John Perkins: The World Is as You Dream It: Shamanic Teachings...

John Perkins: The World Is as You Dream It: Shamanic Teachings from the Amazon and Andes (Destiny Books, Canada 1994)

'The World Is as You Dream It' was such an inspirational book to me that my head was spinning while reading it! John Perkins' descriptions of the beauty of the Amazonian rainforest and the people's lifestyle are breathtaking. But what most inspired me was yet another piece of evidence on the hidden skills present in all human beings - ancient teachings that have been forgotten and overlooked by Western cultures. It is immensely inspiring to think that hidden powers lie dormant in our living bodies. And there is much hope in the way John Perkins' has, according to his own testimony, managed to open the minds of many Western professionals, academics and writers. This book makes me feel - once again - that big change is on the way in the world.

If you are interested in the power of dreams and the subconscious mind; the law of attraction; simple, nature-oriented lifestyles; traditional healing methods; and the idea of oneness of everything that lives - I couldn't recommend this book more highly. It is very inspiring.

But this book is not for everyone... it is very much 'out there' in the spiritual realms and understandably not everyone's 'cup of tea'. For more practical health advice you can return to the raw food book reviews page...

"One evening I was sitting on the dirt floor of a shaman's lodge deep in the Amazon rain forest. The shaman - a former headhunter and respected elder of the Shuar tribe - was chanting into the embers of a sacred fire. Seated in a circle around the fire were eight U.S. psychotherapists. During a mere six days in this land, each of them had developed a deep respect for the spiritual powers, environmental wisdom, and healing skills of the shamans..."
(p. xix, the World Is as You Dream It)

I have selected a series of inspiring quotations and reproduced them below. If you find the beautiful and inspiring as I did, please buy the book.

"Only now, when the tribal peoples have almost gone, has the West awakened to the fact that, rather than their lands and possessions, it is their subtle abilities and specialized environmental wisdom, forged since the beginning of time, which are of paramount importance to us all. The new psychologies of hypnotic suggestion and 'creative visualization' are increasingly aware that we are capable of infinitely more than the assumed constraints of 'physical laws' on our bodies and minds would have us believe."
- Lawrence Blair, Ring of Fire, as quoted in 'The World Is as You Dream It'.

Amazon Rainforest Picture
Amazonian Rainforest (Image by

World Is as You Dream It

"Dreaming is the most powerful thing we do in life. [...] It occurs all the time, at both conscious and subconscious levels" (p. xiii, The World Is as You Dream It)

"[The people of modern cultures] have forgotten the secret knowledge of their bodies, their senses, their dreams. They don't use the knowledge the spirit has put into every one of them; they are not even aware of this, and so they stumble along blindly on the road to nowhere - a paved highway which they themselves bulldoze and make smooth so that they can get faster to the big, empty hole which they'll find at the end, waiting to swallow them up." - John Fire Lame Deer in Lame Deer, Sioux Medicine Man, as quoted in 'The World Is as You Dream It'.

"... dreaming is not restricted to the hours when we sleep and [...] when we honor our dreams we empower ourselves. They have developed highly successful techniques for tapping into 'the knowledge that the spirit has put into everyone'. They have come to know that all power, dreams, energy, balance, and health originate in the Earth [...]
"Intellectually I understood this. Lame Deer inspired me to experience it. I began to open my senses to the spirits within. It took practice and patience but slowly I progressed. I opened my heart to the world around me and did what every elementary school student in our culture is discouraged from doing: I daydreamed. And nightdreamed. I allowed the messages of my subconscious to surface. I examined them from every angle, and little by little I started to follow the suggestions they gave me. It worked."

