The reality of a spirit world isn’t that far-fetched. One-half of the world’s population meets once a week to learn about spirit worlds and supernatural beings.
Is the landscape of the Shamanic Journey any different from the realms described by those who go to church, ashram, or synagogue? Is the world of the shaman an accurate representation of reality, or is it just imagination? If it is just imagination, how does that differ from reality? After all, everything we experience is within the mind.
The idea of the existence of other possible realities prompts some interesting questions. Are these worlds authentic representations of everyday reality or imaginary? What qualifies as “a genuine reality”? Is there a distinction between ordinary and non-ordinary states of existence? What are the boundaries of reality? Our dreams also take place in “non-ordinary reality.” Are they just imagination, or isn’t this experience a part of our existence?
Are All Spirit Worlds Genuine?
Robert Anton Wilson would probably say yes, and no.
“We think this is reality. But in philosophy, that’s called naïve realism: “What I perceive is reality.” And philosophers have refuted naïve realism every century for the last 2,500 years, starting with Buddha and Plato, and yet most people still act on the basis of naïve realism.
Now the argument is, Well, maybe my perceptions are inaccurate, but somewhere there is accuracy, scientists have it with their instruments. That’s how we can find out what’s really real. But relativity, quantum mechanics, have demonstrated clearly that what you find out with instruments is true relative only to the instrument you’re using, and where that instrument is located in space-time.” ― Robert Anton Wilson
So, we are back to our original question. Are the spirit worlds of the shaman another way of experiencing reality?
The answer depends on how you determine reality. Some people distinguish ordinary reality from non-ordinary reality. They say non-ordinary reality is just imagination. It isn’t genuine.
Then ask those same people what they think about dreams. When most people dream, they don’t know they are dreaming. So, when they dream, it seems genuine. Dreams are proof that we experience non-ordinary reality. Are dreams any different from the experience of the Shamanic Journey?
If we consider non-ordinary reality, then there are many realities. Everything we experience happens within the mind. So yes. Our experience IS reality because we are shaping it. And no, because there isn’t one reality but an infinite number. In that sense, the landscapes of the shamanic journey are genuine and authentic representations of existence. They have practiced it for eons, making it a common experience among many indigenous people. So, is the spirit world of the shaman real? We would say yes.
The experience of the shamanic journey continues to be a collective perception for those who practice it today. It is a universal method rendering a similar expression of awareness. No matter what you call the journey, the experience is the same, no matter the culture. It is a collective reality.
But is a collective experience enough for us to conclude it is an authentic function of creation? Is there some way to measure this partition of consciousness?
Is The Spirit World of the Shaman Real?
Wow, you may not have expected this, but Science tells us this partition of awareness is a valid measurable state of consciousness. In this state, the brainwaves are in the theta-wavelength 4 to 7Hz. This pattern is different from our default states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming. It’s a “spiritual technology” which opens a doorway to a separate consciousness state. Michael Harner (1) is an anthropologist and author. He calls this state “The Shamanic State of Consciousness” (SSC).
SCC is like another non-ordinary state known as transcendental consciousness. SCC can heal the mind, body, and spirit. It is one of the primary “spiritual technologies” of humankind, transcending all cultures. It’s another one of our default states of awareness, just like waking, sleeping, and dreaming.
Bottom line. The Shamanic Journey is repeatable and scientifically verifiable. So, is the spirit world of the Shaman real in scientific terms? The answer is yes. It leads to the next logical question.
Is the Mythology of Religion Genuine?
Are the mythologies of religion also an actual representation of ordinary reality? The faithful followers of all religions believe that their superstitions are genuine. Most would hesitate to call their beloved faith is a form of mythology.
“One man’s myth is another man’s religion.” ― Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campell’s observation prompts a question. Is the mythology of religion a universal or collective perception? Well, the answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. Every religion has its unique mythology. There isn’t one singular universal mythology. Religions tend to evolve, mutating, and being shaped by culture. Nevertheless, there are two significant groups of religious mythology, Western and Eastern.
Western mythology finds its home in the Abrahamic religions (2). These are the Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These belief systems are the rebranding of Egyptian, Persian, Assyrian, and Babylonian mystery religions.
The focus of these mythologies differs from those of indigenous Shamanic traditions. The Shamanic practices focus on healing, mind, body, and spirit. In contrast, the focus of Western religion is on selling the afterlife. They contain no processes to replicate this journey. Only the “god-like” or avatar can travel to these dimensions for the most part. Only in death can we finally test the promises of these mythologies.
If we look at the Eastern Traditions, (3) we see that they focus on exploring and developing consciousness. Eastern religions include Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Animistic Indigenous Traditions. Here we find mythologies “built around” the development processes, but these traditions keep the knowledge of processes intact. We see the Anthropomorphic forms (4) used extensively to symbolize and describe these techniques in these systems.
The bottom line here. Religion and mythology aren’t a collective illusion but a selective cultural and often a private one. Historical validity is equivalent to fiction, albeit spiritual fantasy. So, is the make-believe of religious mythology factual? Is it as valid as any illusion of reality? Or is it another of the infinite possibilities?
If Western religion’s fictional stories are factual, then Harry Potter’s stories are equally valid. No, sorry, fiction is just fiction. Fiction can indeed contain some facts and truth. One must learn to distinguish between anecdotal stores and processes to expand awareness and open the doors of consciousness. You’ll need to look in the right places. Even Harry Potter has some gems of wisdom.
Is the spirit world of the Shaman real? If you take the Shamanic journey, or what some call a guided meditation, you will experience this dimension for yourself. It’s is experiential proof that can be replicated and measured. There is experiential and scientific validation for non-ordinary reality. It is a measurable state of consciousness and a universally repeatable process. It is as concrete as the other default state of non-ordinary existence we call dreaming.
The answer to our follow-up question about Western religion’s mythology is that these superstitions are just stories. There might be some nuggets of wisdom if taken as metaphors for something like the Shamanic Journey. However, there are no proofs for mythology as being factual.
Some Eastern traditions contain the process, like those of the Shamanic Journey. Some also have methods for expanding awareness and opening the doors of consciousness. And some mythologies do not. The spirit worlds of the Shaman are perhaps as genuine and factual, if not more so than the myths created to describe those who journey.
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(1) Michael Harner, Wikipedia
(2) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(3) Eastern Traditions, Wikipedia
(4) Anthropomorphic forms, Wikipedia
(5) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia