I am reading The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images and love the content and format, and just about every paragraph is a pointer for several types of explorations.
For instance, there is a chapter on shapeshifting. (One expression of this is shamans experiencing themselves as a jaguar, condor, bat, or whatever it may be during their shamanic journeys.)
A REMINDER OF OUR MORE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE
For me, that’s a reminder of our more fundamental nature.
Yes, in one sense I am this human self. And more fundamentally, I am consciousness. I am the consciousness that this whole field of experience – the wider world, this human self, and anything else – happens within and as.
I can take on any perspective.
I can create an identity out of any perspective and mental representation. I can imagine myself as it, and perceive and feel as if it’s true.
Most of the time, the consciousness we are is identified with and as our human self. Why? Because that’s what others do, and when we grow up we do as others do. If we were connected with the body of a different species, and we grew up in a society where people had that type of body, then that would be our typical identification.
This identification works pretty well in daily life, so most of us don’t have any strong incentives to question it. (It does come with inherent friction and stress since it’s somewhat out of alignment with reality, but most of us don’t realize the root cause of that discomfort.)
The ones who tend to move outside of this typical identification are the outsiders in society, the insane, mystics, and shamans.
HOW WE CAN EXPLORE IT
How can we explore this for ourselves?
The Big Mind process is perhaps the most direct and effective way to explore this. We can explore taking on a wide range of perspectives. If we can imagine something, we can imagine into that perspective. We can explore what happens when we identify with and as a particular perspective. We can even find our more fundamental nature and explore how it all looks from there.
We can also get a taste of our more fundamental nature through the Headless experiments, and explore identities and how we are not – more fundamentally – any of it.
We can dismantle of identifications through The Work of Byron Katie.
We can explore how our mind creates perspectives and identifications through the sense fields and how they combine, for instance, guided by the Kiloby Inquiries.
And there are many other approaches. Just find the one(s) that resonate with you.
My path into this was perhaps a bit unusual and had some shamanic elements.
At age, fifteen, something shifted so it felt like the world – any content of experience including this human self, feelings, thoughts, states, and so on – felt very distanced. It all felt very far away. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in spirituality (I was a self-identified atheist), what happened was scary and didn’t make any sense, and the doctors and specialists couldn’t figure out what was going on either.
Already here, life showed me my nature. It showed me that I wasn’t fundamentally anything within the sense fields, within the field of experience. Because of my background, I didn’t get it which is normal and fine.
Almost exactly one year later, there was another shift. This time into oneness. Here, all was revealed as God, Spirit, the divine. The whole field of experience and the consciousness it happened within and as was revealed – as consciousness, Spirit, the divine, or whatever we want to call it.
This didn’t go away and led to an intense process over several years for my human self.
I have continued to explore this – through Buddhist practice, Taoist practice, Christian practice, parts work, several forms of inquiry, energy work, and so on. I even dipped into shamanism a few times, but not seriously. (Although I love it and am very happy people go into it deeply.)