Carlos Castaneda Interviews and Articles
Quest - 1993
OPENING TO THE WHISPERS OF POWER - 1993
Quest, Winter 1993
The articles to follow are aimed at those who have been touched or interested in any way by the works of Carlos Castaneda.
The material herein is designed to provide the reader with an understanding of how to actually implement some of these teachings into their lives. I became frustrated, mainly with myself, for a long time after reading Castaneda's work because of my seeming inability to actually implement any of the important aspects of his teachings. My attempts to "clear my tonal" seemingly always served to remind me just how out of control my own internal state was, and eventually, in frustration, and tiredness at pretending that I was enacting these principles, I drifted away to live my life as I always had done, blinding myself by degrees to what I knew was out there for me. I did not know that something more powerful than myself was at work to keep me on a path I thought I had abandoned.
Now, nothing can ever put me back on the path I was on before.
These articles formed during a period in my life when internal change and realization was taking place at a rate that seemed to necessitate that I write the understandings down. I felt that if I did not do this, some of the finer points may have become lost in the streams of connections being made in my mind.
Originally a device for my memory, it soon became clear to me that these articles were of value to others who may be attempting the same things in their lives as I.
While I have yet a great distance to travel on the path I find myself on, I know I have come a very long way from where I was. Before I continue on with these ideas, I would like to set forth the idea of the Double Description. This is the reason my understandings gained the depth and dimensionality that allowed them to be implemented in my life.
The double description is a method for attaining sufficient knowledge of something to begin to act on it in life. It is analogous to stereoscopic vision; each eye presents a slightly different description of the world it is representing to the brain, and from this slight difference comes new, real and usable information, in this example, depth perception. This information is not present in either single description alone.
I have found double descriptions for the Teachings of don Juan from a number of sources; it should be noted that no single source contains double descriptions for all the teachings, but only small pieces. The collective of these, taken together, have staggering and profound impact on the lives of those who would employ them.
I would like specifically to thank Dr. Wayne Dyer for his parts of the double description. A great deal can be gleaned from his tape "Choosing Your Own Greatness", and his book "Your Erroneous Zones", both impeccable works; Anthony Robbins for his book and tape series by the same title "Unlimited Power"; John Grinder and Richard Bandler for their work in creating a psychotechnology called neurolinguistic programming, from which specific steps are available for working with and gaining control over your own mental functioning. Lastly, and most importantly, I wish to thank Carlos Castaneda for his brilliant, courageous and masterful relaying of the teachings of don Juan.
My life as a result is continually amazing, mysterious, and empowering. I am indebted to this man for providing the thread on which to string the double descriptions of his work. As the thread has become a string, then a rope, I hope soon to find the way to grasping the ultimate fullness of the fabric of the Nagual.
The Way of the Hunter
Hunting is a relationship. When one hunts, one is in a relationship with the prey. When one hunts power, personal power one seeks to put him or herself in a relationship with power. As with any prey, the prey requires that certain things be done in certain ways to attain it. For instance, a deer hunter does not wait in his living room for a deer to knock at his door. The deer requires that the hunter put himself in the deer's environment, and learn about it, and become proficient in moving about within the realm that belongs to the deer. The deer also requires that the one who would hunt it learn about the deer itself; it's movements, it's habits, it's preferred foods, etc. The hunter, though seldom is it realized, must do quite a bit of internal preparation if he or she is to be successful at attaining that which is sought.
Hunting power requires much of the same as hunting anything else. Power is a much more demanding prey, but the rewards are beyond measure.
How often do you eat out? Where do you usually go? What do you usually get to eat? These questions can help you begin to see that routines do exist in your life. Many people favorite restaurants, and a few favorite meals in each. There is nothing wrong with eating (or anything else) what you like, but if you are reading this with the intent of hunting power, then you may be passing up opportunities to attain it with each bite you take. Power requires that one be open to experience.
