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 Castaneda Carlos Interviews

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MessaggioOggetto: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Lun 14 Dic 2009 - 13:40

FONTE: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6872300/DE-Castaneda-Carlos-Interviews

castaneda/en/home.html
Carlos Castaneda
Nothing in the world is a gift. Whatever there is to learn has to be learned the hard way.
Turn my concepts into a viable way of life by a process of repetition. Everything new in our lives,
such as the sorcerers' concepts I am teaching you, must be repeated to us to the point of
exhaustion before we open ourselves to it.
Don Juan
Carlos Castaneda was a graduate student in anthropology at the University of California, Los
Angeles, gathering information on various medicinal herbs used by the Indians in Sonora, Mexico,
when he met the old Yaqui Indian, Don Juan. His first book, The Teaching of Don Juan, was the
story of his first period the two men spent together as master and pupil. This was followed by the
other volumes in the series, A Separate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan, Tales of Power, The Second Ring
of Power and The Eagle's Gift, all of which are published in Arkana. He also wrote the Art of
Dreaming (1993).
Carlos Castaneda died in 1998. In its obituary for him the Guardian wrote 'It's hard to find a New
Age celebrity who won't admit to having been influenced by Castaneda's powerful prose and
paradigm-busting philosophy... Few critics would deny author Joyce Carol Oates's assessment of
his books as "remarkable of art"'.
In 1960 Carlos Castaneda first met don Juan, a Yaqui Indian feared and shunned by the ordinary
folk of the American South West because of his unnatural powers. During the next five years don
Juan's arcane knowledge led him into a world of beauty and terror, ruled by concepts far beyond
those of western civilization.
And that is how it has begun.
I'm very glad to see you here. If you are here, that means you're interesting of it. This site was made
for people who have interested, but don't know what to start from. Start from this.
Martin Netter
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Opening To The Whispers Of Power
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Dreaming Techiniques
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Quotes From CC Books On Dreaming
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Interviews with Carlos Castaneda
ElectroPrint Graphics - 1968
Transcript of the tape:
Don Juan's Teachings: Further Conversations with Carlos Castaneda, 1968.
I'm Jane Hellisoe of the University of California press, and I have here today, Carlos Castaneda,
author of The Teachings of Don Juan. I'm assuming that most of you have read the book, you all
look like you have. So I think just turn it over to Carlos and let it go from there. Carlos...
CC: O.K. Maybe you like to ask me something that you want to know?
JH: How did you meet don Juan?
CC: The way I, uh, got to know him,was very uh, very fortuitous type of affair. I was not not
interested in finding what he knew, because I didn't know what he knew. I was interested in
collecting plants. And I met him in Arizona. There was an old man who lived somewhere around
them hills, that knew a great deal about plants. And that was my interest, to collect information on
plants. And uh, I uh, we went one day this friend and myself we went to look for him. And we were
misguided by the Yuma Indians and we up in the hills and never found the old man. Um, it was later
on when I was at the end of this first trip that I make to Arizona, at the end of the summer and I was
ready to go back to Los Angeles, that I was waiting in the bus stop and the old man walked in. And
that's how I met him. Uh, I talked to him for about a year, I used to visit him, periodically I visit him,
because I like him, he's very friendly and very consistent. It's very nice to be around him. He has
great sense of humor . . . and I like him, very much. And that's was my first guiding thought, I used
to go seek his council because he very humorous and very funny. But I never suspected that he
knew anything, beyond knowledgeable in the use of plants for medicinal purposes.
JH: Did you have a sense that he knew how to live?
CC: No, no, I didn't I couldn't respond? there was something strange about him, but anybody could
tell that you know, there's something very uh, very strange. There are two people that I have taken
down to the field, with me, and that they know him. They found that that . . . he has very haunting
eyes when he looks at you, because most of the time he squints or he seems to be shifty. You
would say that he's a shifty looking man. He's not looking, except sometimes when he looks, he's
very, whenever he looks he's very forceful. You could acknowledge that he's looking at you. And I,
but I never knew that he knew anything beyond that, I have no idea. When I went to do my
fieldwork, I always I parted from the point of view that I was the anthropologist, in quotes, doing the
fieldwork with uh, Indian, you know. And they were uh, I was the one who knew most everything and
uh they didn't. But of course, that it was a great culture shock to find out that I didn't know anything.
It's a great feeling that of arriving, a sense of uh, humbleness. Because we are the winners, the
conquerors, you know, and whatever we do is great, is logical, it's, it's magnificent. We only the
ones who are capable of anything noble, that's in the back of our mind. We cannot avoid that, we
cannot avoid that. And whenever we tumble down from that stand, I feels it's great.
JH: What country are you from?
CC: I'm from Brazil, I was born in Brazil. My grandparents are Italian.
JH: Uh, do you still think that he manipulated you into the last part of your book into a situation in
which you supposedly in danger of losing your soul?
CC: There, there are two explanations, you see, I prefer to think, that he was cueing me. It made
me feel comfortable to think that this was an experience resulting from these manipulations or social
cues. But maybe this witch was impersonating him. Everytime I am in U.C.L.A. of course I pretend
the position that he was, manipulating me. That's very coherent, cogent of the pursual of academia.
But whenever I am in field, I think they were impersonating him. And that's incoherent with what
takes place there. That's a very difficult transition to make. If you are going to dwelling in a
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University, if I would be a teacher, if I know that I'm going to be a teacher all my life, I could say
anything you know, and it's nice, but I may wind up again in the field, very soon. I uh, made up my
mind. I am going to go back, later maybe at the end of this month, and uh, I'm very serious about
that.
JH: Could you describe the nature of your communication with don Juan, since you wrote the
book?
CC: We're very good friends. He uh, uh he uh, he's capable always to baffle me me, by kidding
me. He never takes anything seriously. I am very serious in the sense like, I feel that I have
withdrawn from this apprenticeship. And I'm very serious about that, I believe that I have.
JH: He doesn't believe you?
CC: No....
JH: Do you find that your approach to uh, uh reality, or whatever, is any different since meeting
don Juan?
CC: O yes, yes, very different. Very different as such. Well I don't take things too seriously
anymore.
JH: Why did you write the second part of your book?
CC: Why? Essentially, I'm concerned with rescuing something that has been lost for five hundred
years, because of superstition, we all know that. It's superstition, and it's been taken as such.
Therefore, in order to render it, serious, to go beyond the revelation, that there must be something
that could be distilled from the revelation period. And to me, the only way to do it, is by presenting it
seriously, in format of the socialist position. Otherwise, it remains in the level of oddity. We have in
the back of our minds, the idea that only we could be logical, only we could be sublime, noble.
Somehow, I think, maybe I'm speaking for myself alone, but that's the end of character of our
actions. In social science you see that. Every social scientist goes to the field, loaded with the idea
that he's going examine something and know. And uh, that's not fair, that he so um, in that sense, I
cannot escape that.
JH: Don Juan in the book, he mentioned that he asked you never to reveal the name that
Mescalito gave to you, or to reveal the circumstances under which you met, yet you wrote this whole
book of don Juan's to anyone who would read it.
CC: I asked him about that. I wanted to know before I ever, ever, in writing something like that, I
asked him if it was alright. I didn't reveal anything that was not permitted. I didn't. I was interested in
the logical system. It's a system of logical thought. It takes a long time, took a long time for me to
discover, that this was a system of exhaustive, the best, presented in this, my world. This is what is
appealing, is the order. And whatever, I reveal in it, has nothing to do with the things that were, let's
say, taboo. I reveal only the order, only the system. So, as to make us realize that the Indians are
very, very tenacious, they are persistent people and as intelligent as anybody.
[Voice overdub on tape]: I think it's significant how Carlos is bending over backwards to present a
system of non-ordinary reality, non-linear reality in a conceptual framework so that it can be
accepted by his peers at the University of California by the American public. It's almost as if Carlos
had wasn't taking any chances that the psychedelic generation was really going to be there and
ready to read the book, the psychedelic generation could get the message, be a large enough part
of the readership to to pass the word. He's talking about people, he talks about non-people there's
some really some really remarkable instances there where I remember the one where don Juan
walks or Carlos walks off into the chaparral and he comes back and there are these three beings
there who turn out later according to don Juan not to be even beings. Apparently, they don't have
these fibers coming or they don't look like eggs. Do you have any insights into what these are, that
aren't really people, from having listened to that? I'm not too much into that, that was part of so-
called phantoms that Carlos was describing, but it wasn't very clear to me where they fit into the
whole picture, except these were people you know, phantoms were entices that you had to look for,
and be careful about. It seems also like only a sorcerer and a man-of- knowledge can tell who they
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are, because to Carlos it looked very much like real people, and Genero and Juan can recognize
them and unless we're into that other kind of knowledge, I can't claim to be able to recognize them.
Carlos talks about his experience with the datura plant, or the jimson weed, the devil weed in the
first book and the second book which is dealing very heavily the need for the psychotropic plants.
He drank the root extract and rubbed himself with the paste, and what followed was an extraordinary
experience. Afterwards Don Juan discusses with him the lessons he learned. Carlos says there was
a question I wanted to ask him. I knew he was going to evade it, so I waited for him to mention the
subject; I waited all day. Finally, before I left that evening, I had to ask him, "Did I really fly, don
Juan?" "That is what you told me. Didn't you?" "I know, don Juan. I mean, did my body fly? Did I
take off like a bird?" "You always ask me questions I cannot answer. You flew. That is what the
second portion of the devil's weed is for. As you take more of it, you will learn how to fly perfectly. It
is not a simple matter. A man flys with the help of the second portion of the devil's weed. That is all I
can tell you. What you want to know makes no sense. Birds fly like birds and a man who has taken
the devil's weed flies as such ." "As birds do?" "No, he flies as a man who has taken the weed."
"Then I didn't really fly, don Juan. I flew in my imagination, in my mind alone. Where was my body?"
"In the bushes," he replied cuttingly, but immediately broke into laughter again. "The trouble with you
is that you understand things in only one way. You don't think a man flies; and yet a brujo can move
a thousand miles in one second to see what is going on. He can deliver a blow to his enemies long
distances away. So, does he or doesn't he fly?" "You see, don Juan, you and I are differently
oriented. Suppose, for the sake of argument, one of my fellow students had been here with me
when I took the devil's weed. Would he have been able to see me flying?" "There you go again with
your questions about what would happen if . . . It is useless to talk that way. If your friend, or
anybody else, takes the second portion of the weed all he can do is fly. Now, if he had simply
watched you, he might have seen you flying, or he might not. That depends on the man." "But what I
mean, don Juan, is that if you and I look at a bird and see it fly, we agree that it is flying. But if two of
my friends had seen me flying as I did last night, would they have agreed that I was flying?" "Well,
they might have. You agree that birds fly because you have seen them flying. Flying is a common
thing with birds. But you will not agree on other things birds do, because you have never seen birds
doing them. If your friends knew about men flying with the devil's weed, then they would agree."
"Let's put it another way, don Juan. What I meant to say is that if I had tied myself to a rock with a
heavy chain I would have flown just the same, because my body had nothing to do with my flying."
"If you tie yourself to a rock," he said, "I'm afraid you will have to fly holding the rock with its heavy
chain."
[end of Voice overdub]
JH: Why did you leave?
CC: Why did I leave? I got too frightened. There is this assumption in all of us, that uh, we could
give ourselves agreement that this is real. I'm sure that many humans have taken psychedelic
substance like LSD, or something like that, the distortion that you suffer, under this psychedelic, is
accountable, by saying I'm seeing such and such, and that and that, or this this and that because I
have taken something, that's in the back of our mind - always. So, anything could be let's say,
accounted for in a strange way. But, whenever you begin to lose that security, I think that's time to
quit. That's my fear.
JH: But you haven't really quit.
CC: That's the problem.
JH: That several visions that you said you were more-or-less clairvoyant visions, that told you
about the past, things that you supposedly didn't know about, other than the visions or examples
that reported in the books. Did you ever check to find out what you saw was true or not?
CC: Well, that's sort of funny you know, there must be something. I've been involved in hunting
treasures lately. Mexican came to me and told me that there was a house that uh, belonged to a
man who apparently stored a lot of money and never used a bank, ever, in his life. He figure and
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calculated that there was at least $100,000 dollars and he asked if I could discover where the
money was. So I thought that's an interesting proposition. So, um I followed this ritual. It was a minor
ritual that produces in quotes, a vision, not as clear as a divination procedure. But it's a vision that
could be interpreted. A fire that has to be made to attract whatever it is that has to be attracted. So
this bunch of about four people and I, they did all the ritual they followed me they trusted me, I
suppose and we waited for a vision but nothing came at all. And then the fact was that everybody
was looking for this treasure under the house, the house on the still, very high, underneath the
house and they and dug up the whole house. And uh, the guy who was digging up, was bitten by a
black spider, a black widows spiders. And it was disastrous, they never found anything. So then I
came into the picture, I have this vision, I have this dream. A dream in which the owner of the house
was pointing to the ceiling. And I said, "Uh ha! It's not in the basement, it's in the ceiling." And we
went, one day, tried to find it in the ceiling, but we didn't we couldn't find anything. It was disastrous
though, because one of the Mexicans, very big, he weighs about 315 pounds. He's a big moose.
There's a small hatch towards the ceiling and its' an old house constructed in the 20's probably and
the ceilings paper thin. So I was kinda walking on the beams and this guy got very suspicious he
thought that we were going to cheat him out of his money, we never did it. And came into the scene,
he came up. He walked up to where I was, I was in the center of the house, center of the room,
because that's the place I thought he had pointed in my vision, stood by me, and he went through
the ceiling. He got hooked you know, the legs were hanging in the upper part.
JH: Did don Juan make any uh restrictions or any regulations that the circumstances in which you
question yourself? . . .
CC: Yes, good very good. I went to see don Juan, and I told him this failure. And how you know
very, and he said was very natural, whatever is left of a man, guards whatever he's hiding. I have
my notes, you know that I took in the field that I treasure a great deal. I've become very possessive
with my notes. And don Juan says, "will you leave your notes for any idiot to get?" No, I won't. That's
the point. And what's the difference? A guy loves his money. And he's not going to let an idiot like
me come and get it. Therefore, he sets all kinds of traps and obstructions. That's the turning point in
my approach with don Juan. From then on, I never been able to think that I could trip him. He flipped
me intellectually. I thought that that piece was very neat, very simple and coherent. From then on, I
was not ever able to think of myself as the student of Anthropology the University student coming to
look down on an Indian. He completely destroyed dislodged my affiliation to the intellectual man.
JH: He made you think yourself as a man?
CC: He made me think of myself as a man who doesn't know anything, in relation to what he
knows. But I don't know what he means. All I've given you is what he gave me. I don't how fear
could be vanquished. Because I haven't vanquished it myself. I have an idea, that perhaps
applicable. I like to go into the field and test it. But that's another story that's very different.
JH: Did he vanquish fear?
CC: Well, he has. Yes . . .
JH: Entirely?
CC: Yes . . . it looks like it is very simple. Once you have the mechanics, I suppose, he is parting at
all times from a different point of view. He set like uh , whatever is between the phenomena and that
I am experiencing, and me, theres always an intermediate, it's a set of expectations, motivations,
language, you name it. It's there, it's a whole set. But that's my, my heritage of the European. To use
the set which is common to all of us. That's why understand each other. But don Juan has a
different set, entirely different. That's the incapacity to understand him. Very difficult to understand
what he's talking about. When he says that one could conquer fear. There's an interesting idea that
occured to me now, that I would like to test in the field. I have attended recently a peyote meeting. It
was a gathering, which I just took water to them. I didn't participate. I just went there to watch, to
observe. Because I have this I have arrived to the conclusion that the consensus the agreement that
he gave me, that I narrated in this book, a private agreement, special between the teacher and the
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student, but something else takes place. There's a collective agreement, a whole bunch of people
agree upon things which cannot be seen, ordinarily. But I was thought that this agreement consisted
in cueing the others. Therefore, there must be a leader I thought that could cue, you know, by
twisting the eye, you know, something like that, you know, twist of the fingers, and therefore, they all
say that they have agreed. Because one gives the cue. They believe that for instance in the matter
of peyote, anybody who intakes peyote hears a buzzing in the ears. However the Indians believe
that there a seventeen types of buzzing. And each one then will then respond to a precise nature of
the visitation. The deity Mescalito, comes in a specific way. And it announces it, by buzzing. There
must be an agreement among them a) ten people as to what buzzing is it in the first place and then
the nature of it. How is the lesson going to be? Is it going to a ferocious lesson, very dramatic, very
mild, amenable, depends on what is the, uh, I suppose the mood of the deity. That, I thought this
agreement was accomplished by means of a code. So I went I asked don Juan to I could drive
them, I took my car and drove a whole bunch of people. I made myself available in that form. And
then I could serve, I said, you know, bringing water to them. So I watched. And I couldn't detect any
code, at all. However in my effort to watch, I got involved, very deeply involved, and at that moment,
I flipped. I walked into this experience, I had taken peyote, which I didn't. This is my stand, O.K.? I
think what they do, is they hold judgement. They drop this set. And their capable of gaining the
phenomena in a different level. Their capable of viewing it, in a level from what I do ordinarily, the
way I do it ordinarily. So if I drop this set, whatever it is that is interfering, intermediate, the
intermediate set between the phenomena and me, I arrive to this area of special agreement.
Therefore, it's very simple to them to arrive to that. I thought that experience in distorted a whole
series of days, five or six days in which they intake peyote. I thought the last day was the only day in
which they agree. But they agree every day. I don't know. I have to go and find out. I know that it's
possible to hold judgement.
JH: That girl asked you a question about fear, vanquishing fear entirely. At any, as I read it, or
understand I, as I mean, as far as fear is no longer your enemy, doesn't mean you don't have it
anymore. Because he said the man-of-knowledge goes to knowledge, and this could be anywhere
along the line even after you vanquished fear. Would fear, respect, wide-awake and the four things,
so fear is no longer your enemy, isn't that true?
CC: No, maybe, maybe, though perhaps we are afraid only because are judging. That's another
possibility. Once we drop the prejudgment, what's there to fear? At the moment, like uh he used to
cure years ago, that's before I met him. Today, he's not interested anymore in curing or bewitching.
He says that he's beyond company or solitude. So, he just exists . . . he lives in central Mexico.
JH: What does he do with his time?
CC: Maybe he flies . . . I don't know. I really don't know. I feel, I always feel, I projected him, and I
say, poor little old man, what does he do with his time? But that's me, you see, I, poor little old man,
what do I do with my time? But that's a different set, you see, he has a different system, completely.
JH: You smoked mushrooms in the state of Oaxaca. I'm wondering what the names of those
mushrooms.
CC: The mushrooms belong to the psilocybe family. I'm sure of that. And they grow in central
Mexico. Then you make a journey to central Mexico. You collect them and then you take them to
wherever you live. And wait for a year, before they are useable. They spend a year inside of a
gourd. And they are utilized.
JH: Were these the ones where they from Oaxaca.?
CC: Their from central Mexico, that area, yeah, Oaxaca. They are fourteen species of psilocybe.
JH: Could you tell us about the need and nature for secrecy and mystical teachings such as don
Juans?
CC: I don't know. He feels that in order to return from one of the trips, in quotes, you had to have a
great degree of help and knowledge, without which you don't return. Maybe he's right, maybe he's
right, maybe you need, the not so much the encouragement of the friendly man telling you
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everything's O.K. Joe, don't do it. More than that. Maybe you need another type of knowledge, that
would render the experience utilizable, meaningful. And that cracks your mind, that really busts you.
JH: Do you discourage someone from using these drugs?
CC: I do, I do. I don't think they should. Because, perhaps they would get to know more about it.
Otherwise, they become spearheads. And spearheads burn, period.
JH: Do you know what the psychoactive substances in datura?
CC: Atropine, And hyoscyamine. And there are two more substances, something like somebody
called Scopolamine, but nobody knows what scopolamine was. It's very toxic, terribly toxic. Very,
very harmful plant in that sense. Strychnine? Strychnine, peyote contains eight types of strychnine.
JH: Were there other men of knowledge considered to be like don Juan?
CC: Yes, Don Juan likes to think that his predilection is talking. He likes to talk. There are other
men who has another type of predilection. There is a man who gives lessons in waterfalls. His
predilection is balance and movement. And the other one I know dances, and he accomplishes the
same thing.
JH: What about mushrooms in your book?
CC: There are no hallucinogenic mushrooms. Muscaria that's not in old world though.
JH: Yeah, yeah.... Datura is growing all over Berkeley.
CC: Well, it's a plant that grows anywhere, in the United States. The intake of Datura produces a
terrible inflamation of the proxic glands. It's not desirable to use it. So uh, it's a very toxic plant.
JH: It happened to you?
CC: No, no after its prepared, it loses its toxicity. The American Indians I think learned a great deal
in manipulating plants. And how they learned, perhaps like don Juan said you could arrive to a direct
knowledge of complex procedures directly via tapping whatever you tap.
JH: What do you see any meaning in terms of good and bad or good and evil or . . . ?
CC: No, I don't know. They interpreted in any way, again as a state of special ordinary reality. He
again I think manipulated me and uh, or perhaps it is possible to see colours. I have a friend who
reported though to me that to me he saw magenta, he says. That was the only thing he say, he tried
to do this at night, and uh, he was capable of arriving to this distortion of colours, whatever.
JH: One thing I noticed about reading the book, all these experiences take place at night.
CC: No, I think the night is very friendly, very amenable. It's warmer, for some reason. And the
darkness is a covering, it's like a blanket. Very nice. On the other hand, the daytime is very active,
it's too busy. It's not conducive to feeling for anything like that. I like the night, I don't know why,
maybe I'm owl, something like that. I like very much, it's very amenable to me. I turn the lights in my
house off all the time. I feel very funny, for some reason, it's very comfortable, it's dark, and very
restless when there's much light.
JH: Could you tell more about Mescalito? Like what, what, how?
CC: First, of all the American Indians have a god not called Mescalito, it's called something else . .
. They have different names, yes. Mescalito is a circumlocution, that he uses, like to say, little Joe,
little Billy. Circumlocution is to mean William.
JH: Is he one of, one god, or is like a thousand million gods?
CC: That's power, it's a teacher. It's a teacher that lives outside of yourself. You never mention it by
name. Because the name that he gives you is personal. Therefore, you use the name peyetero.
Because peyetero means something else. It's not applicable to that. It's a word that's been used by
Spaniards. Peyetero is a state, very much like datura, in the Mexican, Spanish use in Mexico.
Datura is called toloache. Toloache is a people say toloache is a state of knowledge, related to the
datura. It's not the plant, it's a state of knowledge. Ololiuhqui, Saghun, the Spanish priest was very
concerned with. And people have identified it as the seeds of the Morning Glory. But that belongs to
the datura also. But again it's a state, state of knowledge.
JH: Does don Juan or any of the other brujos have any difficulty with the Church, because of his . .
.
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CC: Well, I suppose they do. They couldn't care less one way or the other. They are capable of
short-circuiting the works of the dominant society. Which is very, very appealing to me, at least, to
be able to short circuit them and render them meaningless, and useless, and harmless. You see,
don Juan is not trying to fight anybody, therefore nobody with him. He's very capable, he's a hunter.
He's a hunter, he's a capable man, he does everything himself.
JH: He hunts animals for food?
CC: Many ways, metaphorically, and um, in a literally way. He hunts in his own way. He's a warrior,
meaning he's alert on his toes consistently. He never lets anything beyond, by him. There's a great
argument that I have with his grandson. His grandson says my grandfather is feeble minded. I said
you know perhaps you're wrong. Do you think you could sneak up on him? And the young guy,
Fernando, no, my grandfather, you cannot sneak on the grandfather, he's a brujo. It's absurd, you
know, how could you that he's feeble minded and then you said that you could not sneak up on him.
That's the idea, you see, he maintains everybody, under this this sort of control. He never lets me
out of his sight. I'm always within his view. And its an automatic process, unconscious. He's not
aware of it, but I'm always there, at all times. He's very alert. He's not isolated man. He's a hunter, a
warrior. His life is a game of strategy. He's capable of rounding up his armies, and using them in a
most efficient way. The most efficacious way. He's not a guy who cuts corners. But his great motto
is efficacious. And that's totally opposed to my motto. My motto is waste, like all us, unfortunately.
You see, I get caught in tremendous upheavals of meaning. And things split me. I begin to whine.
You know, why, why, how did it happen to me? But if I could be able to live like don Juan, I could set
up my life in way of strategy, set my armies strategically. Like he says, then if you lose, all you lose
is a battle. That's all. You're very happy at that. But not with me, because if I lose they took me, they
raped me, I've been taken, in my furor. You know, no end to my fury. Because I was not prepared
for it. But what would happen if I was prepared? Then I was just defeated, and defeat is not so bad.
But to be raped, that's terrible, that's horrendous, and that's what we all do. By one, we are raped by
cigarettes. We can't stop smoking, ah, you know, people are raped by food, they can't stop eating. I
have my own quirks, I get raped by certain things, I cannot mention them. Weak and feeble, and
helpless. Don Juan thinks that and feels that it's an indulgence, and he cannot afford to. And he's
not indulgent at all. He does not indulge, and yet his life is very harmonious. Terribly funny, and
great. And I pondered, how in the devil can he do it? And I thinks it's by cutting his indulgence to
nothing. And yet he lives very well. He doesn't deny himself anything, there's the trick. That's the
funny trick. Its a normal semantic manipulation. Like he says, since he was six years old, he likes
girls. He says that the reason why he likes girls, because when he was young he took one with
datura, with the lizards, and the lizards bit him nearly to death. And he was sick for three months. He
was in a coma for weeks and then his teacher told him not to worry about it, because from then on,
he was going to be virile until the day he died. He says the lizards do that. You know, they bit you
too hard, you become very virile. So I asked him, "how could I get a couple of bites?" He said, "you
would need more than a couple of bites." He's not frugal in sense of denial, but he doesn't indulge.
Maybe that doesn't make sense.
JH: Could you tell me more about the Yaquis?
CC: The Yaquis? The Yaquis are Christians, Catholics, nominal Catholics. They allowed the
Catholic missionaries to come in 1773, voluntarily. And after 80 years of colonization, they killed all
the missionaries. And no missionaries has ever come. They involved themselves in this war against
the Mexicans. After the independence of Mexico. The Yaquis have been in war with the Mexican
army for 100 years, of solid war. Solid. They raided the Mexican towns, they killed them. And finally,
in 1908, at the beginning of the century, Mexico decided to put an end to this nonsense. They
rounded them up, sending huge troops, armies, round up the Indians put them in trains in boats and
ship them to the south, to Oaxaca, Veracruz and Yucatan, dispersed them completely and that was
only the way to stop them. And then in 1940, after the war, he says, masses of people in Mexico
being the avant garde of democracy of Latin America, they couldn't stand the things that they did to
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the Yaquis. So they rounded the Yaquis again, brought them back, they are again in Sonora now.
They are seasoned warriors, they are very, very, very aggressive people. It is inconceivable that don
Juan could enter into that society. It's a closed circuit. It's very aggressive. They wouldn't trust me,
because I'm an Mexican. They see me as a Mexican. They would trust an American, much much
better, much easier. They hate Mexicans, they call them the Yoris. Which means pigs, something
like that. Because they have been so oppressed . . .
JH: Do you know about don Juan as brujo or don Juan as diablero?
CC: It's the same thing. A brujo is a diablero, those are two Spanish words, to denominate to
design, they signify the same thing. Don Juan does not want to use that because it connotes a
sense of evilness. So he uses the word man-of-knowledge, it's a Mazatec term. I concluded that
whatever he learned from a Mazatec, because man-of-knowledge is one who knows. And one who
knows is a Mazatec term. A brujo, a sorcerer, is one who knows. I hope that I arrive to that. I doubt
very much that my makeup is one that is required to make a man-of-knowledge. I don't think I have
the backbone.
JH: Well, Does don Juan agree with that?
CC: No, he never told me that, you know. He thinks that I have a very bad probably frank. I do
think because I get get bored, which is pretty bad, terrible, suicidal nearly. Presented me the
example of a man who was courageous. He found a woodcarver, who was very interested to in the
idea of taking peyote. Don Juan took me to Sonora as a show, so he could convince his grandson
that is was very desirable to take peyote. That it would change his life. His grandson is very
handsome chap, terribly handsome. He wants to be a movie star. He wants me to bring him to
Hollywood. And he always asks me, his name is Fernando, he always asks me, do you think I'm
handsome Carlos? You're really handsome. And then he says, do you think I could work in the
movies as a chief in a cowboy movie or something? He would, he would be a magnificent chief. He
wants me to take him to Hollywood. He says just take me to the door, and leave me there. I never
had the opportunity of bringing him to the door. But uh, however don Juan has the intention to turn
his grandson to the use of peyote. And he failed everytime. And he took me one day as a show, and
I told them my experiences, there were eight Indians and their listening. They said it, peyote causes
madness, causes insanity. Don Juan says,"but that's not true, if that would be so, look at Carlos, he
isn't mad." They said, maybe he should be.
JH: Do you think you could have found the level of understanding that you found now, by intaking
the drugs without don Juan?
CC: No, I am very emphatic about that. I would be lost. I just talked to Timothy Leary. And he
flipped. I'm sorry, that's my personal feeling. He cannot concentrate, and that's absurd.
JH: Is that the difference between he and Don Juan?
CC: Don Juan can concentrate.That's it. He could pinpoint things. He could exhaustively laugh at
things, and kick one subject until its death. I don't know why, its very amenable to do that. He has a
sense of humor. What he lacks is the tragedy of a western man. We're tragic figures. We're sublime
beings ... grovelling in mud. Don Juan is not. He's a sublime being. He told me himself, I had a great
discussion with him once about dignity. And I said I that I have dignity and if I'm going to live without
dignity, I'll blow my head off. I mean it. I don't how I mean it, but I do mean it. He said, that's
nonsense, I don't understand about dignity, I have no dignity, I am an Indian, I have only life. But
that's his stand. And I argue with him, I said listen, please I want so desperately, to understand,
what I mean by dignity, what happened to the Indians when the Spaniards came? They actually
forced them to live a life that had no dignity. They forced them to take the path that had no heart.
And then he said, that's not true. The Spaniards rounded up the Indians who had dignity. Only the
Indians that had already dignity. Maybe he's right. They never rounded him up. I told don Juan when
I met him, his guy who introduced me, said my name is so and so. In Spanish my name is spider,
Charley Spider. If I told him my name is Charley Spider. He'd crack up. We kidded around. After
that, I found that was my golden opportunity to make my entry. And I said, "listen, I understand that
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you know a great deal about peyote. I do too, I know a great deal about peyote, maybe to our
mutual benefit we could get together and talk about." That was my presentation, I mean, my formal
presentation, I used it over and over. And he looked at me, in a very funny way, I cannot portray. But
I knew at that moment, that he knew I didn't know anything. I was just throwing the bull, you know,
completely bluffing him. That's what bothered me very much, I never been looked at in that way,
ever. That was enough for me to be very interested to go and see him. Nobody ever looked at me
that way.
JH: The guidance of a teacher. What about people that don't have a person like don Juan?
CC: That's the real problem. I think, it's an untenable position. I placed myself in that position, by
myself, an untenable position. I wouldn't know. It's like uh.... when I went to see him, um for
instance, when the book came out, I took it to him, and I got a book, and pretended that it was the
first book that ever came out of the presses, you know, and I wanted to take it to don Juan. Maybe it
was the first book, I don't know, perhaps it was. I wanted to believe that it was, anyway, and I took it
to him, I gave it it was very difficult to reach him in the first place, because he was way up in the
central part of Mexico I had to wait for a couple of days. And then finally he came down to town and
I gave him the book. I said, "don Juan look I finished a book," and he looked said, "very nice," he
said, "a nice book", and in a state of passion I said , "I want you to have it want you to keep, I want
you to have it." He said, "what can I do with a book," "you know what we do with paper in Mexico."
Copyright 1992 ElectroPrint Graphics, Inc.

