"I cannot give any other assurance of my good faith, except to reassert that I do not live a dual life..."
— Carlos Castaneda, Preface to The Eagle's Gift
Carlos César Salvador Arana Castañeda
December 25, 1925 – April 27, 1998
Peruvian-American author and student of anthropology.
There is a great deal of controversy over this man and his work. Even Wikipedia's description of him is loaded with 'allegedlys' and 'supposedlys'. I have personally read the entire series 7 times and I have not found one inconsistency. I have also read a number of works challenging the man's integrety and have found that those works consistently contain misstatements and careless interpretations and generally show the same sort of bias that results from careless research that characterize those who misrepresent what the Buddha taught.
Additionally, the works also cited below, of Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner Grau both confirm the story of this man and his teachers and are in and of themselves stories of the struggle for awakening from the point of view of two remarkable women.
Castaneda's work had a profound influence on the mental culture of the United states virtually from the first publication of his work. The influence continues to this day. The collection of his works is highly recommended for students of Buddhism, not only because Carlos' teacher, Don Juan, was at least a student of Buddhism, but because his teaching methods are highly effective for students of Buddhism. Additionally Carlos was an impeccable reporter and his trials and tribulations and doubts and fears and persistence are an enormously valuable aid to the student of Buddhism that would put the system into actual practice.
The Teachings of don Juan A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
Pages : 288
Pub Date : 1968, 1973
Publisher : Univ. of California Press, Simon & Schuster
A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with don Juan
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 1984
The Power of Silence: Further Lessons of don Juan 1987
The Art of Dreaming: 1993
For the Magic of this series to come through it must be read in sequence. Feel free to debate with yourself as to whether or not this series represents the depiction of real events — in the process of doing this, however, I suggest you try and find one internal contradiction. For Buddhists this is an important series because many of the techniques Don Juan uses are the same as those of Buddhists. This should not be too much of a surprise when we learn, towards the end of the series, that Don Juan and many of his associates studied Buddhism in China.
There are two other books in this series, one giving exercises in Magical Passes and one which to my mind is most interesting because it was apparently written before the first book and is clearly the work of an ordinary man.
Two other related series also exist. Works by two of Don Juan's female apprentices. Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner Grau.
Shabono, Florinad Donner-Grau.
I believe this is the first of her books. They too should be read in order, so check. If this is the first, it is one of the most astounding books you will ever read. All three together are even moreso.
The Witches Dream: Florinda Donner-Grau, 1997, Penguin
Being-In-Dreaming, Florinda Donner-Grau, Harper
The Sorcerer's Crossing, Taisha Abelar
Navigating Into the Unknown
An Interview with Carlos Castaneda
For the magazine Uno Mismo, Chile and Argentina, February, 1997
by Daniel Trujillo Rivas.
Translated from Spanish.
Permission to reprint here requested with no response. It is being reprinted here under the provision that allows for such use in the cause of education. (Nevertheless if the original copyrght holder objects, it will be removed.)
Copyright 1997-2003 Laugan Productions.
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 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. 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 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 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 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 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.
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 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.
Interview with Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs
An interview with three other students of Don Juan Matus.
Conducted by Concha Labarta
Translated from Spanish.
First appeared in Mas Alla, April 1, 1997, Spain.
Question: You were, along with Carlos Castaneda, students of don Juan Matus and his sorcerer cohorts. However, you remained in anonymity for years, and it was not until recently that you decided to speak about your own apprenticeship with don Juan. Why this long silence? And what's the reason for this change?
Answer: First of all, we would like to clarify that each one of us met the man Carlos Castaneda calls the nagual don Juan Matus under a different name: Melchior Yaoquizque, John Michael Abelar and Mariano Aureliano. To avoid confusion, we always call him the old nagual; not old in the sense of old age but in the sense of seniority, and above all, to differentiate him from the new nagual, Carlos Castaneda.
Discussing our apprenticeship with the old nagual wasn't at all part of the task he conceived for us. That's why we remained in absolute anonymity.
The return of Carol Tiggs in 1985 marked a total change in our goals and aspirations. She was traditionally in charge of guiding us through something which, for modern man, could be translated as space and time, but which, for the shamans of ancient Mexico, meant awareness. They conceived a journey through something they called the dark sea of awareness.
Traditionally, Carol Tiggs' role was to guide us to make that crossing. When she returned, she automatically transformed the insular goal of our private journey into something more far-reaching. That's why we decided to end our anonymity and teach the magical passes of the shamans of ancient Mexico.
Q: Was the instruction you received from don Juan similar to that of Carlos Castaneda? If it wasn't, what were the differences? How would each of you describe don Juan and his male and female cohorts?
A: The instruction given to us was not at all similar to that given to Carlos Castaneda for the simple reason that we are women. We have organs that men don't have: the ovaries and the uterus, organs of tremendous importance. The old nagual's instruction for us consisted of pure action. Regarding the description of the old nagual's male and female cohorts, all we can say at this moment in our lives is that they were exceptional beings. To talk about them as people of the everyday world would be inane for us at this time.