I know of people who go to a local Polynesian/Oriental restaurant that offers over two hundred DIFFERENT meals on it's menu. These folks always order from the same three meals. They won't even try a sample of one of the one hundred ninety seven other meals. Not that they might not like them, (because they haven't got a clue, by their own admission, what they are like) but because they are comfortable with what they know. Most people are comfortable in their living rooms, but they still have to go to the woods to hunt a deer. To hunt power, you must go into the woods in your own life. You must consciously avoid doing the things you are comfortable with, you must break your routines, in order to become accessible to power. Go to the restaurant and order something you have never tried before. Go to work a different route every day.
Which shoe do you usually put on first in the morning? Put the other one on first tomorrow. And last, but perhaps most importantly, as soon as you believe that you've got this down pat, take a good look and see if you have made the disruption of your routines into a routine. NEVER BE PREDICTABLE! The reason a hunter gets the deer is because the hunter can predict where and when the deer will be.
By disrupting your routines completely, you can help to swing the balance of your life from hunted to hunter, and be one step closer to a relationship with power.
Doing for the Sake of Doing
The most important thing to assimilate into one's behavior is the ability to do something without having an explanation, or expecting any reward or understanding after the event, as to why it was done. This is simple to do if it is accepted absolutely.
There is no strategy, no rhyme, no reason, at least in the beginning. You must simply do for the sake of doing, and eliminate the need from your life to explain or have a reason for what you do. You must eliminate the stiffness or psychological discomfort that might stem from you performing in a way not "usual" for yourself in the company of others. Power makes strange requests of those who would seek it.
Start by practicing a few things. ENSURE that these are practiced frequently but NOT ROUTINELY! Arrange the writing implements on your desk in a particular fashion, for no reason. Walk backwards around your house twice a week. Write notes to yourself with your non-dominant hand (even if you can't read them). Walk around in a store that you never go into for anything. Explore any place that you've never been to before, for no reason. And then forget about it. Period.
In this fashion, you become open to the whisperings of power. Power may want you to go somewhere, or do something. You will have no idea in advance what the purpose is; there may not appear to be one to you, but to power it may be important. When you walk down the street and feel a strange urge to detour, or go into a store, or talk to someone you've never seen before, pay attention. These may be the leadings of power. Most importantly, though, you will develop an aspect of your awareness that you may not have noticed before.
Loss of Self Importance
This is the big one. Self-importance is the single biggest roadblock within anyone to going beyond themselves and going into areas of life unfamiliar to them. Self importance prevents us from attempting things that we would like or need to do because of how it may appear to others or ourselves. If we want to attempt something new, and fear failure, (or how it would look to ourselves or others if we fail), then we may not do the very thing that we need to do to grab some of the power available to us in the moment.
While in a training workshop recently, during the lunch break outdoors, I decided to swing on a swing set nearby. The gentlemen I was with felt compelled to say that they would pretend to not know me, and didn't join me. I have always enjoyed swinging. I find it's rhythmic sensations relaxing and enjoyable. I used to swing quite a bit when I was a child for those same reasons. Then, for a time in my adolescence and early adulthood, I bought into the idea that these things were something for children and not engage in the behaviors of children. Since that time, I have realized that I need not be accepted as an adult by anyone outside myself. I know that I am one, and need not prove it to anyone. I have the physicality of an adult, and swinging is hardly going to remove that. In addition, I now have the pleasures of childhood open to me again.
Self importance is not related to self respect. In the process of losing self importance, one may in fact gain more self respect. Self importance generates the need to choose to be embarrassed if your actions don't measure up to others beliefs, standards, and ideas about what's "proper". Self importance generates the need to defend one's self against all doubt from the outside in order to generate the appearance of "rightness". The catch is that it is not your, but someone else's idea of "right". When you know in your heart that your beliefs are right (swinging...) then you needn't justify your motives or actions to others. Simply allow others their opinion and if you choose, thank them for their input, then proceed with your intent without mind to others needs to have you conform to their needs. When you do this, you find a whole world opening up to and around you that is fun, exciting and challenging. Try anything! And remember the NLP presupposition: There is no failure, only feedback. Always bear in mind that you can do ANYTHING in this world, as long as you are willing to accept the consequences. Self importance is merely a filter on our belief system that makes a certain set of consequences unacceptable. It limits you. Eliminate it, and be closer to unlimited power.