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KPFA Radio Interview - 1968
Radio interview with Carlos Castaneda - 1968 "Don Juan: The Sorcerer"
Interviewer: For six years from 1960-66 Carlos Castaneda served as an apprentice to a Yaqui
Indian brujo, or sorcerer named don Juan. During those years, Mr. Castaneda was a graduate
student in Anthropology at UCLA. His experiences with don Juan lead him into a strange world of
shamanistic lore and psychedelic experience and adventures in what Mr. Castaneda calls states of
non ordinary reality, some of which were frightening in the extreme, and all of which are fascinating
in the extreme. His experiences with don Juan are recounted in a book which has been published
this year by the University of California Press called "The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of
Knowledge". Mr. Castaneda is with us here at KPFA today and has agreed to discuss the book and
his experiences with don Juan. Let me begin by asking you how you managed to meet this
remarkable personality, don Juan, and can you give us some idea what sort of a person he is?
CC: I met don Juan in a rather fortuitous manner. I was doing, at the time in 1960, I was doing, I
was collecting ethnographic data on the use of medicinal plants among the Arizona Indians. And a
friend of mine who was my guide on that enterprise knew about don Juan. He knew that don Juan
was a very learned man in the use of plants and he intended to introduce me to him, but he never
got around to do that. One day when I was about to return to Los Angeles, we happened to see him
at a bus station, and my friend went over to talk to him. Then he introduced me to the man and I
began to tell him that my interests was plants, and that, especially about peyote, because somebody
had told me that this old man was very learned in the use of peyote. And we talked for about 15
minutes while he was waiting for his bus, or rather I did all the talking and he didn't say anything at
all. He kept on staring at me from time to time and that made me very uncomfortable because I
didn't know anything about peyote, and he seemed to have seen through me. After about 15
minutes he got up and said that perhaps I could come to his house sometime where we could talk
with more ease, and he just left. And I thought that the attempt to meet him was a failure because I
didn't get anything out of him. And my friend thought that it was very common to get a reaction like
that from the old man because he was very eccentric. But I returned again perhaps a month later
and I began to search for him. I didn't know where he lived, but I found out later where his house
was and I came to see him. He, at first, you know, I approached him as a friend. I liked, for some
reason, I liked the way he looked at me at the bus depot. There was something very peculiar about
the way he stares at people. And he doesn't stare, usually he doesn't look at anybody straight in the
eye, but sometimes he does that and it's very remarkable. And it was more that stare which made
me go to see him than my interest in anthropological work. So I came various times and we
developed a sort of friendship. He has a great sense of humor and that eased the things up.
Q: About how old a man was he when you met him?
CC: Oh he was in his late 60's, 69, or something like that.
Q: Now, you identify him in the book as a brujo. Can you give us some idea of what this means
and to what extent don Juan is connected, if at all, with some sort of an ethnic background, a tribal
background or is he pretty much of a lone wolf?
CC: The word brujos, the Spanish conception, it could be translated in various ways, in English
could render a sorcerer, witch, medicine man or herbalist or curer, and, of course, the technical
word shaman. Don Juan does not relate, or does not define himself in any of those ways. He thinks
of himself, perhaps he is a man of knowledge.
Q: That's the term he uses, man of knowledge?
CC: He uses man of knowledge or one who knows. He uses that interchangeably. In as far as his
tribal allegiances, I think he, don Juan, is very much, I think his emotional ties are with the Yaquis of
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Sonora since his father was a Yaqui from one of the towns in Sonora, one of the Yaqui towns. But
his mother was from Arizona. Thus he has sort of a divided origin which makes him very much a
marginal man. At the present he has family in Sonora, but he doesn't live there. He lives there part
of the time, perhaps I should say.
Q: Does he have any formal livelihood? How does he earn his way in the world?
CC: I wouldn't be able to, to, to discuss that, rather I don't think that I could at the moment.
Q: One point I'd like to clear up - it's something that I wondered about as I read the book. The book
consisted in large part of recordings of your own experiences in using the herbs and mushrooms
and so on that don Juan introduced you to, and long conversations with don Juan. How were you
able, just as a technical problem, how were you able to keep track of your experiences over such a
long period of time. How were you able to record all of this?
CC: It seems difficult, but since one of the items of the learning process of recapitulation of
whatever you experience, in order to remember everything that happened, I had to make mental
notes of all the steps, of all the things that I saw, all the events that occurred during the states of,
let's say, expanded consciousness or whatever. And then it was easy to translate them into writing
after, because I had them all meticulously filed, sort of, in my mind. That's as the experience itself
goes, but then the questions and answers I simply wrote them down.
Q: You were able to take notes while you were....
CC: Not at the very beginning of our relationship I never took any notes. I took notes in the covert
manner. I had a pad of paper inside my pockets, you know, big pockets on my jacket. I used to write
inside my pockets. It's a technique ethnographers use sometimes that they convert notes and then,
of course. you have to work very hard to decipher the way they're written. But it has to be done very
quickly, very fast. As soon as you have time; you cannot postpone anything. You cannot let it go for
the next day, cause you lose everything. Since I think I work compulsively, I was capable of writing
down everything that took place very, very shortly after the events themselves.
Q: I must say that many of the dialogues are extremely fascinating documents. Don Juan, as you
record his remarks has a certain amount of eloquence and imagination.
CC: Well one thing, he's very artful with usual words and he thinks of himself as a talker, although
he doesn't like to talk. But he thinks that talking is his predilection, as other men of knowledge have
all the predilections like movement, balance. His is talking. That is my good fortune to find a man
that would have the same predilection that I have.
Q: Now, one of the things that's most impressive about the book is the remarkable chances that
you seem to have taken under don Juan's tutelage; that is, he introduced you to various chemicals,
substances, some of which, clearly I suppose could have been fatal if they had not been used
carefully. How did you manage to work up sufficient trust in this man to down all of the concoctions
that he put before you?
CC: The way the books present it seems to heighten some dramatic sequences, which is, I'm
afraid, not true real life. There are enormous gaps in between in which ordinary things took place,
that are not included. I didn't include in the book because they did not pertain to the system I wanted
to portray, so I just simply took them away, you see. And that means that the gaps between those
very height states, you know, whatever, says that I remove things that are continuous crescendos,
in kind of sequence leading to a very dramatic solution. But in real life it was a very simple matter
because it took years in between, months pass in between them, and in the meantime we did all
kinds of things. We even went hunting. He told me how to trap things, set traps, very old, old ways
of setting a trap, and how to catch rattlesnakes. He told me how to prepare rattlesnakes, in fact. And
so that eases up, you see, the distrust or the fear.
Q: I see. So there was a chance for you to build up a tremendous amount of confidence in this
man.
CC: Yes, we spent a lot of time together. He never told me what he was gonna do, anyways. By the
time I realized, I was already too deep into to turn back.
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Q: Now, the heart of the book, at least as far as my reading was concerned, certainly the most
fascinating part of the book, has to do with your experiences with what you term non-ordinary reality,
and many of these experiences as you recount them have a great deal of cogency to them; that is,
they are experiences that seem to come very close to demonstrating the validity of practices like
divination, and then on the other hand you have experiences that, at the time, seemed to have been
tremendously vivid experiences of flight and of being transformed into various animal forms, and
often you suggest a sense of some ultimate revelation taking place. What sense do you make of
these experiences now as you look back on them all? What seems to have been valid about them
and how was don Juan, do you feel, seem able to control or predict what these experiences would
be?
CC: Well, in as far as making sense out of them, I think as an anthropologist, I think, the way I had
done it, I could use them as grounds for, say, set up a problem in anthropology, but that doesn't
mean that I understand them or use them in any way. I could just employ them to construct a
system, perhaps. But if I will view them from the point of view of a non-European man, maybe
shaman or perhaps a Yaqui, I think the experiences are, they are designed to produce the
knowledge that reality of consensus is only a very small segment of the total range of what we could
feel as real. If we could learn to code reality or stimuli the way a shaman does, perhaps we could
elongate our range of what we call real.
Q: What do you mean by that, how does a shaman like don Juan code stimuli?
CC: For instance, in the idea that a man could actually turn into a cricket or a mountain lion or a
bird, is to me, this is my personal conclusion, it's a way of intaking a stimuli and readapting it. I
suppose the stimuli is there, anybody who would take a hallucinogenic plant or a chemical produced
in a laboratory, I think will experience more or less the same distortion. We call it distortion of reality.
But the shamans, I think, have learned through usage in thousands of years, perhaps, of practice,
they have learned to reclassify the stimuli encoded in a different way. The only way we have to code
it is as hallucination, madness. That's our system of codification. We cannot conceive that one could
turn into a crow, for instance.
Q: This was your experience under don Juan's tutelage?
CC: Yes. As a European I refuse to believe that one could do it, you see. But...
Q: But it was a tremendously vivid experience when you had it...
CC: Well it was hard to say, it was real, that's my only way of describing it. But now you see the
things over, if I would be allowed to analyze it, I think, you know, what he was trying to do was to
teach me another way of coding reality, another way of putting it into a propitious frame that could
turn into a different interpretation.
Q: I thought the passage in the book where these very different orientations toward reality that you
had, and don Juan had, the point at which it came through most clearly to me, was the point in
which you question him about your own experience of apparent flight. And you finally came around
to asking if you had been chained to a rock, would don Juan feel that you still had flown, and his
answer was, in that case you would have flown with the chain and the rock.
CC: He alludes, you know, that, I think what he means, what he meant to say is that one never
really changes. As a European my mind is set, my cognitive units are set, in a sense. I would admit
only a total change. For me to change would mean that a person mutates totally into a bird, and
that's the only way I could understand it. But I think what he means is something else, something
much more sophisticated than that. My system's very rudimentary, you see, it lacks the
sophistication that don Juan has, but I cannot pinpoint actually what he means like, things like what
he means that one never changes really, there's something else, another process is taking place.
Q: Yes, it is difficult to focus on this. I think I remember don Juan's line was, you flew as a man
flies. But he insisted that you flew.
CC: Yes.
Q: There's another remarkable statement he makes. It is in a discussion of the reality of the
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episode. He says, that is all there is in reality, what you felt.
CC: Uh-huh. Yea, he, don Juan's a very sophisticated thinker, really, it's not easy to come to grips
with him. You see, I had tried various times to wrestle with him intellectually and he always comes
the victor, you know. He's very artful. He posed once the idea to me that the whole, the totality of the
universe is just perception. It's how we perceive things. And there are no facts, only interpretations.
And those are nearly, I'm merely paraphrasing him as close as I can. And perhaps he's right, the
facts are nothing else but interpretations that our brain makes of stimuli. So that such whatever I felt
was, of course, the important thing.
Q: Now, one of the aspects of what we normally call reality that seems most important to us is that
of coherence or consistency from experience to experience, and I was impressed by the fact that
the experiences you had under peyote seemed to have in your recordings a remarkable coherence
from experience to experience. I'd like to question you about this. There is an image that appeared
in the experiences which you called mescalito. And it seems as if this image appears again and
again with great consistency, that the general sense of the experience, the sound of it, the feel of it,
is very much the same from time to time. Am I accurate in saying that?
CC: Yes, very, very much.
Q: Well, how do you make sense of that fact?
CC: Well, I'd, its the, I'd have two interpretations. Mine being it's the product of the indoctrination I
went through, those long periods of discussions, where instruction was given.
Q: Did don Juan every tell you how mescalito was to look?
CC: No, no not that level. Once I constructed, I think, the composite in my mind, the idea that it
was a homogenous and totally a protector and a very sturdy deity, may have held me to maintain
that, that mental composite, or perhaps the deity exists outside of ourselves as he says. Completely
outside of me, as a man, as a feeler, and all it does is manifest itself.
Q: Now, I thought your description of this image, of mescalito, was very vivid and very impressive.
Do you think you could possibly, just to draw out one aspect of the book, describe what this figure
seemed like to you?
CC: It was truly an anthropomorphic composite as you say. It was not truly a man, but it looked like
a cricket, and it was very large, perhaps larger than a man. It looked somehow like the surface of a
cactus, the peyote cactus. And that was the top looked like a pointed head, but it had human
features in the sense of eyes and a face. But it was not quite human either. It was something
different about it and the movements, of course, were quite extraordinary because it hopped.
Q: Now, when you described this experience to don Juan, how did he deal with it, was this the right
image.
CC: No, no. He didn't care at all about my description of the form. He's not interested at all. I never
told him what the form, he discarded it all. I wrote it down because it was quite remarkable for me as
the man who experienced it. It was just extraordinary. It was truly a shocking experience. And as I
recalled everything that I experienced, but insofar as telling him, he didn't want to hear about it. He
said that it was unimportant. All he want to hear was whether I had, how close he let me come in
this anthropomorphic composite at the time I saw it, you know, let me come very close and nearly
touch him. And that, in don Juan's system, I suppose, was a very good turn. And he was interested
in knowing whether I was frightened or not. And I was very frightened. But insofar as the form, he
never made any comment, or he didn't even show any interest in it.
Q: I'd like to ask about one particular set of experiences. We don't have to go into them in detail
here. I think we might simply tempt the listeners to look at the book, and read the actual details of
the experiences. But, your final experience with don Juan is one of extreme fearfulness. Why do you
think he lead you into this final situation, at least final in your relationship with him in which, I mean,
he very literally just scared the hell out of you. What was the purpose of that. It seemed almost as
you record it, it seemed at points almost deliberate cruelty. What do you think he was up to when he
did that?
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CC: When he had previous to that last incident, or right before it, he taught me some position that
it's proper of shamans to adopt at moments of great crises, the time of their death, perhaps. It's a
form that they would adopt. And it's something that they would use, it's a sort of validation, a
signature, or to prove that they have been men. Before they die they will face their death and do this
dancing. And then they will yell at death and die. And I asked don Juan what could be important,
you know, since we all have to die, what difference does it make whether we dance or we cry or
scream or yell or run, and he felt that the question was very stupid because by having a form a man
could validate his existence, he could really reaffirm that he was a man, because essentially that's
all we have. The rest is unimportant. And at the very last moment, you see, the only thing that a man
could do was to reassert that he was a man. So he taught me this form and in the course of the
event, this very frightening set of circumstances, or actions, I was forced nearly to exercise this form
and use it. It brought a great amount of vigor to me. And the event ended up there, "successfully". I
was successful. And perhaps staying away from death, or something like. The next day, the next
night he took me into the bushes, and what I was gonna do was, he was gonna teach me how to
perfect this form, I thought was neat. And in the course of teaching me, I found myself alone. And
that's when the horrendous fear attacked me really. I think what he had in mind was for me to use
this form, this position, this posture that he had taught me. And he deliberately scared me, I
suppose, in order for me to test that. And that was my failure, of course, cause I really succumbed to
fear instead of standing and facing my death, as I was supposed to as a, let's say apprentice of this
way of knowledge, I became a thorough European man and I succumbed to fear.
Q: How did things actually end then between you and don Juan?
CC: They ended that night I think, you know, I suffer a total ego collapse because the fear was just
too great for my resources. And it took hours to pull me back. And it seems that we came to an
impasse where I never talk ever again about his knowledge. That's almost 3 years ago, over 3 years
ago.
Q: You feel then he had finally lead you up to an experience that was beyond your capacity to
grapple with?
CC: I think so. I exhausted my resources and I couldn't go beyond that and its coherent with the
American Indian idea that knowledge is power. See you cannot play around with it. Every new step,
you see, is a trial and you have to prove that you're capable of going beyond that. So that was my
end.
Q: Yes, and over the 6 year period don Juan lead you through a great number of terribly trying and
difficult experiences.
CC: Yes, I should say, I would. But he does nothing that I haven't, that I finished, I don't know, by
some strange reason he has never acted as though I'm through. He always thinks that this is a
period of clarification.
Q: Did he ever make it really clear to you what it was about you that lead him to select you for this
vigorous process.
CC: Well, he guides his acts by indications, by omens, if he sees something that is extraordinary,
some event that he cannot incorporate into his, possibly his categorization scheme, if it doesn't fit in
it, he calls it a portentous event or an extraordinary event and he considers that to be an omen.
When I first took that cactus, the peyote, I play with a dog. It was very remarkable experience in
which this dog and I understood each other very well. And that was interpreted by don Juan as an
omen, that the deity, mescalito, peyote, had played with me, which was an event that he had never
witnessed in his life. Nobody has ever, in his knowledge, nobody has ever played with the deity, he
told me. That was extraordinary, and something was pointing me out, and he interpreted it as I was
the right person to transmit his knowledge, or part it or whatever.
Q: Well, now after spending six years in apprenticeship to don Juan, what, may I ask, what
difference this great adventure has made to you personally?
CC: Well it has, certainly has given me a different outlook in life. It's enlarged my sense of how
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important today is, I suppose. I think, you know, I have, I'm the product of my socialization, I, like
any other person of the western world, I live very much for tomorrow, all my life. I sort of save myself
up for a great future, something of that order. And it's only, it was only, with the, of course, with the
terrible impact of don Juan's teaching that I came to realize how important it is to be here, now. And
it renders the idea of entering into states of what I call non ordinary reality instead of disrupting the
states of ordinary reality, they render them very meaningful. I didn't suffer any disruption or any
disillusion of what goes on today. I don't think its a farce. While I'll say I tended to think that it was a
farce before. I thought that I was disillusioned as I was an artist to do some work in art, and I felt,
you know, that something was missing with my time, something is wrong. But as I see it, you know,
nothing is wrong. Today I can't conceive what's wrong anymore. Cause it was vague to begin with, I
never thought exactly what was wrong. But I alluded that there was a great area that was better than
today. And I think that has been dispelled completely.
Q: I see. Do you have any plans of ever seeking out don Juan again?
CC: No, I see him as a friend. I see him all the time.
Q: Oh, you still do see him?
CC: Yes I do. I'm with him, I have been with him lots of times since the last experience that I write
in the book. But as far as seeking his teachings, I don't think I would. I sincerely think that I don't
have the mechanics.
Q: One final question: you make a heroic effort in the book to make sense of don Juan's world
view. Do you have any idea of whether don Juan took any interest or takes any interest in your
world, the one you're calling that of a European man?
CC: Well, no I think he's versed, don Juan's very versed in what we, the Europeans, stand for. He's
not handicapped, in that sense, he makes use, he's a warrior and he makes use of his, he sets his
life as in a strategic game, he makes use of everything that he can, he's very versed in that. My
effort to make sense of his world is, it's my own way of, let's say, paying back to him for this grand
opportunity. I think if I don't make the effort to render his world as coherent phenomena, he'll go by
the way he has for hundreds of years, as nonsensical activity, when it is not nonsensical, it's not
fraudulent, it's a very serious endeavor.
Q: Yes. Well the outcome of your experiences with don Juan is a really fascinating book and, after
reading it myself, I can certainly recommend it to the Pacific audience. It is an adventure in a very
different world than we ordinarily live in. I'd like to thank you, Mr. Castaneda, for making this time
available to talk about the book and about your adventures. This is Theodore Rosack.
CC: Thank you.
This interview was transcribed from a tape produced by Audio-Forum for their "Sound Seminars"
series of interview tapes, Jeffrey Norton Publications, Inc. You may order this tape from Audio-
Forum, Suite L9, 96 Broad Street, Guilford, CT, 06437. Phone: 1-800-243-1234.
Copyright Audio-Forum.
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Psychology Today - 1972
Castaneda Interview:
Source: Seeing Castaneda (1976). Reprinted from Psychology Today, 1972.
Sam Keen: As I followed don Juan through your three books, I suspected, at times, that he was
the creation of Carlos Castaneda. He is almost to good to be true--a wise old Indian whose
knowledge of human nature is superior to almost everybody's.
Carlos Castaneda: The idea that I concocted a person like don Juan is inconceivable. He is hardly
the kind of figure my European intellectual tradition would have led me to invent. The truth is much
stranger. I wasn't even prepared to make the changes in my life that my association with don Juan
involved.
Keen: How and where did you meet don Juan and become his apprentice?
Castaneda: I was finishing my undergraduate study at UCLA and was planning to go to graduate
school in anthropology. I was interested in becoming a professor and thought I might begin in the
proper way by publishing a short paper on medicinal plants. I couldn't have cared less about finding
a weirdo like don Juan. I was in a bus depot in Arizona with a high-school friend of mine. He pointed
out an old Indian man to me and said he knew about peyote and medicinal plants. I put on my best
airs and introduced myself to don Juan and said: "I understand you know a great deal about peyote.
I am one of the experts on peyote (I had read Weston La Barre's The Peyote Cult) and it might be
worth your while to have lunch and talk with me." Well, he just looked at me and my bravado melted.
I was absolutely tongue-tied and numb. I was usually very aggressive and verbal so it was a
momentous affair to be silenced by a look. After that I began to visit him and about a year later he
told me he had decided to pass on to me the knowledge of sorcery he had learned from his teacher.
Keen: Then don Juan is not an isolated phenomenon. Is there a community of sorcerers that
shares a secret knowledge?
Castaneda: Certainly. I know three sorcerers and seven apprentices and there are many more. If
you read the history of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, you will find that the Catholic inquisitors
tried to stamp out sorcery because they considered it the work of the devil. It has been around for
many hundreds of years. Most of the techniques don Juan taught me are very old.
Keen: Some of the techniques that sorcerers use are in wide use in other occult groups. Persons
often use dreams to find lost articles, and they go on out-of-the-body journeys in their sleep. But
when you told how don Juan and his friend don Genero made your car disappear in broad daylight I
could only scratch my head. I know that a hypnotist can create an illusion of the presence or
absence of an object. Do you think you were hypnotized?
Castaneda: Perhaps, something like that. But we have to begin by realizing, as don Juan says,
that there is much more to the world than we usually acknowledge. Our normal expectations about
reality are created by a social consensus. We are taught how to see and understand the world. The
trick of socialization is to convince us that the descriptions we agree upon define the limits of the
real world. What we call reality is only one way of seeing the world, a way that is supported by a
social consensus.
Keen: Then a sorcerer, like a hypnotist, creates an alternative world by building up different
expectations and manipulating cues to produce a social consensus.
Castaneda: Exactly. I have come to understand sorcery in terms of Talcott Parsons' idea of
glosses. A gloss is a total system of perception and language. For instance, this room is a gloss. We
have lumped together a series of isolated perceptions--floor, ceiling, window, lights, rugs, etc.--to
make a totality. But we had to be taught to put the world together in this way. A child reconnoiters
the world with few preconceptions until he is taught to see things in a way that corresponds to the
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descriptions everybody agrees on. The world is an agreement. The system of glossing seems to be
somewhat like walking. We have to learn to walk, but once we learn we are subject to the syntax of
language and the mode of perception it contains.
Keen: So sorcery, like art, teaches a new system of glossing. When, for instance, van Gogh broke
with the artistic tradition and painted "The Starry Night" he was in effect saying: here is a new way of
looking at things. Stars are alive and they whirl around in their energy field.
Castaneda: Partly. But there is a difference. An artist usually just rearranges the old glosses that
are proper to his membership. Membership consists of being an expert in the innuendoes of
meaning that are contained within a culture. For instance, my primary membership like most
educated Western men was in the European intellectual world. You can't break out of one
membership without being introduced into another. You can only rearrange the glosses.
Keen: Was don Juan resocializing you or desocializing you? Was he teaching you a new system of
meanings or only a method of stripping off the old system so that you might see the world as a
wondering child?
Castaneda: Don Juan and I disagree about this. I say he was reglossing me and he says he was
deglossing me. By teaching me sorcery he gave me a new set of glosses, a new language and a
new way of seeing the world. Once I read a bit of the linguistic philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein to
don Juan and he laughed and said: "Your friend Wittgenstein tied the noose too tight around his
neck so he can't go anywhere."
Keen: Wittgenstein is one of the few philosophers who would have understood don Juan. His
notion that there are many different language games--science, politics, poetry, religion,
metaphysics, each with its own syntax and rules--would have allowed him to understand sorcery as
an alternative system of perception and meaning.
Castaneda: But don Juan thinks that what he calls seeing is apprehending the world without any
interpretation; it is pure wondering perception. Sorcery is a means to this end. To break the certainty
that the world is the way you have always been taught you must learn a new description of the world-
-sorcery--and then hold the old and the new together. Then you will see that neither description is
final. At that moment you slip between the descriptions; you stop the world and see. You are left
with wonder; the true wonder of seeing the world without interpretation.
Keen: Do you think it is possible to get beyond interpretation by using psychedelic drugs?
Castaneda: I don't think so. That is my quarrel with people like Timothy Leary. I think he was
improvising from within the European membership and merely rearranging old glosses. I have never
taken LSD, but what I gather from don Juan's teachings is that psychotropics are used to stop the
flow of ordinary interpretations, to enhance the contradictions within the glosses, and to shatter
certainty. But the drugs alone do not allow you to stop the world. To do that you need an alternative
description of the world. That is why don Juan had to teach me sorcery.
Keen: There is an ordinary reality that we Western people are certain is 'the' only world, and then
there is is the separate reality of the sorcerer. What are the essential differences between them?
Castaneda: In European membership the world is built largely from what the eyes report to the
mind. In sorcery the total body is used as a perceptor. As Europeans we see a world out there and
talk to ourselves about it. We are here and the world is there. Our eyes feed our reason and we
have no direct knowledge of things. According to sorcery this burden on the eyes in unnecessary.
We know with the total body.
Keen: Western man begins with the assumption that subject and object are separated. We're
isolated from the world and have to cross some gap to get to it. For don Juan and the tradition of
sorcery, the body is already in the world. We are united with the world, not alienated from it.
Castaneda: That's right. Sorcery has a different theory of embodiment. The problem in sorcery is to
tune and trim your body to make it a good receptor. Europeans deal with their bodies as if they were
objects. We fill them with alcohol, Bad food, and anxiety. When something goes wrong we think
germs have invaded the body from outside and so we import some medicine to cure it. The disease
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is not a part of us. Don Juan doesn't believe that. For him disease is a disharmony between a man
and his world. The body is an awareness and it must be treated impeccably.
Keen: This sounds similar to Norman O. Brown's idea that children, schizophrenics, and those with
the divine madness of the Dionysian consciousness are aware of things and of other persons as
extensions of their bodies. Don Juan suggests something of the kind when he says the man of
knowledge has fibers of light that connect his solar plexus to the world.
Castaneda: My conversation with the coyote is a good illustration of the different theories of
embodiment. When he came up to me I said: "Hi, little coyote. How are you doing?" And he
answered back: "I am doing fine. How about you?" Now, I didn't hear the words in the normal way.
But my body knew the coyote was saying something and I translated it into dialogue. As an
intellectual my relationship to dialogue is so profound that my body automatically translated into
words the feeling that the animal was communicating with me. We always see the unknown in terms
of the known.
Keen: When you are in that magical mode of consciousness in which coyotes speak and
everything is fitting and luminous it seems as if the whole world is alive and that human beings are
in a communion that includes animals and plants. If we drop our arrogant assumptions that we are
the only comprehending and communicating form of life we might find all kinds of things talking to
us. John Lilly talked to dolphins. Perhaps we would feel less alienated if we could believe we were
not the only intelligent life.
Castaneda: We might be able to talk to any animal. For don Juan and the other sorcerers there
wasn't anything unusual about my conversation with the coyote. As a matter of fact they said I
should have gotten a more reliable animal for a friend. Coyotes are tricksters and are not to be
trusted.
Keen: What animals make better friends?
Castaneda: Snakes make stupendous friends?
Keen: I once had a conversation with a snake. One night I dreamt there was a snake in the attic of
a house where I lived when I was a child. I took a stick and tried to kill it. In the morning I told the
dream to a friend and she reminded me that it was not good to kill snakes, even if they were in the
attic in a dream. She suggested that the next time a snake appeared in a dream I should feed it or
do something to befriend it. About an hour later I was driving my motor scooter on a little-used road
and there it was waiting for me--a four foot snake, stretched out sunning itself. I drove alongside it
and it didn't move. After we had looked at each other for a while I decided I should make some
gesture to let him know I repented for killing his brother in my dream. I reached over and touched his
tail. He coiled up and indicated that I had rushed our intimacy. So I backed off and just looked. After
about five minutes he went off into the bushes.
Castaneda: You didn't pick it up?
Keen: No.
Castaneda: It was a very good friend. A man can learn to call snakes. But you have to be in very
good shape, calm, collected--in a friendly mood, with no doubts or pending affairs.
Keen: My snake taught me that I had always had paranoid feelings about nature. I considered
animals and snakes dangerous. After my meeting I could never kill another snake and it began to be
more plausible to me that we might be in some kind of living nexus. Our ecosystem might well
include communication between different forms of life.
Castaneda: Don Juan has a very interesting theory about this. Plants, like animals, always affect
you. He says that if you don't apologize to plants for picking them you are likely to get sick or have
an accident.
Keen: The American Indians had similar beliefs about animals they killed. If you don't thank the
animal for giving up his life so you may live, his spirit may cause you trouble.
Castaneda: We have a commonality with all life. Something is altered every time we deliberately
injure plant life or animal life. We take life in order to live but we must be willing to give up our lives
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without resentment when it is our time. We are so important and take ourselves so seriously that we
forget that the world is a great mystery that will teach us if we listen.
Keen: Perhaps psychotropic drugs momentarily wipe out the isolated ego and allow a mystical
fusion with nature. Most cultures that have retained a sense of communion between man and nature
also have made ceremonial use of psychedelic drugs. Were you using peyote when you talked with
the coyote?
Castaneda: No. Nothing at all.
Keen: Was this experience more intense than similar experiences you had when don Juan gave
you psychotropic plants?
Castaneda: Much more intense. Every time I took psychotropic plants I knew I had taken
something and I could always question the validity of my experience. But when the coyote talked to
me I had no defenses. I couldn't explain it away. I had really stopped the world and, for a short time,
got completely outside my European system of glossing.
Keen: Do you think don Juan lives in this state of awareness most of the time?
Castaneda: Yes. He lives in magical time and occasionally comes into ordinary time. I live in
ordinary time and occasionally dip into magical time.
Keen: Anyone who travels so far from the beaten paths of consensus must be very lonely.
Castaneda: I think so. Don Juan lives in an awesome world and he has left routine people far
behind. Once when I was with don Juan and his friend don Genaro I saw the loneliness they shared
and their sadness at leaving behind the trappings and points of reference of ordinary society. I think
don Juan turns his loneliness into art. He contains and controls his power, the wonder and the
loneliness, and turns them into art. His art is the metaphorical way in which he lives. This is why his
teachings have such a dramatic flavor and unity. He deliberately constructs his life and his manner
of teaching.
Keen: For instance, when don Juan took you out into the hills to hunt animals was he consciously
staging an allegory?
Castaneda: Yes. He had no interest in hunting for sport or to get meat. In the 10 years I have
known him don Juan has killed only four animals to my knowledge, and these only at times when he
saw that their death was a gift to him in the same way his death would one day be a gift to
something. Once we caught a rabbit in a trap we had set and don Juan thought I should kill it
because its time was up. I was desperate because I had the sensation that I was the rabbit. I tried to
free him but couldn't open the trap. So I stomped on the trap and accidentally broke the rabbit's
neck. Don Juan had been trying to teach me that I must assume responsibility for being in this
marvelous world. He leaned over and whispered in my ear: "I told you this rabbit had no more time
to roam in this beautiful desert." He consciously set up the metaphor to teach me about the ways of
a warrior. The warrior is a man who hunts and accumulates personal power. To do this he must
develop patience and will and move deliberately through the world. Don Juan used the dramatic
situation of actual hunting to teach me because he was addressing himself to my body.
Keen: In your most recent book, __Journey to Ixtlan__, you reverse the impression given in your
first books that the use of psychotropic plants was the main method don Juan intended to use in
teaching you about sorcery. How do you now understand the place of psychotropics in his
teachings?
Castaneda: Don Juan used psychotropic plants only in the middle period of my apprenticeship
because I was so stupid, sophisticated and cocky. I held on to my description of the world as if it
were the only truth. Psychotropics created a gap in my system of glosses. They destroyed my
dogmatic certainty. But I paid a tremendous price. When the glue that held my world together was
dissolved, my body was weakened and it took months to recuperate. I was anxious and functioned
at a very low level.
Keen: Does don Juan regularly use psychotropic drugs to stop the world?
Castaneda: No. He can now stop it at will. He told me that for me to try to see without the aid of
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psychotropic plants would be useless. But if I behaved like a warrior and assumed responsibility I
would not need them; they would only weaken my body.
Keen: This must come as quite a shock to many of your admirers. You are something of a patron
saint to the psychedelic revolution.
Castaneda: I do have a following and they have some strange ideas about me. I was walking to a
lecture I was giving at California State, Long Beach the other day and a guy who knew me pointed
me out to a girl and said: "Hey, that is Castaneda." She didn't believe him because she had the idea
that I must be very mystical. A friend has collected some of the stories that circulate about me. The
consensus is that I have mystical feat.
Keen: Mystical feat?
Castaneda: Yes, that I walk barefooted like Jesus and have no callouses. I am supposed to be
stoned most of the time. I have also committed suicide and died in several different places. A
college class of mine almost freaked out when I began to talk about phenomenology and
membership and to explore perception and socialization. They wanted to be told too relax, turn on
and blow their minds. But to me understanding is important.
Keen: Rumors flourish in an information vacuum. We know something about don Juan but too little
about Castaneda.
Castaneda: That is a deliberate part of the life of a warrior, To weasel in and out of different worlds
you have to remain inconspicuous. The more you are known and identified, the more your freedom
is curtailed. When people have definite ideas about who you are and how you will act, then you can't
move. One of the earliest things don Juan taught me was that I must erase my personal history. If
little by little you create a fog around yourself then you will not be taken for granted and you will
have more room for change. That is the reason I avoid tape recordings when I lecture, and
photographs.
Keen: Maybe we can be personal without being historical. You now minimize the importance of the
psychedelic experience connected with your apprenticeship. And you don't seem to go around doing
the kind of tricks you describe as the sorcerer's stock-in-trade. What are the elements of don Juan's
teachings that are important for you? Have you been changed by them?
Castaneda: For me the ideas of being a warrior and a man of knowledge, with the eventual hope
of being able to stop the world and see, have been the most applicable. They have given me peace
and confidence in my ability to control my life. At the time I met don Juan I had very little personal
power. My life had been very erratic. I had come a long way from my birthplace in Brazil. Outwardly I
was aggressive and cocky, but within I was indecisive and unsure of myself. I was always making
excuses for myself. Don Juan once accused me of being a professional child because I was so full
of self-pity. I felt like a leaf in the wind. Like most intellectuals, my back was against the wall. I had
no place to go. I couldn't see any way of life that really excited me. I thought all I could do was make
a mature adjustment to a life of boredom or find ever more complex forms of entertainment such as
the use of psychedelics and pot and sexual adventures. All of this was exaggerated by my habit of
introspection. I was always looking within and talking to myself. The inner dialogue seldom stopped.
Don Juan turned my eyes outward and taught me to accumulate personal power.
I don't think there is any other way to live if one wants to be exuberant.
Keen: He seems to have hooked you with the old philosopher's trick of holding death before your
eyes. I was struck with how classical don Juan's approach was. I heard echoes of Plato's idea that a
philosopher must study death before he can gain any access to the real world and of Martin
Heidegger's definition of man as being-toward-death.
Castaneda: Yes, but don Juan's approach has a strange twist because it comes from the tradition
in sorcery that death is physical presence that can be felt and seen. One of the glosses in sorcery is:
death stands to your left. Death is an impartial judge who will speak truth to you and give you
accurate advice. After all, death is in no hurry. He will get you tomorrow or the next week or in 50
years. It makes no difference to him. The moment you remember you must eventually die you are
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cut down to the right size.
I think I haven't made this idea vivid enough. The gloss--"death to your left"--isn't an intellectual
matter in sorcery; it is perception. When your body is properly tuned to the world and you turn your
eyes to your left, you can witness an extraordinary event, the shadowlike presence of death.
Keen: In the existential tradition, discussions of responsibility usually follow discussion of death.
Castaneda: Then don Juan is a good existentialist. When there is no way of knowing whether I
have one more minute of life. I must live as if this is my last moment. Each act is the warrior's last
battle. So everything must be done impeccably. Nothing can be left pending. This idea has been
very freeing for me. I am here talking to you and I may never return to Los Angeles. But that
wouldn't matter because I took care of everything before I came.
Keen: This world of death and decisiveness is a long way from psychedelic utopias in which the
vision of endless time destroys the tragic quality of choice.
Castaneda: When death stands to your left you must create your world by a series of decisions.
There are no large or small decisions, only decisions that must be made now.
And there is no time for doubts or remorse. If I spend my time regretting what I did yesterday I avoid
the decisions I need to make today.
Keen: How did don Juan teach you to be decisive?
Castaneda: He spoke to my body with his acts. My old way was to leave everything pending and
never to decide anything. To me decisions were ugly. It seemed unfair for a sensitive man to have to
decide. One day don Juan asked me: "Do you think you and I are equals?" I was a university
student and an intellectual and he was an old Indian but I condescended and said: "Of course we
are equals." He said: "I don't think we are. I am a hunter and a warrior and you are a pimp. I am
ready to sum up my life at any moment. Your feeble world of indecision and sadness is not equal to
mine." Well, I was very insulted and would have left but we were in the middle of the wilderness. So
I sat down and got trapped in my own ego involvement. I was going to wait until he decided to go
home. After many hours I saw that don Juan would stay there forever if he had to. Why not? For a
man with no pending business that is his power. I finally realized that this man was not like my father
who would make 20 New Year's resolutions and cancel them all out. Don Juan's decisions were
irrevocable as far as he was concerned. They could be canceled out only by other decisions. So I
went over and touched him and he got up and we went home. The impact of that act was
tremendous. It convinced me that the way of the warrior is an exuberant and powerful way to live.
Keen: It isn't the content of decision that is important so much as the act of being decisive.
Castaneda: That is what don Juan means by having a gesture. A gesture is a deliberate act which
is undertaken for the power that comes from making a decision. For instance, if a warrior found a
snake that was numb and cold, he might struggle to invent a way to take the snake to a warm place
without being bitten. The warrior would make the gesture just for the hell of it. But he would perform
it perfectly.
Keen: There seem to be many parallels between existential philosophy and don Juan's teachings.
What you have said about decision and gesture suggests that don Juan, like Nietzsche or Sartre,
believes that will rather than reason is the most fundamental faculty of man.
Castaneda: I think that is right. Let me speak for myself. What I want to do, and maybe I can
accomplish it, is to take the control away from my reason. My mind has been in control all of my life
and it would kill me rather than relinquish control. At one point in my apprenticeship I became
profoundly depressed. I was overwhelmed with terror and gloom and thoughts about suicide. Then
don Juan warned me this was one of reason's tricks to retain control. He said my reason was
making my body feel that there was no meaning in life. Once my mind waged this last battle and
lost, reason began to assume its proper place as a tool of the body.
Keen: "The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of" and so does the rest of the body.
Castaneda: That is the point. The body has a will of its own. Or rather, the will is the voice of the
body. That is why don Juan consistently put his teachings in dramatic form. My intellect could easily
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dismiss his world of sorcery as nonsense. But my body was attracted to his world and his way of life.
And once the body took over, a new and healthier reign was established.
Keen: Don Juan's techniques for dealing with dreams engaged me became they suggest the
possibility of voluntary control of dream images. It is as though he proposes to establish a
permanent, stable observatory within inner space. Tell me about don Juan's dream training.
Castaneda: The trick in dreaming is to sustain dream images long enough to look at them
carefully. To gain this kind of control you need to pick one thing in advance and learn to find it in
your dreams. Don Juan suggested that I use my hands as a steady point and go back and forth
between them and the images. After some months I learned to find my hands and to stop the
dream. I became so fascinated with the technique that I could hardly wait to go to sleep.
Keen: Is stopping the images in dreams anything like stopping the world?
Castaneda: It is similar. But there are differences. Once you are capable of finding your hands at
will, you realize that it is only a technique. What you are after is control. A man of knowledge must
accumulate personal power. But that is not enough to stop the world. Some abandon also is
necessary. You must silence the chatter that is going on inside your mind and surrender yourself to
the outside world.
Keen: Of the many techniques that don Juan taught you for stopping the world, which do you still
practice?
Castaneda: My major discipline now is to disrupt my routines. I was always a very routinary
person. I ate and slept on schedule. In 1965 I began to change my habits. I wrote in the quiet hours
of the night and slept and ate when I felt the neeed. Now I have dismantled so many of my habitual
ways of acting that before long I may become unpredictable and surprising even to myself.
Keen: Your discipline reminds me of the Zen story of two disciples bragging about miraculous
powers. One disciple claimed the founder of the sect to which he belonged could stand on one side
of a river and write the name of Buddha on a piece of paper held by his assistant on the opposite
shore. The second disciple replied that such a miracle was unimpressive. "My miracle," he said, "is
that when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink"
Castaneda: It has been this element of engagement in the world that has kept me following the
path which don Juan showed me. There is no need to transcend the world. Everything we need to
know is right in front of us, if we pay attention. If you enter a state of nonordinary reality, as you do
when you use psychotropic plants, it is only to draw back from it what you need in order to see the
miraculous character of ordinary reality. For me the way to live--the path with heart--is not
introspection or mystical transcendence but presence in the world. This world is the warrior's hunting
ground.
Keen: The world you and don Juan have pictured is full of magical coyotes, enchanted crows and
a beautiful sorceress. It's easy to see how it could engage you. But what about the world of the
modern urban person? Where is the magic there? If we could all live in the mountains we might
keep wonder alive. But how is it possible when we are half a zoom from the freeway?
Castaneda: I once asked don Juan the same question. We were sitting in a cafe in Yuma and I
suggested that I might be able to stop the world and to see, if I could come and live in the
wilderness with him. He looked out the window at the passing cars and said: "That, out there, is your
world." I live in Los Angeles now and I find I can use that world to accommodate my needs. It is a
challenge to live with no set routines in a routinary world. But it can be done.
Keen: The noise level and the constant pressure of the masses of people seem to destroy the
silence and solitude that would be essential for stopping the world.
Castaneda: Not at all. In fact, the noise can be used. You can use the buzzing of the freeway to
teach yourself to listen to the outside world. When we stop the world the world we stop is the one we
usually maintain by our continual inner dialogue. Once you can stop the internal babble you stop
maintaining your old world. The descriptions collapse. That is when personality change begins.
When you concentrate on sounds you realize it is difficult for the brain to categories all the sounds,
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and in a short while you stop trying. This is unlike visual perception which keeps us forming
categories and thinking. It is so restful when you can turn off the talking, categorizing, and judging.
Keen: The internal world changes but what about the external one? We can revolutionize
individual consciousness but still not touch the social structures that create our alienation. Is there
any place for social or political reform in your thinking?
Castaneda: I came from Latin America where intellectuals were always talking about political and
social revolution and where a lot of bombs were thrown. But revolution hasn't changed much. It
takes little daring to bomb a building, but in order to give up cigarettes or to stop being anxious or to
stop internal chattering, you have to remake yourself. This is where real reform begins. Don Juan
and I were in Tucson not long ago when they were having Earth Week. Some man was lecturing on
ecology and the evils of war in Vietnam. All the while he was smoking. Don Juan said, "I cannot
imagine that he is concerned with other people's bodies when he doesn't like his own." Our first
concern should be with ourselves. I can like my fellow men only when I am at my peak of vigor and
am not depressed. To be in this condition I must keep my body trimmed. Any revolution must begin
here in this body. I can alter my culture but only from within a body that is impeccably tuned-in to
this weird world. For me, the real accomplishment is the art of being a warrior, which, as don Juan
says, is the only way to balance the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man.
Copyright 1972 Psychology Today
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Time Magazine - Mar 1973
COVER STORY
Don Juan and the Sorcerer's Apprentice
Glendower:
"I can call spirits from the vasty deep"
Hotspur:
"Why so can I, or so can any man;"
"But will they come when you do not call for them?"
-- Henry IV, Part I
THE Mexican border is a great divide. Below it, the accumulated structures of Western "rationality"
waver and plunge. The familiar shapes of society - landlord and peasant, priest and politician - are
laid over a stranger ground, the occult Mexico, with its brujos and carismaticos, its sorcerers and
diviners. Some of their practices go back 2,000 and 3,000 years to the peyote and mushroom and
morning glory cults of the ancient Aztecs and Toltecs. Four centuries of Catholic repression in the
name of faith and reason have reduced the old ways to a subculture, ridiculed and persecuted. Yet
in a country of 53 million, where many village marketplaces have their sellers of curative herbs,
peyote buttons or dried hummingbirds, the sorcerer's world is still tenacious. Its cults have long been
a matter of interest to anthropologists. But five years ago, it could hardly have been guessed that a
master's thesis on this recondite subject, published under the conservative imprint of the University
of California Press, would become one of the bestselling books of the early '70s.
OLD YAQUI. The book was The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968). With its
sequels, A Separate Reality (1971) and the current Journey to Ixtlan (1972), it has made U.S. cult
figures of its author and subject an anthropologist named Carlos Castaneda and a mysterious old
Yaqui Indian from Sonora called Juan Matus. In essence, Castaneda's books are the story of how a
European rationalist was initiated into the practice of Indian sorcery. They cover a span of ten years,
during which, under the weird, taxing and sometimes comic tutelage of Don Juan, a young
academic labored to penetrate and grasp what he calls the "separate reality" of the sorcerer's world.
The learning of enlightenment is a common theme in the favorite reading of young Americans today
(example: Herman Hesse's novel Siddhartha). The difference is that Castaneda does not present
his Don Juan cycle as fiction but as unembellished documentary fact.
The wily, leather-bodied old brujo and his academic straight man first found an audience in the
young of the counterculture, many of whom were intrigued by Castaneda's recorded experiences
with hallucinogenic (or psychotropic) plants: Jimson weed, magic mushrooms, peyote. The
Teachings has sold more than 300,000 copies in paperback and is currently selling at a rate of
16,000 copies a week. But Castaneda's books are not drug propaganda, and now the middleclass
middlebrows have taken him up. Ixtlan is a hardback bestseller, and its paperback sales, according
to Castaneda's agent Ned Brown, will make its author a millionaire.
To tens of thousands of readers, young and old, the first meeting of Castaneda with Juan Matus
which took place in. 1960 in a dusty Arizona bus depot near the Mexican border is a better known
literary event than the encounter of Dante and Beatrice beside the Arno. For Don Juan's teachings
have reached print at precisely the moment when more Americans than ever before are disposed to
consider "non-rational" approaches to reality. This new openness of mind displays itself on many
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levels, from ESP experiments funded indirectly by the U.S. Government to the weeping throngs of
California 13 year olds getting blissed out by the latest child guru off a chartered jet from Bombay.
The acupuncturist now shares the limelight with Marcus Welby, M.D., and his needles are seen to
work - nobody knows why. However, with Castaneda's increasing fame have come increasing
doubts. Don Juan has no other verifiable witness, and Juan Matus is nearly as common a name
among the Yaqui Indians as John Smith farther north. Is Castaneda real? If so, did he invent Don
Juan? Is Castaneda just putting on the straight world?
Among these possibilities, one thing is sure. There is no doubt that Castaneda, or a man by that
name, exists: he is alive and well in Los Angeles, a loquacious, nut-brown anthropologist,
surrounded by such concrete proofs of existence as a Volkswagen minibus, a Master Charge card,
an apartment in Westwood and a beach house. His celebrity is concrete too. It now makes it difficult
for him to teach and lecture, especially after an incident at the University of California's Irvine
campus last year when a professor named John Wallace procured a Xerox copy of the manuscript
of Ixtlan, pasted it together with some lecture notes from a seminar on shamanism Castaneda was
giving, and peddled the result to Penthouse magazine. This so infuriated Castaneda that he is
reluctant to accept any major lecture engagements in the future. At present he lives "as inaccessibly
as possible" in Los Angeles, refreshing his batteries from time to time at what he and Don Juan refer
to as a "power spot" atop a mountain north of nearby Malibu: a ring of boulders overlooking the
Pacific. So far he has fended off the barrage of film offers. "I don't want to see Anthony Quinn as
Don Juan," he says with asperity. Anyone who tries to probe into Castaneda's life finds himself in a
maze of contradictions. But to Castaneda's admirers, that scarcely matters. "Look at it this way,"
says one. "Either Carlos is telling the documentary truth about himself and Don Juan, in which case
he is a great anthropologist. Or else it is an imaginative truth, and he is a great novelist. Heads or
tails, Carlos wins."
Indeed, though the man is an enigma wrapped in mystery wrapped in a tortilla, the work is
beautifully lucid. Castaneda's story unfolds with a narrative power unmatched in other
anthropological studies. Its terrain studded with organpipe cacti, from the glittering lava massifs of
the Mexican desert to the ramshackle interior of Don Juan's shack becomes perfectly real. In detail,
it is as thoroughly articulated a world as, say, Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. In all the books,
but especially in Journey to Ixtlan , Castaneda makes the reader experience the pressure or
mysterious winds and the shivver of leaves at twilight, the hunter's peculiar alertness to sound and
smell, the rock bottom scrubbiness of Indian life, the raw fragrance of tequila and the vile, fibrous
taste of peyote, the dust in the car and the loft of a crow's flight. It is a superbly concrete setting,
dense with animistic meaning. This is just as well, in view of the utter weirdness of the events that
happen in it.
The education of a sorcerer, as Castaneda describes it, is arduous. It entailed the destruction, by
Don Juan, of the young anthropologist's interpretation of the world; of what can, and cannot be
called "real." The Teachings describes the first steps in this process. They involved natural drugs.
One was Lophophora williamsii, the peyote cactus, which, Don Juan promised, revealed an entity
named Mescalito, a powerful teacher who "shows you the proper way of life." Another was Jimson
weed, which Don Juan spoke of as an implacable female presence. The third was humito, "the little
smoke" a preparation of dust from Psilocybe mushrooms that had been dried and aged for a year,
and then mixed with five other plants, including sage. This was smoked in a ritual pipe, and used for
divination.
Such drugs, Don Juan insisted, gave access to the "powers" or impersonal forces at large in the
world that a "man of knowledge" - his term for sorcerer - must learn to use. Prepared and
administered by Don Juan, the drugs drew Castaneda into one frightful or ecstatic confrontation
after another. After chewing peyote buttons Castaneda met Mescalito successively as a black dog,
a column of singing light, and a cricket like being with a green warty head. He heard awesome and
uninterpretable rumbles from the dead lava hills. After smoking humito and talking to a bilingual
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coyote, he saw the "guardian of the other world" rise before him as a hundred-foot high gnat with
spiky tufted hair and drooling jaws. After rubbing his body with an unguent made from datura, the
terrified anthropologist experienced all the sensations of flying.
Through it all, Castaneda often had little idea of what was happening. He could not be sure what it
meant or whether any of it had "really" happened at all. That interpretation had to be supplied by
Don Juan.
Why, then, in an age full of descriptions of good and bad trips, should Castaneda's sensations be of
any more interest than anyone else's? First, because they were apparently conducted within a
system - albeit one he did not understand at the time - imposed with priestly and rigorous discipline
by his Indian guide. Secondly, because Castaneda kept voluminous and extraordinarily vivid notes.
A sample description of the effects of peyote: "In a matter of instants a tunnel formed around me,
very low and narrow, hard and strangely cold. It felt to the touch like a wall of solid tinfoil...l
remember having to crawl towards a sort of round point where the tunnel ended; when I finally
arrived, if I did, I had forgotten all about the dog, Don Juan, and myself." Perhaps most important,
Castaneda remained throughout a rationalist Everyman. His one resource was questions: a
persistent, often fumbling effort to keep a Socratic dialogue going with Don Juan:
"'Did I take off like a bird?' "'You always ask me questions I cannot answer...What you want to know
makes no sense. Birds fly like birds and a man who has taken the devil's weed flies as such.' "'Then
I didn't really fly, Don Juan. I flew in my imagination. Where was my body?' " And so on.
By his account, the first phase of Castaneda's apprenticeship lasted from 1961 to 1965, when,
terrified that he was losing his sense of reality - and by now possessing thousands of pages of notes
- he broke away from Don Juan. In 1968, when The Teachings appeared, he went down to Mexico
again to give the old man a copy. A second cycle of instruction then began. Gradually Castaneda
realized that Don Juan's use of psychotropic plants was not an end in itself, and that the sorcerer's
way could be traversed without drugs.
But this entailed a perfect honing of the will. A man of knowledge, Don Juan insisted, could only
develop by first becoming a "warrior" not literally a professional soldier, but a man wholly at one with
his environment, agile, unencumbered by sentiment or "personal history". The warrior knows that
each act may be his last. He is alone. Death is the root of his life, and in its constant presence he
always performs "impeccably." This existential stoicism is a key idea in the books. The warrior's aim
in becoming a "man of knowledge" and thus gaining membership as a sorcerer, is to "see."
"Seeing," in Don Juan's system, means experiencing the world directly, grasping its essence,
without interpreting it. Castaneda's second book, A Separate Reality, describes Don Juan's efforts
to induce him to "see" with the aid of mushroom smoke. Journey to Ixtlan, though many of the desert
experiences it recounts predate Castaneda's introduction to peyote, datura and mushrooms, deals
with the second stage: "seeing" without drugs.
"The difficulty." says Castaneda, "is to learn to perceive with your whole body, not just with your
eyes and reason. The world becomes a stream of tremendously rapid, unique events. So you must
trim your body to make it a good receptor; the body is an awareness, and it must be treated
impeccably." Easier said than done. Part of the training involved minutely, even piously attuning the
senses to the desert, its animals and birds, its sounds and shadows, the shifts in its wind, and the
places in which a shaman might confront its spirit entities: spots of power, holes of refuge. When
Castaneda describes his education as a hunter and plant gatherer learning about the virtues of
herbs, the trapping of rabbits, the narrative is absorbing. Don Juan and the desert enable him,
sporadically and without drugs, to "see" or, as the Yaqui puts it "to stop the world." But such a state
of interpretation free experience eludes description even for those who believe in Castaneda
wholeheartedly.
SAGES. Not everybody can, does or will. But in some quarters Castaneda's works are extravagantly
admired as a revival of a mode of cognition that has been largely neglected in the West, buried by
materialism and Pascal's despair, since the Renaissance. Says Mike Murphy, a founder of the
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Esalen Institute: "The essential lessons Don Juan has to teach are the timeless ones that have been
taught by the great sages of India and the spiritual masters of modern times." Author Alan Watts
argues that Castaneda's books offer an alternative to both the guilt-ridden Judaeo-Christian and the
blindly mechanistic views of man: "Don Juan's way regards man as something central and
important. By not separating ourselves from nature we return to a position of dignity."
But such endorsements and parallels do not in any way validate the more worldly claim to
importance of Castaneda's books: to wit, that they are anthropology, a specific and truthful account
of an aspect of Mexican Indian culture as shown by the speech and actions of one person, a
shaman named Juan Matus. That proof hinges on the credibility of Don Juan as a being and Carlos
Castaneda as a witness. Yet there is no corroboration beyond Castaneda's writings that Don Juan
did what he is said to have done, and very little that he exists at all.
Ever since The Teachings appeared, would be disciples and counterculture tourists have been
combing Mexico for the old man. One awaits the first Don Juan Prospectors' Convention in the Brujo
Bar BQ of the Mescalito Motel. Young Mexicans are excited to the point where the authorities may
not even allow Castaneda's books to be released there in Spanish translation. Said one Mexican
student who is himself pursuing Don Juan: "If the books do appear, the search for him could easily
turn into a gold-rush stampede."
His teacher, Castaneda asserts, was born in 1891, and suffered in the diaspora of the Yaquis all
over Mexico from the 1890s until the 1910 revolution. His parents were murdered by soldiers. He
became a nomad. This helps explain why the elements of Don Juan's sorcery are a combination of
shamanistic beliefs from several cultures. Some of them are not at all "representative" of the Yaquis.
Many Indian tribes, such as the Huichols, use peyote ritually, both north and south of the border -
some in a syncretic blend of Christianity and shamanism. But the Yaquis are not peyote users.
Don Juan, then, might be hard to find because he wisely shuns his pestering admirers. Or maybe he
is a composite Indian, a collage of others. Or he could be a purely fictional shaman concocted by
Castaneda.
Opinions differ widely and hotly, even among deep admirers of Castaneda's writing. "Is it possible
that these books are nonfiction?" Novelist Joyce Carol Oates asks mildly. "They seem to me
remarkable works of art on the Hesse-like theme of a young man's initiation into 'another way' of
reality. They are beautifully constructed. The character of Don Juan is unforgettable. There is a
novelistic momentum, rising, suspenseful action, a gradual revelation of character."
GULLIVER. True, Castaneda's books do read like a highly orchestrated Bildungsroman. But
anthropologists worry less about literary excellence than about the shaman's elusiveness, as well as
his apparent disconnection from the Yaquis. "I believe that basically the work has a very high
percentage of imagination," says Jesus Ochoa, head of the department of ethnography at Mexico's
National Museum of Anthropology. Snaps Dr. Francis Hsu of Northwestern University: "Castaneda
is a new fad. I enjoyed the books in the same way that I enjoy Gulliver's Travels." But Castaneda's
senior colleagues at U.C.L.A., who gave their former student a Ph.D. for Ixtlan, emphatically
disagree: Castaneda, as one professor put it, is "a native genius," for whom the usual red tape and
bureaucratic rigmarole were waived; his truth as a witness is not in question.
At the very least, though, it is clear that "Juan Matus" is a pseudonym used to protect his teacher's
privacy. The need to be inaccessible and elusive is a central theme in the books. Time and again,
Don Juan urges Castaneda to emulate him and free himself not only of daily routines, which dull
perception, but of the imprisoning past itself. "Nobody knows my personal history," the old man
explains in Ixtlan. "Nobody knows who I am or what I do. Not even I...we either take everything for
sure and real, or we don't. If we follow the first path, we get bored to death with ourselves and the
world. If we follow the second and erase personal history, we create a fog around us, a very exciting
and mysterious state."
Unhappily for anyone hot for certainties about Carlos Castaneda's life, Don Juan's apprentice has
taken the lesson very much to heart. After The Teachings became an underground bestseller, it was
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widely supposed that its author was El Freako the Acid Academic, all buckskin fringe and pinball
eye, his brain a charred labyrinth lit by mysterious alkaloids, tripping through the desert with a crow
on his hat. But Castaneda means chestnut grove, and the man looks a bit like a chestnut: a stocky,
affable Latin American, 5 ft. 5 in., 150 lbs. and apparently bursting with vitamins. The dark curly hair
is clipped short, and the eyes glisten with moist alertness. In dress, Castaneda is conservative to the
point of anonymity, decking himself either in dark business suits or in Lee Trevino-type sports shirts.
His plumage is words, which pour from him in a ceaseless, self-mocking and mesmeric flow. "Oh, I
am a bullshitter!" he cackles, spreading his stubby, calloused hands. "Oh, how I love to throw the
bull around!"
FOG. Castaneda says he does not smoke or drink hard liquor; he does not use marijuana; even
coffee jangles him. He says he does not use peyote any more, and his only drug experiences took
place with Don Juan. His own encounters with the acid culture have been unproductive. Invited to a
1964 East Village party that was attended by such luminaries as Timothy Leary, he merely found the
talk absurd: "They were children, indulging in incoherent revelations. A sorcerer takes hallucinogens
for a different reason than heads do, and after he has gotten where he wants to go, he stops taking
them."
Castaneda's presentation of himself as Mr. Straight, it should be noted, could not be better designed
to foil those who seek to know his own personal history. What, in fact, is his background? The
"historical" Carlos Castaneda, anthropologist and apprentice shaman, begins when he met Don
Juan in 1960; the books and his well-documented career at U.C.L.A. account for his life since.
Before that, a fog.
In spending many hours with Castaneda over a matter of weeks, TIME Correspondent Sandra
Burton found him attractive, helpful and convincing - up to a point - but very firm about warning that
in talking about his pre-don Juan life he would change names and places and dates without,
however, altering the emotional truth of his life. "I have not lied or contrived," he told her. "To
contrive would be to pull back and not say anything or give the assurances that everybody seeks."
As the talks continued, Castaneda offered several versions of his life, which kept changing as
Burton presented him with the fact that much of his information did not check out, emotionally or
otherwise.
By his own account, Castaneda was not his original name. He was born, he said, to a "well-known"
but anonymous family in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Christmas Day, 1935. His father, who later became a
professor of literature, was then 17, and his mother 15. Because his parents were so immature, little
Carlos was packed off to be raised by his maternal grandparents on a chicken farm in the back
country of Brazil.
When Carlos was six, his story runs, his parents took their only child back and lavished guilty
affection on him. "It was a hellish year," he says flatly, "because I was living with two children." But a
year later his mother died. The doctors' diagnosis was pneumonia, but Castaneda's is accidie, a
condition of numbed inertia, which he believes is the cultural disease of the West. He offered a
touching memory: "She was morose, very beautiful and dissatisfied, an ornament. My despair was
that I wanted to make her something else, but how could she listen to me? I was only six."
Now Carlos was left with his father, a shadowy figure whom he mentions in the books with a mixture
of fondness and pity shaded with contempt. His father's weakness of will is the obverse to the
"impeccability" of his adopted father, Don Juan. Castaneda describes his father's efforts to become
a writer as a farce of indecision. But, he adds, "I am my father. Before I met Don Juan I would spend
years sharpening my pencils, and then getting a headache every time I sat down to write. Don Juan
taught me that's stupid. If you want to do something, do it impeccably, that's all that matters.''
Carlos was put in a "very proper" Buenos Aires boarding school, Nicolas Avellaneda. He says he
stayed there till he was 15, acquiring the Spanish (he already spoke Italian and Portuguese) in
which he would later interview Don Juan. But he became so unmanageable that an uncle, the family
patriarch, had him placed with a foster family in Los Angeles. In 1951 he moved to the U.S. and
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enrolled at Hollywood High. Graduating about two years later, he tried a course in sculpture at
Milan's Academy of Fine Arts, but "I did not have the sensitivity or the openness to be a great artist."
Depressed, in crisis, he headed back to Los Angeles and started a course in social psychology at
U.C.L.A, shifting later to an anthropology course. Says he: "I really threw my life out the window. I
said to myself: If it's going to work, it must be new." In 1959 he formally changed his name to
Castaneda.
BIOGRAPHY. Thus Castaneda's own biography. It creates an elegant consistency - the spirited
young man moving from his academic background in an exhausted, provincial European culture
toward revitalization by the shaman; the gesture of abandoning the past to disentangle himself from
crippling memories. Unfortunately, it is largely untrue.
For between 1955 and 1959, Carlos Castaneda was enrolled, under that name, as a pre-psychology
major at Los Angeles City College. His liberal arts studies included, in his first two years, two
courses in creative writing and one in journalism. Vernon King, his creative writing professor at
L.A.C.C., still has a copy of The Teachings inscribed "To a great teacher, Vernon King, from one of
his students, Carlos Castaneda. "
Moreover, immigration records show that a Carlos Cesar Arana Castaneda did indeed enter the
U.S., at San Francisco, when the author says he did: in 1951. This Castaneda too was 5 ft. 5 in.,
weighed 140 lbs. and came from Latin America. But he was Peruvian, born on Christmas Day,
1925, in the ancient Inca town of Cajamarca, which makes him 48, not 38, this year. His father was
not an academic, but a goldsmith and watchmaker named Cesar Arana Burungaray. His mother,
Susana Castaneda Navoa, died not when Carlos was six, but when he was 24. Her son spent three
years in the local high school in Cajamarca and then moved with his family to Lima in 1948, where
he graduated from the Colegio Nacional de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe and then studied painting
and sculpture, not in Milan, but at the National Fine Arts School of Peru. One of his fellow students
there Jose Bracamonte, remembers his pal Carlos as a resourceful blade who lived mainly off
gambling (cards, horses, dice), and harbored "like an obsession" the wish to move to the U.S. "We
all liked Carlos," recalls Bracamonte. "He was witty, imaginative, cheerful - a big liar and a real
friend."
SISTER. Castaneda apparently wrote home sporadically, at least until 1969, the year after Don
Juan came out. His Cousin Lucy Chavez, who was raised with him "like a sister," still keeps his
letters. They indicate that he served in the U.S. Army, and left it after suffering a slight wound or
"nervous shock" Lucy is not sure which. (The Defense Department, however, has no record of
Carlos Arana Castaneda's service.)
When TIME confronted Castaneda with such details as the time and transposition of his mother's
death, Castaneda was opaque. "One's feelings about one's mother," he declared, "are not
dependent on biology or on time. Kinship as a system has nothing to do with feelings." Cousin Lucy
recalls that when Carlos' mother did die, he was overwhelmed. He refused to attend the funeral,
locked himself in his room for three days without eating. And when he came out announced he was
leaving home. Yet Carlos' basic explanation of his lying generally is both perfect and totally
unresponsive. "To ask me to verify my life by giving you my statistics," he says, "is like using
science to validate sorcery. It robs the world of its magic and makes milestones out of us all." In
short, Castaneda lays claim to an absolute control over his identity.
Well and good. But where does a writer's license, the "artistic self-representation" Castaneda lays
claim to, end? How far does it permeate his story of Don Juan? As the books' sales mount, the
resistance multiplies. Three parodies of Castaneda have appeared in New York magazines and
papers lately indicating that the critics seem to be preparing to skewer Don Juan as a kind of
anthropological Ossian, the legendary third century Gaelic poet whose works James Macpherson
foisted upon 18th century British readers.
Castaneda fans should not panic, however. A strong case can be made that the Don Juan books
are of a different order of truthfulness from Castaneda's pre-don Juan past. Where, for example,
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was the motive for an elaborate scholarly put on? The Teachings was submitted to a university
press, an unlikely prospect for bestsellerdom. Besides, getting an anthropology degree from
U.C.L.A. is not so difficult that a candidate would employ so vast a confabulation just to avoid
research. A little fudging, perhaps, but not a whole system in the manner of The Teachings, written
by an unknown student with, at the outset, no hope of commercial success.
For that was certainly Castaneda's situation in the summer of 1960: a young Peruvian student with
limited ambitions. There is no reason to doubt his account of how the work began. "I wanted to enter
graduate school and do a good job of being an academic, and I knew that if I could publish a little
paper beforehand, I'd have it made." One of his teachers at U.C.L.A., Professor Clement Meighan,
had interested him in shamanism. Castaneda decided the easiest field would be ethnobotany, the
classification of psychotropic plants used by sorcerers. Then came Don Juan.
The visits to the Southwest and the Mexican desert gradually became the spine of Castaneda's life.
Impressed by his work, the U.C.L.A. staff offered him encouragement. Recalls Professor Meighan:
"Carlos was the type of student a teacher waits for." Sociology professor Harold Garfinkel, one of
the fathers of ethnomethodology, gave Castaneda constant stimulus and harsh criticism. After his
first peyote experience (August 1961), Castaneda presented Garfinkel with a long "analysis" of his
visions. "Garfinkel said, "Don't explain to me. You are a nobody. Just give it to me straight and in
detail, the way it happened. The richness of detail is the whole story of membership." The abashed
student spent several years revising his thesis, living off odd jobs as taxi driver and delivery boy,
and sent it in again. Garfinkel was still unimpressed. "He didn't like my efforts to explain Don Juan's
behavior psychologically. 'Do you want to be the darling of Esalen?' he asked." Castaneda rewrote
the thesis a third time.
Like the various versions of Castaneda's life, the books are an invitation to consider contradictory
kinds of truth. At the core of his books and Don Juan's method is, of course, the assumption that
reality is not an absolute. It comes to each of us culturally determined, packaged in advance. "The
world has been rendered coherent by our description of it," Castaneda argues, echoing Don Juan.
"From the moment of birth, this world has been described for us. What we see is just a description. '
MULTIVERSE. In short, what men take as reality, as well as their notions of the world's rational
possibilities, is determined by consensus, in effect by a social contract that varies from culture to
culture. Through history, the road has been hard for any person who questions its fine print -
especially if, like Castaneda, he tries to persuade others to accept his vision.
Anthropology by its nature deals with different descriptions, and hence literally with separate
realities, within different cultures. As Castaneda's colleague Edmund Carpenter of Adelphi College
notes, "Native people have many separate realities. They believe in a multiverse, or a biverse, but
not a universe as we do." Yet even this much scholarly relativism is indigestible for many people
who like to reassure themselves that there is only one world and that the "validity" of a culture's
interpretations can and should be measured only against this norm. Any myth, they would say, can
conveniently be seen as an embryonic form of what the West accepts as linear history; a Hopi rain
dance is merely an "inefficient" way of doing what cloud-seeding does well.
Castaneda's books insist otherwise. He is eloquent and convincing on how useless it is to explain or
judge another culture entirely in terms of one's own particular categories. "Suppose there was a
Navajo anthropologist," he says. "It would be very interesting to ask him to study us. He would ask
extraordinary questions, like 'How many in your kinship group have been bewitched?' That's a
terribly important question in Navajo terms. And of course, you'd say 'I don't know,' and think 'What
an idiotic question.' Meanwhile the Navajo is thinking, 'My God, what a creep! What a primitive
creep!' "
Turn the situation around, Castaneda argues, and there is your typical Western anthropologist in the
field. Yet a "very simple" alternative exists: the crux of anthropology is acquisition of real
membership. "It's a hell of a lot of work," he says, explaining the years he spent with Don Juan.
"What Don Juan did with me was simply this: he was making his sorcery membership available,
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handing down the necessary steps." Professor Michael Harner of The New School for Social
Research, a friend of Castaneda's and an authority on shamanism, explains: "Most anthropologists
only give the result. Instead of synthesizing the interviews, Castaneda takes us through the
process."
It is not those years of study but the nature of the revelation he offers that has run Castaneda afoul
of rationalists. To join another man's consensus of reality, one's own must go, and since nobody can
easily abandon his own accustomed description it must be forcibly broken up. The historical
precedents, even in the West, are abundant. Ever since the ecstatic mystery religions of Greece,
our culture has been continually challenged by the wish to escape its own dominant properties: the
linear, the categorical, the fixed.
Whether Carlos Castaneda is, as some leading scholars think, a major figure in an evolution of
anthropology or only a brilliant novelist with unique knowledge of the desert and Indian lore, his work
is to be reckoned with. And it goes on. At present, he is finishing the fourth and last volume of the
Don Juan series, Tales of Power, scheduled for publication next year.
"POWER SPOT." It may confront, more clearly than the first three books, the final purpose of Don
Juan's painful teachings: a special case of the ancient desire to know, propitiate and, if possible, use
the mysterious forces of the universe. In that pursuit, the splitting of the atom, the sin of Prometheus
and Castaneda's search for a "power spot" near Los Angeles can all be remotely linked. A good
deal of the magic Don Juan works on Castaneda in the books (making Carlos believe his car has
disappeared, for instance) sounds like the kind of fakir rope trickery that gurus think frivolous. Yet all
in all, the books communicate a primal sense of power running through the world, arranging our
perceptions of reality like so many iron filings in a huge magnetic field.
A sorcerer's power, Castaneda insists, is "unimaginable," but the extent to which a sorcerer's
apprentice can hope to use it is determined by, among other things, the degree of his commitment.
The full use of power can only be acquired with the help of an "ally", a spirit entity which attaches
itself to the student as a guide - of a dangerous sort. The ally challenges the apprentice when he
learns to "see," as Castaneda did in the earlier books. The apprentice may duck this battle. For if he
wrestles with the ally - like Jacob with the Angel - and loses, he will, in Don Juan's slightly enigmatic
terms, "be snuffed out." But if he wins, his reward is "true power the final acquisition of sorcery
membership, when all interpretation ceases."
Up to now, Castaneda claims, he has chosen to duck the final battle with an ally. He admits to an
inner struggle on the matter. Sometimes, he says, he feels strongly tugged away from the
commitment to sorcery and back into the mundane world. He has a very real urge to be a respected
writer and anthropologist, and to use his new-found power of fame in tandem with the printed word
to go on communicating glimpses of other realities to hungry readers.
APEX. Moreover, like most men who have explored mystical separate realities and returned, he
seems to have reentry problems. According to the books, Don Juan taught him to abandon regular
hours - for work or play - and even in his apartment in Los Angeles he apparently eats and sleeps
as whim occurs, or slips off to the desert. But he often works at his writing as many as 18 hours a
day. He has great skill at avoiding the public. No one can be sure where he will be at any given time
of day, or year. "Carlos will call you from a phone booth," says Michael Korda, his editor at Simon &
Schuster, "and say he is in Los Angeles. Then the operator will cut in for more change, and it turns
out to be Yuma." His few good friends do not give his whereabouts away to would-be acolytes, in
part because his own experience is mysterious and he can't explain it. He has a girl friend but not
even his friends know her last name. He avoids photographers like omens of disaster. "I live in this
inflow of very strange people that are waiting for a word from me. They expect something that I can't
give at all. I had a class in Irvine that was very large, and it looked like they were just waiting for me
to crack up."
At other moments he seems decided to be a true sorcerer or bust. "Power takes care of you," he
says, "and you don't know how. Now I'm at the edge, and I have to change my whole format. Writing
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to get my Ph.D. was my accomplishment, my sorcery, and now I am at the apex of a cycle that
includes the notoriety. But this is the last thing I will ever write about Don Juan. Now I am going to
be a sorcerer for sure. Only my death could stop that." It is a romantic role, this anthropological
gesture across a pit of entities which, in a different age, would have been called demons. Will
Castaneda become the Dr. Faustus of Malibu Beach, attended by Mephistopheles in a sombrero?
Stay tuned in for the next episode. In the meantime, his books have made it hard for readers ever to
use the word primitive patronizingly again.
Copyright March 5th, 1973 Time Magazine
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Magical Blend #14 - 1985
[This article appeared Magical Blend magazine in 1985. The interview was
conducted entirely in Spanish probably around 1980-81 and published in an
Argentinian magazine. The translator that created this English version
apparently introduced numerous mispellings and strange phraseology which is
preserved here.]
By Graciela Corvalan, translated by Larry Towler
Magical Blend Magazine Issue #14
Carlos Castaneda is world reknowned as an author of seven best selling books
on the Toltec system of sorcery. Some give him credit as being the crucial
catalyst of mainstream awareness of metaphysics that has grown so in recent
decades. Graciela Corvalan Ph.D. is a professor of Spanish at Webster College,
in St Louis, Missouri. Graciela is currently working on a book consisting of a
series of interviews with mystical thinkers in the Americas. A while back she
wrote a letter to Carlos Castaneda asking for an interview. One night she
received a phone call from Carlos accepting her request and explaining that he
had a friend who collected his mail for him while he was away traveling. Upon
his return he always reached into the mail sacks and pulled out two letters which
he then acted upon. Hers had been one of the most recent two. He explained
he was excited to be interviewed by her for she was not a member of the
established press. He arranged to meet Graciela in California on the UCLA
campus. He asked that the interview first be published in Spanish which
Graciela has done, in the Argentinian magazine, Mutantian. Now we are
honored to release an English translation. Graciela has obviously succeeded in
capturing a flash of lightning over a desert night and showing us amazing
insights into Carlos Castanada the Toltec Seer!
[Beginning of Corvalan Interview - Part 1]
At around 1:00 pm, my friend and I set course for the campus of UCLA. We had
somewhat more than two hours of travel.
Following Castaneda's directions, we arrived without difficulty at the guard
shack at the entrance to the parking lot of UCLA. It was about quarter to four.
We stationed ourselves in a more or less shady place.
At exactly four o'clock, I looked up and saw him coming toward the car:
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Castaneda was wearing blue jeans and a pale cream colored open-collared
jacket without pockets. I got out of the car and hastened to meet him. After the
greetings and conventional courtesies, I asked him if he would permit me to use
a tape recorder. We had one in the car in case he permitted us. No, it's better
not to, he answered with a shrug of his shoulders. We showed him the way to
the car to get the notes, notebooks and books.
Loaded with books and papers, we let Castaneda drive. He knew the route well.
Over there, he said, pointing with his hand, there are some beautiful river banks.
From the beginning, Castaneda established the tone of the conversation and
the themes which we were to deal with. I also realized that it wasn't necessary
to have all those questions that I had so laboriously worked out. As I had
anticipated from his telephone call, he wanted to speak to us about the project
he was involved in, and the importance and seriousness of his investigations.
The conversation was conducted in Spanish, a language that he manages with
fluidity and a great sense of humor. Castaneda is a master in the art of
conversation. We spoke for seven hours. The time passed without his
enthusiasm or our attention weakening. As he gradually became more
comfortable, he made more use of typically Argentinian expressions so as to
make use of his coastal ways such as a friendly gesture to us that we are all
Argentinian.
It must be mentioned that although his Spanish is correct, it's evident that his
language is English. He made abundant use of expressions and words in
English for those which we give the equivalent of in Spanish. That his prime
language would be English is manifested also in the syntactic structure of his
phrases and sentences.
All that afternoon Castaneda strove to maintain the conversation on a level that
wasn't intellectual. Even though he has obviously read a lot and knows the
different currents of thought, at no time did he establish comparisons with other
traditions of the past or the present. He transmitted to us the Toltec teachings by
means of material images that, precisely for that reason, hindered their being
interpreted speculatively. In this way Castaneda wasn't only obedient to his
teachers but totally faithful in the route he has chosen-he didn't want to
contaminate his teaching with anything extraneous to it.
Shortly after meeting us, he wanted to know the reasons for our interest in
knowing him. He already knew about my possible outline and the projected
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book of interviews I was planning. Beyond all professionalism, we insisted on
the importance of his books that had influenced us and many others so much.
We had a profound interest in knowing the font of his teaching. Meanwhile, we
arrived at the banks and, in the shade of the trees, sat down. Don Juan gave me
everything, he began to say, when I met him I had no other interest than
anthropology, but upon encountering him I changed. And what has happened to
me I wouldn't change for anything!
Don Juan was present with us. Every time Castaneda mentioned or
remembered him we felt his emotion. He told us that, from Don Juan, he had
learned that there was one totality of exquisite intensity capable of giving himself
everything in every present moment. Give your all in each moment is his
principal, his rule, he said. That which Don Juan is like can't be explained and is
rarely comprehended, it simply is.
In The Second Ring of Power Castaneda records one special characteristic of
Don Juan and Don Genaro, that which all others lack. There he writes:
None of us is disposed to lend to another undivided attention in the way that
Don Juan and Don Genaro did.
The Second Ring of Power had left me full of questions; the book interested me
a lot, especially after the second reading, but I had heard unfavorable
commentaries. I had certain doubts myself. I told him that I believed that I had
enjoyed Journey to Ixtlan best without really knowing why. Castaneda listened
to me and answered my words with a gesture which seemed to say, And me,
what do I have to do with the taste of all? I continued speaking, looking for
reasons and explanations.
Maybe my preference for Journey to Ixtlan is because of the love I perceived, I
asserted. Castaneda made a face. He didn't like the word love. It's possible that
the term might have connotations of romantic love, sentimentality, or weakness
for him. Trying to explain myself, I insisted that the final scene of Journey to
Ixtlan is bulging with intensity. There, said Castaneda. Yes, he would agree with
that last statement. Intensity, yes, he said, that's the word.
Emphasizing the same book, I demonstrated to him that some scenes seemed
to me definitely grotesque. I couldn't find justification for them. Castaneda was
in agreement with me. Yes, the behavior of those women is monstrous and
grotesque, but that vision was necessary to be able to enter into action, he said.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Lun 14 Dic 2009 - 13:43

Castaneda needed that shock.
Without an adversary we are nothing, he continued. The adversary belongs to
human form. Life is war, is struggle. Peace is an anomaly. Referring to pacifism
he qualified it as monstrosity because, according to him, men, are beings of
success and struggles.
Without being able to restrain myself I told him that I couldn't accept pacifism as
a monstrosity. What about Ghandi? I asked. How do you see Ghandi, for
example?
Ghandi? he responded to me, Ghandi is not a pacifist. Ghandi is one of the
most tremendous fighters that have existed. And what a fighter!
It was then that I understood the very special value that Castaneda gives to
words. The pacifism that he had made reference to couldn't have been a
pacifism of weakness; that of those who don't have enough guts to be, and
consequently do something else, that of those who do nothing because they
don't have objectives or energy in life; that pacifism reflects a completely self-
indulgent and hedonistic attitude.
With a grand gesture which would include all of society without values, will, or
energy, he replied, All drugged out...yes, hedonists!
Castaneda didn't clarify those concepts, and we didn't ask him to. I had
understood that part of the aesthetic of the warrior was to free himself from the
human nature, but the unusual comments of Castaneda had filled me with
confusion. Little by little, however, I was getting to know that being, beings of
success and struggles is the first level of the relationship. That is the raw
material where they part. Don Juan, in the books, always referred to the good
tone of a person. There begins the learning and one passes to another level.
You can't pass to the other side without losing the human form, said Castaneda.
Insisting about other aspects of his book that hadn't made themselves clear to
me, I asked him about the hollows that had remained with people by the simple
act of having reproduced.
Yes, said Castaneda, there are differences between people who have had
children and those who haven't. To pass on tiptoes in front of the eagle, you
need to be whole. A person with 'hollows' can't pass.
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He will explain to us the metaphor of the eagle a little later. For the moment I will
pass by this almost without mentioning it because the focus of our attention was
on another theme.
How do you explain the attitude of Dona Soledad with Pablito and that of la
Gorda with her daughters? I wanted to know insistently. Taking from the
children that edge which at birth they take from us was, in large measure,
something inconceivable for me.
Castaneda agreed that he still doesn't have it all systematized. He insisted, still
in the differences that exist between people who have reproduced and those
who haven't.
Don Genero is crazy! Crazy! Don Juan, in a different way, is a serious crazy
man. Don Juan goes slowly but arrives far away. In the end, the two of them
arrive...
I, like Don Juan, he continued, have hollows; that is to say, I have to follow the
route. The Genaros, on the other hand, have another model.
The Genaros, for example, have a special edge that we don't have. They are
more nervous and of rapid motion...they are very fickle, nothing detains them.
Those who like la Gorda and I have had children have other characteristics that
compensate for that loss. One is more settled and, although the road might be
long and arduous, one arrives also. In general those who have had children
know how to take care of others. It doesn't mean that people without children
don't know how, but it's different...
In general one doesn't know what one is doing; one is unconscious of actions
and later pays for it. I didn't know what I was doing, he exclaimed, referring,
without a doubt, to his own personal life.
At birth, I took everything from my father and mother, he said. They were all
bruised! To them I had to return that edge that I had taken from them. Now I
have to recoup the edge that I lost.
It would seem that these hollows that have to be closed, have to do with
biological adornment. We wanted to know if to have hollows is something
irreparable. No, he responded, one can be cured. Nothing is irrevocable in life.
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It's always possible to return what doesn't belong to us and recoup what is ours.
This idea of recovery is coherent with a path of learning walk in which it doesn't
suffice to know or practice one or more techniques but that requires an
individual and profound transformation of being. It relates to everything-a
coherent system of life with concrete and precise objectives.
After a short silence I asked him if The Second Ring of Power had been
translated in Spanish. According to Castaneda, a Spanish publishing house had
the right, but he wasn't sure if the book had come out or not.
The translation into Spanish was done by Juan Tovar, who is a good friend of
mine. Juan Tovar used the notes in Spanish that Castaneda himself had
furnished him, notes that some critics have put in doubt.
The translation into Portuguese seems to be very beautiful Yes, said
Castaneda. This translation is based on the translation into French. Really, it's
very well done.
In Argentina, his first two books have been banned. It seems that the reason
given was the drug affair. Castaneda didn't know. Why he asked us without
waiting for our answer. I imagine it's the work of the 'Mother Church'.
At the beginning of our conversation, Castaneda mentioned something about
the Toltec teaching. Also in The Second Ring of Power it insists in the Toltecs
and in being a Toltec. What does it mean to be a Toltec I asked him.
According to Castaneda, the word Toltec constitutes a wide meaning. It is said
that someone is a Toltec in the same way that it can be said that one is a
Democrat or a philosopher. In the way he uses it, this word doesn't have
anything to do with its anthropological meaning. From the anthropological point
of view the word makes reference to an Indian culture of the center and south of
Mexico that was already extinct at the time of the conquest and colonization of
America by Spain.
Toltec is one who knows the mysteries of watching and dreaming. All of them
are Toltecs. It deals with a small group that has known how to maintain alive a
tradition from more than 3,000 years B.C.
As I was working on mystic thought and had particular interest in establishing
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the fountain and the place of origin of the distinct traditions, I insisted, Do you
believe that the Toltec tradition offers teaching that would be peculiar to
America?
The Toltec nation maintains alive a tradition, that is, without a doubt, peculiar to
America. Castaneda asserted that it is possible that the early Americans could
have brought something upon crossing the Bering Straits, but all this was so
many thousands of years ago that for the moment there are nothing more than
theories.
In Stories of Power, Don Juan talks to Castaneda about the wizards about those
men of knowledge that the conquest and colonization of the white man couldn't
destroy because they didn't know about their existence nor notice all the
incomprehensible ideas of their world.
Who forms the Toltec nation? Do they work together? Where do they do it? I
asked.
Castaneda answered all of my questions. He is now in charge of a group of
young people that lives in the area of Chaiapas, in the south of Mexico. They all
moved to that area due to the fact that the woman who now teaches them was
located there.
Then...you returned? I felt impelled to ask him to remember the last
conversation between Castaneda and the little sisters at the end of The Second
Ring of Power. Did you return right away like the Gorda asked you to?
No, I didn't return right away, but I did return, he answered me laughing. I
returned to continue a task which I can't renounce.
The group consists of about 14 members. Even though the basic nucleus is 8 or
9 people, all are indispensable in the task that each does. If each one is
sufficiently impeccable, a large number of people can be helped.
Eight is a magical number, he said at one moment. Also he insisted that the
Toltec isn't saved alone but that he goes with the basic nucleus. Those who
remain are indispensable in continuing and maintaining alive the tradition. It is
not necessary that the group be big, but each one of those who are involved in
the task is definitely necessary for the total.
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La Gorda and I are responsible for the arrivals. Well...really I am the responsible
one but she helps me intimately in this task, explained Castaneda.
He spoke to us later about the members of the group that we knew from his
books. He told us that Don Juan was a Yaqui Indian, from the state of Sonora.
Pablito, on the other hand, was a Mixteco Indian, Nestor was Mazatecan (from
Mazatlan, in the province of Sinalea), and Benigno was Tzotzil. He stressed
several times that Josefina was not Indian but was Mexican and that one of her
grandparents was of French origin. La Gorda, as were Nestor and Don Genaro,
was Maytec. When I met La Gorda she was an immense heavy woman
brutalized by life, he said. None of those who knew her can today imagine that
she now is the same person as before.
We wanted to know in what language he communicated with all the people of
the group, and what was the language that they generally used among
themselves. I reminded him that in his books there are references to some
Indian languages.
We communicate in Spanish because it's the language we all speak, he
responded. Besides, neither Josefina nor the Toltec woman are Indians. I only
speak a little in the Indian language. Single phrases like greetings and some
other expressions. I don't know enough to maintain a conversation. Taking
advantage of his pause I asked him if the task which they are doing is
accessible to all men or if it deals with something for only a few. As our
questions began to point at discovering the relevancy of the Toltec teaching and
the value of the experience of the group for the rest of humanity, Castaneda
explained to us that each one of the members of the group has specific tasks to
perform whether in the Yucatan zone, in other areas of Mexico, or in other
places.
Performing tasks one discovers a large number of things that are directly
applicable to concrete situations of daily life. doing tasks one learns a lot. The
Genaros, for example, have a musical band with which they go through all the
places of the frontier. You will imagine that they see and are in contact with
many people. You always have the possibility to transmit knowledge. It always
helps. It helps with one word, with one little insinuation... each one, faithfully
performing his task, does it. All humans can learn. All have the possibility to live
as warriors.
Any person can undertake the task of warrior. The only requirement is to want to
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do it with an unshakeable desire; that is to say, one has to be unshakeable in
the desire to be free. The way isn't easy. We constantly seek excuses and try to
escape. It's possible that the mind obtains it but the body feels everything...the
body learns rapidly and easily.
The Toltec can't waste energy in foolishness, he continued. I was one of those
persons who can't be without friends...I can't even go to the movies alone. Don
Juan in a resolute moment told him that he had to abandon all and, particularly,
separate himself from all those friends with whom he had nothing in common.
For a long time he resisted the idea until finally he got involved.
One time, returning to Los Angeles, I got out of the car a block before arriving
home and telephoned. Naturally on that day, as always, my house was full of
people. I asked one of my friends to prepare a satchel with some things and
bring it to where I was. Also I told her that the rest of the things- books, records,
etc.-could be distributed among them. It's clear that my friends didn't believe me
and took everything as borrowed, clarified Castaneda.
The act of getting rid of the library and records is like cutting off everything in the
past, a whole world of ideas and emotions.
My friends believed that I was crazy and kept hoping that I would return from my
craziness. I didn't see them in about twelve years, he concluded. After twelve
years passed, Castaneda would meet again with them. He first looked for one of
his friends who put him in contact with the rest of them. They then planned to
meet, and get together to eat dinner. That day they had a good time; they ate a
lot and their friends got drunk.
To find myself with them after all those years was my way of showing my
gratitude for the friendship that they had offered me before, said Castaneda
Now all are grown. They all have their families, spouses, children...It was
necessary, nevertheless, that I thank them. Only in that way could I definitely
terminate with them and end a stage of my life.
It is possible that Castaneda's friends don't understand anything he is doing, but
the fact that he wanted to thank them was something very beautiful. Castaneda
didn't pretend anything with them. He sincerely thanked them for their
friendship, and in doing so, freed himself internally from all that past. We then
spoke of love, of that often mentioned love. He related to us several anecdotes
about his Italian grandfather, always so lovesick, and about his father, so
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Bohemian, he. Oh, love! Love! he repeated several times. All his commentaries
tended to destroy the ideas that one commonly has about love.
It cost me a lot to learn, he continued. I was also very lovesick. Don Juan had to
work hard to make me understand that I had to cut off certain relationships. The
way in which I finally cut off with one was the following. I invited her to dinner
and we met in a restaurant. During the dinner the same thing happened as
always. There was a big fight and she yelled at me and insulted me. At last I
asked her if she had any money. She answered that she had. I took advantage
of that to tell her that I had to go to the car to look for my wallet or something like
that. I got up and didn't go back. Before leaving her, I wanted to be sure that she
had enough money to take a taxi home. Since then I haven't seen her.
You aren't going to believe me, but the Toltecs are very ascetic, he insisted.
Without doubting his word I commented that that idea couldn't be deduced from
The Second Ring of Power. On the contrary, I stressed. I believe that in your
book many scenes and attitudes present confusion.
How do you think I was going to say that clearly? he answered me. I couldn't
say that the relations between them were pure because not only would nobody
have believed me but nobody would have understood me.
For Castaneda, we live in a very bustful society. Of all that we had been
speaking that afternoon, the majority hadn't been understood. It's that the same
Castaneda is seen obligated to adapt to certain exigencies of the publishers
who, at the time, would strive to satisfy the tastes of the reading public.
The people are into another thing, continued Castaneda. The other day, for
example, I entered a bookstore here in Los Angeles and I began to leaf through
the magazines on the counter. I found that there was a large amount of
publications with photos of nude women...many also with men. I don't know
what to tell you. In one of the photos there was a man fixing an electric cable
while high on a ladder. He had on his protective helmet and a large belt full of
tools. That was all. The rest was naked. Ridiculous! Something like that can't be
possible! A woman is graceful...but, a man! As means of explanation he added
that women have a lot of experience due to their long history in that type of
thing. A role like that has no room for improvisation.
This is the first time I have heard of the idea that the behavior of women isn't
improvised; it is something totally new for me, I responded. After listening to
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Castaneda, we were convinced that, for the Toltec, sex represents an immense
draining away of energies that is needed for other tasks. His insistence is
therefore understood about the totally ascetic relations that members of the
group maintain.
In the point of view of the world, the life that the group carries and the
relationships they maintain are something totally unacceptable and unheard of.
That which I tell them isn't believable. It took me a long time to comprehend it,
but I have finally been able to verify it.
Castaneda had told us earlier that when a person reproduces he loses a special
edge. It appears that that edge is a force that children take from their parents by
the mere act of birth. This hollow that remains with a person is that which must
be filled or recovered. You have to recover the force which you have lost. He
also made us understand that a prolonged sexual relationship of a couple ends
with a decline. In a relationship differences surge up which make certain
characteristics of one or the other progressively rejected. In consequence, for
reproduction, it is selected from the other part that which one likes, but there is
no guarantee that that which is chosen is necessarily the best. In the point of
view of reproduction, he commented, the best is at random. Castaneda strove to
explain to us these concepts better, but had to confess again that they are
themes which he himself doesn't have clear yet.
Castaneda came to us describing a group whose requirements, for the average
person, were extreme. We were very interested in knowing where all that vigor
came from What is the sole objective of the Toltec? We wanted to know the
sense of what Castaneda was telling us. What is the objective that you pursue?
We insisted on bringing the question to a personal level.
The objective is to leave the living world; to leave with all that one is but with
nothing more than what one is. The question is not to take anything nor leave
anything. Don Juan left completely-from the world. Don Juan doesn't die
because the Toltecs don't die. In The Second Ring of Power, La Gorda instructs
Castaneda with respect to the dichotomy wizard-tonal. The domain of the
second attention is only achieved after the warriors sweep totally the surface of
the table...this second attention makes the two attentions form a unity and this
unity is the totality of oneself. In the same book, La Gorda says to Castaneda,
when the wizards learn to 'dream,' they tie together their two attentions and,
therefore, there is no need for the center to push out.. .sorcerers don't die. . . I
don't want to say that we don't die. We are nothing, we are nincompoops,
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stupid; we aren't either here nor there. They, on the other hand, have their
attentions so united that maybe they never die. According to Castaneda, the
idea that we are free is an illusion and an absurdity. He pushed to make us
understand that common sense deceives us because ordinary perception only
tells us a part of the truth.
Ordinary perception doesn't tell us all the truth. There has to be more than a
mere passing through the earth, of only eating and reproducing, he said
vehemently. With a gesture I interpreted as alluding to the unfeelingness of all
and the immense tediousness of life in its everyday boredom, he asked us,
What is all this that surrounds us? Common sense would be that accord to
which we have arrived behind a long educative process that imposes on us
ordinary perception as the only truth. Precisely. The art of the wizard, he said,
consists of bringing learning to discover and destroy that perceptive prejudice.
According to Castaneda, Edmundo Husserl is the first one from the West who
conceives of the possibility of suspending judgment. In Ideas for a pure
phenomenology and a phenomenological philosophy (1913) Husserl dealt
thoroughly with the era or phenomenological reduction. The phenomenological
method doesn't deny but simply puts into parentheses those elements that
sustain our ordinary perception.
Castaneda considers that phenomenology offers him the theoretical
methodological framework to comprehend the teaching of Don Juan. For
phenomenology, the act of knowing depends on intention and not on
perception. Perception always varies according to history, that is to say,
according to the subject with knowledge acquired and immersed in a
determined tradition. The most important rule of the phenomenological method
is that of toward the same things.
The task with which Don Juan fulfilled me, he insisted, was that of breaking, little
by little, the perceptive prejudices until arriving at a total rupture.
Phenomenology suspends judgment and is limited to the description of pure
intentional acts. So, for example, I construct the object 'house.' The
phenomenological reference is minimal. The 'intention' is what transforms
reference into something concrete and singular.
Phenomenology, without a doubt, has, for Castaneda, a simple methodological
value. Husserl never transcended the theoretical and, as a consequence, he
didn't touch the human being in his life in all his days. For Castaneda, the most
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the western man-the European man-has arrived to is the political man. This
political man would be the epitome of our civilization. Don Juan, he said, with his
teaching is opening the door for another much more interesting man: a man who
still lives in a magical world or universe.
Meditating about this idea of the political man a book by Eduardo Spranger
named Forms of Life came to my memory, in which it says that the life of the
political man is interwoven of relationships of power and rivalry. The political
man is the man of dominion whose power controls as much of the concrete
reality of the world as the beings that inhabit it.
The world of Don Juan, on the other hand, is a magical world populated with
entities and forces.
The admirability of Don Juan, said Castaneda, is that even though in the world
of days he appears to be crazy, nobody is capable of perceiving him. To the
world, Don Juan offers a face that is necessarily temporal...one hour, one
month, sixty years. Nobody would be able to catch him off guard! In this world
Don Juan is impeccable because he always knew that what is here is only
momentary and that which comes after...well...a beauty! Don Juan and Don
Genaro intensely loved beauty.
The perception and conception which Don Juan has of reality and time are
undoubtably very distinct from ours. If on the level of daily life Don Juan is
always impeccable, this doesn't prevent you from knowing that from this side all
is definitely fleeting.
Castaneda continued describing a universe polarized between two extremes:
the right side and the left side. The right side would correspond to the tonal and
the left side to the wizard.
In Stories of Power, Don Juan explains extensively to Castaneda about those
two halves of the bubble of perception. He says that the last duty of the teacher
consists of tediously cleaning a part of the bubble, and then reorganizing all that
there is on the other side. The teacher is occupied in this hammering away at
learning without pity until all his vision of the world stays in one half of the
bubble. The other half, that which has remained clean, can therefore be
reclaimed by something which the wizards call will. To explain all this is very
difficult because at this level words are totally inadequate. Precisely, the left part
of the universe implies the absence of words, and without words we cannot
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Lun 14 Dic 2009 - 13:44

