The Accidental Shaman: Journeys with Plant Teachers and Other Spirit Allies - Howard G. Charing 2017
In The Light or In The Dark?
Energy Medicine: Exploring the Human Energy Field
Words are loaded with meaning. Light is often a synonym for good, and dark is a synonym for bad. We all have elements of the dark and the light within us. This interplay of energy is exemplified by the ancient concept of yin and yang, which describes that totality is a dynamic flow, formed of opposite and seemingly contradictory forces. These forces, however, are actually complementary and interdependent. The yin/yang symbol illustrates that everything contains its opposite and that neither can exist without the other (figure 8.1).
The coexistence of the dark and the light within us is not a problem; rather, the challenge is which of these polarities we embrace and express. This is a classical theme, seen, for example, in the saga of Darth Vader, which continues to be a popular and existential parable of our times. His redemption when he makes the ultimate choice and rejects the “dark side” in favor of love is my über favorite scene from the Star Wars movies.
Figure 8.1. The yin/yang symbol
I touched my “dark side” some years ago when I became embroiled with an individual who practiced sorcery not only to gain power over other people but also as a conduit for his malevolence. I became aware of his machinations against me following a powerful ayahuasca session in which I became “transparent” and saw this nauseating and obnoxious energy within me. This foul and obscene energy released, and I felt much better, but I had worked myself up to an angry and indignant state. I was enraged that someone had tried to kill me, so I decided to retaliate and end the matter once and for all. I made my preparations to do this, and then I heard my Tibetan guide say, “Howard, do not do this thing. You will harm your soul, you will be like him; and if he dies because of this, you will take on his karma.” The guide’s voice was there all the time, yet in my indignation, I had just not heard him. I immediately cancelled the retaliation plan, just dropped the whole matter and forgave the person. When I had done that, the guide spoke again, this time a single word: “Good.” I experienced great relief and felt in some way that I had passed a test. Then he spoke again. “Do not concern yourself any more with him; you are protected against his malicious endeavors,” and so I was at peace with this.
One of the most important life lessons that I learned from this episode was that although I had been attacked by this repugnant energy, it only worked because there was a similar frequency within me; that was the hook, as you will manifest in your life what you are, what is within, either consciously or unconsciously. This situation was a teaching; it is always uncomfortable to look into the mirror and see your own unresolved mess. This was a clarion call to acknowledge these uncomfortable and raw aspects within my being and to ultimately accept responsibility for them and heal them. It was also a personal redemption, and maybe that is why the Darth Vader story resonates with me . . . just saying!
Anyhow, I learned much from this episode; it was a salutary reminder to be aware of the interplay between the dark and the light within me, and to always take the correct and impeccable path. I must never allow an inner wound to dictate my actions, and, yes, if I am hurt, I must see this as an opportunity to seek healing and inner equilibrium. In many respects, this person has been a great teacher to me and has served my spiritual growth by revealing my own deficiencies, thereby offering me the opportunity to heal them. People do not care to admit that they have come close to crossing the moral line, and I am no different. I was inspired to disclose this story because the author Steve Beyer, a man of peace and conciliation, wrote in his book a section entitled “How I Became a Sorcerer.” In this he describes an incident triggered by his offended ego and how he lost control. By writing this account, Steve has presented us with a beautiful gift, and for me it is an invitation to be open. We are all human, but in this work, self-control, introspection, and rigorous discipline are, without a doubt, an absolute imperative.
We all have to cope with unsavory negative situations in our everyday lives. People may open our wounds, put us down, and make snide, cutting comments that are very upsetting. In many New Age and shamanic circles, people advocate personal energetic protection strategies. Probably the most well-known examples are surrounding oneself with a shield of radiant white light or placing oneself in a protective “plastic” bubble and visualizing negative energy bouncing off the protective bubble. I think that such strategies can benefit many people, and I also add that communication between people consists of more than just words alone. We receive energy (negative and positive) with our solar plexus, and that is why when dealing with a negative person, it feels that we have been punched in our stomach. Placing your attention on your solar plexus, or even covering up your solar plexus with your arms, is a good defense against this kind of attack.
However, from a personal philosophical perspective, the fly-in-the-ointment, so to speak, on psychic protection is that ultimately it is a counterproductive practice. In effect it is a “pushing away” or a rejection of reality. Such shelter is a way to avoid accepting the facts of how things actually are. We live in an imperfect and unpredictable world, and we are subject to all the vicissitudes that life can throw at us. Nature, despite the attitudes and attempts of governments and multinational corporations, is not under our control, nor do we have the ability to protect ourselves from the natural movements of the Earth. Maybe we can mitigate the impact of natural disasters to some extent, but we do not have the capabilities to absolutely safeguard human existence. We need no reminding of the immeasurable and endless amount of human suffering and destruction caused by war. We, as individuals and as a collective, are eminently vulnerable, and that we need to accept. Anybody who has been in a serious accident knows very well how frail the human body is.
Adverse conditions, setbacks, and upheavals happen in our personal lives. We can neither shape nor construct our personal world to conform to the notion of how things should be. If we followed the path of the soul warrior, we would stay present in our difficulty; we would not try to shelter from or avoid experiences that we regard as negative or emotionally challenging. We would open our inner stone fortress that has been our protection, stay with the diminishing feelings of powerlessness, our broken hearts, and allow ourselves to experience the pain and sorrow so that we could transcend and release those feelings, move to a state of inner peace, and awaken our compassion.
We develop our spiritual and emotional qualities when we are open to being present in the face of negative circumstances and people rather than avoiding them. This is the challenge faced by the soul warrior on his or her path to personal power, which requires transcending the limitations of the defended ego.