As defined so many times by don Juan, impeccability, the most important aspect of living as a warrior, is simply the best use of ones energy levels. It is thought and action, behavior and beliefs, which allow one to obtain an outcome with the least amount of energy expenditure. It calls for thoughtfulness towards ones actions, examination of ones intent, frugality, and above all, it calls for a lack of self reflection. Self reflection as it commonly exists in man, as self importance, is the single biggest drain on ones energy that there can be. It makes one spill vast quantities of energy on totally unimportant and unworthy events and actions.
There are two areas in which energy can be dissipated: in the physical plane, and in the dimension of thought. In the physical plane, automatic or unconscious behaviors such as tapping, nail-biting, and the like, drain energy. Think of these or any nervous habit as being a leak in your energy or luminous body. This energy is dissapated in an activity that is not aligned toward the direction you are trying to go in, and leaves less for other pursuits. The energy lost is slight, but it does add up, and needs to be replaced. There is an even greater area in which to save energy. In the physical plane, the energy drains mentioned will not prevent you from continuing on the path; in the realm of thought, the energy drains can bring your life to a standstill.
Why do runners in a marathon pace themselves? To conserve energy for the last mile to sprint to the finish. What is the energy that flows in human interaction with the world? Thought. When we use our thinking, we use our energy. What we think about is what we use our energy on, and what we use our energy on is what we get more of.
Begin today to examine how our thought-energy is being used. Is it directed at our highest aims, or our worst nightmares? When driving home at night from work, do we focus on our problems earlier that day, or on our plans for the evening. Are our thoughts mostly bright and positive, or dark and ominous.
Negative thinking drains our energy. Ask anyone who is depressed about life. Do they have energy? Do they feel alive and vibrant? Often these people don't even have the power to get out of bed in the morning, much less greet life with enthusiasm.
The elimination of negative thinking patterns will go leaps and bounds toward increasing your resources of personal power. It is not an instantaneous switch. Those "thinking muscles" that generate negative thought get strong through use, and the positive "thinking muscles" may be weak or atrophied. Thought is just like muscle development. The ones you use most get stronger, just as your dominant arm is stronger than your non-dominant arm.
If you want to build your non dominant arm, you would exercise it. In fact, as you go through your day, if you find yourself using your strong arm, you may opt to use your weaker arm to give it a chance to build.
Thought, being like muscles in this way, can be built in the same manner. Every once in a while, consciously think in a positive fashion. See a situation working out. Hear someone saying something nice to you. Feel good about something. Most importantly, when you find yourself immersed in a negative thought, consciously "use your weaker arm", and change your thinking to a positive thought, ESPECIALLY if the thought is future oriented. If you are going in to talk to the boss, instead of imagining how the boss will berate you, or cut you off, or whatever, imagine that he/she will be open to you. Imagine a very positive, productive interaction. What you experience in the dimension of thought actually does set you up for the experience in "reality".
By the elimination of negative thinking patterns, I do not mean to adopt a rosy, "Pollyanna-ish" view on the world. You should always maintain a space in which to plan for the possibility that things may not go perfectly. In this manner you won't be caught with your pants down, i.e., have a backup plan.
But once you know what to do in that event, or if there is no alternate plan, then leave those thoughts in that space, and come back to the thoughts of things working out. If you give your energy to the positive, you will have more of it in your life. It's an absolute law of the universe that you get what you think about. If you think about good, you'll have good in your life, and be conserving energy and power, being impeccable, for the journey to accepting the Eagle's gift of freedom and totality.
Impeccability is efficatiousness. Absolutely, unquestionably the most effective set of thinking patterns and action which effectively obtains for one the necessary aspects of their reality.
