In the following talk from October 27, 1980, Adi Da Samraj describes the difference between the left-brained, scientific, control-oriented way of relating to the world, and the magical, psychic, or shamanistic point of view, in which the elements of the non-human world are related to in a participatory manner. This talk was given after a shaman from Mexico visited members of Adi Da’s community the day before.
ADI DA SAMRAJ: The world is transformed by one’s presumption about it. Those who live in a magical disposition toward the world change their world in one characteristic way: They do not seem to do very much with it as a natural phenomenon. They are very protective of it as a natural phenomenon and want to interfere with it as little as possible, because it is only by letting the world be what it is as a natural process, without interference, that it has the opportunity to produce magical signs and therefore to permit them to engage in magical relations with it…
Tribal Indians in this country [the U.S.] are very much associated with a way of life of relative non-interference with Nature, using its bounty in various ways, yet not controlling it or interfering with it but rather relating sympathetically and magically to it. Their complaint is that the white man, scientific Man, is destroying the whole natural world and is doing so because of a false relationship to the natural world, a dissociated and power-oriented or dominance-oriented relationship to things. This abstracting feature of the scientific mind, therefore of the Western mind, with its thirst for control is systematically destroying the capability of mankind to enter into magical relationship with things as a human activity and to be related to a world that is unchanged by the scientific attitude. . .
From this magical point of view, the features of the observed world—even the gross, so-called outer world—are understood to be magical. In particular, certain characters of that world, certain of its characteristics, are considered magical—especially those that are in a state of free flow rather than unchanging. The animals, the patterns of weather, human others apart from the ordinariness of daily social obligation—these features of the world are conceived in magical terms, are constantly observed for any changes, and are approached via magical activity to generate certain kinds of changes. These magical features of the world are conceived to be a bridge to the total world. The so-called objective world is not viewed as a thing in itself, but it is always a form of connection to the total psycho-physical world.
The deer, for instance, is not just an animal in the objective world. It is a living psycho-physical feature of the formal universe and is therefore a bridge between the various dimensions of the formal universe. The deer is not merely an animal in the objective physical world but a psychic presence. It is a way of relating to the more fluid, psychic dimension of the world. Likewise, this fluid, psychic dimension of the world makes its bridge to the objective world through these creatures and forces.
From the magical, shamanistic point of view everything is alive. The cosmos is a living process. A little while ago I was talking about accepting the positive as well as the magical significance of creatures other than human beings. From the magical point of view, so-called inanimate objects are also conceived as being alive and participating in a living, magical cosmos. And this is certainly true. The more psychically awake you become, the more you are aware of the psycho-physical nature of what you call the objective world. Once you see that the world is psycho-physical in nature, you begin to appreciate the living condition of everything that arises in the field of experience—not living, perhaps, in the sense that a chair can get up and walk out of the room, but living in a magical sense. Your association with so-called inanimate objects can go through many changes. Association with an inanimate place, even just a room, can change. There are feelings associated with it, a sense of energies, emotions, moods, influences, all kinds of factors to which you become sensitive relative to so-called inanimate things, just as you can be sensitive relative to moving and living things…
Everything altogether is trying to be a revelation for you. It is just that you are not sensitive to it in your ordinary habit. The shaman has entered into a discipline in order to become sensitive. It is not that he or she is making the magic happen. The magic is already there. He or she is just not already sensitive to it, not in a position to observe it. Thus, he or she must engage in a discipline that enables him or her to participate in what is already happening. Then all of a sudden all kinds of magical things are observed.