You are like a Ferrari. Now master driving it!

Ferrari

Hello dear reader, there is a life lesson I wish to share with you. The lesson is: you are responsible. Yes, you. You are responsible for your happiness. You are responsible for your health and well-being. You are responsible for your weight, your physical fitness and your spiritual development. You are even responsible for the current state of the world (and more).

I learned this lesson today for the kazillionth time. Not that it keeps me from forgetting it, oh no. And since I keep forgetting it I thought I’d share it with you because I might not be the only one who forgets it over and over again.

After a period of pretty intense shamanic spiritual practice I gave myself some time off. As we speak I am in Cali where I will live in the house of four young expats who all went home for the holidays.

Nothing is fixed

Atalwin and lake La Cocha

The reason for that is not the one I would have had signed up for when I started: I realized the other day that I have been disappointed so often that I just don’t give a shit anymore. Things just don’t go as planned or hoped, dreams are not fulfilled and expectations not met. But there is always an alternative. There is always an unexpected turn. Things always work out. Deeply feeling that is wisdom, I realized.

Tomorrow morning I am invited to come meet the coordinator of some exclusive high school. Perhaps I will be teaching the teenagers of Colombian politicians and drug lords soon about how to live with a straight back and an open heart. Sounds interesting to me. But I also received an invitation from a Navajo Chief to travel with them through the US for a while. Sounds cool too.

Coming to Cali

Salsa on streets of Cali

My first priority is to learn Spanish (all tips and tools are most welcome). And it is made clear to me that I should learn how to dance salsa too. ‘No bailar, no mujeres’ I think they said: ‘no dancing, no ladies’. And it seems pretty clear that dancing is part of life and part of the culture. So I must learn. I am not a bad mover on the dance floor but do feel somewhat self-conscious about the idea of being surrounded by all those Latinos and Latinas who have been doing this since they can walk. And the way I learned to dance in clubs was not restricted; anything goes as long as you follow the beat. Salsa asks for specific moves and steps that require taking lessons. But people here are proud of their culture and like to share it. They really appreciate when strangers try to learn their ways. So I have been told that I can expect plenty of help.

Wisdom of nature

Altar with ayahuasca

This region is known for its lively shamanism. After the retreat in NabiNunhue I went here, hunting for answers and experiences. The experiences are abundant but the answers are really few. Last two nights I participated in first a Peyote ceremony, led by Navajo Indians and second an ayahuasca ceremony led by Taita Juan Batista. It was quite a rare and special meeting of two traditions and two medicine plants.

Lowanpi or: I meet spirits (REAL spirits!)

Lowanpi

Yesterday there was another Lakota ceremony. This one was called “Lowanpi”. The inside of the maloca, the traditional ceremonial place, was completely covered with blanket, letting no light in. Where normally the fire is, in the m iddle, was now an altar. The people were gathered around the altar, divided over the four directions.

At some point the candles go out and the praying starts. Indian praying is means singing and drumming. It is pretty impressive. The idea of the ceremony is that the spirits are invoked. But with this ceremony they come in a very physical form. That means that even I can see or hear them.

Right after the start I heard a bird fly through the darkness. What. The. Fuck? It sent chills down my spine. Then I could hear the rattling. The rattle even touched me. And then I stopped believing. I just could not believe that these were real spirits. I thought it was the Chief who was walking around in the dark.

Receiving a healing and doing some praying

Sacred fire

The third ayahuasca ceremony did not go as I hoped. Although the gates of the plant had opened themselves slightly in the second ceremony and I was quite hopeful not too much happened even though I took 3 cups. I was pondering if I should take a 4th cup or not. It is always a big decision because I that last cup can throw everything upside down. Actually, every cup is a gamble. It could be heaven and eternal wisdom, it could be hell and it could be apparently not much at all.

I decided not to take the 4th cup and to no be too disappointed. I just sat by the fire buzzing a bit. Then Kajuyali tapped on my shoulder.

You are not alone

Chief Iktomi Sha

In the afternoon there was a Sun Circle: a meeting for men. The women had their Moon Circle. I was not exactly looking forward to this meeting because I thought we would go into the ayahuasca experiences. The thing is: I can’t lie or pretend anymore. I physically can’t. So if I am asked to share my experience I will do that. I can only hope that I won’t be put on the spot. But the meeting took a different turn: it was about masculinity and relationships. Initially it didn’t sound too exciting: I am single and have not so much questions or doubts about my masculinity. But to my surprise I heard a couple of interesting stories: stories that resembled mine. Ok, they had happier endings but the struggle seemed to be very similar. Again: I felt not alone.

Down the elevator again

Beginning ceremony

What helped was that I chatted with one of the shamans and he told me that some people are more gifted in certain areas than others. He gave me the feeling that I was perfectly fine, even if the Universe doesn’t open up to me in ceremonies all the time. ‘The Creator all makes us uniquely different’ he said. Later that day he said in a talk that he blesses the spirit guides of people because he happens to be in touch with those guys and makes them (the spirit guides) feel good. It made me remember how many blessings I received this year from dozens of people from all religions and how many mind blowing experiences I already have under my belt. So I felt some simple inner peace. I shouldn’t really complain, should I?

In love with money

Like a rapper

Something remarkable just happened. Well, remarkable might not be the right word. But I am intrigued. I just boarded onto the plane to Pasto. I arrived in Colombia last night after a flight from LA to New York and from NY to Bogota. I am in Colombia to participate in a shamanic retreat. Today the group is slowly getting acquainted to each other. One of my fellow participants seems to be a nice guy who does something similar to me. He flies all over the place, giving seminars and courses on leadership and stuff. He has written a book about how to apply Buddhist teachings in business that is currently a best seller in his home country. So you could say that he has accomplished a couple of things that I would like to accomplish in the near future.