think. There are only actions. In that other world, said Castaneda, the body acts.
The body doesn't need words to understand.
In the magical universe-as it's called-of Don Juan, certain entities exist that are
called allies or fleeting shadows. These can be captured a number of times. For
this kind of capture a large number of explanations have been sought, but,
according to Castaneda, there is no doubt that these phenomena depend
principally on the human anatomy. The important thing is to arrive at an
understanding that there is a whole gamut of explanations that can give reasons
for these fleeting shadows.
I asked him, then, about that knowing with the body that he speaks of in his
books. Is it that, for you, the whole body is an organ of knowledge? I inquired.
Sure! The body knows, he responded to me. As an example, Castaneda told us
of the many possibilities of that part of the leg that goes from the knee to the
ankle where a memory center could be seated. It would appear that you can
learn to use the body to capture those fleeting shadows. The teaching of Don
Juan transforms the body into an electronic scanner, he said, looking for an
adequate word in Spanish to compare the body to an electronic telescope. The
body would have the possibility to perceive reality at distinct levels which, in
their time, would reveal configurations of material also distinct. It was evident
that for Castaneda the body had possibilities of movement and perception to
which the majority of us are not accustomed. Standing up and pointing to the
foot and the ankle, he spoke to us of the possibilities of that part of the body and
of the little that we know about all of this. In the Toltec tradition, he affirmed, the
apprentice is trained in the development of those possibilities. At this level Don
Juan begins to construct.
Meditating on these words of Castaneda, I thought about the parallel with
Tantric Yoga and the distinct centers or chakras through which the ritualist
comes to awakening by means of certain ritual practices. In the book The
Hermetic (impenetrable) Circle by Miguel Serrano one reads that the chakras
are centers of conscience. In the same book, Karl Jung refers to a conversation
that Serrano had with a Pueblo Indian chief named Ochwian Biano or Lake of
the Mountain. He explained to me his impression of the whites-always so
agitated, always looking for something, aspiring to something... According to
Ochwian Biano, the whites were crazy; only crazy people affirm thinking with the
head. This affirmation of the Indian chief produced great surprise in me and I
asked him what he thought with. He answered me that he thought with the
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heart. (Miguel Serrano, The Impenetrable Circle, Buenos Aires: Ed. Kier, 1978)
The path of knowledge of the warrior is long, and requires total dedication. The
warrior has a concrete objective and a very pure incentive.
What is the objective? I insist. It seems that the objective consists in passing
consciously to the other side through the left flank of the universe. You have to
try to come as near as possible to the eagle and strive to escape it without it
devouring us. the objective, he said, is to leave on tiptoe by the left hand side of
the eagle. I don't know if you know, he continued, seeking the way to clarify for
us the image, that there is an entity that the Toltecs call the eagle. The visionary
sees it as an immense blackness that extends to infinity; it is an immense
blackness that lightning crossed. For that reason it is called the eagle: it has
black wings and back, and its chest is luminous.
The eye of the entity isn't a human eye. The eagle doesn't have pity. Everything
that is alive is represented in the eagle. That entity encloses all-the beauty that
man is capable of creating as well as all the bestiality that isn't the human being
properly said. That which is appropriately human in the eagle is immensely
small in comparison with all the rest. The eagle is excessively mass, bulk,
blackness...in front of that little which is proper in a human being.
The eagle attracts all life force that is ready to disappear because it is nourished
from that energy. The eagle is like an immense magnet that picks up all those
beams of light that are the vital energy of that which is dying.
While Castaneda told us all this, his hand and fingers imitated, like hammers,
the head of an eagle pecking space with an insatiable appetite. I only tell you
that which Don Juan and the others say. They are all wizards and witches! he
exclaimed. They are all involved in a metaphor that is incomprehensible for me.
What is 'the master' of man? What is it that claims us? he asked. I listened
attentively and stopped talking because he had entered a terrain in which
questions were possible.
The master of us can't be a man, he said. It seems that the Toltecs call master
the mold of a man. Everything-- plants, animals and human beings --have a
mold. The mold of man is the same for all human beings. My mold and yours,
he continued explaining, is the same, but in each one it is manifested and acted
on in a distinct form according to the development of the person.
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Dividing the words of Castaneda, we interpreted that the human mold is that
which doesn't reunite, that which unifies the force of life. The human form, on
the other hand, could be that which impedes us from seeing the mold. It seems
that while the human form isn't lost, we are, and this impedes us from changing.
In The Second Ring of Power, La Gorda instructs Castaneda about the human
mold and the human form. In that book, the form is described as a luminous
entity and Castaneda remembers that Don Juan described it as, the fount and
origin of man. La Gorda, thinking about Don Juan, remembers that he told her
that, if we arrive at having sufficient personal power we will be able to glimpse
the pattern although we are not wizards; and that when this occurs we will say
that we have seen God. She told me that if we call it God, it would be fit
because the mold is God. (The translation and the italicization are ours.)
Many times that afternoon we returned to the theme of the human form and the
mold of man. Surrounding the theme from distinct angles, each time it was
becoming more evident that the human form is that hard shell of the person. that
human form, he said, is like a towel that covers one from the armpits to the feet.
Behind that towel there is a bright candle that is being consumed until it goes
out. When the candle goes out, it is because one has died. Then, the eagle
comes and devours it.
Seers, continued Castaneda are those beings capable of seeing the human
being as a luminous egg. Inside of that sphere of light is a lit candle. If the seer
sees that the candle is small even though the person appears strong, it means
that it is already ended.
Castaneda had told us before that the Toltecs never die because to be Toltec
implies having lost the human form. Only at that moment we comprehended: if
the Toltec has lost the human form, there is nothing that the eagle could devour.
He hadn't kept us in doubt either that the concepts master of man and mold of
man as well as the image of the eagle referred to the same entity or were
intimately related.
Several hours later, seated before hamburgers in a cafeteria on the corner of
Westwood Boulevard and another street whose name I don remember,
Castaneda reported to us his experience of losing the human form. According to
what he said, his experience wasn't as strong as that of La Gorda (in The
Second Ring of Power, La Gorda relates to Castaneda that when she lost the
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human form she began to see an eye always in front of her. That eye
accompanied her all the time and almost ended in driving her crazy. Little by
little she got used to it until, one day, the eye happened to form a part of her.
Some day,...when I arrive at being a real being without form, I won't see that
eye any more; the eye will be one with me...) who had symptoms similar to
those of a heart attack In my case, said Castaneda, a simple phenomena of
hyperventilation was produced. In that precise moment I felt a big pressure: a
current energy entered through my head, passed through my chest and
stomach and followed through my legs until it disappeared through my left leg.
That was all.
To assure myself, he continued, I went to a doctor, but he didn't find anything.
He only suggested that I breathe in a paper bag to diminish the amount of
oxygen and to resist the phenomenon of hyperventilation.
According to the Toltecs, in some way you have to return or pay the eagle what
belongs to it. Castaneda had already told us that the master of a man is the
eagle, and that the eagle is all the nobility and beauty as well all the horror and
ferocity which is found in all that is. Why is the eagle the master of man? the
eagle is the master of man because it feeds from the call of life, of the vital
energy that is loosened from all that is. And, making once more the gesture with
his hands resembling the pecking head of the eagle, cleared the space of pecks
with his arm, which he said, Like that! Like that! It devours everything!
The only way to escape the voracity of death is irrefutable and inescapable, the
action begins. What does it consist of, how do you do this personal
recapitulation? I wanted to know.
In the first place a list has to be made of all the people you have known in the
length of your life, he responded, a list of all those who in one way or another
have forced us to put the ego (that center of personal growth that later would be
shown as a monster of 3,000 heads) on the table. We have to bring back all
those who have collaborated so that we might enter into that game of they like
me or they don't like me. A game that isn't anything else than upset living about
we ourselves...Licking our own wounds!
The 'recapitulation' has to be total, he continued; it goes from Z to A, going
backwards. It begins in the present moment and goes toward early infancy, until
two or three years of age and even earlier if it were possible. Since we were
born, everything is being engraved on our bodies. The 'recapitulation' requires a
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great training of the mind.
How do you do this 'recapitulation'? One goes carefully bringing up images and
fixing them in front of yourself, then, with a movement of the head from right to
left, every one of the images is blown out as if we were sweeping them from our
vision... The breath is magic, he added.
With the end of the 'recapitulation,' ended also are all the tricks, games and the
self feeling. It seems that in the end we know all our tricks and there isn't any
way to put the ego on the table without our realizing immediately what we are
pretending with it. With personal recapitulation you can divest yourself of
everything. Then, only the task remains; the task in all its simplicity, purity and
rawness.
The 'recapitulation' is possible for everyone, but requires an inflexible will. If you
fluctuate or hesitate; you are lost because the eagle will eat you. In that terrain
there's no room for doubt. In the first The Teachings of Don Juan, it says this:
The thing that you have to learn is how to arrive at the crack between the worlds
and how to enter into the other world. . . there is a place where the two worlds
come together one over the other. The crack is there. It opens and closes like a
door with the wind. To arrive there, a man must exert his will, must, I would say,
develop an indomitable desire, a total dedication. But he must do it without the
help of any power and of any man...
I don't know how to explain all of this well, but in the fulfillment and dedication to
the task, you have to be compulsive without truly being so because the Toltec is
a free being. The task asks all of one; however, it is freeing. Do you
comprehend? If this is difficult to understand it is because, at its base, it deals
with a paradox.
But to this recapitulation, added Castaneda, changing tone and posture, you
have to put 'spice' on it. The characteristic of Don Juan and his 'pals' is that they
are fickle. Don Juan cured me of being tiresome. He is not solemn, nothing
formal. Within the seriousness of the task that they all perform there is always
room for humour.
To illustrate in a concrete way the way that Don Juan taught him, Castaneda
related to us a very interesting episode. It seems that he smoked a lot and that
Don Juan resolved to cure him.
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I smoked three packs a day. One after the other! I didn't let them go out. You
see that now I don't have pockets, he said, showing his jacket that, lacked them.
I eliminated pockets in them so as to remove from my body the possibility of
feeling something on my left side, something that might remind me of the habit.
In eliminating the pocket, I eliminated also the physical habit of carrying my
hand in my pockets.
One time Don Juan told me that we were going to spend several days in the
Chihuahua hills. I remember that he expressly told me not to forget to bring my
cigarettes. He recommended to me, also, to bring provisions for two packs a
day and no more. So I bought the packs of cigarettes, but instead of 20 I packed
40. I made up some divine packs that I covered with aluminum foil to protect my
cargo from animals and the rain.
Well equipped and burdened with a knapsack, I followed Don Juan through the
hills. There I walked, lighting cigarette after cigarette, and trying to catch my
breath. Don Juan had tremendous vigor. With great patience he waited for me
while observing me smoke and try to keep up with him through the hills. I
wouldn't have had the patience that he had with me! he exclaimed. We arrived,
at last, at a pretty high plateau, surrounded by cliffs and steep hillsides. There
Don Juan invited me to try to descend. For a long time I probed from one side to
the other until finally I had to desist from the purpose. I wasn't going to be able
to do it.
We continued like that, for several days, until one morning I woke up, and the
first thing I did was to look for my cigarettes. Where were my divine packages? I
looked and looked, and I didn't find them. When Don Juan woke up, I wanted to
know what was happening to me. He explained what was going on and told me,
Don't worry Surely a coyote came and carried them away, but they can't be very
far. Here! Look! There are the tracks of the coyote!
We spent all that day trailing the tracks of the coyote in search of the packs.
There we were, when Don Juan sat on the ground and, pretending to be a little
old man, very old, began to complain, This time I'm sure lost. . . I'm old. . .I can't
any more. . . While he was saying this, he grabbed his head in his hands and
made a great fuss.
Castaneda told us this whole story imitating Don Juan in his gestures and tone
of voice. It was a spectacle seeing him. A little later, the same Castaneda would
tell us that Don Juan used to make reference to his histrionic abilities. With all
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that walking around, continued Castaneda, I believe that 10 or 12 days had
passed. I already didn't care about smoking! That is how I lost the desire to
smoke. We had gone along like demons running through the hills! When the
time came to return, you can imagine that Don Juan knew the way perfectly. We
went down directly to the town. The difference was that, then, I already didn't
have a need to buy cigarettes. From that episode, he said nostalgically, fifteen
years have passed.
The line of not-doing, he commented, is precisely the opposite of the routine or
the routines to which we are accustomed. Habits, like smoking for example, are
those which have us tied up, in chains...in the sense of not-doing, on the other
hand, all avenues are possible.
We were silent for a while. I finally broke it to ask about Dona Soledad. I said
that she had impressed me as a grotesque figure; really, like a witch. Dona
Soledad is Indian, he answered me. The history of her transformation is
something incredible. She put such willpower into her transformation that in the
end she achieved it. In that force her will developed to such an extreme that as
a consequence she also developed too much personal pride. Precisely for this
reason I don't believe that she can pass on tiptoes by the left side of the eagle.
In whatever way, it's fantastic what she was capable of doing by herself! I don't
know if you remember who she was...she was Pablito's 'mamacita.' She was
always washing clothes, ironing, washing dishes... offering little meals to
someone or another.
In relating this to us, Castaneda imitated in gestures and movements a little old
lady. You have to see her now, he continued. Dona Soledad is a young strong
woman. Now she is to be feared!
The 'recapitulation' took Dona Soledad seven years of her life. She hid herself in
a cave and didn't leave there. She stayed there until she finished with
everything. In seven years that's all she did. Even though she can't pass
together with the eagle, Castaneda said, full of admiration, she'll never go back
to being the poor old thing she was before.
After a pause, Castaneda reminded us that Don Juan and Don Genaro still
weren't with them.
Now already everything is different, expressed Castaneda nostalgically. Don
Juan and Don Genaro aren't there. The Toltec woman is with us. She asks
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tasks of us. La Gorda and I do tasks together. The others also have tasks to
perform; distinct tasks, also in different places.
According to Don Juan, women have more talent than men. Women are more
susceptible. In life, moreover, they wear out less and tire less than men. For this
reason Don Juan has left me now in the hands of a woman. He has left me in
the hands of the other side of the man woman unit. Furthermore, he has left me
in the hands of women; of the little sisters and La Gorda
The woman who is teaching us now has no name. (Several months later La
Gorda (Maria Tena) called me to send a message from Castaneda. In that
conversation, she told me that Mrs. Toltec is named Dona Florinda, and that she
is a very elegant, vivacious and anxious woman. Mrs. Toltec must be 50 years
old.) She is simply the Toltec woman.
Mrs. Toltec is the one who teaches me now. She is responsible for everything.
All the others, La Gorda and I, are nothing. We wanted to know if she knew that
he was going to meet with us as well as his other plans.
Mrs. Toltec knows everything. She sent me to Los Angeles to converse with
you, he responded, turning his attention to me. She knows about my projects
and that I'm going to New York.
We also wanted to know what she was like. Is she young? Is she old? we asked
him.
Mrs. Toltec is a very strong woman. Her muscles move in a very peculiar way.
She is old, but one of those who shines with the strength of her makeup.
It was difficult to explain how she was. In his trying, Castaneda sought for a
point of reference and reminded us of the movie Giant.
Do you remember, he asked us, that movie that James Dean and Elizabeth
Taylor appeared in? There Taylor plays a mature woman although in reality she
was very young. The Toltec woman causes the same impression in me: a face
with the makeup of an old woman with a body still young. Also I could say that
she acts old.
Do you know about the National Enquirer he casually continued, A friend of
mine is in charge of saving them for me here in Los Angeles, and every time I
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come I read them. It's the only thing that I read here... Precisely in that
newspaper recently I saw some photos of Elizabeth Taylor. Now she surely is
large!
What did Castaneda want to transmit to us in making the comment about the
National Enquirer is the only thing he reads? It's difficult to imagine that a
sensationalist newspaper would be his fount of information.
That comment in some way synthesized his judgment with respect to the
immense production of news that characterizes our era. That comment also
encloses a judgment in respect to the values of the whole Western culture.
Everything is on the level of the National Enquirer.
Nothing Castaneda said that afternoon was casual. The different fragments
which he provided pointed at creating a determined impression on us. In this
intention wasn't in any way wrong; on the contrary, his interest was to transmit
the essential truth of the teaching they are involved in.
-- The second half of this interview will be printed in issue #15 of Magical Blend.
Another partial translation has previously been printed in Seeds of Unfolding.
Copyright 1985 Magical Blend Magazine
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Magical Blend #15 - 1985
[Transcriber's note: the published version of this article contains various strange
phrases, numerous misspelled words and lots of peculiar punctuation, all of
which is preserved here.]
A CONVERSATION WITH CARLOS CASTANEDA
Magical Blend Magazine Issue #15
[This is part 2 of the interview]
[Introduction to interview by Magical Blend Magazine]
During the planning stages for a book she is writing on mystical thinkers,
Graciela Corvalan wrote a letter to Carlos Castaneda requesting an interview.
She later received a phone call from Castaneda in which he accepted her
request, explaining that he was excited to be interviewed by her since she was
not a member of the established press. Castaneda asked her to meet him at a
specified time and date on the UCLA campus. When Graciela and a few
colleagues arrived for the interview, she was asked not to use the tape recorder
she had brought along. So, for seven hours, loaded with books and papers,
Graciela kept notes as the man, who some have credited as being the crucial
catalyst of mainstream awareness of metaphysics, explained his tutelage under
the Yaqui Sorcerer, Don Juan, his present tasks assigned to him by the fierce
Toltec Woman, and the nature of the Toltec teachings.
In the first part of this interview, published in Magical Blend issue #14, Graciela
explained that the interview was conducted in Spanish, noting that although
Castaneda is fluent in Spanish, his native language is obviously English.
Graciela found that Castaneda, though well read, was not intellectual in a
bookish sense. At no time, says Graciela, did he establish comparisons with
other traditions of the past or present. It was obvious that he did not wish to
contaminate his teaching with anything extraneous to it.
Graciela found Castaneda a master in the art of conversation as he talked at
length about his past and present.
At the time he met Don Juan, Castaneda's primary interest was anthropology,
but, upon encountering him I changed.
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Graciela remembers that, Don Juan was present with us. Every time Castaneda
mentioned or remembered him, we felt his emotion.
From Don Juan, Castaneda learned the sorcerer's principle rule: Give your all in
each moment. And through Don Juan, Castaneda became involved in the long
process of freeing himself from his past, a process which included divesting
himself of both possessions and friends. According to Castaneda, the life of the
Toltec warrior requires an unshakeable desire to be free. In the course of the
interview, Castaneda revealed himself to be every bit the warrior showing a
distaste for pacifism and cheap sentiment. Without an adversary, he maintains,
we are nothing.
In questioning Castaneda about the Toltec tradition, Graciela found that, from
an anthropological perspective, the word Toltec makes reference to an Indian
culture of the center and south of Mexico that was already extinct at the time of
the conquest and colonization of America by Spain. But, according to
Castaneda, Toltec is descriptive not so much of hereditary characteristics but
rather of a way of life and a way of looking at life. Toltec, says Castaneda is one
who knows the mysteries of watching and dreaming. It is a tradition that has
been maintained for more than 3,000 years. Though Toltec colonies or
civilizations may have been destroyed by the white man, the Toltec nation could
not be destroyed, for it represented something incomprehensible to the white
man to whom the dream world remained cut off, mysterious and
unapproachable.
According to Castaneda, the objective of the Toltec is to leave the living world;
to leave with all that one is, but with nothing more than what one is. Don Juan
succeeded in this activity, but it was not, emphasizes Castaneda, death,
because Toltecs don't die. In The Second Ring of Power, la Gorda says, when
the wizards learn to 'dream' they tie together their two attentions and, therefore,
there is no need for the center to push out...sorcerers...don't die.
Freedom, says Castaneda, is an illusion perpetrated by the snare of the senses.
The art of the wizard consists of bringing learning to discover and destroy that
perceptive prejudice. In transcending, or breaking, the tyranny of the senses, a
door to a magical universe is opened. Castaneda describes the universe as
being polarized between two extremes: the right side and the left side-The two
halves of the bubble of perception. On the left side is action. Here there are no
words. Here the mind does not conceptualize but rather the entire body realizes,
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without thoughts and without words. The duty of a teacher such as Don Juan is
to move all vision of the world into the right side, so that the left side can remain
clear for the magical practice of will.
Presiding over the universe is the Eagle, an immense blackness representative
of all the beauty and all the bestiality in everything that's alive. According to
Castaneda, that which can be called human is very small in comparison to the
rest. As excessive mass, bulk, and blackness, the Eagle attracts and feeds on
all life force that is ready to disappear. It is, he says, like an immense magnet
that picks up all those beams of light that are the vital energy of that which is
dying.
The key to escaping the Eagle is recapitulation which involves going backward
from adult to infancy, clearing out the images of a lifetime, divesting oneself of
everything until only the task remains and one arrives at the crack between the
worlds. To arrive there, says Castaneda requires an indomitable desire, a total
dedication. But one must do it without the help of any power and of any man.
According to Toltec tradition, all living things have a mold. The mold of man is
the same for all human beings. In each individual it is developed and manifested
according to the development of the person. The human form, on the other
hand, impedes us from seeing the mold. In The Second Ring of Power, the form
is described as a luminous entity. According to Don Juan, it is the fount and
origin of man. The reason that Toltecs do not die is because, having lost the
human form, they have nothing that the Eagle can devour.
In The Second Ring of Power, la Gorda relates that when she succeeded in
losing the human form, she began to see an eye always in front of her which
almost ended up driving her crazy. But someday she says, when I arrive at
being a real being without form, I won't see that eye anymore; the eye will be
one with me.
So, without further digression, we proudly present the second part of Graciela
Corvalan's interview with Carlos Castaneda.
[Beginning of Corvalan Interview - Part 2]
EVASIVE MYSTERIES
By Graciela Corvalan, Ph.D.
We continued talking about the Toltec Woman and Castaneda told us that she's
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leaving soon. She's told us that in her place are going to come two women. The
Toltec Woman is very strict, her demands are terrible! Now, if the Toltec Woman
is fierce, it appears that the two who are coming are much worse. Let's hope
that she's not leaving yet! One can't stop wanting nor can prevent the body from
complaining and fearing the severity of the undertaking... Nevertheless, there's
no way of altering destiny. So, there it grabbed me!
I don't have more liberty, he continued, than the impeccable one because only if
I'm impeccable, I change my destiny; that is to say, I go on tiptoes by the left
side of the eagle. If I'm not impeccable, I don't change my destiny and the eagle
devours me.
The Nagual Juan Matos is a free man. He is free in fulfilling his destiny. Do you
understand me? I don't know if you understand what I want to say, he asked
worriedly.
Sure we understand! we retorted vehemently. We find a great similarity with
what we feel and live daily in so much in this last section as in many other things
that you have referred to us up to now.
Don Juan is a free man, he continued. He looks for liberty. His spirit looks for it..
Don Juan is free from that basic prejudice; the perceptive prejudice that prevent
us from seeing reality.
The importance of all that which we came speaking about resides in the
possibility of destroying the circle of routines: Don Juan made him practice
numerous exercises so he would become conscious of his routines: exercises
such as 'walking in the darkness' and the 'power walk.'
How to break that circle of routines ? How to break that perceptive arc that ties
us to that ordinary vision of reality? That ordinary vision that our routines
contribute to establishing is, precisely, that which Castaneda denominates the
attention of the tonal or 'the first ring of attention.'
To break that perceptive arc isn't an easy task; it could take years. The difficulty
with me, he affirmed laughing, is that I am very pigheaded. Quite unwillingly I
went on learning: For this reason, in my case, Don Juan had to use drugs...and
so I ended up...with my liver in the stream!
In the line of not-doing is achieved the destroying of routines and becoming
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conscious, explained Castaneda. While saying this he stood up and started to
walk backwards while he remembered a technique that Don Juan had taught
him: Walking backwards with the help of a mirror. Castaneda continued
reporting to us that to facilitate the task he devised an artifact of metal (like a
ring that in the style of a crown he bore on his head) in which the mirror was
fastened. In that way, he could practice the exercise and have his hands free.
Other examples of techniques of not-doing would be to put on your belt
backwards and to wear your shoes on the opposite feet. All these techniques
have as an objective to make one conscious of what one is doing at each
moment. Destroying routines, he said, is the way we have of giving the body
new sensations. The body knows...
Immediately Castaneda related to us some of the games that the Toltec youth
practice for hours. They are games of not-doing, he explained. Games in which
there are no fixed rules but rather they are generated as they play.
It seems that by not having fixed rules, the behavior of the players isn't foreseen
and, consequently, everyone must be very attentive. One-of these games, he
continued, consists in giving the adversary false signs. It's a game of pulling.
As he said, in that game of pulling, three persons participate and two posts and
a rope are needed. With the rope you tie up one of the players and hang him
from the posts. The other two players must pull on the ends of the rope and try
to fool him giving him false signs. All have to be very attentive so that when one
pulls, the other also does it and the person who is tied doesn't get twisted.
The techniques and games of not-doing develop attention: You can say that
they are concentration exercises since they obligate those who practice them to
be fully conscious of what they are doing. Castaneda commented that old age
would consist in having remained shut in the perfect circle of routines.
The way of teaching of the Toltec Woman is to put us into situations. I believe
that it's the best way because in putting us in situations we discover that we are
nothing: The other way is that of self love, that of personal pride. The former
way transforms us into detectives, always attentive to all that could happen or
offend us. Detectives? Yes ! We spent time seeking evidence of love: if they
love me or they love me not. Thus, centered in our ego we don't do anything but
strengthen it. According to the Toltec Woman, the best is to begin considering
that nobody loves us.
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Castaneda told us that for Don Juan, personal pride resembles a monster of
3,000 heads. One destroys and knocks down heads but others always rise up...
It's that one possesses all the tricks! he exclaimed. With the tricks it appears
that we fool ourselves believing we are somebody.
I then reminded him of the image of catching weaknesses, as rabbits are caught
in a trap, that appears in one of his books. Yes, he answered me, you constantly
have to be on the lookout.
Changing position, Castaneda began to give us the history of the past three
years. One of the many tasks was that of cook in those roadside cafes. La
Gorda accompanied me that year as a waitress. For more than a year we lived
there as Jose Cordoba and his wife! My complete name was Jose Luis
Cordoba, at your service, he, said with a profound reverence. Without a doubt,
everyone knew me as Joe Cordoba.
Castaneda didn't tell us the name or the location of the city in which they lived.
It's possible that they had been in different places. It appears that at the
beginning, he arrived with la Gorda and the Toltec Woman, who accompanied
them for a while. The first thing was to find housing and work for Joe Cordoba,
his wife, and his mother-in-law. That was how we presented ourselves,
commented Castaneda, otherwise, the people wouldn't have understood.
For a long time they looked for work, until finally they found it in a roadside cafe.
In that type of establishment you begin very early in the morning. At five a.m.
you have to be already working.
Castaneda told us, laughing, that in those places the first thing they ask you is:
Do you know how to make eggs? What could there be to making eggs? It
appears that he delayed enough time in figuring out what they were trying to say
until he finally discovered that they were talking about the diverse ways of
preparing eggs for breakfast. In restaurants or cafes for truck drivers. 'Egg
making' is very important.
They spent one year working there. Now I know how to 'make eggs', he affirmed
laughing. All that you would want! La Gorda also worked a lot. She was such a
good waitress that she ended up by taking care of all the girls there. At the end
of a year, when the Toltec Woman told them, That's enough, you're finished with
this task, the owner of the cafe didn't want us to leave. The truth is that we
worked very hard there. A lot! From morning till night.
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During that year, they had a significant encounter. It relates to the story of a girl
named Terry who arrived at the cafe where they were asking for work
waitressing. By then, Joe Cordoba had gained the confidence of the owner of
the establishment and was the one in charge of contracting and watching over
all the staff. As Terry told them, she was looking for Carlos Castaneda. How
could she know that they were there? Castaneda didn't know.
This girl Terry, continued Castaneda with sadness and giving us to understand
that she looked dirty and messy, is one of those 'hippies' who take drugs...a
terrifying life. Poor thing! Later, Castaneda would tell us, that, even though he
could never tell Terry who he was, Joe Cordoba and his wife helped her a lot
during the months she spent with them. He told us that one day she came in
very excited from the street saying that she had just seen Castaneda in a
Cadillac parked in front of the cafe. He's there, she screamed to us; he's in the
car, writing. Are you sure it's Castaneda? How can you be so convinced? I told
her. But she continued, Yes, it's him, I'm sure.. . I then suggested to her that she
go out to the car and ask him. She needed to get rid of that immense doubt.
Hurry! Hurry! I insisted. She was afraid to speak to him because she said that
she was very fat and very ugly. I encouraged her. But you look divine, hurry!
Finally, she went, but came right back crying a river of tears. It seems that the
man in the Cadillac hadn't looked at her, and had thrown her out telling her not
to bother him. You can imagine that I tried to console her, said Castaneda It
gave me so much pain that I almost told her who I was. La Gorda didn't let me;
she protected me. Really, he couldn't tell her anything because he was
performing a task in which he was Joe Cordoba and not Carlos Castaneda. He
couldn't disobey.
As Castaneda told it, when Terry arrived she wasn't a good waitress. With
passing months, without a doubt, they brought her to be good, clean and
careful. La Gorda gave much advice to Terry. We cared for her a lot. She never
imagined who she was with all that time.
In these last years they had passed moments of tremendous deprivation during
which people maltreated and offended them. More than once he was at the
point of revealing who he was, but... Who would have believed me! he said.
Besides, the Toltec Woman is the one who decides.
That year, he continued, there were moments in which we were reduced to the
minimum: we slept on the ground and we ate only one thing.
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Hearing this, we wanted him to explain to us the ways of eating they had.
Castaneda told us that Toltecs only eat one type of food at a time, but that they
do it continually. Toltecs eat all day, he commented in a casual tone. (In this
affirmation of Castaneda one can see his desire to break the image that people
have of the sorcerer or wizard - beings with special powers who don't have the
same needs as the rest of mortals. In saying that they eat all day, Castaneda
united them with the rest of mankind.)
According to Castaneda, the mixing of foods, for example, eating meat with
potatoes and vegetables, is very bad for your health. This mixture is very recent
in the life of humanity, he affirmed. To eat one kind of food helps digestion and
is better for the organism.
One time Don Juan accused me of always feeling sick. You can imagine that I
defended myself! However, later I realized that he was right and I learned. Now I
feel well, strong and healthy.
Also the way of sleeping that they have is different from that of the majority of
us. The important thing is to realize that you can sleep in many ways. According
to Castaneda, we have learned to go to sleep and to get up at a determined
hour because that is what society wants from us. So, for example, said
Castaneda, parents put the children to bed to get rid of them. We all laughed
because there was some truth in his statement.
I sleep all day and all night, he continued, but if I add up the hours and minutes I
sleep, I don't believe they come to more than five hours a day. To sleep in that
way requires on the part of the person the ability to go directly into deep sleep.
Returning to Joe Cordoba and his wife, Castaneda told us that one day the
Toltec Woman came and told them that they were not working enough. She
ordered us, he said, to organize a pretty big business in landscaping, something
like designing and arranging gardens. This new task of the Toltec Woman
wasn't anything small. We had to contract a group of people to help us to do the
work during the week while we were in the cafe. During the weekends we
dedicated ourselves exclusively to the gardens. We had a lot of success.
La Gorda is a very enterprising person. That year we worked really hard. During
the week we were in the Cafe and on the weekends always driving the truck and
pruning trees. The demands of the Toltec Woman are very large.
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I remember, continued Castaneda, that at a certain opportunity we were in the
house of a friend when reporters arrived looking for Carlos Castaneda. They
were reporters from The New York Times. So as to pass unnoticed, la Gorda
and I put ourselves to planting trees in my friend's garden. In the distance we
saw them enter and leave the house. That was when my friend yelled at us and
mistreated us a lot in front of the reporters. It seemed that Joe Cordoba and his
woman could be yelled at without consequence. None of those who were
present there came to our defense. Who were we? There, only the poor people
and dogs work in the sun!
So that was how between my friend and us we fooled the reporters. My body,
however, I couldn't fool it. For three years we were involved in the task of giving
experiences to the body to make it realize that, in truth, we are nothing. The
truth is that the body isn't the only thing that suffers. The mind also is
accustomed to constant stimuli. The warrior, however, doesn't have stimuli from
the media; he doesn't need them. The best place, therefore, is that where we
were! There nobody thinks!
Continuing with the story of his adventures, Castaneda commented that more
than once he and la Gorda were kicked out in the street. Other times, going by
truck down the highway, we were pushed to the edge of the road. What
alternative did we have? It's best to let them pass!
Through all that Castaneda came telling us, it appears that the task of those
years had to do with, learning to survive in adverse circumstances, and with
surviving the experience of discrimination. This last, something very difficult to
endure but very informative, he concluded with great calm.
The objective of the task consists in learning to remove oneself from the
emotional impact which discrimination provokes. The important thing is not to
react, not to get angry. If one reacts, he/she is lost One doesn't get offended by
a tiger when it attacks, he explained, you move to the side and let it pass.
In another opportunity, la Gorda and I found work in a house, she as a maid and
I as butler. You can't imagine how that ended! They kicked us out into the street
without pay. Even more! To protect themselves from us in case we were to
protest, they had called the local police. Can you imagine? We were jailed for
nothing.
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That year, la Gorda and I spent working very hard and suffering great privations.
Many times we didn't have anything to eat. The worst thing was that we couldn't
complain nor did we have the support of the group. In that task we were alone
and we couldn't escape. In whatever way, even though we might have been
able to say who we were, nobody would have believed us. The task is always
total.
Truthfully, I am Joe Cordoba, continued Castaneda accompanying his words
with his whole body; and this is very beautiful because you can't fall lower. I
have already arrived at the bottom you can be. That is all that I am. And with
these last words he touched the ground with his hands.
As I told you before, every one of us has different tasks to perform. The
Genaros are quite bright; Benigno is now in Chiapas and he's doing very well.
He has a musical group. Benigno possesses a marvelous gift of imitation; he
imitates Tom Jones and many more. Pablito is the same as always; he's very
lazy. Benigno is he who makes the noise and Pablito celebrates it. Benigno is
the one who works and Pablito gathers the applause.
Now, he said in way of conclusion, we have all finished the tasks which we have
been doing and we are preparing ourselves for new tasks. The Toltec Woman is
the one who sends us.
The story of Joe Cordoba and his woman had impressed us a lot. It dealt with
an experience very different from those of his books. We were interested in
knowing whether he had written or was writing anything about Joe Cordoba.
I know that Joe Cordoba existed, said one of us; he had to exist. Why don't you
write about him? From all that you have come telling us, Joe Cordoba and his
woman is what has impacted me most.
I just brought a new manuscript to my agent, Castaneda answered us. In that
manuscript, the Toltec Woman is she who teaches. It couldn't be any other
way...The title might possibly be, The Stalking and the Art of Being in The
World. [This book was published in 1981 as The Eagle's Gift.] There is all her
teaching. She is the one responsible for that manuscript. A woman had to be the
one who taught about the art of stalking. Women know it well because they
have always lived with the enemy; that is to say, they have always walked 'on
tiptoe' in the masculine world. Precisely for that reason, because women have
long experience in that art, the Toltec Woman is she who has to give the
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principles of stalking.
In that last manuscript, however, there is nothing concrete about the life of Joe
Cordoba and his woman. I can't write in detail about that experience because
nobody would understand nor believe it. I can speak of these things with very
few...Yes, the essence of the experience of the last three years is in the book.
Returning to the Toltec Woman and her nature, Castaneda told us that she was
very different from Don Juan. She doesn't love me, he insisted, la Gorda, on the
other hand, yes, she loves her! You can't ask the Toltec Woman anything.
Before you speak to her she already knows what she has to say. Besides, you
have to fear her; when she gets angry, she hits, he concluded making many
gestures which indicated his fear.
We stayed in silence for a while. The sun had gone down and its rays reached
us through the branches of the trees. I felt a little cold. It seemed to me that it
was around 7 p.m.
Castaneda appeared also to become aware of the time. It's already late, he told
us. What do you think about getting something to eat? I invite you.
We got up and began to walk. As one of those ironies, Castaneda took charge
of my notes and books for part of the way. The best thing was to leave
everything in the car. That's what we did. Free of our bundles, we walked for
some blocks in animated conversation.
All that they had achieved requires years of preparation and practice. One
example is the exercise of dreaming. That which seems so foolish, affirmed
Castaneda emphatically, is very difficult to achieve.
The exercise consists in learning to dream at will and in a systematic way. You
begin by dreaming about a hand that enters the visual field of the dreamer.
Then, you see the whole arm. You continue in a progressive way until you can
see yourself in the dream. The other step consists in learning to use dreams.
That is to say, once you have achieved control over them, you have to learn to
act on them. So, for example, Castaneda said, you dream about yourself that
you leave the body and that you open the door and go out into the street. The
street is something outrageous! Something in you leaves you; something that
you achieve at will.
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According to Castaneda, dreaming doesn't take much time. That is to say,
dreams don't occur in the time of our watches. The time of the dream is
something very compact.
Castaneda gave us to understand that in dreams an immense physical draining
is produced. In dreams, you can live a lot, he said, but the body resents it. My
body really feels it... Afterwards you feel like a truck has run over you.
Several times, touching upon that theme of dreaming, Castaneda would say that
that which they do in dreams has a pragmatic value. In Tales of Power, you
read that the experiences of dreams and those lived in one's waking hours
acquire the same pragmatic valence, and that for sorcerers the criteria to
differentiate a dream from reality becomes inoperative. (p. 18).
That of leaving or traveling outside of the physical body keenly caught our
interest, and we wanted to know more about those experiences.
He answered us explaining that every one of them had achieved different
experiences. La Gorda and I, for example, go together. She takes me by the
forearm and. . .we go.
He explained to us also that the group has common journeys. They are all in
constant training whose objective would be 'to become witnesses.' To arrive at
being witnesses means, affirmed Castaneda, that you can't judge any more.
That is to say, it relates to an internal sight which equals not having prejudices
any more.
Josefina seems to have great abilities to journey in the body of dreaming. She
wants to take you there and probes recounting marvels. La Gorda is the one
who always rescues her.
Josefina has a great facility to break that arch of being able to reflect upon
things. She's crazy, crazy! he exclaimed. Josefina flies very far, but she doesn't
want to go alone and always returns. She returns and looks for me... She gives
me reports that are marvelous.
According to Castaneda, Josefina is a being who cannot function in this world.
Here, he said, she would have ended up in some institution.
Josefina is a being who cannot be held to the concrete; she is ethereal. In
whatever moment she can definitively leave. La Gorda and he are, on the other
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hand, much more cautious in their flights. La Gorda, particularly, represents the
stability and equilibrium that in some measure he lacks.
After a pause, I reminded him of that vision of an immense dome which in The
Second Ring of Power is presented as the place of meeting and where Don
Juan and Don Genaro would be waiting for them.
La Gorda also has that vision, he commented pensively. That which we see isn't
an earthly horizon. It's something very smooth and arid in whose horizon we see
rising an immense arch which covers all and which extends until it arrives at the
zenith. In that point in the zenith, you can see a large brightness. You could say
that it is something like a dome that emits an amber light.
We strove to press upon him questions so that he would give us more
information about that dome. What is it? Where is it? we inquired.
Castaneda answered that by the size of what they see, it could be a planet. In
the zenith, he added, there is like a great wind.
By the brevity of his answer, we realized that Castaneda didn't want to talk
much about that topic. It is possible, also, that he couldn't find adequate words
to express what they saw. No matter what, it is evident that those visions, those
flights in the body dreaming, are a constant training for the definitive journey-
that leaving through the left side of the eagle, that final leap which is called
death, that giving an end to the recapitulation; that being able to say we are
ready, in which we carry all that we are but nothing more than that what we are.
According to the Toltec Woman, Castaneda conferred to us, those visions are
my aberrations: She thinks that that is my unconscious way of paralyzing my
actions; that is to say, the way I have of saying that I don't want to leave the
world. The Toltec Woman also says that with my attitude, I am detaining la
Gorda from the possibilities of a more fertile or more productive flight.
Don Juan and Don Genaro were great dreamers. They had an absolute control
of the art. I am surprised, immediately exclaimed Castaneda, raising his hand to
his forehead, at the fact that nobody notices that don Juan is an outrageous
dreamer. The same can be said of Don Genaro. Don Genaro, for example, is
capable of bringing his body of dream to the every day life.
The great control of Don Juan and Don Genaro is evidenced in that of not being
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noted or passing by unnoticed. (In all his books, Castaneda has referred to that
of not being noted and to go by unnoticed. In The Second Ring of Power,
Castaneda records the times that Don Juan had ordered him to concentrate on
not being obvious. Nestor, also, says that Don Juan and Don Genaro learned to
not be noticed in the midst of all this. The two are masters of the art of stalking.
Of Don Genaro, la Gorda says that he was in the body of dreaming most of the
time, (p. 270). All that they do, he continued with enthusiasm, is worthy of
praise. Of Don Juan, I admire immensely his great control, composure and
serenity.
Of Don Juan, it can never be said that he is a senile old man. He isn't like other
people. There is here on campus, for example, an old professor who when I was
a young man was already famous. At that time, he was at the peak of his
physical strength and intellectual creativity. Now, he's chewing his tongue of
cork! Now I can see him as he is, as a senile old man. Of Don Juan, on the
other hand, you will never be able to say something like that. His advantage in
respect to me is always abysmal.
In the interview with Sam Keen, Castaneda says that one time Don Juan asked
him if he thought the two were equals. Even though he really didn't think that
they were, in a condescending tone he said yes. Don Juan listened to him, but
he didn't accept his verdict. I don't think that we are, he said, because I am a
hunter and a warrior and you are more like a pimp. I am ready at any moment to
offer the recapitulation of my life. Your small world full of sadness and indecision
can never be equal to mine. (Sam Keen, Voices and Visions (New York: Harper
and Row, 1976), p. 122.)
In all that Castaneda had told us can be found parallels with other currents and
traditions of mystical thinking. In his own books are cited authors and works of
antiquity and of the present. I reminded him that, among others, there are
references to The Egyptian Book of the Dead, to Tractatus by Wittgenstein, to
Spanish poets like San Juan de la Cruz and Juan Ramon Jimenez, and to Latin
American writers like the Peruvian Cesar Vallejo.
Yes, he responded, in my car there are always books, many books. Things that
someone or another send me. He was accustomed to read sections of those
books to Don Juan. He likes poetry. It's clear that he only likes the four first
lines! According to him, that which follows is idiocy. He says that after the first
verse it loses force, that it's pure repetition.
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One of us asked him if he had read of or if he knew the yoga techniques and the
descriptions of the different planes of reality which the sacred books of India
offer. All that is marvelous, he said. I have had, moreover, pretty intimate
relationships with people who work in Hatha Yoga.
In 1976, a doctor friend named Claudio Naranjo (Do you know him? he asked
us.) connected me with a yoga teacher. That's how we went to visit him in his
'ashram' here in California. We communicated by means of a professor who
acted as interpreter. I was trying to discover in that interview parallels with my
own experiences of traveling outside of the body. There, however, he didn't
speak of anything important. There was, yes, much show and ceremony, but he
didn't say anything. Towards the end of the interview, this character took in his
hands a metal watering can and began to wet me with a liquid whose color I
didn't like at all. No sooner had he withdrawn, when I asked him what he had
just thrown at me. Someone came near and explained to me that I should be
very happy because he had given me his blessing. I insisted on knowing the
contents of the container. Finally I was told that all the secretions of the teacher
are saved: Everything that comes from him is sacred. You can imagine, he
concluded in a tone between jocular and joking, that here concluded the
conversation with the yoga master.
A year later, Castaneda had a similar experience with one of the disciples of
Gurdjieff. He met with him in Los Angeles upon the insistence of one of his
friends. It seems that the gentleman had imitated Gurdjieff in everything. He had
shaven his head and had a huge moustache, he commented, indicating with his
hands their size. We had just entered, when he energetically grabbed me by the
throat and gave me some tremendous blows. Immediately after he told me to
leave my master because I was wasting my time: According to him, in eight or
nine classes, he was going to teach me everything I needed to know. Can you
imagine? In a few classes he can teach someone everything.
Castaneda also told us that the disciple of Gurdjieff had mentioned the use of
drugs to accelerate the learning process.
The interview didn't last long. It seems that Castaneda's friend realized right
away the ridiculousness of the situation and the magnitude of his error. That
friend had insisted that he see the disciple of Gurdjieff because he was
convinced that Castaneda needed a teacher more serious than Don Juan.
When the interview ended, Castaneda told us that his friend felt full of shame.
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We continued walking some six or seven blocks. For a while we talked about
circumstantial things. I remember that I commented to him that I had read in La
Gaceta an article by Juan Tovar in which he mentions the possibility of filming
the books. (See Juan Tovar. Encounter of Power, La Gaceta, F.C.E. (Mexico,
December 1974).
Yes, he said. At one time that possibility was spoken of. He later told us the
story of his encounter with the producer Joseph Levine, who would have
intimidated him from behind an immense desk. The size of the desk and the
producer's words hardly comprehensible because of the huge cigar he kept
between his lips, were the things that had made the biggest impression on
Castaneda. He was behind a desk like it was a dais, he explained, and I, there
below, very small. Powerful! With his hands full of rings with very large stones.
Castaneda had already said to Juan Tovar that the last thing he wanted to see
was an Anthony Quinn in the role of Don Juan. It seems that someone had
proposed Mia Farrow for one of the roles... To conceive of such a movie was
very difficult, he commented. It's neither ethnography nor fiction. The project in
the end fell apart. The sorcerer Juan Matus told me that it wouldn't be possible
to do it.
During that same time he was invited to participate in shows like Johnny Carson
and Dick Cavett. In the end I couldn't accept things like that. What would I say to
Johnny Carson, for example, if he asked me if I spoke to the coyote or not?
What would I say? I'd say, yes... and then? Indubitably, the situation could have
become very ridiculous.
Don Juan was the one who put me in charge of giving testimony of a tradition,
said Castaneda. He himself insisted that I accept interviews and give
conference to promote the books. Later he made me cut everything because
that type of task burns a lot of energy. If you're into those things you have to
give them force.
Castaneda explained clearly that with the production of his books, he is in
charge of taking care of the expenses of the whole group. Castaneda allows
everyone to eat.
Don Juan, he insisted, gave me the task of putting in writing all that the wizards
and sorcerers said. My task doesn't consist in anything but in writing until one
day they tell me, Enough, here you stop. The impact or not of my books, really
is unknown to me because I'm not dealing with what's happening here. To Don
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:53

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Juan before and to the Toltec Woman now belong all the material in the books.
They are responsible for all that is said there.
The tone of his voice and his gestures impressed us in a lively way. It was
evident that in that terrain the task of Castaneda consists of obeying. His
objective isn't anything but to be impeccable as receptor and transmitter of a
tradition and of a teaching.
Personally, he continued after a pause, I am working on a kind of journal; it's
something like a manual. For this work, yes, I am responsible. I would like a
serious publisher to publish it and to be in charge of distributing it to interested
persons and to centers of study.
He told us that he had worked out some 18 units in which he believes he has
summarized all the teaching of the Toltec nation. To organize the work, he has
made use of the phenomenology of E. Husserl as a theoretical framework to
make comprehensible what they taught him.
Last week, he said, I was in New York. I brought the project to the editors of
Simon and Schuster but I failed. It seems they got scared. It's that something
like that can't have success.
Of those 18 units I am the only one responsible, he continued in a meditative
tone, and, as you can see, I wasn't successful. Those 18 units are something
like the 18 falls in which I was bumped hard on the head. I agree with the editors
that it's a work of heavy reading, but there I am... Don Juan, Don Genaro, all the
others are different. They are fickle! (According to what Castaneda
communicated to us by telephone, Simon and Schuster finally decided to accept
the project of the journal that had seemed to worry him so much.)
Why do I call them units? he asked, moving ahead of us. I call them that
because each one of them claims to show one of the ways to break the unit of
the familiar. That unique perceptive vision can be broken in different ways.
Castaneda, trying once again to clarify this, gave us the example of the map.
Each time we want to arrive at some place we need a map with clear points of
reference to not get lost. We can't find anything without a map, exclaimed
Castaneda. What later occurs is that the only thing we see is the map. Instead
of seeing what there is to see, we finish seeing the map we carry inside.
Therefore, to break that arc of reflexibility, to constantly cut the bonds that lead
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us to the known points of reference, is the ultimate teaching of Don Juan.
Many times during that afternoon, Castaneda had to insist that he was just a
contact to the world. All the knowledge of the books belongs to the Toltec
nation. In the presence of his insistence, I couldn't but react and tell him that the
labor of arranging the material from notes into coherent and well organized book
must have been immense and difficult.
No, responded Castaneda. I don't have any work. My task consists, simply, in
copying the page which is given me in dreams.
According to Castaneda, you can't create something from nothing. To pretend to
create like that is an absurdity. To explain this to us, he brought up an episode
in the life of his father. My father, he said, decided that he was going to be a
great writer. With that idea, he resolved to fix his office. He needed to have an
office that was perfect. He had to keep in mind the smallest detail, from the
decorations of the wall to the type of light on his work table. Once the room was
ready, he spent much time looking for a suitable desk for his task. The desk had
to be of a determined measurement, wood, color, etc. Another such incident
occurred with the selection of the chair on which he would sit. Later he had to
select the suitable cover so as to not ruin the desk's wood. The cover could be
plastic, glass, leather, cardboard. On this cover my father was going to rest the
paper on which he would write his masterpiece. Then, seated at his chair, in
front of the blank paper he didn't know what to write. That is my dad. He wants
to begin writing the perfect phrase. Surely you can't write that way! One is
always an instrument, an intermediary. I see each page in dreams, and the
success of each one of those pages depends on the degree of fidelity with
which I am capable of copying that model from the dream. Precisely, the page
which impresses or impacts most is that in which I have achieved reproducing
the original with most exactitude.
These commentaries of Castaneda reveal a particular theory of knowledge and
of intellectual and artistic creation. (I thought immediately of Plato and of St.
Augustine with his image of inner teacher. To know is to discover and to create
is to copy. Neither knowledge or creation can ever be an undertaking of a
personal nature.
While we ate dinner I mentioned to him some of the interviews which I had read.
I told him that I had enjoyed greatly that which Sam Keen had done and which
had been published first in Psychology Today. Castaneda was also satisfied
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with that interview. He has much appreciation for Sam Keen. During those
years, he said, I knew many people with whom I would have liked to have
continued being friends...one example is the theologian Sam Keen. Don Juan,
however, said, Enough.
With respect to the interview in Time, Castaneda related to us that first a male
reporter came to meet with him in Los Angeles. It seems it didn't go well, (he
used some Argentine slang) and so he left. They then sent one of those girls
that you can't turn down, he said making us all smile. It all came out well, and
they understood each other magnificently. Castaneda had the impression that
she understood what he had told her. In the end, however, she didn't do the
article. The notes which she had taken were given to a reporter that I think is
now in Australia, he added. It seems that this reporter did what he wanted with
the notes they gave him.
Every time that for one reason or another, the Time interview was mentioned,
his annoyance was evident. He had observed to Don Juan that Time was too
powerful and important a magazine. Don Juan, on the other hand, had insisted
that the interview be done. the interview was done, 'just in case' concluded
Castaneda informally using once again a typically port area (Argentinian)
expression.
We also spoke of the critics and of that which had been written about him and
his books. I mentioned to him Richard deMille and others who had put in doubt
the veracity of his works and the anthropological value of them.
The work that I have to do, affirmed Castaneda is free from all that the critics
can say. My task consists of presenting that knowledge in the best way
possible. Nothing they can say matters to me because I no longer am Carlos
Castaneda, the writer. I am neither a writer, nor a thinker, nor a philosopher...in
consequence, their attacks don't reach me. Now, I know that I am nothing;
nobody can take anything from me because Joe Cordoba is nothing. There isn't
in all this, any personal pride.
We live, he continued, on a level lower than the Mexican peasants, which is
already saying a lot. We have touched ground and we can't fall lower. The
difference between us and the peasant is that he has hopes, wants things, and
works to one day have more than he has today. We, on the other hand, don't
have anything and each time we will have less. Can you imagine this?
Criticisms can't hit the target.
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Never am I more full than when I am Joe Cordoba, he exclaimed vehemently
standing up and opening his arms in a gesture of plentitude. Joe Cordoba, frying
hamburgers all day with my eyes full of smoke...Do you understand me?
Not all the critics have been negative. Octavio Paz, for example, wrote a very
good preface for the Spanish edition of The Teachings of Don Juan. To me his
preface was most beautiful. Yes, Castaneda said feelingly, That preface is
excellent. Octavio Paz is a complete gentleman. Maybe he is one of the last
who remain.
The phrase, a complete gentleman doesn't refer to the undeniable qualities of
Octavio Paz as thinker and writer. No! The phrase points to the intrinsic qualities
of being, the value of a person as a human being. That Castaneda might point
out that he is one of the last ones who remain accented the fact that he is
relating to a species in danger of extinction.
Well, continued Castaneda trying to soften the impact, maybe there remain two
gentlemen. The other is an old Mexican historian friend of his whose name
wasn't familiar to us. He told us some anecdotes about him that reflected his
physical vitality and intellectual vivacity.
At this juncture in the conversation Castaneda explained to us how he selects
the letters that arrive to him. Do you want me to explain how I did it with yours?
he asked directing himself to me.
He told us that a young friend receives them, puts them in a bag and keeps
them until he arrives in Los Angeles. Once in Los Angeles, Castaneda always
follows the same routine: First he dumps all the correspondence into a large
box, like a toy box, and then he only takes out one letter. The letter he takes out
is that which he reads and answers. Clearly nothing is done in writing.
Castaneda doesn't leave tracks.
The letter I took out, he explained, was the first one that you wrote. Later I
looked for the other one. You can't imagine how many problems I had to get
your phone number! When I already believed that I wasn't going to have any
luck, I obtained it by the intervention of the university. I had really already
thought that I wasn't going to be able to speak with you.
I was very surprised to know all the inconveniences that he had had to get to
me. It appears that once he had my letter m his hands, he had to try to exhaust
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all means. In the magical universe much importance is given to signs.
Here in Los Angeles, continued Castaneda casually, I have a friend who writes
me a lot. Each time I come I read all his letters, one after the other as if it were a
diary. One certain time, between the letters I bumped into another one that
without realizing I had opened. Even though I immediately realized that it wasn't
from my friend, I read it. The fact that it was in the pile was for me a sign.
That letter put him in contact with two people who reported a very interesting
experience to him. It was night and they had to enter the San Bernardino
Freeway. They knew that to meet it they had to continue ahead until the end of
the street. Then they had to take a left and continue until they reached the
freeway. So they did it, but after some 20 minutes they realized that they were in
a strange place. It wasn't the San Bernardino Freeway. They resolved to get off
and ask, but nobody helped them. At one of the houses where they knocked
they were met with screaming.
Castaneda continued telling us that the two friends went back down the road
until they reached a service station where they asked for directions. There they
were told what they already knew. So they again repeated the same steps, and
without any inconveniences arrived at the highway.
Castaneda met with them. Of the two of them, it seems that only one is truly
interested in understanding the mystery.
On the earth, he said as means of explanation, there are sites, special places or
openings, through which you can enter and pass through to something else.
Here he stopped and offered to bring us. It's near here... in Los Angeles... If you
want, I can take you, he said. The earth is something alive. Those places are
the entrances from where the earth periodically receives force or energy from
the cosmos. That energy is that which the warrior must store up. Maybe, if I am
rigorously impeccable, I might get close to the eagle. May it be so!
Every 18 days a wave of energy falls upon the earth. Count, he suggested to us,
starting on the third of next August. You will be able to perceive it. This wave of
energy could be strong or not; it depends. When the earth receives very large
waves of energy, it doesn't matter where you might be, it always reaches us.
Before the magnitude of that force, the earth is small and the energy reaches all
parts.
We were still animatedly conversing when the waitress approached and in a
cutting tone asked if we were going to order anything else. As nobody wanted
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dessert or coffee, we had no other remedy than to get up. No sooner had the
waitress moved away when Castaneda commented, It seems we are being
thrown out. . .
Yes, we were being thrown out and, maybe, with reason. It was late. In surprise
we checked the passing of time. We got up and left for the avenue.
It was night, the street and the people had the appearance of a fair. A mime
dressed in tails and top hat was clowning around behind our backs. Everything
we saw made us smile while our eyes searched for the plate that is always
passed during those representations. To our right, under the eaves of an old
theater, someone was trying another representation on a miniature stage. I
believe I saw a cat ready for its function. Really there you could see everything.
In other times; a man disguised as a bear tried to compete with a human
orchestra. The question is to look for alternatives each time more extravagant,
someone commented. While we walked, returning to the campus, Castaneda
spoke about a prospective trip to Argentina.
There a cycle is closed, he told us. To return to Argentina is very important for
me. I'm still not sure when I can do it, but I will go. For now I have things to do
here. Just in August three years of tasks will be accomplished, and it's possible
that then I might go.
That afternoon, Castaneda spoke to us a lot about Buenos Aires, about its
streets, neighborhoods and sports clubs. He remembered nostalgically Florida
Street with its elegant stores and the itinerant multitude. He was even reminded
with precision of the famous street of cinemas. Lavalle Street, he said making
memory.
Castaneda lived in Buenos Aires during his childhood. It seems he was enrolled
in a downtown school. Of that era he remembers with sadness that it had been
said that he was wider than he was tall words that when one is a child hurt a lot.
I always looked with envy, he commented, on those Argentinians so tall and
handsome.
You know that in Buenos Aires you always have to belong to some club,
continued Castaneda. I was from Chacarita. To be from River Plate isn't
surprising, right? Chacarita, on the other hand, is always one of the last.
In those times, Chacarita always came out last. It was touching to see him
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identified with those who lose, with the 'underdog.'
Surely La Gorda will come with me. She wants to travel. Clearly she wants to go
to 'Parice', he declared. La Gorda buys now in Gucci, is elegant and wants to go
to Paris. I always say to her, Gorda, why do you want to go to Paris? There
there is nothing. She has a certain idea about Paris, 'the city of light' you know.
Many times that afternoon, La Gorda was named. With her, Castaneda brought
us to an extraordinary person due to the fact that he, without a doubt, feels
great respect and admiration for her. What would be the sense then, of all that
circumstantial information that he gave us about her? I believe that with those
commentaries, as well as those in which he referred to the way of eating and
sleeping of the Toltecs, Castaneda tried to prevent us from forming a rigid
image of what they are. The work that they are doing is very serious and their
lives are austere, but they aren't rigid nor can they be squeezed into the
traditional norms of society. The important thing is to liberate oneself from
schemes, not to replace them with others.
Castaneda gave us to understand that he hasn't traveled much in Latin
America, if you exclude Mexico. Lately I've only been in Venezuela, he said. As
I've already told you, I have to go to Argentina soon. There a cycle is closed.
After that I will be able to leave. Well. . . the truth is that I don't know if I want to
leave yet. His last words were said smilingly, Who doesn't have things that hold
him down.
He has traveled through Europe several times for business related to his books.
In 1973, however, Don Juan sent me to Italy, he affirmed. My task consisted of
going to Rome to obtain an audience with the Pope. I didn't claim to obtain a
private audience but one of those audiences which are conferred on groups of
persons. All I had to do in the interview was to kiss the hand of the Supreme
Pontiff.
Castaneda did everything that Don Juan had asked him. He went to Italy,
arrived in Rome and asked for the audience. It was one of those Wednesday
audiences, after which the Pope officiates at a public mass in the plaza of San
Pedro. They did confer on me an audience but.. . I couldn't go, he said. I didn't
even arrive at the door.
That afternoon, Castaneda referred several times to his family and to his
typically liberal and frankly anticlerical background education. In The Second
Ring of Power, Castaneda also makes reference to the anticlerical heritage that
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he received. Don Juan, who doesn't seem to justify all his prejudices and battles
against the Catholic Church, says: To conquer our own foolishness requires all
our time and energy. This is the only thing that matters. The others lack
consistency. Nothing that your grandfather and your father have said about the
Church has made them happy. To be an impeccable warrior, on the other hand,
will give you force, youth and power. Thus, the appropriate thing for you is to
know how to choose. (p. 236) Castaneda didn't theorize about these themes.
With respect to the disjunctive 'clericalism-anticlericalism' he only wanted us to
receive a teaching with the example of his experience. That is to say, he makes
us understand that it is very difficult to break the schemes which have been
formed in youth.
Copyright 1985 Magical Blend Magazine
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:54

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/07.html
Phoenix Bookstore - Nov 1993
November 28, 1993
The Phoenix Book Store - Los Angeles, CA - Lecture by Carlos Castaneda.
DREAMING:
Don Juan said there is no evil and that we can't feel compassion. Is that is feeling sorry for someone
else? Does that means I believe I'm better off than they are? It's the ego that feels sorry, and the
whole idea of feeling sorry is fraudulent. Use your energy for something else, to free yourself. You
save energy by the exercise of recapitulation. Through recapitulation you will come to the place
where energy becomes visible. Not by sight but by something incomprehensible. Something that's
incomprehensible because we have no lexicon for it. When you see it, you realize you were doing it.
Not Doing is the cognitive dissonance that unentangles your awareness. The disarrangement of the
world by doing something absurd. We must realize the world is an arrangement. It could be tying
your shoes in a different way.
The dreamer through the teaching of sorcery is a warrior who sees himself as something
indescribable, undefinable and open-ended. He has no limitation. No frame. He takes anything that
comes as a challenge, and is never a loser even if he is biting the dust.
One of the of the most important things for a warrior to do is to keep an Album of Sublime Moments.
Get out of the brain of the beast. We are repetitious. Where is our sense of pride? We must examine
everything, curtail our routines, throw cognitive dissonance into them in order to become a sorcerer.
We can see energy as it flows, why permit the brain of the beast to stop us.
The dreamer is capable of using his dreams as a trap door or a spring board into infinity. But we've
used our dreams only in analytical, psychological, or scientific ways. To dream as a warrior, is to
dreams as one who has taken the responsibility of dying.
Dreams are precise. Something is drawn to fields of luminosity. The assemblage point becomes
displaced. Fibers of energy are shooting off in thousands of directions. If the point becomes
displaced we move into an entirely different world. Dreaming is the art of maintaining the
assemblage point in a new position. If we had the opportunity, we could all become first class
Dreamers.
The further we displace the assemblage point the more terrifying the dream. Our mind supplies
order on these experiences. When these dreams become overlaid with demonic images. It's the way
we anthropomorpize experience. Take Dreaming as a formal enterprise and the demonic
disappears. The difficulty is to discipline ourselves so that nothing that happens in the dream will be
upsetting.
The steps in dreaming:
Become aware that you are falling asleep.
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Before going to sleep say 'I am a Dreamer'. It's a matter of stating your intent. Don't be concerned if
you are a Dreamer or not, the mind won't know the difference. It's not lying to yourself. In linear
affairs we think of it as lying. That should be nothing new, we lie to ourselves all the time.
So intend Dreaming from the point of view that we are going to die. As if it's a matter of life and
death. What are you saving yourself for, senility? Are we waiting to shout "Nurse" in a restaurant?
What have they done to you? Don Juan would ask that question of me over and over. It needed to
be repeated because I was stupid.
This is not the best of all possible worlds. Something is holding us back from seeing. From the point
of view of one who is going to die the warrior becomes aware and the world is never the same. This
is incredible. He sees the intruder in his dreams. They are scouts from inconceivable worlds. They
use awareness as a sea. We can go anywhere if we have the energy. If we get rid of our self-
importance.
A warrior takes leaps of incalculable lengths because he wants to know. My fate is to roam the
infinite. We are travelers, traveling is our fate. In accepting the responsibility of his death the warrior
gets an incredible boost. He can put an end to his self - importance and move to another level. You
don't have to lower your head to anyone.
After finding the intruder in your dreams you can stop the dream and ask it to take you where it
comes from. The intruder is compelled to take your awareness to other worlds. Stupendous worlds,
a twin universe. The Dreamer then becomes a reconnoiter, a scout himself. The twin universe is
alive, it's a world of awareness. The inorganic beings are teachers from a female universe that is in
search of males. Women are replicas of inorganic beings on earth.
The battle is in this other world, and we will enter this universe rather we like it or not. It's
unavoidable. The sorcerers are pragmatists. (What is exactly is this battle that happens in the other
world?) Why wait until you die? Do it now while you are young and vigorous. Stop being so involved
with your self importance. Always thinking me, and what I want until were too old to do anything
else. Until the only thing we can say is "nurse." Be aware now. This is the moment and dreaming is
the way. The Dreamer, having saved enough energy will get the jolt of his life when he enters the
other world. It's inconceivable. What are we really? Not what my father told me. We are something
else.
There are seven stages to Dreaming. The first is to be aware the you are falling asleep. This is so
you will remain conscious during the dream state. Then once in the dreams state and you can hold it
as long as you don't stare. Once you begin to awaken in your dreams you will begin to get more
energy. You will be stronger the next day.
Become aware in your dreams, this is the first stage. If you don't insist and set up intent your energy
will then pull you. Let it happen. The pull of intent will break the parameters of historical perception.
If you recapitulate your life seriously, you will get enough energy. Only as warriors can we realize
what we are.
In the first stage we examine everything, every element in our dreams. We begin by becoming
aware that you are falling asleep. But that's not the goal of the technique. This is only to fool the
mind. The real technique is to become aware of the elements of our ordinary dreams.
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In dreaming, we can easily shift the assemblage point. Even a slight shift of the assemblage point
will create a new person. We are putting an end to the old and becoming a new person.
Don Juan said the "here" and "there" are exchangeable, we do it all the time with our energy bodies.
The energy body is the sum total projected out.
What have the done to us to make us so resistant? The terrible damage that society has done to us
can be corrected by dreaming.
The next step or Gate of Dreaming is to wake up from the dream in to another dream.
Once you have acquired the energy from recapitulation and dreaming you can lie down in the dream
in the same position that you originally fell asleep in and move into another dream. When you enter
a dream inside a dream you enter a state that is inconceivable and will blow your mind. This is the
secret of the twin positions.
The secret of secrets is to claim it. We only need energy. This is real, not theory, and as a
practitioner, I say we all can do it.
Eventually in Dreaming everything will shift. One day your attention becomes arrested or fixed by
something in the dream and you don't know why. You won't be able to move until it releases you.
You are attention is caught by in inorganic being. They have more awareness than us but we have
more energy. We are like powerful bullets of energy that burn brightly. They last forever and their
awareness can hold us.
Now we will begin to here the voice of the Emissary. It will answer any questions. When we hear its
voice as a woman we are hearing is true voice. It is by nature female.
Don't indulge yourself with the dream Emissary. Tell it to stay out of your affairs. Don't let it feed of
you for free.
There is a wave that hits us and we turn it into sadness--But it's from out there? "I never thought I
was going to live forever, let's do it. Turn me loose,"
Practice the Not Doing of the album of the sublime. It will create the cognitive dissonance. Create an
album to remind you of your sublime moments. Of things and thoughts that have astounded you.
The real revolution is in the next world. It easy to get involved in political protest, but what's the
point. Do something for the point of view of a man who is going to die.
What have they done to you? What are you doing to yourself to your body? Look how you live. Stop
smoking.
What have they done to you? Our natural heritage is to live and die like morons. This is the time for
revolution.
Copyright assigned without charge to Carlos Castaneda.
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Phoenix Bookstore - Dec 1993
An anonymous submission of notes taken at the Phoenix Book Store with
Carlos Castaneda in Los Angeles, CA, December 1993)
Setting up of the Path of the Warrior:
A Nagual is a person with a double energy configuration. There were 27
Naguals in don Juan's line. Don Juan called it sorcery. I think I could call it
something else. Maybe Nagualism?
Don Juan was teaching a way to break the psychological conditioning of the
cognitive division that keeps us cut of from out sources. The world, as we
perceive it, was formed a priori. It was given to us.
The most important thing don Juan said was that all our energy is engaged in
defending our self. All of our effort goes in to that. We have been involved
defending our self-concept for so long that we don't even notice.
It's time we begin to find out for ourselves. Begin to "recapitulate" our life. Every
action, every event, to find the "hinge" that represents our life. Our hinge is the
way we relate to people.
When I began to recapitulate I found I related to the world as a baby. I felt sorry
for myself. My whole life was nothing but the endless repetition of this fact.
When don Juan had me recapitulate my life and I saw how I spent my life
defending this position. This was a horrendous realization. All I wanted was for
someone to listen to my sad story and feel sorry for me.
These ideas of self importance blind us so much that we can't see anything
else, but it's possible to dislodge one's self from ideas of self importance.
Another way we do remain blind is by thinking fulfilment will come when we find
a companion. We can even be married and still keep searching for some to fulfil
our needs. "She's just my wife."
We don't want to give, we are incredibly selfish, we only want to receive.
Warriors, seers, Naguals, love without asking, in this world or beyond, for
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anything in return.
We don't notice this self-importance that rules our existence. If we did we
wouldn't do what we do to our bodies.
The idea of the self is not ours, it's time we untangle it. Don Juan gave a series
of premises so we could begin to see what has happened to us, what they have
done to us. Not as a comparison but as an enquiry.
Once I worked for a psychiatrist, as a research assistant, transcribing case
histories from tapes. He had 3000 tapes with their stories. When I listened to the
tapes I discovered they were all me. Their stories were my stories. Don Juan
used to ask me what was my uniqueness. There was nothing unique about me.
There were 3000 different people on those tapes and they all were me. There's
nothing unique, but there is something magical about us, we're all going to die.
Don Juan pulled me out of the social order I could see they that they don't care
if I lived or died. It is destroying us. Why do we adhere to this absurd social
order that only leads to our destruction.
Affection, love - is only need.
If you examine the social order through yourself you will see it's not leading
anywhere. Look at the social order not as a comparison but as an examination.
A full realization of the social order and we see it has no meaning or purpose. Is
it money or the other things we think has value? Or is it the biological
imperative?
Recapitulation is a way to attack self-importance. We need the energy that is
supplied by an unbiased examination of reliving our horse-shit, our self-
importance.
Recreational drugs, ecstasy San Pedro? Saint Peter! We can't find meaning
from that. Dope makes us incapable of sustaining pressure. Don Juan used
plants to heal and train my attention because I didn't have an ounce of it.
Instead of using drugs to find the magic in life there's something much better.
Self-discipline. It's the only way out of the trap of the social order. With self
discipline we can do wonders. The warrior that is aware of death, he is aware of
the trap of social order, he is aware of the trap of self-importance, he is aware of
the trap of reason, wants only freedom. Freedom is a leap into the
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inconceivable.
Self-discipline is not catholic, it is fluid and free-flowing enjoyment that comes
from 25 hours of awareness.
These are the basic patterns of responsibility for a warrior: Don't ask stupid
questions. Don't say I don't understand, or could you tell me why. There is no
rational explanation. If you want to know you have to try it--experiment.
1. Accepting that you are going to die. Death is non-negotiable, everyone that
lived dies. Grab the idea and assume the responsibility that you are going to die.
Naming it aloud is the primal force that obeys our call and we never use it. Say
out loud, "I want the responsibility that I'm going to die". It has to be said out
loud, you just can't think it. Power is not a mind reader. As you progress there
will be an adjustment. Make your word final. A warrior has the consistency to
stand by his word. Be committed to something for once in your life even if it's
your death. A warrior dies for his word. Saying something aloud is mysterious
and magical but it's subtle. The loud and clear voicing of your intent is the secret
of secrets. Do it. Look in unknown places. Assume the responsibility to stand in
front of the boundless. It isn't weak it, it doesn't respond to supplication--It will
piss on you. It doesn't care. With the first premise alone you can have a
stupendous experience. We have never been able to explain, with words alone.
We should sue the term index. We carry the world in us. The answer has to be
constructed and we accept it. A warrior must stop right here.
2. The most important thing for a warrior is to voice the responsibility of
perceiving. We have no purpose, nothing to look forward to but senility.
Everything is possible. We are already magicians. Go to the bottom, the lowest
level and formulate the world on what's there. At the bottom is death. I'm a
human being therefore I am sublime. Voice your intent to be someone else to
heal yourself. When I was ill I just jumped. I did what don Juan said. Disease is
merely an indulgence. I loved my pain. You change your channel by voicing
your intent. Then comes the Cloak of Confidence. Timidity and stiffness is our
enemy. It's not reasonable to believe that wings are the only way to fly. There
are other options. Look for them. Ask a being who is going to die. Ask the
mirror. Something will happen.
3. The third item for a warrior is indebtedness. Who am I indebted to now for
this ? Become responsible for what is given to you. Acquire a new kit. In
receiving a teaching you are responsible for it. You are indebted for the rest of
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your life. Only something out there can cancel it out. You are responsible for
seeing what sustains us. In paying you become free, if you refuse you become
entangled by it. A being that is going to die assumes responsibility. Without
responsibility we're only egomanics.
The pee is for the Baba. Suffice it to say everything that comes out of the Baba
is sacred.
In the next talks I'll talk about Dreaming, then Stalking and finally I'll talk about
the ethereal man. I won't hold anything back. I tell you as a witness--I've been
there. I've seen incredible things. It's like tears in the rain.
Copyright assigned without charge to Carlos Castaneda.
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Magical Blend Magazine (Issue #44)
"Dreaming within The Dream"
By Merrilyn Tunneshende of the sorcerer's party of Carlos Castaneda
The old Nagual found me in Arizona at the time that Carlos Castaneda was changing sorcerer's
families. Carlos was leaving the sisters and the Genaros, and in transition toward his new party of
Florinda, Taisha and Carol, for reasons that he himself explained. The problem resulting from this
was a hole left in the original party, and Carlos ' uncertainty as to the task left him by the Nagual.
I was, at that time, traveling through the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, recovering from the death
of my fiance. I was a Spanish teacher with a master's degree on sabbatical. In Arizona, I met an old
Native American man, who for my purposes shall be dubbed John Black Crow. He suggested that I
stay in the area for a while to learn some things about the pre-Spanish conquest Americas. I was
trained by him in some ancient magical practices; trained separately and then sent down to Mexico
where I found Carlos, his original party and the consummate Dreaming teacher, who for my
purposes shall be called Florentin (pronounced Florenteen).
According to the Nagual and his teachings, my body's energy configuration is that of a Nagual
woman, which means that I am capable of leading a sorcerer's party or of flying with a male Nagual.
This is essential in a complete group. A female Nagual embodies the mystery. Therefore, it was
hoped that I would close the hole in the original party, from which Carlos was departing.
Sorcerers can identify anyone's energy pattern. These patterns are like predispositions or natural
talents. Actually, every being perceives these differences. All one has to do to solidify perception of
the categories is be exposed to individuals who embody them. In writing about our world, we are
each, of course, from our own category, trying to provide the rest of the world with the exposure
necessary to form these perceptual refinements.
My training consisted of Dreaming and Stalking techniques, which I learned basically in the order
and form that Carlos has presented in his books. However, I was also taught to Stalk through
Dreaming; in other words, to set up, discover, and pursue the elements of a desired phenomenon in
my Dreaming.
This technique is my path, and I now practice it most of the time. It brings extra energy to my
awareness, and it requires me to spend tremendous amounts of time in the states of Dreaming and
Dreaming Awake. Thus, in our group, I would also classify technically as a Dreamer, though I am
often Stalking as well.
For the ordinary person, I would say that viewing life as a dream had while awake is one of the most
valuable meditations ever evolved in any discipline. It brings the knowledge of the illusory nature of
what we call reality and of the potential to dissolve this perception into clear white light, as one can
dissolve a dream into light.
During the course of my training in these methods, I received a piece of information from the old
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Nagual that few in either of the two newer parties possess. This is something that many readers
have wondered and asked about. Namely, where did the old Nagual go and how can one get there?
Part of my task is to make this information a little more accessible to others, and I have been
instructed to do this in writing. The old Nagual left the world, but he is still in it. He left the planet, but
he is still able to be part of the life of it if the designs of power create an opening. Some of us have
as a gift the almost constant possibility of his presence and know how to get to him. Others can no
longer even perceive him. That is the way things are. And in the times we are moving into, that is
the way they are going to be. Either one is in tune with the primordial purpose or one is not. Either
you will perceive your teachers or they will be like cigar store Indians, forever still, shadowy, silent,
while you concentrate on nonsense. There are teachers out there, enough if the world will wake up.
Carlos, Florinda, and Taisha have presented excellent accounts of their instruction, and good
explanations of the goals of the training. La Gorda (Maria Tena), who I call Butterfly Woman, at this
time chooses not to write, although if she ever did, I'm sure she'd do an excellent job of it. The
sisters and the Genaros are involved in other tasks, and dona Soledad is much too mercenary. So it
falls to me to take it from this point. The purpose of all our teachings as it has been stated, is to
perceive energy directly. One does this through Seeing, but one has to build up enormous
perceptual energy to See. One can build up this energy through any number of storage techniques,
many of which are available to any sincere seeker. The next step is to use Seeing (perceiving
energy directly) to move directly through energy in a desired direction, like flowing with the Tao.
When a Nagual does this with superb unfettered skill, it is called Flying.
To illustrate this I will share an example from my own training....
"Objects are not as solid as they appear," says John Black Crow as he stands in front of me.
"People are not solid. Their energy can be changed, transformed, even passed through."
"Are you trying to tell me you can walk through walls, John?" I ask as a joke.
"Better than that." He smiles with a glint in his eye.
He puts his hands on my shoulders, and at that moment I feel John Black Crow stare fixedly at my
left eye. It is as if I go to sleep but I am still awake. I have already been taught by him that this is the
state he calls Dreaming Awake. Then, it is as if I see him from a great distance. He is very small,
and I see him coming rapidly towards me, growing larger. I feel a rushing sensation. Then I feel
John seize and take hold of a vertical crack within me. He opens it. His full-size image rushes
through me. He is no longer in front of me. Then he is. I gaze at John Black Crow with my mouth
open.
"That's what Naguals call mating," he jokes.
I am speechless.
"Do you want me to teach you to fly now?" He has a huge grin on his face.
I nod like a zombie in a trance.
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"All right, you'd better sit down for this." We both sit on the desert ground. "Now, I want you to find
that crack I went through and open it. Open it like a door to the wind. Pry it open in the center," he
instructs.
To my amazement, I am able to perceive a crack in my energy and open it by focusing on it. I feel a
rushing wind.
"Dissolve yourself in the wind!" I hear him call. "But not entirely. Let that rushing become a part of
you."
I begin to feel that I am a hollow tube of rushing wind. Then I feel an incredible falling sensation.
"That's it!" he shouts. "Free fall! Now direct yourself. Fall to the left, to the right!" He goes on
shouting instructions. "All right now, slowly narrow the crack and land," he says. "Feel yourself
settling."
I open my eyes and look at John Black Crow. He is beaming at me, and I seem to be my normal
self. He explains that the energy configuration of a Nagual in flight is like a comet. And that flying
females are like hollow comets. He seems to be very pleased with me.
"We are joined together now," John Black Crow says pensively. "You will go with me. I See that
now." He is smiling. "You and I are the same. But before we go, I'd better send you to Mexico. I
know someone who is waiting for you down there."
The instruction I received in Mexico took an unexpected turn. I arrived in a town called Catemaco
and found everyone at the market. It took several days of waiting and talking with the others about
their progress before don Florentin showed up.
When he did, he separated me from the group. I would work with him until he Saw it was time to
quit, and then I would return to the others to practice what I was learning. I was quite a mystery to
the group, especially since they knew that they were separating from Carlos. Also, there was a
matter of lineage that was emerging as a question. The old Nagual was Seeing that through the
designs of power, I might actually belong with his own party.
Don Florentin Saw that I was already developing my body of Dreaming, so he taught me a more
advanced technique that he called "Dreaming within the Dream," which is endless, and in its final
extrapolation, is the same as Flying.
The technique is this: One enters into the state of Dreaming Awake. As one Dreams, one searches
for energy vortexes where other Dreaming is going on. One Dreams oneself into this Dream, and
one repeats the process endlessly. When done correctly, it is like a wormhole in the universe.
Don Florentin first taught me this technique waiting for a bus. "We have to wait for a Dreamed bus,"
he says with a crazy look in his eyes.
"You mean someone will be Dreaming a bus?" I ask, thinking that I am playing along with his sense
of humor.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:55

