Shapeshifting The Environment Into A World Of Peace

From an interview with Diane M. Cooper

Quotes are from The World Is As You Dream It and Shapeshifting: Shamanic Techniques for Global and Personal Transformation

We’ve survived many catastrophes. According to legends, we people are in our fifth creation – destroyed four times before. Each time it has been the Shapeshifter – what you might call `sorcerer’ or `prophet’ – who led us out of the abyss.”

–Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman

Throughout history we humans have found shapeshifting to be one of the most effective means for transforming ourselves, both as individuals and communities. A Lakota Sioux warrior shapeshifted into a buffalo in order to become a better hunter and to honor the spirit of an animal that provided his family with food, clothing, bowstrings, and fuel. Entire tribes adjusted to glaciers, floods, and other environmental changes by radically altering their inner and outer perceptions, and in so doing changed their lifestyles to survive.

From a shamanic perspective, shapeshifting begins with intent. You then give it power if you want it to occur in this world as opposed to the other worlds of non-ordinary reality. Action follows.

Intent, energy, and action: Only when these three human forces are in place can you have true shapeshifting.

All of us have the ability to shapeshift on a cellular level — to transform ourselves into jaguars or bushes or any other form with which we create an alliance. Also, each of us can shift into being more of the self we most respect and want to emphasize, bringing about fundamental changes in our attitudes, perceptions, prosperity, health, appearance, and personal relationships. Many of us are learning to utilize shapeshifting to transform the world’s environmental state, with universal peace being a primary goal.

The shamans believe that we are one with everything, including the mountains, the trees, and the jaguars. Therefore, if we are to look at the idea of true peace we must look at a much bigger concept than human existence. We must look for peace in all things.

What kind of action can we take to have peace? First I think we must ask ourselves for its true definition. What does it really mean to be peaceful? If we only talk about peace among humans, then we are not truly talking about peace. If peace among humans means increasing populations and increasing wealth and misuse of the world’s resources, then that spells disaster among the creatures of the sea, the plants and trees of the forest, the insects, and all other life forms on this earth. In the eyes of the shaman, “other life forms” also includes the lakes, the rivers, the oceans, the mountains, and the rocks.

I was very struck about a year ago when I had the opportunity to spend time with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. One particular day I was sitting next to him on a flight over the Himalayas, and we were talking extensively about shapeshifting (he had in his lap a copy of my last book, Shapeshifting: Shamanic Techniques for Global and Personal Transformation). I asked him, “What will it take, your Holiness, for us to have peace?”

And he said, “Well, you know, we cannot have peace until we have taken action that reflects our compassion, and our willingness to take responsibility.” He said further, “Peace can only come from taking responsibility for all forms of life…all sentient beings, including the insects.” (He emphasized this last word, so that I should be clear that sentient beings were not just the higher forms of mammal life, and that we cannot have peace until we include in our concept the future generations of all sentient beings…. even the insects.)

Within the animal kingdom, human beings are the only life forms on the planet that no longer have natural enemies and our numbers are growing. Exploding populations around the world are detrimental to the land, detrimental to the plants and the animals, especially when those populations are demanding more and more resources.

“The world is as you dream it, ” he said at last. “Your people dreamed of huge factories, tall buildings, as many cars as there are raindrops in this river. Now you begin to see that your dream is a nightmare.” He bent to pick up a stone. “The problem is your country is like this pebble.” He threw it far out into the river. “Everything you do ripples across the Mother.

– Numi, Shuar Shaman

“So what can we do to take action?” we ask.

One of the most important things we can do is to create cultures and societies that deeply honor the earth, that honor all sentient beings everywhere. Cultures that by their nature will create a peaceful place for the trees, rabbits, insects, whales and the dolphins to live.

If we really want to have peace we must change the dream of ever bigger populations using ever more material resources. We must change the need to create more cars, more houses, more things that are threatening to the forests, rivers, lakes, animals and insects.

The Shuar of the Amazon — the former headhunters — play an important role in my life and are a fascinating microcosm of the larger macrocosm. When I first lived with the Shuar, in 1968, the census of Ecuador said that there were approximately 7,000 Shuar. Anthropologists speculated that this was an accurate figure and had probably been so for thousands of years. These scientists figured that the population needed to stay somewhere under 10,000, as it was the only way they could have remained a sustainable society for as long as they did.

“You have lost touch with the Mother,” he said. He stood up, held out his arms, and turned in a slow circle. He clenched his hands into fists and drew them to his heart. “Now it begins to hurt.”

