This episode is a continuation of the series we are doing on Spiritual Influences in Coaching. In this episode we share the 7 Universal Principles of Shamanism:
- What is Shamanism? Animism and the enchantment of Nature. Traditional cultures and magical astronomy, architecture, power plants, and dreaming.
- Influence on Coaching: Dreaming, psychoactive plants, and the Spiritual Retreat.
- In the Future: how it could help coaches lead the way toward a reintegration of nature into human cultures.
Watch the next Soul Session in this series on our YouTube Channel.
Robert Maldonado 00:00
Debra Maldonado 00:01
Hello, everyone. Welcome to Soul Sessions.
Robert Maldonado 00:04
Yeah, another exciting edition of Soul Sessions. And today we’re talking about shamanism, the spiritual influences of shamanic traditions in coaching. And maybe you can help me with this, we should clarify what our perspective— or what perspective we’re taking in talking about shamanism. So definitely a Jungian perspective. And Jung would say—
Debra Maldonado 00:35
He was called the shaman in his day.
Robert Maldonado 00:38
Yeah, but he didn’t like that.
Debra Maldonado 00:43
It was too mystical for science or—?
Robert Maldonado 00:48
His whole idea was just because we study these things and we talk about them, doesn’t mean that we were embracing them or condoning them as a way of doing psychology or doing coaching.
Debra Maldonado 01:07
That’s actually interesting, because it’s true. Jung looked at a lot of different things. He looked at astrology, at psychic ability, he looked at all these things, and everyone thinks, well, he was into that. And he was into shamanism, even in Eastern philosophy. He also said that with all these different approaches to spirituality in the Western world, what he saw what was happening even back then, in the early 1900s, yoga tradition moving over and foreign influences that are not like Western come infiltrating the culture, and then people want it, especially in the 60s, people were wanting to go on these trips. And he had a wording for people to read, don’t let go, don’t repress your Western roots. Because on a deep level, even genetically, we are predisposed to see the world through the genetics of our ancestors. And of course, we go back all to the same source, but on a personal level, at first it’s kind of a stretch for us to try to fit in a Western mind to see the Eastern philosophy or other philosophies. So he always kept bringing up that idea that if you’re in the West, try to find a way to merge versus abandon your Western ideas because it’s not going to be as effective because somewhere deeply within you, on personal level, you’re conditioned to think a certain way, like a Westerner. For example, giving up your possessions, or enlightenment, a lot of people misinterpret that. And they think the West is bad, they’re materialistic. But the real truth is, it’s the merging of both and how do we do that? So let’s talk about what is shamanism?
Robert Maldonado 03:06
I want one more point about the point of view, because I think it’s important just so that we’re not misinterpreted. The other element is that we’re students of the mind. And we’re simply acknowledging these different cultural traditions that have existed in all over the world for millennia, as interesting aspects of our heritage as human beings. And those two combined, as Jung would say, these are psychological inheritances that are still playing out, and whether we acknowledge them or not, whether we like it or not, these influences arise in the mind and in cultures, spontaneously, because it’s not that we have ideas like we just consciously think of things and express them, it’s that ideas possess us. They arise in the culture and the environment, in the mind, in the psyche and take over in a sense they become very present and become the way we experience the world. And then our job is ask what’s going on here, who is really driving, what is happening with these ideas? So shamanism is definitely one of those ideas that is an archetypal idea, in that you can’t stamp it out. You can’t repress it, you can’t ignore it. You can try as maybe the scientific perspective has tried to do, but it’ll come up somehow or another, in another form.
Debra Maldonado 05:01
So how would you define shamanism for those who don’t know what it is, or heard the term many times but aren’t clear.
Robert Maldonado 05:11
I was thinking we could go down the list of the seven universal principles that define shamanism. And in going down the list, we can arrive at a definition of it.
Debra Maldonado 05:27
Okay, and where’s the origin of shamanism? Is it a certain country, certain culture? It’s more of an archetype. Because different tribes, there were Native Americans in the US, and then the tribes all over the world, these indigenous tribes, have had this idea of a shaman or medicine leader or the healer of the group.
Robert Maldonado 05:52
One of the oldest cave paintings found in France or Spain, I can’t remember which one, but one of the oldest ones is this image of a shaman dancing. We know he’s a shaman because he’s wearing antlers and he appears to be dancing or moving like the animal. That’s one of the characteristics of the shaman, that connection with nature and animal life. So it goes back to our ancient prehistory. I think in going down some of these universal principles, we start to see what the archetype is talking about.
