Updated: Dec 31, 2020
About 2 years after 9/11, I had a vision of billions of people flooding the streets in every corner of the world demanding an end to violence and an end to war. It was, therefore, amazing to me that I saw the beginnings of this movement in my country during the March for our Lives rally on March 24. While the focus was on gun violence, it was one step towards looking at the bigger picture. It was also inspiring to me to see so many children and young people starting a movement and calling for change.
Are you concerned with the escalation of mass shootings in the U.S., with gun violence in communities across the nation, and with the wars going on around the world? Even if you yourself have not been a victim or a survivor of gun violence against a loved one, do you still feel affected by it as you read, hear and witness it in the press and the media? Do you also worry about war, its causes and consequences? Or about the appearance of prejudice and injustice against targeted groups, maybe your own?
Do you wonder how to walk the talk of your spirituality as you face this overwhelming state of affairs? What the wisdom teachings of western shamanism, Buddhism and Native American spirituality offers as you try to deal with all this?
I do. Everyday. It is always on my mind and has been since I was a young child witnessing the count of dead and wounded in the Vietnam War on the news every night. I remember asking my father, “Why do we kill people? Why is there war? Why can’t we give money to the other side to end it?”
This was a child’s simple reasoning: it was just all about the need for money. There must be some easy solution to ending this terrible thing called war.
As an adult I have looked deeply into my own mind and heart and have seen the causes of violence within using the rich tools learned in my own spirituality journey. As a shamanic healer using energy medicine, I also have experienced the transformation of these causes in client’s body/mind. As a teacher of these traditions in the Great Medicine Wheel of the Awakened Heart, I therefore include an exploration of what it means to walk our talk on this powerful path for personal and planetary transformation.
I want to share here how these two things: shamanic energy medicine and the wisdom teachings of the Great Medicine Wheel of the New Earth can assist you and the planet to end violence and war.
When I prayed for guidance almost 10 years ago as to whether I should step out to teach, the name, the Great Medicine Wheel of the New Earth came to me. I was not so happy about the word, “great,” as it sounded too grandiose or egotistical. The answer that came to me after this thought was that the medicine wheel is “great” because it is a “great table of compassion.” Great because our hearts are great enough to come to this table and do the hard work of dismantling the causes of suffering in ourselves and the world. Great because it invites anyone of good heart, from all walks of life, to its table. It is “new” because in so doing, we contribute to creating a world of peace, harmony and love we all desire. This work imprints the energetic field so it will grow like a seed to come to full manifestation 7 generations to come.
This is why I was so excited to see these children stepping up to offer a dream of change in our relationship with guns. We are already seeing the ripple effect of all the visions, prayers and healing over decades.
The “greatness” of compassion is gritty, real, earthy. Love is not weak, as Cherokee teacher, Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo, has said, following in the footsteps of the great peace makers, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. When you look deeply into your wise heart, there is a movement towards:
Looking deeply at the truth about the causes of suffering both within and outside us.
Speaking truthfully about the deeper causes of violence and scarcity mind.
Seeking skillful action to heal and address them in the inner and outer world.
Here is the truth about guns in the United States:
The US is the only country with mass shootings such as recently experienced at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The US has the highest rate of deaths by gun violence perpetrated by individuals than any country in the world.
Overall deaths by guns since 9/11 exceeds the numbers of deaths in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan wars combined.
And violence has marred the history of this planet for millennia. It is both here at home and abroad in multiple forms and manifestations. All of us have been touched by violence, either directly or indirectly. All of us carry unhealed wounds from violence within us. The absence of healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness across time and generations has a direct palpable impact individually and collectively.
There is a question not asked by most of the young speakers at March for Our Lives, except a few”: What are the deeper causes of this?
My spiritual practice demands that, first, I look into my own heart and mind: there I see a loss of trust in the goodness of life, fear for survival, grief, and anger in the wake of the threat of or actual harm done. These threats and harms can be personal, such as traumatic experiences at the hands of family, friends or strangers–to impersonal, such as living during the Cold War as two superpowers escalated nuclear buildup and conflict over decades.
This internal movement then make it easy to create enemies in my own mind, to have thoughts of revenge, or to just simply feel I need to “arm up” emotionally and energetically–to become more wary, less trusting–indeed, to harden my heart. I then develop beliefs about life and others which can insidiously operate within me and collude with a great collective belief about a dangerous and unforgiving world. All of this feeds into the idea that the only way to be safe is to have power over others–which can manifest in outer actions in the collection and stockpiling of guns and weapons of war.
