From the Hands of Many to the Hands of a Few
At the beginning of human existence, back when we were on a level playing field with all other animals, our instinct for survival was extremely heightened and developed. This instinct was as necessary as any other sense. And because it was employed on a nearly constant basis, it was a dependably reliable means of acquiring information.
The survival instinct was used in much the same way any pack or herd animal uses it today: to locate other animals and water, to know which plants are edible, to sense changing weather patterns, to perceive and respond to impending danger, and to identify friend and foe.
While it was a primary tool used for such information gathering, this instinct also facilitated an understanding of our oneness with all things great and small. Because inherent in this instinct was the remembering of our union with the All-That-Is.
We need to understand the full significance of this lineage. The instinct to survive, along with its more obvious purpose, has always been part of the drive to stay in touch with our deeper selves, our place in the cosmos, our essential being.
As we developed the skills to build lasting shelters and cultivate food, our sense of security and safety grew, and our feelings of vulnerability lessened. Once settlements became widespread, and societal structures and laws were put in place, we continued to move further away from this more heightened sense of awareness. We no longer felt the need to know anything beyond what our five senses could tell us, so this knowing slowly started going dormant.
By the time civilizations were firmly in place, and organized religions were on the rise, the collective way of being was starting to actively push people away from their remembering. The natural ability to have access to and be connected to knowing had officially become externalized. It would remain in the hands of a few from here on out. Only a small scattering of people would retain an active intuitive sense, with its access to greater awareness. These people would become valued for their ability to “see beyond” and to “know more,” and in time would become the requisite intermediaries to the Inner Knowing. No surprise, they were also frequently consulted by kings and rulers to advise on important matters.
As time went on, these uncommon individuals would be called by many names: oracles, seers, high priests, visionaries, prophets, healers, gurus, shamans, medicine men, etc. All would be considered as directly in touch with something divine.
In fact, they were just people, no more and no less, who came into this life open and stayed open. But one of the qualities that made them different was that their primary trigger for staying connected to greater awareness wasn’t survival fear (much of the instinct for survival relies on fear as a governor to slow us down and keep us cautious). Their first reaction wasn’t to go to fear, but to curiosity. While they may have had survival fear in their normal conscious state, when they meditated or achieved altered states, that fear was not present. They were in connection with the Inner Knowing, which allowed their spiritual centers to access expanded information on multiple levels.
At the same time, the ability of the average person had been both diminished and devalued. The further away from remembering the “common folk” moved, the more it seemed that these various “special” people developed “special” ways to enter this “special state of knowing.” And the less the average person believed they had any kind of ability to stay connected to remembering.
Further damage was done as this ability, this sense, became more and more distorted and misunderstood, and therefore more and more feared. This came about because as this knowledge and practice came to reside in the hands of the few, elements of it began to fall under the umbrella of the taboo and dangerous. A few examples would be magico-religious practices like dark magic, witchcraft, and so on. In most of western civilization, being associated with that stuff could get you killed.
And so it came to pass that something that was once perfectly normal for all of us—to be connected to greater knowing—got externalized and put into the hands of a few. And then ultimately turned into something to be dismissed and avoided.
What a tragedy. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in human history.
Because when we lost the full connection to the natural world, we lost the sense for remembering. When we no longer valued the abilities that let us know how the natural world flows, we diminished the capacity of that current that connects us to the All-That-Is. As we let that current turn from a great river into a stream and then a trickle, we lost the awareness of who we are, why we’re here, and what binds us to the All-That-Is.
As humankind has advanced, our relationship to both the natural world and the spirit world has been relentlessly eroded. Even though the loss of connection has transpired over thousands of years, the loss has been quickening in recent times. The extent of the erosion in much of the world today is astonishing.