Debra Maldonado 06:37
Okay. Let’s go, number one.
Robert Maldonado 06:40
So number one, shamans experience a calling.
Debra Maldonado 06:46
So it’s kind of like a coach even, a coach or a therapist or healer, you have this calling to help others. Every story, origin story of these people that are modern gurus, they always have this story where they have a calling, they have a wake up call. Is that what you’re saying? The calling finds them, they don’t just decide, people don’t come to us to be a coach, because they decide “Oh, that looks like a good— I should do that, that’s just an option for a career.” They have a calling. It’s that kind of inner awakening of something deep within them.
Robert Maldonado 07:32
That idea chooses you, you don’t really choose it. That’s what it’s talking about, that you don’t really have a choice. It’s picked you to do this separate journey from the ordinary life. And you either submit or resist. You either say okay, I’m going to go along with this, or you resist. And in Campbell’s hero’s journey, there’s a part of resisting the call.
Debra Maldonado 08:11
You answer the call, you resist it. This experience of calling. A lot of people try to force themselves into a career that isn’t their calling. I know a lot of people that do what their parents told them to do, be a doctor, be a lawyer, be accountants, and do what I did, or get a job at the factory, or do the things that I did, and this is what works. And then there’s this other calling within you. So shamanism is a calling that you can’t just decide “I’m going to be like Deepak Chopra”, or “I wouldn’t be a shaman”, and you just decided something, it comes from within you.
Robert Maldonado 08:57
Some anthropologists study different cultures and have documented a lot of this stuff. What they find is often there’s an illness, there’s a type of madness that befalls the person. They go through that dark night of the soul, sometimes very early as children, they start to hear voices, they experience something out of the ordinary. That signals them out as “This person is not meant to be just part of the everyday tribe, but is going to be trained by the shamans in the tribe.”
Debra Maldonado 09:47
Even in Buddhism, the Lamas, the boy is chosen to leave the family unit and go study with the monks. So that kind of leaving the ordinary world. I want to talk about that just a little bit more, because that’s why we resist the call. We have to leave that ordinary, we have to leave our friends and the way things were in the comfort zone. Even in the modern, we have to put ourselves out there, we have to market ourselves and we have to risk rejection, risk abandonment from people or being more exposed in the world. Even the village will look toward the shaman, it is a big responsibility, is the rain going to come, when it’s good time to plant the crops, someone’s sick, you got to save them. It’s that responsibility that you have to take on. You can’t just blend with the crowd and be like, it’s not my problem.
Robert Maldonado 10:49
You don’t have the luxury of just going along with what everybody else is doing. Because you’re in this special training, in the special position. So let’s move on to number two. And we can always come back to some of these previous ones. So shamans must undergo a trial.
Debra Maldonado 11:14
I always felt like my search for love was always this struggle that I had to deal with. And that’s what led me to my spiritual work. If I didn’t have that, I would have probably just been married with three kids and grandkids now — hopefully, maybe not — in New Jersey, just living that normal and ordinary life. But it was through that struggle that gave me so much, that almost separated me already from the normal herd of what everyone else was doing. Because I was not getting married when everyone else was getting married, or going to college when everyone else was going to college. I was kind of making my own way already. And then you have that wakening, you want to fit in but you don’t. And then in that struggle of not fitting in, you find your purpose.
Robert Maldonado 12:12
I think this is where people see Jung’s life and point out that he went through this period of madness himself, where it was a trial. It was an existential crisis in a sense. Soon after he split with Freud, he went through — I think it was two or three years of just kind of looking inward, thinking about what is that fantasy life talking about, and what are the symbols arising from the unconscious.
Debra Maldonado 12:51
It’s like a state of confusion a little bit, we call it madness, but we can experience it in our everyday life, not as a psychotic break, but more like a little bit of confusion — where are we? What am I doing with my life? What’s up? What’s down?
Robert Maldonado 13:06
And if you think about Shadow Work, it is very difficult in that respect of you have to think about facing your fears, not just the external fears that we all have but those deep existential fears that you have to really come to terms with. And that is a kind of a trial by fire. Because it’s going to test you, it’s going to see what you’re really made out of.
Debra Maldonado 13:36
I always say if you can face the Shadow Work, you can accomplish anything. Like Jung says it’s a tight passage that feels very constricting, you don’t want to go down but on the other side is a vast openness and freedom that you never felt before. But you have to go through that trial to get to that place.
