SHAMANIC HEALING (IGOROT)

My friend Chris, from Toronto, a healer himself, asked me to share what I learned from my shaman grandmother about the Igorots’ wisdom on healing — the understanding, the approach, the methods, the techniques, the processes, the rituals, and the results.

Thank you for asking, Chris.

I will try to answer your question the best possible way I could even though I’m well aware that my answer would be limited and very subjective according to my personal capacity to comprehend the Igorots’ worldview in general and in relation to how they view or deal with illnesses and healing in particular.

First of all, as I mentioned in my book, after caring for me since I was a babe, my grandmother died when I was about 10 years old. And when I was with her, she was already too old to be performing the healing rituals. So, I’ve not actually seen her perform a healing ritual. My knowledge of my grandma’s healing processes is from what I heard from my mother, elder siblings, and other people who have known her.

But more than the actual healing rituals, what she directly (consciously and subconsciously) imparted to me are, I think, even more valuable than the specific forms of healing rituals that she performed. She was, after all, not only an herbalist, a midwife, and a spirit medium but she was also a storyteller and a deep “contemplator” (what I’d like to call a philosopher). And this philosopher facet of her was what I chose to get from her as it deals more with ‘healing the mind’ than ‘healing the body’ — the former being my personal preference as a healer myself.

In my personal quest, I have discovered that to heal the mind is also to heal the body. Thus, the content of my book is more on shamanic philosophy rather than the usual shamanic healing that we are more familiar with.

 

WHAT CAUSES ILLNESS

Similar to other animistic cultures around the world, the traditional Igorot worldview holds the perspective that illness is almost always caused by supernatural factors. I think that this belief actually made a lot of sense for them at that time.

In a time where people consumed only organic foodstuff and lived simple, stress-free lives, and their bodies strong and sturdy, how could they blame chemical imbalances in their bodies to be the cause of diseases? It must have been displeased spirit-beings who made them ill!

Even an accident was not really an accident. For example, if someone had an “accident” and had hurt himself badly or got killed, it was believed that he might have done something displeasing to other beings. He might have transgressed a custom (rules and regulations to keep peace and order in pre-industrial societies). He might have displeased the nature-spirits by trespassing into their territory. He might have failed to give the spirits of dead ancestors their due. Or, he might have a conflict with another human and the latter did sorcery on him!

 

HEALING

From what I gathered from the stories told, and through keen participatory observation and deduction, Igorot shamanic healing is done by considering the three aspects of a human being: body, mind, and spirit — the trinity.

The first is on the level of matter through the use of ‘chemistry’. Here we find the shaman’s use of herbs and other healing concoctions.

The second is on the aspect of metaphysics. Here is where storytelling and ‘consciousness or mind over matter’ comes in. The use of talismans and other sacred, energetically-charged objects to assist in what I call ‘mind tricking’ may also fall in this category.

Third is supernatural intervention. Spirit mediumship, dream interpretation, interpretations of signs/events, divination, chanting, praying and invocations may fall in this category.

All three aspects are wholly considered by the shaman emphasizing one aspect over another depending on the circumstances and needs of the patient.

Of course the people in my hometown would not simplistically categorize, label, or differentiate these three interwoven aspects. This is solely my attempt of systematization in order to ‘translate’ the complex nature of Igorot shamanic healing for the understanding of “outsiders” (sorry for my use of this barbaric term) and the general public.

The healing techniques of sucking, spitting, blowing (air) and yawning, accompanied by invocations and prayers, and perhaps the sacrifice of an animal or two may fall in all three categories of so-called aspects of the body-mind-spirit connection.

 

RESULTS OF HEALING

If what is meant by ‘results’ is if Igorot shamanic healing is effective or not, then here is what I know:

Just like in modern times with modern-trained doctors, hospitals, and even with advanced technologies, in shamanic healing, some illnesses get cured and some still not. The difference, I think, is that in shamanic healing, the approach is more holistic than the approach of many modern doctors. And this difference in approach may have a significant effect on the result. Having said that, however, still, Igorots believe that if every healing technique is done meticulously and yet a patient dies, it is simply because it’s the latter’s time to leave.

Needless to say, there are many various factors that contribute to the success or failure of a certain healing technique whether it be traditional shamanic healing or modern-western healing.

In today’s Igorot society, just like in religion wherein Christianity and animism are mixed, many people choose to subscribe to both systems of healing. They can go to a doctor and take modern medicine, and yet they may still consult a traditional healer and agree to conduct traditional healing rituals. Whatever works!

 

IS IT TRANSFERABLE?

Is Igorot shamanic healing transferable or applicable to non-Igorots?