When you need something, when five steps will get you, with no compromise on quality, what it would normally take ten steps to do, doing it in five is more impeccable. It is the straight line path; it curves only when straight would make you climb a mountain that a curve would allow you to avoid. This is where thoughtfulness to ones action is important; it requires that one perceive where their actions will get them before setting off on a course, otherwise one may find cliffs, mountains, potholes, and a host of other unforeseen events. Forethought does not guarantee that unforseen events will not be met with, but it reduces the chances. A sighted man in the middle of a busy highway stands a better chance of getting across than does a blind man, but the sighted man may still get hit. Viewing impeccability in this way can help to make a very subjective ideal and make it into an objective, tangible guiding principle to adopt in the path to freedom and totality.
The Warriors Path
The first step on the path of knowledge, after the loss of routines in one's life, is becoming a warrior. This is an attitude which life is faced with which effectively makes one impervious to the world. It can't touch you if you have become a warrior. This does not mean that life suddenly becomes idyllic, or especially easy, but the way in which you approach the events in your life becomes something whereby you may be empowered by events, that at one time, would have drained and defeated you.
Part of the trick is finding a way in which to view all the events in your life as a challenge- something to be risen up to and overcome. Enter the "petty tyrant". The petty either a person, or an event or situation, that has always "pushed your buttons"- one in which you expect, know in fact, that encountering it will cause you to be angry, depressed, flustered, enraged, or otherwise in a less than pleasant internal state. There is inherent value of incalculable measure in a petty tyrant, and if you have one in your life, count yourself fortunate, for the petty tyrant is one road to impeccability. The petty tyrants are the "files" which we encounter in life that enable us to file off, smooth out the rough spots in our interactions with the world around us. They help us to remove the burrs that catch on the passing fabric of our life.
The best petty tyrants are "rasps"-very course files. It is interesting to note that there is a class of file that is legitimately known as a "bastard".
The question now becomes, how does one use the petty tyrant?
The question requires that one understand the feeling of the state of impeccability. To that end, I offer the following metaphor:
At some point in our lives, we have all been out in a storm, with terrific winds blowing all around us. You can imagine the feeling of the changing winds, shifting direction faster than you can change with them. These winds can blow you off course, blow rain in your face, always seemingly keeping you off balance.
The state of impeccability is like suddenly the wind ceases to move you. Whether it is blowing through you, or around you isn't for sure, but it doesn't move you any more. You can still hear the wind, you can see it's effects on everything around you, but it simply doesn't push you anymore. You only feel a gentle, calm breeze when you so desire. This is one aspect of impeccability. In Castaneda's works, there was a passage to the effect that "impeccability is the ability to temper or tone your spirit while you are being trampled upon". The use of the petty tyrant accomplishes this goal. When faced with a situation that gives rise to negativity, one must first understand that your internal state is your own responsibility, and no one can make you feel any way that you don't want to. When we allow external situations to determine our internal state, what we are doing in effect, is handing our innards over to the very person or event for which we have the negative state to begin with. The trick is, when faced with a situation with no easy or ready solution, to accept that, for the time being, the event or person may have or control the situation, but don't let them have or control you inside. The next time that you find yourself with someone who you find particularly difficult to deal with (i.e., petty tyrant), remember that allowing your internal state to become chaotic or ruffled in any way is, in effect, handing over the most intimate part of yourself to that person to do with as they will. The ultimate use of the petty tyrant is in keeping a calm, controlled demeanor inside as well as outside when in situations such as these. Most importantly this is done not by suppressing your feelings, but by having an interractional goal of a higher logical order than being right/in control/treated respectfully/whatever. In the path for power, the goal becomes behavioral impeccability, and saving personal power. The great benefits of this are the ability to remain focused on your objectives in the interaction, and to save great amounts of personal power and energy. Anger, frustration, despair and depression are among the greatest drains on personal power there can be, especially when they have no value to the situation. With mindfulness to the idea of the "petty tyrant", these feelings become signals to become impeccable, and rise above the situation at hand. From your vantage point above the situation, you may see options and paths not available to you in similar situations before. The rewards come afterwards, from within yourself, in the form of certain very pleasant feelings, resulting from knowing that you were in control of yourself, and that you were able to save your personal power for use in more productive ways.