Robert Maldonado 13:56
You see this in many cultural shamanic traditions where the person has to undergo this ordeal. They have to survive in the wilderness by themselves, they have to swim an impossible length of ocean, they have to find something that is very difficult to find. And that marks them as fit for the larger process of being a shaman.
Debra Maldonado 14:29
We see this in movies and stories and myths, about the trial. One was the trial of Psyche when she had to win Eurocis’ heart back. The mother made her do all these things like taking and counting seeds, and doing all this to earn her right way.
Robert Maldonado 14:51
Absolutely. So number three for the shamans — their craft requires them to shift their perception. This is, again, a universal, there is no shamanic tradition that does not involve this shifting of perception from the ordinary perception of the persona, the ego to this higher perception of the true nature of things. What do things really mean? Why do they exist? How do they exist? How do things come about? The shaman is either instructed or intuitively finds this element in their inner journey.
Debra Maldonado 15:51
They basically see things differently than the ordinary person. They can actually do the work of a shaman, which is to help others, because they have the shift, they can’t be with them trying to save a drowning person, they have to be throwing the knowing what they need to do to pull them out. So one of the common ways they heal is they don’t see the person as broken, they see the person as already healed. Their perception is they’re not seeing what the evidence is, what the sense is. That’s how they are able to heal the person, not seeing they’re broken and they have to fix it, they’re really seeing their potential. We agree with that kind of philosophy because that’s really where people grow and have the best success is when the coach or the therapist or the shaman is holding that vision for the person and not seeing them as not becoming, as having struggles and seeing them as becoming their full potential.
Robert Maldonado 17:00
I think Jung would say that shift is happening— or what is happening psychologically is that the person is shifting from identifying with the ego, the ordinary sense of the conceptual mind, to a deeper sense of the psyche, the totality of the psyche, which he called the self. And that shift does give the shaman a different perception in the world basically.
Debra Maldonado 17:32
They can see possibilities that other people can’t see and intuitively connect to creativity that the ordinary person can’t.
Robert Maldonado 17:43
Of course, that does require the sacrifice of the ordinary life. Because once you shift perception, you can no longer be that persona that the ordinary person gets to be in oblivion. The idea of ignorance is bliss, I think that’s where it comes from. If you stay in the ordinary world, you get to live your individual life in your little bubble, whereas when you shift that perception, you no longer have that luxury.
Debra Maldonado 18:26
It’s weird, because it’s so freeing to be able to create your life. But then sometimes I see people that are just living their lives, they’re having their weekends, and the ordinary life is fulfilling for them. And it’s almost like ignorance a little bit, and then it’s like “Wow, it would be so less pressure to be there.” But then again, that’s where all the suffering is. So there’s this giving up the ordinary for the extraordinary, and there’s always a sacrifice that you have to make. And a lot of times the shamans in certain cultures don’t take on partners, they marry the divine. They don’t have kids, they do different things with their life. They give up the ordinary things that people want to feel important. They stretch themselves for a bigger purpose than just their own ego’s fulfillment.
Robert Maldonado 19:29
That’s another interesting question, how does that relate to organized religion? Because you do see it in the Catholic Church. If you’re going to be a priest or a nun, you take certain vows that separate you from the ordinary life and take you into another, priestly level. I think Jung would say there is a connection, but organized religion is a little bit more formalized.
Debra Maldonado 20:05
Buddhist too, they don’t marry, they take abstinence.
Robert Maldonado 20:08
I’m just using the Catholic religion as an example but all organized religions essentially do this. They create a dogma, meaning a set of beliefs and practices of philosophy, the adherence to that religion follow them and say “We have to fall in line and do these things this way.” Whereas in shamanic traditions, the shaman is a little bit more free to express that calling in a more creative way. And that’s where you see the influence on coaching, in that coaching is in a sense, free from the constraints of traditional therapeutics. And you see some of these coaches do fire walking or you mentioned some of the other things when we were talking about this. The retreats?
Debra Maldonado 21:22
The psychedelics, hallucinogenics.
Robert Maldonado 21:26
Yes, certainly those traditions or those kind of retreats where people are put back in nature and are guided to experience nature in this new way, perhaps through the aid of hallucinogenics. That comes from shamanic traditions, drumming, playing a music.