(p. xviii, the World Is as You Dream It)

"For most of us the power of dreams is snatched away during an educational process that focuses on the material world. The shamans you will meet in this book were educated very differently. They have a great deal to teach us. It is important to keep in mind, however, that you do not have to visit these shamans personally in order to empower yourself and make your own dreams come true. The knowledge is within you; it was there at birth and stayed with you through much of your childhood. If you fear you have lost it, turn that fear around. Think of it as knowledge that went underground for a while. [...] The stories in this book, the examples of the indigenous peoples of the Andes and the Amazon, and the shamanic journeys and teachings are here to help stimulate your memory and subconscious visions. They are here to open doors and push the walls of your understanding to the horizon." (p. xx)

"the seed dreams itself into a tall stalk that bears the sacred fruit" (p. 4)

"If the world is as we dream it, then every reality is a matter of perception. We have dreamed it; therefore, it is. I have become convinced that everything we think and feel is merely a perception; that our lives - individually as well as communally - are molded around such perceptions; and that if we want to change, we must alter our perceptions. When we give our energy to a different dream, the world is transformed. The create a new world, we must create a new dream."
(p.12, The World Is as You Dream It)

"Looking back up into a sky that was alive with stars, I thought about Tsunkqui and Nunkui [goddesses]. If everyone fell asleep thinking about them, the world would be a very different place. Then an image formed before me. I saw a television set. A parade of advertisements flashed across it: automobiles, hair spray, oven cleaners, decongestants, soft drinks, things obtained from mining the Earth, things the people of my culture see before falling asleep. I wondered why we had turned our dreams over to a handful of greedy business executives." (p. 29)

"'The past,' I said, 'is our dream of a memory. It is not a fact.' I paused to allow this to sink in. 'A perception. Everything we remember is filtered, like a dream being interpreted. Change the dream, change the memory, and you change the past.'" (p. 111, The World Is as You Dream It)

John Perkins' First Visit to the Shuar tribe in the Amazon

"That trip accomplished for more than I could ever have anticipated. It was the beginning of an extraordinary series of events. Over the next twenty months I would make repeated visits to the Shuar, the Lowland Quichua, and other Amazonian and Andean peoples. I would experience firsthand the way dreams and direct communication with nature, as well as inner voices, affect their daily lives." (p. 15, The World Is as You Dream It)

"[Numi] confided that he had tried to return to civilization several times. 'It's just too rough', he said. 'I'm not tough enough for that kind of life.' I laughed at that. 'Where I come from', I told him, 'we think of the jungle as rough. If you can live there you can survive anywhere.' He shook his head and turned to look down the river. 'I know what you mean, though,' I continued. 'I've grown discouraged by the materialism of my culture. 'The crime, the divorce, the greed and pollution.' 'You have lost touch with Mother,' he said." (p. 18)

"'The world is as you dream it,' [Numi] said at last. He walked to the edge of the water. 'Your people dreamed of huge factories, tall buildings, as many cars as there are raindrops in the river. Now you begin to see that your dream is a nightmare.' [...] 'How can I change, Don Alberto? How can my people change this terrible situation we've created?' His eyes held mine once again. 'That's simple,' he replied. 'All you have to do is change the dream.' It sounded so easy. 'How long will that take?' He glanced once more down the river. 'It can be achieved in a generation. You need only to plant a different seed, teach your children to dream new dreams.' He placed a hand on my shoulder. 'I will introduce you to people who can help.'" (p. 19)

"The Shuar believe that their ancestors are always available to act as guides and teachers. They seek answers to practical questions as well as general advice bout how to live their lives." "... the smoke helps maintain contact with ancestors who have become the rain or birds, plants, and animals."
(p. 21, The World Is as You Dream It)

John Perkins on Psychoactive Substances

"LSD is not a plant substance - not of Mother Earth, but rather of Lord Science, a false god. It is taken by uneducated people to escape from the problems of this world. Psychoactive plants are studied for years by tribal shamans and taken in order to become one with the world. [...] This tree alive can teach us far more than the words of experts written on the paper it could produce dead. Amazonian Indians know the power of plants. If one were here right now, he would tell you that this tree possesses the wisdom of the universe, as do all plants."
- Bob Gutierrez, in an interview with John Perkins, p. 10

"Although I have gained insights through [the use of ayahuasca], I must add that people who practice psychonavigation have very similar experiences - without the physiological side effects and dangers." (p. 11, The World Is as You Dream It)