“Yes.” Incidents from my own life came to mind. “I sometimes think that all we care about is money and dominating things. Other people, other countries. Nature. That we’ve lost the ability to love.”
His eyes met mine, a stern look. “You haven’t lost the ability.”

– Numi, Shuar Shaman

The Shuar were a warring tribe. They were headhunters. And part of the reason they were headhunters, it has been speculated, was to keep down the population. Every man, from an anthropological standpoint, killed on average five enemies during his lifetime, and produced five children who reached adulthood.

As I mentioned, the first census was taken in 1968. Today, just a little more than three decades later, there are an estimated 70,000 Shuar. In 30 years they’ve gone from 7,000 to 70,000! When the missionaries and schools came to the jungle the tribes were vaccinated against polio and other diseases, and in the late ’60s warfare was made illegal.

Remember, warfare, for the Shuar, was one of the primary ways the balance of human population was maintained. Since then, the population has grown 10-fold, and from a Shuar perspective that is not a good thing. There were no alternatives offered to them to take responsibility for the new society that was being created around them.

The Shuar don’t believe in death, so they didn’t mind dying in war, and they didn’t mind their babies dying in infancy — because they always believed that when a person died their spirit shapeshifted into something else. To them, being a human being wasn’t the greatest thing anyway, and upon death they were happy to shapeshift into a tree or a jaguar, or the mist in the forest.

“How can I change, Don Alberto? How can my people change this terrible situation we’ve created?”

“That’s simple,” he replied. “All you have to do is change the dream.”

It sounded so easy.

“How long will it take?”

He glanced once more down the river. “It can be accomplished in a generation. You need only plant a different seed, teach your children to dream new dreams.”

– Numi, Shuar Shaman

Today a few of the 70,000 Shuar have stayed deep in the jungle and lead idyllic lives. However, many of the Shuar are basically slaves to cattle ranchers or oil companies, or are living in slums in some of the cities that have gone up on the edge of the jungle. Most of the Shuar who have left the jungle completely are living much worse lives than they did 30 years ago.

The Shuar territory could support approximately 7,000 people and stay relatively sustainable. Today, because of the increase in population, many Shuar have to get help and buy goods from the outside. Some have to work for construction or oil companies. Women often become prostitutes to get money from the outside. The standard of living has decreased considerably. It reminds me of our global situation.

The world population also keeps growing, and while we may become monetarily more wealthy over the years, we have lost much in the process. We are no longer sustainable. Sacred places in nature are becoming more and more rare. In the process of increased human need, we are destroying everything around us. We cut down the forests to provide more building materials and paper products. We pollute the rivers and the air to accommodate our increased need for chemicals and plastics. We destroy animals on land, in the sea, and in the lakes and rivers, by our increased need of food, or our need for dumping sites for toxic waste.

Technique is nothing,” he said slowly. “Spirit’s the secret.”

– Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman

We’ve got to change the dream! If you’ve ever gone to a meeting of environmentalists and talked about population control, you’ll know that there are those who are opposed to abortion, those who are opposed to trying to talk indigenous people into cutting down on their family sizes, those that will shout you down for bringing up this subject. I have a tough time also. I don’t tell my Shuar blood brother that he can’t have his sixth child. How can I tell him that? It’s so “Shuar” to have a big family. I tell myself I have to get rid of my car and my house before can I tell him that. It’s a very tricky subject. Population control is one of the most difficult subjects to address because it raises so many other emotional issues. How do you control population when so many religions see any form of birth control as being contrary to their philosophy. It is an issue we have to address if we are going to pull through this — if we’re going to take responsibility.

“My ancestors created a civilization that was destroying itself. Magnificent pyramids. Splendid works of art. Medicines that prolonged life like never before. This poor land was overburdened and the population was about to consume itself into extinction. Not to mention what all that wealth had done to the spirit of the people. They had everything material, yet they had lost touch with the earth herself. Spirit. The wise ones saw this happening. They taught the people to change into lives that would be more satisfying and enduring.”

– Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman”

There are two paths we can take. One is to continue our current course, relying on changes such as recycling and catalytic converters. These are important but only Band-Aids. This path — one that denies that the cause of our problems is embedded in our very lifestyles and our emphasis on material growth — ultimately leads to catastrophe.

What forms will the catastrophe take? Massive wars, starvation, climate changes — probably all of these and many other traumatic events.

The second path is to address the real issues — to look at what we truly want for ourselves and future generations of all sentient beings, and to take responsibility for our role on this planet. To cut back on unlimited growth in resource use and populations; to see ourselves as integrated parts of the whole.

