This is one of those times when I feel like I ought to write something, but I don’t know exactly what to say.
I think the fire of life, which I purport to endure by being immune to it, is akin to “reality as it really is.” While most people content themselves with the notion that they live, psychologically speaking, in reality, I believe that few people actually do.
You might say that people’s bodies live physically in, and contribute to, reality without their psyches doing the same. It is a misconception that living in reality is quite an easy thing to accomplish — indeed, upon observing human behavior I conclude that it is actually a necessary misconception, crucial for the mental health of the large majority of people. Most people cannot remain sane unless they continue to believe that they live in, and have, a firm grasp of reality. It’s actually good for the large majority of people to believe this.
Why would it be good for so many people to believe something false? Because believing it helps them cope with other things, which they otherwise couldn’t handle, and, taken as a whole, it actually makes for better behavior.
But you can’t have everybody in the cloud of unreality. Therefore a society functions best when a certain few members actually do live and breathe reality. While our modern culture has a hard time accurately defining this role because of our culture’s complexity and newness, it’s easier to turn toward other cultures for prototypes of the healthy kind of society I’m talking about.
I say this because I believe that the primitive shamanic cultures have an excellent prototype for the kind of healthiness we should aspire to in our own culture. A lot of information about shamanic cultures is available.
The shamanic initiation is akin to being roasted on the fires of “the awareness of reality.” The advantage these cultures have is that they have a ready place both for ordinary people and for shamans. It is ingrained in their belief patterns that some people are made to be shamans and others are just made to live ordinary – unconscious – lives. The thing we need to work on is that unconsciousness is still a source of embarrassment for people, which runs directly in conflict with my proposition that a healthy society actually functions better if its people are largely unconscious.
But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. — Hamlet Act I Scene v