The answer is both yes and no.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine consulted me as she had been also consulted about the prospects of using Igorot ancient shamanic healing techniques in healing the traumas of American soldiers who fought in Iraq.

The Igorot shamanic system does include methods to heal traumas and mental depressions. In the distant past, after engaging in a battle, warriors were quarantined, processed and “cleansed” before they were allowed to go home to their families. This same processing and cleansing practice is applied to people who have witnessed, or were involved in tragic incidents. Even able-bodied rescuers who helped in rescuing people involved in tragic accidents had to undergo cleansing healing rituals.

But is the traditional Igorot system of healing trauma, depression, and other psychological disturbances transferable or applicable, for instance, to traumatized American soldiers?

 

The answer is no:

The Igorot traditional healing rituals are culture-specific and context-based. Performing the culture-specific rituals for an American soldier will not work as the ‘codes will not match’, so to speak. The rituals will makes sense to an Igorot who is keyed-in to the peculiarities of his culture, but not to an American who has a totally different orientation, programming, belief systems, and, ‘chromosomal configuration’.

 

The answer is yes:

Shamanism is a universal phenomenon. Before there were different world religions competing with each other, there was shamanism. Shamanism is humanity’s common ancient spiritual heritage. Although the forms of shamanic rituals and practices vary from society to society as shamanism is fluid, flexible, and adapted to the peculiarities of every social grouping, there is a common ‘golden’ thread that runs in the heart of all shamanic cultures. This is the core-essence of shamanism.

The core-essence of shamanism is independent of the different visual forms and culture-specific biases of the many shamanic healing techniques around the world. This core-essence is so fundamental that it transcends the differences in shamanic ritual forms.

This core-essence is what is transferable. The most fundamental codes within the ancient Igorot warrior and the modern American soldier, given the right conditions, will respond to this core-essence leading to the healing of both — notwithstanding their very different backgrounds, value systems, conditioning, and, so-called chromosomal configurations.

 

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As Chris had sent me a video of Ho’oponopono, an ancient Hawaiian healing technique, my next post will be on my take on this phenomenon.

 

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TO OFFER THE OTHER CHEEK

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. Matthew 5:38-39. (New Living Translation)

allukuy

In a relationship, when a couple breaks-up without a closure, there is a feeling of betrayal, rejection, resentment, and victimhood. This usually results in blaming, badmouthing, and the desire to revenge. From ancient times, we were hardwired to get even.

But just like in technology where old tools and programs are continually being phased out to be replaced by more advanced ones, so is the case of human evolution. Instead of the usual human response of fight or flight when faced with interpersonal crisis, when acceptance, understanding, compassion, and letting go replace the old ‘survival response’ program, a new program is well underway.

An individual who would choose to install this new program on their system could be said to have attained a vibrational leap forward in their personal evolution (akin to a far-reaching technological advancement), which impacts the evolution of the human collective as a whole.

It is a leap forward  because it takes a lot of inner strength to ‘turn the other cheek’ when the aggrieved is impulsed to hit back to get even.

 

 

NON-DUALITY

yinyang panda

Non Dual Yin Yang Dog

 

See yourself as the experiencer of everything that life has to offer.
Feel every frequency range you find yourself in; and you do not need to judge the situation as either good or bad, right or wrong. Simply feel what resonates with you and what doesn’t. Then with the power of your attention, consciously choose to create more of the experiences you prefer to experience.

The World Inside A Glass Bubble

man-in-glass-bubble

This was a dream I dreamed several years ago. I dreamed that the world is trapped in a huge thick glass bubble, spellbound by a dramatic but repetitious movie it is constantly watching. The multitude’s faces were anguished and world-weary in the dark — caught in a cyclical shadowy human condition. No one in the dark was aware of their predicament.

          I saw the whole world inside a dimmed movie house. The whole world was watching a movie. The movie screen looked like a giant computer screen. All eyes and attention were focused on the movie which was taken as real by the moviegoers. At one point in the dream, I, too, was inside the movie house and I could agree that the movie was very interesting, except that, I noticed, the plot was nothing new. It appeared to be an old story being revived over, and over again through different times and locations with a different set of actors acting the same roles. I was going to speak to the man seated to my right, to say a casual comment about the movie when I sensed he did not want to be bothered. He was laughing at what he was seeing in the movie. I turned to the woman to my left, but she too sent the vibes that she did not want to be disturbed. She was crying at what she was seeing in the movie. I thought it quite amusing that an exact same scene in a movie could make one cry and another laugh.