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/09.html
He raises his hands to indicate the vastness of the universe. "Someone will," he says with a
beautiful, emphatic tone.
We wait for about half an hour and then, lo and behold, don Florentin sees his bus. "We have to
hurry and get on," he says as he hustles me.
Once on the bus, don Florentin tells me that our destination is the center of Dreaming within that
Dream. We are not to get absorbed in the Dream of the bus. We want to get off in the Dream within
it. After a while, we both feel moved to get off. We find ourselves standing in a bus terminal, and I
am gazing at a man who has gotten off another bus and is gazing back at me. He looks like Carlos
will, at seventy years old.
Don Florentin seems thrilled with how we have traveled. He indicates that we will walk back to the
market by way of the lake, to retrace our path.
"Did we move forward in time don Florentin?" I ask, as I keep up with his hopping gate.
He grins his huge grin at me and runs his fingers through the longish strands of dark hair which
always seem to stick up on top of his head. "Hmmm. We'll go back now. This way. You follow me,"
he says in a maniacal tone. "We went forward. But we don't want to get stuck! Better not talk any
more just yet."
As we walk, it is almost like watching a movie with the sound turned off. Don Florentin seems to do
everything very deliberately. I don't let him out of my sight. When we arrive on the little tree lined
street with the courtyards, where I stay, the sound pops back. Some children are playing and talking
musically in front of a small restaurant.
"You'll be all right now. Here we are." says don Florentin and sweetly chucks me under the chin. "Go
have a nice afternoon.'' And off he jaunts.
I know I'll see him the next morning, but he never says when, where, or even that I'll see him. It is
just understood that he will be there, at the right place at the right time. It is always the same way
with the old Nagual It often amazes people to find out how far back this magic really goes. John
Black Crow told me that this sorcery predates even the Toltecs considerably. These sorcerers are
unraveling time backward as well as forward. Each of us have our tasks that prepare us to move
more and more into that world. Others hopefully will benefit from the mysteries that encroach into
the moment. For in the final analysis, what is possible for any being is possible for us all.
"Originally," John Black Crow stated, "the Dreaming techniques evolved from the practice of shape-
shifting, which always used dreaming as an entry. Stalking evolved from the vision quest and from
hunting."
Currently, there are several handfuls of practitioners of these ancient arts residing throughout the
Americas, but there are many more in the nagual. Once you gain entrance into that realm, the
number of practitioners expands exponentially.
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Don Florentin stressed that you have to be smart and brave to follow this path. "A real trailblazer,
and a little crazy too!" I remember him say. "But trailblazing is one path that is worthwhile to follow, if
you follow it with heart all the way." I would say that he is right. And so, to all my fellow travelers on
the path, "I wish you well."
After submitting this article to the editor, he asked me a very pointed question. "What does Toltec
sorcery have to do with everyone who doesn't practice it?" I have to admit I was completely taken
aback. It was such a good question that I even contacted other members of the group about it. They
all laughed uproariously and agreed that it was indeed the best question any of us had ever been
asked. The unanimous answer was that we are (all beings) part of a whole trying to improve our lot.
If any one of us, or any group of sentient beings, can beat even one of the things that we are up
against and then share that information, the rest might also benefit. To reiterate: In the final analysis
what is possible for anysone is possible for all.
Merilyn Tunneshende currently resides in the southeastern United States where she is writing a
book about her training and experiences. She travels to the southwestern U.S. and Mexico
frequently. In 1992 she was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to do
research on the Maya.
Copyright 1994 Magical Blend Magazine
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New Age Journal - Mar 1994
Carlos Castaneda Speaks, An interview by Keith Thompson
Literary agents are paid to hype their clients, but when the agent for Carlos
Castaneda claimed that he was offering me "the interview of a lifetime," it was
hard to disagree. After all, Castaneda's nine best-selling books describing his
extraordinary apprenticeship to Yaqui Indian sorcerer don Juan Matus had
inspired countless members of my generation to explore mysticism, psychedelic
drugs, and new levels of consciousness. Yet even as his reputation grew, the
author had remained a recluse, shrouding himself in mystery and intrigue. Aside
from a few interviews given seemingly at random over the years, Castaneda
never ventured into the public spotlight. Few people even know what he looks
like. For this interview, his agent told me, there could be no cameras and no
tape recorders. The conversation would have to be recorded by a stenographer,
lest copies of Castaneda's taped voice fall into the wrong hands.
The interview -- perhaps timed to coincide with the publication of Castaneda's
latest and most esoteric book, The Art of Dreaming -- took place in the
conference room of a modest office in Los Angeles, after weeks of back-and-
forth negotiations with Castaneda's agent. The arrangements were complicated,
the agent said, by the fact that he had no way of contacting his client and could
only confirm a meeting after speaking with him "whenever he decides to call . . .
I never know in advance when that may be."
Upon my arrival at noon, an energetic, enthusiastic, broad- smiled man walked
across the room, extended his hand, and greeted me unassumingly: "Hello, I
am Carlos Castaneda. Welcome. We can begin our conversation when you are
ready. Would you like coffee, or perhaps a soda? Please make yourself
comfortable."
I had heard that Castaneda blends into the woodwork, or resembles a Cuban
waiter; that his features are both European and Indian; that his skin is nut-brown
or bronze; that his hair is black, thick, and curly. So much for rumour. His mane
is now white, or largely so, short and mildly dishevelled. If asked to guide a
police artist in making a sketch, I would emphasize the eyes -- large, bright,
lucid. They may have been gray.
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I asked Castaneda about his schedule. "The entire afternoon is available. I
should think we'll have all the time we need. When it's enough, we'll know." Our
conversation lasted four hours, continuing through a meal of deli sandwiches
that arrived midway.
My first exposure to Castaneda's work had been as much initiation as
introduction. It was 1968. Police officers were clubbing demonstrators in the
streets of Chicago. Assassins had taken Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert
Kennedy. Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" topped the charts. All of this amidst
an ocean of sandals, embroidered caftans, bell-bottoms, jangling bracelets,
beads, and long hair for men and women alike.
Into all this stepped an enigmatic writer named Carlos Castaneda, toting a book
called The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. I remember
how it transformed me. The book I began reading was a curiosity; the book I
held when I finished had become a manifesto, the kind of delirious cause
celebre for which my psyche had been secretly training. What Castaneda
seemed to be affirming -- the possibility of awesome personal spiritual
experience -- was precisely what the Sunday-morning-only religion of my
childhood had done its best to vaccinate me against.
Believing in Castaneda gave me faith that someday, some way, I might meet my
very own don Juan Matus (don is a Spanish appellative denoting respect), the
old Indian wise man/sorcerer who implores his protege Carlos to get beyond
looking -- simply perceiving the world in its usually accepted forms. To be a true
"man of knowledge," Carlos has to learn the art of seeing, so that for the first
time he can truly perceive the startling nature of the everyday world. "When you
see," don Juan says, "there are no longer familiar features in the world.
Everything is new. Everything has never happened before. The world is
incredible!"
But, really -- who was this Castaneda? Where did he come from and what was
he trying to prove, with his mysterious account of a realm that seemed to be of
an entirely different order of reality?
Over the years, various answers to that question have been offered. Take your
pick: (a) dissenting anthropologist; (b) sorcerer's apprentice; (c) psychic
visionary; (d) literary genius; (e) original philosopher; (f) master teacher. For
balance, let's not forget (g) perpetrator of one of the most spectacular hoaxes in
the history of publishing.
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Castaneda has responded to the bestowal of these conflicting ID tags with
something like ironic amusement, as though he were an audience member
enjoying the spectacle of a Chekhov comedy in which he himself may or may
not be a character. The author has consistently declined -- over a span of nearly
three decades -- to engage in the war of words about whether his books are
authentic accounts of real-world encounters, as he maintains, or (as numerous
critics have argued) fictional allegories in the spirit of Gulliver's Travels and Alice
in Wonderland.
This strategic reticence was learned from don Juan himself. "To slip in and out
of different worlds you have to remain inconspicuous," says Castaneda, who is
rumored (his preferred status) to divide his time nowadays between Los
Angeles, Arizona, and Mexico. "The more you are identified by people's ideas of
who you are and how you will act, the greater the constraint on your freedom.
Don Juan insisted upon the importance of erasing personal history. If little by
little you create a fog around yourself, then you will not be taken for granted,
and you will have more room for change."
Even so, scattered clearings in the fog offer glimpses of tracks left by the
sorcerer's apprentice in the years before his life faded to myth.
The scholarly consensus, unconfirmed by the author himself, is that Carlos
Cesar Arana Castaneda was born in Peru on Christmas day 1925 in the historic
Andean town of Cajamarca. Upon graduating from the Colegio Nacional de
Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, he studied briefly at the National Fine Arts
School of Peru. In 1948 his family moved to Lima and established a jewelry
store. After the death of his mother a year later, Castaneda moved to San
Francisco and soon enrolled at Los Angeles City College, where he took two
courses in creative writing and one in journalism.
Castaneda received a B.A. in anthropology in 1962 from the University of
California at Los Angeles. In 1968, five years before Castaneda received his
Ph.D. in anthropology, the University of California Press published The
Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, which became a national
best seller following an enthusiastic notice by Roger Jellinek in the New York
Times Book Review:
"One can't exaggerate the significance of what Castaneda has done. He is
describing a shamanistic tradition, a pre-logical cultural form that is no-one-
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knows how old. It has been described often. . . . But it seems that no other
outsider, and certainly not a 'Westerner,' has ever participated in its mysteries
from within; nor has anyone described them so well."
The fuse was lit. The Teachings sold 300,000 copies in a 1969 Ballantine mass
edition. A Separate Reality and Journey to Ixtlan followed from Simon &
Schuster in 1971 and 1972. The saga continued in Tales of Power (1974), The
Second Ring of Power (1977), The Eagle's Gift (1981), The Fire from Within
(1984), The Power of Silence (1987), and The Art of Dreaming (1993).
(Bibliophiles may be interested to learn that Castaneda says he actually wrote a
book about don Juan before The Teachings, titled The Crack Between Worlds,
but lost the manuscript in a movie theater.)
In assessing the impact of his work, Castaneda's admirers credit him with
introducing to popular culture the rich and varied traditions of shamanism, with
their emphasis on entering nonordinary realms and confronting strange and
sometimes hostile spirit-powers, in order to restore balance and harmony to
body, soul, and society. Inspired by don Juan's use of peyote, jimsonweed, and
other power plants to teach Castaneda the "art of dreaming," untold numbers of
pioneers extended their own inner horizons through psychedelic inquiry -- with
decidedly mixed results.
For their part, critics of Castaneda's "path of knowledge" dismiss his work as an
ongoing pseudo-anthropological shenanigan, complete with fabricated shamans
and sensationalized Native American religious practices. The writings, they
claim, have netted an unscrupulous author tremendous wealth at the cost of
denigrating the sacred lifeways of indigenous peoples through commercial
exploitation. Castaneda's presentation, writes Richard de Mille in Castaneda's
Journey, "appeals to the reader's hunger for myth, magic, ancient wisdom, true
reality, self-improvement, other worlds, or imaginary playmates."
Appropriately, the Castaneda I encountered was a study in contrasts. His
presence was informal, spontaneous, warmly animated, and at times
contagiously mirthful. At the same time, his still heavily accented (Peruvian?
Chilean? Spanish?) diction conveyed the patrician formality of an ambassador
at court: deliberate and well-composed, serious and poised, earnest and
resolute. Practiced.
The contradiction, like so much about the man, may strike some as a
bothersome inconsistency. But it shouldn't. To reread Carlos Castaneda's books
(as I did, astonishingly, all nine of them) is to see clearly -- perhaps for the first
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time -- that contradiction is the force that ties his literary Gordian knot. As the
author had told me, intently, during our lunch break: "Only by pitting two views
against each other can one weasel between them to arrive at the real world."
I had the sense he was letting me know his fortress was well guarded -- and
daring me to storm it anyway.
Keith Thompson: As your books have made a character named Carlos world-
famous, the author called Castaneda has retreated further and further from
public view. There have been more confirmed sightings of Elvis than of Carlos
Castaneda in recent years. Legend has you committing suicide on at least three
occasions; there's the persistent story of your death in a Mexican bus crash two
decades ago; and my search for a confirmed photo and audio tapes was
fruitless. How can I be sure that you're truly Castaneda and not a Carlos
impersonator from Vegas? Have you got any distinguishing birthmarks?
Carlos Castaneda: None! Just my agent vouches for me. That's his job. But you
are free to ask me your questions and shine a bright light in my eyes and keep
me here all night -- like in the old movies.
You're known for being unknown. Why have you agreed to talk now, after
declining interviews for so many years?
Because I'm at the end of the trail that started over thirty years ago. As a young
anthropologist, I went to the Southwest to collect information, to do fieldwork on
the medicinal plants used by the Indians of the area. I intended to write an
article, go on to graduate school, become a professional in my field. I hadn't the
slightest interest in meeting a weird man like don Juan.
How exactly did your paths cross?
I was waiting for the bus at the Greyhound station in Nogales, Arizona, talking
with an anthropologist who had been my guide and helper in my survey. My
colleague leaned over and pointed to a white-haired old Indian across the room -
- "Psst, over there, don't let him see you looking" -- and said he was an expert
about peyote and medicinal plants. That was all I needed to hear. I put on my
best airs and sauntered over to this man, who was known as don Juan, and told
him I myself was an authority about peyote. I said that it might be worth his
while to have lunch and talk with me -- or something unbearably arrogant to that
effect.
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The old power-lunch ploy. But you weren't really much of an authority, were
you?
I knew next to nothing about peyote! But I continued rattling on -- boasting about
my knowledge, intending to impress him. I remember that he just looked at me
and nodded occasionally, without saying a word. My pretensions melted in the
heat of that day. I was stunned at being silenced. There I stood in the abyss,
until don Juan saw that his bus had come. He said good- bye, with the slightest
wave of his hand. I felt like an arrogant imbecile, and that was the end.
Also the beginning.
Yes, that's when everything started. I learned that don Juan was known as a
brujo, which means, in English, medicine man, curer, sorcerer. It became my
task to discover where he lived. You know, I was very good at doing that, and I
did. I found out, and I came to see him one day. We took a liking to each other
and soon became good friends.
You felt like a moron in this man's presence, but you were eager to seek him
out?
The way don Juan had looked at me there in the bus station was exceptional --
an unprecedented event in my life. There was something remarkable about his
eyes, which seemed to shine with a light all their own. You see, we are --
unfortunately we don't want to accept this, but we are apes, anthropoids,
simians. There's a primary knowledge that we all carry, directly connected with
the two-million-year-old person at the root of our brain. And we do our best to
suppress it, which makes us obese, cardiac, cancer-prone. It was on that
archaic level that I was tackled by don Juan's gaze, despite my annoyance and
irritation that he had seen through my pretense to expertise in the bus station.
Eventually you became don Juan's apprentice, and he your mentor. What was
the transition?
A year passed before he took me into his confidence. We had gotten to know
each other quite well, when one day don Juan turned to me and said he held a
certain knowledge that he had learned from an unnamed benefactor, who had
led him through a kind of training. He used this word "knowledge" more often
than "sorcery," but for him they were one and the same. Don Juan said he had
chosen me to serve as his apprentice, but that I must be prepared for a long and
difficult road. I had no idea how astonishingly strange the road would be.
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That's a consistent thread of your books -- your struggle to make sense of a
"separate reality" where gnats stand a hundred feet tall, where human heads
turn into crows, where the same leaf falls four times, where sorcerers conjure
cars to disappear in broad daylight. A good stage hypnotist can produce
astonishing effects. Is it possible that's what don Juan was up to? Did he trick
you?
It's possible. What he did was teach me that there's much more to the world
than we usually acknowledge -- that our normal expectations about reality are
created by social consensus, which is itself a trick. We're taught to see and
understand the world through a socialization process that, when working
correctly, convinces us that the interpretations we agree upon define the limits
of the real world. Don Juan interrupted this process in my life by demonstrating
that we have the capacity to enter into other worlds that are constant and
independent of our highly conditioned awareness. Sorcery involves
reprogramming our capacities to perceive realms as real, unique, absolute, and
engulfing as our daily so-called mundane world.
Don Juan is always trying to get you to put your explanations of reality and your
assumptions about what's possible inside brackets, so you can see how
arbitrary they are. Contemporary philosophers would call this "deconstructing"
reality.
Don Juan had a visceral understanding of the way language works as a system
unto itself -- the way it generates pictures of reality that we believe, mistakenly,
to reveal the "true" nature of things. His teachings were like a club beating my
thick head until I saw that my precious view was actually a construction, woven
of all kinds of fixated interpretations, which I used to defend myself against pure
wondering perception.
There's a contradiction in there, somewhere. On the one hand, don Juan
desocialized you, by teaching you to see without preconceptions. Yet it sounds
like he then resocialized you by enrolling you in a new set of meanings, simply
giving you a different interpretation, a new spin on reality -- albeit a "magical"
one.
That's something don Juan and I argued about all the time. He said in effect that
he was despinning me and I maintained he was respinning me. By teaching me
sorcery he presented a new lens, a new language, and a new way of seeing
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and being in the world. I was caught between my previous certainty about the
world and a new description, sorcery, and forced to hold the old and the new
together. I felt completely stalled, like a car slipping its transmission. Don Juan
was delighted. He said this meant I was slipping between descriptions of reality -
- between my old and new views.
Eventually I saw that all my prior assumptions were based on viewing the world
as something from which I was essentially alienated. That day when I
encountered don Juan in the bus station, I was the ideal academic, triumphantly
estranged, conniving to prove my nonexistent expertise concerning psychotropic
plants.
Ironically, it was don Juan who later introduced you to "Mescalito," the green-
skinned spirit of peyote.
Don Juan introduced me to psychotropic plants in the middle period of my
apprenticeship, because I was so stupid and so cocky, which of course I
considered evidence of sophistication. I held to my conventional description of
the world with incredible vengeance, convinced it was the only truth. Peyote
served to exaggerate the subtle contradictions within my interpretative gloss,
and this helped me cut through the typical Western stance of seeing a world out
there and talking to myself about it. But the psychotropic approach had its costs -
- physical and emotional exhaustion. It took months for me to come fully around.
If you could do it over again, would you "just say no"?
My path has been my path. Don Juan always told me, "Make a gesture." A
gesture is nothing more than a deliberate act undertaken for the power that
comes from making a decision. Ultimately, the value of entering a non-ordinary
state, as you do with peyote or other psychotropic plants, is to exact what you
need in order to embrace the stupendous character of ordinary reality. You see,
the path of the heart is not a road of incessant introspection or mystical flight,
but a way of engaging the joys and sorrows of the world. This world, where each
one of us is related at molecular levels to every other wondrous and dynamic
manifestation of being -- this world is the warrior's true hunting ground.
Your friend don Juan teaches what is, how to know what is, and how to live in
accord with what is -- ontology, epistemology, and ethics. Which leads many to
say he's too good to be true, that you created him from scratch as an allegorical
instrument of wise instruction.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:55

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/10.html
The notion that I concocted a person like don Juan is preposterous. I'm a
product of a European intellectual tradition to which a character like don Juan is
alien. The actual facts are stranger: I'm a reporter. My books are accounts of an
outlandish phenomenon that forced me to make fundamental changes in my life
in order to meet the phenomenon on its own terms.
Some of your critics grow quite livid in their contention that Juan Matus
sometimes speaks more like an Oxford don than a don Indian. Then there's the
fact that he travelled widely and acquired his knowledge from sources not
limited to his Yaqui roots.
Permit me to make a confession: I take much delight in the idea that don Juan
may not be the "best" don Juan. It's probably true that I'm not the best Carlos
Castaneda, either. Years ago I met the perfect Castaneda at a party in
Sausalito, quite by accident. There, in the middle of the patio, was the most
handsome man, tall, blond, blue-eyed, beautiful, barefoot. It was the early '70s.
He was signing books, and the owner of the house said to me, "I'd like you to
meet Carlos Castaneda." He was impersonating Carlos Castaneda, with an
impressive coterie of beautiful women all around him. I said, "I am very pleased
to meet you, Mister Castaneda." He responded, "Doctor Castaneda." He was
doing a very good job. I thought, He presents a good way to be Castaneda, the
ideal Castaneda, with all the benefits that go with the position. But time passes,
and I'm still the Castaneda that I am, not very well suited to play the Hollywood
version. Nor is don Juan.
Speaking of confessions: Did you ever contemplate downplaying the eccentricity
of your teacher and presenting him as a more conventional character, to make
him a better vehicle for his teachings?
I never considered such an approach. Smoothing rough edges to advance an
agreeable plot is the luxury of the novelist. I'm not unfamiliar with the spoken
and unspoken canon of science: "Be objective." Sometimes don Juan spoke in
goofy slang -- the equivalent of "By golly!" and "Don't lose your marbles!" are
two of his favorites. On other occasions he showed a superb command of
Spanish, which permitted me to obtain detailed explanations of the intricate
meanings of his system of beliefs and its underlying logic. To deliberately alter
don Juan in my books so he would appear consistent and meet the expectations
of this or that audience would bring "subjectivity" to my work, a demon that,
according to my best critics, has no place in ethnographic writing.
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Sceptics have challenged you to exorcise that demon once and for all, by
presenting for public inspection the field notes based on your encounters with
don Juan. Wouldn't that alleviate doubts about whether your writings are
genuine ethnography or disguised fiction?
Whose doubts?
Fellow anthropologists, for starters.
The Senate Watergate Committee. Geraldo Rivera . . .
There was a time when requests to see my field notes seemed unencumbered
by hidden ideological agendas. After The Teachings of Don Juan appeared I
received a thoughtful letter from Gordon Wasson, the founder of the science of
ethnomycology, the study of human uses of mushrooms and other fungi.
Gordon and Valentina Wasson had discovered the existence of still-active
shamanic mushroom cults in the mountains near Oaxaca, Mexico. Dr. Wasson
asked me to clarify certain aspects of don Juan's use of psychotropic
mushrooms. I gladly sent him several pages of field notes relevant to his area of
interest, and met with him twice. Subsequently he referred to me as an "honest
and serious young man," or words to that effect.
Even so, some critics proceeded to assert that any field notes produced by
Castaneda must be assumed to be forgeries created after the fact. At that point
I realized there was no way I could satisfy people whose minds were made up
without recourse to whatever documentation I might provide. Actually, it was
liberating to abandon the enterprise of public relations -- intrinsically a violation
of my nature -- and return to my fieldwork with don Juan.
You must be familiar with the claim that your work has fostered the trivialization
of indigenous spiritual traditions. The argument goes like this: A despicable
cadre of non-Indian wannabees, commercial profiteers, and self-styled shamans
has read your books and found them inspiring. How do you plead?
I didn't set out to write an exhaustive account of indigenous spirituality, so it's a
fallacy to judge my work by that criterion. My books are instead a chronicle of
specific experiences and observations in a particular context, reported to the
best of my ability. But I do plead guilty to knowingly committing willful acts of
ethnography, which is none other than translating cultural experience into
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writing. Ethnography is always writing. That's what I do. What happens when
spoken words become written words, and written words become published
words, and published words get ingested through acts of reading by persons
unknown to the author? Let's agree to call it complex. I've been extremely
fortunate to have a wide and diverse readership throughout much of the world.
The entry requirement is the same everywhere: literacy. Beyond this, I'm
responsible for the virtues and vices of my anonymous audience in the same
way that every writer of any time and place is so responsible. The main thing is,
I stand by my work.
What does don Juan think of your global notoriety?
Nada. Not a thing. I learned this definitively when I took him a copy of The
Teachings of Don Juan. I said, "It's about you, don Juan." He surveyed the book
-- up and down, back and front, flipped through the pages like a deck of cards --
then handed it back. I was crestfallen and told him I wanted him to have it as a
gift. Don Juan said he had better not accept it, "because you know what we do
with paper in Mexico." He added, "Tell your publisher to print your next book on
softer stock."
Earlier you mentioned that don Juan deliberately made his teaching dramatic.
Your writings reflect that. Much anthropological writing gives the impression of
striving for dullness, as if banality were a mark of truth.
To have made my astonishing adventures with don Juan boring would have
been to lie. It has taken me many years to appreciate the fact that don Juan is a
master of using frustration, digression, and partial disclosure as methods of
instruction. He strategically blended revelation and concealment in the oddest
combinations. It was his style to assert that ordinary and nonordinary reality
aren't separate, but instead are encompassed in a larger circle -- and then to
reverse himself the next day by insisting that the line between different realities
must be respected at all costs. I asked him why this must be so. He answered,
"Because nothing is more important to you than keeping your personal world
intact."
He was right. That was my top priority in the early days of the apprenticeship.
Eventually I saw -- I saw -- that the path of the heart requires a full gesture, a
degree of abandon that can be terrifying. Only then is it possible to achieve a
sparkling metamorphosis.
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I also realized the extent to which the teachings of don Juan could and would be
dismissed as "mere allegory" by certain specialists whose sacramental mission
is to reinforce the limits that culture and language place on perception.
This approaches the question of who gets to define "correct" cultural
description. Nowadays some of Margaret Mead's critics declare she was
"wrong" about Samoa. But why not say, less dogmatically, that her writings
present a partial picture based on a unique encounter with an exotic culture?
Obviously her discoveries mirrored the concerns of her time, including her own
biases. Who has the authority to cordon off art from science?
The assumption that art, magic, and science can't exist in the same space at the
same time is an obsolete remnant of Aristotelian philosophical categories.
We've got to get beyond this kind of nostalgia in the social science of the twenty-
first century. Even the term ethnography is too monolithic, because it implies
that writing about other cultures is an activity specific to anthropology, whereas
in fact ethnography cuts across various disciplines and genres. Furthermore,
even the ethnographer isn't monolithic -- he or she must be reflexive and
multifaceted, just like the cultural phenomena that are encountered as "other."
So the observer, the observed phenomenon, and the process of observation
form an inseparable totality. From that perspective, reality isn't simply received,
it's actively captured and rendered in different ways by different observers with
different ways of seeing.
Just so. What sorcery comes down to is the act of embodying some specialized
theoretical and practical premises about the nature of perception in molding the
universe around us. It took me a long time to understand, intuitively, that there
were three Castanedas: one who observed don Juan, the man and teacher;
another who was the active subject of don Juan's training -- the apprentice; and
still another who chronicled the adventures. "Three" is a metaphor to describe
the sensation of endlessly changing boundaries. Likewise, don Juan himself
was constantly shifting positions. Together we were traversing the crack
between the natural world of everyday life and an unseen world, which don Juan
called "the second attention," a term he preferred to "supernatural."
What you're describing isn't what comes to mind for most anthropologists when
they think about their line of work, you know.
Oh, I'm certain you're right about that! Someone recently asked me, What does
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mainstream anthropology think of Carlos Castaneda? I don't suppose most of
them think about me at all. A few may be a little bit annoyed, but they're sure
that whatever I'm doing is not scientific and they don't trouble themselves. For
most of the field, "anthropological possibility" means that you go to an exotic
land, arrive at a hotel, drink your highball while a flock of indigenous people
come and talk to you about the culture. They tell you all kinds of things, and you
write down the various words for father and mother. More highballs, then you go
home and put it all in your computer and tabulate for correlations and
differences. That to them is scientific anthropology. For me, that would be living
hell.
How do you actually write?
My conversations with don Juan throughout the apprenticeship were conducted
primarily in Spanish. From the outset I tried to persuade don Juan to let me use
a tape recorder, but he said relying on something mechanical only makes us
more and more sterile. "It curtails your magic," he said. "Better to learn with your
whole body so you'll remember with your whole body." I had no idea what he
meant. Consequently I began keeping voluminous field notes of what he said.
He found my industriousness amusing. As for my books, I dream them. I gather
myself and my field notes -- usually in the afternoon but not always -- and go
through all my notes and translate them into English. In the evening I sleep and
dream what I want to write. When I wake up, I write in the quiet hours of the
night, drawing upon what has arranged itself coherently in my head.
Do you rewrite?
It's not my practice to do so. Regular writing is for me quite dry and laboured.
Dreaming is best. Much of my training with don Juan was in reconditioning
perception to sustain dream images long enough to look at them carefully. Don
Juan was right about the tape recorder -- and in retrospect, right about the
notes. They were my crutch, and I no longer need them. By the end of my time
with don Juan, I learned to listen and watch and sense and recall in all the cells
of my body.
Earlier you mentioned reaching the end of the road, and now you're talking
about the end of your time with don Juan. Where is he now?
He's gone. He disappeared.
Without a clue?
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Don Juan told me he was going to fulfil the sorcerer's dream of leaving this
world and entering into "unimaginable dimensions." He displaced his
assemblage point from its fixation in the conventional human world. We would
call it combusting from the inside. It's an alternative to dying. Either they bury
you six feet deep in the poor flowers or you burn. Don Juan chose burning.
I guess it's one way to erase personal history. Then this conversation is don
Juan's obituary notice?
He had come to the end, deliberately. By intent. He wanted to expand, to join
his physical body with his energy body. His adventure was there, where the tiny
personal tide pool joins the great ocean. He called it the "definitive journey."
Such vastness is incomprehensible to my mind, so I can only give up explaining.
I've found that the explanatory principle will protect you from fear of the
unknown, but I prefer the unknown.
You've travelled far and wide. Give it to me straight: Is reality ultimately a safe
place?
I once asked don Juan something quite similar. We were alone in the desert --
nighttime, billions of stars. He laughed in a friendly and genuine way. He said,
"Sure, the universe is benign. It may destroy you, but in the process it will teach
you something worth knowing."
"What's next for Carlos Castaneda?"
"I'll have to let you know. Next time."
"Will there be a next time?"
"There's always a next time."
Copyright March/April 1994 New Age Journal
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Details Magazine - Mar 1994
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE
Details Magazine. March 1994.
With his vision of a separate reality, Carlos Castaneda transfixed a generation.
In a rare interview, the legendary sorcerer talks to Bruce Wagner about don
Juan, freedom, dreaming, and death - and the funny things that happen on the
way to infinity.
Carlos Castaneda doesn't live here anymore. After years of rigorous discipline -
years of warriorism - he has escaped the ratty theater of everyday life. He is an
empty man, a funnel, a teller of tales and stories; not really a man at all, but a
being who no longer has attachments to the world as we know it. He is the last
nagual, the cork in a centuries - old lineage of sorcerers whose triumph was to
break the "agreement" of normal reality. With the release of his ninth book, The
Art of Dreaming, he has surfaced - for a moment, and in his way.
COMMON SENSE KILLS
My name is Carlos Castaneda. I would like you to do something today. I would
like you to suspend judgment. Please: don't come here armed with "common
sense." People find out I'm going to be talking - however they hear - and they
come to "dis" Castaneda. To hurt me. "I have read your books and they are
infantile." "All of your later books are boring. Don't come that way. It's useless.
Today I want to ask you, just for an hour, to open yourself to the option I'm
going to present. Don't listen like honor students. I've spoken to honor students
before; they're dead and arrogant. Common sense and idealities are what kill
us. We hold onto them with our teeth - that's the "ape."
That's what don Juan Matus called us: insane apes. I have not been available
for thirty years. I don't go and talk to people. For a moment, I'm here. A month,
maybe two . . . then I'll disappear. We're not insular, not just now. We cannot be
that way. We have an indebtedness to pay to those who took the trouble to
show us certain things. We inherited this knowledge; don Juan told us not to be
apologetic. We want you to see there are weird, pragmatic options that are not
beyond your reach. I get exotic enjoyment at observing such flight - pure
esotericism. It is for my eyes only. I'm not needy; I don't need anything. l need
you like I need a hole in the head. But I am a voyager, a traveler. I navigate - out
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there. I would like others to have the possibility.
THIS WAY OUT
The navigator has spoken before groups in San Francisco and Los Angeles,
and his cohorts - Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar, and Carol Tiggs - have
given lectures ("Toltec Dreaming - The Legacy of Don Juan") in Arizona, Maui,
and at Esalen. In the last two years, Donner-Grau's and Abelar's books (in
which they discuss Castaneda and their tutelage under don Juan Matus) have
entered the marketplace: Being-in-dreaming and The Sorcerer's Crossing,
respectively. The accounts of these two women are a phenomenological mother
lode, bona fide chronicles of their initiation and training. They are also a great
windfall, for never have readers of Castaneda had access to such direct
illuminating reinforcement of his experience. ( "The women are in charge," he
says. "It is their game. I am merely the Filipino chauffeur"). Donner-Grau
describes the collective consensus of these works as "intersubjectivity among
sorcerers"; each one is like a highly individualistic road map of the same city.
They are 'energetic" enticements, a perceptual call to freedom rooted in a
single, breathtaking premise - We must take responsibility for the non-
negotiable fact that we are beings who are going to die. One is struck by the
cogency of their case, and for good reason. The players, all Ph.D.'s from
UCLA's department of anthropology, are stupendous methodologists whose
academic disciplines are in fact oddly suited for describing the magical world
they present - a configuration of energy called "the second attention." Not a
place for the timid New Ager.
THE OFFENDING PARTY
I do not lead a double life. I live this life: There is no gap between what I say and
what I do. I am not here to pull your chain, or to be entertaining. What I am
going to talk about today are not my opinions - they are those of don Juan
Matus, the Mexican Indian who showed me this other world. So don't be
offended! Juan Matus presented me with a working system backed by twenty
seven generations of sorcerers. Without him I would be an old man, a book
under my arm, walking with students on the quad. See, we always leave a
safety valve; that's why we don't jump. "If all else fails, I can teach anthropology.
" We are already losers with losers' scenarios. "I'm Dr. Castaneda . . . and this is
my book, The Teachings of Don Juan. Did you know it's in paperback?" I would
be the "one book" man - the burnt-out genius. "Did you know it's in a twelfth
edition? It's just been translated into Russian." Or maybe I'd be parking your car
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and mouthing platitudes: "It's too hot . . . it's fine, but it's too hot. It's too cold . . .
it's fine, but it's too cold. I gotta go to the tropics . . . "
SORCERY ACTION THEATER
In 1960, Castaneda was a graduate student in anthropology at UCLA. While in
Arizona researching the medicinal properties of plants, he met a Yaqui Indian
who agreed to help. The young fieldworker offered five dollars an hour for the
services of don Juan Matus, his picturesque guide. The usher refused.
Unbeknownst to Castaneda, the old peasant in huaraches was a peerless
sorcerer, a nagual who artfully drafted him as a player in the Myth of Energy
(Abelar calls it Sorcery Action Theater). In payment for his services, don Juan
asked for something different: Castaneda's "total attention."
The astonishing book born of this encounter - The Teachings of Don Juan: a
Yaqui Way of Knowledge - became an instant classic, neatly blowing the hinges
off the doors of perception and electrifying a generation. Since then, he has
continued "to peel away at the onion, adding journals of his experience,
magisterial elucidations of nonordinary realities that erode the self. A sweeping
title for the work might be the Disappearance of Carlos Castaneda. We need to
find a different word for sorcery," he says. "It's too dark. We associate it with
medieval absurdities: ritual,evil. I like 'warriorism' or 'navigation.' That's what
sorcerers do they navigate."
He has written that a working definition of sorcery is "to perceive energy
directly." Sorcerers said that the essence of the universe resembled a matrix of
energy shot through by incandescent strands of consciousness - actual
awareness. Those strands formed "braids containing all - inclusive worlds, each
as real as this ours is merely one among an infinity. The sorcerers call the world
we know the "human band" or "the first attention."
They also "saw" the essence of the human form. It was not merely an apelike
amalgamation of skin and bones, but an eggshaped ball of luminosity capable of
traveling along those incandescent strands to other worlds. Then what held it
back? The sorcerers' idea is we are entombed by social upbringing, tricked into
perceiving the world as a place of hard objects and finalities. We go to our
graves denying we are magical beings; our agenda is to service the ego instead
of the spirit. Before we know it, the battle is over - we die squalidly shackled to
the Self. Don Juan Matus made an intriguing proposition: What would happen if
Castaneda redeployed his troops? if he freed the energy routinely engaged by
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the aggressions of courtship and mating? if he curtailed self-importance and
withdrew from the "defense, maintenance, and presentation" of the ego - if he
ceased to worry whether he was liked, acknowledged, or admired? Would he
gain enough energy to see a crack in the world? And if he did, might he go
through? The old Indian had hooked him on the "intent" of the sorcerers' world.
But what does Castaneda do during the day? Talks to the crazy apes. For now,
anyway - in private homes, ballet studios, bookstores. They make pilgrimages
from the world over: icons of New Awareness past, present, and future, energy
groupies, shrinks and shamans, lawyers, Deadheads, drummers, debunkers
and lucid dreamers, scholars, socialites and seducers, channelers, meditators
and moguls, even lovers and cronies "from 10,000 years ago." Furious note
takers come, junior naguals in the making. Some will write books about him; the
lazier ones, chapters. Others will give seminars - that is, for a fee. "They come
to listen for a few hours, "he says, "and the next weekend they are giving
lectures on Castaneda. That's the ape." He stands before them hours at a time
enticing and exhorting their energy bodies," and the effect is hot and cold all at
once, like dry ice. With numinous finesse, he wrests savage tales of freedom
and power like scarves from the empty funnel - moving, elegant, obscene,
hilarious, bloodcurdling, and surgically precise. Ask me anything! comes the
entreaty. What would you like to know? Why were Castaneda and Co. making
themselves accessible? Why now? What was in it for them?
THE ENORMOUS DOOR
There is someone who goes into me unknown and waits for us to join her. She's
called Carol Tiggs - my counterpart. She was with us, then vanished. Her
disappearance lasted ten years. Where she went is inconceivable. It does not
yield to rationality. So please suspend judgment! We were going to have a
bumper sticker: COMMON SENSE KILLS.
Carol Tiggs went away. She was not living in the mountains of New Mexico, I
assure you. One day I was giving a lecture at the Phoenix Bookstore and she
materialized. My heart jumped out of my shirt fomp fomp fomp. I kept talking. I
talked for two hours without knowing what I was saying. I took her outside and
asked her where she had been - ten years! She became cagey and started to
sweat. She had only vague recollections. She made jokes. The reappearance of
Carol Tiggs opened an enormous door - energetically - through which we come
and go. There's a huge entry where I can hook you to the intent of sorcery. Her
return gave us a new ring of power; she brought with her a tremendous mass of
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energy that allows us to come out. That's why we are available at this moment.
Someone was introduced to Carol Tiggs at a lecture. He said, "But you look so
normal." Carol Tiggs said: "What did you expect? Lightning coming out of my
tits?"
THE WHORES OF PERCEPTION
Who is Carlos Castaneda, and does he have a life? It's 1994 already: Why
doesn't he just get it over with? Tell us his age and have Avedon take the
picture. Hasn't anyone told him that privacy is dead? That the revelation of
details no longer diminishes? In exchange for our total attention, he's got to
orient us. There are things one would like to know - mundane, personal things.
Like where does he live? What did he think of Sinatra's Duets? What has he
done with the egregious profits from his books? Does he drive a turbo Bentley
like all the big old Babas? Was that really him with Michael Jordan and Edmund
White at uptown Barneys?
They've been trying to pin him down for years. They even reconstructed his face
from memories of old colleagues and dubious acquaintances; the absurd result
looks like a police artist's rendering of benevolent Olmec man for Reader's
Digest. In the '70s, a photo appeared in a Time cover story (only the eyes were
visible) - when the magazine learned the model was a counterfeit, they never
forgave him.
Around when Paul McCartney was declared dead, the rumor solidified. Carlos
Castaneda was Margaret Mead.
His agent and lawyers are full-time hedges against the onslaught of
correspondents and crazies, spiritual hang gliders, New Age movers and
seekers, artists wishing to adapt his work - famous and unknown, with or without
permission - and bogus seminars replete with Carlos impersonators. After thirty
years, there is still no price on his head. He has no interest in gurus or guruism;
there will be no turbo Bentleys, no ranches of turbaned devotees, no guest - edit
of Paris Vogue. There will be no Castaneda Institute, no Center for Advanced
Sorcery Studies, no Academy of Dreaming - no infomercials, mushrooms, or
Tantric sex. There will be no biographies and there will be no scandals. When
he's invited to lecture, Castaneda receives no fee and offers to pay his travel
fare. The gate is usually a few dollars, to cover rental of the hall. All that is
asked of attendees is their total attention.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:56

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/11.html
"Freedom is free," he says. "It cannot be bought or understood. With my books,
I've tried to present an option - that awareness can be a medium for
transportation or movement. I haven't been so convincing; they think I'm writing
novels. If I were tall and hanclsome, things might be different - they would listen
to the Big Daddy. People say, 'You're Iying.' How could I be Iying? You only lie
to get something, to manipulate. I don't want anything from anyone - only
consensus. We'd like there to be consensus that there are worlds besides our
own. If there's consensus to grow wings then there'll be flight. With consensus
comes mass; with mass there will be movement."
Castaneda and his confederates are the energetic radicals of what may be the
only significant revolution of our time - nothing short of transforming the
biological imperative into an evolutionary one. If the sovereign social order
commands procreation, the fearless order of sorcerers (energetic pirates all) is
after something less, well, terrestrial. Their startling, epical intent is to leave the
earth the way don Juan did twenty years before: as sheer energy, awareness
intact. Sorcerers call this somersault "the abstract flight."
CRITICAL MASS
I met with Castaneda and "the witches" over a period of a week at restaurants,
hotel rooms, and malls. They're attractive and vibrantly youthful. The women
dress unobtrusively, with a touch of casual chic. You wouldn't notice them in a
crowd, and that's the point. I skimmed a New Yorker outside the cafe of the
Regent Beverly Wilshire. The ad for Drambuie seemed particularly hideous:
Inevitably, no matter how much we struggle, In one way or another, one day we
become our parents. Instead of resisting this notion, we invite you to celebrate
this rite of passage with an exquisite liquor ... Don Juan was laughing in his
grave - or out of it, which brought to mind a welter of questions: Where was he
anyway? The same place Carol Tiggs came back from? If that were so, did that
mean the old nagual was capable of such reentry? In The Fire From Within
Castaneda wrote that don Juan and his party evanesced sometime in 1973 -
fourteen navigators gone, to the "second attention." What exactly was the
second attention? It all seemed clear when I was reading the books. I searched
my notes. I'd scrawled "second attention = heightened awareness" on the
margin of a page, but that didn't help. Impatiently, I riffled through The Power of
Silence, The Eagle's Gift, Journey to Ixtlan. Though there was much throughout
I didn't understand, the basics had been thoroughly, coherently described. Why
couldn't I hold any of it in my head? I was failing Sorcery 101.
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I ordered a cappuccino and waited. I let my mind drift. I thought about Donner-
Grau and the Japanese monkeys. When I'd spoken to her on the phone to
arrange an interview, she'd mentioned Imo. Every anthropology student knows
about Imo, the famous macaque. One day Imo spontaneously washed off a
sweet potato before eating it; in a short while, the macaques of the entire island
followed suit. Anthropologists might call this "cultural" behavior, but Donner-
Grau said it was a perfect example of critical mass - monkey intersubjectivity.
Castaneda appeared. He smiled broadly, shook my hand, and sat down. I was
about to bring up the monkeys when he began to weep. The forehead crinkled;
his entire body convulsed in lamentation. Soon he was gasping like a grouper
thrown from the tank. His lower lip twitched, wet and electrified. His arm unfurled
toward me, the hand palsied and trembling - then it opened like a night-
blooming bud from Little Shop of Horrors, as if to receive alms.
"Please!" He declared a shaky truce with his facial muscles just to spit out the
words. He bore down on me in needy supplication. "Please love me!"
Castaneda was sobbing again, a great broken, choking hydrant, his bathos
effortless as he became an obscene weeping contraption. "That's what we are:
apes with tin cups. So routinary, so weak. Masturbatory. We are sublime, but
the insane ape lacks the energy to see - so the brain of the beast prevails. We
cannot grab our window of opportunity, our 'cubic centimeter of chance.' How
could we? We're too busy holding onto Mommy's hand. Thinking how wonderful
we are, how sensitive, how unique. We are not unique! The scenarios of our
lives have already been written," he said, grinning ominously, "by others. We
know . . . but we don't care. Fuck it, we say. We are the ultimate cynics. Cono!
Carajo! That's how we live! In a gutter of warm shit. What have they done to us?
That's what don Juan used to say. He used to ask me, 'How's the carrot?' 'What
do you mean?' 'The carrot they shoved up your ass.' I was terribly offended; he
could really do it to me! That's when he said, 'Be grateful they haven't put a
handle on it yet.' "
"But if we have a choice, why do we stay in the gutter?" "It's too warm. We don't
want to leave - we hate to say goodbye. And we worry - ooo - fa, how we worry -
twenty-six hours a day! And what do you think we worry about?" He smiled
again, a rubbery Cheshire cat. "About me! What about me? What's in it for me?
What's gonna happen to me? Such egomania! So horrendous. But fascinating! "
I told him his views seemed a little harsh, and he laughed. "Yes," he said, in the
ludicrously constipated, judgey tones of an academic. "Castaneda is a bitter and
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insane old man." His caricatures were drolly, brutally on target. "The greedy ape
reaches through a grate for a seed and cannot relinquish control. There are
studies; nothing will make him drop that seed. The hand will cling even after you
hack off the arm - we die holding onto mierda. But why? Is that all there is - like
Miss Peggy Lee said? That cannot be; That's too horrendous. We have to learn
how to let go. We collect memories and paste them in books, ticket stubs to a
Broadway show ten years ago. We die holding onto souvenirs. To be a sorcerer
is to have the energy, curiosity, and guts to let go, to somersault into the
unknown - all one needs is some retooling, redefinition. We must see ourselves
as beings who are going to die. Once you accept that, worlds open up for you.
But to embrace this definition, you must have 'balls of steel.' "
THE NATURAL HERITAGE OF SENTIENT BEINGS
When you say "mountain" or "tree" or "White House," you invoke a universe of
detail with a single utterance; that's magic. See, we're visual creatures. You
could lick the White House - smell it, touch it - and it wouldn't tell you anything.
But one look, and you know everything there is to know: the "cradle of
democracy," whatever. You don't even need to look, you already see Clinton
sitting inside, Nixon on his knees praying - whatever. Our world is an
agglutination of detail, an avalanche of glosses - we don't perceive, we merely
interpret. And our interpretation system has made us lazy and cynical. We
prefer to say "Castaneda's a liar" or "This business of perceptual options just
isn't for me." What is for you? What's "real" ? This hard, shitty, meaningless
daily world? Are despair and senility what's real? That the world is "given" and
"final" is a fallacious concept. From an early age we get "membership." One
day, when we've learned the shorthand of interpretation, the world says
"welcome." Welcome to what? To prison. Welcome to hell. What if it turns out
that Castaneda is inventing nothing? If that's true, then you're in a very bad
spot.
The interpretation system can be interrupted; it is not final. There are worlds
within worlds, each as real as this. In that wall over there is a world, this room is
a universe of detail. Autistics get caught, frozen in detail - they trace a finger on
the crack until it bleeds. We get caught in the room of everyday life. There are
options other than this world, as real as this room, places where you can live or
die. Sorcerers do that - how exciting! To think that this is the only all - inclusive
world . . .that's the epitome of arrogance. Why not open the door to another
room? That's the natural heritage of sentient beings. It's time to interpret and
construct new glosses. Go to a place where there's no a priori knowledge. Don't
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throw away your old system of interpretation - use it, from nine to five. After
five? Magic hour.
NO SE HABLA ESPANOL AQUI
But what does he mean by "magic hour" ? Their books are meticulously detailed
evocations of the unknown, yet the irony remains; there's no real Lexicon for
their experience. Magic hour isn't word - friendly - its surplus energies are
experienced bodily. Whenever Castaneda left don Juan to return to Los
Angeles, the old nagual liked to say he knew what his student would be up to.
He could make a list, he said - maybe a long list, but still, a list - upon which
Castaneda's thoughts and actions could inevitably be found. But it was
impossible for Castaneda to do the same for his teacher. There was no
intersubjectivity between the two men. Whatever it was the Indian did in the
second attention could only be experienced , not conveyed. Back then,
Castaneda had neither the energy nor the preparation it took for such
consensus.
But the ape is possessed by words and syntax. He must understand, at all
costs. And there must be regimen to his understanding. "We are linear beings:
dangerous creatures of habit and repetition. We need to know: There's the
chicken place! There's the shoelace place! There's the car wash! If one day one
of them isn't there - we go bananas." He insisted on paying for lunch. When the
waiter returned with the slip, I had a sudden urge to grab the credit card and see
if it was in his name. He caught my glance. "A business manager tried to get me
to do the old American Express ad: CARLOS CASTANEDA, MEMBER since
1968." He laughed gleefully, circling back to his theme. "We are heavy, heavy
apes, very ritualistic. My friend Ralph used to see his grandmother on Monday
nights. She died. And he said, 'Hey Joe - I was Joe then - 'hey Joe, now we can
get together on Monday nights. Are you free Mondays, Joe? 'You mean every
Monday, Ralph?' 'Yes, yes! Every Monday. Won't it be great?' 'But every
Monday? forever?' 'Yes, Joe! You and me on Mondays - forever!' "
SORCERY 101
I met a scientist at a party - a well-known man. Eminent. A luminary. "Dr. X." He
wanted to "dis" me, heavily. He said, "I read your first book; the rest were
boring. Look, I'm not interested in anecdotes. I'm interested in proof." Dr. X
confronted me. He must have thought l was as important as he was. I said, "If I
was to prove the law of gravity, wouldn't you need a degree of training to follow
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me? You'd need 'membership' - maybe even equipment. You'd need to have
taken Physics 1, 2, 16, maybe even Physics 23. You'd have already made
tremendous sacrifices to learn: to go to school, to study long hours. You may
even have stopped dating. " I told him if he wanted proof he'd have to take
Sorcery 101. But he wouldn't do that; that takes preparation. He got angry and
left the room. Sorcery is a flow, a process. Just as in physics you need certain
knowledge to follow the flow of the equations, Dr. X would have had to do some
very basic things to be in a position to have enough energy to understand the
flow of sorcery. He would have had to "recapitulate" his life. So: the scientist
wanted proof but didn't want to prepare. That's the way we are. We don't want
to do the work - we want to be helicoptered to awareness, without getting mud
in our shoesies. And if we don't like what we see, we want to be helicoptered
back.
THE TRACKS OF TIME
It is tiring being with this man. He's overly, ruthlessly present - the fullness of his
attention exhausts. He seems to respond to my queries with all he has; there's a
liquid, eloquent urgency to his speech, dogged and final, elegant, elegiac.
Castaneda said he feels time "advancing" upon him. You sense his weight,
something foreign you can't identify, ethereal yet indolent, densely inert - like a
plug or buoy, a cork Iying heavily on the waves. We're walking in Boyle Heights.
He stops to demonstrate a martial arts position called the horse-legs slightly
bent, as if in the saddle. "They stood like this in Buenos Aires - in my day.
Everything was very stylized. They were adopting the poses of men long dead.
My grandfather stood this way. The muscle under here" - he points to the
backside of his thigh - "that's where we store nostalgia. Self-pity is a most
horrendous thing." "What did you mean about 'time advancing' on you?" 'Don
Juan had a metaphor. We stand in a caboose, watching the tracks of time
recede. 'there I am a five years old! There I go - ' We have merely to turn around
and let the time advance on us. That way, there are no a prioris. Nothing is
presumed; nothing presupposed; nothing neatly packaged."
We sat on a bus bench. Across the street a beggar held a piece of cardboard for
the motorists. Castaneda stared past him toward the horizon. "I don't have a
tinge of tomorrow - and nothing from the past. The department of anthropology
doesn't exist for me anymore. Don Juan used to say the first part of his life was
a waste - he was in limbo. The second part of his life was absorbed in the
future; the third, in the past, nostalgia. Only the last part of his life was now.
That's where I am." I decided to ask something personal and prepared to be
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rebuffed. For them, biographical evidence will mesmerize as surely as a crack in
the wall - leaving everyone with bloody fingers. "When you were a boy, who was
the most important man in your life?" "My grandfather - he raised me." His hard
eyes were glinting. "He had a stud pig called Rudy. Made a lot of money. Rudy
had a little blond face - gorgeous. They used to put a hat on him, a vest. My
grandfather made a tunnel from the sty to the showroom. There would come
Rudy with his midget face, trailing this huge body behind! Rudy, with his
screwdriver "pincho"; we watched that pig commit barbarities." "What was he
like - your grandfather." "I adored him. He was the one who made the agenda; I
was going to carry his banner. That was my fate, but not my destiny. My
grandfather was an amorous man. He schooled me in seduction at an early age.
When I was twelve, I walked like him, talked like him - with a constricted larynx.
He's the one who taught me to 'go in through the window.' He said women
would run if I approached them head-on - I was too plain. He made me go up to
little girls and say: 'You're so beautiful!' Then I'd turn and walk away. 'You are
the most beautiful girl I have ever seen!' - quickly walk away. After three or four
times they'd say, 'Hey! Tell me your name.' That's how I got 'in through the
window.' " He got up and walked. The beggar was heading for the bushy dead
zone that surrounded the freeway. When we got to his car, Castaneda opened
the door and stood a moment. "A sorcerer asked me a question, a long time
ago: What kind of face does the bogeyman have, for you? I was intrigued. This
thing I thought would be shadowy, murky, had a human face - the bogeyman
often has the face of something you think you love. For me, it was my
grandfather. My grandfather, who I adored. I got in and he started the car. The
last part of the beggar disappeared into the grubby hedgerow. "I was my
grandfather. Dangerous, mercenary, conniving. petty, vindictive, filled with doubt
- and immovable. Don Juan knew this."
FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN
At seventy-five, we're still looking for "love" and "companionship." My
grandfather used to wake up in the middle of the night crying, "Do you think she
loves me?" His last words were, "Here I go baby, here I go!" He had a big
orgasm and died. For years I thought that was the greatest thing - magnificent.
Then don Juan said, "Your grandfather died like a pig. His life and death had no
meaning." Don Juan said death can't be soothing - only triumph can. I asked
him what he meant by triumph and he said freedom: when you break through
the veil and take your life force with you. "But there's still so much that I want to
do! "He said, "You mean there are still so many women you want to fuck." He
was right. That's how primitive we are. The ape will consider the unknown, but
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before he jumps he demands to know: What's in it for me? We're businessmen,
investors, used to cutting our losses - it's a merchant's world. If we make an
"investment," we want guarantees. We fall in love but only if we're loved back.
When we don't love anymore, we cut the head off and replace it with another.
Our "love" is merely hysteria. We are not affectionate beings, we are heartless. I
thought I knew how to love. Don Juan said, "How could you? They never taught
you about love. They taught you how to seduce, to envy, to hate. You don't
even love yourself - otherwise you wouldn't have put your body through such
barbarities. You don't have the guts to love like a sorcerer. Could you love
forever, beyond death? Without the slightest reinforcement - nothing in return?
Could you love without investment, for the piss of it? You'll never know what it's
like to love like that, relentlessly. Do you really want to die without knowing?" No
- I didn't. Before I die, I have to know what it's like to love like that. He hooked
me that way. When I opened my eyes, I was already rolling down the hill. I'm
still rolling.
RECAPITULATE YOUR LIFE !
I had too many Cokes and was paranoid. Castaneda said sugar is as effective a
killer as common sense. "We are not 'psychological' creatures. Our neuroses
are by-products of what we put in our mouths.' - I was certain he saw my
"energy body" irradiating cola. I felt absurd, defeated - I decided I would binge
that night on profiteroles. Such is the piquant, dark-chocolated shame of the
picayune ape.
"I had a great love affair with Coke. My grandfather possessed a pseudo-
sensuality. ' I gotta have that pussy! I need it! I need it now!' My grandfather
thought he was the hottest dick in town. Most extravagant. I had the same thing -
everything went right to my balls, but it wasn't real. Don Juan told me, 'You're
being triggered by sugar. You're too flimsy to have that kind of sexual energy.'
Too fat to have this 'hot dick."'
Everyone's smoking in Universal CityWalk. Strange, sitting with Carlos
Castaneda in this architectural approximation of middle-class Los Angeles - this
"agglutination of detail," this 'avalanche of glosses" that is a virtual city. There
are no black people and nothing resembling heightened awareness; we've
shifted from the human bond to the band of MCA . We are inhabiting a
perversely bland version of a familiar scene from his books, the one where he
abruptly finds himself in a simulacrum of the everyday world. "You said that if
Dr. X had 'recapitulated his life,' he might have retrieved some energy. What did
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you mean?" "The recapitulation is the most important thing we do. To begin, you
make a list of everyone you ever knew. Everyone you ever spoke to or had
dealings with." "Everyone?" "Yes. You go down the list, chronologically re-
creating the scenes of exchange." "But that could take years." "Sure. A thorough
recapitulation takes a long time. And then you start over. We are never through
recapitulating - that way there's no residue. See, there's no 'rest.' Rest is a
middle-class concept - the idea that if you work hard enough, you've earned a
vacation. Time to go four-wheeling in the Range Rover or fishing in Montana.
That's horseshit."
"You re-create the scene ... " "Start with sexual encounters. You see the sheets,
the furniture, the dialogue. Then get to the person, the feeling. What were you
feeling? Watch! Breathe in the energy you expended in the exchange; give back
what isn't yours." "It almost sounds like psychoanalysis." "You don't analyze,
you observe. The filigrees, the detail - you're hooking yourself to the sorcerers'
intent. It's a maneuver, a magical act hundreds of years old, the key to restoring
energy that will free you for other things." "You move your head and breathe - "
"Go down the list until you get to mommy and daddy. By then you'll be shocked;
you'll see patterns of repetition that will nauseate you. Who is sponsoring your
insanities? Who is making the agenda? The recapitulation will give you a
moment of silence - it will allow you to vacate the premises and make room for
something else. From the recapitulation you come up with endless tales of the
Self, but you are no longer bleeding."
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ENERGY.. BUT
WERE AFRAID TO ASK
When I came to don Juan, I was already fucked to death; I'd exhausted myself
that way. I'm not in the world anymore, not like that; sorcerers use that kind of
energy to fly off, or to change. Fucking is our most important act, energetically.
See, we've dispersed our best generals but don't try to call them back; we lose
by default. That's why it's so important to recapitulate your life. The
recapitulation separates our commitment to the social order from our life force.
The two are not inextricable. Once I was able to subtract the social being from
my native energy, I could clearly see: I wasn't that "sexy." Sometimes I talk to
groups of psychiatrists. They want to know about the orgasm. When you're out
there flying in the immensities, you don't give a shit about the "Big O." Most of
us are frigid; all this sensuality is mental masturbation. We are "bored fucks" -
no energy at the moment of conception. Either we're first born and the parents
didn't know how to do it, or last born and they're not interested anymore. We're
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fucked either way. We're just biological meat with bad habits and no energy. We
are boring creatures, but instead we say, "I'm so bored."
Fucking is much more injurious for women - men are drones. The universe is
female. Women have total access, they're already there. It's just they're so
stupidly socialized. Women are portentous fliers; they have a second brain, an
organ they can use for unimaginable flight. They use their wombs for dreaming.
Do we have to stop fucking? The men ask Florinda that. She says, "Go ahead!
Stick your little pee-pee wherever you want! " Oh, she's a horrible witch! She's
worse with the women - the weekend goddesses who paint their nipples and go
on retreats. She says, "Yes, you're here being goddesses. But what do you do
when you get home? You get fucked, like slaves! The men leave luminous
worms in your pussy! " A truly terrible witch!
THE COYOTE TRAIL
Florinda Donner-Grau takes no prisoners. She is small-boned, charming, and
aggressive - like a jockey with a shiv. When Donner-Grau first encountered don
Juan and his circle, she thought they were unemployed circus workers who
trafficked in stolen goods. How else to explain the Baccarat crystal, the exquisite
clothes, the antiquarian jewelry? She felt adventurous around them - by nature
she was cocky, daring, vivacious. For a South American girl, her life had been
freewheeling.
"I thought I was the most wonderful being who ever was - so bold, so special. I
raced cars and dressed like a man. Then this old Indian said the only thing
'special' about me was my blonde hair and blue eyes in a country where those
things were revered. I wanted to strike him - in fact, I think I did. But he was
right, you know. This celebration of Self is totally insane. What the sorcerers do
is kin the Self. You must die, in that sense, in order to live - not live in order to
die." Don Juan encouraged his students to have a "romance with knowledge."
He wanted their minds sufficiently trained to view sorcery as an authentic
philosophical system; in a delicious reversal distinctive to the sorcerer's world,
fieldwork led to academia. The road to magic hour was funny that way. She
recalled the first time Castaneda took her to Mexico to see Don Juan. "We went
via this long, snaky route - you know, the 'coyote trail.' I thought he was taking a
weird route so we wouldn't be followed, but it was something else. You had to
have enough energy to find that old Indian. After I don't know how long, there
was someone on the road waving us in. I said to Carlos, 'Hey, aren't you going
to stop?' He said, 'It isn't necessary.' See, we had crossed over the fog. " We
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rocketed past Pepperdine. Someone was selling crystals by the road. I
wondered if Shirley MacLaine's house had burned; I wondered if Dick Van Dyke
had rebuilt. Maybe Van Dyke had moved into MacLaine's with the Sean Penns.
"What happens with people who are interested in your work - the ones who read
your books and write letters? Do you help them?" "People are intellectually
curious, they're 'teased' or whatever. They stay until it gets too difficult. The
recapitulation is very unpleasant; they want immediate results, instant
gratification. For a lot of the New Agers, it's The Dating Game. They case the
room - furtive, prolonged eye contact with potential partners. Or it's just
shopping on Montana Avenue. When the thing becomes too expensive in terms
of what they have to give of themselves, they don't want to pursue it. You see,
we want minimal investment with maximal return. No one is really interested in
doing the work." "But they would be interested, if there was some kind of proof
what you're saying - " "Carlos has a great story. There was a woman he'd
known for years. She called from Europe, in terrible shape. He said come to
Mexico - you know, 'jump into my world.' She hesitated. Then she said, 'I'll come
- as long as I know my huaraches are waiting on the other side of the river.' She
wanted guarantees she'd land on her feet. Of course, there are no guarantees.
We're all like that: We will jump, as long as we know our huaraches are waiting
for us on the other side." "What if you jump -- as best you can - and it turns out it
was only a fever dream?" "Then have a good fever."
CARLOS CASTANEDA'S PRIVATE PARTS
This is not a book for people. That's what someone who has known him for
years said about The Art of Dreaming. In fact, it is the crown of Castaneda's
work, an instruction manual to an undiscovered country - the delineation of
ancient techniques used by sorcerers to enter the second attention. Like his
other books, it's lucid and unnerving, yet there's something haunting about this
one. It smells like it was made somewhere else. I was curious how it all began.
"I used to take notes, with don Juan - thousands of notes. Finally, he said, 'Why
don't you write a book?' I told him that was impossible. 'I'm not a writer. "But you
could write a shitty book, couldn't you?' I thought to myself, Yes! I could write a
shitty book. Don Juan laid down a challenge: 'Can you write this book, knowing
it may bring notoriety? Can you remain impeccable? If they love you or hate you
is meaningless. Can you write this book and not give in to what may come your
way?' I agreed. Yes. I'll do it. "And terrifying things came my way. But the
panties didn't fit." I told him I wasn't sure about the last remark, and he laughed.
"That's an old joke. A woman's car breaks down and a man repairs it. She has
no money and offers him earrings. He tells her his wife wouldn't believe him.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:57

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/11.html
"Freedom is free," he says. "It cannot be bought or understood. With my books,
I've tried to present an option - that awareness can be a medium for
transportation or movement. I haven't been so convincing; they think I'm writing
novels. If I were tall and hanclsome, things might be different - they would listen
to the Big Daddy. People say, 'You're Iying.' How could I be Iying? You only lie
to get something, to manipulate. I don't want anything from anyone - only
consensus. We'd like there to be consensus that there are worlds besides our
own. If there's consensus to grow wings then there'll be flight. With consensus
comes mass; with mass there will be movement."
Castaneda and his confederates are the energetic radicals of what may be the
only significant revolution of our time - nothing short of transforming the
biological imperative into an evolutionary one. If the sovereign social order
commands procreation, the fearless order of sorcerers (energetic pirates all) is
after something less, well, terrestrial. Their startling, epical intent is to leave the
earth the way don Juan did twenty years before: as sheer energy, awareness
intact. Sorcerers call this somersault "the abstract flight."
CRITICAL MASS
I met with Castaneda and "the witches" over a period of a week at restaurants,
hotel rooms, and malls. They're attractive and vibrantly youthful. The women
dress unobtrusively, with a touch of casual chic. You wouldn't notice them in a
crowd, and that's the point. I skimmed a New Yorker outside the cafe of the
Regent Beverly Wilshire. The ad for Drambuie seemed particularly hideous:
Inevitably, no matter how much we struggle, In one way or another, one day we
become our parents. Instead of resisting this notion, we invite you to celebrate
this rite of passage with an exquisite liquor ... Don Juan was laughing in his
grave - or out of it, which brought to mind a welter of questions: Where was he
anyway? The same place Carol Tiggs came back from? If that were so, did that
mean the old nagual was capable of such reentry? In The Fire From Within
Castaneda wrote that don Juan and his party evanesced sometime in 1973 -
fourteen navigators gone, to the "second attention." What exactly was the
second attention? It all seemed clear when I was reading the books. I searched
my notes. I'd scrawled "second attention = heightened awareness" on the
margin of a page, but that didn't help. Impatiently, I riffled through The Power of
Silence, The Eagle's Gift, Journey to Ixtlan. Though there was much throughout
I didn't understand, the basics had been thoroughly, coherently described. Why
couldn't I hold any of it in my head? I was failing Sorcery 101.
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I ordered a cappuccino and waited. I let my mind drift. I thought about Donner-
Grau and the Japanese monkeys. When I'd spoken to her on the phone to
arrange an interview, she'd mentioned Imo. Every anthropology student knows
about Imo, the famous macaque. One day Imo spontaneously washed off a
sweet potato before eating it; in a short while, the macaques of the entire island
followed suit. Anthropologists might call this "cultural" behavior, but Donner-
Grau said it was a perfect example of critical mass - monkey intersubjectivity.
Castaneda appeared. He smiled broadly, shook my hand, and sat down. I was
about to bring up the monkeys when he began to weep. The forehead crinkled;
his entire body convulsed in lamentation. Soon he was gasping like a grouper
thrown from the tank. His lower lip twitched, wet and electrified. His arm unfurled
toward me, the hand palsied and trembling - then it opened like a night-
blooming bud from Little Shop of Horrors, as if to receive alms.
"Please!" He declared a shaky truce with his facial muscles just to spit out the
words. He bore down on me in needy supplication. "Please love me!"
Castaneda was sobbing again, a great broken, choking hydrant, his bathos
effortless as he became an obscene weeping contraption. "That's what we are:
apes with tin cups. So routinary, so weak. Masturbatory. We are sublime, but
the insane ape lacks the energy to see - so the brain of the beast prevails. We
cannot grab our window of opportunity, our 'cubic centimeter of chance.' How
could we? We're too busy holding onto Mommy's hand. Thinking how wonderful
we are, how sensitive, how unique. We are not unique! The scenarios of our
lives have already been written," he said, grinning ominously, "by others. We
know . . . but we don't care. Fuck it, we say. We are the ultimate cynics. Cono!
Carajo! That's how we live! In a gutter of warm shit. What have they done to us?
That's what don Juan used to say. He used to ask me, 'How's the carrot?' 'What
do you mean?' 'The carrot they shoved up your ass.' I was terribly offended; he
could really do it to me! That's when he said, 'Be grateful they haven't put a
handle on it yet.' "
"But if we have a choice, why do we stay in the gutter?" "It's too warm. We don't
want to leave - we hate to say goodbye. And we worry - ooo - fa, how we worry -
twenty-six hours a day! And what do you think we worry about?" He smiled
again, a rubbery Cheshire cat. "About me! What about me? What's in it for me?
What's gonna happen to me? Such egomania! So horrendous. But fascinating! "
I told him his views seemed a little harsh, and he laughed. "Yes," he said, in the
ludicrously constipated, judgey tones of an academic. "Castaneda is a bitter and
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insane old man." His caricatures were drolly, brutally on target. "The greedy ape
reaches through a grate for a seed and cannot relinquish control. There are
studies; nothing will make him drop that seed. The hand will cling even after you
hack off the arm - we die holding onto mierda. But why? Is that all there is - like
Miss Peggy Lee said? That cannot be; That's too horrendous. We have to learn
how to let go. We collect memories and paste them in books, ticket stubs to a
Broadway show ten years ago. We die holding onto souvenirs. To be a sorcerer
is to have the energy, curiosity, and guts to let go, to somersault into the
unknown - all one needs is some retooling, redefinition. We must see ourselves
as beings who are going to die. Once you accept that, worlds open up for you.
But to embrace this definition, you must have 'balls of steel.' "
THE NATURAL HERITAGE OF SENTIENT BEINGS
When you say "mountain" or "tree" or "White House," you invoke a universe of
detail with a single utterance; that's magic. See, we're visual creatures. You
could lick the White House - smell it, touch it - and it wouldn't tell you anything.
But one look, and you know everything there is to know: the "cradle of
democracy," whatever. You don't even need to look, you already see Clinton
sitting inside, Nixon on his knees praying - whatever. Our world is an
agglutination of detail, an avalanche of glosses - we don't perceive, we merely
interpret. And our interpretation system has made us lazy and cynical. We
prefer to say "Castaneda's a liar" or "This business of perceptual options just
isn't for me." What is for you? What's "real" ? This hard, shitty, meaningless
daily world? Are despair and senility what's real? That the world is "given" and
"final" is a fallacious concept. From an early age we get "membership." One
day, when we've learned the shorthand of interpretation, the world says
"welcome." Welcome to what? To prison. Welcome to hell. What if it turns out
that Castaneda is inventing nothing? If that's true, then you're in a very bad
spot.
The interpretation system can be interrupted; it is not final. There are worlds
within worlds, each as real as this. In that wall over there is a world, this room is
a universe of detail. Autistics get caught, frozen in detail - they trace a finger on
the crack until it bleeds. We get caught in the room of everyday life. There are
options other than this world, as real as this room, places where you can live or
die. Sorcerers do that - how exciting! To think that this is the only all - inclusive
world . . .that's the epitome of arrogance. Why not open the door to another
room? That's the natural heritage of sentient beings. It's time to interpret and
construct new glosses. Go to a place where there's no a priori knowledge. Don't
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throw away your old system of interpretation - use it, from nine to five. After
five? Magic hour.
NO SE HABLA ESPANOL AQUI
But what does he mean by "magic hour" ? Their books are meticulously detailed
evocations of the unknown, yet the irony remains; there's no real Lexicon for
their experience. Magic hour isn't word - friendly - its surplus energies are
experienced bodily. Whenever Castaneda left don Juan to return to Los
Angeles, the old nagual liked to say he knew what his student would be up to.
He could make a list, he said - maybe a long list, but still, a list - upon which
Castaneda's thoughts and actions could inevitably be found. But it was
impossible for Castaneda to do the same for his teacher. There was no
intersubjectivity between the two men. Whatever it was the Indian did in the
second attention could only be experienced , not conveyed. Back then,
Castaneda had neither the energy nor the preparation it took for such
consensus.
But the ape is possessed by words and syntax. He must understand, at all
costs. And there must be regimen to his understanding. "We are linear beings:
dangerous creatures of habit and repetition. We need to know: There's the
chicken place! There's the shoelace place! There's the car wash! If one day one
of them isn't there - we go bananas." He insisted on paying for lunch. When the
waiter returned with the slip, I had a sudden urge to grab the credit card and see
if it was in his name. He caught my glance. "A business manager tried to get me
to do the old American Express ad: CARLOS CASTANEDA, MEMBER since
1968." He laughed gleefully, circling back to his theme. "We are heavy, heavy
apes, very ritualistic. My friend Ralph used to see his grandmother on Monday
nights. She died. And he said, 'Hey Joe - I was Joe then - 'hey Joe, now we can
get together on Monday nights. Are you free Mondays, Joe? 'You mean every
Monday, Ralph?' 'Yes, yes! Every Monday. Won't it be great?' 'But every
Monday? forever?' 'Yes, Joe! You and me on Mondays - forever!' "
SORCERY 101
I met a scientist at a party - a well-known man. Eminent. A luminary. "Dr. X." He
wanted to "dis" me, heavily. He said, "I read your first book; the rest were
boring. Look, I'm not interested in anecdotes. I'm interested in proof." Dr. X
confronted me. He must have thought l was as important as he was. I said, "If I
was to prove the law of gravity, wouldn't you need a degree of training to follow
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me? You'd need 'membership' - maybe even equipment. You'd need to have
taken Physics 1, 2, 16, maybe even Physics 23. You'd have already made
tremendous sacrifices to learn: to go to school, to study long hours. You may
even have stopped dating. " I told him if he wanted proof he'd have to take
Sorcery 101. But he wouldn't do that; that takes preparation. He got angry and
left the room. Sorcery is a flow, a process. Just as in physics you need certain
knowledge to follow the flow of the equations, Dr. X would have had to do some
very basic things to be in a position to have enough energy to understand the
flow of sorcery. He would have had to "recapitulate" his life. So: the scientist
wanted proof but didn't want to prepare. That's the way we are. We don't want
to do the work - we want to be helicoptered to awareness, without getting mud
in our shoesies. And if we don't like what we see, we want to be helicoptered
back.
THE TRACKS OF TIME
It is tiring being with this man. He's overly, ruthlessly present - the fullness of his
attention exhausts. He seems to respond to my queries with all he has; there's a
liquid, eloquent urgency to his speech, dogged and final, elegant, elegiac.
Castaneda said he feels time "advancing" upon him. You sense his weight,
something foreign you can't identify, ethereal yet indolent, densely inert - like a
plug or buoy, a cork Iying heavily on the waves. We're walking in Boyle Heights.
He stops to demonstrate a martial arts position called the horse-legs slightly
bent, as if in the saddle. "They stood like this in Buenos Aires - in my day.
Everything was very stylized. They were adopting the poses of men long dead.
My grandfather stood this way. The muscle under here" - he points to the
backside of his thigh - "that's where we store nostalgia. Self-pity is a most
horrendous thing." "What did you mean about 'time advancing' on you?" 'Don
Juan had a metaphor. We stand in a caboose, watching the tracks of time
recede. 'there I am a five years old! There I go - ' We have merely to turn around
and let the time advance on us. That way, there are no a prioris. Nothing is
presumed; nothing presupposed; nothing neatly packaged."
We sat on a bus bench. Across the street a beggar held a piece of cardboard for
the motorists. Castaneda stared past him toward the horizon. "I don't have a
tinge of tomorrow - and nothing from the past. The department of anthropology
doesn't exist for me anymore. Don Juan used to say the first part of his life was
a waste - he was in limbo. The second part of his life was absorbed in the
future; the third, in the past, nostalgia. Only the last part of his life was now.
That's where I am." I decided to ask something personal and prepared to be
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rebuffed. For them, biographical evidence will mesmerize as surely as a crack in
the wall - leaving everyone with bloody fingers. "When you were a boy, who was
the most important man in your life?" "My grandfather - he raised me." His hard
eyes were glinting. "He had a stud pig called Rudy. Made a lot of money. Rudy
had a little blond face - gorgeous. They used to put a hat on him, a vest. My
grandfather made a tunnel from the sty to the showroom. There would come
Rudy with his midget face, trailing this huge body behind! Rudy, with his
screwdriver "pincho"; we watched that pig commit barbarities." "What was he
like - your grandfather." "I adored him. He was the one who made the agenda; I
was going to carry his banner. That was my fate, but not my destiny. My
grandfather was an amorous man. He schooled me in seduction at an early age.
When I was twelve, I walked like him, talked like him - with a constricted larynx.
He's the one who taught me to 'go in through the window.' He said women
would run if I approached them head-on - I was too plain. He made me go up to
little girls and say: 'You're so beautiful!' Then I'd turn and walk away. 'You are
the most beautiful girl I have ever seen!' - quickly walk away. After three or four
times they'd say, 'Hey! Tell me your name.' That's how I got 'in through the
window.' " He got up and walked. The beggar was heading for the bushy dead
zone that surrounded the freeway. When we got to his car, Castaneda opened
the door and stood a moment. "A sorcerer asked me a question, a long time
ago: What kind of face does the bogeyman have, for you? I was intrigued. This
thing I thought would be shadowy, murky, had a human face - the bogeyman
often has the face of something you think you love. For me, it was my
grandfather. My grandfather, who I adored. I got in and he started the car. The
last part of the beggar disappeared into the grubby hedgerow. "I was my
grandfather. Dangerous, mercenary, conniving. petty, vindictive, filled with doubt
- and immovable. Don Juan knew this."
FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN
At seventy-five, we're still looking for "love" and "companionship." My
grandfather used to wake up in the middle of the night crying, "Do you think she
loves me?" His last words were, "Here I go baby, here I go!" He had a big
orgasm and died. For years I thought that was the greatest thing - magnificent.
Then don Juan said, "Your grandfather died like a pig. His life and death had no
meaning." Don Juan said death can't be soothing - only triumph can. I asked
him what he meant by triumph and he said freedom: when you break through
the veil and take your life force with you. "But there's still so much that I want to
do! "He said, "You mean there are still so many women you want to fuck." He
was right. That's how primitive we are. The ape will consider the unknown, but
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before he jumps he demands to know: What's in it for me? We're businessmen,
investors, used to cutting our losses - it's a merchant's world. If we make an
"investment," we want guarantees. We fall in love but only if we're loved back.
When we don't love anymore, we cut the head off and replace it with another.
Our "love" is merely hysteria. We are not affectionate beings, we are heartless. I
thought I knew how to love. Don Juan said, "How could you? They never taught
you about love. They taught you how to seduce, to envy, to hate. You don't
even love yourself - otherwise you wouldn't have put your body through such
barbarities. You don't have the guts to love like a sorcerer. Could you love
forever, beyond death? Without the slightest reinforcement - nothing in return?
Could you love without investment, for the piss of it? You'll never know what it's
like to love like that, relentlessly. Do you really want to die without knowing?" No
- I didn't. Before I die, I have to know what it's like to love like that. He hooked
me that way. When I opened my eyes, I was already rolling down the hill. I'm
still rolling.
RECAPITULATE YOUR LIFE !
I had too many Cokes and was paranoid. Castaneda said sugar is as effective a
killer as common sense. "We are not 'psychological' creatures. Our neuroses
are by-products of what we put in our mouths.' - I was certain he saw my
"energy body" irradiating cola. I felt absurd, defeated - I decided I would binge
that night on profiteroles. Such is the piquant, dark-chocolated shame of the
picayune ape.
"I had a great love affair with Coke. My grandfather possessed a pseudo-
sensuality. ' I gotta have that pussy! I need it! I need it now!' My grandfather
thought he was the hottest dick in town. Most extravagant. I had the same thing -
everything went right to my balls, but it wasn't real. Don Juan told me, 'You're
being triggered by sugar. You're too flimsy to have that kind of sexual energy.'
Too fat to have this 'hot dick."'
Everyone's smoking in Universal CityWalk. Strange, sitting with Carlos
Castaneda in this architectural approximation of middle-class Los Angeles - this
"agglutination of detail," this 'avalanche of glosses" that is a virtual city. There
are no black people and nothing resembling heightened awareness; we've
shifted from the human bond to the band of MCA . We are inhabiting a
perversely bland version of a familiar scene from his books, the one where he
abruptly finds himself in a simulacrum of the everyday world. "You said that if
Dr. X had 'recapitulated his life,' he might have retrieved some energy. What did
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you mean?" "The recapitulation is the most important thing we do. To begin, you
make a list of everyone you ever knew. Everyone you ever spoke to or had
dealings with." "Everyone?" "Yes. You go down the list, chronologically re-
creating the scenes of exchange." "But that could take years." "Sure. A thorough
recapitulation takes a long time. And then you start over. We are never through
recapitulating - that way there's no residue. See, there's no 'rest.' Rest is a
middle-class concept - the idea that if you work hard enough, you've earned a
vacation. Time to go four-wheeling in the Range Rover or fishing in Montana.
That's horseshit."
"You re-create the scene ... " "Start with sexual encounters. You see the sheets,
the furniture, the dialogue. Then get to the person, the feeling. What were you
feeling? Watch! Breathe in the energy you expended in the exchange; give back
what isn't yours." "It almost sounds like psychoanalysis." "You don't analyze,
you observe. The filigrees, the detail - you're hooking yourself to the sorcerers'
intent. It's a maneuver, a magical act hundreds of years old, the key to restoring
energy that will free you for other things." "You move your head and breathe - "
"Go down the list until you get to mommy and daddy. By then you'll be shocked;
you'll see patterns of repetition that will nauseate you. Who is sponsoring your
insanities? Who is making the agenda? The recapitulation will give you a
moment of silence - it will allow you to vacate the premises and make room for
something else. From the recapitulation you come up with endless tales of the
Self, but you are no longer bleeding."
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ENERGY.. BUT
WERE AFRAID TO ASK
When I came to don Juan, I was already fucked to death; I'd exhausted myself
that way. I'm not in the world anymore, not like that; sorcerers use that kind of
energy to fly off, or to change. Fucking is our most important act, energetically.
See, we've dispersed our best generals but don't try to call them back; we lose
by default. That's why it's so important to recapitulate your life. The
recapitulation separates our commitment to the social order from our life force.
The two are not inextricable. Once I was able to subtract the social being from
my native energy, I could clearly see: I wasn't that "sexy." Sometimes I talk to
groups of psychiatrists. They want to know about the orgasm. When you're out
there flying in the immensities, you don't give a shit about the "Big O." Most of
us are frigid; all this sensuality is mental masturbation. We are "bored fucks" -
no energy at the moment of conception. Either we're first born and the parents
didn't know how to do it, or last born and they're not interested anymore. We're
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fucked either way. We're just biological meat with bad habits and no energy. We
are boring creatures, but instead we say, "I'm so bored."
Fucking is much more injurious for women - men are drones. The universe is
female. Women have total access, they're already there. It's just they're so
stupidly socialized. Women are portentous fliers; they have a second brain, an
organ they can use for unimaginable flight. They use their wombs for dreaming.
Do we have to stop fucking? The men ask Florinda that. She says, "Go ahead!
Stick your little pee-pee wherever you want! " Oh, she's a horrible witch! She's
worse with the women - the weekend goddesses who paint their nipples and go
on retreats. She says, "Yes, you're here being goddesses. But what do you do
when you get home? You get fucked, like slaves! The men leave luminous
worms in your pussy! " A truly terrible witch!
THE COYOTE TRAIL
Florinda Donner-Grau takes no prisoners. She is small-boned, charming, and
aggressive - like a jockey with a shiv. When Donner-Grau first encountered don
Juan and his circle, she thought they were unemployed circus workers who
trafficked in stolen goods. How else to explain the Baccarat crystal, the exquisite
clothes, the antiquarian jewelry? She felt adventurous around them - by nature
she was cocky, daring, vivacious. For a South American girl, her life had been
freewheeling.
"I thought I was the most wonderful being who ever was - so bold, so special. I
raced cars and dressed like a man. Then this old Indian said the only thing
'special' about me was my blonde hair and blue eyes in a country where those
things were revered. I wanted to strike him - in fact, I think I did. But he was
right, you know. This celebration of Self is totally insane. What the sorcerers do
is kin the Self. You must die, in that sense, in order to live - not live in order to
die." Don Juan encouraged his students to have a "romance with knowledge."
He wanted their minds sufficiently trained to view sorcery as an authentic
philosophical system; in a delicious reversal distinctive to the sorcerer's world,
fieldwork led to academia. The road to magic hour was funny that way. She
recalled the first time Castaneda took her to Mexico to see Don Juan. "We went
via this long, snaky route - you know, the 'coyote trail.' I thought he was taking a
weird route so we wouldn't be followed, but it was something else. You had to
have enough energy to find that old Indian. After I don't know how long, there
was someone on the road waving us in. I said to Carlos, 'Hey, aren't you going
to stop?' He said, 'It isn't necessary.' See, we had crossed over the fog. " We
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rocketed past Pepperdine. Someone was selling crystals by the road. I
wondered if Shirley MacLaine's house had burned; I wondered if Dick Van Dyke
had rebuilt. Maybe Van Dyke had moved into MacLaine's with the Sean Penns.
"What happens with people who are interested in your work - the ones who read
your books and write letters? Do you help them?" "People are intellectually
curious, they're 'teased' or whatever. They stay until it gets too difficult. The
recapitulation is very unpleasant; they want immediate results, instant
gratification. For a lot of the New Agers, it's The Dating Game. They case the
room - furtive, prolonged eye contact with potential partners. Or it's just
shopping on Montana Avenue. When the thing becomes too expensive in terms
of what they have to give of themselves, they don't want to pursue it. You see,
we want minimal investment with maximal return. No one is really interested in
doing the work." "But they would be interested, if there was some kind of proof
what you're saying - " "Carlos has a great story. There was a woman he'd
known for years. She called from Europe, in terrible shape. He said come to
Mexico - you know, 'jump into my world.' She hesitated. Then she said, 'I'll come
- as long as I know my huaraches are waiting on the other side of the river.' She
wanted guarantees she'd land on her feet. Of course, there are no guarantees.
We're all like that: We will jump, as long as we know our huaraches are waiting
for us on the other side." "What if you jump -- as best you can - and it turns out it
was only a fever dream?" "Then have a good fever."
CARLOS CASTANEDA'S PRIVATE PARTS
This is not a book for people. That's what someone who has known him for
years said about The Art of Dreaming. In fact, it is the crown of Castaneda's
work, an instruction manual to an undiscovered country - the delineation of
ancient techniques used by sorcerers to enter the second attention. Like his
other books, it's lucid and unnerving, yet there's something haunting about this
one. It smells like it was made somewhere else. I was curious how it all began.
"I used to take notes, with don Juan - thousands of notes. Finally, he said, 'Why
don't you write a book?' I told him that was impossible. 'I'm not a writer. "But you
could write a shitty book, couldn't you?' I thought to myself, Yes! I could write a
shitty book. Don Juan laid down a challenge: 'Can you write this book, knowing
it may bring notoriety? Can you remain impeccable? If they love you or hate you
is meaningless. Can you write this book and not give in to what may come your
way?' I agreed. Yes. I'll do it. "And terrifying things came my way. But the
panties didn't fit." I told him I wasn't sure about the last remark, and he laughed.
"That's an old joke. A woman's car breaks down and a man repairs it. She has
no money and offers him earrings. He tells her his wife wouldn't believe him.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:57