After a while, it becomes so easy and natural that you get surprised by realizing that the negative feeling states never come up; they are immediately bypassed as your proficiency in shifting to more productive and self controlled states becomes more developed. The benefits you will reap in your life from this one aspect of the path of knowledge will improve your entire existence in a very short time, and will surprise and delight you.
Death as an Advisor
Almost everyone at one time or another has heard the idea of asking "If you had only six months to live, what would you be doing?". This is an effective means of allowing yourself the space to entertain your most treasured experiential goals, but it somehow always seems to fall short of the mark, in terms of changing your actual behavior. There is, however, a far more motivating form of utilizing the idea of your own impending death in your life.
There is a story about two men walking on a trail in a vast canyon in the southwest. One becomes aware that his shoe has become untied, and stops to tie it. While he ties his shoe, a huge boulder from the canyon wall just ahead drops to the ground not ten feet in front of them. The man is certainly glad he tied his shoe, and they walk on happy to have avoided being crushed under tons of rock. What they don't stop to realize is that another day, in another canyon, one may stop to tie his shoes, and then a rock directly above him will drop, ending his time on the earth. The very same delay that saves him one time, may be the delay that kills him another.
The main point is that any act you perform may be your last. The only thing that counts, then, is that you perform your absolute best in anything you do, because it may very well be the last thing you do. The secret to using death as an advisor, then, is not in asking about your actions if death was comfortably removed by six months, six years, or a whole lifetime; but in asking about your actions if your death would occur within the very next instant. If you represent death as close and personal, your outlook changes rapidly.
"Is this the act that I would want if it were to be my final act on earth?" is a question that will drop more pettiness and idiocy from your life than almost anything else. It is not designed to make one think about career changes, moves, or relationships. It is designed to help one see their present moment for what it really is- teetering on the edge of annihilation. The only thing we can do is to face that moment with the knowledge that we are doing our impeccable best in each moment we have.
Worry is something that most everyone has experienced. There are plenty of things to worry about, too, and yet, worry, in and of itself, has no action on the world around us.
Worry is a signal for us to evaluate a situation to determine what action needs to be taken to generate a desired outcome.
All the things in the entire universe that can be worried about fall into one of two categories: those you can do something about, and those you can't do anything about. To worry about the sun going supernova would not have any effect on whether it does or not, hence, there is no need to worry.
Worry, as stated earlier, is your mind and bodies way of signaling you to find and take action on something. Since there isn't a thing you could do, with your own actions, to save yourself or anyone else from a supernova, you don't worry about it.
To worry about being hit by a train if you happen to be standing in the middle of the tracks is reasonable, provided that if one comes, you take action and get off the tracks. If you stay on the tracks as the engine rumbles toward you at great speed, blasting it's horn, you can worry all you want to, right up to the time that the train squashes you if you want; your worry alone would not accomplish a single thing. Only when worry serves as a trigger to take action does it have any purpose. If you find yourself worrying about anything, ask yourself this question: Is there anything I can do, or am willing to do, to satisfy what I am worrying about? If the answer is no, simply stop worrying. Worry then only serves to grow ulcers, make headaches, and make you a pain to be around. If there is something you can do, but are unwilling to put the time or effort into it, then stop worrying there, too. If it is not worth the effort to do something you know you can, then it isn't worth the strain on your body and the people close to you to continue to worry.
"Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Though the author of that quote is not known to me, it's truth and power are evident. Free yourself from impotent worry, act on what you can or are willing to, and your life will begin to become more efficient, empowering and relaxed. And the very real benefits to your physical, mental, and emotional health will be a source of continual enjoyment.
