“I believe that you are meant to find it,” he said. Intense and charismatic eyes rested sharply on my face and he spoke quietly, in a half whisper. “You should come back with us, to Peru.”
I have a problem with religious and spiritual teachers. They may be great, full of skill and knowledge, but it doesn’t matter; I still get iffy around anyone teaching what is said to be spiritual or religious truth. Even when I agree with the message (or most of it) my gut instinct is still to back away slowly. Or even better, to just run.
Many years ago I spent a weekend in a Peruvian Shamanism workshop. Two teachers from abroad took the group of swedes on a spiritual journey with meditation, energy work, and rituals. We built our mesas and got Florida Water sprayed on us from the shaman’s mouth. We spoke of the elements and chanted. We spoke of the universe and communicated with a crystal.
I can’t quite describe it without my mouth twitching into a little smirk. It sounds funny, yes! But to be perfectly honest, it was an intense weekend and what I learned has mattered a great deal, even if I was never really meant to wander the path of Peruvian Shamanism. So much of the teachings echoed within me as true. What I felt during those rituals can’t be denied. The dreams I had during those nights and the long term effect it had on me are valuable, and I’d absolutely not want to be without those experiences.
There was an option to carry on. There were local gatherings at a regular basis in my area and I went… twice I think, after that initial weekend. I saw things, heard things, learned things. And after quietly sharing one of my dreams with the shamans they were convinced that I was in fact meant to come back with them to Peru and find a lost city in the jungle.
I didn’t go to Peru. Unfortunately, perhaps – or perhaps not. I really can not guess what would have happened if I had gone with them. I backed away from the shamans and the group of practitioners, took what I had learned, and went my own way instead.
Why? It was great! Fascinating and exciting, with that very personal invitation too? I could have become a proper shaman!
Charismatic leaders. Wide eyed followers. Universal truths and (paid) workshops.
It is not me. I do not follow. I listen, learn, and go my own way. I just could. Not. Follow. Perhaps it’s because I am too well aware of how manipulative cult leaders gain their followers, or how bad it can get. Maybe it was just those particular shamans that were ‘wrong’, and another will be right? Or perhaps it’s due to a deep seated need to make my own path – I really do not know.
Some day though, I really ought to go to Peru. On my own, just to see. I mean… if there is even a remote chance I’m destined to find a hidden city, I should take it right?
Seriously though, if there is any truth in that, I do not think it’s a physical hidden city. Or maybe? I am a trained archaeologist after all, if I end up working in the deep jungles of South America at some point in the future…? *cough* Probably not, but I can’t deny it’s a fun thought.
As maybe you can tell, I am not yet sure of what to believe in this case. But that’s not the point – the point of this blog post was to talk about teachers and spiritual authorities. If there is anything I’d want to tell others it is to be bloody careful. Don’t be a wide eyed follower to anyone claiming to know the truth. Think for yourselves and remember that because one aspect of what someone says is true it does not mean that you must swallow an entire dogma.
Lastly, I just want to say that of course not all spiritual teachers are bad. There are those that are amazing and if you are lucky enough to find one of those then I can just cheer you on. But… well, somehow I don’t think you are likely to find one of them advertising in the nearest New Age shop and pushing out another self help book every year. Could happen! But probably not. So just be careful, alright?