The other night, I had a half-waking dream in which I was given the following teaching: There are two worlds. The realistic world and the idealistic world. The realistic world is ruled by one’s father and the idealistic world is ruled by one’s soul.
This little missive kept me awake for quite a while, not so much from a physical tossing and turning, but from the mental gymnastics it inspired. My heart and mind were virtually ablaze with the task of pulling the strands of this message apart.
Initially, I thought realistic and idealistic were odd words to use, but decided that the teaching was distinguishing between something more secular and something more spiritual in nature. Realistic world might be considered a kind of external experience, subscribing to a system of established rules, whereas, idealistic world seemed more shaped by the unique experience or creative vision of the individual. The former seemed already established by tradition, while the latter seemed much more formless and “yet to be.”
I also wondered about the term “father.” Was this archetypal, meaning a “voice of authority?” Or, was it saying quite literally that our (realistic) world-view is shaped by how our (biological) father views and lives it?
What the message in general seemed to indicate, for me, was the necessary transition each human must go through—though some of us do not—as we leave behind the need for approval from our parents and elders (and the desire to somehow fulfill their expectations of us), in order to answer the call of our soul’s longing—to learn what it came to learn, do what it came to do. What the Celtic heroes might have termed the quest for sovereignty.
These words brought to mind a conversation I had with my own father, shortly after I turned forty. He had been dead for about 15 years. I had developed the habit and capability for having these occasional discussions with him over there in the spirit world, whenever anything important was going on in my life. I had decided to write a book, or something of that ilk, and I had asked him what he thought about the idea. He paused and said: “I mean this in the kindest way possible, sweetheart. But, it doesn’t really matter what I think. It only matters what you think.”
This was a profound insight for me and I can place the very juncture at which I began making the shift to idealistic world right there in that moment. A year or two later, I would learn I had cancer. The spiritual imperative of that moment indicated I was being firmly pushed out of the realistic world nest altogether.
As I lay in bed reflecting back to that time, it made me realize, if one actually does make the shift from realistic world to idealistic world, then realistic world must fall apart. I mean, what would support it? Obviously, game changing experiences, like having cancer, will end life as one knows it. I have often said that the grave mistake many cancer patients make is clinging to the notion that life will pick up where it left off once the treatments end. Whether one remains in the body and lives on or whether the soul departs this life, cancer is a curtain call. It’s a change agent, and it requires the donning of a new costume and the start of a whole new play.
I see clients all the time who are in a state of having their realistic world fall apart. They lose their job, their health, their partner, their house, sometimes all of the above. They come to my office looking vaguely ghostlike, having roamed around for some time in the detritus of their realistic world, with no clue where to turn from there.
Here’s why shamanic healing is so great—well, one of the reasons. Shamanic healing opens up a dialogue with the soul. What does the soul know, think, want, require? What has it experienced? What does the soul need to express? How does it need to repair?
Shamanic healing opens the door to idealistic world, a world of our own design and making. It is the world we built before coming here to this life. It is where we are at home, being who we are, not who others require us to be. It is where the work we came here to do is all laid out for us, like a new set of clothes.
Mystics and spiritual teachers speak about these times in life when everything falls apart, when we enter the dark night of the soul, the shadow, the death of the ego. Ideally, this is a good thing, they tell us. We will suffer through these times, yes, but not because the shift is a bad thing. We will suffer only for as long as we cling to the wreckage of realistic world and keep endeavoring to put the pieces back where they were.
We think that realistic world is the only life we will ever know. It’s not. It’s not even the horse we road in on. It is a chimera we thought into being as we grew and adapted to a world interpreted and established by our “father.” It is a world that will busy and distract us, a world that will engage and intrigue our ego with its whimsical nature, stymy us with its fickleness, but it will never feed or occupy our soul, no matter how busy, rich, or appealing it becomes, and the soul—out of sheer boredom—will pull the plug on it, someday, one day, when we least expect it.
That’s good news for us, and good news for the Earth itself. Realistic world isn’t just ending on a microcosmic basis, after all. Realistic world is crashing down around us. Institutions, governments, economies, social conventions, corporations, bureaucracies, belief systems and ideologies are crumbling all around us, and have been doing so for years now.
Idealistic world is forming, and we can join it by making the transition in our own individual lives. Be the change you want to see in the world. Go ahead and make that leap of faith in yourself. You won’t be jumping into the unknown. You will be returning to the only reality you have ever really
known and the only one that truly exists.