Debra Maldonado 21:54
I did drum circles when I was in Colorado, that was so much fun. There’s something about just sitting around, the passion, and singing, just beautiful. There’s a lot of ritual in shamanism, the ritual, the dancing, the drumming, the experience, the visioning.
Robert Maldonado 22:15
Absolutely. So number four. That shift of perception is a big step but then there’s higher steps. Number four, shamans are required to be knowledgeable about different states of mind, different states of consciousness. Like dreaming, probably one that most people are familiar with. There is this tradition of lucid dreaming, out of body experience, dream healing, astral travel where the shaman is able to exit their body, their consciousness is able then to observe the world from that different vantage point.
Debra Maldonado 23:18
Robert Maldonado 23:24
That’s right. And in modern day, of course, that falls in the realm of psychology as well. That’s why Jung emphasizes those ideas as well.
Debra Maldonado 23:35
He was working with the mind, he wanted to understand.
Robert Maldonado 23:38
I would say, if you read his writings carefully, he wanted to not just go back to the past and say “Let’s embrace this past of being in touch with nature.” But he wanted to include what we know now in the West, meaning the scientific information that’s coming through, to ask the question “Can we be both? Can we bring those traditions that are very much part of our natural history as human beings, but also include what we know from our conscious experimentation with nature?”
Debra Maldonado 24:22
So what’s an example of that?
Robert Maldonado 24:25
There is none. That was his whole question to us. Why do we have to split science and magic?
Debra Maldonado 24:36
Science is magic.
Robert Maldonado 24:38
In a way, it has the possibility. That’s what he was pointing at, that it has the possibility of being a new shamanistic tradition in a sense, because we are working with alchemy when we work with science. We’re working with the elements.
Debra Maldonado 24:56
We’re not abandoning science and then we’re not just sticking with science, we’re blending and able to look at both sides.
Robert Maldonado 25:05
He would definitely say if you neglect part of your human nature, which is the need for transcendence, the need for magic, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. And you’re playing with fire because anything you reject and push into the unconscious is going to take its revenge on you eventually, it’s going to trip you up.
Debra Maldonado 25:37
Someone who’s a very structured personality and scientific would probably experience a relation with someone who’s chaotic and out of control. Not even romantically but seem to be attracting those kinds of people in their life because it’s your shadow. Is that what you’re saying?
Robert Maldonado 25:57
Not only their shadow, I think there’s more to it. I think the shadow is a very personal experience. But in the larger collective consciousness of humanity, we’re very split. If you notice we’re very lopsided, we’re all about rationality and science, and that power that working with the elements gives us the ability to transform the earth. But we’re neglecting the soulful part. For shamans, one of their main purposes was to deal with this phenomena called soul loss. It is the disconnect of your conscious mind with the unconscious roots.
Debra Maldonado 26:49
And there’s a part of us that’s never disconnected from our soul, but we’re consciously not connecting to it, ignoring it. And that’s where the soul says “Hello. Guess what? Dark night of the soul is going to come out. I feel like it disrupts your life. I told you about my manless, jobless, and homeless time when I was in my mid 30s. I was totally on the wrong track. And it was ignoring what my soul was intuitively saying, you’re on the wrong track. I kept pushing it away because I wanted this perfect, normal, ordinary life. And it just pulled it from under, it created this situation where was nothing worked. It made me realize, okay, it’s time. When you have that calling, you can’t ignore it, it will find you. I always find that people, no matter how they try to avoid their purpose, something is going to keep intervening until it happens. It’ll appear outside as just as bad luck or fate. But it’s really the soul saying “I need to stretch, I need to get your attention.” I love that.
Robert Maldonado 28:06
So understanding basically, what is the mind? How does the mind create both wellness and illness? And more than that, right? How does it interact in the cosmos? That’s the shaman’s domain, they act as intermediaries between the ordinary life and the bigger cosmology of the universe. So number five is, shamans recognize the sacredness of nature, what Jung would call the symbolic life. In the symbolic life, the individual that is undergoing this transformation begins to see the external, the appearance of the world, the universe in that symbolic sense that is speaking to them.
Debra Maldonado 29:14
It’s like going in nature and you’re looking for signs, and everything is alive. I remember when we moved from Colorado, we were moving to New York when we first met, and there was this beautiful white owl that would come, it was around us and outside of our townhome. I remember we were just packing up everything, you and I were just standing on that porch. And the white owl came as if to say goodbye, like “See you later.” That kind of connectedness to nature. And then anytime we would have make decisions and stuff, we would always notice birds flying, hawks, kind of a symbol of that synergy of what’s happening in here and what’s happening out there.