Crowd watching movie in theatre

          As I was watching the people watching the movie, it occurred to me that it was only their collective perception which was making the movie appear like real, for in my vantage point, as I watched them from outside the movie house, they are only looking at a man-made movie. Then I noticed that the movie house and the people in it were inside what looked like a huge bubble. I concurrently became aware of the distraught and world-weary faces of the moviegoers. I thought that as it is merely a bubble encasing the whole world, the bubble could easily burst and everyone in it would be freed. A closer look, however, revealed the bubble to be thicker than it initially appeared. It was a very thick glass bubble. Nobody among the moviegoers seemed to be aware that they are watching a movie in a dark movie house contained in a glass bubble. I thought, if only somebody would poke at the glass bubble to create noise, the viewers’ one-pointed attention on the movie would be momentarily broken, enough for someone to take notice of the confinement and inform the others. I had the idea of hurling a stone; even if it lacked enough impact to break the huge thick glass, it might distract some to notice their enclosure. I scrounged for a stone, but could not find any. And then, a most astonishing revelation took place: it was the multitude’s age-old, deep-seated, complex and tangled thoughts, which, over eons, consistently wove a membrane that solidified into an impenetrable hard glass bubble. I knew then that the bubble could only be cracked from the inside – from its very source. As this almost frightening realization struck me, my body involuntarily convulsed, and I awoke from the dream.

The world’s prevalent and enduring thoughts compounded, gained density, and formed a spherical aquarium-like glass bubble that confined a whole world which is totally oblivious of its confinement.

Is Spiritual Enlightenment Earned?

In my perspective, the answer is no.

To be enlightened, all an aspirant has to have is a pure desire to be enlightened. Desire is the key. Without the desire for anything, that desired thing does not occur in one’s reality. Hence, I found it ironic that Buddhism shuns desire when it is the very act of desiring that summons experience, that summons life. And to determinedly rebuff having a desire is itself an intense and arduous desire. Perhaps Buddha was misunderstood.

Spiritual enlightenment is not earned. That is, if ‘earn’ entails doing some specific steps, processes, or special actions to earn points and merits to make enlightenment happen.

When I was little, my catechist Catholic mother and Baptist brother passionately discussed whether the grace or the mercy of God is acquired through good works. The Bible stated that the grace of God is not acquired through good works, but through faith – and faith alone. I found this to be true in the case of spiritual enlightenment.

Amidst all the unfairness, injustices, strife and tragedies we see around us, it seems to me that the fair, merciful, and just Creator made sure that the Kingdom of God is accessible to everyone, regardless of who they are and what they do, or not do.

ego-enlightenment-quote

If spiritual enlightenment is attained only by doing certain good works or any of the so-called preconditions to enlightenment, it would be unfair since not everyone is in the position to act in certain ways to get enlightened.

For example, some people can’t afford to attend spiritual talks and seminars, buy certain books, or travel long distances to meet a certain guru. Does it mean then that these people are unfortunate (have bad karma) and are farther from being enlightened (or are more distant from the Kingdom of God) than those who are in the position to do one or all of these things?

Those who dress in certain ways, eat only certain “spiritual” foods, speak softly and calculatedly, offer money and incense to a deity, live in an ashram with a guru, meditate long hours, chant mantras – are they any closer to God than those regular-looking people in the street?

Third Dimensional tools and processes do not guarantee that one gets closer to the truth, or to God. Tools could be helpful up to a certain point, and then if one clings to them, like most seekers do, they become the trap of the seeker.

So what to do then?

There is no one right or even wrong path to God. There is no secret method available only to a chosen few. There are no specific steps, procedures, or hallowed practices that one must strictly adhere to in order to get closer to God.

But in every thing desired, whether it be spiritual awakening or any other wanted thing or experience, all one needs is a burning desire that is so pure and focused. This intense desire itself is what summons the means for one to access all that one uniquely requires for his or her journey towards enlightenment. If one needs to meet a certain teacher, or to travel to a certain place to get to the goal, what is needed to do all these things will be provided for, in expected and unexpected ways.

However, if the means towards what is wanted does not show-up, do not despair. This only means that you do not really need what your physical mind thinks you need in order to be what you want to be or where you want to be.

After all, if it is God you seek, if it is the Truth you seek – know that It is within. And the one who looks inward, rather than outward, is the one who will find It.

The Kingdom of God is very much open for those who seek it. There is not even a gate or a heavy door to push open in one specific fashion or another in order to get in.

Just enter.

 

Self-Love: The Key To Personal Liberation

no apologies

They say, the most difficult thing to do is to love one’s self. In my experience, this is true.

What does self-love mean, and why is it so difficult?

Self-love:

  • Self-love is to be honest with one’s self first and foremost. Even if you choose not to be honest with others at any given moment.

  • To appreciate and accept yourself as you are: to give yourself permission to be exactly what you really want to be.

  • To care for yourself enough to live your life according to your own will and not to the demands and expectations of others.

