The Shape of Things To Come: Shapeshifting With John Perkins
An interview by Carol Bedrosian
For the past two decades John Perkins has visited, lived with and learned about indigenous culture from several tribes in the rainforests of the Amazon and Andes. In his three books detailing his experiences—The World Is As You Dream It, Psychonavigation and most recently, Shapeshifting (Destiny Books)—John has shared much of the wisdom he has learned from tribal people in hopes of creating a "dreamchange" that can move us away from the industrial world's dream of dominating and harnessing nature. These shamanic teachings have sparked a revolution in modem concepts about healing, the subconscious, and the powers each of us has to alter individual and communal reality. An ecologist, author and founder of Dream Change Coalition, John also works with business and governmental organizations in the preservation of tribal wisdom and the natural environment. He is currently working with several major corporations to introduce the concepts of shapeshifting and tribal wisdom into the highest levels of executive thinking.
SOC: Which is why they might be more attuned to a shapeshifting way of life than non-indigenous people. You were talking about the different levels of shapeshifting...
JP: Yes, the second level is personal shapeshifting where we bring out in ourselves more of what we really respect in ourselves. Or maybe we get rid of things that we don't really respect in ourselves. A good example of that is an addiction. Both developing and getting rid of an addiction are personal shapeshifts. It's changing ourselves within this manifestation. The third level is institutional shapeshifting, changing the manifestations of our organizations, our government, our communities, our corporations. That is the one that I am very interested in right now having come our of a business background myself. I can see tremendous opportunity here to shapeshift the corporation.
SOC: Is that possible?
JP: It's definitely happening and it needs to happen a lot more. The corporations can't take over unless we allow them to.
SOC: And we are so addicted to the consumer lifestyle—it's always we want more, cheaper and more convenient. We support those corporations with our purchases and the destruction they cause.
JP: Yes, we all make those decisions. On the other hand, if there is a large business (let's take a Walmart) and you can really create a shapeshift within that organization, you can have a tremendous effect in the larger picture. I will say from the shapeshifting standpoint you can deal with the bigger organizations just as well as the small.
The oil companies are one of my greatest enemies because they do a lot of destruction in the Amazon and hurt a lot of the people that I've spent the last 30 years living and working with. Yet I've seen British Petroleum has had an incredible turn around in the past couple of years. They've gone through an amazing shapeshift. It is happening.
The whole idea is that we're here on earth to be ecstatic every minute. When we feel that deep oneness we are ecstatic. Ecstasy doesn't necessarily mean joy or bliss. It's the feeling of oneness. For example, my mother died a couple of years ago and I was very close to her. She died a very painful death. It was not a joyous time, but it was ecstatic in terms that I bonded with her as I had never bonded before. Medical doctors tell us that we are 99% air and that every atom in our body is as old as the big bang. No atom stays in our body for more than a year. They are constantly moving into other things so that when you are holding the telephone right now, your atoms are intermingling with the telephone and some of them are going into the telephone forever or for the next year, anyway. Some of the telephone's are actually coming into you. You and the telephone are one.
SOC: So how is it that someone still retains that extra 50 unwanted pounds? Why doesn't it just slip away?
JP: Perception of it. The world is as we dream it and recognizing that gives us the opportunity to shapeshift any way we want.
SOC: How do you shapeshift?
JP: In our culture one of the first things that we have to do is to drop the barriers that prevent us from believing in shapeshifting. To begin with, you cannot believe in hierarchy. If you believe that a human being is superior in any way to a plant you can't shapeshift into that plant because you have too much fear that you may not be able to come back into the superior form of the human being. In fact, sometimes shapeshifters don't return because they choose not to. So the first thing is to drop the fear and the denial.
SOC: And basically that would be developing a trust in the process of life, that you are safe in the hands of Pachamama.
JP: What is there to fear? If you don't believe in death, that solves a lot of fears but it doesn't solve all of them.
SOC: And you have brought this work into the corporate world?
JP: Yes. I've spent ten years myself as an executive management advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations and many Fortune 500 companies and I was the Chief Executive Officer of a large utility energy company for another eight years. In that work with the energy company, which is a very successful alternative energy company, every major decision we made was made shamanically and we did a great deal of shapeshifting. The business community is not going to be able to continue the way its been going. The model for success that we've developed here in the United States and in Europe cannot be applied to India and China and Indonesia because there's too many people. Slowly, we are realizing it can't even work here any longer. We are at a phenomenal point in history right now because we've developed amazing technology. We've also still got the indigenous knowledge and we're opening up to that like we've never opened up to it before. One of the reasons the stock market is going up so much is because there are technologies out there like the Internet. Today telephones are starting to go into the Amazon for the first time. But there are no telephone lines and they're not needed anymore. What a tremendous savings that is to the forest. No more cutting down lots of trees and putting in copper wire. But that's not really a justification for sitting back and saying, "well it's all happening anyway." It's really important that we all go out there and work toward it. True shapeshifting means feeling your oneness with everything else.
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