"An elder from the Salascan tribe, on the eastern slope of the Andes, once told me that psychotropic plants should be used like a corkscrew to open a little hole in the tops of our heads. 'After the hole is made', he said, 'You don't need to take the potion anymore. All the knowledge just comes flowing in.' I asked him if it were necessary to take psychotropic plants at all. He thought for a moment. 'No', he said at last. 'The knowledge is within all of us anyway. We must just open our heads to it and allow the dreams to pierce our thick skulls. There are many ways to do this.'" (p. 12)

"Etsaa sent the god Ayumpum, who taught us to boil the vine ayahuasca so we can communicate directly with the plants and animals. Ayahuasca is a gift from Etsaa. It opens our hearts, frees our souls, helps us feel our oneness with the rocks, the animals, the plants, and each other. So we are never alone, not even at night." (p. 29, The World Is as You Dream It)

John Perkins' Trips to Ecuador

"It did not take me long to realize that the people who joined me on the trips were going to experience something that would turn their perceptions of life upside down. Traveling from the United States into the high Andes and deep Amazon to work with shamans was a journey not only through space but also into other worlds and times and deep into each individual's soul; it was an adventure in self-discovery, a challenge to remold one's way of thinking, feeling, and living." (p. 46, The World Is as You Dream It)

"My objective always was the same: to have the participants experience their oneness. I wanted them not just to talk about the unity of all things but to feel it deep inside with such intensity that it would forever change their dreams." (p. 46)

"'We live in parallel worlds, ' I told the group of men and women who would accompany me on this trip to Ecuador. We sat in a circle on the carpeted floor of the Miami Airport Hotel. 'You will see this clearly once we reach the Andes. Most tourists visit only one world. They see the material poverty of the indigenous people, the adobe homes, the dirt floors, the lack of cars, toilets, electricity, and all our other modern conveniences. Depending on the quality of the tour and their guides, they may get a glimpse of the closeness these people share with Pachamama, Mother Earth; but they do not see the parallel worlds. They do not gain a feeling for the intense spirituality of the Quechua-speaking peoples - the Cotopaxi, Colorado, Canari, Otavalan, and Salasacan communities - or of the Amazonian tribes like the Shuar, Huaorani, and Lowland Quichua. They do not come to understand that Pachamama is everything and that these people are in many ways far wealthier than we are." (p. 47, The World Is as You Dream It)

Rainforest Medicine

"An elderly woman and two younger men entered. After a brief greeting, she held out a finger for Yampun to inspect. I felt Alice inch away from me so she could get a closer look at the finger. 'Bad infection,' she whispered. [...]
"I could hear a voice chanting, but could not tell whose it was or even whether it came from our small group. Secha moved her candle up the trunk of the tree. She placed the glittering object against the bark and I saw that it was a small knife. Slowly, meticulously, she cut a tiny groove and with her blade collected a ball of sap. Without hesitation, she applied it directly to the woman's wound. After that, she lowered the candle to knee level and rummaged in the bushes that bordered the path. She broke off a leaf and carefully laid it over the sap-covered injury.
"'Will it work?' I asked Alice as we headed back down the dark trail.
"'I have no doubt that it will. These people know what they're doing.' She reminded me that many of the drugs prescribed in the United States originate in the rain forest, and added, 'Imagine how being cured directly by a tree affects your outlook! The intimacy shared between people and nature here is wonderful.'"
(p. 54, The World Is as You Dream It)

Breathing Unity into Things

"To Nase, the wind that travels through the forest blowing balance to all things"
- dedication at the front of the book

"'To camay,' Manco explained, 'is to breathe unity into'. [...] 'This plant appeared to be dead a year ago. I camayed into it every day and now look.' He patted it tenderly. 'Old, but very much alive.' [...] When one of our parts is out of balance, others can help to bring them back. That is when we camay. [...] 'The blowing we do during a healing is a form of camaying. We breathe unity into the sick or injured person to restore balance." (p. 97, The World Is as You Dream It)

The Shaman

John Perkins defines 'a shaman' as someone who journeys to other worlds and uses the subconscious, as well as waking reality, in order to effect change. He teaches a method of psychonavigation, which allows one to dream and journey without the need for any substances. Shamans traditionally have used various intoxicants to access information in 'parallel realities' and John Perkins does describe ayahuasca ceremonies he attended with the shamans. Healing ceremonies are also described in the book, where various ills, such as ovarian cancer, slipped disks, migranes, and other ills are healed with one session with the shaman. At one instance the shaman describes the method as 'breathing life and balance into the person'. John Perkins also describes how he himself also healed a person who suffered from a fear of heights, due to a past-life trauma. He used a shamanic method of 'soul retrieval'.

