We humans have declared ourselves the top of the line in our evolutionary development. Thus we say we are at the top of the food chain. And, in some cases this might be right. But, not necessarily. Don't ever tell the mosquito that bit you that you are the top of the food chain. She will laugh for hours at you. I would also suggest you not talk the microscopic creatures inside your body that could ultimately devour you from the inside out. Thus, in this universe, the question to "Am I food or a consumer of food" is "yes." You are both. The idea of being the "top of the food chain" is nothing more than a male fantasy of a linear growth without end and ultimate control of the world.
Being comprised of "control freaks", our culture is more into quantity of life rather than quality. Is it truly a high quality life to shut our elders away in nursing homes when they become older? What happens to the wisdom they accumulate in old age? What do we miss?
Furthermore, is our fighting the crowds at shopping malls during this Christmas season really a sign of a high quality of life? Do you also think it healthy that you feed your kid genetically engineered food?
The ancients lived in a living universe, whereas today we live in a universe that we have declared as dead. This dead universe we perceive is simply a projection of our own death. To see this death, open your eyes to the shopping malls, streets and housing developments surrounding you. Is it merely coincidence that a big box store looks like a coffin big enough to swallow all of us? We are exhibiting the decay of death in our choice of cement and steel over flowers, trees and bumble bees.
Perhaps our fear of death is actually a fear of living. Perhaps real living entails the risk of challenging yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Our ancestors had several ways of challenging themselves. Most of it was through their simple lifestyles of hunting and gathering. Another way people in the past challenged themselves was with plants they considered sacred (entheogenic) and we consider hallucinogenic.
Shamans the world over have used hallucinogenics to visit other worlds, and they are one of the legitimate branches of the Eightfold Path to altered states in some writings. Indeed, "magic" mushrooms were often used by Native Americans in their vision quests.
Some natives continue to engage in these practices today, regardless of what society or the law thinks. Interestingly, it has become fashionable for anyone who writes about shamanic paths to immediately state that they never use entheogens, they don't approve of using entheogens, and that today's shamans don't need to use them, and should not use them. Perhaps they say this because they're all worried that their business will diminish, or, God forbid, the DEA will start raiding their houses...or perhaps their publishers are all afraid of getting sued (see Northern Shamanism link below).
But, there are still some shamans who will partake of entheogenics. The Aztecs and their 2012 predictions are probably wonderful examples of this.
But what is the core meaning of the Maya's transformation and rebirth metaphor? What I offer in this regard is, of course, just my opinion. But I have worked very hard full-time for several years to formulate an opinion that is based on facts that come from the Maya culture itself. My idea that the message of 2012 is mystical in nature comes from consideration of the often- overlooked psychedelic rituals of the Maya. This is what allowed them to see the greater reality that lies behind our ordinary reality. This is what turns "2012" into "mystical 2012!"
The difference between the ancient shamanic religions and our current day religions is that the shamanic are more interested in kindling the evolutionary potential of a human being, along with the evolutionary potential of all plants and animals making up the body of Gaia, or the Earth. They are not intent on selling you a philosophy, theology, or theoretical perspective. Their intent is upon awakening the Psyche, the Sleeping Beauty knocked unconscious by Vanity, i.e., the military-industrial complex running the show.
Our modern day religions are more about selling a theological perspective, often for the sake of a collection plate. Its all about having followers to boost one's ego and pocketbook. But, the Shaman would ask, why in the world would you want to believe in a theology about God/dess when you can dance with Him/Her? A man may talk a lot about his escapades with women but, when it comes to the reality of his adventures, much is found to be lacking. Talk is cheap.
Many can argue about religion. But the fact is, religion as practiced in our mainstream, is a holographic image of the rest of our culture. It's all talk. There is no substance. It's about selling a product, a way of perceiving God that has been institutionalized. Christianity touches on our passionate connection to God with its deification of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling God. Yet institutional Christianity sees this as the external Godhead entering and setting up homestead in your human spirit. Mystic Christians may be closer to the ancient Truth: the Holy Spirit is your internal source of Life, Wisdom, and Love. Like Mother Theresa, Jesus, Buddha, or Gandhi, they live out their God.
The ancient paths weren't so much about thinking about God, codifying God, or selling God to the highest bidder. They were about experiencing and sharing God and Goddess.
Eating good food can help with this experience, alongside long walks in Nature and making love with someone you adore. Indeed, there are spiritual practices such as Tantra, that help you utilize your sexuality to kindle spiritual insight and religious connectivity. Entheogenics can also do this, if you're ready.
It is true the shamanic path is the more dangerous, and is not for everybody. You have to be ready to go down that rabbit hole. In addition, the shamanic path has its drawbacks and dangers (see my diary at http://www.opednews.com/populum/diarymanage.php). Yet, it is also the path with the greatest rewards in terms of opening the mind to a multi-dimensional reality that most of us deny. It is the path that leads to an evolution of body, mind and spirit.
We aren't going to evolve unless we put our heads into the mouth of Death Herself. We simply will not evolve until we die to this world. An egg needs to manifest its potential. And, this is exactly what we are. We are eggs that have taken form in relation to an external stimulus (our father and the environment in which we live). That unfolding of the egg is continuing to happen now and will happen until the day we die. Then it becomes food for the rest of the planet (unless you put yourself in a metal box due to not wanting to let go of yourself).