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/11.html
She offers her watch but he tells her bandits will steal it. Finally, she takes off
her panties to give him. 'No, please,' he says. 'They're not my size.'"
THE CRITERIA FOR BEING DEAD
I had never been alone until I met don Juan. He said, "Get rid of your friends.
They will never allow you to act with independence - they know you too well.
You will never be able to come from left field with something. . .shattering ". Don
Juan told me to rent a room, the more sordid the better. Something with green
floors and green curtains that reeked of piss and cigarettes. "Stay there," he
said. "Be alone until you are dead." I told him I couldn't do it. I didn't want to
leave my friends. He said, "Well, I can't talk to you ever again." He waved
goodbye, big smile. Boy, was I relieved! This weird old man - this Indian - had
thrown me out. The whole thing had tied itself up so neatly. The closer I got to
L.A., the more desperate I became. I realized what I was going home to - my
"friends." And for what? To have meaningless dialogue with those who knew me
so well. To sit on the couch by the phone waiting to be invited to a party.
Endless repetition. I went to the green room and called don Juan. "Hey, not that
I'm going to do it - but tell me, what is the criteria for being dead?" "When you
no longer care whether you have company or whether you are alone. That is the
criteria for being dead." It took three months to be dead. I climbed the walls
desperate for a friend to drop by. But I stayed. By the end, I'd gotten rid of
assumptions; you don't go crazy being alone. You go crazy the way you're
going, that's for sure. You can count on it.
ASSEMBLING AWARENESS
We headed in his station wagon toward the cheap apartment house where
Castaneda went to die. "We could go to your old room," I said, "and knock on
the door. For the hell of it." He said that might be taking things too far. "'What do
you want out of life?' That's what Don Juan used to ask me. My classic
response 'Frankly, Don Juan, I don't know.' That was my pose as the 'thoughtful'
man - the intellectual. Don Juan said, 'That answer would satisfy your mother,
not me.' See, I couldn't think - I was bankrupt. And he was an Indian. Carajo,
cono! God, you don't know what that means. I was polite, but I looked down on
him. One day he asked if we were equals. Tears sprang to my eyes as I threw
my arms around him. 'Of course we're equals, don Juan! How could you say
such a thing!' Big hug; I was practically weeping. 'You really mean it?' he said.
'Yes, by God!' When I stopped hugging him he said, 'No, we are not equals. I
am an impeccable warrior - and you are an asshole. I could sum up my whole
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life in a moment. You cannot even think." We pulled over and parked
underneath some trees. Castaneda stared at the seedy building with an odd
ebullience, shocked it was still there. He said it should have been torn down
long ago - that its perseverance in the world was some kind of weird magic.
Children were playing with a giant plastic fire engine. A homeless woman drifted
past like a somnambulist. He made no move to get out. He began talking about
what "dying in that green room" meant. By the time he left that place, Castaneda
was finally able to listen unjaundiced to the old Indian's far-out premises. Don
Juan told him that when sorcerers see energy, the human form presents itself
as a luminous egg. Behind the egg-roughly an arm's length from the shoulders -
is the "assemblage point," where incandescent strands of awareness are
gathered. The way we perceive the world is determined by the point's position.
The assemblage point of mankind is fixed at the same point on each egg; such
uniformity accounts for our shared view of everyday life. (Sorcerers call this
arena of awareness "the first attention.") Our way of perceiving changes with the
point's displacement by injury, shock, drugs - or in sleep, when we dream. "The
art of dreaming" is to displace and fix the assemblage point in a new position,
engendering the perception of alternate, all - inclusive worlds ("the second
attention"). Smaller shifts of the point within the egg are still inside the human
band and account for the hallucinations of delirium -- or the world encountered
during dreams. Larger movements of the assemblage point, more dramatic, pull
the "energy body" outside the human band to nonhuman realms. That is where
don Juan and his party journeyed in 1973 when they "burned from within,"
fulfilling the unthinkable assertion of his lineage: evolutionary flight. Castaneda
learned that whole civilizations - a conglomerate of dreamers - had vanished in
the same way. He told me about a sorcerer of his lineage who had tuberculosis -
and was able to shift his assemblage point away from death. That sorcerer had
to remain impeccable; his illness hung over him like a sword. He could not
afford an ego - he knew precisely where his death lay, waiting for him.
Castaneda turned to me, smiling. "Hey . . ." He had a strangely effusive look,
and I was ready. For three weeks I'd been awash in his books and their
contagious presentation of possibilities. Perhaps this was the moment in which
I'd make my pact with Mescalito. Or had we already "crossed over the fog"
without my knowing? "Hey," he said again, his eyes fairly twinkling. "Do you
want to get a hamburger?"
BOYCOTTING THE PAGEANT
"That the assemblage point of man is fixed in one position is a crime." I sat with
Taisha Abelar on a bench in front of the art museum on Wilshire. She didn't
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sync up with my image of her. Castaneda said that as part of Abelar's training,
she'd assumed different personas - one being the "Madwoman of Oaxaca," a
lecherous, mud-smeared beggar woman - back in her days as a struggling
actress in Sorcery Action Theatre. " I was going to call my book The Great
Crossing but I thought that was too Eastern." "The Buddhist concept is pretty
similar." "There are lots of parallels. Our group has been crossing over for years
but only recently have we compared notes - because our leaving is imminent.
Seventy-five percent of our energy is there, 25 percent here. That's why we
have to go." "Is that where Carol Tiggs was? That 75 percent place?" "You
mean the Twilight Zone?" She waited a deadpan beat, then laughed. "We felt
Carol Tiggs on our bodies when she was gone. She had tremendous mass. She
was like a lighthouse; a beacon. She gave us hope - an incentive to go on.
Because we knew she was there. Whenever I would become self-indulgent, I
felt her tap me on the shoulder. She was our magnificent obsession." "Why is it
so difficult for the 'ape' to make his journey?" "We perceive minimally; the more
entanglements we have in this world, the harder it is to say goodbye. And we all
have them - we all want fame, we want to be loved, to be liked. My gosh, some
of us have children. Why would anyone want to leave? We wear a hood,
cloaked . . . we have our happy moments that last us the rest of our lives. I know
someone who was Miss Alabama. Is that enough to keep her from freedom?
Yes. 'Miss Alabama' is enough to pin her down." It was time to pose one of the
Large Questions (there were a number of them): When they spoke of "crossing
over," did that mean with their physical bodies? She replied that changing the
Self didn't mean the Freudian ego but the actual, concrete Self - yes, the
physical body. "When don Juan and his party left," she said, "they went with the
totality of their beings. They left with their boots on." She said dreaming was the
only authentic new realm of philosophical discourse - that Merleau-Ponty was
wrong when he said mankind was condemned to prejudge an a priori world.
"There is a place of no a prioris - the second attention. Don Juan always said
philosophers were 'sorcerers manques.' What they lacked was the energy to
jump beyond their idealities. "We all carry bags toward freedom: Drop the
baggage. We even need to drop the baggage of sorcery. " "The baggage of
sorcery?" "We don't do sorcery; we do nothing All we do is move the
assemblage point. In the end, 'being a sorcerer' will trap you as sure as Miss
Alabama." A shabby, toothless woman shuffled toward us with postcards for
sale - the Madwoman of the Miracle Mile. I picked one and gave her a dollar. I
showed it to Abelar; it was a picture of Jesus, laughing. "A rare moment," she
said.
THE GUESTS ARRIVE
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Where in this world is there left to explore? It's all a priori - done and exhausted.
We are slated for senility; it waits for us like magina, the river sickness. When I
was a boy, I heard of it. A disease of memories and remembrance. It attacks
people who live on the river shore. You become possessed of a longing that
pushes you to move on and on - to roam without sense, endlessly. The river
meanders; people used to say "the river is alive." When it reverses its course, it
never remembers it was once flowing east to west. The river forgets itself. There
was a woman I used to visit at the convalescent home. She was there fifteen
years. For fifteen years she prepared for a party she was throwing at the Hotel
del Coronado. This was her delusion; she would ready herself each day but the
guests would never come. She finally died. Who knows - maybe that was the
day they finally arrived.
THE INDEX OF INTENT
"How should I say you look?" His voice became unctuously absurd. He was
Fernando Rey, the bourgeois narcissist - with just a hint of Laurence Harvey.
"You may say I resemble Lee Marvin." It was dusk in Roxbury Park. There was
the steady, distant whomp of a tennis ball volleying against a concrete backstop.
"I read an article once in Esquire about California witchcraft. The first sentence
went: 'Lee Marvin is scared.' Whenever something is not quite right, you can
hear me: Lee Marvin is scared." We agreed I would describe Castaneda as
wheelchair-bound, with beautifully 'cut' arms and torso. I would say he wore
fragrance by Bijan and long hair that delicately framed a face like the young
Foucault. He began to laugh. "I knew this woman once, she gives seminars now
on Castaneda. When she felt depressed, she had a trick - a way to get out of it.
She'd say to herself: 'Carlos Castaneda looks like a Mexican waiter' This is all it
took to pull her up. Carlos Castaneda looks like a Mexican waiter! - instantly
refreshed. Fascinating! How sad. But for her, it was good as Prozac! " I'd been
leafing through the books again and wanted to ask about "intent." It was one of
the most abstract, prevalent concepts of their world. They spoke of intending
freedom, of intending the energy body - they even spoke of intending intent. "I
don't understand intent." "You don't understand anything." I was taken aback.
"None of us do! We don't understand the world, we merely handle it - but we
handle it beautifully. So when you say 'I don't understand,' that's just a slogan.
You never understood anything to begin with." I was feeling argumentative.
Even sorcery had a "working definition." Why couldn't he give one for "intent"? "I
cannot tell you what intent is. I don't know myself. Just make it a new indexical
category. We are taxonomists - how we love to keep indexes! Once, don Juan
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asked me: 'What is a university?' I told him it was a school for higher learning.
He said, 'But what is a "school for higher learning"?' I told him it was a place
where people met to learn. 'A park? A field?' He got me. I realized that
'university' had a different meaning for the taxpayer, for the teacher, for the
student. We have no idea what 'university' is! It's an indexical category, like
'mountain' or 'honor.' You don't need to know what 'honor' is to move toward it.
So move toward intent. Make intent an index. Intent is merely the awareness of
a possibility - of a chance to have a chance. It's one of the perennial forces in
the universe that we never call on - by hooking onto the intent of the sorcerer's
world, you're giving yourself a chance to have a chance. You're not hooking
onto the world of your father, the world of being buried six feet under. Intend to
move your assemblage point. How? By intending! Pure sorcery." "Move toward
it, without understanding." "Certainly! 'Intent' is just an index - most fallacious,
but utterly utilizable. Just like 'Lee Marvin is scared."'
POOR BABYISM
I meet people all the time who are dying to tell me their tales of sexual abuse.
One guy told me when he was ten, his father grabbed his cock and said, "This is
for fucking!" That traumatized him for ten years! He spent thousands on
psychoanalysis. Are we that vulnerable? Bullshit. We've been around five billion
years! But that defines him: He is a "sexual abuse victim." Mierda. We are all
poor babies. Don Juan forced me to examine how I related to people wanted
them to feel sorry for me. That was my "one trick." We have one trick that we
learn early on and repeat until we die. If we are very imaginative, we have two.
Turn on the television and listen to the talk shows: poor babies to the end. We
love Jesus - bleeding, nailed to the cross. That's our symbol. No one's
interested in the Christ who was resurrected and ascended to Heaven. We want
to be martyrs, losers; we don't want to succeed. Poor babies, praying to the
poor baby. When Man fell to his knees, he became the asshole he is today.
CONFESSIONS OF AN AWARENESS ADDICT
Castaneda has long eschewed psychotropic drugs, yet they were an enormous
part of his initiation into the nagual's world. I asked what that was about.
"Being male, I was very rigid - my assemblage point was immovable. Don Juan
was running out of time, so he employed desperate measures.
"That's why he gave you the drugs? To dislodge your assemblage point?" He
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nodded. "But with drugs, there's no control; it moves helter-skelter." "Does that
mean the time came when you were able to shift your assemblage point and
dream without the use of drugs?" "Certainly! That was don Juan's doing. You
see, Juan Matus didn't give a fuck about 'Carlos Castaneda'. He was interested
in that other being, the energy body -- what sorcerers call "the double". That's
what he wanted to awaken. You use your Double to dream, to navigate in the
second attention. That's what pulls you to freedom. 'I trust that the Double will
do its duty,' he said. 'I will do anything for it - to help it awaken.' I got chills.
These people were for real. They did not die crying for their mommies. Crying
for pussy." We were at a little cafe in the middle of the Santa Monica Airport. I
went to the bright bathroom to wet my face and take it all in. I stared in the
mirror and thought about the Double. I remembered something don Juan told
Castaneda in the Art of Dreaming. "Your passion," he said , "is to jump without
capriciousness or premeditation to cut someone else's chains." On the way
back, I formed a question. "What was it like - I mean, the first time you shifted
your assemblage point without drugs?" He paused for a moment, then moved
his head from side to side. "Lee Marvin was very scared !" He laughed. "Once
you start breaking the barriers of normal, historical perception, you believe you
are insane. You need the nagual then, simply to laugh. He laughs your fears
away. "
THE PLUMED SERPENT
I saw them go - don Juan and his group, a whole flock of sorcerers. They went
to a place free from humanness and the compulsive worshipping of man. They
burned from within. They made a movement as they went, they call it the
"plumed serpent." They became energy; even their shoes. They made one last
turn, one pass, to see this exquisite world for the last time. Ooh-woo-woo! I get
chills - I shake. One last turn . . . for my eyes only. I could have gone with him.
When don Juan left he said, "lt. takes all my guts to go. I need all my courage,
all my hope - no expectations. To stay behind, you will need all your hope and
all your courage." I took a beautiful jump into the abyss and woke up in my
office, near Tiny Naylor's. I interrupted the flow of psychological continuity:
Whatever woke up in that office could not be the "me" that I knew linearly.
That's why I'm the nagual. The nagual is a nonentity - not a person. In place of
the ego is something else, something very old. Something observant, detached -
and infinitely less committed to the Self. A man with an ego is driven by
psychological desires. The nagual has none. He receives orders from some
ineffable source that cannot be discussed. That's the final understanding: The
nagual, in the end, becomes a tale, a story. He cannot be offended, jealous,
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possessive - he can't be anything. But he can tell tales of jealousy and passion.
The only thing the nagual fears is "ontological sadness." Not nostalgia for the
good old days - that's egomania. Ontological sadness is something different.
There's a perennial force that exists in the universe, like gravity, and the nagual
feels it. It's not a psychological state. It is a confluence of forces that unite to
clobber this poor microbe who has vanquished his ego. It is felt when there are
no longer any attachments. You see it coming, then you feel it on top of you.
THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE REPLICANT
He used to love the movies, 10,000 years ago. Back when they showed all -
nighters at the Vista in Hollywood, back when he was learning the criteria for
being dead. He doesn't go anymore, but the witches still do. It's a diversion from
their freakish, epic activities - sort of like safe-sex dreaming. But not really. "You
know, there's a scene in Blade Runner that really got to us. The writer doesn't
know what he's saying, but he hit something. The replicant is talking at the end:
'My eyes have seen inconceivable things.' He's talking about the constellations -
'I have seen attack ships off of Orion' - nonsense, inanities. That was the only
flaw for us, because the writer hasn't seen anything. But then the speech
becomes beautiful. It's raining and the replicant says, 'What if all those moments
will be lost in time . . . like tears in the rain?' "This is a very serious question for
us. They may be just tears in the rain - yes. But you do your best, sir. You do
your best and if your best isn't good enough, then fuck it. If your best isn't good
enough, fuck God himself."
A FOOTNOTE TO FEMINISTS
Before I met him a final time, I was scheduled to see the mysterious Carol Tiggs
for breakfast. Twenty years before, she had "jumped" with don Juan Matus's
party into the unknown. Unimaginably, she had returned, somehow triggering a
veritable road show of sorcerers. I was feeling more and more uneasy about our
pending appointment. Each time the Large Question loomed ("Where the hell
were you those ten years? " ), it evanesced . I felt like I was on the tracks; Carol
Tiggs was waving from the caboose. In a universe of dualities, Tiggs and
Castaneda are energetic counterparts. They are not in the world together as
man and wife. They have "double" energy; to a seer, their energetic bodies
would appear as two luminous eggs instead of one. This doesn't make them
"better" than Donner-Grau or Abelar or anyone - on the contrary. It gave them
the predilection, as Juan Matus once said, to be "twice the asshole." Until now,
Castaneda wrote exclusively about don Juan's world, never his own. But The
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Art of Dreaming is suffused with Carol Tiggs's dark, extraneous presence - and
rife with hair-raising accounts of their excursions into the second attention,
including the precipitous rescue of a "sentient being from another dimension"
who takes the form of an angular, steely-eyed little girl called the Blue Scout. I
was just about to leave when the phone rang. I was sure it was Tiggs, calling to
cancel. It was Donner-Grau. I told her a dream I had that morning. I was with
Castaneda in a gift shop called the Coyote Trail. She didn't care! She said
normal dreams were just "meaningless masturbations." Cruel, heartless witch. "I
wanted to add something. People say to me, 'Here you are putting feminism
down... the "leader" of this group was Juan Matus and now the new nagual is
Carlos Castaneda - why is it always a male?' Well, the reason those males were
'leaders' was a matter of energy - not because they knew more or were 'better.'
See, the universe truly is female; the male is pampered because he is unique.
Carlos guides us not in what we do in the world, but in dreaming. "Don Juan had
this horrible phrase. He used to say women are 'cracked cunts' - he wasn't
being derogatory. It's precisely because we are 'cracked' that we have the
facility for dreaming. Males are rigid through and through. But women have no
sobriety, no structure, no context; in sorcery, that's what the male provides. The
feminists become enraged when I say females are inherently complacent, but
it's true! That's because we receive knowledge directly. We don't have to
endlessly talk about it - that's the male process. "Do you know what the nagual
is? The myth of the nagual? That there are unlimited possibilities for all of us to
be something else than what we are meant to be. You don't have to follow the
route of your parents. Whether I'm going to succeed or not is immaterial."
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
Just after I hung up, the phone rang again. Carol Tiggs was calling to cancel. I
expected to feel relief but it was a bringdown. I'd spoken to people who had
seen her lecture in Maui and Arizona. They said she was gorgeous; that she
worked the room like a stand-up; that she did a mean Elvis. "I'm sorry we can't
meet," she said. At least she sounded genuine. "I was looking forward to it." "It's
okay. I'll catch up with you at one of your lectures." "Oh, I don't think I'll be doing
that again for a while." There was a pause. "I have something for you. " "Is it the
lightning from your tits?" She hesitated a moment then broke into peals of
laughter. "Something much more dramatic." I felt a tug at the pit of my stomach.
"You know, they always said people have this split between mind and body --
this imbalance, this 'mindbody problem.' But the real dichotomy is between
physical body and energy body. We die without having ever awakened that
magical Double, and it hates us for that. It hates us so much it eventually kills
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us. That's the whole 'secret' of sorcery: accessing the Double for abstract flight.
Sorcerers jump into the void of pure perception with their energy body." Another
pause. I wondered if that was all she was going to say. I was about to speak but
something held my words in check. "There's a song that don Juan thought was
beautiful - he said the Iyricist nearly got it right. Don Juan substituted one word
to make it perfect. He put in freedom where the songwriter had written love."
Then the ghostly recitation began:
You only live twice
Or so it seems.
One life for yourself
And one for your dreams.
You drift through the years
And life seems tame.
'Til one dream appears
And Freedom is its name.
And Freedom's a stranger
Who'll beckon you on
Don't think of the danger
Or the stranger is gone.
This dream is for you
So pay the price.
Make one dream come true. . . *
* From "You Only Live Twice" by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse
She held back in silence a moment. Then she said "Sweet dreams," parodied a
witchy cackle, and hung up.
ITCH OF THE NAGUAL
As the days became chillier it was easy to feel regret - about anything, even
Prozac. What if it turns out Castaneda is inventing nothing? If that's true, then
you are in a very bad spot. We met for the last time on a cold day at the beach,
by the pier. He said he couldn't stay long. He was sorry I wasn't able to meet
Carol Tiggs. Some other time. I felt much the poor baby - Damnit, I just want to
be loved. I was scared as Lee Marvin; I was Rutger Hauer with a tin cup; a
shrieking Miracle Mile Jesus. And Jesus looked down on all the people and
said: I'm so bored. We sat down on one of the benches on the bluff. I wanted to
detain him, just for a moment. "Tell me the last time you felt nostalgia." He
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answered without hesitation. "When I had to say goodbye to my grandfather. He
was long dead by then. Don Juan told me it was time to say goodbye: I was
preparing for a long journey, no return. You have to say goodbye, he said,
because you will never come back. I conjured my grandfather in front of me -
saw him in perfect detail. A total vision of him. He had 'dancing eyes.' Don Juan
said, 'Make your goodbye forever.' Oh, the anguish! It was time to drop the
banner, and I did. My grandfather became a story. I've told it thousands of
times." We walked to his car. "I feel an itch in my solar plexus - very exciting. I
remember don Juan used to feel that, but I didn't understand what it meant. It
means it will soon be time to go." He shivered with delight. "How exquisite!" As
he drove off, he shouted at me through the window: Goodbye, illustrious
gentleman!
THE DIMMING OF THE LIGHTS
I heard about a lecture in San Francisco. I was finished writing about them but
decided to drive up. To put a cork in it, so to speak. The auditorium was in an
industrial park in Silicon Valley. His plane was late; when he walked in, the hall
was filled. He spoke eloquently for three hours without a break. He answered
questions with incitements, solicitations, and parries. No one moved. At the end,
he talked about killing the ego. Don Juan had a metaphor: " 'The lights are
dimming, the musicians packing away their instruments. There is no more time
for dancing: It is time to die.' Juan Matus said there was endless time, and no
time at all -- the contradiction is sorcery. Live it! Live it gorgeously. " A young
man rose from the audience. "But how can we do this without someone like don
Juan? How can we do it without joining - " "No one 'joins' us. There are no
gurus. You don't need don Juan," he said emphatically. "I needed him - so I can
explain it to you. If you want freedom, you need decision. We need mass in the
world; we don't want to be masturbators. If you recapitulate, you'll gather the
energy - we will find you. But you need a lot of energy. And for that, you have to
work your balls off. So, suspend your judgment and take the option. Do it. "Don
Juan used to say, 'One of us is an asshole. And it isn't me.'" He paused a beat.
"That's what I came to tell you today." Everyone roared with laughter and rose in
applause as Castaneda left through the back door.
I WANTED TO CHASE HIM DOWN, SCREAMING Please love me! That would
have been good for a laugh, anyway. But I forgot my tin cup. I walked the
sidewalk edges of the pond in darkness. A light wind scattered the brittle leaves
on its border. One of our conversations came back - he'd been talking about
love. I heard his voice and imagined myself on the caboose, slowly turning to
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:58

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/11.html
face the words as they advanced... "I fell in love when I was nine years old.
Truly, I found my other Self. Truly. But it was not fated. Don Juan told me I
would have been static, immobile. My fate was dynamic. One day, the love of
my life - this nine-year old girl! - moved away. My grandmother said, 'Don't be a
coward! Go after her!' I loved my grandmother but never told her, because she
embarrassed me - she had a speech impediment. She called me 'afor' instead
of 'amor.' It was really just a foreign accent, but I was very young, I didn't know.
My grandmother put a bunch of coins in my hand. 'Go and get her! We'll hide
her and I'll raise her!' I took the money and started to go. Just then, my
grandmother's lover whispered something in her ear. She turned to me with an
empty look. 'Afor,' she said, 'afor, my precious darling . . .' and she took the
money back. 'I am sorry, but we have just run out of time.' And I forgot about it -
it took don Juan to put it together, years later. "It haunts me. When I feel the itch
- and the clock says quarter to twelve - I get chills! I shake, to this day! " 'Afor . .
. my darling. We have just run out of time.' "
Copyright March 1994 Details Magazine
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Body Mind Spirit - Apr 1995
An Interview with Carlos Castaneda
CARLOS CASTANEDA'S TENSEGRITY:
The Modernization of Ancient Magical Passes
Introduction by Gaylynn Baker
Interview by Bruce Wagner
From the sixties until now, Carlos Castaneda has inspired seekers everywhere.
Unfathomed mysteries unfolded as magical adventures in a series of books that
began as "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge". After each
spectacularly simple book, the literary world held its breath, awaiting the next
adventure that was sure to be another best seller. Avid readers who wouldn't
dream of leaving their armchairs traipsed through baffling worlds of sometimes
conflicting, but always fascinating information. Thought of as the most
mysterious writer of our time, Castaneda was never accessible to the public,
and rarely ever granted interviews. Cynical marketing wizards with knowledge of
the way things are "sold" to the soporific public voiced awe at the success of
what they assumed was just a "take- away marketing" technique being used to
build Castaneda's popularity. Seekers, on the other hand, felt the books
required Castaneda's willingness to disappear into a controversial cloud of
smoke. Either way, reclusiveness became an accepted part of the Castaneda
story. Finally, in the eighties, even the books stopped.
Then in the first three years of the 1990's, three new books appeared:
Castaneda's "The Art of Dreaming", (HarperCollins), "Being-In-Dreaming"
(Harper San Francisco) by Florinda Donner- Grau, and "The Sorcerers'
Crossing" (Penguin USA) by Taisha Abelar. Each book gave a compellingly
different account of apprenticeship in don Juan Matus' legendary world. To add
to the excitement, mid-1993 brought the announcement that Florinda and
Taisha would join Carol Tiggs , identified in the books as the Nagual Woman, to
teach three separate workshops. The locations selected were the Rim Institute
in Arizona, Akahi Farms in Maui, and Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. The
workshops sold out as quickly as they were announced. A new buzz was on
everyone's lips: Tensegrity.
Tensegrity passes were taught in the workshops by demonstration and
audience participation. It was announced at the Rim Institute that a video of
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these movements would be forthcoming. Meanwhile, workshop attendees
studied their hastily written notes and crude drawings in a frantic attempt to
absorb. Everyone involved in the workshops longed for the video. Now, a year
later, the first in a series of videos has appeared. Demonstrated in February at
the Phoenix Bookstore in Santa Monica, California, and now being introduced at
various workshops around the country, (see listing at the end of this article).
Body Mind Spirit asked writer/director Bruce Wagner to reach Dr. Castaneda for
a deeper explanation and understanding of what Tensegrity really means.
Q: While your body of work reflects an enormous generosity towards your
readers, you're also well-known for a certain "unavailability". Now you've
released a videotape of "energetic movements" called Tensegrity. This seems
to us unprecedented. Would you share your reasons behind this spate of
availability?
A: There was a time when our teacher, don Juan Matus, imposed on us, his
four disciples, Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner-Grau, Carol Tiggs and myself, a
model of behavior patterned on his own life: a model of total unavailability.
Things have changed, though, and in this respect, we are no longer bound to
follow his steps. However, our present availability is not our invention but the
result of our strict adherence to a concept he himself taught us: fluidity, the
essential condition of his world. In other words, nothing in the sorcerers' world is
permanent. Nothing in the world of everyday life is permanent either, but people
are determined to ignore this fact, hiding behind empty idealities.
Q:
Would you care to explain what you mean by empty idealities?
A: Sorcerers believe that we are socialized to hide our true needs behind
empty shields, placebos with no meaning whatsoever. For example, our
preoccupation with the presentation and defense of the self in everyday life is
one of those empty shields. Sorcerers regard it as a placebo because it does
not bear at all on our true needs, which are best described by such basic issues
as the questions about the nature of awareness, the purpose of our lives, the
unchangeable condition of our death. Don Juan taught us the form to address
such questions; he called it "the warrior's way". Throughout my entire work, I
have tried nothing else but to live up to a most serious responsibility: to describe
the warrior's way. All of don Juan's disciples are deeply concerned about the
same issue. Since we believe there is very little time left for us, we have agreed
that this is the moment for all of us together to assume responsibility for
demonstrating the warrior's way. To present this video is an attempt to do so.
Q: The movements shown in the Tensegrity video were taught to you by don
Juan Matus. They explore the dualism between the self and the energy body.
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What is the energy body?
A: The movements shown in the Tensegrity video were indeed taught to us not
only by don Juan Matus, but by all the other members of his party. These
movements, which they called "magical passes", are part of their heritage as
sorcerers. These movements are energetic maneuvers designed to isolate and
enhance what sorcerers call the "energy body", or the conglomerate of energy
fields that they consider to be the counterpart of the physical body.
Q: You've said that men and women who lived in ancient Mexico wished to
store enough energy to extend or enhance their awareness. The movements
depicted in the Tensegrity video were used to accomplish that end. How were
these movements invented?
A: Men and women sorcerers who lived in Mexico in ancient times practiced
these series of movements in order to store energy in their bodies and
manipulate it. The movements were not really invented by them; the movements
were rather discovered by them via their dreaming practices. Dreaming, for
sorcerers, is the art of transforming ordinary, normal dreams into bona fide
means of enhancing their perception. The explanation we were given was that
in dreaming, those men and women were capable of reaching levels of optimum
physical balance. In dreaming, they were also able to discover the specific
movements that allowed them to replicate, in their hours of vigil, those same
levels of optimum physical balance. The belief of those sorcerers, derived from
their dreaming observations, was that awareness is a glow focused on a specific
spot on our energy bodies, a spot which is visible when we are seen as fields of
energy. The greater the amount of energy the physical body can store and
manipulate, the more intense the glow of awareness.
Q: The persons demonstrating the movements are referred to in the video as
"chacmools". Who are they? What is their significance?
A: The three persons who present this video are Kylie Lundahl, Reni Murez
and Nyei Murez. The three of them have worked with us for many years. Kylie
Lundahl and Nyei Murez are Florinda Donner-Grau's wards; Reni Murez is
Carol Tiggs'. Don Juan explained to us that the gigantic, reclining figures called
chacmools, found in the pyramids of Mexico, were the representations of
guardians. He said that the look of emptiness in their eyes and faces was due to
the fact that they were dream-guards, guarding dreamers and dreaming sites.
Following don Juan's tradition, we call Kylie Lundahl, Reni Murez and Nyei
Murez chacmools, because the inherent energetic organization of their beings
allows them to possess a single- minded purpose, a genuine fierceness and
daring which make them the ideal guardians of anything they choose to guard,
be it a person, an idea, a way of life, or whatever. In the instance of our video,
these three guardians demonstrate the techniques of Tensegrity because they
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are best qualified for the task, having the three of them completed the gigantic
task of compiling the four individual strands of magical passes taught by don
Juan and his people to us, his four disciples. And also because through their
practice of Tensegrity, they have been able to transform the idea of routinary
compulsive discipline into the art of the disciplined warrior, free of compulsion.
Q: You say that don Juan had only four disciples: Taisha Abelar, Florinda
Donner-Grau, Carol Tiggs, and yourself. What happened to the other disciples
you mentioned in your earlier books?
A: They are not with us any longer. They have joined don Juan. In terms of
energetic configuration, they were dramatically different from us, and because of
this, they were incapable of following my guidance; it was not that they did not
want to - it was rather that my actions and goals did not make any sense to
them. There have not been any other disciples in don Juan's world. Claims that
people have made of having been don Juan's or my students are absurd. We
have been thoroughly unavailable for thirty years. Allegations that anyone has
known or worked with any of us are spurious. I am afraid people have made
such statements out of sheer insanity, or worse yet, out of the reprehensible
need to seek attention.
Q: The movements of Tensegrity are also said to enhance well- being. Does
one "feel better" doing them?
A: Don Juan Matus himself said that not only does one feel better practicing
the magical passes, but one becomes a better human being; the reason for
such an assertion is very simple: increased energy generates calmness,
efficiency and purpose. Don Juan used to say that the collective malady of our
day is our total lack of purpose. He repeated to us endlessly that without
sufficient energy there is no way of even conceiving any kind of genuine
purpose in our lives. The magical passes, by helping us to store energy, do help
us to grasp the idea of purpose in our thoughts and actions.
Q: How did you come to call the movements "Tensegrity"? What does it
mean?
A: As I have said before, thanks to the effort of the three chacmools who
compiled all the magical passes, we ended up with a vast system of body
maneuvers. After that, all of us worked for years to turn such a system into a
workable and veritable unit. I have called this unit "Tensegrity", a term which in
architecture means: "the property of skeleton structures that employ continuous
tension members and discontinuous compression members in such a way that
each member operates with a maximum efficiency and economy". The
agreement among us is unanimous: such a term best describes the nature of
this system of movements. Its essence consists of tensing and relaxing selected
areas of the body at first, leading to the tension and relaxation of the entire body
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at the end. What we want is to replicate the efficiency of those men and women
sorcerers of ancient times who discovered and practiced the magical passes.
To this effect, don Juan himself urged us to become versed in the practice of
Oriental martial arts. He was inspired, no doubt, by one of his cohorts: Clara
Boehm, Taisha Abelar's teacher, who had studied martial arts in ChinA: Clara's
idea was that the discoverers of the magical passes poured an ominous
obsession into the perfect execution of them. She said that in order to match
that obsession, we needed the precision and the internal force acquired by the
practice of Oriental martial arts: her predilection and bias. Every one of don
Juan's disciples has been a student of martial arts at one time or another. The
movements of Tensegrity, therefore, are already cushioned in something that
would lead the body to develop maximum precision and internal force, in lieu of
obsession.
Q: In the video, you eschew the words "magic" or "sorcery", referring to the
expertise of those men and women of ancient Mexico as the ability to "handle
awareness". Why do "magic" and "sorcery" have negative connotations?
A: "Sorcery" and "magic" are terms that have a negative connotation because
of the way Western man faces the unknown. Sorcerers believe that he is
imbued with an irrational fear of the unknown, and that in order to free himself of
this fear, he has to change his basic orientation: instead of being terrified by the
unknown, he must be intrigued by it. To avoid evoking anger or disapproval
among the persons who might be interested in this video, I have refrained from
arousing their fear at the use of terms like "sorcery" or "magic". What I would
like to do is to entice them to suspend judgment and simply practice the
movements. After all, if they faced the unknown with the increased energy
resulting from practicing the movements of this videotape, they would have
simply engaged themselves in handling awareness in a new fashion.
Q: What would you say to those who approach the video as an exercise tape?
In other words, is there something to be gained by using the tape if one isn't up
for the "abstract journey"? (Is the idea of gain reprehensible?)
A: The idea of gain is not reprehensible at all. We practice Tensegrity
exclusively to gain strength, fortitude, durability, youth. So, the idea that people
might take the video as an exercise tape is perfectly acceptable. The grand
trick, don Juan used to say, is not believing, but practicing. "You don't have to
believe what I say," he told us repeatedly, "but do exactly as I tell you, because I
am older than you and I know the road. At the end, what I recommend you to do
will have its effect: it will change you."
Q: We've heard through the grapevine that these movements may be offered
in a workshop setting, taught by the chacmools".
A: Yes, it is true that the chacmools are going to offer workshops on
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Tensegrity. The chacmools have deemed it necessary to teach Tensegrity to
whomever wants to learn it on a direct basis. They came up with the idea of
creating their own institution, "The Chacmool Center for Enhanced Perception".
Their argument is that don Juan's disciples, no matter how available they might
want to be, are really inaccessible, by virtue of the practices don Juan left to
them as a legacy. The position of the chacmools, on the other hand, is ideal for
teaching, since they are young, accessible students of the rather inaccessible,
older students.
Q: We've also heard that the tape is the first volume of a projected series. How
many movements are there?
A: The tape is indeed the first volume of a projected series. The movements of
Tensegrity are quite numerous and it is the chacmools' art to have compressed
them into one single unit. Kylie Lundahl, being the chief of the guards, after
years of painstaking effort, and in close consultation with don Juan's disciples,
has selected for each videotape the most pertinent magical passes, ranging
from the most simple to the most complex. In her selection, she has employed
her best energetic output, always bearing in mind that what counts in practicing
the movements of Tensegrity is the sorcerers' intent of storing energy and not
merely their routinary repetition. Kylie Lundahl, in conjunction with all of don
Juan's disciples, has organized the movements of Tensegrity for the maximum
application to well- being and enhanced awareness.
Q: Do you practice the movements each day yourself? If one applies oneself
with abandon, when might one expect "results"?
A: All of us practice the movements each day individually wherever we are.
When we are all together, which is very rarely, the three chacmools lead the
sessions. The positive results of Tensegrity are almost instantaneous, if one
practices the movements meticulously and daily.
Bruce Wagner is a novelist, screenwriter and film director. He directed the first
volume of Tensegrity: Twelve Basic Movements to Gather Energy and Promote
Well-Being. At present he is the Writer and executive producer of Francis Ford
Coppola's upcoming television movie, White Dwarf.
Copyright April 1995 Body Mind Spirit Magazine
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Kindred Spirit - Jun 1995
An interview published in the Summer (June-August) 1995 issue of Kindred
Spirit magazine.
INTERVIEW
A New Generation Of Sorcerers
From the sixties until now, Carlos Castaneda has inspired seekers everywhere.
here the three chacmools of his generation, Kylie Lundahl, Reni Murez and Nyei
Murez answer our questions in the frank and particular way well known to all
those familiar with their tradition.
Carlos Castaneda's Tensegrity
More than twenty-five years ago I wrote my first book: The Teachings of Don
Juan, a book about my apprenticeship with Don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian
sorcerer from the state of Sonora, Mexico. I developed the theme of Don Juan's
teachings in eight subsequent books, the latest of which, The Art of Dreaming,
was published in 1994. Now there is a new expression of those teachings; I call
it TENSEGRITY. TENSEGRITY, a term I borrowed from architecture, refers to
the 'property of skeleton structures that employ continuous tension members
and discontinuous compression members in such a way that each member
operates with the maximum efficiency and economy'. I have applied this term to
a system of movements that don Juan's four disciples, Florinda Donner-Grau,
Taisha Abelar, Carol Tiggs and myself, have developed, following the strict
patterns of the sorcerers that lived in Mexico in ancient times.
THE HISTORY OF TENSEGRITY
One of the major disadvantages that I encountered in portraying the teachings
of don Juan for the reader was the use of the terms sorcerer and sorcery. The
negative reaction that these terms evoke in us is something natural; the
connotations that they bring to mind are all malignant and terrifying. In order to
avoid such a reaction, I have opted for using the terms man of knowledge or
seer.
The seers that lived in Mexico in ancient times discovered, by means of their
dreaming practices, a series of movements conducive to physical well-being
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and mental sobriety. Dreaming for those seers meant the use of ordinary
dreams as a means to enlarge the scope of their perception. Through such
practices they used to enter into states of enhanced awareness, where they
experienced a tremendous feeling of physical balance, an indescribable sense
of well-being, and a great internal strength. Those men of knowledge longed for
such feelings of well-being and internal strength when they were in their normal
awareness; their longing was so intense and their efforts to repeat them were so
overpowering that they finally discovered, in dreaming, bodily movements that
allowed them to replicate at will those states of well-being and internal strength.
They called these movements magical passes, an in order to guard them, they
transformed them into something tremendously secretive and mysterious by
surrounding them with rituals.
The magical passes of the seers of ancient Mexico have survived to this day.
They were handed down with utmost caution and great secrecy from generation
to generation. Don Juan Matus and his cohorts taught to us, their four disciples,
four different lines of magical passes. All of us kept our individual line of
movements secret until ten years ago when we decided to amalgamate them
into one single unit.
THE HISTORY OF THE CHACMOOLS
The word Chacmool is applied to some monumental human figures made out of
basalt found in the pyramids of Tula and Yucatan in Mexico. They portray
human beings in a reclining position holding some sort of flat receptacle on their
umbilical region. Scholars have classified the figures as incense burners; the
sorcerer's of don Juan's lineage consider them to be the representation of a
special class of fierce guardian warriors. For don Juan and other seers like him,
the Chacmools were not incense burners, but rather the guardians of the
pyramids as sites of power.
In the lifetime of those seers and throughout the ages, the chacmools were and
are fierce warriors dedicated to guarding other men of knowledge; they guard
their way of life, the places where they live, the spots where they do their
dreaming. the chacmools are the custodians of the ideas, visions and
possibilities of the seers under their care.
Among the men of ancient Mexico, the male of female entrusted with directing
the actions of a whole generation within a given lineage of seers was known as
the nagual. The nagual is a being gifted with a very special energy that gives
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him the quality of a natural guide, a conductor, a director. Don Juan Matus was
the guide of his generation and I am the nagual of the new one. In my
generation there are three chacmools: Kylie Lundahl, Renata Murez and Nyei
Murez; these three women are entrusted with the care of don Juan's four
disciples.
THE CHACMOOLS AND TENSEGRITY
The task of the chacmools, in their role of guardians of the ancient seer's way of
life, was to compile the four lines of magical passes. It took them seven years to
amalgamate them into a single unit. The chacmools, guided by us, don Juan's
four disciples, erased the haze of mystery and enigma that surrounded the
magical passes, and they transformed them into something that can be utilised
by anyone.
Now the chacmools have prepared for use the first unit of the magical passes
adapted to the new ideology that well-being and internal strength are the
heritage of every human being. They have entitled the first unit TWELVE BASIC
MOVEMENTS TO GATHER ENERGY AND PROMOTE WELL-BEING. This
first unit is the theme of their videotape- which is already being sold in the
United States and will soon be available all over the world- and it is also the
theme that they are going to develop in a series of workshops that they will
conduct this year.
The seers of ancient Mexico believed that human beings are the beholders of a
most peculiar dualism. They were not referring to traditional dualisms such as
body and mind or matter and spirit, but to the dualism between the self and
something they called the energy body. They considered the energy body to be
a particular conglomerate of energy fields belonging to each of us individually.
The goal of those men of knowledge was to forge the energy body and
transform it into a replica of the self, and vice versa, to forge the self and
transform it into a replica of the energy body: a conglomerate of energy fields.
The necessary energy to accomplish the indescribable results of this dual
transformation was obtained by those seers through their magical passes.
The TWELVE BASIC MOVEMENT TO GATHER ENERGY AND PROMOTE
WELL-BEING were selected by us, don Juan's four disciples, in unanimous
agreement, in order to serve as the basis to gather and store the necessary
energy to give definition and scope to the energy body.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:58

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-- Carlos Castaneda
Question:
Can you tell us how you first came into contact with Carlos Castaneda and the
sorcery tradition, and what impact this made on each of you?
Answer:
This question is impossible for us to answer on the basis that the sorcery
tradition that Carlos Castaneda described in his books is a state of being. We
cannot say in sincerity that there was a time when we came into contact with it.
This is no exaggeration on our part, nor is it a desire to give you a cynical,
obscure, or cute answer. The truth of the matter is that we are barely coming
into contact with it now. We began working with Carlos Castaneda about tens
years ago, but our working with him had nothing to do with his world. We did
research for gigantic upcoming book that he plans to publish some day, the title
of which has changed through the years; it began as Ethno-hereneutics, but one
of his best friends appropriated the name for his own research. Then it changed
to A New View of Interpretation; at present it's called Phenomenological-
Anthropology. This work reveals Carlos Castaneda's deep interest in the social
sciences that he has kept alive throughout all his life as an inheritor of don Juan
Matus' sorcery tradition.
We cannot say, then, that when we came into contact with Carlos Castaneda
we also came into contact with his world. The latter was a matter of gradual
assimilation; we don't know when it took place. We feel, however, that it is
taking place now.
Question:
In the books by Carlos Castaneda, humans are described as luminous beings
who generally have a fixed assemblage point which locks then into 'normal
reality' which is perceived as the external world. A movement of this
assemblage point enables the adept to perceive and move into other equally
'real worlds'. Can you give us any examples of the experiences that might occur
as a result of such a movement which might be more accessible to those
unfamiliar with the sorcerer's path; would near death experiences be such an
example?
Answer:
The assemblage point is displaced from its normal position during sleep.
Sorcerers say that the farther away it is from its normal position, the more
bizarre the experiences of that dream. This is the simplest example of the
displacement of the assemblage point which occurs to all of us at all times.
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Another example could be the displacement created by the intake of
hallucinogenic plants or substances. Fatigue, hunger, fever, disease,
dehydration and many other abnormal situations also produce a displacement of
the assemblage point. The idea of sorcerers is that any displacement of the
assemblage point produces a view of another world, but it is also their idea that
we are incapable, under any conditions, of maintaining the fixation of the
assemblage point on the place to which is displaced. This incapacity results in a
mere fleeting view of other worlds.
Near death experiences are certainly, we would say, the leading examples of a
more sustained view of other worlds. Sorcerers maintain that the impact of
death is so gigantic that it freezes everything in one place; therefore, the fixation
of the assemblage point at the place where the impact of death displaces it must
give the most sustained view of another reality to those who are not necessarily
on the warrior's path.
Question:
We understand that, like his teacher don Juan Matus before him, Carlos
Castaneda is now the nagual. What does this term mean?
Answer:
The term nagual refers to a man or woman who is the possessor of a special
charge of energy which makes him or her appear to the eye of the sorcerers,
who are viewing the world solely in terms of energy and energy flow, as a being
double, meaning that what appears normally as a luminous egg or ball of energy
appears in a nagual as one luminous ball of energy superimposed on another.
Sorcerers maintain that such beings are capable of guiding, directing and
advising other sorcerers in a most natural way. Sorcerers define the nagual as
the being who is best capable, due to his charge of energy, to express and to
interpret the commands of the spirit. For Carlos Castaneda to be the new
nagual means that he has assumed the responsibility of guiding us to freedom.
Question:
Has a successor to Carlos Castaneda been found?
Answer:
No. There is no successor to Carlos Castaneda - he is the last of his lineage.
Question:
For a tradition that is so secretive, enigmatic and mysterious, what has
prompted the decision to undertake work in public at this time?
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Answer:
The sorcerers' tradition is in no way secretive or enigmatic per se. The problem
here is the reluctance on our part, as members of the Western world, to be
serious about anything that does not stem from ourselves. In the case of the
sorcery tradition of the Mexican Indians, ethnocentrism seems to be our cup of
tea.
The other part of your question we can answer by saying that the nagual
woman, Carol Tiggs, who came back from a most mysterious journey ten years
ago, opened the door for a revolutionary attempt on the part of don Juan Matus'
disciples - Carlos Castaneda, Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar, and herself -
to disseminate the seed of an extraordinary idea: freedom.
Question:
How can someone who is not in contact with yourselves participate in the
tradition.
Answer:
Carlos Castaneda has given in his nine books all the necessary clues to follow
the warrior's path. He has presented those clues in the same fashion in which
they were presented to him. Underlying this procedure is the sorcerer's
conviction that the intellect has to be pricked first; once the intellect is curious
about something, persistence can open energetic doors that will make direct
participation possible. This answer seems mysterious and enigmatic but that is
only a superficial appearance. The sorcerers in don Juan's tradition said that it
is impossible for the linear mind to fathom the intricacy of the universe. Energy,
as a bona fide affair that rules our lives, is not part of our understanding of the
world. Another way to answer the question would be to say that if we persist in
following the warrior's path, energy itself will make it possible for us to continue.
Question:
Could you briefly comment on the sorcerers' understanding of the earth energy
lines and sacred power places.
Answer:
Sorcerers believe that the earth is a conscious being, but conscious at a level
that is more incomprehensible to our minds. Being alive and conscious, the
earth generates energy which sorcerers perceive as luminescent lines.
A sacred power place is a description given to a nucleus of energy lines, that is
to say, a centre where energy emanates naturally from the earth, like water
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flowing from a hidden well.
Question:
Can you tell us something about the secondary function of the womb, according
to the teachings, the primary function being childbirth?
Answer:
We have been taught that the secondary functions of the womb are very much
like the function of the brain as we know them. The sorcerers have told us that
we can think with our wombs. However, whatever they call 'thinking with the
womb' is not at all the kind of thinking we are accustomed to. What a woman
gets are not actual linear thoughts but tremendously clear and powerful thought-
feelins that we have to later interpret linearly. There seems to be a natural
progression in the life of a sorceress to quiet down the linear thoughts and allow
the feeling thoughts to rise until there is an equal amount of both.
Question:
Does the tradition recommend celibacy and if so, for what reasons?
Answer:
No. The tradition does not recommend us to be celibate or to be libertines.
Celibacy is an issue related exclusively to what the sorcerers call 'the way in
which we were conceived.' They say that if we were conceived in the midst of
tremendous physical and emotional passion, our natural level of energy would
be so high that we could do whatever we wanted without any detriment to
ourselves; we could be libertines to our hearts' content. On the other hand, if we
were conceived in what sorcerers call 'a super-civilised environment', our level
of energy is the exact replica of the physical and emotional state of our parents
at the moment of conception. Sorcerers call the product of that conception a
'bored fuck'. In a joking manner we call them 'B.F.'s.' Of the three of us here,
two of us are B.F.'s for sure; one of us seems to have escaped that fate. For us
B.F.'s, sorcerers recommend that we save our energy any way we can because
we don't have any. Celibacy in this instance is not recommended, it is
demanded as our only way of being on par with the best non-B.F.'s.
Question:
Don Juan Matus describes the world as being predatory in nature, which is at
variance to perhaps all other mystical, shamanic and esoteric traditions. Can
you comment on this?
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Answer:
In the tradition of the sorcerers to which don Juan belongs, it is maintained that
the universe is predatorial in nature. For sorcerers, this is not a matter of
speculation or of metaphorical predilection - they know for a fact that it is
predatorial. Throughout the ages they have described the condition of man,
which is about the bleakest description we know. As time goes by, this
description gains more and more ground. Sorcerers say that just as we keep
chickens, or gallinas in Spanish, in a coop, or a gallinero, some entities that
come from a universe of awareness keep us in human coops. Sorcerers make a
joke and say that those entities, which they call flyers, or voladores, keep us
human beings, or seres humanos, cooped up in humaneros.
The flyers of the sorcerers' tradition are black shadows that we sometimes
detect and explain away as floaters in the retina. Sorcerers know for a fact, by
means of their capacity to see energy directly, that those shadows are
predatorial and that they keep us alive in order to devour our awareness.
Sorcerers say that our awareness is like a sheen around our total field of energy
that looks to them like a luminous ball. To them, this sheen of awareness is like
a plastic cover that would make the luminous ball shine even more if it were not
for the fact that it has been eaten away down to the level of our heels.
Here is where the sorcerers description gets very disturbing to us; sorcerers say
that the only sheen of awareness left in us by our eaters is the awareness of self-
reflection. Therefore, all we are left with is the concern with me, myself and I. In
our personal lives we have corroborated that the only force left in the immediate
world around us is the force of self-importance, which comes disguised in the
form of humility, compassion, altruism, kindness, you name it.
This sorcerer's description is of course our ultimate nemesis; we don't want to
believe that we are being raised for food. In this sense, naturally, the sorcerers'
tradition is at total variance with any other kind of spiritual tradition. Sorcerers
say, and believe me, not out of cynicism, that every ideal we deal with in terms
of spiritual traditions, religions, etc, is a device concocted by the flyers to keep
us in a lull. Imagine our disquietude upon examining, weighing and pondering
this proposition.
Question:
What is the 'jump for freedom' and what is 'death' to those people who have not
made this 'jump'?
Answer:
We understand that the jump to freedom is equivalent to evolving in a
premeditated way. For sorcerers, the natural reason for our lives, aside from
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being eaten by the flyers, is to fend off our attackers in order to allow our
awareness to grow to its full capacity. To complete this task is an evolutionary
step which sorcerers call the jump to freedom. We haven't reached that state so
we truly don't know what it means.
Your question of what death is to people who have not made this jump can be
answered by sorcerers very simply by telling you that people who do not allow
the regrowth of awareness die by being eaten by the flyers.
Question:
Could you please explain why you do not allow any photographs of yourselves
or tape recordings of your voices.
Answer:
In doing this, we are directly following the tradition of the sorcerers of ancient
Mexico. Obeying their request is our only palpable link with them since our way
of life and our situation, as the last members of this line of sorcerers, has made
us reach areas that were never entered by preceding practitioners. We are
immensely far away from the actual tradition that gives us sustenance.
Sometimes what we have to do is in total opposition to that tradition. Our token
adherence to it is our blind obeyance of this rule: no pictures and no recordings
of our voices.
Question:
You are all now placing a great emphasis on 'the recapitulation'. Can you
describe the method and purpose of this technique and tell us of its origins and
explain why it has come to the forefront of the teachings at this time?
Answer:
No, it is not only now that we are placing a great emphasis on the recapitulation;
Carlos Castaneda has been talking about it for years. The method of the
recapitulation is to make a careful list of all the persons we have come in
contact with in our lives; this is a formidable task. Personally, we have found it
staggering to remember every person we have met in our lives! When we were
asked to do this we believed it was impossible. We were told then that once this
list was made, if ever, we had to take the first person on the list, which goes
from the present to the day we were born, and examine all the interactions we
had and everything related to that interaction. In other words, we were told that
we had to relive every experience, and that our list was a device to aid our
recollection.
The reason for the recapitulation, we were told, was manifold. The first reason
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was explained as the certainty that the sorcerers of ancient Mexico had- and
they were the inventors of the recapitulation - that an incredible force which they
called the eagle, and which we call awareness at large, lends every newborn
being, from a virus to a human being, a certain amount of awareness which they
are to enhance by means of their life experiences. At the end of their lives, that
force reclaims the awareness that was lent. Those sorcerers maintained that
this reclaiming of awareness is linked to our death only by contact, and that the
force that lends us awareness is not interested in taking our lives - that is a
different process. They also maintained that by means of the recapitulation we
can give that force what it wants, and in the end it will let us go through it without
taking our lives away. This is what sorcerers understand as being consumed by
the fire from within. Sorcerers don't really die the way the rest of our fellow men
do.
The other function of the recapitulation is to give us fluidity. Upon reliving all our
experiences, sorcerers say that we acquire a pliability that will facilitate our
entrance into areas of perception veiled to normal human beings.
The last function, which sounds to us like the most important of them all, is that
through recapitulating we can acquire a hard discipline which is the only means
by which we can make ourselves unpalatable to the flyers. Sorcerers assert that
the only awareness which cannot be eaten is the awareness produced by iron-
handed discipline. The recapitulation seems to create a condition of fluidity and
determination which is the discipline that sorcerers talk about, not the discipline
of compulsive, routinary behavior.
We have corroborated in our lives that our awareness is different; we are
certainly aware of things now that were inconceivable to us before.
Question:
What is the attitude towards using psychotropic teacher plants, such as datura
and peyote, and others which were advocated by don Juan Matus in the early
Castaneda books?
Answer:
We understand that the reason don Juan gave Carlos Castaneda a profusion of
psychotropic plants was because Castaneda was a very difficult subject. The
stiffness of his personality was so overwhelming that don Juan used to call him
'Mr Oldmann' and 'Mr Nightmare' and also 'Mr Bacon' because he was quite
chubby. He himself says that being short, brown, chubby and homely made him
an impossible subject, and that change was not his middle name. Castaneda's
case was quite individualistic - the rest of don Juan's disciples never took any
psychotropic plants. Don Juan pushed them in the opposite direction to the point
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that they don't even drink tea.
Question:
We have heard that the nagual woman Carol Tiggs, who was introduced to the
world in Carlos Castaneda's most recent book The Art of Dreaming, spent ten
years in the second attention and then reappeared in a book shop in California.
Is this true and can you explain what it means?
Answer:
Yes, it is true. Carol Tiggs went to the Phoenix Bookstore in Santa Monica
because she found out that Carlos Castaneda was giving a lecture there. He,
Florinda Donner-Grau, and Taisha Abelar believed that Carol Tiggs was gone
for the rest of their natural lives and was waiting for them somewhere in what
the sorcerers call the second attention, where she would guide all of them some
day. Carol Tiggs had returned from a ten-year journey two months prior to that
encounter; she was still groggy from that experience; she couldn't conceive a
way to get in touch with Carlos and the other two.
It is very difficult for us to explain what this means; the sorcerers would explain it
by saying that don Juan's four disciples have not been eaten by the flyers for
thirty years, so their level of awareness allows them extravagant play with
perception and awareness. To try to make this into a linear explanation is
impossible, unless we want to sound like three idiots babbling inanities. We
hope we never get to that point.
Question:
What exactly is the 'second attention'?
Answer:
We have been taught that the second attention is the consciousness of human
beings who have not been devoured by the flyers down to their heels. If a
natural regrowth of awareness is allowed, the level of consciousness of that
awareness that rises up allows the person who has it to enter into something
indescribable. Since it has been impossible for us to get an idea of what this
awareness is from a great number of people, all we have is our four wards;
Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar, Carol Tiggs and Carlos Castaneda. We
haven't been able to really deal with this subject. From our own personal
experience we draw a near blank. We have changed, yes, but our
consciousness cannot verbalise what we experience; it seems like the world we
used to know but we know that it isn't. We hope that a moment will come when
it will be possible for us to verbalise what the second attention is beyond saying
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that it is a consciousness of heightened awareness. As we have already told
you, by heightened awareness we mean awareness that has not been eaten by
the flyers. Our insistence on this point may be very displeasing to you, it is to us,
but we are convinced that there is no other way to explain bona fide change in
human beings. Consider this point: in the world of everyday life, no matter what
we do, we never change. So what are we going to do? Remain the same while
we talk and talk about unrealistic idealities? This is the point where the
sorcerers squashed us. They said to us, if you really want to change and be
different you must fend off the flyers. If you do not do this, forget about change -
all you will do throughout your lives is talk about how wonderful you are.
Question:
Are you working for the collective jump for freedom and are we in a race against
time to complete the jump?
Answer:
The three of us are in perfect agreement with the four of don Juan's disciples;
we would like to bring the idea of change and freedom and purposeful evolution
to whoever wants to listen. We are not in a race against time; if we are, it is
subliminal - we are not aware of it. But now that you ask the question, you have
us wondering.
Question:
We understand that don Juan is no longer in the world. Where is he now and do
you have any contact with him still?
Answer:
We came years and years after don Juan left the world. We don't know where
he is - neither do his disciples; he apparently died a sorcerer's death , which
means he took his body with him and kept his life force. Sorcerers describe this
as burning from a fire from within and turning every bit of oneself into awareness-
energy. If that is the case with don Juan, he and his people vanished into infinity
without leaving a trace.
Acknowledgment: Our thanks to Simon Bridgewater for his help with this
interview.
Editor's Note: In order to publish this interview, we agreed to the chacmool's
condition of not editing any published replies to questions. We apologise to
those with failing eyesight for the small print at the beginning of the article.
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Copyright 1995 Chacmool Center for Enhanced Perception
Copyright June 1995 Kindred Magazine
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Los Angeles Times - Dec 1995
Tuesday, December 26, 1995
Home Edition
Section: Life & Style
Page: E-1
The Mystical Man; One of the most elusive writers of our time, Carlos
Castaneda returns (briefly) to share a few secrets with devotees. To remain
invisible, he says, is the sorcerer's way.;
By: Benjamin Epstein
Special to the Times
Carlos Castaneda, the 20th century's own sorcerer's apprentice, has been
nearly invisible for 25 years. Not that he was ever exactly in plain view.
The author of nine books based on his experiences with Juan Matus, a Yaqui
seer, Castaneda has been seen as a bridge to the unknown by millions of
spiritual seekers--especially in the soul-searching '60s and '70s.
Now he's back.
Or was back.
Castaneda was center attraction earlier this month in Anaheim at a two-day
"Tensegrity" seminar. More than 400 devotees paid $250 each to attend the
seminar led by three women, called "chacmools," who taught a series of
"magical passes," or movements.
Castaneda has succeeded in being one of the most elusive writers of our time--
to remain invisible, he says, is the sorcerer's way. In the '80s, he effectively
vanished altogether. He never allows a photograph or a tape recording of his
voice. He only rarely has granted interviews--but unexpectedly agreed to one in
Anaheim. (See accompanying story).
His books continue to sell--8 million copies in 17 countries--and have never
been out of print. Did he make up his fantastic desert tales, with their
shimmering supernatural events, as his critics maintain?
"I invented nothing," he said at the seminar. "I'm not insane, you know. Well,
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maybe a little insane. But not ridiculously insane!"
In 1993, his book "The Art of Dreaming" (Harper Collins) was published. The
same year, with the assistance of the chacmools, Castaneda and three fellow
Don Juan disciples began presenting a few Tensegrity seminars. Tensegrity,
Castaneda says, is derived from an architectural term relating to skeletal
efficiency and seems to mean a way of tensing and relaxing the body.
Workshops were held in Arizona, Hawaii and at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur.
This month the show came to Anaheim.
"To be young and youthful is nothing," said Castaneda, exuberantly taking the
stage before the devotees. "To be old and youthful, that is sorcery!" Castaneda
is both. His hair is gray and cut short; his manner energetic and engaging. He's
small and trim. He dresses simply and his olive complexion shows few signs of
wear and tear.
The seminar participants, mostly middle aged, came from around the world--
about a third from California--in hopes of seeing the charismatic Castaneda and
to learn about Tensegrity. Many wore Tensegrity T-shirts ("The magic is in the
movement").
In an open hall, the chacmools each stood on elevated platforms and
demonstrated the elaborate Tensegrity sequences step by step, the seminar
attendees following along closely. As each sequence was mastered, everybody
stopped to applaud.
While learning Tensegrity filled most of the seminar hours, at least one couple
came for another purpose: "We're not disinterested in Tensegrity," the woman
said. "But we came to hear Carlos."
Among Castaneda's remarks to those at the seminar:

"We are all going to face infinity, whether we like it or not. Why do it
when we are weakest, when we are broken, at the moment of dying?
Why not when we are strong? Why not now?"
l
"We repeat slogans endlessly. We don't know how to think for ourselves. .
. . 'We are made in the image and likeness of God?' What does it mean?
Nothing. Yet we hold on to it. Why?"
l
"Me, me, me. Everybody, it doesn't matter, is egomaniacal. The other
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 10:59

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person tells you what he did, then you say, ah, but I did this . . ."
It's hard to pin Castaneda down to one answer on points that, for most people,
are pretty simply stated.
According to "Contemporary Authors," Castaneda lists his birth date and place
as Dec. 25, 1931, in Sao Paulo, Brazil; immigration records indicate Dec. 25,
1925, in Cajamarca, Peru, and other sources the late 1930s. One New York
Times article put him at 66 years old in 1981.
Similarly, biographies variously list the years he earned his degrees in
anthropology. The records at UCLA, though, show he earned a bachelor's in
anthropology in 1962, a doctorate in 1973.
In other words, this is one slippery organic being. (According to Castaneda, he
spends a great deal of time among inorganic beings.)
While studying at UCLA, Castaneda traveled to Arizona to research medicinal
plants. There he met Don Juan Matus, who sensed in the young man the
possibility of a successor. Matus later moved to Sonora, Mexico, and Castaneda
followed.
Castaneda's first three books--"The Teachings of Don Juan" (University of
California Press and Ballantine, 1968), "A Separate Reality" and "Journey to
Ixtlan" (both Simon & Schuster, 1971 and 1972, respectively)--describe a rather
thickheaded student often bungling his way through a 12-year apprenticeship to
become a "Yaqui man of knowledge."
All received enthusiastic reviews and made the bestseller lists. The most
respected critics of the day praised them on one hand as "the best that the
science of anthropology has produced" and, on the other, said that the tension
between academic rationality and the magic of Don Juan's world made them
first-rate literature, "remarkable works of art," in the words of Joyce Carol Oates.
His more recent works have received somewhat less attention, but sell well
nonetheless--and increasingly well in other countries.
At least two volumes by other authors attempted to debunk Castaneda. One
dismissed him as a fraud; the other, "Castaneda's Journey," (Capra Press,
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1976) by Richard de Mille, found many discrepancies in his work, but the writer
decided early on that Castaneda "wasn't a common con man, he lied to bring us
the truth. . . . This is a sham-man bearing gifts."
Shaman or sham-man, readers didn't care, and reviewers who saw him as a
"trickster-hoaxer" still took him seriously. A Saturday Review critic wrote that
Castaneda "works a strange and beautiful magic beyond the realm of belief. . . .
Admittedly, one gets the impression of a con artist simply glorifying in the game--
even so, it is a con touched by genius."
At UCLA in the '60s, Castaneda was perceived as "the little brown man with the
big smile." Not much has changed; he's about 5 feet, 5 inches, funny and
charming.
He can be amazingly convincing when describing some out-there ideas, such
as: his life among inorganic beings; the assemblage point, a place about a foot
behind our shoulder blades that can be shifted to visit other realms; a predatory
universe in which "fliers" incessantly feed on mankind's awareness, taking the
sheen off our luminous eggs and leaving only a rubble of self-absorption and
egomania.
Back in the three-dimensional world of self-absorption and egomania,
Castaneda is represented by talent agent Tracy Kramer. (Kramer also
represents "Rug Rats," "Duck Man" and "The Real Munsters," and notes that
"somewhere there's a purity about all of them.")
Both Kramer and Cleargreen Inc., which organizes the seminars, are based in
Los Angeles. But it's unclear--as is so much else--where Castaneda is based.
Kramer contends that "the majority of [Castaneda's] time is not spent here. And
what he does do here he doesn't share with me." Castaneda reportedly bought
a home in Malibu sometime in the '70s. If a passing remark at the seminar was
to be taken literally, he continues to pay property taxes somewhere.
At the center of Castaneda's books is the premise that the world as we know it
is only one version of reality, a set of culturally embedded "agreements" and
"descriptions." Time magazine described Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan Matus as "an
enigma wrapped in mystery wrapped in a tortilla."
According to Castaneda, Matus gave him psychotropic plants--peyote, Jimson
weed and mushrooms--only because he was such an intractable student.
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Although the use of hallucinogens boosted the popularity of the first two books,
they subsequently gave way to nonherbal perception-altering exercises.
Castaneda believes that the negative connotations of the words sorcery and
magic are rooted in Western man's irrational fear of the unknown. He
recommends that people be intrigued rather than terrified by the unknown.
"It is a thinking universe, a living universe, an exquisite universe," he said. "We
have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the
unknown universe."
"The Art of Dreaming" ends with Castaneda recounting an episode in the mid-
'70s when he and fellow Matus disciple Carol Tiggs were "dreaming" in a hotel
room in Mexico City and Tiggs disappeared into those dreams.
According to Castaneda, Tiggs reappeared 10 years later in a bookstore in
Santa Monica where he was giving a talk. It was the reconstituted Tiggs who
provided the impetus to compile the "magical passes" of Tensegrity.
Castaneda and Tiggs were among four disciples of Matus who were each
taught a separate line of magical passes. The others, Florinda Donner-Grau and
Taisha Abelar, have also published accounts of their apprenticeships, markedly
different from Castaneda's but still endorsed by him. Tiggs, Donner-Grau and
Abelar attended a bonus Castaneda appearance the final night of the Anaheim
seminar but didn't address the group.
The actual teaching of Tensegrity at the seminars and in instructional videos
has been carried out by the three chacmools--Kylie Lundahl, Nyei Murez and
Reni Murez. The movements taught to seminar participants were often angular
and fierce in character--less like Yaqui yoga, more like martial arts. Tensegrity
videos--there are two volumes--were on sale for $29.95.
According to Cleargreen President Talia Bey, proceeds from the seminar will
help fund publication of a Castaneda periodical, the Warriors' Way: A Journal
of Applied Hermeneutics.
At the close of the seminar, Castaneda delivered remarks both lighthearted and
serious, and peppered with his self-deprecating humor.
But then, Castaneda obliquely dropped a bombshell: He was relieving the
chacmools of their teaching duties. The announcement left many in the
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audience unsettled.
"Look, the whole front row is shaking in their boots!" Castaneda said. "The
chacmools will be erased today. They go on to something else."
Seminar organizers later clarified: Although "erased," the chacmools will
remain on the payroll at Cleargreen in capacities yet to be determined. And the
teaching of Tensegrity will apparently continue--a seminar is planned in
Oakland, Feb. 9-11, and a women's workshop in Los Angeles for March 1-3.
Said Castaneda: "If the chacmools go away, something else will appear. That
is a world that is alive, in flux. . . . If I am needed, I will be there. Just call me."
OK, Carlos. But who has your number?
Photo: Carlos Castaneda's "Tensegrity" seminars are led by three
"chacmools," Kylie Lundahl, from left, Nyei Murez and Reni Murez, who teach
"magical passes," a series of movements, angular and fierce in character.
Photo: Reni Murez, from left, Nyei Murez and Kylie Lundahl teach movements
designed to heighten awareness, focus and increase energy. Photographer:
Kari Rene Hall / Los Angeles Times
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tuesday, December 26, 1995
Home Edition
Section: Life & Style
Page: E-4
By: Benjamin Epstein
Q & A: A Rare Conversation With the Magical Mystery Man
When Benjamin Epstein caught up with Carlos Castaneda in Anaheim to ask if
he would agree to an interview, Castaneda unexpectedly invited him to join his
party for lunch. In a conversation over a this-worldly melted cheese sandwich,
side of bacon and fries, Castaneda was personable and spontaneous.
Here's some of what he had to say:
Question: Why don't you allow yourself to be photographed or tape recorded?
Answer: A recording is a way of fixing you in time. The only thing a sorcerer
will not do is be stagnant. The stagnant word, the stagnant picture, those are the
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antithesis of the sorcerer.
Q: Is Tensegrity the Toltec t'ai chi? Mexican martial arts?
A: Tensegrity is outside political boundaries. Mexico is a nation. To claim
origins is absurd. To compare Tensegrity with yoga or t'ai chi is not possible. It
has a different origin and different purpose. The origin is shamanic, the purpose
is shamanic.
Q: Where would Jesus fit into all this? Where would Buddha fit in?
A: They are idealities. They are too big, too gigantic to be real. They are
deities. One is the prince of Buddhism, the other is the son of God. Idealities
cannot be used in a pragmatic movement.
The difference between religion and shamanic tradition is that the things
shamans deal with are extremely practical. Magical passes [movements] are
just one aspect of that.
Q: Is that what you've been doing all this time, magical passes?
A: Nooooo . . . I was very chubby. Don Juan [Matus] recommended an
obsessive use of magical passes to keep my body at an optimum. So in terms
of physical activity, yes, this is what we do. The movements force the
awareness of man to focus on the idea that we are spheres of luminosity, a
conglomerate of energy fields held together by special glue.
Q: Where do you live?
A: I don't live here. I'm not here at all. I use the euphemism, "I've been in
Mexico." All of us divide our time between being here and being pulled by
something that is not describable, but that makes us visitors into another realm.
But you start talking about that and you start sounding like total nincompoops.
Q: According to your book "The Eagle's Gift," Don Juan Matus didn't die, he
left, he "burned from within." Will you leave, or will you die?
A: Since I'm a moron, I'm sure I'll die. I wish I would have the integrity to leave
the way he did, but there is no assurance. I have this terrible fear that I won't.
But I wish. I work my head off--both of my heads--toward that.
Q: I recall an article, at least a decade ago, calling you the "Godfather of the
New Age."
A: It was "grandfather!" And I thought, please call me the uncle, or cousin, not
grandfather! Uncle Charlie will do. I feel like hell, being the grandfather of
anything. I'm fighting age, senility and old age like you couldn't believe.
I've fought for 35 years. The three people I worked with have been at it for 35
years. They look like fabulous kids. They continually take this energy on and on
and on in order to remain fluid. Without fluidity, there's no way to journey
anywhere.
Q: Matus taught you to see. When you look at me now, what do you see?
A: I have to be in a special mood to see. It is very difficult for me to see. I've
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got to get very somber, very heavy. If I'm lighthearted and I look at you I see
nothing. Then I turn around and I see her, and what do I see? "I joined the Navy
to see the world, and what do I see? I see the sea!"
I know more than I want to know. It's hell, true hell. If you see too much, you
become unbearable.
Q: Talia Bey, seminar organizer and president of Clearwater Inc., seems to
stick pretty close to you. Are you two a couple?
A: We are ascetic beings. No relationships of a sexual order. This is very
difficult, a difficult maneuver for us. Don Juan recommended that I had to be a
conserver of energy, because I don't have much energy. I myself was not
created under conditions of great sexual passion. Most people are not. . . .
[Talia] was born with enough energy that she can do what she wants.
Q: Can married people do what they want?
A: That question has come up a lot, and it's a question of energy. If you know
you were not conceived in a state of real excitation, then no. On one level, it
hasn't mattered if people are married. But with the launching of Tensegrity, we
don't really know what is going to happen.
Q: You don't know what is going to happen?
A: How can you know? This is an implication of our syntaxical system. Our
syntax requires a beginning, development and end. I was, I am, I will be. We are
caught in that. How can we know . . . what you are going to be capable of if you
have sufficient energy? That is the question.
The answer is, you are going to be capable of stupendous things, much more
exciting than we can do now, with no energy at all. . . . [Don] Juan Matus
recommended me to be careful with energy, because he was grooming me for
something. But I didn't know for what. . . .
Q: You talk about Matus' line of sorcerers. Are you aware of others?
A: I ran across one marvelous Indian from the Southwest and that was a
memorable event. It was the only time I met a sorcerer outside of Don Juan's
lineage, a young man deeply involved in the type of activity in which Don Juan
was involved. We talked for two days, [after which] for some reason he felt he
owed me something.
One day, I was driving a VW in a sandstorm and it was just about to turn my car
over. It had already ruined my windshield, the paint on one side was totally
gone. A big rig came and stood between the wind and my car. I heard a voice
call down from the cabin, "Hide alongside my rig." I did. We drove for miles
along Highway 8. When the wind died down, I realized I was off the paved road.
The guy stopped and it was that Indian.
He said, "I have paid my indebtedness. You are somewhere else. We are even
now. Back up to the paved road." He went back, I went back. Once out on the
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main road, I went back and forth trying to find the dirt road but I could not. He
took us into another realm. What power, what discipline, exquisite! I could hardly
contain myself.
He had taken my VW, everything, there. I could barely take myself somewhere
else at that time. I looked for any deviation in the road, but could never find it.
Zippo. It was an entrance of sorts. He never talked to me again, ever.
Q: Some of your biggest fans will say you've contributed great literature, even
great anthropology, but would never call it nonfiction. Others would say you're
laughing all the way to the bank.
A: I invented nothing. Somebody once told me, "I know Carlos Castaneda. . . ."
I said, "You met Carlos?" He said, "No, but I saw him in the distance all the
time. You know he admitted he made up all that in an interview." I said, "Really?
What interview, you remember?" He said, "I read it, I read it...."
Q: Why do you say you are the last sorcerer in Matus' line?
A: For me to continue Don Juan's line, I would have to have a special
energetic disposition I don't have. I'm not a patient man. My ways of moving are
too sharp, too disturbing. For us, Don Juan was there, available always. He
didn't disappear. He measured his appearances and disappearances to suit our
needs. How can I do that?
Copyright 1995 Times Mirror Company
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The Sun Magazine - Feb 1996
Luck Disguised as Ordinary Life
By Nina Wise
My fortieth birthday was approaching like a tidal wave. I was single, childless,
and questioning my life as a performance artist with a cult following but no
steady income. I lacked the requisite evidence of adulthood: a couch, a dining-
room table, a matched set of dishes, a color television. Although I tried to
convince myself that this was because I had recently separated from a lover
who owned nearly all of the furniture and electronic devices I had used for
seven years, I knew the real problem was that I'd dedicated my life to my work
and I wasn't getting famous fast enough. There were no book contracts, no
movie deals, no television appearances coming my way. I needed help, a map
to guide me through the midlife moonscape of defeat.
One of the great benefits of disappointment is that it drives you to religion -
usually not the one you were raised with; if that had worked, you wouldn't be in
this condition. It would take an exorcism to stave off the demons who had
caught wind of my approaching birthday and were flicking their icy tongues in
my ear, chanting a liturgy of symphonic discontent. I decided to learn to
meditate, discovered a Vipassana Buddhist teacher in my neighborhood, and
began to sit every morning on my purple zafu.
One afternoon, my friend Martina called to tell me the Dalai Lama was coming
to Santa Monica to give the Kalachakra Initiation. I'd met Martina when she
came backstage after one of my performances. "That sex fantasy with the
refrigerator was divine," she'd told me later at one of her Pacific Heights dinner
parties, while butlers carrying silver trays of smoked salmon and caviar toasties
waded through an effervescent crowd of environmentalists, publishers, writers,
and philanthropists. Martina had grown up in Argentina, where it was traditional
for the wealthy to create around themselves an international milieu of royalty,
intellectuals, and artists. Her warm brown eyes exuded confidence, her cheeks
were aphrodisiac, and she wore a silver streak in her brown hair to show that,
even though she was holding forth on a white rug arrayed with priceless
antiques, she was really a rebel. Over champagne, Martina and I discovered
that we were both seekers. We began going to retreats, dharma talks, satsangs,
and darshans together.
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"Do you want to go to Santa Monica with me and be my roommate?" Martina
now asked over the phone.
The Kalachakra Initiation is one of the most esoteric and advanced practices in
Tibetan Buddhism. During the ceremony, participants vow to devote their lives
to altruism and to become bodhisattvas, enlightened people who, instead of
stepping off the wheel of incarnation upon their death, return to earth to serve all
living beings. Normally, the initiation is given only to students with years of
preliminary practice under their belts, but, because the world was in such an
escalated state of environmental devastation, the Dalai Lama had decided to
offer the transmission to Anyone who felt moved to participate. Many of my
friends were heading to southern California for this event. I accepted Martina's
invitation without pause.
When I arrived at the Shangri La, an upscale, art deco hotel on Ocean
Boulevard, Martina was spread out on the king-sized bed balancing Mothering
magazine on her stomach, which rose like a whale from a calm ocean. She was
expecting her fifth child after a twelve-year hiatus, and she needed to get
current on parenting. I lay down next to her and pulled out the forty-page text
we'd been given for the five-day initiation process:
From this time until enlightenment,
I will generate the altruistic intention to become enlightened,
Generate the very pure thought,
And abandon the conception of I and mine.
I wasn't sure I was following this. "Martina, what's 'the very pure thought'?" I
asked, hoping for an in-depth dharma discussion.
"It doesn't matter. We'll get it by osmosis. Do you think I should get a diaper
service!"
"Definitely", I said, turning back to the incomprehensible text.
In the morning, we waited in a line that stretched around the block until it was
our turn to take three mouthfuls of saffron-blessed water and spit out our mental
and emotional toxins into an enormous white plastic bucket.
"I'm going to throw up," Martina groaned, covering her eyes so she didn't have
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to look at the frothy, urine-colored spittle.
We did three prostrations as we entered the hall - one for the Buddha, one for
the teaching, and one for the community of seekers. As we searched for our
places in the crowded auditorium, I tried not to stare at the celebrities. We
settled into velvet seats, pulled out our books, and studied the stage, where
monks in one-armed wine- colored robes and buttercup yellow chicken-comb
headpieces chanted a multi-octave, deep-throated drone, and the Dalai Lama
recited detailed instructions in Tibetan.
"What page are we on?" I asked Martina.
"It doesn't matter," she said, waking from a nap. "Just breathe. Meditate."
"But we're supposed to be visualizing some deity with green arms and a flower
on his forehead."
"Relax," she said as she closed her eyes again, stretched out her legs, and
leaned her head back against the seat.
But I couldn't relax. This was my opportunity to receive an important
transmission. I struggled to follow the text:
Within the great seal of clear light devoid of the elaborations of inherent
existence, in the center of an ocean of offering clouds of of Samantabhadra, like
five-colored rainbows thoroughly bedecked ...
At the break, people dashed to the lobby, where sinuous lines radiated like
Medusa's hair from the pay phones. Men in denim jeans and Izod shirts paced
outside in the Santa Monica sunshine, portable phones pressed against their
ears:
"Did you get directions to Richard Gere's party for the Dalai Lama?"
"Has my agent called?"
"Cancel my 2:30. This is tedious, but I think I'll stick it out. Say I had an
emergency or something."
"He said he would sign? Fantastic. Maybe this stuff works."
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"I hear there are three parties tonight, and a tea somewhere. Isn't Barbra
Streisand involved? Find out."
At the sound of the gong, people rushed back into the auditorium. Steeped in
the summer heat, we planted ourselves in the plush seats and prayed to be
truthful, kind, compassionate. Two thousand of us vowed together to dedicate
our lives to the well-being of others.
On the way back to the hotel, Martina whispered in a conspiratorial tone that her
friend Carlos Castaneda was coming to join us for tea. "Don't tell anyone. It's
just for us. He's a bit finicky about who he hangs out with."
We had only half an hour to prepare. Like college roommates getting ready for a
double date, we took turns in the shower, hovered shoulder to shoulder in front
of the bathroom mirror with our blow-dryers and lipstick, and finessed each
other's outfits. Our wrists were still moist with Martina's French perfume when
we heard a knock. Martina glided across the room with cultivated poise and
opened the door. A short, gray-haired man in a wrinkled polyester suit and dusty
cowboy boots embraced her in the hallway.
That can't possibly be him, I thought. I had imagined someone tall, with broad
shoulders and a swatch of thick dark hair - an air of Mexican aristocracy
steeped in shamanism and desert ravines. In college, I had read all of
Castaneda's books, and they had affected me more than anything I'd studied.
Castaneda's accounts of his encounters in Mexico with the Yaqui Indian
sorcerer don Juan Matus had informed my entire generation. My friends and I
would quote don Juan to each other. "Follow a path with heart," we would say.
"Keep death over your left shoulder." We were taking psychedelics and trying to
change the world into a place that valued love over materialism and magic over
science. Castaneda and don Juan were our guides through a terrain outside the
law - one that our parents were too conservative and too terrified to explore.
Castaneda was our surrogate father, don Juan our spiritual teacher, our
prophet.
"Carlos, this is Nina," Martina said, smiling with seamless grace. "Nina, Carlos
Castaneda."
Like earth opened by a plow, Carlos's face fell into a wide grin as he shook my
hand. His hand was as warm as a chicken's nest. He sat down in a floral-print
easy chair and asked for a glass of water. I could hardly believe I was in the
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same room with this man.
Martina dove right in. "I've been waiting to ask you for ages: what really
happened to don Juan? Did he die?"
"No, no," Carlos said with a chuckle, "he didn't die. He disappeared. He went to
the other place. I am learning this, too: to become immortal. This is my work
now. Most people think that their work is what they do during the day, but the
real work happens after dark. Most people waste their lives because they forget
they are going to die. It is at night, in dreams, that I practice. When you learn
how to die, you learn to live forever.
"After don Juan crossed over, La Gorda became my benefactor," he went on,
leaning forward and looking us both directly in the eye. "She was fat and ugly,
with coal black hair and dark eyes. I was completely under her spell."
I was completely under his spell by now. His voice, the lilt of his Spanish accent
cradling impeccable English, hypnotized me. His eyes glowed with the
satisfaction of our capture.
"And anything La Gorda wanted me to do, I had to do it. One day, when I was
preparing to leave Mexico and go back to Los Angeles, she told me to go to
Tucson instead. She said I should work as a cook in a cafe.
"No," I said to her, "I like my life in Los Angeles. I like my friends. I'm not going
to Tucson. I don't know how to cook."
"I got into my truck, and I drove off. Six hours outside of Nayarit, I was thinking,
'My life in Los Angeles isn't that great.' Twelve hours outside of Nayarit, I was
thinking, 'My life in Los Angeles has its ups and downs.' Eighteen hours outside
of Nayarit, on the border of Arizona, I found myself thinking, 'My life in Los
Angeles is completely miserable.' I drove to Tucson, pulled up to the first greasy
spoon I laid eyes on, walked in and asked for a job."
At this point in the story, Carlos crossed his arms, puffed up his chest, and
deepened his voice.
"Do you know eggs?" the boss said. "You see, hamburgers and fries are easy,
but we serve breakfast all day, and you've got to know eggs."
"I didn't know eggs, so I found a studio apartment, and I practiced cooking eggs
for two weeks - scrambled, over easy, over hard, soft-boiled, hard-boiled,
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mar 15 Dic 2009 - 11:01

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omelets, poached. Then I went back to the cafe. " 'Do you know eggs?' the boss
asked me again.
"Yeah, I know eggs," I said.
"So I got the job. After a month, they promoted me, put me in charge of hiring
and firing. One day, this young girl named Linda came in and wanted a job as a
waitress. She seemed bright, so I hired her. We got to be friends, and she told
me she was a fan of Carlos Castaneda. She gave me a couple of his books to
read. I didn't know what to say. I took the books, and a couple of days later I
gave them back. I told her I didn't really understand them."
Carlos chuckled, enjoying the story. I sat with my legs pulled up on the pastel
hotel couch and studied his face. Critics in the press had recently tried to
discredit his claims to have apprenticed with a witch doctor in Mexico.
Sympathetic critics suggested it was poetic license. Harsher ones accused him
of fraud. I listened to Carlos's story like a detective, seeking factual flaws. I
examined his brown and wrinkled face, his eyes, for evidence of deception. But I
was seduced by his enthusiasm, his sunny chuckle, his intelligence, and I fell
into the story as if carried away by rushing water.
"One morning," he continued, "Linda came into the cafe and was very jumpy."
"What's going on?" I asked. "Que pasa?"
Carlos sat up straight in his chair, crossed his legs tightly together, and spoke in
a high-pitched voice.
"He's here," she said. "Carlos Castaneda. In the alley. There's a tall, dark
Mexican man sitting in a white limousine with the windows rolled up, and he's
scribbling notes on a yellow pad. I'm sure it's him - there are rumors that
Castaneda is in Tucson. What should I do?"
I didn't know what to say. I told her to just go out there and introduce herself.
She thought she was too fat, and that Castaneda would never fall for a waitress
at a greasy spoon. I looked at her standing there in her cap and apron. She
looked beautiful to me, radiant. She was young and lively and had a quick mind.
"You're perfect just the way you are," I told her.
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So she put on lipstick and fixed up her hair and went out to the alley. Two
minutes later, she came back with tears streaming down her face.
" 'What happened?' I asked. She could hardly talk.
I knocked on his window... and he rolled it down... and I said "Hi," and told him
my name was Linda... but he just rolled the window up... and wouldn't even talk
to me.
"I felt real bad," said Carlos, sadness darkening his eyes. "Of course I knew it
wasn't Castaneda, but I'd thought maybe she'd meet some guy who'd take her
out to dinner. I didn't know what to do. I took her in my arms, and I held her." He
paused, looking out the window at the silhouettes of palm trees lining the street.
And I started to cry, too. You see, I'd come to really love this girl. We'd been
best friends for nearly a year. I wanted to tell her who I was, but I knew she'd
never believe me. She'd think I was making it up to make her feel better. You
see, for all this time, she'd known me as Joe Gomez.
Carlos Castaneda, the man she dreamed of meeting, was holding her in his
arms, crying with love for her. But she didn't recognize him. Love slips by with
an alias. I'm like Linda, I realized, thinking that what I long for is something other
than this life unfolding moment to moment in ways I could never plan or even
imagine.
Carlos paused and looked at me. Outside, seagulls cried, and the sun went
down, marbling the sky. We sat in the dim pink of sunset. No one moved.
When I got back to my studio apartment, La Gorda was sitting there, waiting for
me. I don't know how she got in, but she always did, always found me. I told her
what had happened and asked what I should do.
"Vamanos," she said.
"But I can't just leave," I told her. "I have to give two weeks' notice, train a
replacement, say goodbye to my friends."
"What's the matter?" she said. "You're afraid no one can cook eggs as good as
Carlos Castaneda? Vamanos." And we got into my truck and drove off.
Carlos got up to go, shook out his suit, and extended his arms. I walked right
into his strong hug, and a happiness moved through me like moonlight
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sweeping the horizon.
Several days later, as the Kalachakra Initiation was drawing to a close, Martina
and I sat in our velvet seats in the dark, sweltering Santa Monica auditorium.
We tied red blindfolds over our eyes. We cast toothpicks into the air seven
times. We visualized ourselves as the four-faced Kalachakra deity with twenty-
four arms embracing his four-faced, eight-armed, saffron yellow consort. We
licked sweet yogurt out of our right palms. We imagined red dots moving up our
spines and mingling with white dots moving down our spines. The Tibetan
monks chanted their polytonal drone, pounded drums, banged gongs, crashed
cymbals, and blew seven-foot horns in a symphony that vibrated out bones. We
vowed to tell the truth, to be kind, to be generous, to cultivate love, and to
dedicate ourselves to the enlightenment of all beings.
On the way back to the hotel, Martina, a mischievous grin on her full lips, told
me that Carlos was going to pay us another visit tonight. We put out a plate of
crackers and cheese, a bowl of fruit, and bottles of mineral water. As the sun
hovered on the horizon, we heard his knock.
Carlos was wearing the same wrinkled suit I'd seen him in several days earlier.
He placed his hands on Martina's bulging belly and leaned over. "Hola, chica.
Que tal?" he purred to her unborn child. "Tienes una madre muy bonita, muy
sympatica, y muy especial." He closed his eyes and stood there silently for a
moment, then turned to me and gave me a rugged hug.
Martina propped herself against a mound of pillows on the bed, I sat on the
couch, and Carlos took his seat in the easy chair. He asked Martina about her
husband, her children, their mutual friends. We talked about the weather; he
was theatrical even when discussing smog, switching from precise, lucid
language to a stream of amused profanity in an instant. His liveliness warmed
the room like an open fire.
"Tell me more about La Gorda," Martina finally ventured, leaning back against
the pillows like a child wanting a favorite bedtime story.
Carlos paused for a moment, his gaze lingering on each of ours a second too
long, the way you look into the eyes of a potential lover.
"Another time, I was getting ready to leave Nayarit," he said, "and La Gorda
gave me these instructions."
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Carlos leaned back in his chair, spread his knees apart, pushed his belly out,
and spoke in a high voice. I could see La Gorda, fat and dark.
"Carlos, go to Escondido. Check into a motel room, the kind with olive green
carpets stained with coffee and cigarette burns, and cigarette smoke smelling
up the furniture."
"How long do I have to stay there?" I asked.
"Until you die," she said with a smile that made my bones shiver.
"I'm not doing it," I told her. "I like my life in Los Angeles. I like my friends. I like
my apartment."
I got in my old truck, and I drove off. After a few hours on the Mexican highway,
I started thinking my life in Los Angeles wasn't that great. After a few more
hours, I started thinking my life in Los Angeles had its unpleasant aspects. As I
approached the border at Tijuana, my life in Los Angeles seemed completely
miserable. I drove to Escondido, pulled into the first motel I could find, and
checked into a room. It had an olive green carpet with coffee stains and
cigarette bums, and reeked of stale smoke. I stayed alone in that room for
weeks. Maybe months. Carlos sighed.
I had recently completed a performance work about solitude. To develop the
piece, I had studied my private gestures: the way I ate meals in front of the
television; the way I stood in the light of the open refrigerator, staring at a carton
of milk, a bottle of orange juice, tofu floating in a bowl of water; the intonations
and language used when I talked to myself, the way my body curled up in bed;
the melody of my tears. I was trying to unravel loneliness so I could examine its
core. I thought then the pain might disappear, the way particles of matter
transform into waves of light upon examination under electron microscopes. The
work had received rave reviews, but loneliness still assaulted me. I needed
advice.
"What did you do?" I asked Carlos, hardly able to contain my curiosity. "Did you
watch television, listen to the radio, read books, talk on the telephone?"
"Nothing," Carlos said quietly, catching my eye for a moment and then letting his
gaze fall onto his folded hands. "I did ... nothing." He spoke slowly. "I studied the
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patterns of cigarette burns on the carpet. I stared at the ceiling. I watched motes
of dust dance in the light that came through the sliding glass doors. I drank
coffee. I ate. Fear would come, and I'd huddle under the bedcovers -
Sometimes the heat of anxiety made me sweat so much I threw the blankets on
the floor. At times, the terror was so strong I curled over the edge of the bed and
pressed the corner of the mattress against my belly, my solar plexus, just trying
to stay alive. I felt for sure I would die. Then one day, finally... I let go."
He paused and looked at me, and I looked back at him, the way you lock eyes
with a deer until one of you moves.
"Suddenly, something shifted," he continued. "The fear lifted. And everything I'd
ever cared about - the pain of childhood, the struggles of my career, fame,
money, romance, the women who had left me, the ones I still wanted, the past,
the future, the 'Do you like me? Does he like me! Does she like me?' how we
waste our lives... it all fell away. In an instant, I was completely free. And I had
never felt so happy in my entire life."
Carlos took a sip of water and gazed out the window. The sky was dark, and the
night sounds of traffic invaded the room.
"I called my friends in Los Angeles," he said, smiling.
"Divide my things, "I told them. "I'm not coming back." They thought I was drunk.
"I'm not drunk," I assured them. "I'm perfectly sober. If you don't take my things,
the landlady will."
The next morning, I checked out of the motel, got in my truck, and drove off. I
didn't know where I was going, and I didn't care. I'd never been happier in my
entire life.
"You see," Carlos said, settling back again in his chair, "the difference between
me and most people is that most people took at their lives as if they're on a train
and they're sitting in the caboose. They watch the tracks sweep out behind them
and see that this has happened and that has happened, and they're
disappointed. But they adjust. And they know exactly what will happen next
because of what's happened before. They believe their future will be just like
their past - the same box of disappointments, the same box of pleasures."
"But me, I look at my life as though I'm sitting in the locomotive. Ahead of me,
the landscape disappears into the distance. I don't know where I'm going, and I
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have no idea what's going to happen next. No matter what went on yesterday, I
know that today anything can happen. That's what keeps me happy. That's what
keeps me alive."
Carlos sparkled with energy and ease. His well-being was contagious.
"You have to listen to the quiet callings of the heart", he said, his voice calm and
private. "Ambition: it's the enemy of intuition. You have to be silent. You have to
listen to the quiet callings of the heart and know that anything can happen."
I sat quietly, listening. It was as if Carlos's words had devoured the demons of
despondency who had made their home on the walls of my chest like mollusks. I
have to remember this story, I thought to myself.
"Es muy tarde," Carlos said, standing up and stretching his legs. "Martina, you
have to get some sleep. And me, I work at night, so I have to move along."
"Right, immortality practice. Look, do me a favor and don't disappear from this
plane before you visit me in San Francisco," Martina said, grinning.
"Don't worry," Carlos reassured her, placing his hand again on her belly.
We accompanied Carlos to the door, and he gave me a final hug. He whistled
as he walked down the hall. I longed to run after him, to fall to my knees and
beg him to take me along. I wanted to enter the dream world and wend my way
through the postdeath realms with Carlos as my guide. I wanted to learn how to
die without dying.
"Martina' can't we go with him?" I pleaded.
"Are you kidding? I'm exhausted," she groaned, collapsing onto the bed and
grabbing the phone. "Let's order hot-fudge sundaes, crawl under the covers,
and watch David Letterman."
That did sound like a good idea.
A wave of ordinary-world glee took hold of me. As Martina dialed room service, I
walked to the window and sighted Carlos walking at a brisk pace under the
arcade of palm trees. No one stopped to stare, or took his picture, or asked him
for his autograph. He was completely anonymous. I followed his progress down
the sidewalk until he climbed into his old truck and drove off.
Copyright February 1996 Sun Magazine
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Psychology Today - Apr 1996
"My lunch with Carlos Castaneda"
Psychology Today
New York, Mar/Apr 1996
Author: Epstein, Benjamin
He is the 20th century's own sorcerer's apprentice. He is the invisible man,
ephemeral, evanescent: now you see him, now you don't. He is a navigator
making his way through a living universe in exquisite flux. Or as Carlos
Castaneda himself might say, he is a moron, an idiot, a fart. It's been said that
Jesus Christ was either the Son of God or the greatest liar who ever lived.
Carlos Castaneda, who may have a cult following but says deities are the last
thing people need, presents a similar conundrum. Critics grapple for middle
ground: One called him a "sham-man bearing gifts ... He lied to bring us the
truth."
The jury has been out ever since books such as The Teachings of Don Juan
took the public and academia by storm in the 1960s and 70s, and it's still out.
Castaneda has now produced nine books he claims are based on his
supernatural experiences with Don Juan Matus, a Yaqui seer. To remain
invisible, he says, is the sorcerer's way. He never allows photographs or a tape
recording of his voice. He only rarely grants interviews. In the 80s, he effectively
vanished altogether. But the books continue to sell (8 million in 17 countries)
and have never been out of print. In 1993, he began to give occasional
seminars, and the following year The Art of Dreaming appeared.
Despite ads promoting "Carlos Castaneda's Tensegrity," even event organizers
didn't know whether Castaneda would actually show up at a recent weekend
seminar near Disneyland in Anaheim. Yet 400 devotees from around the world--
about a third from California--paid $250 each to attend, whether Castaneda
showed or not. They came to learn a series of "magical passes," movements
intended to heighten perception.
"It is a thinking universe, a living universe, an exquisite universe! " Castaneda
said, exuberantly kicking off the seminar. "We have to balance the lineality of
the known universe with the nonlineality of the unknown universe." The
charismatic Castaneda proved amazingly convincing when describing life
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among inorganic beings, with whom he apparently spends a great deal of time;
the assemblage point, a place about an arm's length behind our shoulder blades
that can be shifted to visit other realms; and a predatory universe in which
"flyers" incessantly feed of mankind's awareness, taking the sheen off our
luminous eggs and leaving only a rubble, of self-absorption and egomania.
He invents none of this, he insists "I'm not insane, you know. Well, maybe a little
insane. But not ridiculously insane!"
He is also charming, energetic, fit, and funny. And at the conclusion of his
opening talk, Castaneda responded to a request for an interview by
unexpectedly inviting the writer to lunch.
Sitting in a coffee shop in Anaheim opposite Castaneda was enough to realign
anybody's assemblage point: The writer later took his nonlineality to heart,
slipping easily between lunch and workshop talks, and indulging in the
conversational format that Castaneda often used to elucidate his master's ideas.
After all, Castaneda had replaced Don Juan as nagual, the head sorcerer, a
being with double luminous spheres and if it was good enough for one nagual,
it's good enough for another.
AT THE TABLE WERE SEVERAL Tensegrity staffers and the three women
chacmools who helped Castaneda compile the movements and who taught
them step-by-step at the seminar.
"Is this what you've been doing all this time, magical passes?" I asked
Castaneda.
"Noooo .... I was very chubby," he said. "Don Juan recommended an obsessive
use of magical passes to keep my body at an optimum. So in terms of physical
activity, yes, this is what we do. The movements also force our awareness to
focus on the idea that we are spheres of luminosity, a conglomerate of energy
fields held together by special glue."
"Is Tensegrity the Toltec t•ai chi? Yaqui yoga?" I asked.
"To compare Tensegrity with yoga or t'ai chi is not possible. It has a different
origin and a different purpose. The origin is shamanic, the purpose is shamanic.
It has to do with our reason for being. Our reason for being is to face infinity.
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"We're all going to face infinity, at the moment of dying," he said. "Why face it
when we are weakest, when we are broken? Why not when w are strong? Why
not now! You have to face it pragmatically. No idealities allowed."
"Where would Jesus fit into all this? Where would Buddha fit in?"
"They are idealities," Castaneda replied. "They are too big, too gigantic to be
real. They are deities. One is the Prince of Buddhism, the other is the Son of
God .... Idealities cannot be used in a pragmatic movement.
"Allowing your perception to break the interpretation system--a tree ceases to
be a tree and becomes sheer energy--that is a pragmatic maneuver. The things
shamans deal with are extremely practical. They break down parameters of
normal historical reality. Magical passes are just one aspect of that."
CASTANEDA IS VERY NEGATIVE ABOUT religion. But these aren't your usual
diatribes: "Leave Jesus on the cross. He's very happy there! Don Juan said,
•Don•t bother him, leave him alone. Don't ask him "why are you there crucified."
He'd go bananas trying to explain to you why.' So I did that. He said hello to me,
and goodbye."
The waiter arrived to take our lunch orders. The only choices under discussion
seemed to be top sirloin, prime rib, and filet mignon, hardly the snuggest fit with
most New Age disciplines.
"The sorcerers say that whether you're eating lettuce or a steak, it's a sentient
being," chacmool Kylie Lundahl explained. As it turned out, the chacmools,
named for the gigantic, reclining guardian figures of the Mexican pyramids, were
quite literally here today, gone tomorrow. Castaneda relieved them of their
duties at the end of the seminar, during his closing remarks. Nobody ever said
the warrior's way would be easy.
Castaneda ordered a melted cheese on rye with a side of bacon and fries.
DON JUAN WAS ONCE DESCRIBED AS "an enigma wrapped in mystery
wrapped in a tortilla," and Castaneda followed suit. His agent, Tracy Kramer,
and Cleargreen, Inc., which organizes the seminars, are based in Santa Monica.
Where Castaneda spends his time is unclear. If a passing remark at the seminar
was to be taken literally, he pays Property taxes somewhere.
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"I don't live here," Castaneda said. "I'm not here at all. I always use the
euphemism 'I've been in Mexico.' All of us divide our time between being here
and being pulled by something that is not describable but that makes us visitors
into another realm. But you start talking about that and you start sounding like
total nincompoops.
"I had once an interview. First thing the interviewer said was, 'They tell me you
turned into a crow. Is that true? Hahahaha.' I tried to explain to him about
intersubjectivity. 'Pfhhhh,' he said, 'tell me yes or no.' I said no."
"Why don't you allow yourself to be photographed or tape-recorded?" I asked.
"Recording is a way of fixing you in time," Castaneda answered. "The stagnant
word, the stagnant picture, those are the antithesis of the sorcerer .... Maybe
you've seen a drawing of Carlos Castaneda by Richard Oden for Psychology
Today in December 1977. There was no photograph, so he drew it. This was 30
years ago. No good. He decided to draw it again. It was a flop."
Photographs are not all that stand still. "The Word of God is unchanging," he
said. "It is a living universe. What is in flux is what is alive. An unchanging word
must by definition pertain to a dead world. In a universe that is forced to change
there is a written word not forced to change? That is the world of a taxidermist."
When Castaneda's melted-cheese sandwich arrived, the rye was marbled with
pumpernickel. "What is this, chocolate bread?" he asked before sending it back.
My own mind was worlds away, perhaps on a bench in Oaxaca.
"According to your book The Eagle's Gift, Don Juan Matus didn't die, he left, he
•burned from within.' Will you leave or will you die?"
"Since I'm a moron, I'm sure I'll die," Castaneda replied. "I wish I would have the
integrity to leave the way he did .... I have this terrible fear that I won't. But I
wish. I work my head off--both heads toward that."
I RECALLED AN ARTICLE FROM AT least a decade ago calling Castaneda the
"godfather of the New Age.
"It was •grandfather•!" he protested. "And I thought, please call me the uncle, or
cousin, not grandfather! Uncle Charlie will do. I feel like hell being the
grandfather of anything. I'm fighting age, senility and old age, like you couldn't
believe. I was senile when I met Don Juan, I've fought for 35 years....
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"To be young and youthful is nothing," said Castaneda. "To be old and youthful,
that is sorcery!"
CASTANEDA, FOR WHOM AMBIGUITY is a way of life to be ruthlessly
pursued, is both. And his age is as good a place as any to get a sense of the
man.
According to Contemporary Authors, Castaneda lists his birth date and place as
December 25, 1931, So Paulo, Brazil; immigration records says December 25,
but 1925, and Cajamarca, Peru; other sources cite the late 1930s. One New
York Times article put him at 66 years old in 1981.
So he's somewhere between 60 and 80, most likely 64. Or 70. Similarly,
otherwise reliable sources variously list the year he earned his Ph.D in
anthropology from UCLA as 1970 and 1973. In other words, this is one slippery
organic being.
I asked about inorganic beings.
"They are possessors of consciousness but not possessors of an organism,"
Castaneda responded. "Why should awareness be the exclusive possession of
organisms?"
The Art of Dreaming ends with Castaneda recounting an episode in the mid-70s
when he and Carol Tiggs were "dreaming" in a hotel room in Mexico City, and
Tiggs disappeared into those dreams. (She was on a journey in the "second
attention," a state of consciousness not devoured by the "flyers.") According to
Castaneda, she reappeared 10 years later in a bookstore in Santa Monica,
where he was giving a talk.
IT WAS THE RECONSTITUTED TIGGS who provided the impetus to compile
the "magical passes" of Tensegrity. According to Castaneda Don Juan taught
four disciples separate lines of ever-changing magical passes. The other two,
Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar, have each published accounts of their
apprenticeships, both markedly different from Castaneda's but endorsed by him.
Over the past 10 years, the group "fixed the passes," arriving at a consensus
generic enough to be used by mankind. If the movements of Tensegrity (the
name derives from an architectural term related to skeletal efficiency, happily
combining "tension" and "integrity") often see angular and fierce in character,
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they are intended to produce a jolt.
"I saw once a beautiful science fiction movie in which creatures from another
planet appeared," Castaneda said, "veeeery slowly. A change in perception is
never like that. It is like this. Yank it out! You cancel the parameters of normal
perception. You move into it like a robber band Almost immediately, the robber
bandit comes back. It's just a moment. But the moments get longer and longer."
The chacmools may have been erased, but not Tensegrity. A new formation of
warrior guardians were set to lead future seminars with lectures to be given by
all four Don Juan disciples--and an inorganic being called the blue scout.
DON JUAN'S PREMISE WAS THAT the world as we know it is only one version
of reality, a set of culturally embedded "agreements" and "descriptions."
Castaneda addressed the futility of the usual avenues of inquiry:
'If you seek with the mind, it will not take you anywhere, except to a tautological
situation where you repeat the obvious. In science, the tautological questions
prove themselves. That's the art of our science...'All these variables and nothing
else.' We are champions of pseudo control--we reduce the problem to
manageable science. What a fantasy!
"One day on my way to the cafeteria at UCLA, I didn't see people anymore, I
saw energies, blobs, luminous spheres. It was dazzling. Before that, nothing
existed except me, me, me. I went to talk to a psychiatrist I worked with. He very
kindly prescribed a tranquilizer and said, 'Carlos, you're working too hard. Take
two days off.' It was impossible to establish a dialogue with him."
Castaneda's own inquiries have led him from academic anthropology to
practical hen-hermeneutics, the science of interpretation; he launched a
newsletter, The Warriors' Way: A Journal of Applied Hermeneutics, in January.
Titles under consideration for a gigantic work in progress have included
"Ethnohermeneutics" and "Phenomenological Anthropology."
"When sorcerers see, hermeneutics is the ultimate affair for us," Castaneda
said. Seeing for the rest of us apparently involves only the visual sense, and
then only minimally.
"When you look at me now, what do you see?" I asked.
"I have to be in a special mood to see," he said. "It is very difficult for me to see.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mer 16 Dic 2009 - 7:40

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person tells you what he did, then you say, ah, but I did this . . ."
It's hard to pin Castaneda down to one answer on points that, for most people,
are pretty simply stated.
According to "Contemporary Authors," Castaneda lists his birth date and place
as Dec. 25, 1931, in Sao Paulo, Brazil; immigration records indicate Dec. 25,
1925, in Cajamarca, Peru, and other sources the late 1930s. One New York
Times article put him at 66 years old in 1981.
Similarly, biographies variously list the years he earned his degrees in
anthropology. The records at UCLA, though, show he earned a bachelor's in
anthropology in 1962, a doctorate in 1973.
In other words, this is one slippery organic being. (According to Castaneda, he
spends a great deal of time among inorganic beings.)
While studying at UCLA, Castaneda traveled to Arizona to research medicinal
plants. There he met Don Juan Matus, who sensed in the young man the
possibility of a successor. Matus later moved to Sonora, Mexico, and Castaneda
followed.
Castaneda's first three books--"The Teachings of Don Juan" (University of
California Press and Ballantine, 1968), "A Separate Reality" and "Journey to
Ixtlan" (both Simon & Schuster, 1971 and 1972, respectively)--describe a rather
thickheaded student often bungling his way through a 12-year apprenticeship to
become a "Yaqui man of knowledge."
All received enthusiastic reviews and made the bestseller lists. The most
respected critics of the day praised them on one hand as "the best that the
science of anthropology has produced" and, on the other, said that the tension
between academic rationality and the magic of Don Juan's world made them
first-rate literature, "remarkable works of art," in the words of Joyce Carol Oates.
His more recent works have received somewhat less attention, but sell well
nonetheless--and increasingly well in other countries.
At least two volumes by other authors attempted to debunk Castaneda. One
dismissed him as a fraud; the other, "Castaneda's Journey," (Capra Press,
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1976) by Richard de Mille, found many discrepancies in his work, but the writer
decided early on that Castaneda "wasn't a common con man, he lied to bring us
the truth. . . . This is a sham-man bearing gifts."
Shaman or sham-man, readers didn't care, and reviewers who saw him as a
"trickster-hoaxer" still took him seriously. A Saturday Review critic wrote that
Castaneda "works a strange and beautiful magic beyond the realm of belief. . . .
Admittedly, one gets the impression of a con artist simply glorifying in the game--
even so, it is a con touched by genius."
At UCLA in the '60s, Castaneda was perceived as "the little brown man with the
big smile." Not much has changed; he's about 5 feet, 5 inches, funny and
charming.
He can be amazingly convincing when describing some out-there ideas, such
as: his life among inorganic beings; the assemblage point, a place about a foot
behind our shoulder blades that can be shifted to visit other realms; a predatory
universe in which "fliers" incessantly feed on mankind's awareness, taking the
sheen off our luminous eggs and leaving only a rubble of self-absorption and
egomania.
Back in the three-dimensional world of self-absorption and egomania,
Castaneda is represented by talent agent Tracy Kramer. (Kramer also
represents "Rug Rats," "Duck Man" and "The Real Munsters," and notes that
"somewhere there's a purity about all of them.")
Both Kramer and Cleargreen Inc., which organizes the seminars, are based in
Los Angeles. But it's unclear--as is so much else--where Castaneda is based.
Kramer contends that "the majority of [Castaneda's] time is not spent here. And
what he does do here he doesn't share with me." Castaneda reportedly bought
a home in Malibu sometime in the '70s. If a passing remark at the seminar was
to be taken literally, he continues to pay property taxes somewhere.
At the center of Castaneda's books is the premise that the world as we know it
is only one version of reality, a set of culturally embedded "agreements" and
"descriptions." Time magazine described Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan Matus as "an
enigma wrapped in mystery wrapped in a tortilla."
According to Castaneda, Matus gave him psychotropic plants--peyote, Jimson
weed and mushrooms--only because he was such an intractable student.
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Although the use of hallucinogens boosted the popularity of the first two books,
they subsequently gave way to nonherbal perception-altering exercises.
Castaneda believes that the negative connotations of the words sorcery and
magic are rooted in Western man's irrational fear of the unknown. He
recommends that people be intrigued rather than terrified by the unknown.
"It is a thinking universe, a living universe, an exquisite universe," he said. "We
have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the
unknown universe."
"The Art of Dreaming" ends with Castaneda recounting an episode in the mid-
'70s when he and fellow Matus disciple Carol Tiggs were "dreaming" in a hotel
room in Mexico City and Tiggs disappeared into those dreams.
According to Castaneda, Tiggs reappeared 10 years later in a bookstore in
Santa Monica where he was giving a talk. It was the reconstituted Tiggs who
provided the impetus to compile the "magical passes" of Tensegrity.
Castaneda and Tiggs were among four disciples of Matus who were each
taught a separate line of magical passes. The others, Florinda Donner-Grau and
Taisha Abelar, have also published accounts of their apprenticeships, markedly
different from Castaneda's but still endorsed by him. Tiggs, Donner-Grau and
Abelar attended a bonus Castaneda appearance the final night of the Anaheim
seminar but didn't address the group.
The actual teaching of Tensegrity at the seminars and in instructional videos
has been carried out by the three chacmools--Kylie Lundahl, Nyei Murez and
Reni Murez. The movements taught to seminar participants were often angular
and fierce in character--less like Yaqui yoga, more like martial arts. Tensegrity
videos--there are two volumes--were on sale for $29.95.
According to Cleargreen President Talia Bey, proceeds from the seminar will
help fund publication of a Castaneda periodical, the Warriors' Way: A Journal
of Applied Hermeneutics.
At the close of the seminar, Castaneda delivered remarks both lighthearted and
serious, and peppered with his self-deprecating humor.
But then, Castaneda obliquely dropped a bombshell: He was relieving the
chacmools of their teaching duties. The announcement left many in the
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audience unsettled.
"Look, the whole front row is shaking in their boots!" Castaneda said. "The
chacmools will be erased today. They go on to something else."
Seminar organizers later clarified: Although "erased," the chacmools will
remain on the payroll at Cleargreen in capacities yet to be determined. And the
teaching of Tensegrity will apparently continue--a seminar is planned in
Oakland, Feb. 9-11, and a women's workshop in Los Angeles for March 1-3.
Said Castaneda: "If the chacmools go away, something else will appear. That
is a world that is alive, in flux. . . . If I am needed, I will be there. Just call me."
OK, Carlos. But who has your number?
Photo: Carlos Castaneda's "Tensegrity" seminars are led by three
"chacmools," Kylie Lundahl, from left, Nyei Murez and Reni Murez, who teach
"magical passes," a series of movements, angular and fierce in character.
Photo: Reni Murez, from left, Nyei Murez and Kylie Lundahl teach movements
designed to heighten awareness, focus and increase energy. Photographer:
Kari Rene Hall / Los Angeles Times
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tuesday, December 26, 1995
Home Edition
Section: Life & Style
Page: E-4
By: Benjamin Epstein
Q & A: A Rare Conversation With the Magical Mystery Man
When Benjamin Epstein caught up with Carlos Castaneda in Anaheim to ask if
he would agree to an interview, Castaneda unexpectedly invited him to join his
party for lunch. In a conversation over a this-worldly melted cheese sandwich,
side of bacon and fries, Castaneda was personable and spontaneous.
Here's some of what he had to say:
Question: Why don't you allow yourself to be photographed or tape recorded?
Answer: A recording is a way of fixing you in time. The only thing a sorcerer
will not do is be stagnant. The stagnant word, the stagnant picture, those are the
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antithesis of the sorcerer.
Q: Is Tensegrity the Toltec t'ai chi? Mexican martial arts?
A: Tensegrity is outside political boundaries. Mexico is a nation. To claim
origins is absurd. To compare Tensegrity with yoga or t'ai chi is not possible. It
has a different origin and different purpose. The origin is shamanic, the purpose
is shamanic.
Q: Where would Jesus fit into all this? Where would Buddha fit in?
A: They are idealities. They are too big, too gigantic to be real. They are
deities. One is the prince of Buddhism, the other is the son of God. Idealities
cannot be used in a pragmatic movement.
The difference between religion and shamanic tradition is that the things
shamans deal with are extremely practical. Magical passes [movements] are
just one aspect of that.
Q: Is that what you've been doing all this time, magical passes?
A: Nooooo . . . I was very chubby. Don Juan [Matus] recommended an
obsessive use of magical passes to keep my body at an optimum. So in terms
of physical activity, yes, this is what we do. The movements force the
awareness of man to focus on the idea that we are spheres of luminosity, a
conglomerate of energy fields held together by special glue.
Q: Where do you live?
A: I don't live here. I'm not here at all. I use the euphemism, "I've been in
Mexico." All of us divide our time between being here and being pulled by
something that is not describable, but that makes us visitors into another realm.
But you start talking about that and you start sounding like total nincompoops.
Q: According to your book "The Eagle's Gift," Don Juan Matus didn't die, he
left, he "burned from within." Will you leave, or will you die?
A: Since I'm a moron, I'm sure I'll die. I wish I would have the integrity to leave
the way he did, but there is no assurance. I have this terrible fear that I won't.
But I wish. I work my head off--both of my heads--toward that.
Q: I recall an article, at least a decade ago, calling you the "Godfather of the
New Age."
A: It was "grandfather!" And I thought, please call me the uncle, or cousin, not
grandfather! Uncle Charlie will do. I feel like hell, being the grandfather of
anything. I'm fighting age, senility and old age like you couldn't believe.
I've fought for 35 years. The three people I worked with have been at it for 35
years. They look like fabulous kids. They continually take this energy on and on
and on in order to remain fluid. Without fluidity, there's no way to journey
anywhere.
Q: Matus taught you to see. When you look at me now, what do you see?
A: I have to be in a special mood to see. It is very difficult for me to see. I've
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got to get very somber, very heavy. If I'm lighthearted and I look at you I see
nothing. Then I turn around and I see her, and what do I see? "I joined the Navy
to see the world, and what do I see? I see the sea!"
I know more than I want to know. It's hell, true hell. If you see too much, you
become unbearable.
Q: Talia Bey, seminar organizer and president of Clearwater Inc., seems to
stick pretty close to you. Are you two a couple?
A: We are ascetic beings. No relationships of a sexual order. This is very
difficult, a difficult maneuver for us. Don Juan recommended that I had to be a
conserver of energy, because I don't have much energy. I myself was not
created under conditions of great sexual passion. Most people are not. . . .
[Talia] was born with enough energy that she can do what she wants.
Q: Can married people do what they want?
A: That question has come up a lot, and it's a question of energy. If you know
you were not conceived in a state of real excitation, then no. On one level, it
hasn't mattered if people are married. But with the launching of Tensegrity, we
don't really know what is going to happen.
Q: You don't know what is going to happen?
A: How can you know? This is an implication of our syntaxical system. Our
syntax requires a beginning, development and end. I was, I am, I will be. We are
caught in that. How can we know . . . what you are going to be capable of if you
have sufficient energy? That is the question.
The answer is, you are going to be capable of stupendous things, much more
exciting than we can do now, with no energy at all. . . . [Don] Juan Matus
recommended me to be careful with energy, because he was grooming me for
something. But I didn't know for what. . . .
Q: You talk about Matus' line of sorcerers. Are you aware of others?
A: I ran across one marvelous Indian from the Southwest and that was a
memorable event. It was the only time I met a sorcerer outside of Don Juan's
lineage, a young man deeply involved in the type of activity in which Don Juan
was involved. We talked for two days, [after which] for some reason he felt he
owed me something.
One day, I was driving a VW in a sandstorm and it was just about to turn my car
over. It had already ruined my windshield, the paint on one side was totally
gone. A big rig came and stood between the wind and my car. I heard a voice
call down from the cabin, "Hide alongside my rig." I did. We drove for miles
along Highway 8. When the wind died down, I realized I was off the paved road.
The guy stopped and it was that Indian.
He said, "I have paid my indebtedness. You are somewhere else. We are even
now. Back up to the paved road." He went back, I went back. Once out on the
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main road, I went back and forth trying to find the dirt road but I could not. He
took us into another realm. What power, what discipline, exquisite! I could hardly
contain myself.
He had taken my VW, everything, there. I could barely take myself somewhere
else at that time. I looked for any deviation in the road, but could never find it.
Zippo. It was an entrance of sorts. He never talked to me again, ever.
Q: Some of your biggest fans will say you've contributed great literature, even
great anthropology, but would never call it nonfiction. Others would say you're
laughing all the way to the bank.
A: I invented nothing. Somebody once told me, "I know Carlos Castaneda. . . ."
I said, "You met Carlos?" He said, "No, but I saw him in the distance all the
time. You know he admitted he made up all that in an interview." I said, "Really?
What interview, you remember?" He said, "I read it, I read it...."
Q: Why do you say you are the last sorcerer in Matus' line?
A: For me to continue Don Juan's line, I would have to have a special
energetic disposition I don't have. I'm not a patient man. My ways of moving are
too sharp, too disturbing. For us, Don Juan was there, available always. He
didn't disappear. He measured his appearances and disappearances to suit our
needs. How can I do that?
Copyright 1995 Times Mirror Company
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The Sun Magazine - Feb 1996
Luck Disguised as Ordinary Life
By Nina Wise
My fortieth birthday was approaching like a tidal wave. I was single, childless,
and questioning my life as a performance artist with a cult following but no
steady income. I lacked the requisite evidence of adulthood: a couch, a dining-
room table, a matched set of dishes, a color television. Although I tried to
convince myself that this was because I had recently separated from a lover
who owned nearly all of the furniture and electronic devices I had used for
seven years, I knew the real problem was that I'd dedicated my life to my work
and I wasn't getting famous fast enough. There were no book contracts, no
movie deals, no television appearances coming my way. I needed help, a map
to guide me through the midlife moonscape of defeat.
One of the great benefits of disappointment is that it drives you to religion -
usually not the one you were raised with; if that had worked, you wouldn't be in
this condition. It would take an exorcism to stave off the demons who had
caught wind of my approaching birthday and were flicking their icy tongues in
my ear, chanting a liturgy of symphonic discontent. I decided to learn to
meditate, discovered a Vipassana Buddhist teacher in my neighborhood, and
began to sit every morning on my purple zafu.
One afternoon, my friend Martina called to tell me the Dalai Lama was coming
to Santa Monica to give the Kalachakra Initiation. I'd met Martina when she
came backstage after one of my performances. "That sex fantasy with the
refrigerator was divine," she'd told me later at one of her Pacific Heights dinner
parties, while butlers carrying silver trays of smoked salmon and caviar toasties
waded through an effervescent crowd of environmentalists, publishers, writers,
and philanthropists. Martina had grown up in Argentina, where it was traditional
for the wealthy to create around themselves an international milieu of royalty,
intellectuals, and artists. Her warm brown eyes exuded confidence, her cheeks
were aphrodisiac, and she wore a silver streak in her brown hair to show that,
even though she was holding forth on a white rug arrayed with priceless
antiques, she was really a rebel. Over champagne, Martina and I discovered
that we were both seekers. We began going to retreats, dharma talks, satsangs,
and darshans together.
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"Do you want to go to Santa Monica with me and be my roommate?" Martina
now asked over the phone.
The Kalachakra Initiation is one of the most esoteric and advanced practices in
Tibetan Buddhism. During the ceremony, participants vow to devote their lives
to altruism and to become bodhisattvas, enlightened people who, instead of
stepping off the wheel of incarnation upon their death, return to earth to serve all
living beings. Normally, the initiation is given only to students with years of
preliminary practice under their belts, but, because the world was in such an
escalated state of environmental devastation, the Dalai Lama had decided to
offer the transmission to Anyone who felt moved to participate. Many of my
friends were heading to southern California for this event. I accepted Martina's
invitation without pause.
When I arrived at the Shangri La, an upscale, art deco hotel on Ocean
Boulevard, Martina was spread out on the king-sized bed balancing Mothering
magazine on her stomach, which rose like a whale from a calm ocean. She was
expecting her fifth child after a twelve-year hiatus, and she needed to get
current on parenting. I lay down next to her and pulled out the forty-page text
we'd been given for the five-day initiation process:
From this time until enlightenment,
I will generate the altruistic intention to become enlightened,
Generate the very pure thought,
And abandon the conception of I and mine.
I wasn't sure I was following this. "Martina, what's 'the very pure thought'?" I
asked, hoping for an in-depth dharma discussion.
"It doesn't matter. We'll get it by osmosis. Do you think I should get a diaper
service!"
"Definitely", I said, turning back to the incomprehensible text.
In the morning, we waited in a line that stretched around the block until it was
our turn to take three mouthfuls of saffron-blessed water and spit out our mental
and emotional toxins into an enormous white plastic bucket.
"I'm going to throw up," Martina groaned, covering her eyes so she didn't have
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to look at the frothy, urine-colored spittle.
We did three prostrations as we entered the hall - one for the Buddha, one for
the teaching, and one for the community of seekers. As we searched for our
places in the crowded auditorium, I tried not to stare at the celebrities. We
settled into velvet seats, pulled out our books, and studied the stage, where
monks in one-armed wine- colored robes and buttercup yellow chicken-comb
headpieces chanted a multi-octave, deep-throated drone, and the Dalai Lama
recited detailed instructions in Tibetan.
"What page are we on?" I asked Martina.
"It doesn't matter," she said, waking from a nap. "Just breathe. Meditate."
"But we're supposed to be visualizing some deity with green arms and a flower
on his forehead."
"Relax," she said as she closed her eyes again, stretched out her legs, and
leaned her head back against the seat.
But I couldn't relax. This was my opportunity to receive an important
transmission. I struggled to follow the text:
Within the great seal of clear light devoid of the elaborations of inherent
existence, in the center of an ocean of offering clouds of of Samantabhadra, like
five-colored rainbows thoroughly bedecked ...
At the break, people dashed to the lobby, where sinuous lines radiated like
Medusa's hair from the pay phones. Men in denim jeans and Izod shirts paced
outside in the Santa Monica sunshine, portable phones pressed against their
ears:
"Did you get directions to Richard Gere's party for the Dalai Lama?"
"Has my agent called?"
"Cancel my 2:30. This is tedious, but I think I'll stick it out. Say I had an
emergency or something."
"He said he would sign? Fantastic. Maybe this stuff works."
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mer 16 Dic 2009 - 7:58