"He described the shaman as being the human agent of change and ayahuasca as the plant equivalent. 'Some people are content to sit in meditation and gain peace of mind. Not the shaman. He or she must create change and teach others. Some plants are content to be, but not ayahuasca. It must create change, teach. That is why shamans and ayahuasca work so closely together." (p. 67)

"'Everyone has the power to be a shaman.' He anticipated my question. 'The first step is to learn to separate dreams from fantasies." (p. 100, The World Is as You Dream It)

"'Remember: the energy created through our dreaming ties us all together, and we have ultimate power,' he said. 'When we camay this power into ourselves and all that is around us - part of our very oneness - we can create anything we dream. But,' he held up a single finger, 'you must understand when the dream is negative, or when we deceive ourselves into mistaking fantasies for dreams, the creation can be a monster of nightmarish proportions. That is what happened to the people of the Andes during the time of my ancestors. It is happening now, once again, this time to your people. Yes, yours look at the world very differently from mine. They have given energy to their fantasies. They have become deceived, believing that gold, silver, and other material goods will buy them happiness. But Eagle is even now wondering among your people. His power brought you here. You bring and teach others, and they still teach others. We are all one. Sometimes we look at things differently. Through dream we will all become Birdpeople.'" (p. 105)

"The first step of the dream-change process, he emphasized, is to define what we want, to make certain that it is a dream, not a fantasy. 'Psychonavigation can be a big help in this regard, as can power animals and inner pilots. Make sure that it is a positive dream.' He added that an essential next step is to give the dream energy. 'Constantly bring your dream into the light of day. Think about it, meditate and journey on it. Talk about it with everyone you meet. Shout it out. Share it with the Earth, the sky, the clouds, the sun and moon, and with all the plants, animals, and minerals of the Earth. Give it voice and song!'
"'If people tell you it is a foolish or impossible dream,' he continued, 'immediately correct them. Reverse their negativity by insisting that it is a dream that must and will happen. Never allow anyone to take the energy out of your dream by weighing it down with negativity or doubt.' [...]
"Manco emphasized the potency of parallel worlds. 'See yourself in one of those worlds, enter it with all your senses, a world after your dream has come true. Experience that world over and over - a hundred times a day. Feel it, see it, hear, taste, and smell it. Understand with every part of your existence the wonders and pleasures of your dream fulfilled.'
"He reminded me once again that dream change energy is everywhere, like the air, tying everything together. 'You must camay this energy all the time. And when you do this, you will see that your dream will be realized quicker than you ever expected.' He laughed."
(p. 105-106)

"If we truly live in parallel worlds, if everything is one, and it is all occurring concurrently, then all the shamans are here now, ready to help us. Their power is awesome. This would explain why so many people - including traditional medical doctors and psychologists - are suddenly being drawn to them." (p. 110, The World Is as You Dream It)

Some of John Perkins' References...

  • 'Dreamtime', a concept by the Australian Aborigines
  • Carl Jung's theory that humanity's collective unconscious contains the knowledge of all past and future events and that dreams are a key for tapping into this vast library of information.
  • Many great figures of history were shamans: Plato, Socrates, Zoroaster, Moses, Ezekiel, Muhammed, Buddha, Christ, Galileo, Mozart, Edison, etc.
  • The vision quest is a spiritual journey to wisdom that has been practiced by people for as long as history can remember. The resulting visions are recorded in cave drawings and described in the oral traditions of cultures throughout the world.
  • To psychonavigate means to travel through the psyche to a place where you need to be. For the word psyche, you can substitute subconscious.

John Perkins' Links:

Earth Dream Alliance (EDA)
- EDA's objective is to transform human consciousness - our collective dream - into a more Earth-honouring one. John Perkins' workshops and trips to take people to meet the shamans are now conducted in conjunction with EDA.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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