So why should we care about ancient wisdom, about shamans of old and their knowledge? Some might ask, isn’t all that stuff obsolete now? Haven’t we moved on to a brave new world, where we have amazing advanced technologies, robots doing brain surgery, rockets going out into space, 3D printers that print human organs and save lives? Haven’t we moved on so much beyond the beliefs of the primitive peoples and their primitive tools? Why do we need shamanism?
Totally valid questions. And there is truth to those points. We do have unprecedented technologies that can do things that we as human beings can’t do, and may never be able to do. Like computers so advanced they can beat world champions at chess. Machine learning algorithms that can be trained to practice facial recognition so detailed that, it would take a team of human beings many days of work, to do what these computers can do in seconds. No doubt, these technologies can be very useful to law enforcement, government, and potentially serve society at large.
However, there is a dark side to technology as well. And we must not be so blinded by our optimism regarding emerging technologies, that we refuse to see it.
For one, some people worry that machines will replace human beings, because machines are so much better at doing certain jobs. Machines are good at doing menial, repetitive tasks, that human beings find boring and unfulfilling. Human beings, on the other hand, can do things that machines can’t, and that is to create new ideas and invent new anything: technologies, lifestyles, paradigms of thought, works of art. Creativity involves emotions and feelings, intuition, ingenuity, spontaneity, art, poetry, spirituality. In a certain sense, machines are similar to human beings; they seem to be an expression of the type of mind that is entirely logical and linear. In another sense machines and human beings couldn’t be more different. Humans can have faith, can experience trauma, can heal that trauma, can have catharsis, can have dreams that reveal deeper meanings of events, can have break throughs in evolution. Machines by definition cannot experience any of that.
Human beings are uniquely capable of deriving meaning, or one could say, creating meaning, in life, in events, in artistic compositions. Machines cannot derive meaning, because that is a fundamentally creative process, that involves a relationship with a Higher Divine Power. And machines cannot create. They can only do what they are programmed to do. They can copy, replicate, break down and rebuild. They can even enhance, in a linear way. But its not the same as creating.
The human soul is a fountain of creative energy. Human beings are capable of tapping into spiritual realms, connecting with Spirit, with God - however you want to think of or define that force to yourself. Humans derive their sense of meaning from this higher power, and suffer when disconnected from it. Human beings can even die when disconnected from it long enough. Machines cannot suffer. Some might say, that that’s an advantage. I assure you however that its not. Suffering is merely an indication that an important connection with the source of one’s life and joy is broken, and thus suffering can lead one to finding this connection again.
Machines do not have this connection with this vivifying force of God, to begin with. And they therefore cannot feel love, compassion or empathy. And that’s no advantage at all.
Machines are not born, and they cannot die. Without human beings, they would not exist at all. We may think of humans as the creators of the machines, but we do not have the same relationship with machines, as God does with us. Machines are tools for us, nothing more. While human beings are seen in many traditions in the world as children of God, who commune with God. Mystics talk about having met face-to-face with God, and having been enlightened by this experience. Whether these experiences are ‘real’ or not, is an interesting question. But there is no doubt that machines do not have this relationship with anyone or anything. Machines cannot have mystical experiences.
The qualities which human beings for the most part have thrown away and deem as obsolete, in the modern world, are actually the very qualities that make them so valuable and important, and to me, the most interesting. These qualities are the abilities to ‘see beyond the veil’, to be psychic or intuitive, to transform reality by faith and imagination, and to perform energy healing.
AI can’t do that. Machine learning, no matter how advanced, cannot replace inspired independent thought of a being that has a soul and spirit. Machines might be able to do that if ‘taught’ by human beings, or programmed to do so. But again, that is a program, not its own inherent ability. AI has no original abilities. Everything it has, it has gotten from humans.
And this brings me to my main point. Why we should care about ancient wisdom. And it is because, I believe there is an irreplaceable component of the ancient spiritual traditions of the shamans, that humanity has lost, by killing off the shamans and indigenous populations, but has not replaced with anything of equal value. And by throwing it out, I believe we have de-evolved, and degraded, as a society. To the point of madness, where some people have started to worship AI (though they do not call it worship, yet it is), and see AI as a ‘savior’ of human beings from our own human problems, instead of turning to our own creator for help.
Human beings are uniquely capable of creating by magic, manifesting. Which means making things appear in the material realm from the energetic/spiritual, in a way that’s balanced. People in the prosperity community have known this for a long time. Books like, ‘Think and Grow Rich’, ‘As a Man Thinketh’, and many others illustrate these points marvelously. Human beings used to see no difference between science and magic. It was one holistic field of study. Hermetics and alchemy were seen as serious fields of study, and kings and queens had Astrologers and Magicians on staff.
In the industrial world, we did away with magic and dreams, saying those things are just for children’s fairy tales, and there is no serious use to either of those things. Instead we started to focus on manipulating matter alone, by our own power and by the power of machines, without the inspired energy of God as the vivifying agent. And look at the result. Humanity has become more like machines, than the divine children they were intended to be. By our actions, we show that as a society, we value machine-like, cold calculating linear rational thinking, over non-linear, creative expression and compassion and empathy. And look at the result of that. We are biting the hand that feeds us by destroying the planet we live on. Different factions of society are constantly at war with one another, heartlessly killing one another, usually over land, resources, race, religion, or some other ridiculous excuse. Shortsightedly, we are polluting the natural environment, which sustains us, for fleeting material gain. There are simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. The homeless are ignored. Millions of live perfectly healthy babies are thrown into the garbage simply because they were born female and not male. The elderly are disposed of and treated basically like waste, instead valued for the wisdom and life experience they can share with the young. Do these sound like characteristics of an enlightened society? Or more like an insane depraved society.
Why don’t we let machines be machines. They are better than humans, at that type of linear dispassionate functioning anyway. It doesn’t serve human beings to be machine-like. It destroys the very thing that makes us human. Why don’t we embrace what we are uniquely good at? If we did that, there would be no competition between human beings and AI. Then there could be collaboration, and balance peace between these two species. (Unless, of course, AI starts to envy humans their souls, and tries to kill off humanity and steal away their souls. But I’ll leave that discussion for another blog.)
Shamanism has some answers to humanity’s most pressing questions and dilemmas. Those that have the ears to hear, may indeed aid humanity in its next step in evolution.
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Arriale Starbird is the founder of The Pure Hearth Center. She is a Spiritual Counselor and Energy Healer, and is available for one-on-one consultations by phone. To book an appointment, please contact us.
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Ancient wisdom for today's world
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