Robert Maldonado 30:05
I think humans have forgotten what it means to be in nature. Now, when we think of nature, we might think of these beautiful parks or national forests, or mountain ranges, but being in nature is a very different experience, really being part of it and really connecting with the earth and that presence, that nature is very different. It is that experience that you get the sense that you are in a living thing, you’re not just visiting, you’re not a tourist in a park, you’re part of this bigger cosmology, the cosmos, that is very much alive, very much present, very much conscious. That experience is something so valuable, that we’ve traded it for technology, for these gadgets that somehow are supposed to—
Debra Maldonado 31:18
It dims us down, shuts down all our senses to connect with it in a way, our intuition is kind of shut down.
Robert Maldonado 31:26
And I don’t think it’s about going back to nature and just rejecting technology. But it’s about acknowledging that we can be both and we can have both. But also because the technology is part of nature as well. It’s simply our human nature.
Debra Maldonado 31:48
You know, it’s interesting what you say too, because when COVID hit last year, it made everyone think of what the heck is going on. And I’m thinking, we have all this technology, we’re modern people. And this little microscopic piece of nature has shut down the world. And it’s just so amazing that we forget that we’re part of a system, that we’re not invincible, our technology wasn’t capable even of handling this little bug. And it’s just humbling in a way. And I think it also made us all think, a lot of people look at health and their bodies, and that’s part of the natural world, we’re our bodies as a living organism. This nature is also within us as every cell, and what we put in the food we put in our body. So this whole connection to getting out of just this cognitive, technical mindset and getting into our heart and our soul and our nature. It just gave me this mind blowing perspective on we’re so arrogant human beings, that we’re so invincible, that we don’t need nature. We actually do, because we’re living in this precarious world of flowing through space on this tiny rock in the middle of space. And it’s remembering that we’re part of this bigger picture, of this bigger cosmos and that we’re connected to it, we’re not separate.
Robert Maldonado 33:28
And that Jungian perspective would say that nature’s not just necessarily the external. That nature is our own psyche. The deeper psyche is nature itself.
Debra Maldonado 33:45
It’s just different, it appears what we’re seeing out there is really what’s really going on inside of us like a glimpse of the depth of who we are. Like Emerson says “What has been before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” I’m butchering up that quote, but that’s beautiful.
Robert Maldonado 34:07
Number six, shamans act as intermediaries between the worlds. There’s many different cosmologies. But one of the main ones is that there are these three worlds. So there’s the world below, which is the earth in the caves that take you underground. We see that in some of the older cave paintings, they were deep underground, and people would actually have to go through very narrow slits to get to those deeper caves. And then they would paint these beautiful images, the symbols on the walls of the cave. Nobody really knows why they would bother to do that because there’s no light down there, they would have to illuminate their activity somehow through fires.
Debra Maldonado 35:07
Maybe they were putting prayers underneath for the earth above.
Robert Maldonado 35:11
That’s certainly one of them.
Debra Maldonado 35:13
I’m not an anthropologist, but maybe some kind of ritual that you’re going underneath to build good luck for the land above.
Robert Maldonado 35:23
And speaking of shamanism, this was probably one of the rituals that the shaman had to undergo.
Debra Maldonado 35:30
And he had to also decide what symbols to put on and direct them how to paint them. What about under the ocean? Would that be the same thing as the underworld, or is that different?
Robert Maldonado 35:42
There are cultures, for example, island cultures, that were surrounded by the ocean, and so the shaman’s role was to be in touch with it. The animals in the ocean, sharks and other creatures. So, absolutely. But so the three worlds were the world underneath, the world of nature which is this plane, the waking world, and then the world above, the spiritual world, the unseen. And the shaman’s role was often to act as intermediary between all those three worlds to bridge them and to transverse them.
Debra Maldonado 36:40
The ordinary person would just stay in the above the ground world. And the shaman would go above and below.
Robert Maldonado 36:48
And, of course, that is a very useful skill to have. You see it in some of the Catholic traditions, you grew up Catholic. What is the Catholic fear? Hell. Which is an underworld. And what do they aspire to?
Debra Maldonado 37:15
Let’s go to heaven.
Robert Maldonado 37:18
We’re simplifying, obviously, there’s more to it than that. But those kind of ideas arise spontaneously in the human psyche, and you have to deal with them somehow. Or they become then neuroses, psychoses, these kind of existential crises.