  • To validate and approve of yourself, your choices, your desires, your unique self-expression, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.

  • To love yourself enough to trust yourself.

  • To accept your ‘wayward’ emotions without judgment.

I don’t know if you agree about the difficulty of loving one’s self. I have explored and struggled with this thing called self-love for some time, and it felt like I was challenging the whole world with its agreed upon belief system which demands that we must put others first before ourselves, so that we don’t appear selfish by catering first to our needs before the needs of others. The result of this hypocritical belief is that while we may appear generous, kind and strong on the outside, we may actually be suffering, tormented and fragile inside because we are too scared to show our true feelings, to express our true desires, and live authentic lives.

If we love ourselves enough to give ourselves the permission to be who we are, it will be easier for us to permit others to be who they are. As we accept our idiosyncrasies, our mistakes, our nonstandard or non-mainstream desires, we will find ourselves more understanding and permissive of others’ mistakes and idiosyncrasies. If we love ourselves enough not to beat ourselves up to conform to some established standard of normality or morals, we would not also be as critical and judgmental of others who we think are not measuring up to such social standards.

It is true that, at the core, the way we treat ourselves (consciously and, mostly, unconsciously) is the way we treat others. It is when we are cruel and exacting of ourselves (even if we don’t know or admit it) that we also become cruel and exacting of others.

So when we fully love ourselves for who we are, we set ourselves free. We let ourselves off the hook. And simultaneously, we set others free. For it is in understanding and acknowledging our own complexities, our strengths and weaknesses, our fears and insecurities that we truly come to develop genuine understanding and sympathy for others.

Four Things I Learned When I Did Not Have Money

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There is an ebb and flow to everything. It is the very rhythm of Nature. And when we look closer, we see that it is God’s beautiful design. – Allu

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falling into place

This post is a sequel to my previous post about money.

Although the ebb of money in my experience did a good job to dampen my mood and make me question and doubt my choices and progress, I can say that the lessons I learned from the situation are very valuable for my purposes.

The experience is, in fact, what I needed to bring me closer to where I want to be.

Where do I want to be?

Where I want to be is a state of mind, or what you would call a ‘state of being’.

Here are some of the things I learned when I did not have money:

1. I learned to appreciate the little things that are usually taken for granted. I think this is the most common thing we all come to realize when something is taken away from our experience. It is said that an apple is the sweetest apple if it’s the only apple.

2. I gradually learned not to be dependent on the idea of money as the basis of my freedom, happiness, self-worth, self-confidence, and fun.

How did I practically arrive to number 2?

  • I learned, or was rather compelled, to develop other skills.

  • I activated unused assets.

  • I appreciated more and highlighted existing strengths and used them to get to my goal. 

  • I discovered ways to have fun without using money currency.

  • Most importantly, I learned to trust (as I found myself in a situation where I have no other options – but to trust).

I noticed that the points enumerated above are simply mechanisms for adaptation. And if we adapt to changing circumstances, we evolve – a very good thing! For when we lack something, we develop another thing to help us adapt and survive in our current environment. We are pressed to explore more of our capabilities and creativity, which in turn, prod us to become more well-rounded, more integrated, and in the end, happier humans.

This reminds me of Tyrion Lannister in the Game of Thrones series. Since he is a dwarf, Tyrion cannot fight like the other knights and swordsmen to protect himself and his king or queen. His remaining option was to hone and employ his wit, humor and intellect. While some of the best swordsmen and influential characters were annihilated, Tyrion, the dwarf, survived and thrived.

We are reminded of what we often hear about, ‘count your blessings’. This is to say, not to sulk and dwell on our misfortunes or lack. Instead, we appreciate and amplify what we already have. It could be intangible things like our clarity, peacefulness, authenticity, humor, affection, social skills, etc.

3. Another difficult learning I finally came to grasp was to not let external appearances dictate or overwhelm my perception and mood. Now if we can exhibit and maintain this intention to be undisturbed – not only by the looks of our finances, but also by the sour weather, or by the acts of other people – we can say that we have succeeded in finding that coveted solid inner foundation of strength that state of beingwhich is so calm yet so strong that it is unmoved, by either praise or slander, so to speak.

Obviously, easier said than done. But . . .

4. Lastly, and this goes deeper into metaphysics, is knowing that we are the creators of our reality. That each individual is Creator Source Being, and that whatever happens to you is your own manifestation (conscious or unconscious) which your ‘larger self’, together with other co-creators, has created as it serves you in one way or another.

I have since learned that life is a mind trick. All that happens to us can serve our highest good if we look at it with the right perspective.

As a Creator Source Being, I created my financial ebb to learn these things I learned.

Needless to say, these learnings are applicable to other areas in our lives as well, where we think something is missing or lacking.

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