Often as one progresses along the path of the Warrior, a peculiar paradox begins to show itself; while we say, and in fact really do want one particular behavior or attitude, our actions are diametrically opposed. Since the Warrior's path is one of action, this is naturally cause for investigation; our actions need to be in line with our ideals, or our intent. When they are not, we experience what has been termed "cognitive dissonance". An excellent example of this is one who is significantly overweight, and dissatisfied with that fact, and yet, they will still order the hot fudge sundae for desert, after stuffing themselves with their quarter pounder and fries. The behavior is opposed to the intent. Who was it that said "A house divided against itself cannot stand"?
Because the Warrior's path is a path of action and not words, one's action must match intent, and intent must direct action with an iron will. Unbending Intent can be likened to a laser beam. Science fiction movies always show laser beams zapping across the screen as luminescent flying tubes of light; in actual fact, they are silent and invisible. If there were to be a beam of sufficient intensity to cut a man in half, in a totally dark room, the beam would be undetected until someone was unlucky enough to walk into the beam. Only then would the light from the beam, now reflecting off of it's newfound target, dazzle the eyes and light up the room.
Under certain circumstances, the laser beam can become visible; fog or smoke in the air provides microscopic particles in profusion which reflect tiny bits of the beams light; if the particles are of significant quantity, they can divert enough of the beams power to make it totally harmless by the time it hits its intended target.
On the path to freedom, one's intent must be unbending. All of one's power must be directed unerringly and focused on your goals. As an example, in the process of developing the physicality of the warrior, hot fudge sundaes are like the smoke in the beam. They detract from the energy you are focusing on becoming strong and healthy in form; enough hot fudge sundaes floating in the beam of your intent leaves little to hit the target, ie., you are unlikely to attain the goal of a warrior's physique.
With unbending intent, your energy is fullest at the place you want it, and with it, you can burn through the toughest walls you find on your journey to freedom. And you will feel good about yourself for having the control and strength to maintain your effort in the face of whatever temptation crosses your path. importantly, you will find it to be your most powerful and unfailing tool along the path, and yet it takes up no room in pack.
Controlled folly is the idea by which one learns to handle all of life's occurrences. It can be said that all human activity is folly; in comparison with the activities and events in the Universe, no action of man, either individually or collectively, has any universal significance. If the sun were to supernova, taking our tiny little planet with it, our solar system would simply join the ranks of countless millions of other systems that have gone that way, and no part of the universe would shudder, or pay tribute to our passing. The only testimonial to our having been in this vast and amazing universe would be some clouds of dust and gas, floating eternally in the cosmic continuum.
The only importance, therefore, that our actions can have, is the importance, or meaning, that we place on them. The fact of life is that we must live this folly to survive and be healthy, happy, productive members of our planet. But allowing this folly to carry away one's happiness, and especially one's health, is a very sad and unnecessary folly.
Controlled folly is a way of living. It is doing one thing, anything in fact, and doing it impeccably, and yet knowing that you are actually doing something else- practicing the Warrior's path by exercising impeccable action and unbending intent. It allows one to be involved in anything and everything as much as anyone else, and yet it allows detachment. It is the art of pretending to be immersed in the action at hand- pretending so well that no-one could tell it from the real thing. It is a sophisticated, artistic way of being separate from everything remaining an integral part of everything.
Nearly everyone along the path to freedom begins to wish they could simply extricate themselves from their mundane responsibilities and concentrate their total energies on the journey to power and freedom. Yet simply dropping those responsibilities would be less than impeccable. Controlled folly is the answer to this apparent paradox; it allows one the opportunity to turn one's entire life into a living practice of the Warrior's path; practicing unbending intent to impeccably attend to their responsibilities, knowing that the activities at hand are folly, and of no universal significance, yet sharpening their edge and building their Warrior's spirit with impeccable action to their responsibilities. Controlled folly also allows one the breathing room to not feel threatened by the myriad other situations that life, and other people, insist are "important"; everyone's meanings are their own, after all. Controlled folly helps you maintain unbending intent, and the combination of these two ideas of the Warrior's path help you overcome more obstacles on the path to freedom and true life.