Debra Maldonado 37:41
If we think about below like shadow and things we don’t want to see and just suddenly push to this aspiration. A lot of people think they want to keep going to the light, let’s just be pure, and let’s push away the bad, but we have to confront it in a way and a lot of the hero’s journey, you have to go underneath in the caves and fight the dragon. But I love a quote by Jung. He says that in order for a tree to reach heaven, the roots have to reach down to hell. If you’re doing this kind of work and truly helping people transform, you have to face your own hell, the darkest, the parts that the ordinary person wouldn’t want to face. Not demons and stuff like that, which we don’t want to talk about. Like internal demons, where we label them as bad and scary. And when we go down there, we realize they’re not scary at all. It’s just that the ordinary person doesn’t have the courage to face it. And so the shaman actually says “I’m going to go face this thing, and I’m going to change it.”
Robert Maldonado 38:51
And you see the priests talking about as above so below, which is part of what the shaman traditionally does. They consecrate the actions in this plane with the spiritual element, the things of the underworld.
Debra Maldonado 39:21
Like the in Catholicism, the priest would bless the bread and the wine, and then the person would take it, but the priest was basically bringing the light of God into the ordinary world. But not everyone can do that. You can’t walk into a church and say “I bless this.” The shaman has that special authority to do that. And psychologically, it works that way. Because we all know even in therapy or coaching, you need an established authority to really effectuate change. And that’s why a lot of people that try to help their friends — I know for myself, you try to help your friends as a coach or as a therapist, it just doesn’t work. That’s why they have that kind of saying, refer them out because they don’t see you as that authority, they see you as an ordinary person, or how they always see you. And it’s almost like you have to leave the ordinary world to become the guru or the master in another culture or another tribe.
Robert Maldonado 40:34
Exactly. I mean, the Catholic Church up until recently, I think, was doing exorcisms.
Debra Maldonado 40:44
They’re not doing them anymore? I haven’t talked to them lately. I could ask my mom, she’ll know.
Robert Maldonado 40:52
But you see there that that’s a very shamanistic activity.
Debra Maldonado 40:59
Like get rid of the evil spirits?
Robert Maldonado 41:01
Yes, but if you talk to priests, most of those guys are educated by the Jesuits, who are scientists and philosophers, they’re not buying into that kind of superstitious outlook on things. But you see that often shamans would play those roles as a service to the community.
Debra Maldonado 41:28
So on that topic from a psychological perspective, before modern psychology 100 years ago, 150 years ago, people that had schizophrenia or autism, even I don’t know if autism was recognized, that kind of work or mental retardation. A lot of times there’s this idea that they’re possessed or they’ve displeased God or something like that, that superstition around mental health. And so the shaman would come in, and they would call them in to heal— or even illness too, when people were ill. They had a physical illness like cancer or something, they think there were evil spirits coming in.
Robert Maldonado 42:16
Exactly. Because, for example, schizophrenia. Before the modern age of psychopathology, people didn’t know what to make of it, there was nothing physically wrong they could find with the person, but yet they were possessed by these crazy ideas and behaviors. So one of the go-to explanations was, they must be possessed by a demon or some kind of spirit. And so they would take them to the church to get exorcised. So there’s definitely that. There’s also the other part that if shamans initially undergo this dark night of the soul that appears to be madness, how many people have we locked up in insane asylums when they were simply going through this calling, but they were labeled as a mental disorder.
Debra Maldonado 43:22
Or even depression, they have those states of depression where they’re kind of lost, and they lack— not a will to live, but more like a passion for life. They’re just kind of low, they’re just feeling a shaman can come in and lift that person out.
Robert Maldonado 43:40
Yes. One more, we’re down to seven. The shamans, one of their primary functions is to address soul loss. So we’ve mentioned that already, but let’s expand a little bit. So if soul loss is this disconnect with our own psyche, collectively humans have reached this point where there is mass soul loss. We know from the statistics, the statistics don’t lie. The numbers don’t lie that there’s depression, anxiety, suicide, all these are way up. There’s a crisis of meaning, people can’t find meaning in their life anymore.
Debra Maldonado 44:36
They did a research of people that are working for companies, and most of the employees — 80%? 89%?— are actively disengaged in what they do. So you have this whole mass of workers that are just working for that paycheck, and just completely disillusion. That’s why on Mondays is the highest rate of heart attacks, people are just like “I just want to go back to this Sunday night blues.” I remember I had Sunday night blues, oh, how to go to work again. Or even on vacation. I’d be counting the days, oh no, I only have three days left. You live for those short spurts of vacation, and the rest of your life is filled with this meaningless job. And it’s not a way to live. It really isn’t. They call it the soul sucking corporate job.