The least we can say is that all of them, and they were sixteen including the old nagual, were in a state of exquisite vitality and youth. They were all old and yet at the same time, they weren't. When, out of curiosity and amazement, we asked the old nagual what was the reason for their exorbitant vigor, he told us that what rejuvenated them every step of the way was their link with infinity.
Q: While many modern psychological and sociological trends advocate putting an end to the distance between the masculine and the feminine, we have read in your books that there are notable differences between men and women in the way they each access knowledge. Could you elucidate on this subject? How are you, and your experiences as female sorcerers, different from those of Carlos Castaneda?
A: The difference between male and female sorcerers in the lineage of the old nagual is the simplest thing in the world. Like every other woman in the world, we have a womb. We have different organs from men: the uterus and the ovaries, which, according to sorcerers, make it easy for women to enter into exotic areas of awareness. According to sorcerers, there is a colossal force in the universe; a constant, perennial force which fluctuates but which doesn't change. They call this force awareness or the dark sea of awareness. Sorcerers assert that all living beings are attached to this force. They call this point of union the assemblage point. Sorcerers maintain that, due to the presence of the womb inside the body, women have the facility to displace the assemblage point to a new position.
We would like to emphasize that sorcerers believe that the assemblage point of every human being is located in the same place; three feet behind the shoulder blades. When sorcerers see human beings as energy, they perceive this point as a conglomerate of energy fields in the form of a luminous ball.
Sorcerers say that since the male sexual organs are outside the body, men don't have the same facility. Therefore, it would be absurd for sorcerers to try to erase or cloud these energetic differences. Regarding the behavior of male and female sorcerers in the social order, it is almost the same. The energetic difference makes the practitioners, men and women, behave in different ways. In the case of sorcerers, these differences are complementary. The female sorcerers' great facility to displace the assemblage point serves as a base for male sorcerers' actions, which are characterized by greater endurance and more unyielding purpose.
Q: We also have read in your books that Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar each represent a different category in the world of shamanism. One of you is a dreamer and the other a stalker. These are attractive and exotic terms but many people use them indiscriminately and interpret them in their own way. What's the real significance of such classifications? When it comes to action, what are the implications for Florinda Donner-Grau to be a dreamer and for Taisha Abelar to be a stalker?
A: Once again, as in the preceding question, the difference is very simple because it is dictated by each of our energies.
Florinda Donner-Grau is a dreamer because she has an extraordinary facility to displace the assemblage point. According to sorcerers, when the assemblage point, which is our point of attachment to the dark sea of awareness, is displaced, a new conglomerate of energy fields is assembled, a conglomerate similar to the habitual one, but different enough to guarantee the perception of another world which is not the world of everyday life.
The gift of Taisha Abelar as a stalker is her facility to fix the assemblage point in the new position to which it has been displaced. Without this facility to fix the assemblage point, the perception of another world is too fleeting; something very similar to the effect produced by certain hallucinogenic drugs: a profusion of images without rhyme or reason. Sorcerers believe that the effect of hallucinogenic drugs is to displace the assemblage point, but only in a very chaotic and temporary manner.
Q: In your most recent books, Being-In-Dreaming and The Sorcerers' Crossing, you talk about personal experiences that are difficult to accept. Accessing other worlds, traveling into the unknown, making contact with inorganic beings, are all experiences which challenge reason. The temptation is either not to believe such accounts at all, or to consider you as beings that are beyond good and evil, beings that are not touched by sickness, old age or death. What's the everyday reality for a female sorcerer? And how does living in chronological time fit with living in magical time?
A: Your question, Miss Labarta, is too abstract and farfetched. Please forgive our frankness. We are not intellectual beings and are not in any way capable of taking part in exercises in which the intellect engages words which in reality don't have any meaning. None of us, under any agreement, are beyond good and evil, sickness, or old age.
What happened to us was that we were convinced, by the old nagual, that there are two categories of human beings. The great majority of us are beings which sorcerers call (in a pejorative manner, we would add) "the immortal ones." The other category is the category of beings that are going to die.
The old nagual told us that, like immortal beings, we never take death as a point of reference, and we therefore allow ourselves the inconceivable luxury of living our entire lives involved in words, descriptions, polemics, agreements and disagreements.
The other category is the category of sorcerers, of beings that are going to die, who cannot, at any time and or under any circumstances, allow themselves the luxury of making intellectual assertions. If we are anything, we are beings without any importance. And if we have anything, it is our conviction that we are beings that are going to die and that someday, we will have to face infinity. Our preparation is the simplest thing in the world: we prepare ourselves twenty-four hours a day to face this encounter with infinity.
The old nagual succeeded in erasing in us our confounded idea of immortality and our indifference to life, and he convinced us that, as beings that are going to die, we can enlarge our options in life. Sorcerers maintain that human beings are magical beings, capable of stupendous actions and accomplishments once they rid themselves of ideologies that turn them into ordinary human beings.
Our accounts are, in reality, phenomenological descriptions of feats of perception that are available to all of us, especially to women, feats that are bypassed due to our habit of self-reflection. Sorcerers assert that the only thing that exists for us human beings, is Me, ME, and only ME. Under such conditions, the only thing possible is whatever concerns Me. And by definition whatever concerns Me, the personal 'I,' can lead only to anger and resentment.
