A Shamanic View of Suffering
I wanted to chat a bit about some basic Shamanic concepts. Primarily, it is often the case that one experiences difficult situations when there is power loss. To define “power loss”, this is when some of your life force energy goes missing, like in soul loss, or situations where diet, toxins, or other environmental conditions diminishes your power. There can be negative power loss where something nefarious attacks a person and steals power. Also, power loss can also happen as a learning tool. For instance, if one needs to learn a life lesson, there may be suffering or hardship in one’s life.
All in all, the role of the shaman in these cases is to help to the person to regain his/her/their power. Once the power is returned, it is up to the person what happens with the power. This means that the suffering/hardship experienced may or may not ease. Back to my previous example, if the life lesson is to experience suffering, little may change once the power is restored. It just may be that the person is able to cope more effectively with the suffering. To an external observer applying the filter of their own expectations, the person will still be “suffering.”
This brings up a paradox: How can I ease one’s suffering if suffering is their lesson in life? To attempt to “take away” the suffering would, actually, take the power of the experience away from the person. In a way, it would be doing the same thing as the person who steals power, although not done nefariously.
Each culture tends to view the world through the filter of experience. What is suffering to one, is life to another. Imagine, if you will, what a person who lives on the land thinks of those who live in a city. City life could be viewed as “suffering.” So, when one sets out to “ease the suffering of [fill in the group/person here],” and the goal is to remove that suffering, you have to ask yourself, “Is that my place? Am I robbing the person/group of a teaching?”
An alternative I’ve seen and used is to offer your energy and support without the preconceived notion that there is suffering. In this way, the energy can be used to best contribute to the person/group. This may mean the suffering becomes more bearable…it may not. Either way, the person/group’s power is augmented by yours vs. trying to mold the situation into what you perceive as right or good.
For the non-shamanic practitioner, when you see a situation that you perceive as “suffering” and you want to help, is your goal to be the savior and remove the suffering, or are you there as a supporter contributing to the person?