The four levels of perceiving reality
Speech at The Fellowship of the Inner Light on 2/26/27
Though I have been introduced as a shaman, I need to say that even though I practice shamanic healing techniques, I am not a full-fledged shaman. Since my childhood I've been drawn to the indigenous people of Brazil, where I was born. But I only found out I was blood-related to one of our remnant tribes when I was in my 40s, and was pursuing a high degree in Anthropology exactly to make contact with the natives of my country. I started by going to work with the Shavante of Central Brazil.
One of the most important things I found out with them was that a shaman is both honored and loved as a healer but is not regarded as superior to the members of the community. Rather, the shaman is a skilled facilitator who who interacts with both the visible and the invisible worlds to help restore balance to body, mind and soul. The shaman lives with one foot in the world of matter and the other foot in the world of spirit. Usually the shaman starts his/her apprenticeship as a young child, being trained by the old shamans of the tribe.
I better understood the power of their healing knowledge and practices when I was talking to one of the Shavante shamans and he was telling me about the healing rituals and how people benefitted from them. I asked him "Of i everybody benefits from the healing, does it mean that nobody dies? How can that be?" He said, "No, some people do die, but they die healed."
That was when I began to understand the difference between curing and healing, and therefore the DIFFERENCES IN LEVELS OF PERCEPTION OF REALITY.
But today I am not talking about these differences; today I am going to talk about "The four levels of perception". I learned about this with the Laika Shamans of Peruvian Andes and with Dr. Alberto Villoldo, my teacher at the Four Winds Society. The Laika, as many other native peoples I've had contact with, believe that we can change our world by the ways we perceive a problem. By changing our perception, we can transform a challenge into an opportunity. Most importantly, they believe we can dream our world into being.
According to prophecies of the Hopi, the Maya and the Inka we are at a turning point in human history. We are in a period of great turmoil and upheaval during which a new species of human will give birth to itself. We are moving from HOMO SAPIENS to HOMO LUMINOUS, when not only the native peoples, but most humans will understand and work with their own luminosity. When we realize we can work with our own light and vibrations. We are moving from a masculine theology of the conquistador/colonizer to embrace the feminine theology of cooperation and sustainability. That is when we come to accept that we never lost the primordial garden, that we have never been separated from Spirit. After all, all matter is densely packed/condensed light.
That is when we fully recognize that everything in our world is sacred, including ourselves.
Our path to spirituality is that of direct knowledge. We are meant to acquire wisdom, always have, our error was not eating enough of that fruit of knowledge, not embracing the value of directly experiencing the sacred, so that the wisdom the Laika have embraced consists of practices that allow us to experience a raise in consciousness, a shift in perception of reality we that we can transform ourselves and our world, so that we can become the storyteller of our own lives.
There are 4 levels of perception through which a Laika engages the world. These levels correspond to the four domains of manifestation of what we are made of: 1) - the physical (our body), 2. - the realm of thoughts and ideas (mind), 3 - - the realm of myth (soul) and 4 - -the world of spirit (energy). Each perceptual level is associated with an animal archetype that represents the powers and abilities one must acquire to influence reality in that realm. Each level represents a higher level of perception.
1) PHYSICAL PERCEPTION - is the level of the serpent, it relates to SURVIVAL AND SELF-PRESERVATION.
This is a very material level, all is tangible, solid and difficult to change. The serpent is an instinctual creature who relies on its senses to tell where there is food and predators. At this level, 99% is matter, and only 1% is conciousness or Spirit. ALL IS AS IT SEEMS. The solutions are physical. According to Villoldo, we are operating from the reptilian brain. It is the cold-blooded domain that uses arguments like "an eye for an eye".
The serpent is an essential level to master. However, when we are stuck on it we remain reaching for the most literal signs of security: a big bank account, material toys, a brand new car. Also, we might amass weapons and build fences.
2) Realm of MIND AND EMOTIONAL PERCEPTION - the mind interprets our reality. ALL ISN'T WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE IN THE PHYSICAL REALM. It involves our beliefs, ideas and emotions.
The archetype is the Jaguar, an animal of sudden changes, that transforms danger into food, who can be filled with anger and react accordingly.
Jaguar perception is associated with the Mammalian brain, that of emotion and deep feelings, compassion and caring, but it is also the brain of aggression, amulets, charms and superstitions.
In jaguar, we rise above the literal level, we can see a wider range of possibilities in any situation. Since we can perceive much more about the situation than we would at the serpent state, so we can think of many more solutions.
3) The level of the SOUL AND SACRED PERCEPTION - the realm of MYTH, the domain of our SACRED JOURNEY.
at this level THINGS ARE WHAT THEY TRULY ARE: an expression of the sacred.
That is the level of the HUMMINGBIRD, a small bird that flies every year all the way from Brazil to Canada, without stopping to take a break or too look for food, it just goes. In this level our soul can experience itself on a sacred journey and we perceive our own experiences as part of our own epic journey in the world.
This level is associated with the NEOCORTEX, the most recent addition to the human brain.
At this level we listen to hidden messages, we operate in metaphors, we being to understand what illnesses really are and we don't treat symptoms alone, we perceive the hidden gifts that are invaluable for our souls' journeys. WE undertake our own healing journey.
4) level of SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION - associated to the EAGLE/CONDOR.
At this level, reality if 99% consciousness and 1% matter. There is little form or substance. The language is ENERGY. Matter simply disappears.
We no longer perceive ourselves as disconnected from other people, boundaries melt away, we recognize our oneness. Walls are broken down. We see ourselves as God masquerading as ourselves.
In this realm there is no time, so we can change things before they become a reality. (which is what most shamans do, actually). Because AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF EAGLE WE BECOME PEACE, WE BECOME HEALING AND BEAUTY because we have become ONE WITH SPIRIT.
At Eagle level you step into the fullness of your own power because we understand fully the synchronistic nature of reality - we recognize there are no accidents - all have a purpose and a meaning.
These four levels are states that we gravitate to naturally, since they are ways of "sensing" each one of our four sub-brains.
EXERCISE: FOUR PERCEPTIONS OF THE FACE. To be done with a partner, you will search for clues and information at each of the 4 levels of perception. You can also do it at home, by yourself: sit in front of a mirror, dim the lights, but have a source of light at your right, then softly gaze your left eye towards the left eye of your mirrored image.
Start by breathing slowly and deeply and then let your left eye gaze softly (do not stare) into the left eye of your partner or yourself on the mirror. Keep focused on the left eye.
I will play the drum as you signs for you to shift from one level to the next.
At the level of the serpent (one beat) everything is as it is.
level 2, (2 beats) your perception is that of jaguar. Stay your deep regular breathing. The face isn't what it seems to be in the physical level. The face may go thru several changes. Don't be alarmed.
level 3 - 3 beats. (hummingbird) - the sacred perception. The face may come into stillness as it has a meaning and a message that is important for you. Focus on your breath, let the face reveal its story to you.
level 4 - 4 beats (eagle level) all form dissolves into universal energy matrix, all is Spirit and light.
Now close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths and bring yourself back to ordinary consciousness.