Robert Maldonado 45:28
Yeah, it’s in the language, exactly. And part of it is that, again, we push away these very human natural expressions of our connectedness with nature, with the cosmos, with dreams, magic, we simply bought into this idea that we can reason everything out. In philosophy I think it’s called rational positivism. It states that if I have enough information, if I gather enough information about this topic, I will be able to solve it completely. Nothing works that way in the universe. Everything has its mystery. Everything always keeps its secret. We exist either in harmony or in disharmony with it. And I would say we’re in disharmony with the natural world right now.
Debra Maldonado 46:39
Well, look at what’s happening to the planet.
Robert Maldonado 46:41
And we think we can build our way out of it or build more technology against it. That’s not going to work. We are nature and we are part of it.
Debra Maldonado 46:55
We have to change ourselves. They say if you want to change the world, you got to change yourself first. Be the change.
Robert Maldonado 47:01
Yes. And the answer, again, from the shamanistic, from the Jungian perspective, from the natural kind of bigger picture, of what is a human being, what does it mean to be a human being, the answer is within, not finding more, not building more technology, but of exploring the inner psyche.
Debra Maldonado 47:25
Like building the scaffolding for you to explore the deeper self, deeper parts of yourself. How do we build a way for us, carving out a path for us to find ourselves? Our soul is pushing up. And we think it’s because we’re dissatisfied with the material things in life. But the soul is pushing up saying the material things in life are not the answer and what we’re missing. Our ego’s saying “Maybe if I find a new partner, or maybe if I make more money, or maybe if I moved to a new town, or maybe if I lose 10 pounds or something and be able to go on vacation, that’s going to bring me happiness.” And so the soul is saying no, this dissatisfaction in life is not about not having things, it’s not knowing who you are.
Robert Maldonado 48:18
I have had this conversation with some of my scientist friends, and their question is essentially this: are there any examples of this merging of both the magical aspects of human being with a scientific perspective? The answer is yes. If we simply go back to Mesoamerica, which is Central Mexico now, and Southern Mexico, and some of the Central American countries, the people just 500 years ago had that shamanistic perspective. Their priests were basically shamans, but they were also scientists. They had astronomy, they had mathematics down to a high science, architecture, literature, oration, poetry, in other words, they were high culture. They knew what they were doing scientifically, mathematically, but they also understood that connection to nature and the bigger cosmos in a very intricate way, in a very sophisticated way. And they understood its importance.
Debra Maldonado 49:57
Wouldn’t you say also that people like Leonardo da Vinci and — I’m trying to think of his name — Newton. They were alchemists. In the West, they’ll say, he came up with the airplane and all these drawings. But he was using alchemy as well. And Newton is known for this idea of gravity and the theory of gravity, but he had all this other mystical stuff that no one talks about. So it’s been there. But it’s almost like science has taken over and has a predominance because you can measure it with your senses versus the mystical that you can’t measure.
Robert Maldonado 50:51
And I would say it’s a pseudoscience, because the real scientific method would always acknowledge “There are things that are unknown. And those are just as valid to hold in mind as the things we do know.” Whereas a lot of the science today is primarily to prop up their perspective, meaning that we think it’s this way, and therefore, all our experimentation and theory is going to go towards propping this idea up. That’s not real science. Real science is “We’re open to what we don’t know. We’re not defining and we’re not neglecting it. We’re not saying it’s not important. We’re simply saying we don’t know that area of our particular topic.” But there is this history of human beings being able to balance the traditional shamanistic perspective of cosmology with a very scientific perspective.
Debra Maldonado 52:03
Those cultures lasted thousands of years, where we’re just a couple hundreds years in modern history. We already tried almost blowing up the planet and destroying the nature. Actually another culture that had science too, but in a different way, the aborigines, they’ve been around for 40,000 years. They were very mystical, very shamanistic, but they also had a way to calculate things. It is disconnecting from the earth and nature, not only the earth, but our deeper self, or soul, is really the crisis that we’re facing in world right now. We can’t solve it just through technology, we have to go inward, be conscious of these parts of ourselves.
