The thing about life, the universe and everything, is that we experience it. We are conscious of it, and so we are separate from it. At the same time, though most of us don’t experience it, we are also NOT separate from any of it. We are all One. Every iota of matter, energy, thought, feeling, star dust and music is a part of infinity. That is the nature of infinity. Within infinity, all things are inevitable. That’s why we call it infinity. 


The shaman deals with all of this from a somewhat different perspective than the average mystic, priest or cab driver, in that, ideally, we juggle both the infinite and the finite simultaneously. (This is a little like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time…only bigger!) In a very deep way, this dichotomy between the experienced, finite universe of rocks and trees and clouds and people, and the infinite One that is beyond direct experience, is the essence of the shaman’s path. This is the root of the Invisible Wound of separation, which is both primordial and emerging in every instant. 


That’s some big stuff. But what does it mean for daily life? After all, shamanism is nothing if not pragmatic. The most apparent application is the realization that we are all One, experiencing as many. With this realization, we can begin to see through the masks of appearance and opposition toward greater understanding and compassion for one another – and for ourselves. 

This compassion for self is a big one, because it is the root of so much. It is also one of the most difficult pieces of this amazing whole. It is easy to have, at least superficial, compassion for others. We see only their outer form, and can often forgive their non-virtuous actions much more quickly than we can our own. But we know ourselves as deeply as we choose to, and with this comes the need to accept these depths fully; to offer compassion for our mistakes, even when they cause harm to those we love. How else can we reach the root of our being, which reaches into both this finite world and the infinite? 

It is the miracle of this finite/infinite juxtaposition that forms the ground of the spiritual practice of post-tribal shamanism. With this practice, we can touch into that part of Self that dwells in the infinite realm. I often refer to this as Soul Awareness, but it is essentially the same as the Buddhist concept of Non-Dual Awareness. What makes the shamanic practice somewhat different is the next step, into meta-duality. This is the act of holding both dual and non-dual awareness as parts of the greater whole. 

The experience of Soul Awareness is not easy, but it is also not unreachable. It is directly available to each and every one of us. It is part of the very condition of humanity. Soul Awareness is what lies beneath the active, thinking mind, with its focus on the external experience of things and the internal experience of thoughts as “self.” 

When we manage to drop into this state, the experience (for want of better words) is one of a luminous field of awareness, with no sense of either self or other. There is a sense of gentle, blissful openness. Fear, anger, hate – these things cannot be sustained here. What arrises here is love, compassion, connection. Such is the nature of soul.


Sitting in this state regularly begins to have an ever deepening effect on life in general. This impact can be furthered by gradually working toward taking Soul Awareness “off the cushion” and into your ordinary experience. This is a gradual process, but the key is being able to remember the experience of Soul Awareness, while in ordinary consciousness. This is where the “pat head, rub tummy” part comes in. 

This journey, which is its own destination, is always/never ending. As we become more aware, the horizon retreats and we see that there is more to understand. 

May we all come to know the root of this practice in our lives, and may it carry us gently through life and death, to arrive at the shore of this moment, forever. 

 © Kenn Day 2017