Castaneda’s Recipe: The Phyllo Dough of the Subconscious Mind

Subconcious Mind - 2Christina Sarich, Staff Writer
Waking Times

I’ve got some interesting friends. They are magicians and sorcerers trapped in modern day guises – like Carlos Castaneda in an attorney’s garb, auditioning for acting roles on the weekends, or the Goddess Salome wearing the guise of a stay-at-home home, her dance of the seven veils more like a juggling of baby diapers and over-cooked spaghetti sauce, while wearing a tiara. Their lives sizzle and pop when I talk to them, like a good cook’s onions brewing on a stovetop, but the peeled onion is such an old analogy for breaking down the layers of the mind – isn’t it?

Even if you don’t practice Mesoamerican sorcery using psychoactive substances like Ayahuasca, or the equally brave endeavor of sitting in silence for days, weeks or months like the Himalayan sage Devraha Baba who is said to be more than 150 years old, you are cooking your own recipe in life, based on the subterranean layers of your consciousness.

Like the edible delectables that come from a chef’s kitchen, most are unaware of what makes the final product so delightful to a discerning palate. The mind’s musings,  savory or sweet concoctions are enjoyed by most of us like an odious king – without regard to the more intimate details of their birthing – and likewise, we may turn up our noses at a foul soup, or a rancid brew, not knowing from whence they came, or their purpose to our overall spiritual sustenance.

Dustin Mercer, CEO of TruTester LLC conducted a serious of experiments trying to understand the subterranean consciousness and the recipe inherent in its making:

“Normally, the mind’s perception of reality operates unchallenged and uninterrupted. What we did was stumble onto a new way of stopping the internal dialogue by pitting the conscious mind’s description of reality versus the conflicting description of its ‘older brother,’ the subconscious mind. “

Using Castaneda’s assertion that the only way to truly ‘see’ is to pit one description of reality against another, he realized that:

“When this primary interpretation stops, a never-used secondary awareness we all possess takes over. Something known as the energy body.” 

  • You see, the layers of the mind are more like phyllo – that mouth-watering, unleavened dough placed in layer after infinitesimally thin layer on top of one another to create, when baked, a delicious pastry that oozes and fuses together, than any regular old onion. Though the collective unconscious is well more than 13th-century old phyllo, it is peppered with ways to ‘see’ a new way to prepare bread.

    Whether obtained through a lucid dream, a near-death experience, an a-ha moment after days of meditation, or the accompanied journey into no-man’s land by a Peruvian shaman, there are ways to tap into what is REALLY determining your life’s path – its recipe.

    We usually don’t obtain ‘instant omniscience’ in this life – although it is possible. We usually get a little taste of it here and there, a happy accident after years of seeking, or countless hours of spiritual practices like deep self-inquiry, yoga, Taijiquan or Vipassana.

    Ramana Maharishi, the 20th century Indian sage, for example would respond in response to a question like “Who am I?” by asking the inquirer, “Who just asked that?” He would probe deeper and deeper into the layers of the dough to figure out the central query of who the “I” is, in the first place, and who is actually asking the question.

    In the case of Vipassana practice, we learn what NOT to add to the perfect recipe. It is only in uncovering the basic reasons for our self-created misery, often not known on the conscious level, that we can clear them. A negativity in the mind, a mental defilement or impurity, cannot coexist with peace and harmony. It would be like putting battery acid in the baklava.

    As Castaneda taught through Don Juan, our energetic conditioning is correctable (our recipe can be tweeked!) Sorcerers of ancient times developed a set of practices designed to recondition our energetic capabilities to perceive. They called this set of practices the art of dreaming. It was known as the gateway to infinity.

    No amount of academic or intellectual reasoning will reveal the deepest layers inherent in the phyllo dough – they get smooshed together, albeit deliciously, but very hard to separate. Only a sorcerer or a Goddess can perceive the essence of things as they truly are – or a good chef willing to change their ingredients. Interestingly, Castaneda compared true vision of the human being as a vibrating egg of energy – now that’s an entirely different omelet.

    Like my interesting friends, you too can be a Shaman ready to mix up a new batch of awareness. You can dissolve your ready-to-react emotions into an emulsion of sheer brilliance. You can eliminate the acidity from your juices and add the sweet nectar of life to your experience simply by seeing anew. Here’s the (simplified) recipe according to Castaneda:

    1. Stop the world. This is no metaphor. He meant for you to question every dogmatic paradigm that exists in order to ‘see’ clearly. In “The Fire From Within” Castaneda states, “the old seers…actually saw the indescribable force which is the source of all sentient beings.”
    2. Halt the Mind’s Monologue. You can only stop the world by stopping the mind. This is not achieved in the way you might think, since the mind’s very nature is to think. The state of “No-Mind” cannot be achieved by stopping to think but when the thinking is no more, “No-Mind” simply IS. You can start with these small steps to achieving no min.
    3. Accept that You are the Bumbling Clown and a Brilliant Seer Simultaneously. As you stop the world, you will understand that you are both teacher and student at once. Accept this in all stages of your evolving worldview. Ultimately, we aren’t learning how to cook up our experience from any ‘self’ but the Infinite. That’s a huge learning curve if you don’t even know how to boil water.
    4. Defeat the Four Natural Enemies. You can watch a great summary of this concept here. (
    5. Accept Paradox. As Mercer has pointed out, “the voice of seeingalways reveals both irrefutable yet contradictory fact and fiction to the seer.” All great truths contain paradox. For the divided mind this is difficult to understand, but must be in order to create a better recipe for life.
    6. Don’t Mistake ‘Seeing’ as Psychic Ability or Mediumship. ‘Seeing’is not a sudden hunch, a psychic insight or even ESP – It is closer to acatastrophic event. A true awakening. As one world-view crumbles, another takes its place. The recipe is forever changed.
    7. If you Fail at Stopping the World, Try Again. You can learn more about ‘racing mind’ and how to stop it here. (

    About the Authors

    Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao TzuParamahansa YoganandaRob Brezny,  Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.

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