Futurist Ziauddin Sadar believes we are living in ‘post-normal times’, a transitional age, in-between old paradigms that have guided and formed us and something new. We have been told by many, that seeing and unpacking the chronic and wicked problems of the global world must start with a change in our consciousness – the consciousness that created the very mire we are trapped in.
A first step is to develop a critical and reflective stance. Cultivating mindfulness enables each of us to stand back from our enmeshment in the entrancing daily soap-opera dramas. This more expansive ‘seeing’ can release us from narrow historical limitations of what is possible and real.
A systems master, the shaman can inspire us, learning to dance with the energy and the possibilities available in a quantum universe.Think of the emergence of fluid and co-creative organisational models where entrepreneurs (Uber, Air B&B) and activists (Occupy, 2017 Women’s Marches) are able to perceive and then ride network energy in a collaborative, emergent fashion.
Ancient wisdom traditions developed practices to transform vital planetary energy (Qing) into the subtler life force (Qi). As Yoda counsels Luke at the close of the first Star Wars film, the shaman must commit to practice the internal skills to make him/her capable of drawing upon and holding the power of the cosmos. With this channelled strength, the shaman resists institutional domination and finds fluid, innovative ways to subvert those who enforce, control and destroy. Yes really.
This self-disciplined, solo journey is available to all of us in this abundant and accessible globe. It can provide us with strength and certainty of purpose. Self-knowledge can be cultivated in the practices and rituals of many human spiritual traditions including Indigenous shaman from North and South America, Australia, Indian and Tibetan tantrics, Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist yoga / meditation masters, and Christian mystics.
Not just the ancients appreciate the power of these disciplines. An abundance of 21st century practitioners are finding the language and frames to make these liberating internal states accessible in our lives and work. The Australian Aboriginal practice of Dadirri or deep listening to release trauma. Parker J. Palmer draws upon Quaker practice in the Centre for Courage and Renewal. Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers explore the state of no-concept, where ‘grace’ or ‘oneness’ can be experienced in Presence, and in Theory U, Scharmer describes how presence can be developed to access the ‘field of the future’.
Meg Wheatley and the Berkana Institute explore wise warriorship following the Shambala path, by developing presence, discernment and expanding our perception. The Art of Hosting uses circle, dialogue, embodied and creative activity to engage large groups holistically around topics such as organisational futures visioning. A flaneur experiences the world in a meditative manner strolling through the streets.
Embracing the shaman is unlikely to provide us with safe or comforting ‘solutions’ in these interesting times. However developing our perceptive sensing, strengthening our minds and expanding our conscious awareness may enable us to bring forth aspects of the shaman archetype. Looking at the global stage in Brexit and Trump we see an unpredictability that mirrors our weather. Ordinary people finding the courage to speak up about injustice willing to become a whistleblower, lobbyist or activist, long accepted alliances are being broken and new alliances formed to contribute to environmental and social wellbeing.
These disruptions are shifting our collective consciousness and thus society. From this place we experience the joy of following our energy and finding the flow, all the time dissolving separation and disempowering dualities.
Noble, V. 1983, Motherpeace : A way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot, Harper & Row, San Francisco.
Sadar, Z. 2010, ‘Welcome to postnormal times’, Futures, 42, Elsevier.
Scharmer, O. 2007, Theory U : leading from the Future as it Emerges, Society for Organizational Learning, Massachusetts.
Senge P. et al. 2004, Presence : An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organisations, and Society, Random House, New York.