Robert Maldonado 52:59
That’s right. From the Jungian perspective, we would say that the key is going to come from the collective unconscious, from the symbols that arise from the collective unconscious, because that’s where the real solution comes from, in that it changes the perception of human beings. If you think about what’s going on individually when they go through a transformation, that transformation has to happen now on a global scale. People have to have mass shifts in perception.
Debra Maldonado 53:40
So mass hypnosis maybe? Just kidding. That’s what we’re experiencing now, the mass misinformation and media and all that kind of clouding over what’s real. I don’t see people talk about their spiritual life or their collective unconscious.
Robert Maldonado 54:01
I don’t see technology as the problem. They say technology is the expression of the mind.So it’s the idea of technology, or the idea of how to use technology. Technology is neutral. It’s essentially what you do with it. It’s a tool. So it’s simply that the idea doesn’t exist yet of that balance between how we use technology and how we interact, our relationship with the natural world.
Debra Maldonado 54:36
And we I see this in personal development too. There’s that balance, everyone wants to know about the neuroscience, and everything’s neuroscience, neuroscience changed the brain, and then we’re forgetting about the spiritual. And then there’s people that are just spiritual, spiritual, spiritual. Forget about the science, it doesn’t exist, it’s an illusion. And we need that, we need both, we need the intellectual, what we know about science, what we know about the brain, what we know about perception, and also informing us of what we know about our deeper knowledge of the psyche. So this was a great topic. I’ve really read a lot about shamanism. I’ve heard of it. I mean, being in Colorado, everyone says they’re shaman. And they use that term a lot to name what they do. And now I see how this is really very relevant for people that are doing healing or helping work. And so, comments, thank you for my top, I haven’t worn this in a while, I love this color. “How do you use shamanism in coaching?” I think if you take the seven things we talked about today, that would be how to use it. But I would say Jungian coaching is probably one of the best ways.
Robert Maldonado 55:54
For us, we definitely take our cue from Jung in that we are insisting on understanding this tradition from a psychological perspective and a spiritual perspective of what is going on individually, as well as respecting the traditions of other cultures. Not just trying to emulate other cultures, but giving them their space, their respect. Asking, as Jung insisted, that we look for those elements in our own experience, meaning that we find our connection to nature, our connection to the divine, to magic, in our own circumstances, through our own internal shadow work. That’s the beginning of it.
Debra Maldonado 56:56
For me, it’s like you said that there’s magic all around us, we don’t even realize the fact that we’re alive. And that we’re aware that we’re alive, and that we’re on this rock hurtling through space, in the middle of the cosmos, it’s such a mystical experience. And we go to bed every night, and we dream, and we go to these other places. We have it right here, we don’t need to always go to this other place, or do these rituals that aren’t aligned with our culture that we grew up in. It’s fun to do those things but we don’t need to in order to have a mystical life, we don’t have to force ourselves into a persona of someone that’s not in our heart connected to who we are. But we may find that, you know, I’m German, and I have those German roots. So I find that Jung had spoken German, and it’s weird that I would pull my culture or my ancestry toward those things. So another question. “I’ve always been drawn to shamanism, and lately trying to connect with my ancestral roots in indigenous Celtic shamanism.”
Robert Maldonado 58:05
Great traditions there.
Debra Maldonado 58:08
She’s talking about ceremony rites as a way to access deeper parts of the consciousness. Ritual and rites of passage are very powerful. Anchoring insights in revelation. Any questions? It’s so interesting because I was surprised how relevant this was to everyone, especially if you’re a coach, or you’re someone in the helping profession, helping others. I mean, even medical doctors are modern day shamans in a way, they’re looking to help a person heal through the alchemy of the medicine. So there’s a mystical aspect that goes on as well. When I did medical hypnotherapy early in my career, they did research actually and they said that the EMT worker, the firemen that would show up on a scene, if he believed or she believed that that person was going to make it, it would actually dictate if that person made it or not, because there’s kind of a transmission that happens. So they’re showing up at the scene. And if they tell the person, you’re going to make it, and they really believed it, that person would make it. But if they showed up and they expected, like “I don’t know if this person is going to pull through”, it was always the belief of the person. So it really is that whether you’re helping someone save their life or change their life, you have to believe in what you’re doing. You have to believe that that person has the potential. That’s the job of the shaman, to see the bigger picture and bring it in.
Robert Maldonado 59:55
Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next time.
Debra Maldonado 59:59
Take care, everyone.
Robert Maldonado 1:00:00
Debra Maldonado 1:00:01