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I've got to get very somber, very heavy. If I'm lighthearted and I look at you I see
nothing. Then I turn around and I see her, and what do I see? 'I joined the navy
to see the world, and what do I see? the sea!'
"I know more than I want to know. It's hell, true hell. If you see too much, you
become unbearable."
Castaneda ordered a cappuccino, then meticulously removed the foamed milk
teaspoon by teaspoon.
ACCORDING TO CASTANEDA, MOST sorcerers must remain celibate in order
to conserve energy. It all depends on the circumstances under which they were
conceived."
Most of us are what we call BFs, the product of bored fucks," he explained.
"How was I conceived? Was it in the middle of great sexual excitation, or was it
nonsense, idiotic, pointless? Mine was stupid. The two people involved didn't
know what they were doing. I was conceived behind a door, so I came out very
nervous, watching. And this is the way I am, basically. For me to make use of
energy I don't have is lethal."
"What about married people?"
"That question has come up a lot. It's a question of energy," he said. "If you
know you were not conceived in a state of real excitation, then no. On one level,
it hasn't mattered if people are married. With the launching of Tensegrity, we
don't really know what will happen."
"You don't know what is going to happen? Sounds irresponsible."
"How can you know?" he asked. "This is an implication of our syntactical
system. Our syntax requires a beginning, development, and end. I was, I am, I
will be. We are caught in that. How can we know what you will be capable of if
you have sufficient energy?
"I am giving you a series of ideas, if you have the balls to take them seriously.
Maybe you say this is idiotical, what kind of shit is this? Like the little boy victims
whining 'But what is going to happen to me?' They'll never find out.
"The other three disciples--those farts--have balls; these are huge women with
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the biggest balls you've ever seen. Try to stop Taisha Abelar and see what
happens. Try to stop Florinda."
The fourth disciple is no squeaker himself.
"Don Juan categorized people into three types," he said. "One was farts, like
me, a smelly fart--very assertive, ready to tell you, 'Fuck you, are you sure that's
the way to do it and Don Juan would very patiently assure me that, yes, he was
sure. I don't have that patience myself. II somebody asks me am I sure, I go
bananas because I'm not sure!
"The other, golden piss--the sweetest, wonderful beings. They could die for you,
or so they say. They won't, but they say it, which is very nice--nicer than the fart--
but then you die for him.
"The third type, puke. Not fart, not piss, just puke--the kind that doesn't have
anything to give, but promises the world, and has you begging....
"Fortunately I was fart. And Don Juan had a ball with this fart."
Copyright Sussex Publishers, Inc. Mar/Apr 1996
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Uno Mismo - Feb 1997
Navigating Into the Unknown
An Interview with Carlos Castaneda for the magazine Uno Mismo, Chile and
Argentina, February, 1997 by Daniel Trujillo Rivas
Question: Mr. Castaneda, for years you've remained in absolute anonymity.
What drove you to change this condition and talk publicly about the teachings
that you and your three companions received from the nagual Juan Matus?
Answer: What compels us to disseminate don Juan Matus's ideas is a need to
clarify what he taught us. For us, this is a task that can no longer be postponed.
His other three students and I have reached the unanimous conclusion that the
world to which Don Juan Matus introduced us is within the perceptual
possibilities of all human beings. We've discussed among us what would be the
appropriate road to take. To remain anonymous the way don Juan proposed to
us? This option was not acceptable. The other road available was to
disseminate don Juan's ideas: an infinitely more dangerous and exhausting
choice, but the only one that, we believe, has the dignity don Juan imbued all
his teachings with.
Q: Considering what you have said about the unpredictability of a warrior's
actions, which we have corroborated for three decades, can we expect this
public phase you're going through to last for a while? Until when?
A: There is no way for us to establish a temporal criteria. We live according to
the premises proposed by don Juan and we never deviate from them. Don Juan
Matus gave us the formidable example of a man who lived according to what he
said. And I say it is a formidable example because it is the most difficult thing to
emulate; to be monolithic and at the same time have the flexibility to face
anything. This was the way don Juan lived his life. Within these premises, the
only thing one can be is an impeccable mediator. One is not the player in this
cosmic match of chess, one is simply a pawn on the chessboard. What decides
everything is a conscious impersonal energy that sorcerers call intent or the
Spirit.
Q: As far as I've been able to corroborate, orthodox anthropology, as well as
the alleged defenders of the pre-Colombian cultural heritage of America,
undermine the credibility of your work. The belief that your work is merely the
product of your literary talent, which, by the way, is exceptional, continues to
exist today. There are also other sectors that accuse you of having a double
standard because, supposedly, your lifestyle and your activities contradict what
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the majority expect from a shaman. How can you clear up these suspicions?
A: The cognitive system of the Western man forces us to rely on preconceived
ideas. We base our judgments on something that is always "a priori," for
example the idea of what is "orthodox." What is orthodox anthropology? The
one taught at university lecture halls? What is a shaman's behavior? To wear
feathers on one's head and dance to the spirits? For thirty years, people have
accused Carlos Castaneda of creating a literary character simply because what
I report to them does not concur with the anthropological "a priori," the ideas
established in the lecture halls or in the anthropological field work. However,
what don Juan presented to me can only apply to a situation that calls for total
action and, under such circumstances, very little or almost nothing of the
preconceived occurs. I have never been able to draw conclusions about
shamanism because in order to do this one needs to be an active member in
the shamans' world. For a social scientist, let's say for example a sociologist, it
is very easy to arrive at sociological conclusions over any subject related to the
Occidental world, because the sociologist is an active member of the Occidental
world. But how can an anthropologist, who spends at the most two years
studying other cultures, arrive at reliable conclusions about them? One needs a
lifetime to be able to acquire membership in a cultural world. I've been working
for more than thirty years in the cognitive world of the shamans of ancient
Mexico and, sincerely, I don't believe I have acquired the membership that
would allow me to draw conclusions or to even propose them. I have discussed
this with people from different disciplines and they always seem to understand
and agree with the premises I'm presenting. But then they turn around and they
forget everything they agreed upon and continue to sustain "orthodox" academic
principles, without caring about the possibility of an absurd error in their
conclusions. Our cognitive system seems to be impenetrable.
Q: What's the aim of you not allowing yourself to be photographed, having
your voice recorded or making your biographical data known? Could this affect
what you've achieved in your spiritual work, and if so how? Don't you think it
would be useful for some sincere seekers of truth to know who you really are, as
a way of corroborating that it is really possible to follow the path you proclaim?
A: With reference to photographs and personal data, the other three disciples
of don Juan and myself follow his instructions. For a shaman like don Juan, the
main idea behind refraining from giving personal data is very simple. It is
imperative to leave aside what he called "personal history". To get away from
the "me" is something extremely annoying and difficult. What shamans like don
Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal "me" does not count. He
believed that an absence of photographs and biographical data affects
whomever enters into this field of action in a positive, though subliminal way.
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We are endlessly accustomed to using photographs, recordings and
biographical data, all of which spring from the idea of personal importance. Don
Juan said it was better not to know anything about a shaman; in this way,
instead of encountering a person, one encounters an idea that can be
sustained; the opposite of what happens in the everyday world where we are
faced only with people who have numerous psychological problems but no
ideas, all of these people filled to the brim with "me, me, me."
Q: How should your followers interpret the publicity and the commercial
infrastructure a side of your literary work surrounding the knowledge you and
your companions disseminate? What's your real relationship with Cleargreen
Incorporated and the other companies (Laugan Productions, Toltec Artists)? I'm
talking about a commercial link.
A: At this point in my work I needed someone able to represent me regarding
the dissemination of don Juan Matus's ideas. Cleargreen is a corporation that
has great affinity with our work, as are Laugan Productions and Toltec Artists.
The idea of disseminating don Juan's teachings in the modern world implies the
use of commercial and artistic media that are not within my individual reach. As
corporations having an affinity with don Juan's ideas, Cleargreen Incorporated,
Laugan Productions and Toltec Artists are capable of providing the means to
disseminate what I want to disseminate. There is always a tendency for
impersonal corporations to dominate and transform everything that is presented
to them and to adapt it to their own ideology. If it weren't for Cleargreen's,
Laugan Productions' and Toltec Artists' sincere interest, everything don Juan
said would have been transformed into something else by now.
Q: There are a great number of people who, in one way or another, "cling" to
you in order to acquire public notoriety. What's your opinion on the actions of
Victor Sanchez, who has interpreted and reorganized your teachings in order to
elaborate a personal theory? And of Ken Eagle Feather's assertions that he has
been chosen by don Juan to be his disciple, and that don Juan came back just
for him?
A: Indeed there are a number of people who call themselves my students or
don Juan's students, people I've never met and whom, I can guarantee, don
Juan never met. Don Juan Matus was exclusively interested in the perpetuation
of his lineage of shamans. He had four disciples who remain to this day. He had
others who left with him. Don Juan was not interested in teaching his
knowledge; he taught it to his disciples in order to continue his lineage. Due to
the fact that they cannot continue don Juan's lineage, his four disciples have
been forced to disseminate his ideas. The concept of a teacher who teaches his
knowledge is part of our cognitive system but it isn't part of the cognitive system
of the shamans of ancient Mexico. To teach was absurd for them. To transmit
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his knowledge to those who were going to perpetuate their lineage was a
different matter. The fact that there are a number of individuals who insist in
using my name or don Juan's name is simply an easy maneuver to benefit
themselves without much effort.
Q: Let's consider the meaning of the word "spirituality" to be a state of
consciousness in which human beings are fully capable of controlling the
potentials of the species, something achieved by transcending the simple
animal condition through a hard psychic, moral and intellectual training. Do you
agree with this assertion? How is don Juan's world integrated into this context?
A: For don Juan Matus, a pragmatic and extremely sober shaman, "spirituality"
was an empty ideality, an assertion without basis that we believe to be very
beautiful because it is encrusted with literary concepts and poetic expressions,
but which never goes beyond that. Shamans like don Juan are essentially
practical. For them there only exists a predatory universe in which intelligence or
awareness is the product of life and death challenges. He considered himself a
navigator of infinity and said that in order to navigate into the unknown like a
shaman does, one needs unlimited pragmatism, boundless sobriety and guts of
steel. In view of all this, don Juan believed that "spirituality" is simply a
description of something impossible to achieve within the patterns of the world
of everyday life, and it is not a real way of acting.
Q: You have pointed out that your literary activity, as well as Taisha Abelar's
and Florinda Donner-Grau's, is the result of don Juan's instructions. What is the
objective of this?
A: The objective of writing those books was given by don Juan. He asserted
that even if one is not a writer one still can write, but writing is transformed from
a literary action into a shamanistic action. What decides the subject and the
development of a book is not the mind of the writer but rather a force that the
shamans consider the basis of the universe, and which they call intent. It is
intent which decides a shaman's production, whether it be literary or of any
other kind. According to don Juan, a practitioner of shamanism has the duty and
the obligation of saturating himself with all the information available. The work of
shamans is to inform themselves thoroughly about everything that could
possibly be related to their topic of interest. The shamanistic act consists of
abandoning all interest in directing the course the information takes. Don Juan
used to say, "The one who arranges the ideas that spring from such a well of
information is not the shaman, it is intent. The shaman is simply an impeccable
conduit." For don Juan writing was a shamanistic challenge, not a literary task.
Q: If you allow me to assert the following, your literary work presents concepts
that are closely related with Oriental philosophical teachings, but it contradicts
what is commonly known about the Mexican indigenous culture. What are the
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similarities and the differences between one and the other?
A: I don't have the slightest idea. I'm not learned in either one of them. My
work is a phenomenological report of the cognitive world to which don Juan
Matus introduced me. From the point of view of phenomenology as a
philosophical method, it is impossible to make assertions that are related to the
phenomenon under scrutiny. Don Juan Matus' world is so vast, so mysterious
and contradictory, that it isn't suitable for an exercise in linear exposition; the
most one can do is describe it, and that alone is a supreme effort.
Q: Assuming that don Juan's teachings have become part of occult literature,
what's your opinion about other teachings in this category, for example Masonic
philosophy, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism and disciplines such as the Cabala,
the Tarot and Astrology when we compare them to nagualism? Have you ever
had any contact with or maintain any contact with any of these or with their
devotees?
A: Once again, I don't have the slightest idea of what the premises are, or the
points of view and subjects of such disciplines. Don Juan presented us with the
problem of navigating into the unknown, and this takes all of our available effort.
Q: Do some of the concepts of your work, such as the assemblage point, the
energetic filaments that make up the universe, the world of the inorganic beings,
intent, stalking and dreaming, have an equivalent in Western knowledge? For
example, there are some people who consider that man seen as a luminous egg
is an expression of the aura
A: As far as I know, nothing of what don Juan taught us seems to have a
counterpart in Western knowledge. Once, when don Juan was still here, I spent
a whole year in search of gurus, teachers and wise men to give me an inkling of
what they were doing. I wanted to know if there was something in the world of
that time similar to what don Juan said and did. My resources were very limited
and they only took me to meet the established masters who had millions of
followers and, unfortunately, I couldn't find any similarity.
Q: Concentrating specifically on your literary work, your readers find different
Carlos Castanedas. We first find a somewhat incompetent Western scholar,
permanently baffled at the power of old Indians like don Juan and don Genaro
(mainly in The Teachings Of Don Juan, A Separate Reality, A Journey To Ixtlan,
Tales Of Power, and The Second Ring Of Power.) Later we find an apprentice
versed in shamanism (in The Eagle's Gift, The Fire from Within, The Power of
Silence and, particularly, The Art Of Dreaming.) If you agree with this
assessment, when and how did you cease to be one to become the other?
A: I don't consider myself a shaman, or a teacher, or an advanced student of
shamanism; nor do I consider myself an anthropologist or a social scientist of
the Western world. My presentations have all been descriptions of a
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phenomenon which is impossible to discern under the conditions of the linear
knowledge of the Western world. I could never explain what don Juan was
teaching me in terms of cause and effect. There was no way to foretell what he
was going to say or what was going to happen. Under such circumstances, the
passage from one state to another is subjective and not something elaborated,
or premeditated, or a product of wisdom.
Q: One can find episodes in your literary work that are truly incredible for the
Western mind. How could someone who's not an initiate verify that all those
"separate realities" are real, as you claim?
A: It can be verified very easily by lending one's whole body instead of only
one's intellect. One cannot enter don Juan's world intellectually, like a dilettante
seeking fast and fleeting knowledge. Nor, in don Juan's world, can anything be
verified absolutely. The only thing we can do is arrive at a state of increased
awareness that allows us to perceive the world around us in a more inclusive
manner. In other words, the goal of don Juan's shamanism is to break the
parameters of historical and daily perception and to perceive the unknown.
That's why he called himself a navigator of infinity. He asserted that infinity lies
beyond the parameters of daily perception. To break these parameters was the
aim of his life. Because he was an extraordinary shaman, he instilled that same
desire in all four of us. He forced us to transcend the intellect and to embody the
concept of breaking the boundaries of historical perception.
Q: You assert that the basic characteristic of human beings is to be
"perceivers of energy." You refer to the movement of the assemblage point as
something imperative to perceiving energy directly. How can this be useful to a
man of the 21st century? According to the concept previously defined, how can
the attainment of this goal help one's spiritual improvement?
A: Shamans like don Juan assert that all human beings have the capacity to
see energy directly as it flows in the universe. They believe that the assemblage
point, as they call it, is a point that exists in man's total sphere of energy. In
other words, when a shaman perceives a man as energy that flows in the
universe, he sees a luminous ball. In that luminous ball, the shaman can see a
point of greater brilliance located at the height of the shoulder blades,
approximately an arm's length behind them. Shamans maintain that perception
is assembled at this point; that the energy that flows in the universe is
transformed here into sensory data, and that the sensory data is later
interpreted, giving as a result the world of everyday life. Shamans assert that we
are taught to interpret, and therefore we are taught to perceive. The pragmatic
value of perceiving energy directly as it flows in the universe for a man of the
21st century or a man of the 1st century is the same. It allows him to enlarge the
limits of his perception and to use this enhancement within his realm. Don Juan
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said that to see directly the wonder of the order and the chaos of the universe
would be extraordinary.
Q: You have recently presented a physical discipline called Tensegrity. Can
you explain what is it exactly? What is its goal? What spiritual benefit can a
person who practices it individually get?
A: According to what don Juan Matus taught us, the shamans who lived in
ancient Mexico discovered a series of movements that when executed by the
body brought about such physical and mental prowess that they decided to call
those movements magical passes. Don Juan told us that, through their magical
passes, those shamans attained an increased level of consciousness which
allowed them to perform indescribable feats of perception. Through generations,
the magical passes were only taught to practitioners of shamanism. The
movements were surrounded with tremendous secrecy and complex rituals.
That is the way don Juan learned them and that is the way he taught them to his
four disciples.
Our effort has been to extend the teachings of such magical passes to anyone
who wants to learn them. We have called them Tensegrity, and we have
transformed them from specific movements pertinent only to each of don Juan's
four disciples, to general movements suitable to anyone. Practicing Tensegrity,
individually or in groups, promotes health, vitality, youth and a general sense of
well-being. Don Juan said that practicing the magical passes helps accumulate
the energy necessary to increase awareness and to expand the parameters of
perception.
Q: Besides your three cohorts, the people who attend your seminars have met
other people, like the Chacmools, the Energy Trackers, the Elements, the Blue
Scout . . . Who are they? Are they part of a new generation of seers guided by
you? If this is the case, how could one become part of this group of
apprentices?
A: Every one of these persons are defined beings who don Juan Matus, as
director of his lineage, asked us to wait for. He predicted the arrival of each one
of them as an integral part of a vision. Since don Juan's lineage could not
continue, due to the energetic configuration of his four students, their mission
was transformed from perpetuating the lineage into closing it, if possible, with a
golden clasp. We are in no position to change such instructions. We can neither
look for nor accept apprentices or active members of don Juan's vision. The
only thing we can do is acquiesce to the designs of intent. The fact that the
magical passes, guarded with such jealousy for so many generations, are now
being taught, is proof that one can, indeed, in an indirect way, become part of
this new vision through the practice of Tensegrity and by following the premises
of the warriors' way.
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Q: In Readers of Infinity, you've utilized the term "navigating" to define what
sorcerers do. Are you going to hoist the sail to begin the definitive journey soon?
Will the lineage of Toltec warriors, the keepers of this knowledge, end with you?
A: Yes, that is correct, don Juan's lineage ends with us.
Q: Here's a question that I've often asked myself: Does the warriors' path
include, like other disciplines do, spiritual work for couples?
A: The warriors' path includes everything and everyone. There can be a whole
family of impeccable warriors. The difficulty lies in the terrible fact that individual
relationships are based in emotional investments, and the moment the
practitioner really practices what she or he learns, the relationship crumbles. In
the everyday world, emotional investments are not normally examined, and we
live an entire lifetime waiting to be reciprocated. Don Juan said I was a diehard
investor and that my way of living and feeling could be described simply: "I only
give what others give me."
Q: What aspirations of possible advancement should someone have who
wishes to work spiritually according to the knowledge disseminated in your
books? What would you recommend for those who wish to practice don Juan's
teachings by themselves?
A: There's no way to put a limit on what one may accomplish individually if the
intent is an impeccable intent. Don Juan's teachings are not spiritual. I repeat
this because the question has come to the surface over and over. The idea of
spirituality doesn't fit with the iron discipline of a warrior. The most important
thing for a shaman like don Juan is the idea of pragmatism. When I met him, I
believed I was a practical man, a social scientist filled with objectivity and
pragmatism. He destroyed my pretensions and made me see that, as a true
Western man, I was neither pragmatic nor spiritual. I came to understand that I
only repeated the word "spirituality" to contrast it with the mercenary aspect of
the world of everyday life. I wanted to get away from the mercantilism of
everyday life and the eagerness to do this is what I called spirituality. I realized
don Juan was right when he demanded that I come to a conclusion; to define
what I considered spirituality. I didn't know what I was talking about. What I'm
saying might sound presumptuous, but there's no other way to say it. What a
shaman like don Juan wants is to increase awareness, that is, to be able to
perceive with all the human possibilities of perception; this implies a colossal
task and an unbending purpose, which can not be replaced by the spirituality of
the Western world.
Q: Is there anything you would like to explain to the South American people,
especially to the Chileans? Would you like to make any other statement besides
your answers to our questions?
A: I don't have anything to add. All human beings are at the same level. At the
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beginning of my apprenticeship with don Juan Matus, he tried to make me see
how common man's situation is. I, as a South American, was very involved,
intellectually, with the idea of social reform. One day I asked don Juan what I
thought was a deadly question: How can you remain unmoved by the
horrendous situation of your fellow men, the Yaqui Indians of Sonora? I knew
that a certain percentage of the Yaqui population suffered from tuberculosis and
that, due to their economic situation, they couldn't be cured. "Yes," don Juan
said, "It's a very sad thing but, you see, your situation is also very sad, and if
you believe that you are in better condition than the Yaqui Indians you are
mistaken. In general the human condition is in a horrifying state of chaos. No
one is better off than another. We are all beings that are going to die and,
unless we acknowledge this, there is no remedy for us." This is another point of
the shaman's pragmatism: to become aware that we are beings that are going
to die. They say that when we do this, everything acquires a transcendental
order and measure.
Translated from Spanish. Reprinted here with permission from Uno Mismo.
Copyright 1997 Laugan Productions.
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Kindred Spirit - Jun 1997
Kindred Spirit Magazine
The Guide to Personal & Planetary Healing
Quarterly, Summer (June - August 1997)
In the early 1960's, Carlos Castaneda made a profound impact on the world
when he published his first of nine books, "The Teachings of Don Juan - A
Yaqui Way of Knowledge." In this work he related his experiences as a
sorcerer's apprentice under the guidance of a Yaqui Indian from Sonora,
Mexico. As an anthropology student as UCLA, he encountered don Juan Matus
while collecting information for his Ph.D. about the hallucinogenic cactus peyote.
From the moment of the book's publication, Castaneda became a cult figure.
Although he barely gives interviews Castaneda spoke out in February this year,
and we thought you'd like to see what he had to say.
Castaneda's works presented a vision of 'the warrior's way', living impeccably,
erasing personal history, using death as one's advisor and losing self-
importance. Castaneda's interactions with don Juan and his fellow teachers and
apprentices are intimately portrayed, revealing a serious Western scholar who
becomes the target of jeers and criticisms, then puts aside his social paradigm,
and awakens to the mysteries of the unknown.
Besides its pragmatic value, Castaneda's work has an indisputable literary
quality. It is filled with poetry, magic and beauty. His nine books have greatly
surpassed the best seller category and are translated into all major languages.
Castaneda's companions, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner-Grau, have also
related their experiences with don Juan in "The Sorcerer's Crossing" and "Being-
In-Dreaming." Carol Tiggs, a protagonist in some of Castaneda's books, as yet
remains unpublished.
Carlos Castaneda's Tensegrity: Magical Passes from the Shamans of ancient
Mexico
At present, Carlos Castaneda and his companions Taisha Abelar, Florinda
Donner-Grau and Carol Tiggs are interested in making don Juan's world more
accessible. Recently they have come forth with a discipline of physical
movements taught to them by don Juan Matus and which they call Tensegrity.
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This modernized version of some movements called "magical passes",
developed by Indian shamans who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish
Conquest, are designed to enhance perception and to physically strengthen the
body. Tensegrity borrows a term from architecture to represent the
quintessence of tensing and relaxing the muscles and tendons of the body.
When applied to the body, this term describes most appropriately the interplay
of tension and integrity that drives the magical passes.
Tensegrity seminars, ranging in length from weekends to week-long workshops,
dedicate several hours daily to these movements. Also three videos have been
released for the individual learner: Volume 1, Twelve Basic Movements to
Gather Energy and Promote Well-Being; Volume 2, Redistributing Dispersed
Energy, and Volume 3, Energetically Crossing from One Phylum to Another, all
available through Cleargreen, Incorporated, Santa Monica, California or through
www.castaneda.com (www.webb.com/Castaneda). Cleargreen will also publish
a book on Tensegrity by Carlos Castaneda later this year.
In February this year Castaneda answered the questions presented to him by
Daniel Trujillo Rivas for the Chilean and Argentinean magazine Uno Mismo:
Facing Carlos Castaneda, this unclassifiable writer surrounded by 30 years of
legend and myth, was a terrifying moment for me. He has become one of the
most important literary phenomena of the century, revolutionizing ideas about
pre-Colombian American culture.
After nine books I still had many of the same questions about Castaneda I had
at the beginning, starting with: Who is he really? An anthropologist? A gifted
writer? A sorcerer's apprentice? Or an accomplished shaman in his own right?
Now being able to speak to him personally I hoped to have some of these
questions answered.
Q: Mr. Castaneda, for years you've remained in absolute anonymity. What
drove you to change this condition and talk publicly about the teachings that you
and your three companions received from the nagual Juan Matus?
A: Carlos Castaneda: What compels us to disseminate don Juan Matus' ideas
is a need to clarify what he taught us. For us, this is a task that can no longer be
postponed. His other three students and I have reached the unanimous
conclusion that the world to which don Juan Matus introduced us is within the
perceptual possibilities of all human beings. We've discussed amongst
ourselves what would be the appropriate road to take. To remain anonymous
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mer 16 Dic 2009 - 7:59

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the way don Juan proposed to us? This option was not acceptable. The other
available road was to disseminate don Juan's ideas: an infinitely more
dangerous and exhausting choice, but the only one that, we believe, has the
dignity don Juan imbued into all his teachings.
Q: Considering what you have said about the unpredictability of a warrior's
actions, which we have corroborated for three decades, can we expect this
public phase you're going through to last for a while? Until when?
A: There is no way for us to establish a temporal criteria. We live according to
the premises proposed by don Juan and we never deviate from them. Don Juan
Matus gave us the formidable example of a man who lived according to what he
said. And I say it is a formidable example because it is the most difficult thing to
emulate; to be monolithic and at the same time have the flexibility to face
anything. This was the way don Juan lived his life.
Within these premises, the only thing one can be is an impeccable mediator.
One is not the player in this cosmic chess match, one is simply a pawn on the
chessboard. What decides everything is a conscious impersonal force that
sorcerers call Intent or the Spirit.
Q: As far as I've been able to corroborate, orthodox anthropology, as well as
the alleged defenders of the cultural pre-Colombian cultural heritage of America,
undermine the credibility of your work. The belief that your work is merely the
product of your literary talent continues to exist today. There are also other
sectors that accuse you of having a double standard because, supposedly, your
lifestyle and your activities contradict what the majority expect from a shaman.
How can you clear up these suspicions?
A: The cognitive system of the Western man forces us to rely on preconceived
ideas. We base our judgments on something that is always a priori. For
example, the idea of what is 'orthodox.' What is orthodox anthropology? The
one taught in university lecture halls? What is a shaman's behavior? To wear
feathers on one's head and dance to the spirits?
For thirty years, people have accused Carlos Castaneda of creating a literary
character simply because what I report to them does not concur with the
anthropological 'a priori' - the ideas established in the lecture halls or in the
anthropological field work. However, what don Juan presented to me can only
apply to a situation that calls for total action and, under such circumstances,
very little or almost nothing of the preconceived occurs.
I have never been able to draw conclusions about shamanism because in order
to do this one needs to be an active member in the shamans' world. For a social
scientist, let's say a sociologist for example, it is very easy to arrive at
sociological conclusions over any subject related to the Occidental world,
because the sociologist is an active member of the Occidental world. But how
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can an anthropologist, who spends at the most two years studying other
cultures, arrive at reliable conclusions about them? One needs a lifetime to be
able to acquire membership in a cultural world. I've been working for more than
thirty years in the cognitive world of the shamans of ancient Mexico and,
sincerely, I don't believe I have acquired the membership that would allow me to
draw conclusions or to even propose them.
I have discussed this with people from different disciplines and they always
seem to understand and agree with the premises I'm presenting. But then they
turn around and they forget everything they agreed upon and continue to
sustain orthodox academic principles, without caring about the possibility of an
absurd error in their conclusions. Our cognitive system seems to be
impenetrable.
Q: Why do you not allow yourself to be photographed, have your voice
recorded or make your biographical data known? Could this affect, and if so
how, what you've achieved in your spiritual work? Don't you think it would be
useful for some sincere seekers of truth to know who you really are, as a way of
corroborating that it really is possible to follow the path you proclaim?
A: With reference to photographs and personal data, I and the other three
disciples of don Juan follow his instructions. For a shaman like don Juan, the
main idea behind refraining from giving personal data is very simple. It is
imperative to leave aside what he called "personal history". To get away from
the "me" is something extremely annoying and difficult. What the shamans like
don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal "me" does not count. He
believed that an absence of photography and biographical data affects whoever
enters into this field of action in a positive, though subliminal, way. We are
endlessly accustomed to using photographs, recordings and biographical data,
all of which spring from the idea of personal importance. Don Juan said it was
better not to know anything about a shaman; in this way, instead of
encountering a person, one encounters an idea that can be sustained. This is
the opposite of what happens in the everyday world where we are faced with
people with psychological problems and without ideas, all of these people filled
to the brim with "me, me, me."
Q: How should your followers interpret the publicity and the commercial
infrastructure - a side of your literary work - surrounding the knowledge you and
your companions disseminate? What's your real relationship with Cleargreen
Incorporated and the other companies such as Laugan Productions and Toltec
Artists? I'm talking about a commercial link.
A: At this point in my work I needed someone able to represent me regarding
the dissemination of don Juan Matus' ideas. Cleargreen is a corporation that
has great affinity with our work, as do Laugan Productions and Toltec Artists.
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The idea of disseminating don Juan's teachings in the modern world implies the
use of commercial and artistic media that are not within my individual reach. As
corporations having an affinity with don Juan's ideas, Cleargreen Incorporated,
Laugan Productions and Toltec Artists are capable of providing the means to
disseminate what I want to disseminate.
There is always a tendency for impersonal corporations to dominate and
transform everything that is presented to them and to adapt it to their own
ideology. If it wasn't for the sincere interest of Cleargreen, Laugan Productions
and Toltec Artists, everything don Juan said would have been transformed into
something else by now.
Q: There are a great number of people who, in one way or another, 'cling' to
you in order to acquire public notoriety. What's your opinion of the actions of
Victor Sanchez, who has interpreted and reorganized your teachings in order to
elaborate a personal theory? And what of Ken Eagle Feather's assertions that
he has been chosen by don Juan to be his disciple, and that don Juan came
back just for him?
A: There are a number of people who call themselves my students or don
Juan's students, people I've never met and whom, I can guarantee, don Juan
never met. Don Juan Matus was exclusively interested in the perpetuation of his
lineage of shamans. He had four disciples who remain to this day. He had
others who left with him. Don Juan was not interested in teaching his
knowledge; he taught it to his disciples in order to continue his lineage. Due to
the fact that they cannot continue don Juan's lineage, his four disciples have
been forced to disseminate his ideas.
The concept of a teacher who teaches his knowledge is part of our cognitive
system but it isn't part of the cognitive system of the shamans of ancient
Mexico. To teach was absurd for them. To transmit this knowledge to those who
were going to perpetuate their lineage was a different matter.
The fact that there are a number of individuals who insist on using my name or
don Juan's name is simply an easy maneuver to benefit themselves without
much effort.
Q: Let's consider the meaning of the word "spirituality" to be a state of
consciousness in which human beings are fully capable of controlling the
potentials of the species, something achieved by transcending the simple
animal condition through a hard psychic, moral and intellectual training. Do you
agree with this assertion? How is don Juan's world integrated into this context?
A: For don Juan Matus, a pragmatic and extremely sober shaman, "spirituality"
was an empty ideality, an assertion without basis that we believe to be very
beautiful because it is encrusted with literary concepts and poetic expressions,
but which never goes beyond that.
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Shamans like don Juan are essentially practical. For them there only exists a
predatory universe where intelligence or awareness is the product of life and
death challenges. He considered himself a navigator of infinity and said that in
order to navigate into the unknown like a shaman does, one needs unlimited
pragmatism, boundless sobriety and "guts of steel". In view of all this, don Juan
believed that 'spirituality' is simply a description of something impossible to
achieve within the patterns of the world of everyday life, and it is not a real way
of acting.
Q: Do some of the concepts of your work, such as the assemblage point, the
energetic filaments that make up the universe, the world of the inorganic beings,
intent, stalking and dreaming, have an equivalent in Western knowledge? For
example, there are some people who consider that man seen as a luminous egg
is an expression of the aura.
A: As far as I know, nothing of what don Juan taught us seems to have a
counterpart in Western knowledge. Once, when don Juan was still here, I spent
a whole year in search of gurus, teachers and wise men to give me an inkling of
what they were doing. I wanted to know if there was something in the world of
that time similar to what don Juan said and did. My resources were very limited
and they only took me to meet the established masters who had millions of
followers and, unfortunately, I couldn't find any similarity.
Q: One can find truly incredible episodes in your literary work. How could
someone who's not an initiate verify that all those "separate realities" are real,
as you claim?
A: It can be verified very easily by lending one's whole body instead of only
one's intellect. One cannot enter don Juan's world intellectually, like a dilettante
seeking fast and fleeting knowledge. Nor, in don Juan's world, can anything be
verified absolutely. The only thing we can do is arrive at a state of increased
awareness that allows us to perceive the world surrounding us in a more
inclusive manner. In other words, the goal of don Juan's shamanism is to break
the parameters of historical and everyday perception and to perceive the
unknown. That's why he called himself a navigator of infinity. He asserted that
infinity lies beyond the parameters of daily perception. To break these
parameters was the aim of his life. Because he was an extraordinary shaman,
he instilled that same desire in all four of us. He forced us to transcend the
intellect and to embody the concept of breaking the boundaries of historical
perception.
Q: You have recently presented a physical discipline called Tensegrity. Can
you explain what it is exactly? What's its goal? What spiritual benefit can a
person who practices it individually get?
A: According to what don Juan Matus taught us, the shamans who lived in
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ancient Mexico discovered a series of movements that when executed by the
body brought about such physical and mental prowess that they decided to call
those movements magical passes.
Don Juan told us that, through their magical passes, those shamans attained an
increased level of awareness which allowed them to perform indescribable feats
of perception.
Through generations, the magical passes were only taught to practitioners of
shamanism. The movements were surrounded with tremendous secrecy and
complex rituals. That is the way don Juan learned them and that is the way he
taught them to his four disciples.
Our effort has been to extend the teachings of such magical passes to anyone
who wants to learn them. We have called them Tensegrity, and we have
transformed them from specific movements pertinent only to each of don Juan's
four disciples, to general movements suitable for anyone.
Practicing Tensegrity, individually or collectively, promotes health, vitality, youth
and a general sense of well-being. Don Juan said that practicing the magical
passes helps accumulate the energy necessary to increase awareness and to
expand the parameters of perception.
Q: Besides your three cohorts, the people who attend your seminars have met
other people, like the Chacmools, the Energy Trackers, the Elements, the Blue
Scout ... Who are they? Are they part of a new generation of seers guided by
you? If this is the case, how could one become part of this group of
apprentices?
A: Every one of these persons are defined beings whom don Juan Matus, as
director of his lineage, asked us to wait for. He predicted the arrival of each one
of them as an integral part of a vision. Since don Juan's lineage could not
continue due to the energetic configuration of his four students, their mission
was transformed from perpetuating the lineage into closing it, if possible with a
golden clasp.
We are in no position to change such instructions. We can neither look for nor
accept apprentices or active members of don Juan's vision. The only thing we
can do is acquiesce to the designs of Intent.
The fact that the magical passes, guarded with such jealousy for so many
generations, are now being taught, is proof that one can, indeed, in an indirect
way, become part of this new vision through the practice of Tensegrity and by
following the premises of the warrior's way.
Q: Here's a question that I've often asked myself: does the warriors' path
include, like other disciplines do, spiritual work for couples?
A: The warriors' path includes everything and everyone. There can be a whole
family of impeccable warriors. The difficulty lies in the terrible fact that individual
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relationships are based in emotional investments, and the moment the
practitioner really practices what she/he learns the relationship crumbles. In the
everyday world, emotional investments are not normally examined, and we live
an entire lifetime waiting to be reciprocated. Don Juan said I was a diehard
investor and that my way of living and feeling could be described simply: "I only
give what others give me".
Q: What aspirations of possible advancement should someone have who
wishes to work spiritually according to the knowledge disseminated in your
books? What would you recommend for those who wish to practice don Juan's
teachings by themselves?
A: There's no way to put a limit on what one may accomplish individually if the
intent is an impeccable intent. Don Juan's teachings are not spiritual. I repeat
this because the question has come up over and over. The idea of spirituality
doesn't fit with the iron discipline of a warrior. The most important thing for a
shaman like don Juan is the idea of pragmatism. When I met him, I believed I
was a practical man, a social scientist filled with objectivity and pragmatism. He
destroyed my pretensions and made me see that, as a true Western man, I was
neither pragmatic nor spiritual. I came to understand that I only repeated the
word "spirituality" to contrast it with the mercenary aspect of the world of
everyday life. I wanted to get away from the mercantilism of everyday life and
the eagerness to do this is what I called 'spirituality'. I realized don Juan was
right when he demanded that I come to a conclusion: to define what I
considered spirituality. I didn't know what I was talking about.
What I'm saying might sound presumptuous, but there's no other way to say it.
What a shaman like don Juan wants is to increase awareness, that is, to be able
to perceive with all the human possibilities of perception; this implies a colossal
task and an unbending purpose, which cannot be replaced by the spirituality of
the Western world.
Copyright June 1997 Kindred Spirit Magazine
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New Times Magazine - Jul 1997
The New Times Interview
"TENSEGRITY" AND MAGICAL PASSES
Carlos Castaneda interviewed for The New Times by Clair Baron
More than thirty years ago, as an anthropologist doing fieldwork among the
Yaqui Indians in the state of Sonora, Mexico, Carlos Castaneda met a Mexican
Indian shaman named don Juan Matus. Don Juan became his anthropological
informant, and then his teacher. He introduced Carlos Castaneda into the
cognitive world of the shamans who lived in Mexico in ancient times, and who
were the founders of his lineage of shamans.
Carlos Castaneda has written about his apprenticeship with don Juan in nine
best-selling books, beginning with The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of
Knowledge in 1968, and most recently, The Art of Dreaming in 1993. All nine
books are still in print, and have been translated into more than seventeen
languages. Scheduled to appear in 1998 is a new book from HarperCollins by
the author, entitled Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of
Ancient Mexico. Here, Carlos Castaneda provides the reader with direct
instruction on the magical passes, a series of bodily movements taught to him
by don Juan Matus. Tensegrity is the name given to the modern version of
these movements, and the name of a series of three videos which have
appeared over the last year and a half, drawing enthusiasts to filled-to-capacity
workshops on Tensegrity in the U.S., Mexico, South America and Europe.
Clair: What is Tensegrity?
Carlos: Among the infinitude of things that don Juan taught me were some
bodily movements which were discovered and used by the shamans of ancient
Mexico to foster states of profound physical and mental well-being. He said that
those movements were called magical passes by the shamans who discovered
them, because their effect on the practitioners was so astounding. Through
practicing these movements, those shamans were able to achieve a superb
physical and mental balance.
I have labored for ten years to make a synthesis of those movements. The
result has been something I have called Tensegrity: the modern version of the
magical passes. The word Tensegrity is a combination of tension and integrity,
the two driving forces of the magical passes.
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Clair: You say that those movements were "discovered"...
Carlos: Don Juan explained to me that in specific states of heightened
awareness called dreaming, those men and women were able to reach levels of
optimum physical balance. They were also able to discover - in dreaming - the
exact movements that allowed them to replicate, in their hours of vigil, those
same levels of optimum physical balance.
Clair: Why weren't these movements mentioned in your earlier books?
Carlos: The magical passes became the most prized possession for the
shamans of Mexican antiquity who discovered them. They surrounded them
with rituals and mystery and taught them only to their initiates in the midst of
tremendous secrecy. This was the manner in which don Juan Matus taught
them to his students: Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner-Grau, Carol Tiggs and
myself. I never touched on the subject of the magical passes because they were
taught to me in secrecy and to aid me in my personal need; that is to say that
the passes that I learned were designed for me alone, to fit my physical
constitution.
Each of his other students has a set of magical passes taught exclusively to
them, exclusively geared to each of their energetic configurations - to their
personalities. The four of us, being the last link of his lineage, came to the
unanimous conclusion that any further secrecy about the magical passes was
counter to the interest that we had in making don Juan's world available to our
fellow men and women.
We decided, therefore, after a lifetime of silence, to join forces to deal with the
magical passes and to rescue them from their obscure state. After years of
effort, we succeeded in merging our four highly individualistic lines of magical
passes into modified units of movements applicable to any physical constitution,
and all of us together arrived at composites that fulfilled our innermost
expectations.
We call these composites Tensegrity.
Clair: What is the difference between the magical passes of Tensegrity and
other forms of exercise like aerobics or calisthenics?
Carlos: The difference between the magical passes and aerobics or
calisthenics is that the latter are designed to exercise the surface muscles of the
body, while the magical passes are the interplay of relaxation and tension at a
deep bodily level. The magical passes go beyond the musculature to the
glandular system: the base of energy in the body.
Don Juan said that the movements were viewed as magical passes from the
first moment that they were formulated. He described the "magic" of the
movements as a subtle change that the practitioners experience on executing
them; an ephemeral quality that the movement brings to their physical and
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mental states, a kind of shine, a light in the eyes. He spoke of this subtle change
as a "touch of the spirit"; as if practitioners, through the movements, reestablish
an unused link with the life force that sustains them. He further explained that
the movements were called magical passes because by means of practicing
them, shamans were transported, in terms of perception, to other states of being
in which they could sense the world in an indescribable manner.
Clair: What would you say to those who have never done the movements?
When can one expect "results"?
Carlos: The positive results are almost immediate, if one practices
meticulously and daily - increased energy generates calmness, efficiency and
purpose. We all want instant enlightenment, instant expertise; that's the flaw.
Don Juan used to say the collective malady of our day is our total lack of
purpose. He repeated to us endlessly that without sufficient energy there is no
way of conceiving any kind of genuine purpose in our lives. The magical passes,
by helping us store energy, help us to grasp the idea of purposefulness in our
thoughts and actions.
Next year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of The Teachings of
don Juan; Simon and Schuster will publish a special thirtieth-year edition of the
book, complete with a new preface from the author.
Copyright July 1997 The New Times Magazine
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Arizona Republic (1) - Aug 1997
Thirty years later, author's ideas still not easy to label.
Catching up with Castaneda
By Thomas Ropp
The Arizona Republic
August 1, 1997
Sidebar: Castaneda's books
Carlos Castaneda has published nine best-selling books about his
apprenticeship to the Yaqui shaman Don Juan Matus. They have been
translated into more than 17 languages.
My suggestion is to read them in order because concepts are built upon from
one book to the next. Published by Washington Square Press (Simon &
Schuster), all nine books are still available at local bookstores:
"The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge" (1968)
"A Separate Reality: Further Conversations With Don Juan" (1971)
"Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan" (1972)
"Tales of Power" (1974)
"The Second Ring of Power" (1977)
"The Eagle's Gift" (1981)
"The Fire From Within" (1985)
"The Power of Silence: Further Lessons of Don Juan" (1987)
"The Art of Dreaming" (1993)
"Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico" (to
be published by HarperCollins in 1998)
"The Active Side of Infinity" (no publisher or publishing date as of yet)
-Thomas Ropp
In 1960, Carlos Castaneda met an elderly Yaqui Indian, Juan Matus, in
Nogales, Ariz. Castaneda was an anthropology student at the University of
California-Los Angeles, collecting information for his Ph.D. on the use of
hallucinogenic peyote cactus by indigenous peoples. He was told by a mutual
friend that Matus was an expert on peyote.
Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of Castaneda's first
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book, "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of knowledge."
Unbeknownst to Castaneda, don Juan Matus was also a sorcerer-a descendant
of a long line of Mexican seers.
Don Juan is said to have recognized a "peculiar energy alignment" in
Castaneda and slowly reeled him into an apprenticeship. In 1961, Castaneda
the anthropologist became Castaneda the sorcerer's apprentice. The
relationship continued off and on until 1973, when don Juan and his group are
said to have completed their destiny by evanescing-disappearing like mist-from
this world to become navigators into infinity.
Before that, don Juan encouraged Castaneda to write about his world of
Mexican shamanism. And for three decades the debate has raged: Are his nine
bestsellers fiction or non-fiction?
The books are often found in the New Age section of bookstores, that quasi-
reality genre that may or may not be real depending on your current state of
perception. The Los Angeles Times once referred to Castaneda as one of the
godfathers of tile New Age movement.
But that's not a description Castaneda is fond of. He puts it this way: "For 30
years people have accused Carlos Castaneda of creating a literary character
simply because what I report to them does not concur with the anthropological a
priori, the ideas established in the lecture halls or in the anthropological
fieldwork," Castaneda said.
"The cognitive system of the Western man forces us to rely on preconceived
ideas. What is orthodox anthropology? What is a shaman's behavior? To wear
feathers on one's head and dance to the spirits?"
It's unfortunate that most people familiar with Castaneda's books are familiar
with only the first two: "A Yaqui Way of Knowledge" and "A Separate Reality."
Both focus heavily on the use of hallucinogenic plants, which the Yaqui shaman
don Juan called upon to help "unstick" Castaneda's rather narrow social
scientist's perceptions.
The drugs were only an initial tool of Don Juan. Castaneda's next seven books
focused on Don Juan's world of shamanic energy, intent, dreaming and
impeccability-not drug experiences. Nevertheless, Castaneda's writings became
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synonymous to some with drugs and psychotropic plants like peyote and magic
mushrooms.
But readers who have gone beyond the first two books-particularly those who
are interested in Southwestern culture, shamanism and Native American
spirituality-have been rewarded with an enthralling, if romanticized,
anthropological adventure.
Understanding Castaneda's world of the old Mexican shamans is a lot like the
classic perceptual test of seeing a face in a drawing. At first it's not there, but if
you stick with it, concentrating all your attention on a focal point, the face
eventually emerges and, from that moment on, every time you look at the
picture you see the face within.
As for being instigated by money, as some of his critics contend, Castaneda
could have done a lot better in this area if he'd desired.
He smiles big and tells the tale of one venture in particular he rejected.
"American Express and my literary agent, wanted in me to do a commercial for
them," Castaneda said. "That one where they go, 'Do you know me?' A million
dollars for 10 seconds. Only after I declined did my agent begin thinking I really
was nuts."
Copyright August 1997 The Arizona Republic
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Arizona Republic (2) - Aug 1997
Luminous Encounter: Elusive Castaneda remains complex man.
Ordinary 'egg' catches up with literary sorcerer Carlos Castaneda
By Thomas Ropp
The Arizona Republic
August 3, 1997
Los Angeles
I could have asked him anything.
"I am your prisoner," Carlos Castaneda said.
We talked about ravens. I specifically wanted to know how one could tell when a
raven wasn't really a raven.
"You look at its energy," Castaneda said. "A raven that's a sorcerer glows
amber."
He didn't tell me what color a regular raven glowed. But then, it wouldn't have
mattered anyway since I don't see pure energy. Castaneda does, says he has
for many years. He began seeing humans as energy forms, or "luminous eggs,"
in the cafeteria of UCLA when he was working on his doctorate in anthropology
some 30 years ago.
That's how my lunch with Carlos Castaneda began. It was a Thursday, 2 p.m.
We met at a Cuban restaurant near West Hollywood. I didn't know till the last
moment where I'd be meeting Castaneda. His staff said that's how Castaneda
does it. He reads energy to determine meeting locations and most other
matters.
"Everything that we know is an interpretation of energy," Castaneda said. For
the longest time I feared I'd have to find Castaneda in L.A. without directions as
a test of my unbending intent and worthiness to speak to the enigmatic cult
legend and author of nine bestsellers, including his classic "The Teachings of
don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge."
So there we were, just two luminous eggs having lunch. In my best Spanish I
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ordered moros y cristianos (what Cubans call white rice and black beans) y
tostones (fried plantains). He looked up from his menu and in perfect English
ordered: "Number 12." Steak and potatoes.
I felt muy estupido.
The interview came about because of Castaneda's Tensegrity workshop, which
is coming to Phoenix next weekend. I was told by his people that I would have
to fly to L.A. because Castaneda does not do interviews over the phone. In fact
he rarely does interviews at all. Whole decades have passed without a glimpse
of Castaneda. Then he'd surface. A lecture here. A lecture there. Only to
disappear again.
Having read all nine of his books (several times) and sharing a common interest
in cultural anthropology, metaphysics and, especially, Yaqui mysticism, my
assemblage point-a Castaneda term for perception center-was all aquiver at this
rare opportunity.
However, I was told there were ground rules, including no photos and no tape
recorder. I was allowed to use a laptop, but opted to just listen and remember
(although I did take a few notes blindly under the table on a reporter's
notebook).
In retrospect, and in the tradition of shaman synchronicity, I suppose this lunch
wasn't really an accident at all, Just two weeks before the interview I had
mentioned to someone that I was surprised my path had not yet crossed Carlos
Castaneda's.
And then there was this raven.
Several days before I learned of the interview, I was awakened at six in the
morning by the booming caw-caw-caw of the largest raven I had ever seen. It
was sitting on the top stalk of a soaptree yucca outside my screened patio. Its
call was so loud that the echoes reverberated off nearby mountains, creating an
effect similar to thunder. I approached the bird but it was not afraid. It looked at
me once then focused its total attention back to filling the air with vocalizations. I
took my eye off the bird for only a moment to see how my cats were reacting.
When I looked up the raven had disappeared.
Castaneda was interested in my raven story, but he didn't offer an explanation.
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Ravens and crows, as all shape shifters know, are popular forms of travel in the
Americas.
Relatively little is known about Castaneda. De-emphasizing self and erasing
personal history is the way Castaneda's line of seers has evolved into warriors
of true knowledge. It's also why photos and voice imprints are prohibited.
"There is nothing to Carlos Castaneda," he said. "Personality is a pretense.
Fame? Success? Who gives a (expletive)? If we weren't so involved in
ourselves, we wouldn't do such barbaric things to ourselves."
Yet, there are some records, and Castaneda himself lets slip a personal fillip
now and then. Apparently Castaneda was born around 70 years ago in Peru
and was reared by a hedonistic grandfather. But he has spent most of his life in
Los Angeles. He graduated from Hollywood High School and received his Ph.D.
in anthropology from UCLA. For a brief time, he taught cultural anthropology at
the University of California-Irvine.
Castaneda does not stand out in a crowd. In fact, you probably wouldn't even
see him in a crowd. He's diminutive, not much taller than 5 feet and probably
less than 90 pounds. His substantial hair is mostly gray and brushed forward.
He likes to joke about how people have described him as looking like
someone's gardener or chauffeur or a Mexican waiter. L.A. writer Bruce Wagner
once asked Castaneda how he should describe what he looks like. Castaneda
suggested Lee Marvin.
Sitting across from me, dressed in an amber, short-sleeve buttoned shirt and
khaki pants, hair mussed, he reminded me of an iconoclastic professor retired,
the professor of not doing, doing lunch. Except this professor has the eye of the
sorcerer, the left one, that grabs at your awareness with unimaginable force.
But all the descriptions are deceptive and fragile. Castaneda doesn't have one
look. He has many. His appearance changes with his moods, which shuffle
easily. Like his teachers don Juan and don Genero, he laughs, he curses, he
makes unearthly voices and exaggerated smacking sounds with his lips. Then
he turns fierce as he cogently and eloquently pours out his thoughts on the
nature of things.
Castaneda is complex, I expected that. At times he talks in a different language.
I expected that, too. It's impossible for most of us luminous eggs to understand
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all the ideas. Don Juan said that we understand nothing anyway, and that true
knowledge is not accomplished through our intellects.
I didn't expect Castaneda's immense humor. "We must laugh to balance us," he
said.
He told stories, that cannot be repeated in this publication. I believe he keeps up
on current events. He was especially interested in the story of Virginia fertility
specialist Cecil Jacobson, who is now in prison for using his own semen to
impregnate up to 70 of his patients.
There was no discussion of peyote or Mescalito or little smoke, but he did
illustrate for me on a napkin how to cut off the top of a barrel cactus and recover
its juice.
"You drink just a little for rejuvenation," Castaneda said, and smacked his lips
approvingly.
Arizona is particularly prominent in the Castaneda saga. He met Don Juan in
Nogales, Ariz., and spent much time in our state during his apprenticeship and
even later. Castaneda's eyes became moist when he recalled the Arizona
years.
"Arizona is a magical place," Castaneda said. "The Sonoran Desert has a
specific confluence." He said he could not go back to Arizona because it brings
back too many strong and poignant memories.
"A warrior knows whatever he sees he will not see again," Castaneda said. "I
would seriously weep. I need all my strength.
We are all alone.
Castaneda didn't like his steak. He said it smelled like excrement. He dismissed
it, then plowed on to another thought: "The universe is not predictable no matter
what scientists tell you," Castaneda said.
It's a theme he hits hard upon, and that we are truly all alone. "God doesn't love,
you, believe me." The problem, Castaneda insists, is that we're so trapped in
our own egos, we never see the bigger picture of existence. We are not
individuals surrounded by other individuals or houses or shopping malls.
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"We are individuals surrounded by infinity. Castaneda is vague on how he
spends his day, but he still writes. Next year Simon & Schuster will issue a 30th-
anniversary edition of "The Teachings of Don Juan A Yaqui Way of Knowledge,"
with a new foreword by Castaneda. There will also be a new book next year
published by HarperCollins, "Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the
Shamans of Ancient Mexico." Castaneda has also completed what he calls his
"last book" with the working title "The Active Side of Infinity."
"I don't think I can write anymore," Castaneda said. "The universe is predatorial.
It produces profound waves of sadness that are homing in on me. This
ontological sadness, you see it coming, then you feel it on top of you."
Even the path with heart is no cakewalk. Castaneda may not be with us much
longer. He has told his staff as much. "But he won't die a physical death," said
Tensegrity instructor or "energy tracker" Kylie Lundahl. "He will disappear the
way Don Juan did. He knows there isn't much time left before that happens."
The goal of don Juan's line of Mexican seers has been to complete what they
call the "abstract flight," to "evanesce with the totality of their beings" into infinity-
disappear with their boots on, so to speak. Castaneda's teacher don Juan and
his party are supposed to have done this in 1973.
But Castaneda may have a problem in this regard. One gets the feeling from
reading his later books and from personal conversation that something is wrong,
and that Lee Marvin is scared.
Before he left this world don Juan Matus made it clear to Castaneda and his
other apprentices that this line of Mexican seers of antiquity would end with
Castaneda, the last nagual. Something in the energy configuration of the seers
left behind was not propitious to continue the line. So, in essence, Castaneda
and his party were left with the task of "closing out" the line.
Is it possible that Castaneda, like E.T., has been stranded in this world? Is there
something don Juan neglected to tell him about storing enough personal energy
for the abstract flight?
During our lunch, which lasted nearly three hours, I couldn't help but disengage
myself occasionally from his left eye and wonder what he saw irradiating from
my energy body-no doubt something nasty and pink front all the years of loading
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up on diet colas and sugar-free gum.
I also wondered whether he knew more about that raven than he was letting on.
We said our good-byes in the restaurant's parking lot. He said he liked me and
enjoyed our conversation. I said: Somos monos extranos. We are strange apes.
He smiled, but didn't answer. He didn't need to. For a moment Castaneda's
predatorial universe hooked me with one of its waves of sadness as I
remembered what he had said about a warrior knowing whatever he sees he
will not see again.
I took a few steps toward my rental car, wondering whether Castaneda would
indeed make that connection with his abstract flight. I sincerely hoped so.
When I looked back, Castaneda, like the raven, had vanished.
Sidebar: "This Is The One You Have Been Waiting For!"
Copyright August 1997 The Arizona Republic
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The Sun Magazine - Sep 1997
Of Sorcery and Dreams: An Encounter With Carlos Castaneda
By Michael Brenan
Published in "The Sun", September 1997
Dreaming was once an extraordinary affair for me. When I was thirteen, I had
frequent conscious dreams and out-of-body experiences. Typically, just prior to
sleep, when my body was completely relaxed, I would shift without warning into
a remarkable state of alertness. My physical body would feel numb and heavy,
yet I would be entirely awake. Somehow I knew that it was then possible for me
to leave my body.
Nearly every night over the next three years, I would drift toward sleep, only to
wake up and venture into dream worlds of breathtaking clarity and beauty. I was
fully conscious, and tremendously curious about everything I encountered. I
experimented endlessly with my senses, and with my ability to manipulate these
strange environments. But I could never determine whether the worlds I entered
were objectively real, or merely projections.
At age sixteen, I took part in a pioneering research study headed by Stephen
LaBerge. Using laboratory equipment and a series of prearranged signals,
LaBerge demonstrated that humans had the ability to be conscious within a
physical state of sleep. He called the phenomenon "lucid dreaming." Yet even
this scientific validation did not entirely dispel my uncertainty, because it didn't
explain, for example, how I could sometimes be simultaneously aware within
both my physical body and this "other" body. In the end, I decided my questions
were unanswerable for the moment, and the answers didn't matter much
anyway. The sense of exhilaration, freedom, and joy I encountered in those
inner worlds was the true value of the experience.
Before long, that same heightened state of awareness began to carry over into
my ordinary day-to-day existence, imbuing it with richness and magic. Life
became a waking dream. As this sensibility grew, it came into conflict with
everything I was being taught. The priests who schooled me seemed to believe
that the age of miracles had ended two thousand years before. Science
suggested that everything could be reduced to base mechanics. And
contemporary society counseled a safe and bloodless course of birth, school,
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work, and death, interspersed with vapid consumerism.
By the time I was seventeen, I had begun to feel that there was something
wrong with me. I was beset by the usual adolescent insecurities, but on top of
that, my perception of the world did not match up with that of my peers. My fears
overwhelmed the spirit of beauty that I longed to articulate. To compensate for
my perceived cowardice, I embarked on a roguish course, taking up with a bad
crowd and acting out the turmoil inside me. In so doing I betrayed everything
that was sacred to me, and my anguish was enormous. Over the next fifteen
years, I suffered extended bouts of addiction, homelessness, and incarceration
in jails and asylums. My dreams had deserted me, only to be replaced by a
waking nightmare. I was committing slow-motion suicide, a process that
reached its conclusion seven years ago, when I shared bloody needles with two
fellow addicts in a Lower East Side tenement in New York City.
Since then, my junkie companions on that occasion have both died of AIDS.
Now, sitting on the cusp of death myself, I find an empty space within me.
Oddly, this emptiness carries with it a certain abandon and a delicious sense of
anticipation - I have nothing to lose. My imminent mortality seems to offer a slim
chance of recouping what I've lost: my experience of the world as a waking
dream of great beauty and mystery.
It is in this state of mind that I receive an invitation to attend an Oakland
workshop given by associates of Carlos Castaneda, and to write about it as a
journalist. The purpose of the workshop is to teach a magical discipline
Castaneda purportedly learned from the Yaqui seer don Juan Matus. According
to Castaneda, the seers of ancient Mexico experienced states of enhanced
awareness while dreaming. They learned to recreate these states white awake
using a collection of precise movements called "sorcery passes."
Shrouded in secrecy, this discipline was passed down through twenty-seven
generations of sorcerers, of which don Juan Matus was the last. Now
Castaneda and a few of his cohorts claim to be the contemporary stewards of
this ancient sorcerers' art, which Castaneda has named "tensegrity," after an
architectural term for opposing forces in balance.
Another perspective, offered by Castaneda's critics, is that he is the inventor of
this discipline, and of the myth of don Juan Matus. According to them,
Castaneda's myth has its origins not in the preconquest world of the Toltecs, but
in the summer of 1961, when the then-thirty-seven-year-old UCLA anthropology
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student ventured into the Sonoran desert in search of his Ph.D. There, beneath
the broiling Mexican sun, Castaneda presumably cooked up his engaging tales
of sorcery.
Despite high praise for Castaneda from respectable academic, scientific, and
literary quarters, skeptics remain troubled by chronological inconsistencies in his
books, by his refusal to bring forth don Juan for public scrutiny, and by the
author's own inaccessibility. In the end, don Juan Matus seems destined to
haunt us like a phantom glimpsed at the edge of our vision, quickening our
hearts with the possibility that sorcery still exists.
Six years ago, a new dimension to the controversy arose when two women -
Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar - wrote elegant, dreamlike books
describing their own encounters with don Juan. Donner-Grau and Abelar
revealed themselves to be colleagues of Castaneda. A third colleague, Carol
Tiggs, was mentioned in Castaneda's latest book, The Art of Dreaming, in which
he described how, while "dreaming together" with him in a Mexican hotel room,
Tiggs disappeared from this world, borne on the wings of "intent." The "gales of
infinity" blew her back to this dimension ten years later, when Castaneda
discovered her wandering in a daze in Santa Monica's Phoenix Bookstore. Her
improbable return had "ripped a hole in the fabric of the universe."
Castaneda, Donner-Grau, and Abelar were thoroughly disconcerted by the
implications of this event. In the end, Tiggs persuaded her fellow travelers to
adopt a radical new approach to their work: for the first time, they would present
the teachings of don Juan openly, offering seekers the opportunity to explore in
detail the legendary seer's fantastic practices.
They arrived at this unprecedented decision, they say, because they are the last
of their lineage and will soon "ignite the fire from within and complete the
somersault into the inconceivable." More, they are opening up their discipline
out of gratitude to their teachers and benefactors, so that their ancient
knowledge may live on.
Like many readers, I have been greatly moved and inspired by Castaneda's
books - especially (for obvious reasons) his writings about the magical
possibilities of dreams. At the same time, I have maintained a journalist's
skepticism about the whole affair. But now the creatures molded by the myth of
don Juan Matus have emerged from the fog of their inaccessibility and rustle
through my awareness like windblown leaves. I go to hear their message
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bearing questions, doubts, anticipation, and a longing for magic to refute the
soulless dreams of contemporary society.
The six female instructors, called "energy trackers," are standing in pairs atop
three raised platforms in the Oakland Convention Center. They are dressed
martial arts style, in loose-fitting pants and shirts, their hair cut short, all of them
exuding an attractive strength and athleticism. They range in age from eleven to
thirty-six, and come from Europe and America. Their manner is simultaneously
friendly and no-nonsense. They are here to teach, and the three-hundred odd
individuals surrounding them are here to learn.
Over the next two days the energy trackers demonstrate an elaborate series of
movements - the "sorcery passes" Castaneda has written about. The
movements have evocative names: Cracking a Nugget of Energy, Stepping over
a Root of Energy, Shaking Off the Mud of Energy. I have years of hatha yoga
practice, and can confirm some parallels between the two disciplines. Many
movements also have a fierce, martial mood reminiscent of aikido and karate.
But there are some unusual elements to the tensegrity system that I cannot
place in any familiar context.
Among participants, there is an enormous mix of occupations - physicists,
teachers, engineers, artists, laborers, biologists - and nationalities: Spanish,
Italian, German, Russian, American, French. I speak to a variety of people,
searching for testimony to the movements' effectiveness, and what I hear slowly
begins to shake my doubts.
One man, who in his youth practiced karate for six years, says he finds the
tensegrity movements uniquely powerful. "The more I'm exposed to tensegrity,"
he tells me, "the more I think that nobody could just make these movements up.
There are too many of them, they're too sophisticated and systematic, and the
results are just too powerful."
Mario, a Tarahumara Indian raised in northern Mexico who now lives in Los
Angeles, says he and a group of Mexican and Indian friends have long gathered
informally to practice strategies gleaned from Castaneda's books. Now, due to
this more formal presentation of the teachings, they have increased their efforts.
When Mario describes some of his dreaming adventures, I am struck by their
evident similarity to the conscious dreams of my childhood.
"Recently, I found myself awake within a dream," Mario says. "I was beneath a
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tree on a hilltop; I am not sure where. My brother Joss, who lives in Oaxaca,
was with me. He asked me what I had learned in the workshop I had attended. I
told him, and we exchanged more information about our personal lives. I was
fully conscious during the dream, but when I awoke I had forgotten something:
Joss had told me something at the very end of the dream, and I could not
recollect it.
"A week later, he called me from Mexico. Before I could speak he began
describing the dream to me: the same hill, the same tree, the same
conversation. I felt a chill, and a sense of awe. Then he asked if I remembered
what he had told me at the end of our dream, Before he could say anything
more, my ears began ringing loudly, and the forgotten scene replayed itself in a
flash. He had thanked me for bringing him to this path."
Over the course of the weekend we hear from all three of Castaneda's fellow
teachers. Speaking first, Florinda Donner-Grau looks out over the audience and
smiles like a Cheshire cat. Her brush-cut blond hair and elegant cheekbones
look strongly Teutonic, and she speaks with precise diction, as if each word
were a delectable morsel:
"Don Juan Matus presented four faces to his four disciples. To Carlos
Castaneda he was a fierce and fearsome presence of terrible import and
beauty. To Taisha Abelar he was an enigmatic yet intensely familiar figure. For
myself he was an abrupt intrusion into my world, at once unsettling and
soothing. For Carol Tiggs he was a gentle, fatherly figure capable of
tremendous affection."
She goes on to tell us that, in the world of sorcerers, women are gifted creatures
by virtue of their affinity with the feminine nature of the universe. Using their
womb, they are able to access universal energy and accomplish stupendous
feats of transformation. But at the same time, women must contend with the
immensely stupefying effects of their socialization. In short, they are trained
from birth to be bimbos, and only by unyielding effort can they escape that fate.
"Don Juan asked me," Donner-Grau says, "in a very matter-of-fact tone,
whether I wanted to be a stupid cunt for the rest of my life.... You must
understand, I come from a very proper Spanish-German family. No one
especially not a man - had ever used that word in my presence. I was horrified
and insulted."
Given the delight with which she recounts the episode, I can only conclude that
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Numero di messaggi : 2142
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mer 16 Dic 2009 - 8:00

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at some point she got over her mortification.
For me, the defining moment of her talk comes when she speaks of death:
"Death is your truest friend, and your most reliable advisor. If you have doubts
about the course of your life, you have only to consult your death for the proper
direction. Death will never lie to you.
Taisha Abelar is elegant yet energetic. I cannot place her accent, but her overall
speech and appearance bring to mind a sixtyish Katharine Hepburn. I am
intrigued by the differences between her dream experiences and mine.
"I was on the roof of a building," Abelar says,-"in the middle of a strange city.
Suddenly, from above I heard a terrible racket, and I saw a black shape
descending toward me out of the sky. I moved immediately, and as I did saw
that the black shape was actually a helicopter, and the horrible noise was the
sound of its blades slicing the air. If I had stayed another second on that roof, I
would have been mincemeat."
At first I am puzzled by this, because in my conscious dreams I could
manipulate the environment in extraordinary ways. I wonder why Abelar did not
will the helicopter away, or make it burst into flames. Then it dawns on me:
she's talking about transporting her physical body into those worlds.
For the next hour, she recounts wild tales that make me think her either insane
or an accomplished liar. But everything in her manner suggests sobriety and
sincerity, and I am forced to recognize a third, nearly inconceivable alternative:
that she is faithfully reporting her experiences.
For her part, Carol Tiggs describes dreaming adventures every bit as bizarre
and otherworldly as Abelar's, but most of her tales involve dreaming together
with Carlos Castaneda. Like Castaneda, Tiggs identifies herself as a nagual, a
Toltec term meaning "teacher" or "leader." The affinity that links a nagual
woman and a nagual man and allows them to dream together is described in
several of Castaneda's books. It is neither a romantic nor a sexual bond, but
something much more profound.
Toward the end of her talk, Tiggs answers a question from the audience about
Castaneda's health (word is that he's ill), and I sense the fierce affection
between them. She grows still. Drawing a deep breath and releasing it slowly,
she smiles as if through tears and says, "Our brother Carlos could not join us
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because he is battling an infection. We do not know the nature of his illness. A
sorcerer cannot avail himself of traditional medicine; he must rely on the spirit,
and on his own resources. Before a sorcerer reaches the threshold where his
body no longer functions, he will choose, if he can, to kindle the awareness of
his entire being, in order to leave this world intact and whole. And our brother
Carlos has made a promise to include us in that final act. But we do not know if
this is the time of his leaving."
She pauses, and when she speaks again, her voice is hushed with wonder. "We
are here together, in a bubble outside of time, dreaming the dream of the
ancient Toltecs. By your efforts, you have helped us to expand and accelerate
into the unknown. We thank you, " she concludes softly, spreading her arms to
the audience, "and we embrace you in the dream."
As I drive back to Portland Sunday night, I look for changes in myself and find
instead that the discontent and emptiness that have plagued me for half my life
have intensified tenfold. I remain outside the great mysteries, endlessly writing,
endlessly doubting.
On top of this, my body erupts: my left testicle swells to twice its normal size,
and chickenpox afflicts me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. I
go to a traditional Chinese doctor whose wisdom is derived from a long
historical lineage. He takes my pulses and examines my tongue, then sits back
and nods his head repeatedly, like a thirsty crane dipping for water, all the while
murmuring in Chinese. He prepares a complex concoction of herbs, which I
consume, summoning what gratitude I can for the plants that have given their
lives for mine.
A few weeks pass, and I regain my equilibrium, but my doubts about Carlos
Castaneda, which have never really left me, become more insistent. I vacillate
between my memories of the practical results reported by the tensegrity
practitioners, and knowledge of our ability to interpret myths in the fashion most
befitting our needs.
Everything comes down to the authenticity of don Juan and his Toltec
predecessors. Was don Juan Matus a myth invented by Carlos Castaneda, or
was he a flesh-and-blood sorcerer of mythic proportion? I am aware that only
one person can answer that question for me.
Then the seemingly impossible happens: my silent wish is granted, and I
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receive an unexpected invitation to meet with and interview Carlos Castaneda.
Given my shortcomings - I have led a life of indulgence, have written no grand
epics, barely graduated high school, and know nothing of science or
anthropology - I should be enormously intimidated. But instead, from the
moment the invitation is extended, I experience a profound and soothing sense
of surety. If Castaneda is merely an inventive rogue, then I will have lost nothing
but my illusions. But if he is a bona fide heir to the legacy of Toltec seers, then I
will have gained a gift of incalculable value - the possibility of restoring magic to
the remainder of my life.
A lovely quietude comes over me in the wake of this realization, bringing with it
a tremulous sense of anticipation and - most remarkable for me - an
overwhelming ease and confidence. Everything has come full circle. There
seems nothing left to do but greet the unknown.
I look up from the four single-spaced pages of questions I have prepared and
glimpse a party of three weaving their way toward me through the Santa Monica
restaurant. The woman who arranged the interview for me is in front. She
introduces me to one of the energy trackers from the workshop, and then to the
little man behind her - Carlos Castaneda. The ease of the last few days does
not abandon me, and I greet Castaneda with a relaxed mixture of respect,
affection, and professional skepticism.
He is gracious and unpretentious, and rolls up the sleeves of his rumpled white
shirt with Old World courtliness as we settle into our seats. I fuss with my notes
and study him with covert glances. From my research I know that he is Peruvian-
born and at least seventy-one years old. He appears, however, to be in his early
sixties. He is perhaps five-foot-two, with skin the color of burnished copper, a
thatch of salt-and-pepper hair, and an elfin frame. His face is handsome and
weathered, a symphony of angles and furrows that suggest classic Spanish
features. His eyes are sharp and lucid, his expression by turns thoughtful,
friendly, and playful. He offers me some bottled water, and this small gesture
seems to embody generosity. I feel as if I am among friends.
For the next three hours I ask sporadic questions from my lengthy list, but
mostly I am absorbed in listening and taking notes.
"This discipline is an internal affair," Castaneda says at one point. "There are
techniques, but they must be fortified by a decision, and by a feeling from within.
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You need to arrive at that decision and feeling yourself. For me, it is a matter of
daily renewal."
Talk of discipline prompts me to ask about something he once said: that quitting
smoking could be a revolutionary act.
"You don't smoke, do you?" he inquires, frankly curious.
"In honor of this occasion," I reply, "I have left my smokes at home."
He seems unperturbed by my admission, and by the banality of my problems.
"I started smoking when I was eight," he says. "I wanted to be like these older
Argentinian guys. You should have seen them; they were the coolest guys in the
world." With an absurdly suave pantomime he mimics the coolest guys in the
world, squinting his left eye and tilting his head to blow an invisible cloud of
smoke into the air. "One day, don Juan told me to stop smoking. I replied that I
liked smoking and would stop when I was ready. Then I tried to quit and
couldn't; not the first time, or the second time. Even all these years later, I still
find myself patting my breast pocket for the cigarettes that are no longer there.
These routines are difficult, but not impossible, to break," he concludes. "You
merely have to jump the - "
His last word is lost to the lilt of his accent. I let it pass and listen as he
describes a woman friend of his who was dying in a hospital. (I have said
nothing of my own illness at this point, nor does my appearance give any clue.)
"I loved this woman dearly," he says. "She was a tremendous friend. I asked
don Juan what I could do for her. He described a strategy to me, and I passed it
on to her. I told her she must push her illness away with her hand, with her
intent, repeatedly, for as long as it took. She replied that she was too weak to lift
her arm. 'Then use your foot!' I cried. 'Use your heart; use your mind! Intend it
out of you!' But she no longer had the energy to do so."
Without prompting on my part, he begins talking about his recent illness, which
he describes as "a vicious viral infection." I am spooked by the parallel to my
own life, and momentarily stop taking notes in order to observe him. He matter-
of-factly describes a bout with a deadly infection, and how his discipline
compelled him to refuse the conventional treatments offered by a doctor. The
upshot - that his apparently life-threatening condition resolved itself - is obvious
from the fact that he now sits across from me, a bundle of energy.
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"I have been reading a book by the ex-wife of Carl Sagan," he continues. "She
has this theory about the viral nature of the body. She theorizes that, physically,
we are simply sacks of viruses. We live in a predatory universe, and nothing is
more predatory than viruses.
"We are creatures who will die," he adds, almost as a non sequitur, and it is too
much for me. I have come here under the guise of a journalist, but in fact I've
known all along that I am seeking a healing of the heart before I leave this earth.
My time seems short, and before I can stop myself, I rudely interrupt him.
"I have a personal question," I begin.
"Please, please," he says kindly, beckoning with his hands. "Ask anything you
like."
"Well," I say, "I hate melodrama. So I will just say that I have a health condition.
There is a lot of leeway with it, but the conventional wisdom is that . . ." I look
away, loath to appear manipulative or needy.
"Perhaps a few more seasons," I murmur. "A few more blows to my system, and-
"
I flick my wrist as if sweeping dust from the table: poof, swish, gone.
What I have done seems terribly unprofessional to me; yet, I think childishly, he
started it, with his books, with his straightforward assertions that in this day and
age we are still capable of experiencing the world as magic. I feel a sense of
displaced anger and longing, as well as the anguish that I have carried since I
first turned my back on all that was sacred to me.
Holding my gaze intently yet dispassionately, Castaneda launches into another
lengthy tale, this one about an alcoholic friend of his. He regards me from
beneath slightly lowered lids, as if squinting into the sun. His eyes are keen and
bright, like slivers of obsidian, yet their effect is neither hypnotic nor
overpowering. Rather, they seem to hold a kind of open challenge.
"So, " he concludes, like a professor summarizing his wisdom, "I would move. I
would jump the - ."
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Again, I lose his last word, and my anxiety must be apparent, because he
repeats slowly, "I would jump the groove."
He pauses to lift an invisible needle from a turntable, his eyes never leaving
mine.
"I would change the groove," he says. "I would move."
My adolescent journals are full of this same metaphor. At that time, the one-
track groove that the stylus followed on a record symbolized for me the habitual
nature of my mind. Changing the groove meant changing those habits that
robbed me of my ability to experience ordinary life as full of beauty and wonder.
The three routines I most sought to change were my habit of picking my nose,
my adolescent temper. and - hardest of all my endless capacity for rehashing
old events in my mind instead of simply letting go.
Now, at age thirty-six, I find it is only my temper that has mellowed. I still pick my
nose, and I am still capable of endlessly justifying, defending, and excusing my
past actions. To these insipid routines I have added, over the past seven years,
the habitual momentum of dying. I have known from the moment I shared that
needle that a part of me was conspiring in my own death. In the interim, that
same part has come to view AIDS as a fitting punishment for my sins, or
perhaps as the articulation of my spiritual barrenness.
Yet, throughout it all, something resilient within me has refused to die. I prefer to
call that inviolate something "spirit," and it is that same spirit that is aroused in
me now as I listen to Castaneda's prescription for change. Death is the one
inexorable fact in our transitory lives. Perhaps I will die a doddering old fool;
perhaps I will die before the sun sets tonight. But I will die - that much is certain.
In the meantime, what remains within my control is the groove of my life, the
track upon which I choose to walk between the exclamation of my coming and
the ellipsis of my going. At its purest, this track is trackless, like a path covered
by freshly fallen snow.
And trodding such virgin paths is the most enduring image of my adolescent
dreams. By speaking directly to that memory, Castaneda has reawakened it
within my heart. Given the perilously low ebb I have reached in life, I can only
describe this feat as a genuine act of sorcery.
Ah, but what of don Juan Matus, the mythic Yaqui seer whose bones I have
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come to exhume? Does he sit before me now, a trickster-teacher weaving
deceptive tales of wisdom, folly, and truth? I do not know, and cannot say.
Three hours have passed, and Castaneda is gently signaling the end of our
meeting by unrolling the sleeves of his weathered cotton shirt. There is still time
for that final and most compelling journalistic question, but something within me
lets it pass.
And then, unexpectedly, the silence is broken once more by Castaneda's lovely
accent. His gaze is fixed in the distance, and he speaks softly, his words like
those of a man confronting an insoluble mystery. Again, I study him for evidence
of deception and come away empty-handed.
"If I could ask don Juan one final question," he begins slowly, "I would ask, How
did he move me so? How did he touch my spirit so that every beat of my heart is
filled with the feeling of this path?"
"Every beat of my heart," he repeats quietly, and for a brief moment his words
seem to hang in the air like fog. Then his whispered phrase is touched by time,
and disappears into the mystery that surrounds us.
Copyright September 1997 The Sun
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Yoga Journal - Jan 1998
The following is the text of the article that appeared in the January/February
issue of the Yoga Journal. The original article contains photographs which
accompany the descriptions of the 15 magical passes. I've included the text that
was associated with these photos, but you may or may not be able to execute
the passes without seeing the pictures.
Magical Passes by Carlos Castaneda
The first time don Juan talked to me at length about magical passes was when
he made a derogatory comment about my weight.
"You are way too chubby," he said looking at me from head to toe and shaking
his head in disapproval. "You are one step from being fat. Wear and tear is
beginning to show in you. Like any other member of your race, you are
developing a lump of fat on your neck, like a bull. It's time that you take
seriously one of the sorcerers' greatest findings: the magical passes."
"What magical passes are you talking about, don Juan?" I asked. "You have
never mentioned this topic to me before. Or, if you have, it must have been so
lightly that I can't recall anything about it."
"Not only have I told you a great deal about magical passes," he said, "you
know a great number of them already. I have been teaching them to you all
along."
As far as I was concerned, it wasn't true that he had taught me any magical
passes all along. I protested vehemently.
"Don't be so passionate about defending your wonderful self," he joked, making
a ridiculous gesture of apology with his eyebrows. "What I meant to say is that
you imitate everything I do, so I have been cashing in on your imitation capacity.
I have shown you various magical passes, all along, and you have always taken
them to be my delight in cracking my joints. I like the way you interpret them:
cracking my joints! We're going to keep on referring to them in that manner.
"I have shown you 10 different ways of cracking my joints," he continued. "Each
one of them is a magical pass that fits to perfection my body, and yours. You
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could say that those 10 magical passes are in your line, and mine. They belong
to us personally and individually, as they belonged to other sorcerers who were
just like the two of us in the 25 generations that preceded us."
The magical passes don Juan was referring to, as he himself had said, were
ways in which I thought cracked his joints. He used to move his arms, legs,
torso, and hips in specific ways, I thought, in order to create a maximum stretch
of his muscles, bones, and ligaments. The result of these stretching
movements, from my point of view, was a succession of cracking sounds which
I always thought that he was producing for my amazement and amusement. He,
indeed, had asked me time and time again to imitate him. In a challenging
manner, he had even dared me to memorize the movements and repeat them at
home until I could get my joints to make cracking noises, just like his.
I had never succeeded in reproducing the sounds, yet I had definitely but
unwittingly learned all the movements. I know now that not achieving that
cracking sound was a blessing in disguise, because the muscles and tendons of
the arms and back should never be stressed to that point. Don Juan was born
with a facility to crack the joints of his arms and back, just as some people have
the facility to crack their knuckles.
"How did the old sorcerers invent those magical passes, don Juan?" I asked.
"Nobody invented them," he said sternly. "To think that they were invented
implies instantly the intervention of the mind, and this is not the case when it
comes to those magical passes. They were, rather, discovered by the old
shamans. I was told that it all began with the extraordinary sensation of well-
being that those shamans experienced when they were in shamanistic states of
heightened awareness. They felt such tremendous, enthralling vigor that they
struggled to repeat it in their hours of vigil.
"At first, those shamans believed," don Juan explained to me once, "that it was
a mood of well-being that heightened awareness created in general. Soon, they
found out that not all the states of shamanistic heightened awareness which
they entered produced in them the same sensation of well-being. A more careful
scrutiny revealed to them that whenever that sensation of well-being occurred,
they had always been engaged in some specific kind of bodily movement. They
realized that while they were in states of heightened awareness, their bodies
moved involuntarily in certain ways, and that those certain ways were indeed
the cause of that unusual sensation of physical and mental plenitude."
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Don Juan speculated that it had always appeared to him that the movements
that the bodies of those shamans executed automatically in heightened
awareness were a sort of hidden heritage of mankind, something that had been
put in deep storage, to be revealed only to those who were looking for it. He
portrayed those sorcerers as deep-sea divers, who without knowing it,
reclaimed it.
Tensegrity
Tensegrity is the modern version of the magical passes of the shamans of
ancient Mexico. The word Tensegrity is most appropriate for defining it, because
it is a mixture of two terms: tension and integrity, terms which connote the two
driving forces of the magical passes. The activity created by contracting and
relaxing the tendons and muscles of the body is tension. Integrity is the act of
regarding the body as a sound, complete, perfect unit.
Tensegrity is taught as a system of movements, because that is the only
manner in which this mysterious and vast subject of the magical passes could
be faced in a modern setting. The people who now practice Tensegrity are not
shaman practitioners in search of shamanistic alternatives that involve rigorous
discipline, exertion, and hardships. Therefore, the emphasis of the magical
passes has to be on their value as movements, and all the consequences that
such movements bring forth.
Don Juan Matus had explained that the first drive of the sorcerers of his lineage
who lived in Mexico in ancient times, in relation to the magical passes, was to
saturate themselves with movement. They arranged every posture, every
movement of the body that they could remember, into groups. They believed
that the longer the group, the greater its effect of saturation, and the greater the
need for the practitioners to use their memory to recall it.
The shamans who founded don Juan's lineage, after arranging the magical
passes into long groups and practicing them as sequences, deemed that this
criterion of saturation had fulfilled its purposes, and they dropped it. From then
on, what was sought was the opposite: the fragmentation of the long groups into
single segments, which were practiced as individual, independent units. The
manner in which don Juan Matus taught the magical passes to his four disciples-
Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner-Grau, Carol Tiggs, and myself-was the product
of this drive for fragmentation.
Don Juan's personal opinion was that the benefit of practicing the long groups
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was patently obvious; such practice forced the shaman initiates to use their
kinesthetic memory. He considered the use of kinesthetic memory to be a real
bonus, which those shamans had stumbled upon accidentally, and which had
the marvelous effect of shutting off the noise of the mind: the internal dialogue.
Don Juan had explained to me that the way in which we reinforced our
perception of the world and kept it fixed at a certain level of efficiency and
function was by talking to ourselves.
"The entire human race," he said to me on one occasion, "keeps a determined
level of function and efficiency by means of the internal dialogue. The internal
dialogue is the key to maintaining the assemblage point stationary at the
position shared by the entire human race: at the height of the shoulder blades,
an arm's length away from them.
"By accomplishing the opposite of the internal dialogue," he went on, "that is to
say inner silence, practitioners can break the fixation of their assemblage thus
acquiring an extraordinary fluidity of perception."
Reestablishing the criterion of saturation by performing the long series gave, as
a result, something which don Juan had already defined as the modem goal of
the magical passes: the redeployment of energy. Don Juan was convinced that
this had always been the unspoken goal of the magical passes, even at the time
of the old sorcerers. The old sorcerers didn't seem to have known this, but even
if they did, they never conceptualized it in those terms. By all indications, what
the old sorcerers sought avidly and which they experienced as a sensation of
well-being and plenitude when they performed the magical passes was, in
essence, the effect of unused energy being reclaimed by the centers of vitality in
the body.
In Tensegrity, the long groups have been reassembled, and a great number of
the fragments have been kept as single, functioning units. These units have
been strung together by purpose - for instance, the purpose of intending, or the
purpose of the recapitulation, or the purpose of inner silence, etc. - creating in
this fashion the Tensegrity series. In this manner, a system has been obtained
in which the best results are sought by performing long sequences of
movements that definitely tax the kinesthetic memory of the practitioners.
In every other respect, the way Tensegrity is taught is a faithful reproduction of
the way in which don Juan taught the magical passes to his disciples. He
inundated them with a profusion of detail and let their minds be bewildered by
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the amount and variety of magical passes taught to them, and by the implication
that each of them individually was a pathway to infinity.
His disciples spent years overwhelmed, confused, and above all, despondent,
because they felt that being inundated in such a manner was an unfair
onslaught on them.
"When I teach you the magical passes," he explained to me once when I
questioned him about the subject, "I am following the traditional sorcerers'
device of clouding your linear view. By saturating your kinesthetic memory, I am
creating a pathway for you to inner silence.
"Since all of us," he continued, "are filled to the brim with the doings and
undoings of the world of everyday life, we have very little room for kinesthetic
memory. You may have noticed that you have none. When you want to imitate
my movements, you cannot remain facing me. You have to stand side by side
with me in order to establish in your own body what's right and what's left. Now,
if a long sequence of movements were presented to you, it would take you
weeks of repetition to remember all the movements. While you're trying to
memorize the movements, you have to make room for them in your memory by
pushing other things out of the way. That was the effect that the old sorcerers
sought."
Don Juan's contention was that if his disciples kept on doggedly practicing the
magical passes, in spite of their confusion, they would arrive at a threshold
when their redeployed energy would tip the scales, and they would be able to
handle the magical passes with absolute clarity.
When don Juan made those statements, I could hardly believe them.
Nevertheless, at one moment, just as he had said, I ceased to be confused and
despondent. In a most mysterious way, the magical passes, since they are
magical, arranged themselves into extraordinary sequences that cleared up
everything. Don Juan explained that the clarity I was experiencing was the result
of the redeployment of my energy.
The concern of people practicing Tensegrity nowadays matches exactly my
concern and the concern of don Juan's other disciples when we first began to
perform the magical passes. They feel bewildered by the amount of movements.
I reiterate to them what don Juan reiterated to me over and over: that what is of
supreme importance is to practice whatever Tensegrity sequence is
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mer 16 Dic 2009 - 8:01

