Life is full of opportunities to be reactive. When do we act and when to we stand by, allowing for larger events to happen? A reaction can be characterized as negative or positive. A negative reaction would seek revenge for a wrong. A positive reaction would seek to help a person needing aid. Both negative and positive reactions are valid, with the definition of each inhabiting a grey area.
Is there a time not to act? I'd like to address this in a general way, as I believe the answers to the question of "when not to act" applies to a range of questions from "what to do about mom?" to "when do I use Reiki on somebody?" I first explored this several years ago when I faced the question of when not to heal somebody. The concluding paragraph from an article on this is:
"If an ill person cannot change their life, if the scale has tipped too far in favor of the illness, and they do not have the faith to cure themselves, than the illness will win. Have comfort in the morbid humor that life is a terminal condition. In the meantime we, as intuitives and healers, cannot hide ourselves from the world. We cannot give ourselves away to the world either. Abilities call us to use them responsibility through harmonious choices. What should the e-mail corresponder do when someone needs to see a doctor? If they really need to see a doctor, than by all means suggest this to them! If the issue is an energy block, and "modern medicine" can’t do a thing about it, suggest that they go to a person who does chakra balancing/cleansing. If you see that they are (once again) having a bad relationship, remind them that they are making a bad choice (again) and step aside. Remember that in the end you are at best a facilitator, a person who creates a healing environment, and that we heal ourselves in the end as we make peace with the our suffering."I've since realized that when to act or not act is a common question for the human condition. I’d like to share some thoughts in point format about this question:
1) Karma is a neutral reaction. Karma does not care if an action is morally "right" or "wrong". The resulting outcome is a complex arrangement of both seen and unseen forces.
2) The shamanist is in a place of service.
3) The shamanist has a responsibility of being as healthy as they can be if they are to facilitate the healing of others.
4) Service or facilitation of healing can occur by the appropriate "non-action".
5) The magic of the shamanist is to have the wisdom to know about the forces at play, assume responsibility for his/her duties (to oneself and others), and know when to act or not-act.
There is a tradition of some North American Shamans. In their tradition a request for help is considered for three days. Only after this period of time is a response given. I see that the delay provides a "non-action" by the Shaman towards the questioner. That said, I very strongly suspect that Shaman is capable of doing some unseen action for the person during that three day period. The verbal response and visible actions are only a fraction of the Shaman’s work. Extending that thought, the lack of visible actions by a person does not preclude that there is an action. Hence, nonintervention is an action unto itself as valid as intervention. Both are results of intent.
At a level of shamanic experience there is no difference between inner movement and outer movement. This is a paradox. I like the word paradox. I think it is the correct one for the intended sentence. Dictionary.com defines paradox as "A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true". I use the word paradox in the same vein of thought as the statement, "to be in the world but not of the world. The statement that there is no difference between inner and outer movement would seem contradictory to the average person. The non-average person looks at the statement and sees the inherent truism (normality) behind the apparent contradiction. I use the word paradox because we are experiencing a (partially) physical reality. The perception of distance between inner and outer lingers.
Finally, the question is asked, "should I act?" The answer takes in both the shamanist's status and the status of the world around them. A time of action may be postponed for any number of reasons: the shamanist is running low on energy, the correct tools are not available, the person requiring the work is not ready, it is not the right season, and so on. None of these hypothetical reasons are "the" reason. Instead, the "reason" for an action is an extension of everything.
That said, we have the opportunity to know ourselves best. Our bodies act as sensitive instruments measuring the environment. Our own comforts and discomforts are extensions of what is going on around us. A good example is getting the "willies" when a bad person comes around.
In our physical isolation it seems like we only have ourselves. Listening to our body, our inner self, provides the universal touchstone. We project outside of ourselves as we are bound to the polarity of separation/union. The shamanic choice is to acknowledge, consciously, this polarity. The key word here is "consciously". The paradox of separation/union still exists for the shamanist. The difference between the shamanist and another person is that the shamanist works with the paradox instead of being a pawn of the paradox.