This path leads to survival — and also, peace.

Both paths, in the end, take us to equilibrium. The first, however, is brutal, traumatic, and inconsistent with our view of ourselves as rational beings. The second requires sacrifices, but is the more compassionate and rational.

“From a shamanic perspective, the world is as you dream it. First you find a dream – you state the intent, you give it energy and you take action.”

– John Perkins

So lets say you, the reader, have the intention to create a peaceful world. You now have to give that intention energy, and then take action.

Everyone will look at this differently. There will be those who will decide to run for the senate, or president of some country, and push for an environmental policy of increased responsibility. This will lead to peace in the long run.

There other people, including schoolteachers, who will choose to help their children really understand the big environmental picture and help them to look for happiness inside, instead of in material objects. They will redefine what schools have consistently taught over the past decade, where “the better life” was defined as bigger houses and better cars, and so on. This less materialistic, more spiritual approach will create internal as well as external peace.

“Shapeshifters take many forms. They blend in with their environments. Over time they may cause change.”

– Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman

Others will work within their own families. There are many, many ways we can give energy and take action that will promote this intent. Each person has to look within himself and ask what he has to contribute. If you’re a writer, you can write books and inform in this way. If you’re an athlete, you have a forum from which to talk to a lot of young people, and you can include these issues in your discussions. There are so many ways available.

I found myself playing the skeptic. Despite all the things I had witnessed, I could not imagine myself truly becoming the cat I shared a home with, or the oak tree outside my door. I explained this to him. He only laughed.

“Then it won’t happen. You must be able to imagine it in order to do it.”

– Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman

We have to live these ideals as well. Buy a smaller car — don’t buy an SUV. Don’t go for the bigger house — go for the smaller one. Live simpler, live smaller, be smaller. But equally, and perhaps more important, is passing this torch on to the next generation. If you’re over 35, the footsteps you leave on the planet have been already planted, so to speak. To a large degree, the damage has already been done. What’s really important is that you help the next generation come along and have a very different dream — a dream where life’s great satisfactions are not material, and happiness comes from the inside. Teach them the ecstasy of feeling at one with nature and with all that’s around us. We need to help this generation develop a new paradigm and a new value system that is responsible and brings people a deep inner joy.

“Energy. It is everything. We are energy. The earth, those trees down there…” “That is all there is to it. The Shapeshifter believes she can influence her relationship with the physical world. Therefore she can.”

– Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman

There are still cultures in the world that operate from a sustainable viewpoint, but they are becoming fewer as time passes. On the other hand, the technological cultures are developing a very heightened awareness. I think there are very few people in the technological industrialized countries that wouldn’t agree on this point, that we are on a rocky course — that we’re heading toward catastrophe. Every year the number of people that don’t believe it gets smaller and smaller. Today the general population understands that we are the culprits — we are the ones who have caused these climate changes. And I think they understand that we have to be the ones to change it.

“Belief… and one thing more. Intent. If we understand that everything is energy, it is easy to understand the important of intent. How can you influence energy without first intending to do so?”

– Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman

It is totally uplifting to see the multitudes of people responding to prayer vigils, meditations for peace. These people are truly concerned. Now we’re ready for the next step. We’ve admitted there is a problem. We are aware. Now we need to move forward and make changes in our lives. Changes that we pass on to our children. Attend vigils, pray, and take action.

“Today, who is threatening the survival of our species?”

As I stared into the pale blue sky I could see images rising above the trees, like phantom men in pinstriped suites. “Investors. Politicians. Business executives. Advertising agencies. Television. The corporations.”

“Ah hah! Then it is into these that you must shapeshift!”

– Vieja Itza, Mayan healer-shaman

How long do we have? We have to assume that we have enough time. We have every reason to believe that the earth is giving us ample warning. I believe In a greater power. She is called Pachamama, which in Quechua, the language of the high Andes, means Mother Earth, Mother Time, Mother Universe, the great power that surrounds us… Pachamama is sending us two very important messages – global warming and El Nino. They may be two of our biggest gifts. The earth has told us, “look.. change… its time to take responsibility… can’t you see what you’re doing…?”

So here we are living in this time in history where we’ve been given this huge holistic warning by the whole planet and ecosystem around the planet. What a magnificent time to be alive because we have the opportunity to respond to this message. You and I in our lifetime can really do something very significant. The fact that this website is being read, right now, is very very important and very, very significant. I charge you to go out and take action! Become a powerful Shapeshifter!

Story by: John Perkins
Chief Economist and New York Times Bestselling Author.


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