Looking even deeper into myself, I recognize the scars of violence from my ancestors’ unhealed wounds from abuse and violence of all kinds going back possibly hundreds of generations. In the shamanic path, ancestors means both those in our actual bloodlines and those of other lives we have lived. There has been so much violence on our planet in the last 500 years alone, that it is likely the large majority of human beings have ancestors who have been victims, bystanders and/or perpetrators. As the great psychiatrist, Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., author of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, even the perpetrator is subject to the traumatic impact of his actions. We are all left scarred.
I know this sounds overwhelming, but I am happy to say that you do have power as an individual on many levels–from personal to collective action.
The Great Medicine Wheel of the New Earth provides us with a natural and logical map through this morass in both personal, internal contemplation and healing work, as well as in outer action in the world. Shamanic ceremonies, meditations and journeys lead us into the “manure” of individual and collective, unhealed history and turns it into magic.
In the South Lodge, we acknowledge things as they are, the truth of what is so. We also look deeply at what the stories of our family, society and the planet tell us about safety, trust, power, love. We may see in these stories deep contradictions, mistrust, the scapegoating of others (including ourselves), the necessity of harsh punishments and violence, the belief that violence is inevitable and sometimes necessary, the need to have power over others, among others. We recognize the lack of stories of collaboration and cooperation in seeking solutions to problems, and a lack of stories in how powerful true acts of nonviolence can be. We then choose, through ongoing self-reflection and contemplation and through unwinding the incessant commentary of the mind through mindfulness, to unwind their grip on our minds and hearts–to create stories of generosity, trust and safety.
In the West Lodge, we go deep into the Lower World, or our subconscious, to identity the personal and ancestral wounds out of which these stories have arisen. The Lower World include our personal, familial and collective histories, memories and imprints. There we speak to our ancestors, for, if they have experienced or perpetrated harm, they surely have something of value to teach us about what not to do or be, or what do do and be. Through energy medicine and ceremony, we then seek to transmute these wounds into authenticity, courage, and self-empowerment. In this way, we are no longer caught unconsciously in an undercurrent of pain which then causes imbalances in our minds and bodies, and in our outer lives. We also do the work, by tapping into our ancestors’ wounds, of contributing to dismantling the transgenerational imprint of trauma, and thus set off a ripple effect into the present and future.
In the North Lodge, we go into the Upper World to see the Soul’s map of beliefs and contracts which have arisen out of the wounds we carry. Out of unhealed experiences of harm come beliefs such as how dangerous others are, the world is, and so on. Beliefs then operate in the unconscious to create a facsimile in the outer world of what we most fear. A very concrete example would be this. If a soldier returns from war, she may, as a result of the horrors she participated in and witnessed, may come back with a deep belief that human beings will always be violent. This belief, festering and untransmuted, then results in her being drawn to people and places who are violent. The violence within her may also lead her to being violent towards others. If she has children, this deep, unhealed well of pain, will then get passed on. If that generation does not address it with constructive action, then it is passed on, until eventually, a deep belief that it is necessary to possess guns because the world is inherently dangerous. The natural human will towards wholeness and peace is obscured. So it is that we burn the beliefs in a sacred fire, along with the old roles and identities attached to them. Once we have released all this, we are free to step into a more true trust that peace is possible and that examples of peace building are everywhere. We ourselves become capable of deesecalating the appearance of violence within and in others. This is what Gandhi called soul force.
In the East Lodge, we rise up like an eagle with courage and clarity out of the transformation of our wounds and the death of old beliefs, roles and identities. Having faced the deepest darkness within, we recognize that therein is also the greatest potential for light which conquers all suffering. We thus bring back our real, true selves–the original imprint of our basic goodness. We step into life passionately and with full knowledge that by transmuting the shadow within, we are co-creators with the divine spirit. From there, we start weaving a dream of a new world for future generations in which there is no war, no violence, and an enduring peace.
When you are no longer driven unconsciously by unhealed traumas which may go back generations, you are stepping into greater authenticity and self-empowerment. You become the gateway for your family, society and the world to find a way back to wholeness. That wholeness may not appear in the present generation. Nevertheless, you can be assured that the ripple created by the transformation of pain through energy medicine, prayer and community ceremony penetrates both time and space. Just as a stone thrown into a still pond result in ever expanding ripples outwards, so when we the single intention for transmuting suffering has an exponential impact..
You are the change.
Keep on doing the good work for peace and love to prevail.
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