The Stages of Seeing
There are several aspects of experience which comprise the act of seeing. The first, and perhaps the most important of these is the ability to see beyond one's own meanings of the events around them, and see them as simply the play of events and objects that they really are.
The second aspect is the bodily realization that what one perceives with the eyes basically has little or nothing to do with what one thinks one is perceiving. This holds equally true for the other senses as well.
The third requires "rewiring" of sorts on the part of one's unconscious mind. The visuals of seeing are something already available to us, yet we must be taught what to see, before we can discern it, amplify, it by putting our attention on it (the same process we use for "looking" at anything).
The first aspect, seeing through or beyond ones own meanings and interpretations, seems to be the hardest of all. This could possibly be due to the fact that it is precisely those meanings or interpretations we need to go beyond, that are the source of all feeling or emotion related to what we look at or hear. These emotions themselves seem to create a diversion to our consciousness; to be caught up in the feeling, swept away with it, is to loose our vision of what is actually before our senses, and adopt the vision of our meanings. When people decide they want to get past their own meanings, often they end up trying to do so by fighting or suppressing their own feelings about their perceptual input, rather than by going to a higher authority and suppressing the meanings assigned to the input.
An illustration of one who "sees" by going past (or more appropriately before) their own meanings would compare as follows:
A man, standing before a spectacular sunrise, could experience many things. If he knew that this was the start of a day in which his greatest dreams would come true, he would probably experience joy. If he knew that this was the start of a day in which he would loose all his earthly possessions, he would probably experience sadness. If the man was a seer, or becoming one, he would be able to know either "reality"; yet he would feel the same in each. He sees the sunrise without that meaning attached, and experiences the fullness of the sunrise and its beauty. Now all three involve feeling.
Seeing does not mean that one cannot feel; it allows one the choice of feeling the most productive, worthwhile, functional emotion, or no emotion at all; The seer, being outside of his meaning, and not inside, could see the other meanings available to him and has the option to choose any meaning to enter and feel, or to remain in an "observer" position. Being out of his meaning about what it "means" to loose all of one's earthly belongings, he has the freedom to choose the feelings which serve him best in view of the circumstances in his life. The seer looks to feel, but he sees to know; not just to know what is there to see, but to see how would be most advantageous for everything involved, to process, or feel, about the situation being perceived. The non-seer sees with the eyes of his meaning, the seer sees with the eyes of an observer, one not involved directly with the person whom the observer watches, and can objectively see options that the non-seer can't. By getting "out" of a meaning, you get into a much bigger space where there is lots of room to move and breath, and you have helped yourself one third of the way to actually seeing.
A bodily realization that the information your eyes present to your brain is not what is there to be perceived is the next step. By a bodily realization, I refer to the phenomena which is experienced as an "Ah-ha moment"; it is a difficult experience to pin down with words, yet nearly everyone has experienced it. It is a feeling of knowing not with your head, but somehow in your chest. In this example it almost produces a sensation of dualistic perception; somehow despite your full reason and observation, visually, auditorially, kinesthetically, and olfactorily, you know, you actually feel, that there is something outside the confines of what you are perceiving with, that if we could actually perceive it, would be revealed to be incomprehensibly different from what we thought it was.
What we perceive, or think we see, begins by what we perceive as light, striking our retina in our eyes. And that is where all contact with the "real" world stops. Our retina turns that real "something" into nerve impulses- mere reflections or echoes of the actual light. These nerve impulses then are reduced in number thousands of time, as they go from the millions of rods and cones in the retina, to the optic nerve bundle. The information jumps over junctions known as synapses; those of sufficient intensity make it across the junction; the rest do not. Only the strongest, or those we consciously focus our attention on, make it out of our eye and on toward our brain. Then the reticulum takes its bite. Its main function is to get bored, and single out selected items for deletion from awareness, or amplification in awareness. The reticulum is what is responsible for keeping you from being aware of numerous continual stimuli, like your watch on your wrist, the feel of your feet on the floor, the position of your knees, the feeling of your clothing on your skin, etc. There are literally millions of available sensory inputs of which you could be conscious, but if they all flooded in at once, we would be drowned in our own perceptions.
