A handful of years ago, 5 1/2 to be exact, I was invited to accompany a new friend of mine on a 4-day Shamanic retreat in New Mexico. My friend confided that the feeling to extend the invitation for me to join him was rather unusual. He had been going to these retreats and studying with his teacher for years and he rarely mixed his friendship and spiritual worlds together. Apparently, the sense was so strong for him that he even offered to pay a portion on loan for me. I said yes to it all and off we went.
Several months prior, this same friend had given me the book Awaken the Inner Shaman: A Guide to the Power Path of the Heart by Jose Stevens. Jose was my friend's teacher. I was so inspired by this book that I had incorporated parts of what I was learning into a workshop that I held earlier that year. Really, really good stuff.
The retreat was held at Eagle Bear, which is a remote piece of land about an hour or so outside of Santa Fe. At the time of my visit, there was a large yurt which would be where we held certain classes + meditations, an outdoor dining area with an open-air kitchen, a patio with an overhang that strung about 6 hammocks, a path that led down to a large fire pit and open forest for campers. I believe that there were a couple of small trailer-type structures for people to rent, but outside of that, it was very simple, natural, no-frills kinda place.
Just to clarify, this was not a 'medicine journey' shamanic retreat. The focus was on Healing the Feminine + Masculine and it involved hikes to particular parts of the land where Jose would offer dharma talks, medicine wheel healing, labyrinth walks, chanting around the fire, drumming, chi gong and meditation.
On the second night, as our fire gathering was about to disperse, my friend who I traveled with asked Jose to stay just long enough tell us the story about when he had his palm read in India. He had heard it before and knew that it would captivate all of us who still lingered in the afterglow of the evening session.
It did not take much coercing, Jose turned on his heel and nestled into his tree stump. Clearly, this was going to be good. With the fire illuminating his face, we too, settled deeper into our stumps in anticipation of his fable. This remains to be one of the most epic stories that I've had the privilege to hear first-hand.
After earning his Psychology + Master in Social Work graduate degrees in Berkley, CA, Jose decided that the best, post-graduate adventure would be to go to India. Soon after arriving, he was told about an incredibly reputable mystic who could read palms. Curious, Jose decided to yield to the suggestions of comrades and see this man.
When he first laid eyes on him, to his surprise, the man was dressed as a business man, not a mystic. In Jose's mind, the man's appearance somewhat discredited what he might be capable of but regardless, Jose advanced with the reading.
The man proceeded to describe Jose's character, musings and life up to that point with such incredible accuracy, he knew that regardless of this man's chosen attire, he was a true mystic and seer. The man went on to share about his future wife, children, profession, and one final vision; how he would die.
Contrary to Jose's assessment that he could handle this information, he was so disturbed by this man's prediction (due to the fact that his reading was so precise) that he decided to check himself into the safety of an ashram for a stretch of days, just to prove that the following prediction would not come to pass:
The mystic stated that within the next few days, Jose would come to meet one of the most influential teachers of his life.
Jose was determined to not allow this man's reading to be the defining story of his life. With rebellious conviction, he checked himself into an ashram, purchased several books from the ashram's library, and hermited inside of his room to avoid the fateful meeting. To his delight, the reading material was so captivating, and it spoke so deeply to his heart and soul that he didn't care, much less even think about his intentional captivity. He was completely entranced with this newfound, spiritual treasure. After about three days time of being immersed and absorbed, Jose jolted up, suddenly wide- eyed and with the sober realization that the mystic's prediction had transpired.
The ashram that he had chosen as a hideaway is called the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. The library was filled with spiritual literature and teachings of the late Guru, Sri Aurobindo (and the Mother). In a sudden flash, Jose realized that this 'teacher' that the mystic had prophecized was none other than Sri Aurobindo.😳
At this point in the story, my jaw dropped to the dirt in disbelief. At that very moment in time, I had two books sitting on my nightstand back at home: Looking from Within and The Yoga of Sleep and Dreams. I had acquired them the year prior on my first pilgrimage to India. Out of ALL of the ashrams in the Motherland, the Sri Aurobindo ashram happened to be one that we visited briefly (maybe for an hour) while in Pondicherry. Both books on my nightstand were the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I remember the energy of this ashram being so notably purifying and nurturing, a stark contrast to the bustling city energy that we'd journeyed from earlier that day. It was like a giant, deep, blissful breath. Incredibly palpable. The only books that I purchased while on my India trip were from inside of the very same library that Jose was now speaking of. I could barely comprehend this unexpected Synchronicity but knew that me being there to witness his story was undeniably Divine and almost excruciatingly mind-blowing.
While attempting to process the first threshold of his story, Jose continued to share how the unfoldment of his life had played out, with exact precision, to the mystical man's vision.
Several years later and now as a practicing Shaman, Jose participated in a business collaboration that aimed to create trainings and extreme life experiences for business owners who were serious about their work in the world and being successful. Jose's contribution in the collaboration involved working with spiritual practices, ideas and imparting spiritual wisdom. One of the other collaborators was a woman who had reached master-level in her respective field of sky-diving and was highly sought after. Her contribution was to work with business owners on overcoming fears. While there was at least one other collaborator (I cannot recall those details), they were all in agreement that as equal space-holders of these trainings, it was important that they all experience each other's work.
While this was somewhat unnerving, he had no reason to not have the utmost faith in his colleague. So, as per their agreement, Jose enlisted himself to go skydiving.
A couple of days before his scheduled launch, he woke from a very disturbing dream. He had dreamt that his parachute was not able to open while in flight and that he pummeled to his death. The dream was so vivid and had shaken him up enough that he cancelled his turn, even though it would mean that it would take quite some time to reschedule due to her high demand.
A few days later while working outside, a family member approached Jose with an intensely sunken and grim look on their face. To his horror, he learned that his female colleague and the man that had taken his place had fallen to their death after both parachutes had failed to open.
With gut wrenching clarity, Jose flashed back to the mystical man of India who had predicted that in his death, he would fall from great heights after being pushed by a woman.
He was stunned, stung and in complete shock.
The foretelling of his death was so accurate, yet the incredible interception of his fate via his free-will to yield to his dream and intuition ultimately redirected the course of his life, alleviating him from an inescapable destiny.
The core essence of the teachings of his story were that we are not bound to any particular fate. We are endowed with powerful senses that are meant to connect us to the unseen worlds and guide our path. Our free will is the vehicle in which we integrate this guidance and innate freedom.
I bow in deep reverence and respect for those who have come before me, who are among me, and who have yet to be a bearer and embodiment of Universal wisdom that connect us to the timeless and sacred teachings. I am eternally grateful for the mystical workings that organized this spontaneous experience for my spiritual growth, as well as the validation that it provided me of how my soul is oriented in this life.
"You must learn to act always from within - from your inner being... The outer should be a mere instrument and should not be allowed at all to compel or dictate your speech, thought or action."
- Sri Aurobindo
JOSÉ LUIS STEVENS
José Luis Stevens, PhD, is an international lecturer, teacher, consultant, and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and author of eighteen books and e-books, as well as numerous articles, he is also on the board of the Society of Shamanic Practitioners. He is the cofounder of the Power Path School of Shamanism and the Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange. He completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol marakame and has studied extensively with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Q’ero of the Andes for the last twenty years.
He has a doctorate in integral counseling from the California Institute of Integral Studies, an MSW from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in sociology from the University of Santa Clara, California.
He lives in Santa Fe with his wife and companion, Lena. See thepowerpath.com.
Author photo © Lena Stevens 2013