan Shamans, forces that will counteract our meager “bailouts,” forces that are trying to give us a message of Universal importance. It may not be tomorrow, and it may not be in the next ten years, but I do believe that the unsustainable societal structures that we have built will begin to erode and fall away….in order that we might begin anew. Whether we like it or not, I believe “The Shift” is coming. The question is, “will you be ready?”