The reticulum is what allows us to concentrate on a good book, a television program, or anything else to the exclusion of distractions. It also tends to remove unnecessary information from the visual field; an example is that while reading this, you are (until I mention it here) probably not aware of (or thinking of at this moment) the particular orientation of the page with respect to the nearest wall, the light levels on the page, or the precise positioning of your hands on the page. This is all information available through the visual sense, but if you concentrate on the reading, these other bits of information are distractions, and are filtered out.
So, after all these functions take their toll, what you think you see is only a reflection of the distant echoes of your own nerve impulses; what you think you see, in reality is only you. Your perceptions are a product of your own body and are not a true representation of what it is that you believe yourself to be perceiving.
After the first two steps have been completed, your unconscious mind and you will have a greater level of rapport. You will be starting to see the same way your unconscious sees. It is your conscious mind that usually goes around telling your unconscious how it should feel about things, when in fact the unconscious mind perceives without meaning anyway. Babies provide tremendous insight into the processing of the unconscious.
If a baby watches two big shiny objects moving above the ground come closer together until one touches and pushes the other and makes a big noise, he may just look blankly at it. An adult on the street watching two cars have a head on at high speed would probably experience a tremendous rush of feelings, which would all be associated with the meaning of the perception.
The baby sees with the eyes of the unconscious, touched only lightly with the meanings of the conscious mind.
Since meanings, and what we pick out and group together and give names and labels to, are something we learn, and are taught with passion by all those around us, we actually come to perceive, in a way, what we are told to. Children are born without these lists of acceptable perceptions, and often times see a great deal that remains unseen except by the seer. These things are given less and less importance in our visual field, and eventually disappear by our first few years. Seers are those who have allowed these perceptions access to their consciousness again, by getting past their meanings, and realizing that there are both other ways of perceiving one thing, and that what we perceive is not what is there. Then the seer has the option of choosing the perception, as well as the experience of it. The unconscious will wire your perceptual abilities to perceive what you teach it to perceive. When you learn of the field surrounding living beings, our "luminous egg", and begin to let the subtle hints of it in through your sensory channels, your attention will fixate the perception, and amplify it with practice until you can consciously switch your perception to see in this new way.
Last Words...New Beginnings
Realization is something altogether different from understanding. One may understand completely, and yet not act in accordance. Realization means to make real, tangible. One may know with the mind, but one realizes with the whole body-mind system. It is the "Ah-ha!" moment- you feel it when it finally hits; your action changes to reflect your realization. This is what one strives for in the path of knowledge.
As don Juan stated several times, the path is one of trickery. I originally was attracted to the path because of its promise of power; yet power is about changing the things outside one's self to suit a particular whim or desire. Soon I learned that power is not what I was being offered, (or more appropriately, my definition of power), and that to accept what was being offered, I had to closely examine myself, and begin to make changes, sometimes in areas that I did not want to admit. I have never grown from denying my faults, yet I have always grown from facing them and making the necessary changes.
I have found that the true offering of don Juan is freedom. Freedom to live my life to the absolute limits of my potential if I choose, and freedom not to, if I choose. The key is, it is MY choice, not anothers. This can be a scary prospect, as it requires one to take responsibility for every occurrence in ones' life; there can be no blame. The power don Juan was offering is something we all already posses; we must learn that, and claim that power as our own, rather than assigning responsibility on other people or things for the condition of our lives. When we deny responsibility, we rob ourselves of our own inherent power.
By living life in this way, with total accountability, we will find the totality of ourselves, we have the power to propel ourselves to the limits of our potential. I am still an infant on the path, yet I see that what I had held as "givens" and "truths" about life and living and death, are mere illusions, and can only hold as much reality as I choose to give them. I have begun to map a new reality, and it is wonderful. May your journey be as good. I wish you well.
- David Copeland