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/23.html
remembered. The saturation that has been carried on will give, in the end, the
results sought by the shamans of ancient Mexico: the redeployment of energy,
and its three concomitants-the shutting off of the internal dialogue, the possibility
for inner silence, and the fluidity of the assemblage point.
As a personal assessment, I can say that by saturating me with the magical
passes, don Juan accomplished two formidable feats: one, he brought to the
surface a flock of hidden resources that I had but didn't know existed, such as
the ability to concentrate, or the ability to remember detail; and two, he gently
broke my obsession with my linear mode of interpretation.
"What is happening to you," don Juan explained to me when I questioned him
about what I was experiencing in this respect, "is that you are feeling the advent
of inner silence, once your internal dialogue has been minimally offset. A new
flux of things has begun to enter into your field of perception. These things were
always there, on the periphery of your general awareness, but you never had
enough energy to be deliberately conscious of them. As you chase away your
internal dialogue, other items of awareness begin to fill in the empty space, so to
speak.
"The new flux of energy," he went on, "which the magical passes have brought
to your centers of vitality is making your assemblage point more fluid. It's no
longer rigidly palisaded. You're no longer driven by our ancestral fears, which
make us incapable of taking a step in any direction. Sorcerers say that energy
makes us free, and that is the absolute truth."
The execution of the magical passes doesn't necessarily require a particular
space or prearranged time. However, the movements should be done away
from sharp currents of air. Don Juan dreaded currents of air on a perspiring
body. He firmly believed that not every current of air was caused by the rising or
lowering of temperature in the atmosphere, and that some currents of air were
actually caused by conglomerates of consolidated energy fields moving
purposefully through space.
Something else to bear in mind when practicing Tensegrity is that since the goal
of the magical passes is something foreign to Western man, an effort should be
made to keep the practice of Tensegrity detached from the concerns of our daily
world. The practice of Tensegrity should not be mixed with elements with which
we are already thoroughly familiar, such as conversation, music, or the sound of
a radio or TV newsman reporting the news, no matter how muffled the sound
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might be.
Inner Silence
Don Juan said that inner silence was the state most avidly sought by the
shamans of ancient Mexico. He defined it as a natural state of human
perception in which thoughts were blocked off, and all of man's faculties
operated from a level of awareness which didn't require the utilization of our
daily cognitive system.
Inner silence has always been associated with darkness for the shamans of don
Juan's lineage, perhaps because human perception, deprived of its habitual
companion, the internal dialogue, falls into something that resembled a dark pit.
He said that the body functioned as usual, but awareness became sharper.
Decisions were instantaneous, and seemed to stem from a special sort of
knowledge which was deprived of thought-verbalizations.
Inner silence, in don Juan's understanding, was the matrix for a gigantic step of
evolution: silent knowledge, or the level of human awareness where knowing
was automatic and instantaneous. Knowledge at this levels was not the product
of cerebral cogitation or logical induction and deduction, or of generalizations
based on similarities and dissimilarities. There was nothing a priori at the level
of silent knowledge, nothing that could constitute a body of knowledge, for
everything was imminently now. Complex pieces of information could be
grasped without any cognitive preliminaries.
Don Juan Matus taught the hard line of his lineage: that inner silence must be
gained by a consistent pressure of discipline. It had to be accrued, or it had to
be stored, bit by bit, second by second. In other words; one had to force oneself
to be silent, even if it was only for a few seconds. According to don Juan, it was
common knowledge among sorcerers that if one persisted in this, persistence
overcame habit, and thus it was possible to arrive at a threshold of accrued
seconds or minutes, which differed from person to person. If the threshold of
inner silence was for any given individual, for instance, 10 minutes, once this
threshold. was reached, inner silence happened by itself, of its own accord, so
to speak.
I was warned beforehand that there was no possible way of knowing what my
individual threshold might be, and that the only way of finding this out was
through direct experience. This is exactly what happened to me. Following don
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Juan's suggestion, I had persisted in forcing myself to remain silent, and one
day, while walking at UCLA, I reached my mysterious threshold. I knew I had
reached it, because in one instant, I experienced something don Juan had
described it at length to me. He had called it stopping the world. In the blink of
an eye, the world ceased to be what it was, and for the first time in my life, I
became conscious that I was seeing energy as it flowed in the universe. I had to
sit down on some brick steps. I knew that I was sitting on some brick steps, but I
knew it only intellectually, through memory. Experientially, I was resting on
energy. I myself was energy, and so was everything around me. I had canceled
out my interpretation system.
After seeing energy directly, I realized something which became the horror of
my day, something that no one could explain to me satisfactorily except don
Juan. I became conscious that although I was seeing for the first time in my life,
I had been seeing energy as it flows in the universe all my life, but I had not
been conscious of it. To see energy as it flows in the universe was not the
novelty. The novelty was the query that arose with such fury that it made me
surface back into the world of everyday life. I asked myself what had been
keeping me from realizing that I had been seeing energy as it flows in the
universe all my life.
"There are two issues at stake here," don Juan explained to me, when I asked
him about this maddening contradiction. "One is general awareness. The other
is particular, deliberate consciousness. Every human being in the world is
aware, in general terms, of seeing energy as it flows in the universe. However,
only sorcerers are particularly and deliberately conscious of it. To become
conscious of something that you are generally aware of requires energy, and
the iron-hand discipline needed to get it. Your inner silence, the product of
discipline and energy, bridged the gap between general awareness and
particular consciousness."
Don Juan stressed, in every way he was able, the value of a pragmatic attitude
in order to buttress the advent of inner silence. He defined a pragmatic attitude
as the capacity to absorb any contingency that might appear along the way. He
himself was, to me, the living example of such an attitude. There wasn't any
uncertainty or liability that his mere presence would not dispel.
He reiterated every time he could that the effects of inner silence were very
unsettling, and that the only deterrent to this condition was the pragmatic
attitude which was the product of a superbly pliable, agile, strong body. He said
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that for sorcerers, the physical body was the only entity that made any sense to
them, and that there was no such thing as a dualism between body and mind.
He further stated that the physical body involved both the body and the mind as
we knew them, and that in order to counterbalance the physical body as a
holistic unit, sorcerers considered another configuration of energy which was
reached through inner silence: the energy body. He explained that what I had
experience: at the moment in which I had stopped the world was the resurgence
of my energy body, and that this configuration of energy was the one which had
always been able to see energy as it flowed in the universe.
1 - Drawing Two Half-Circles with Each Foot:
The total weight of the body is on the right leg. The left foot is placed half a step
in front of it, and it slides on the floor, drawing a half circle to the left; the ball of
the foot comes to rest almost touching the right heel. From there, it draws
another half circle to the back. These circles are drawn with the ball of the left
foot. The heel is kept off the ground, in order to make the movement smooth
and uniform. The movement is reversed and two more half-circles are drawn in
this fashion, starting from the back and going to the front.
The same movements are executed with the right foot after the whole weight of
the body is transferred to the left leg. The knee of the leg that supports the
weight is bent for strength and stability.
2 - Drawing a Half-Moon with Each Foot:
The weight of the body is placed on the right leg. The left foot goes half a step in
front of the right one, drawing a wide semicircle on the ground around the body
from the front, to the left, to the back of the body. This semicircle is drawn with
the ball of the foot. Another semicircle is drawn from the back to the front, in the
same fashion. The same movements are executed with the right leg, after
transferring the weight to the left leg.
3 - Scarecrow In the Wind with the Arms Down:
The arms are kept extended laterally at the level 6f the shoulders with the
elbows bent and the forearms dangling downward at a strict 90-degree angle.
The forearms swing freely from side to side, as if moved by the wind alone. The
forearms and the wrists are kept straight and vertical. The knees are locked, but
in a gentle way, without unnecessary force.
4 - Scarecrow in the Wind with the Arms Up:
Just as in the preceding magical pass, the arms are extended laterally at the
level of the shoulders, except the forearms are turned upward, bent at a 90-
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degree angle. The forearms and wrists are kept straight and vertical. Then they
swing freely downward to the front, and upward again. The knees are gently
locked.
5 - Pushing Energy Backward with the Full Arm:
The elbows are acutely bent, and the forearms held tight against the sides of the
body, as high as possible, holding the hands in a fist. The forearms are fully
extended downward and backward as high as possible. The knees are locked,
and the trunk bends slightly forward as the air is exhaled. As an inhalation is
made, the arms are then brought forward to the original position by bending the
elbows.
Then the breathing is reversed as this movement is repeated; instead of
exhaling as the arms are pulled backwards, an inhalation is taken. An exhalation
follows as the elbows are bent, and the forearms are brought upward against
the axilla.
6 - Pivoting the Forearm:
The arms are held in front of the body with the elbows bent and the forearms
vertical. Each hand is bent at the wrist, resembling the head of a bird, which is
at eye level, with the fingers pointing toward the face. Keeping the elbows
vertical and straight, the wrists are flipped back and forth, pivoting on the
forearms, making the fingers of the hands move from pointing at the face to
pointing onward. The knees are kept bent for stability and strength.
7 - Moving Energy in a Ripple:
The knees are kept straight, and the trunk stoops over. Both arms are kept
dangling at the sides. The left arm moves forward with three ripples of the hand,
as if the hand were following the contour of a surface with three half-circles on it.
Then the hand cuts across the front of the body in a straight line from left to right
and then from right to left, and moves backward at the side of the body with
three more ripples, drawing in this fashion the thick shape of an inverted capital
letter L-at least six inches thick. The same movements are repeated with the
right arm.
8 - The T Energy of the Hands:
The two forearms are held at right angles in front of the solar plexus, making the
shape of a letter T. The left hand is the horizontal bar of the letter T with the
palm turned upward. The right hand is the vertical bar of the letter T with the
palm turned downward. Next, the hands turn back and forth at the same time
with considerable force. The palm of the left hand is turned to face downward,
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and the palm of the right hand is turned to face upward, both hands maintaining
the same letter T shape.
This same movement is executed again, placing the right hand as the horizontal
bar of the letter and the left hand as the vertical one.
9 - Pressing Energy with the Thumbs:
The forearms, bent at the elbows, are held in front of the body in perfectly
horizontal position, maintaining the width of the body. The fingers are curled in a
loose fist, and the thumbs are held straight, cradled on the curled index fingers.
An intermittent pressure is exerted between the thumb against the index finger
and the curled fingers against the palm of the hand. They contract and relax,
spreading the impulse to the arms. The knees are kept bent for stability.
10 - Drawing an Acute Angle with the Arms Between the Legs:
The knees are gently locked, with the hamstrings held tight. The trunk is bent
forward, with the head almost at the level of the knees. The arms dangle in front
and, moving repeatedly forward and backward, they draw an cute angle, with its
vertex between the legs.
11 - Drawing an Acute Angle with the Arms in Front of the Face:
The knees are locked, with the hamstrings as tight as possible. The trunk is bent
forward, with the head almost at the level of the knees. The arms dangle in front
of the body and, moving repeatedly from the back to the front, they draw an
acute angle, with its vertex in front of the face.
12 - Drawing a Circle of Energy Between the Legs and In Front of the Body:
The knees are kept gently locked, with the hamstrings held tight. The trunk is
bent forward, with the head almost at the level of the knees. The arms dangle in
front of the body. The two arms cross at the wrists, the left forearm on top of the
right one. The crossed arms swing back between the legs. From there, each
one makes an outward circle in front of the face, ending with the left wrist on top
of the right one. From there, they draw two inward circles that end between the
legs, with the wrists crossed once more in the initial position. Then the right wrist
is made to rest on top of the left one, and the same movements are repeated.
13 - Three Fingers on the Floor:
The arms are brought slowly over the head as a deep inhalation is taken. A slow
exhalation begins while the arms are brought all the way down to the floor,
keeping the knees locked and the ham-strings as tight as possible. The index
and middle fingers of each hand touch the floor a foot in front of the body, and
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then the thumb is also brought to rest on the floor. A deep inhalation is taken,
holding that position. The body straightens, and the arms are raised above the
head. The air is exhaled as the arms come down to the level of the waist.
14 - The Knuckles on the Toes:
The arms are raised above the head as a deep inhalation is taken. As the air is
exhaled, the arms are brought all the way down to the floor, keeping the knees
locked and the hamstrings as tight as possible. The knuckles are brought to rest
on top of the toes as the exhalation ends. A deep inhalation is taken while
holding that position. The body straightens, and the arms are raised above the
head. The exhalation begins when the arms are brought down to the level of
waist.
15 - Drawing Energy from the Floor with the Breath:
A deep inhalation is taken as the arms are raised above the head; the knees are
kept bent. The exhalation begins as the trunk turns to the left, and bends down
as far as possible. The hands, with the palms down, come to rest around the left
foot, with the right hand in front of the foot and the left hand behind it; they move
back and forth five times as the exhalation ends. A deep inhalation is taken
then, and the body straightens as the arms move over the head. The trunk turns
to the right, and the exhalation begins as the trunk bends down as far as
possible. The exhalation ends after the hands move back and forth five times by
the right foot. Another deep breath is taken, and the body straightens up as the
arms move above the head and the trunk pivots to face the front; then the arms
come down as the air is exhaled.
Carlos Castaneda is author of The Art of Dreaming and other books.
From the book Magical Passes by Carlos Castaneda, published by Harper
Collins Publishers Inc. Copyright 1998 by Carlos Castaneda.
Copyright January 1998 The Yoga Journal
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AP Wire Stories - Jun 1998
From the AP News Service,
Friday June 19th, 1998 08:23:10 PDT
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Carlos Castaneda, a godfather of the New Age
movement whose best-selling books claimed to relate the ancient mystical
secrets of a shaman named Don Juan, has died. He was believed to be 72.
Castaneda died of liver cancer April 27 at his home in Westwood, said
entertainment lawyer Deborah Drooz, a friend and executor of his estate.
"He didn't like attention," Drooz said in Friday editions of the Los Angeles
Times. "He always made sure people did not take his picture or record his
voice. He didn't like the spotlight. Knowing that, I didn't take it upon myself to
issue a press release."
For more than 30 years, Castaneda claimed to have been the apprentice of a
Yaqui Indian sorcerer named Don Juan Matus. He had millions of followers
around the world, and his 10 books continue to sell in 17 languages.
Castaneda, who held a 1973 Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of
California, Los Angeles, said he met Don Juan in Arizona in the early 1960s
while researching medicinal plants, and followed when the shaman moved to
Sonora, Mexico.
His first book, "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge," was a
best seller when it appeared in 1968, as were several sequels that purported to
track Castaneda's 12-year apprenticeship.
In the works, Castaneda described supernatural, peyote-fueled journeys with a
sorcerer who could bend time and space. The books were critically praised --
respected author Joyce Carol Oates called them "remarkable works of art."
Castaneda argued that reality is simply a shared way of looking at the universe
that can be transcended through discipline, ritual and concentration. The
sorcerer, he said, can see and use the energy that comprises everything but the
path to that knowledge is hard and dangerous.
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Don Juan said "that in order to navigate into the unknown like a shaman does,
one needs unlimited pragmatism, boundless sobriety and guts of steel,"
Castaneda said in a 1997 interview.
While his books sold millions of copies worldwide, critics doubted that Don Juan
existed.
Castaneda always maintained that all his experiences were real.
"This is not a work of fiction," Castaneda said in the prologue to his 1981 book,
"The Eagle's Gift." "What I am describing is alien to us; therefore, it seems
unreal."
Castaneda himself rarely made appearances and never allowed himself to be
photographed or tape-recorded.
"A recording is a way of fixing you in time," he said. "The only thing a sorcerer
will not do is be stagnant."
While Castaneda contended that Don Juan did not die but rather "burned from
within," he had no doubt about his own mortality.
"Since I'm a moron, I'm sure I'll die," he told the Times. "I wish I would have the
integrity to leave the way he did, but there is no assurance."
Castaneda was obscure even on such matters as his birth. Immigration records
indicated he was born Dec. 25, 1925 in Cajamarca, Peru, while a volume of
"Contemporary Authors" placed it on Dec. 25, 1931 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
No funeral service was held and his cremated remains were taken to Mexico.
* * * * * * * * * *
WASHINGTON, June 19 (Reuters) - Carlos Castaneda, the best-selling author
whose tales of drug-induced mental adventures with a Yaqui Indian shaman
once fascinated the world, apparently died two months ago, the Los Angeles
Times said on Friday.
Castaneda, believed to be 72, died April 27 at his home in Westwood,
California, according to entertainment lawyer Deborah Drooz, the Times said.
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The cause of death was liver cancer. Castanada wrote 10 books. He once
appeared on a Time Magazine cover as a leader of America's spiritual
renaissance, but he died without public notice.
He immigrated to the United States in 1951. He was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil,
or Cajamarca, Peru, depending on which version of his autobiographical
accounts can be believed. His ex-wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda, wrote in a
1997 memoir: "Much of the Castaneda mystique is based on the fact that even
his closest friends aren't sure who he is."
"He didn't like attention," Drooz told the Times. "He always made sure people
did not take his picture or record his voice. He didn't like the spotlight. Knowing
that, I didn't take it upon myself to issue a press release."
No funeral was held and no public service of any kind took place. The body was
cremated and his ashes were taken to Mexico, Drooz said.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mer 16 Dic 2009 - 8:05

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/25.html
The L.A. Times - Jun 1998
Cover Story From the Los Angeles Times, June 19th, 1998
by Celeste Fremon
A Hushed Death for Mystic Author Carlos Castaneda Culture: Best-selling
chronicler of shaman Don Juan 'left this world' two months ago in Westwood,
agent says. By J.R. MOEHRINGER, Times Staff Writer
Carlos Castaneda, the self-proclaimed "sorcerer" and best-selling author whose
tales of drug-induced mental adventures with a Yaqui Indian shaman named
Don Juan once fascinated the world, apparently died two months ago in the
same way that he lived: quietly, secretly, mysteriously. He was believed to be
72.
Castaneda died April 27 at his home in Westwood, according to entertainment
lawyer Deborah Drooz, a friend of Castaneda and the executor of his estate.
The cause of death was liver cancer. Though he had millions of followers
around the world, and though his 10 books continue to sell in 17 different
languages, and though he once appeared on the cover of Time magazine as a
leader of America's spiritual renaissance, he died without public notice, without
the briefest mention in a newspaper or on TV. As befitting his mystical image,
he seemingly vanished into thin air.
"He didn't like attention," Drooz said. "He always made sure people did not take
his picture or record his voice. He didn't like the spotlight. Knowing that, I didn't
take it upon myself to issue a press release."
No funeral was held; no public service of any kind took place. The author was
cremated at once and his ashes were spirited away to Mexico, according to the
Culver City mortuary that handled his remains.
He leaves behind a will, due to be probated in Los Angeles next month, and a
death certificate fraught with dubious information. The few people who may
benefit from his rich copyrights were told of the death, Drooz said, but none
chose to alert the media. The doctor who attended him in his final days,
Angelica Duenas, would not discuss her secretive patient.
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Even those who counted Castaneda a good friend were unaware of his death
and wouldn't comment when told, choosing to honor his disdain for publicity, no
matter what realm of reality he now inhabits.
"I've made it a lifetime practice never to discuss Carlos Castaneda with anyone
in the newspaper business," said author Michael Korda, who was once
Castaneda's editor at Simon & Schuster Inc.
Castaneda's literary agent in Los Angeles, Tracy Kramer, would not return
phone calls about the Thomas Pynchon-esque author's death but issued this
statement: "In the tradition of the shamans of his lineage, Carlos Castaneda left
this world in full awareness." Carlos Ce'sar Arana Castaneda immigrated to the
U.S. in 1951. He was born Christmas Day 1925 in Sao Paolo, Brazil, or
Cajamarca, Peru, depending on which version of his autobiographical accounts
can be believed. He was an inveterate and unrepentant liar about the statistical
details of his life, from his birthplace to his birth date, and even his given name
remains in some doubt.
"Much of the Castaneda mystique is based on the fact that even his closest
friends aren't sure who he is," wrote his ex-wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda,
in a 1997 memoir that Castaneda tried to keep from being published.
Whoever he was, whatever his background, Castaneda galvanized the world 30
years ago. As an anthropology graduate student at UCLA, he wrote his master's
thesis about a remarkable journey he made to the Arizona-Mexico desert.
Hoping to study the effects of certain medicinal plants, Castaneda said he
stopped in an Arizona border town and there, in a Greyhound bus depot, met an
old Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico, named Juan Matus, a brujo, or sorcerer,
or shaman, who used powerful hallucinogens to initiate the student into an
occult world with origins dating back more than 2,000 years.
Under Don Juan's strenuous tutelage, which lasted several years, Castaneda
experimented with peyote, jimson weed and dried mushrooms, undergoing
moments of supreme ecstasy and stark panic, all in an effort to achieve varying
"states of nonordinary reality." Wandering through the desert, with Don Juan as
his psychological and pharmacological guide, Castaneda said he saw giant
insects, learned to fly, grew a beak, became a crow and ultimately reached a
plateau of higher consciousness, a hard-won wisdom that made him a "man of
knowledge" like Don Juan. The thesis, published in 1968 by the University of
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California Press, became an international bestseller, striking just the right note
at the peak of the psychedelic 1960s. A strange alchemy of anthropology,
allegory, parapsychology, ethnography, Buddhism and perhaps great fiction,
"The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge" made Don Juan a
household name and Castaneda a cultural icon.
Many still consider him the godfather of America's New Age movement. In one
of the few profiles with which Castaneda cooperated, Time magazine wrote: "To
tens of thousands of readers, young and old, the first meeting of Castaneda with
Juan Matus . . . is a better-known literary event than the encounter of Dante and
Beatrice beside the Arno."
After his stunning debut, Castaneda followed with a string of bestsellers,
including "A Separate Reality" and "Journey to Ixtlan." Soon, readers were
flocking to Mexico, hoping to become apprentices at Don Juan's feet.
But the old Indian could not be found, which set off widespread speculation that
Castaneda was the author of an elaborate, if ingenious, hoax.
"Is it possible that these books are nonfiction?" author Joyce Carol Oates asked
in 1972. "I realize that everyone accepts them as anthropological studies, but
they seem to me remarkable works of art, on the Hesse-like theme of a young
man's initiation into 'another way' of reality. They are beautifully constructed.
The dialogue is faultless. The character of Don Juan is unforgettable. There is a
novelistic momentum."
Such concerns have all but discredited Castaneda in academia. "At the
moment, [his books] have no presence in anthropology," said Clifford Geertz, an
influential anthropologist.
But Castaneda's penchant for lying and the disputed existence of Don Juan
never dampened the enthusiasm of his admirers. "It isn't necessary to believe to
get swept up in Castaneda's otherworldly narrative," wrote Joshua Gilder in the
Saturday Review. "Like myth, it works a strange and beautiful magic beyond the
realm of belief. ... Sometimes, admittedly, one gets the impression of a con artist
simply glorifying in the game. Even so, it is a con touched by genius."
Drooz agreed, saying it was an honor to represent a man with Castaneda's high
moral purpose and impish charm. "I'm a very cynical, skeptical, atheistic lawyer,
and I was deeply, deeply touched by Castaneda," she said.
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To the end, Castaneda stubbornly insisted that the events he described in his
books were not only real but meticulously documented.
"I invented nothing," he told 400 people attending a 1995 seminar that he
conducted in Anaheim. "I'm not insane, you know. Well, maybe a little insane."
Even his death certificate, apparently, is not free of misinformation. His
occupation is listed as teacher, his employer the Beverly Hills School District.
But school district records don't show Castaneda teaching there.
Also, though he was said to have no family, the death certificate lists a niece,
Talia Bey, who is president of Cleargreen Inc., a company that organizes
Castaneda seminars on "Tensegrity," a modern version of ancient shaman
practices, part yoga, part ergonomic exercises. Bey was unavailable for
comment. Further, the death certificate lists Castaneda as "Nev. Married,"
though he was married from 1960 to 1973 to Margaret Runyan Castaneda, of
Charleston, W.Va., who said Castaneda once lied in court, swearing he was the
father of her infant son by another man, then helped her raise the boy.
The son, now 36 and living in suburban Atlanta, also claims to have a birth
certificate listing Castaneda as his father. "I haven't been notified" of
Castaneda's death, said Margaret Runyan Castaneda, 76, audibly upset. "I had
no idea." When he wasn't writing about how to better experience this life,
Castaneda was preoccupied by death. In 1995, he told the Anaheim seminar:
"We are all going to face infinity, whether we like it or not. Why do we do it when
we are weakest, when we are broken, at the moment of dying? Why not when
we are strong? Why not now?" But when interviewed by Time in 1973, he was
more succinct about the end, directing the reporter to a favorite piece of graffiti
in Los Angeles that summed up his view:
"Death is the greatest kick of all. That's why they save it for last."
Times researcher Edith Stanley and staff writers Patrick Kerkstra and Scott
Glover contributed to this story.
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NY Times - Jun 1998
New York Times, June 19th, 1998
Carlos Castaneda, Mystical Writer, Dies at 72
By Peter Applebome
Carlos Castaneda, whose best-selling explorations of mystical and
pharmacological frontiers helped to define the psychological landscape of the
1960s, died two months ago just as privately and secretly as he had lived,
associates revealed this week. Befitting a man who made an aesthetic out of
mystery, even his age is uncertain, but he was believed to be 72.
He died of liver cancer on April 27 at his home in Los Angeles, said Deborah
Drooz, an entertainment lawyer, friend of Castaneda and executor of his estate.
She said he had suffered from the illness for at least 10 months. After his death,
his body was cremated and the remains were sent to Mexico, she added.
In books like "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge,"
Castaneda spun extraordinarily rich, hallucinogenic evocations of ancient paths
to knowledge based on what he described as an extended apprenticeship with a
Yaqui Indian shaman named Don Juan Matus.
His 10 books, etched in layer upon layer of psychological nuance and intrigue,
became international best sellers translated into 17 languages and were
credited with helping to usher in the New Age sensibility and reviving interest in
Indian and Southwestern cultures.
Over the years, scholars and critics have debated whether Don Juan existed
and whether the books were anthropology or fantasy, fact or fiction, distinctions
which no doubt amused Castaneda.
Rather than respond, he lived in almost total anonymity, refusing to make public
appearances, or to be photographed or tape-recorded. He continued to write up
to his death and wanted his death to remain as private as his life, Ms. Drooz
said.
The Los Angeles Times reported his death on Thursday after it was revealed by
an Atlanta man who said he was Castaneda's son. He said he heard about the
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death when he learned of probate proceedings.
"Carlos Castaneda was a very impeccable man," Ms. Drooz said. "Everything
he wanted done he made clear to the very end, and to the very end he never
remotely suggested he wanted an epitaph or a eulogy or a press release about
this death. He spend his life eschewing media coverage and those around him
respected that and allowed him to pass peacefully without attention. It was no
secret. It just didn't seem appropriate to make a fuss."
But C.J. Castaneda, 36, who owns a coffee shop in suburban Atlanta, and his
mother, Castaneda's former wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda, both say they
are skeptical of that account and question why Castaneda's death certificate
said he was never married and why news of his death was kept from them.
Mrs. Castaneda, who said they were married from 1960 to 1973, said
Castaneda was not her son's biological father but he had the boy's birth
certificate changed legally to say that he was the boy's father. Ms. Drooz said
Carlos Castaneda was estranged from C.J. Castaneda, and the younger man
was not his son.
The death certificate lists a niece, Talia Bey, who is president of Cleargreen
Inc., which organizes seminars based on Castaneda's teachings. A hearing on
Castaneda's estate, which benefits from enormous worldwide sales of his
books, is to be held on July 2 in Los Angeles.
If confusion follows in the wake of Castaneda's death, it would be consistent
with the story of his life.
Castaneda had said that he was born on Dec. 25, 1931, in Sao Paulo, Brazil,
and that Castaneda was an adopted surname. Immigration records indicate that
he was born on Dec. 25, 1925, in Cajamarca, Peru, and Castaneda was his
given name.
He came to the United States in 1951 and was an obscure graduate student in
anthropology when he sent off a manuscript in 1967 to the University of
California Press in Los Angeles. The book was released as "The Teachings of
Don Juan" in 1968.
After its paperback rights were resold, it became an international best seller. In
the book, in encounters at once fanciful and intellectually and psychologically
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challenging, Don Juan instructs his disciple about becoming a "man of
knowledge" in ways that "clash disconcertingly with our prevailing scientific
conception of reality," as Theodore Roszak put it in a review in The Nation.
As the book begins, Don Juan instructs his pupil through the use of
hallucinogenic drugs but as the book goes on, drugs are less a part of the
learning process.
His second book, "A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan,"
continues the education process, this time focusing on the nature of sorcery.
The third volume of the Don Juan books, "Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don
Juan," is the most personal of the three, focusing on what Castaneda has
learned. A review in Book World called it "one of the most important statements
of our time."
The books made Castaneda an international celebrity, featured on the cover of
Time. But many of his later books received cooler reviews. In The New York
Times Book Review, Margot Adler described "The Power of Silence: Further
Lessons of Don Juan" as "an unnecessarily cloudy pathway to the world of
dreams and altered states."
And his career was clouded almost from the beginning by the controversy over
whether Don Juan even existed or whether Castaneda was, as one critic put it,
"one of the great intellectual hoaxers" of all time.
Castaneda insisted that Don Juan was real. But others have said that, real or
not, the books stand on their own both as windows onto the spiritual currents of
the '60s and as part of a long tradition of vivid intellectual and spiritual quests.
"The most important question we can ask is not, 'Can Juan Matus be located in
1977 in Sonora, Mexico?' wrote Sam Keen in Psychology Today. "It is rather:
"What does Don Juan tell us about ourselves, about the millions in this country
and abroad, who have read his words in 11 languages?' As an archetypical
hero, Don Juan may reveal to us something about the contours of the collective
unconscious and the longings of our time."
Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company
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Arizona Republic - Jun 1998
Saturday, June 20, 1998, Copyright The Arizona Republic
Carlos Castaneda a mystery in life, death.
By Thomas Ropp
The Arizona Republic
Carlos Castaneda died April 27. Or did he?
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the bestselling author and self
proclaimed "sorcerer" -- died at his home in Los Angeles of liver cancer, that he
was cremated immediately and that his ashes were spirited away to Mexico,
according to the Culver City, California, mortuary that handled his remains. But
a spokesman in the office of Castaneda's Los Angeles literary agent, Tracy
Kramer, said it is Kramer's opinion and the opinion of others who worked closely
with Castaneda that the author evanesced disappeared like mist from this world
in much the same way Castaneda believed his teacher Don Juan and his group
did in 1973.
"He had to officially die in order for his will to be executed," the spokesman said.
"We expect a statement on Dr. Castaneda's Cleargreen Web page stating that
Carlos Castaneda left this world in the tradition of the Mexican sorcerers of
antiquity in his lineage." The Web address is http://www.castaneda.org.
Cleargreen is a Los Angeles company set up by Castaneda to market and
handle publicity for his books, seminars and workshops.
If Castaneda didn't vanish into thin air, he may as well have. It's doubtful there's
ever been a cult personage shrouded in more mystery.
He did not allow himself to be photographed, have his voice recorded or grant
many interviews.
No one knows when he was born, where, or even his real name.
One of his autobiographical accounts reports that Carlos Ce’sar Arana
Castaneda immigrated to the United States in 1951. He reportedly was born
Christmas Day 1925, in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
"Much of the Castaneda mystique is based on the fact that even his closest
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friends aren't sure who he is," wrote his ex-wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda,
in a 1997 memoir that Castaneda tried to keep from being published.
Castaneda denied being married. Whoever he was or in whatever manner he
"moved on," there's no denying Castaneda's legacy.
His 10 bestselling books on the teachings of Yaqui shaman Don Juan's worlds
of non-ordinary reality galvanized a generation in the late 1960s and early
1970s. Many viewed him as America's godfather of the New Age movement.
His books were subsequently translated into 17 languages, adding millions
more to his fan base. While his popularity has waned in this country, his works
are just now being discovered and revered in places such as Germany and Italy.
Castaneda's adventures began in 1960, when he met Don Juan Matus in
Nogales, Arizona. He was an anthropology student at UCLA, collecting
information for a doctorate on the use of hallucinogenic peyote cactus by
indigenous peoples. He was told by a mutual friend that Matus was an expert on
peyote. Castaneda thought he was studying the elderly Yaqui Indian, but Juan
Matus was studying him. Castaneda became his apprentice. Encouraged by
Don Juan, Castaneda wrote about his indoctrination and participation in the
world of seers, witches and beings from "unfathomable" worlds. Castaneda's
thesis, published in 1968 by the University of California Press, became an
international bestseller, "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of
Knowledge."
He continued publishing over the next 30 years. "The Wheel of Time: The
Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts about Life, Death and the
Universe" is scheduled to be released in two weeks.
A spokeswoman for Castaneda's Cleargreen Corp. said that his works will
continue to be published and that there are "things written down that have not
yet come out." She regards Castaneda's company as the carrier of his legacy...
"We believe that if people want to reach infinity, the tools are available," the
spokeswoman said.
I met Carlos Castaneda last summer in a Cuban restaurant near West
Hollywood. The interview came about because of a workshop sponsored by
Castaneda that was coming to Phoenix. He did not notice me when I first
walked in. He was looking down at his table, elbows propped, head between his
palms like a sleepy kid in study hall. He did not look well then. He was very thin.
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But when he looked up, my eyes met the eyes of the most famous sorcerer in
the world. These were sober eyes, steady eyes that reeled in my awareness
and held it with unbending intent. As if reading my mind, he said: "There is
nothing to Carlos Castaneda. Personality is a pretense. Fame? Success? Who
gives a (expletive)? If we weren't so involved in ourselves, we wouldn't do such
barbaric things to ourselves." He then smiled mischievously, and I joined him for
a long, pleasant lunch.
As for who Carlos Castaneda really was, you'll have to decide for yourself. For
me, he was the real thing.
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Salon Magazine - Jun 1998
A Yankee way of knowledge
Carlos Castaneda,
Whoever he was, is dead - whatever that is.
BY IAN SHOALES
Last week, the Los Angeles Times ruefully alerted us to the death of Carlos
Castaneda, noting the occasion with a baffled overview of his life. He was
believed to be 72, born (perhaps) in 1925 in either Brazil or Peru, depending on
which story one accepts. On his death certificate, his occupation was listed as a
teacher in Beverly Hills, but records don't show Castaneda teaching there. A
(possibly bitter) ex-wife was quoted: "Much of the Castaneda mystique is based
on the fact that even his closest friends aren't sure who he is."
The obituary was accompanied by a very odd photograph taken at the
University of Texas in 1951. The picture, however, didn't show a kid in his mid-
20s. It looked like a Hollywood publicity photo of a character actor who
specializes in playing stout bankers. He might have played one of Lionel
Barrymore's clerks in "It's a Wonderful Life." Time's obituary of what it called, in
its mighty wisdom, an "enigmatic personality who was either an unfairly vilified
anthropologist or a wildly inventive novelist," was accompanied by a picture of a
face covered by a hand, with only intense eyes and a few strands of black hair
showing. This is the only photograph, according to Time, to which Castaneda
would consent. For a cover story!
I hadn't thought about Castaneda in years. As a matter of fact, the last time I
thought about Carlos Castaneda, after the previous years I hadn't thought about
him, was at a party in Mill Valley, Calif., in the early '80s. Midnight or so, a short,
long-haired Latino man walked through the door. He had a huge mustache and
a grin that ate half his face. On either side of him, two women, gorgeous in a
Playboy/hippie kind of way (honey-blond, vacant, faded blue jeans, halter tops,
you know), sashayed through the door. They seemed like a dream sequence
from a Cheech and Chong movie.
After a while, somebody came up to me and shouted over the music (the '80s
equivalent of whispering) that this guy was Carlos Castaneda. I went over to the
cluster of people surrounding him in the corner of the garage, out of the way of
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the dancers. He had his wallet open, beaming, showing everybody his driver's
license. The two women were moving their bodies idly to the music, looking
away, scanning the crowd. I elbowed to his side. Like a stoned pope offering his
ring, he held his license up for my view. Sure enough, it said, "Carlos
Castaneda."
And that was that. I didn't talk with him. I danced until 3 and drove home
erratically.
Was he the One True Castaneda? I doubt it. He was too young and pleased to
be recognized. On the other hand, he did have two fabulous babes following
him around, always a sure-fire fame indicator. Maybe he was a con man who'd
convinced them that he was the real Castaneda. Maybe he was the genuine
Castaneda, acting like a con man to teach us a lesson, and the two women
were spiritual guides from a separate reality. I just don't know.
After reading the obituary, feeling both nostalgic and mildly alarmed that I
couldn't remember what the deal was with Carlos Castaneda, I rushed out and
tracked down a copy of "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of
Knowledge." I found one for $2 in a used bookstore in Santa Rosa, from a
woman who seemed excited that I was buying it. I guess the news of
Castaneda's demise hadn't precipitated a rush for his output.
The book was pretty much as I'd remembered it -- an earnest seeker hooks up
with a cranky old magician and learns what fear is. That was the appeal of the
book (and series) when I was a kid, and probably remains so today.
There are all kinds of echoes in the relationship between Carlos and Don Juan --
Plato and Socrates, Boswell and Johnson, Watson and Holmes, Luke and
Yoda, Scully and Mulder. The book is very well written, in an old-fashioned
meticulous style that only contributes to the -- what? Verisimilitude, I guess. I
liked it as much as I had the first time I read it, which was quite a lot.
But I also remembered why I stopped reading the series. "Journey to Ixtlan" was
the last one I read, I think, if that's the one that ended with Carlos leaping into
the Nagual. Anyway, I didn't leap with him. I lost interest, that's all. I was as fond
of amazing dope tales as the next guy, but I wasn't about to pack my troubles in
an old kit bag, hitchhike to Sonora and stalk old Apaches in the hope of finding
luminous beings, magical gestures or even the secret of life. My parents would
have killed me.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda Carlos Interviews   Mer 16 Dic 2009 - 8:06

http://www.volny.cz/castaneda/en/interviews/28.html
I'm a Tonal, not a Nagual, kind of guy, in other words. I had a life, such as it
was.
What Castaneda's life was, though, remains a mystery. He seems to be one of
those peculiar Americans (despite his origins), like Joseph Smith, L. Ron
Hubbard, Walt Disney or Hugh Hefner, who had a dream of combining mission
with marketing. He was more subtle than most, and therefore less successful
(though successful enough to remain in print, and on required reading lists, for
30 years). Cruising the Internet, however, I've noted that he has bickering
female "disciples," roaming the land, promoting his (Don Juan's?) concept of
"tensegrity" through workshops and seminars. Tensegrity is a tool that allows us
to cross the bridges of space, time and awareness. Nothing wrong with that, but
where's the theme park? The church? The drugs?
Ah well, if it isn't dead, Castanedaniasm is young. As are we all. Forever young,
forever stupid.
As the ever-wise Don Juan put it in "The Teachings," re. the abuse of magical
power:
"I killed a man with a single blow of my arm ... Once I jumped so high I chopped
the top leaves off the highest trees. But it was all for nothing! ... For what? To
frighten the Indians?"
Really. What's the point of that? That's the true lesson of the '60s, isn't it? On
the magic bus, we're all Indians. What's the point of that?
Copyright, SALON. June 24, 1998
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Austin Chronicle - Jul 1998
Homage to a Sorcerer
by Michael Ventura
A sorcerer died two or three months ago. Liver cancer, they said, but the details
are vague. Also vague is why it took so long for word to get out. There are
strange rumors. No matter. All this is as it should be for a sorcerer. Strangest of
all, in a way, were the obituaries of the media heavies, a blurry photo in The
New York Times, tributes that were respectful in a distant and baffled sort of
way. It's doubtful The New York Times ever before felt compelled to pay
homage to a sorcerer. But that was Carlos Castaneda's mojo. Many who
professed not to take him seriously nevertheless read him, remembered, and
were haunted. Let them wonder whether he was born in 1931, as he said, or in
1925, as some immigration records said. Let them wonder whether he was
Peruvian or Mexican. Wonder, even in such minor matters, will be good for
them.
Carlos Castaneda has died. There aren't many to bear witness to or for him,
because he didn't allow many witnesses. One met him by invitation, usually, and
even that was more fluke than not. Those invited were of all sorts. I happened to
be one, for reasons that weren't clear (to me) and probably aren't important.
Perhaps I was called to be a witness?
About 12 years ago a friend who worked in a bookstore in Santa Monica called:
Carlos Castaneda was giving a talk in the cellar of the store (it would be in the
cellar!), by invitation only, would I like to come? Who knew it was really him, I
said? My caller, whom I had reason to trust, said, "It's Carlos, alright."
He was a small man. Impossible to tell his age. Didn't look much over 40, but
his eyes were older, smiling eyes but deepened by a vague sense of grief. He
laughed readily, didn't insist that we take him seriously, stood before us in an
attitude of welcome. He wanted us to ask him questions. He said there was
something he'd forgotten, and that sometimes he came out of his seclusion and
talked to strangers hoping that a question would spark the memory of this
forgotten thing. He didn't say this sadly. He was frank and matter-of-fact. That
night nobody asked the question he was seeking, but every question brought
forth a story of Don Juan, and every story had laughter in it. As in his books,
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when Castaneda spoke of Don Juan the old Yaqui wizard was near and
dangerous, inviting us to adventure. It was Castaneda's laughter, more than his
skills as a storyteller, that convinced me of his sincerity and authenticity. He
talked for free, had nothing to gain from us, spoke without artifice. People rarely
laugh when they lie. At least, in my experience, they don't laugh sweetly. And
there was an irresistible sweetness to this man.
He described the most fantastic experiences as though they were almost jokes,
but the joke was on him. I had the impression of a desperate man, but a man
who knew how to live with desperation in ways that made it something else.
He'd transformed his desperation, as a sorcerer must, into a search. (Was I
seeing in him the man I would like to be, who, though fated to desperation,
could be desperate in a wise and engaging and gentle way? Perhaps.) He was,
at the same time, vulnerable and invulnerable: vulnerable in that he seemed a
little lost; invulnerable in that he was on his path, a path of heart. If he was lost it
was because that path had led him to unknown and unexpected territory. It
would have been easier for him to face physical danger than to face that there
was something important about Don Juan he'd forgotten. But he was facing it,
and in public. More than magic tricks and the Sorcerer's Way, Don Juan had
taught him to be brave.
When he finished speaking, and the 20 or so people in that cellar milled around,
he greeted a couple of old friends. I didn't want to intrude, didn't introduce
myself, wouldn't have known what to say anyway. So, in effect, I met him but he
didn't meet me.
Then, about three years ago, another friend called. Would I like to go to lunch
with Carlos Castaneda? Why I received this invitation I was never told. It turned
out that there were four of us and Carlos. We met at the Pacific Dining Car, one
of the best (and most expensive) steakhouses on the West Coast. (Carlos
picked up the check.) He had changed, and so had I. We had both lived a lot
further into our very different desperations, and carried them with more
assurance. He was much thinner, older - obviously ill. Whereas in the
bookstore's cellar he had dressed casually, this day he was decked out in an
elegant suit. But for all his fragility he seemed much livelier, happier, and even
funnier. The food was very fine, but really we lunched on laughter. Even his
saddest stories of Don Juan were, again, like jokes; but this time the joke wasn't
on Carlos, wasn't on us - the joke was between the wizard and God, and a
splendid joke it was.
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I won't repeat those stories. I wasn't there to record them. They were his to tell
or not. Best that anything he chose not to write should die with him.
But two moments caused not laughter but silence. A woman at the table said
she loved her job, her husband, and her child, but still she felt a lack - it was that
she had no spiritual life. How could she achieve a spiritual life?
Answering this woman, Carlos didn't change the lightness or generosity of his
manner; yet a steely thing came into his voice, a tone that made his words
pierce all of us. He said that when she got home at night she should sit in her
chair and remember that her child, her husband, everyone she loved, and she
herself, were going to die - and they would die in no particular order,
unpredictably. "Remember this every night, and you'll soon have a spiritual life."
Notice that he didn't tell her what sort of spiritual life to have, much less whether
it should agree with his. He didn't suggest she read his books more carefully, or
attend the movement classes he'd begun to teach. He gave her a practical
instruction, something she could accomplish within the parameters of her life as
it was, and then assured her that this would set her on her own spiritual path,
whatever that might turn out to be. This is the mark of a true Teacher.
Later in the conversation this woman asked how she could discipline herself to
follow his advice, deeply follow it, so that it wouldn't be just an exercise. Carlos
said: "You give yourself a command."
On the page there's no duplicating how he said it. He spoke quietly, but it was
as though he'd suddenly jammed a knife into the tabletop.
"What's that mean?" one of us asked.
"It means you give yourself a command." And that was that.
A command is not a promise. A command is not "trying." A command is
something that must be obeyed. His tone invoked something deeper than the
idea of mere will. His was a call to action. He wasn't talking about mulling or
meditating or analyzing or wishing. To step on the path you step on the path.
There is no substitute for that.
After a nine-months-pregnant pause, the conversation took flight again. He told
of a party at which a very tall and handsome Native American was saying, with
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great solemnity, that he was Carlos Castaneda, and revealing all sorts of Don
Juan's "secrets." Did Carlos disabuse him of that fantasy?
"No!" he laughed. "He looked the way people expect Carlos Castaneda to look!
Not some little round-faced brown man. And he was having such a good time!
Why ruin it? Let him be Carlos for an evening!"
About a year later the woman who'd asked those questions at our lunch sent me
a pamphlet that Carlos had printed privately. He'd requested she send it on to
me. One passage goes:
"Sorcerers understand discipline as the capacity to face with serenity odds that
are not included in our expectations. For them, discipline is a volitional act that
enables them to intake anything that comes their way without regrets or
expectations. For sorcerers, discipline is an art: the art of facing infinity without
flinching, not because they are filled with toughness, but because they are filled
with awe. ... Discipline is the art of feeling awe."
Any manifestation of the universe, any way in which it behaves toward us, isn't
merely about us, isn't merely psychological, but is a movement of the universe,
and as such what happens to us, no matter what it is, connects us to everything,
and in that connection what can be felt but awe? "A live world," he wrote, "is in
constant flux. It moves; it changes; it reverses itself." We try to defend ourselves
against that, but we cannot. The only freeing response is awe.
When I saw him years ago in that cellar, an unhappier man than the dying man
at lunch, I wrote: His presence was an admission that every truth is fragile, that
every knowledge must be learned over and over again, every night, that we
grow not in a straight line but in ascending and descending and tilting circles,
and that what gives us power one year robs us of power the next, for nothing is
settled, ever, for anyone.
Now I would add: What makes this bearable is awe.
Go well, Don Carlos.
Copyright Austin Chronicle, July 1998
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Electronic Telegraph - Aug 1998
Life & Times Electronic Telegraph - Saturday 1, August 1998
Issue 1163
Shaman or sham?
Carlos Castaneda's spiritual guidebooks made him a cult figure of the
psychedelic age but both his life and his recent death have been shrouded in
mystery. Mick Brown reports
In February of this year I received a curious and completely unexpected
invitation... Would I like to interview Carlos Castaneda? To the uninitiated, the
invitation will mean nothing. But those who came of age in the Sixties counter-
culture will recognise that it was like being invited to peruse the Cretan
Minotaur.
Carlos Castaneda stands alongside Timothy Leary as one of the great avatars -
and one of the great enigmas - of the psychedelic age. In 1968, Castaneda
published The Teachings of Don Juan, describing his apprenticeship in the
deserts of Mexico to an Indian shaman, and his induction through mind-altering
substances into 'the Yaqui way of knowledge'.
Like Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf and Aldous Huxley's The Doors of
Perception, The Teachings of Don Juan, and its sequels, became essential
reading for a legion of seekers after truth - guidebooks into a fantastic and
exotic world beyond the dull grind of materialism. And long after the first
generation of fans had moved on to more pragmatic concerns - mortgages,
families, tax returns - the books continued to sell. Since 1968, the works of
Carlos Castaneda have sold more than eight million copies in 17 different
languages, totally unhindered by the fierce debate about whether don Juan
really existed or was simply a figure of Castaneda's imagination. No less a
mystery was Castaneda himself. 'The art of the hunter,' don Juan had taught, 'is
to become inaccessible,' and it was a maxim which Castaneda had observed
with an almost religious dedication for 30 years, forsaking public appearances,
refusing almost all interviews, leading the life of a recluse.
But now, I was told, there had been a mysterious and dramatic change of heart.
After years of inaccessibility, Castaneda had emerged into the public eye,
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bringing with him for the first time what he claimed was the most important facet
of don Juan's teachings - a system of physical movements known as 'magical
passes'. He was prepared to lift the shroud of secrecy and talk to the world.
A date was provisionally set for me to meet him in Los Angeles. I was told that
he would countenance no photographs, no tape-recording equipment. I would
be allowed only to take notes, as he had taken notes during his years of
tutelage at the feet of don Juan. 'A recording,' Castaneda had told the Los
Angeles Times in 1995 in a rare conversation, 'is a way of fixing you in time.
The only thing a sorcerer will not do is be stagnant. The stagnant world, the
stagnant picture, those are the antitheses of the sorcerer.'
Then the date was changed. And changed again. Castaneda, I was told, was
'on retreat' in the Mexican desert. When - if - he returned, I would be notified. In
late March, I left for California on other business. But the call never came. There
was a simple reason. At the time that I was in sitting in a hotel room in Los
Angeles, Castaneda was not in Mexico at all. He was three miles away from me
in his Westwood home, dying of liver cancer.
Carlos Castaneda died, at the age of 72, on April 27. But, peculiarly, it was to be
another two months before the news of his death became public.
There was no announcement, no press report, no funeral or service of any kind.
According to the Culver City mortuary that handled his remains, his body was
cremated at once, his ashes spirited away to the Mexican desert.
In death, as in life, Castaneda remained inscrutable. When, eventually, the
news of his death leaked out to the press, two British newspapers ran
obituaries, alongside photographs of a man who was not Carlos Castaneda. His
friends drew a veil of silence over the death, refusing to comment. In a
statement to the press, his agents, Toltec Artists, would say only that, 'In the
tradition of the shamans of his lineage, Carlos Castaneda left this world in full
awareness.'
Castaneda, this suggested, was a spiritual teacher of the highest order, who
had left behind a body of work to enrich mankind. In reality, he left behind a
more tangled legacy. Rather than dying 'the immaculate death' of the sorcerer, it
is suggested that the sorcerer's apprentice actually died a frail, paranoid and
angry old man, lashing out at the world with lawsuits - including one against his
73-year-old former wife, Margaret - and conjuring up the spirit of don Juan in a
last, desperate attempt to exploit it for all it was worth.
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A key aspect of the teachings of don Juan, as recounted by Carlos Castaneda,
was the necessity of the 'self' to die. 'It is imperative to leave aside what [don
Juan] called "personal history",' Castaneda told the Chilean magazine Uno
Mismo in 1997. 'To get away from "me" is something extremely annoying and
difficult. What the shamans like don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the
personal "me" does not count.' For Castaneda, 'the personal me' was a subject
of constant fluctuation and revision.
By his own account, Castaneda was born on December 25, 1935, in Sao Paolo,
Brazil. His mother died when he was seven and he was raised by his father, a
professor of literature whom Castaneda supposedly regarded with a mixture of
fondness and contempt - a shadow of the man he would subsequently meet in
don Juan. 'I am my father,' Castaneda told Time magazine in his first - and last -
major interview, in 1973. 'Before I met don Juan I would spend years
sharpening my pencils and then getting a headache every time I sat down to
write. Don Juan taught me that's stupid. If you want to do something, do it
impeccably, and that's all that matters.' He claimed to have been educated in
Buenos Aires, and sent to America in 1951. He travelled to Milan, where he
studied sculpture, before returning to America and enrolling at UCLA to study
anthropology.
In fact, American immigration records indicate that Castaneda was born not in
1935, but in 1925 - not in Brazil, but in Cajamarca, Peru. His father was not a
university professor but a goldsmith. His mother died when he was 24. And
while it was true that he had studied painting and sculpture, this was not in Milan
but at the National Fine Art school of Peru. Arriving in America in 1951, he
studied creative writing at Los Angeles City College before enrolling on an
anthropology course at UCLA in 1959.
The following year, he travelled to the Mexico-Arizona desert, intending to study
the medicinal use of certain plants among local Indians. At a bus station in the
town of Nogales in Arizona, he would later write, he met the man he called don
Juan. For the psychedelic generation it was the equivalent of Stanley stumbling
into a jungle clearing and discovering Livingstone, the young John Lennon
bumping into Paul McCartney at a church fete in Woolton.
According to Castaneda, don Juan Matus was a Yaqui Indian nagual, or leader
of a party of sorcerers - the last in a line stretching back to the times of the
Toltecs, the pre-Hispanic Indians who inhabited the central and northern regions
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of Mexico a thousand years ago. Under the guidance of the Yaqui sage,
Castaneda was introduced to the psychotropic substances of peyote, jimson
weed and 'the little smoke', a preparation made from Psilocybe mushrooms that
had been dried and aged for a year. Under the influence of these drugs the
bemused anthropologist underwent a series of bizarre encounters, with columns
of singing light, a bilingual coyote and a 100-foot tall gnat - 'the guardian of the
other world' - manifestations of the 'powers', or impersonal forces, that a man of
knowledge must learn to use.
The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge was first published in
1968 as an anthropological thesis by the University of California Press. A year
later - repackaged in a psychedelic bookjacket - it was published by a
mainstream company. It became an immediate counter-culture hit, prompting an
exodus of would-be apprentice sorcerers to the deserts of Mexico in search of
don Juan - or at least good drugs.
A Separate Reality, published in 1971, was more of the same - a giant gnat
circles around Castaneda, and he sees don Juan's face transformed into a ball
of glowing light - as the old Indian inducted Castaneda into the so-called second
cycle of apprenticeship. These experiences were not just psychedelic magical
mystery tours. The use of drugs, Castaneda explained, was don Juan's way of
leading his pupil to 'see' the world outside the cultural and linguistic constraints
of Western rationalism, unencumbered by conditioned preconceptions or the
taint of personal history.
Drugs were not in themselves the destination, he explained in Journey to Ixtlan,
which was published in 1973; they were merely one route to the destination, to
be discarded once this fundamental shift in perception had been achieved.
Journey to Ixtlan won Castaneda his PhD from UCLA. It also made him a
millionaire.
By now, doubts about the authenticity of Castaneda's accounts had begun to
multiply. It was one thing for him to refuse to divulge the identity and
whereabouts of the Yaqui sage (don Juan, he always made clear, was a
pseudonym which he used to protect his teacher's privacy), but quite another for
him to refuse to let his field notes be examined by other anthropologists. But
whatever the doubts about the books' provenance, even the most sceptical
critics agreed that they were powerful parables about the search for personal
enlightenment, 'remarkable works of art' as the author Joyce Carol Oates
described them.
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In 1976, a teacher of psychology named Richard de Mille (the son of Cecil B.)
published the first comprehensive critique of the don Juan books, Castaneda's
Journey: The Power and the Allegory, detailing myriad inconsistencies in the
chronology of Castaneda's accounts and the character of don Juan. Don Juan,
de Mille concluded, was a work of fiction, but Castaneda 'wasn't a common con-
man, he lied to bring us the truth. . . This is a sham-man bearing gifts.' But de
Mille's book vanished without trace while Castaneda's continued to sell.
An anthropologist named Jay Courtney Fikes provided yet another twist on the
don Juan stories in his book, Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism and the
Psychedelic Sixties, published in 1993. In this, Fikes suggested that rather than
being one individual, don Juan was actually an amalgam of two or possibly
three authentic Indian shamans, including a well-respected Mazatec healer
called Maria Sabina, who had also collaborated with the anthropologist Gordon
Wasson on his study of psychedelic mushrooms in the Fifties.
'I would see Castaneda as an anthropologist-lite, as it were, or a travel writer,'
Fikes now says. 'There is a residue of authenticity there. I think he did make
trips to Mexico, and he had some interesting experiences, and he then
fictionalised them and called them non-fiction.
'I don't think he set out in 1960 to create a massive hoax. The first book took off,
it was bestseller; there were very few people who publicly expressed scepticism
at that point, so he just kept going.'
Castaneda's response to the criticisms was always the same. He was writing
about states of mind and perception outside the normal conventions of
academia, so the normal terms of reference did not apply. Sorcerers, he said,
have only one point of reference: 'infinity'. He would continue repeating the
same mantra to the very end. 'I invented nothing.'
Castaneda maintained that don Juan 'left the world' in 1973, dying 'the
immaculate death' of the warrior. His departure did nothing to stem the flow of
Castaneda books. Throughout the Seventies and Eighties, a stream of books
appeared expounding further on don Juan's teachings. Diligent readers noted
that the anthropological references seemed to grow fewer and that the books
increasingly bore the traces of other influences; the study of phenomenology;
Eastern mysticism; existentialism.
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Something weird started happening to don Juan's voice. One minute he was
intoning sonorous desert utterances, the next joshing in American slang, and
the next assuming the stilted, jargon-heavy circumlocutions of a professor of
philosophy. (In Castaneda's last book, The Active Side of Infinity, which is due
to be published next year, don Juan is quoted as saying, 'The effect of the force
that is descending on you, which is disintegrating the foreign installation, is that
it pulls sorcerers out of their syntax' - a mouthful for a professor of linguistics, let
alone a Yaqui Indian.)
Critics talked of 'the grim sound of barrels being scraped', and noted an
increasingly messianic tone in Castaneda's pronouncements. With don Juan
having 'left the world', Castaneda himself had become the heir to the lineage,
the nagual. No longer a mere disciple, he had become the prophet, and as
befits a prophet he began to gather around him a coterie of disciples. Foremost
among these were three women - Carol Tiggs, Florinda Donner-Grau and
Taisha Abelar - who, according to Castaneda, had also been students of don
Juan. Abelar and Donner-Grau, like Castaneda a former UCLA anthropology
student, even wrote their own books recounting their experiences with don
Juan.
'The four disciples of don Juan', as Castaneda styled them, lived in close, but
apparently celibate, proximity to each other. Castaneda once said that he
eschewed relationships of 'a sexual order', for shamanic reasons. More
prosaically, rumours suggested that Castaneda was incapacitated by 'a groin
injury', said to have been sustained when he was young.
For years, the group remained largely reclusive, apparently following don Juan's
dictum that the sorcerer's way was to 'touch the world sparingly'. But in 1993,
Castaneda suddenly emerged into the public eye, propagating what he claimed
to be the culmination of the sorcerer's arts - a system of bodily movements
which he called 'magical passes'. These movements, Castaneda claimed, had
been taught to initiates over 27 generations in conditions of the utmost secrecy,
and passed on by don Juan to Castaneda and his three other disciples before
his death.
Through these 'magical passes', Castaneda claimed, the Toltec sorcerers had
attained an increased level of awareness which allowed them to perform
'indescribable feats of perception' and experience 'unequalled states of physical
prowess and well-being'. The 'magical passes' even had a brand name - 'Carlos
Castaneda's Tensegrity' (an architectural term meaning a combination of
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tension and integrity) - and an organisation called Cleargreen, set up by
Castaneda to promote seminars and workshops.
Castaneda himself would appear at these seminars, alongside his three women
companions, talking about his experiences with don Juan, before introducing a
team of demonstrators, dressed in black work-out uniforms and known as 'the
chacmools', to demonstrate the movements.
Even the most credulous students of his writings were puzzled. In all of the don
Juan books there had been no mention of Tensegrity or 'magical passes'. If
these movements were so important, why had Castaneda never mentioned
them before? And why was he breaking the habit of a lifetime by appearing in
public to talk about them?
Castaneda's explanation was typically mind-boggling. It was true that don Juan
had always maintained that the 'magical passes' should be kept secret, but an
extraordinary event had dictated they should now be made public. While
following don Juan's techniques in mastering 'the art of dreaming', Carol Tiggs
had apparently 'disappeared into a dream' in a hotel room in Mexico City
sometime in the Seventies. She had vanished, Castaneda said, in order to act
as a beacon from the other side, guiding initiates through 'the dark sea of
awareness'. In 1985, however, Tiggs made a surprising reappearance in a
California bookshop where Castaneda was giving a talk. Her reappearance had
convinced Castaneda that the 'message of freedom' enshrined in the 'magical
passes' should now be passed on to the world.
More puzzling still was the fact that there is no tradition of such bodily
movements among pre-Hispanic Indians and that Castaneda's 'magical passes'
bore a suspiciously close resemblance to such Asiatic disciplines as kung fu
and t'ai chi.
In fact, it seemed that for inspiration Castaneda had travelled no further than the
Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, to the classes of a kung fu teacher and
'energy master' named Howard Lee. Lee confirms that Castaneda studied with
him between 1974 and 1989. 'I didn't even know who he was for many years,'
Lee says. Castaneda subsequently provided an endorsement for Lee's
brochure, describing him as 'a most respected and admired practitioner of the
art of dealing with energy', but he never credited Lee with being the inspiration
behind Tensegrity.
There were allegations that Castaneda paid a substantial sum of money 'and
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