Q: The physical presence of a teacher may not be indispensable but, in any case, it is of great help. You received direct instruction from don Juan and his cohorts to guide you into the world of shamanism. Do you really think that that world is accessible to anyone, even when they don't have a personal teacher?
A: In a way, the insistence on having a teacher is an aberration. The idea of the old nagual was that he was helping us to break away from the dominion of the Me. With his jokes, and his terrifying sense of humor, he succeeded in making us laugh at ourselves. In this sense, we firmly believe that change is possible for anyone, a change similar to ours, for example, by practicing Tensegrity, without the need for a particular and personal teacher.
The old nagual wasn't interested in teaching his knowledge. He was never a teacher or a guru. He couldn't have cared less about being one. The old nagual was interested in perpetuating his lineage. If he guided us personally, it was to inculcate in us all the premises of sorcery that would allow us to continue his lineage. He expected that someday, it would be our turn to do the same.
Circumstances outside of our volition, or his, conspired to prevent the continuation of his lineage. In view of the fact that we cannot carry out the traditional function of continuing a sorceric lineage, we want to make this knowledge available. Since the Tensegrity practitioners are not called upon to perpetuate any shamanistic lineage, they have the possibility of accomplishing what we have accomplished, but via a different path.
Q: The possibility of an alternative form of death is one of the most striking points of don Juan Matus' teachings. According to what you have told us, he and his group attained that alternative death. What is your own interpretation of their disappearance, when they transformed themselves into awareness?
A: This may seem like a simple question, but it is very difficult to answer. We are practitioners of the teachings of the old nagual. It appears to us that, with your question, you are soliciting a psychological justification, an explanation equivalent to the explanations of modern science.
Unfortunately we cannot give you an explanation outside of what we are. The old nagual and his cohorts died an alternative death, which is possible for any one of us, if we have the necessary discipline.
All we can tell you is that the old nagual and his people lived life professionally, meaning that they were responsible for all their acts, even the most minute ones, because they were extremely aware of everything they did. Under such conditions, to die an alternative death is not such a farfetched possibility.
Q: Do you feel ready to face the last jump? What do you expect in that universe, which you regard as impersonal, cold and predatorial?
A: What we expect is an endless fight and the possibility of witnessing infinity, either for a second or for five billion years.
Q: Some readers of Carlos Castaneda's literary works have reproached him for the lack of a bigger spiritual presence in his books, for never having used words like "love." Is the world of a warrior really that cold? Don't you feel human emotions? Or do you perhaps give a different meaning to those emotions?
A: Yes, we give them a different meaning, and we don't use words like "love" or "spirituality" because the old nagual convinced us that they are empty concepts. Not love or spirituality themselves, but the use of these two words. His line of argument was as follows: if we really consider ourselves immortal beings who can afford the luxury of living amongst gigantic contradictions and endless selfishness; if all that counts for us is immediate gratification, how can we make love or spirituality something authentic? For the old nagual these concepts were manqué, lifeless, words that nobody is prepared to back up. He said that every time we are confronted with these contradictions, we solve them by saying that, as human beings, we are weak.
The old nagual told us that, as a general rule, we human beings were never taught to love. We were taught only to feel gratifying emotions, pertinent exclusively to the personal Me. Infinity is sublime and without pity, he said, and there's no room for fallacious concepts, no matter how pleasant they may seem to us.
Q: It seems that the key to expanding our capabilities for perception lies in the amount of energy we have at our disposal, and that the energetic condition of modern man is very meager. What would be the essential premise for storing energy? Is this possible for someone who has to take care of a family, go to work every day, and participate fully in the social world? And what about celibacy as a way of saving energy, one of the most controversial points in your books?
A: Celibacy is recommended, the old nagual told us, for the majority of us. Not for moral reasons, but because we don't have enough energy. He made us see how the majority of us have been conceived in the midst of marital boredom. As a pragmatic sorcerer, the old nagual maintained that conception is something of final importance. He said that if the mother wasn't able to have an orgasm at the moment of conception, the result was something he called "a bored conception." There is no energy under such conditions. The old nagual recommended celibacy for those who have been conceived under such circumstances.
Another thing he recommended as a means of storing energy was the dissolution of patterns of behavior that lead to chaos, such as the incessant preoccupation with romantic courtship; the presentation and defense of the self in everyday life; excessive routines and, above all, the tremendous insistence on the concerns of the self.
If these points are achieved, any one of us can have the necessary energy to use time, space and the social order more intelligently.
Q: The magical passes of Tensegrity, which you consider to be of great importance, are your most recent contribution to those interested in don Juan Matus' world. What can Tensegrity bring to those who practice it? Can this be equated with any other physical discipline, or does it have its own characteristics?
A: What Tensegrity brings to those who practice it is energy. The difference between Tensegrity and any other system of physical exercises is that the intent of Tensegrity is something dictated by the shamans of ancient Mexico. This intent is the liberation of the being that is going to die.