Julian Rose, Contributor
Part I of a commentary on the writings of Carlos Castaneda. Read part II, here.
“Every one of us human beings has two minds. One is totally ours, it is like a faint voice that always brings us order, directness, purpose. The other is a foreign installation. It brings us conflict, self-assertion, doubts, hopelessness: it’s ourselves as the ‘me-me’ centre of the world.”
Thus spoke Carlos Castaneda in ‘The Active Side of infinity‘ which is part of the ‘Teachings of Don Juan‘ series. And I’m going to give you more excerpts from The Active Side of Infinity. Because I believe that these writings present Shamanic teachings to us in a direct, powerful way – and at a time when we most need them.
The deft fusing of spirit and earth which rises up out of these writings, is a powerful native tradition in South America – as it is also amongst the native North American Indian tribes. Jumping into Castaneda’s writings is special, maybe particularly because they go straight to the gut, whereas many more contemplative esoteric traditions (of East and West) tend to home-in on the intellectual and heart chakra levels.
I believe we need a good dose of gut centred experience at this particular time, so as to get anchored and earthed – while all around mind oriented activities are throwing-up a thousand refractions of information – that in the end clog the neurons of the neo-cortex and render us permanently on the brink of overload.
At times like these one needs to reconnect with an older, native kind of intuition that has its nest in the solar plexus; the place where the umbilical cord once bought essential nourishment to our tiny forming bodies.
“Infinity is everything that surrounds us: the spirit, the dark sea of awareness. It is something that exists out there and rules our lives. My steps and yours are ruled by infinity. The circumstances that seem to be ruled by chance are in essence ruled by the active side of infinity: intent. What put you and me together was the intent of infinity. It is impossible to determine what this intent of infinity is, yet it is there, as palpable as you and I are.”
“Sorcerers say there is a tremor in the air. The advantage of sorcerers is to know that the tremor in the air exists, and to acquiesce to it without further ado. For sorcerers there is no pondering, wandering or speculating. They know all they have is the possibility of merging with the intent of infinity, and they just do it.”
To know the tremor in the air – and to acquiesce to it. That is a great call. It is that ‘tremor’ which guides our inner and outer ‘intent’, as Castaneda names it. I experience it as a subtle type of tension which keeps one on one’s toes and open to any eventuality.
“You are not alert. You never learned to be alert, anyway. To be alert doesn’t mean to be watchful. For sorcerers, to be alert means to be aware of the fabric of the everyday world that seems extraneous to the interaction of the moment. Don’t hide yourself behind banalities. Stand up, assume responsibility for what you know. Don’t get lost in the extraneous fabric of the world around you, extraneous to what’s going on. Don’t be so concerned with yourself and your problems.”
Wow – that’s a strong call to drop our ‘lesser self”s’ deadening baggage. Hiding behind banalities is indeed a classic defensive position in this day and age. Why be on the defensive? Why not go on the offensive! So much to achieve in such a short time..
“Sorcerers never say things idly. I am most careful what I say to you or to anybody else. The difference between you and me is that I don’t have any time at all, and I act accordingly. You, on the other hand, believe you have all the time in the world, and act accordingly. The end result of our individual behaviours is that I measure everything I do and say, and you don’t.
You’re looking for a sorcerer’s medication to remove everything annoying from you, with no effort at all on your part. You want ‘results potion’ – and you’re cured. Sorcerers face things in a different way. Since they don’t have any time to spare they give themselves fully to what’s in front of them. Your turmoil is the result of your lack of sobriety.”
‘Sorcerers don’t have any time to spare’. Powerful insight into the commitment which comes with full engagement. We are bamboozled with anything and everything designed to take our eyes off the ball. But every time we do, a sense of loss accompanies our ‘inaction’. We want heaven – but can only manage half an hour a day to bring it about. Turmoil is bound to ensue – and it does!
“The nagual Elias and the nagual Julian were astoundingly alike in that there was nothing inside them. They were empty. The nagual Elias was a collection of astounding, haunting stories of regions unknown. The nagual Julian was a collection of stories that would have anybody in stiches, sprawled on the ground laughing. ..Each of the two men had his flair, but the end result was just the same:emptiness, an emptiness that reflected not the world, but infinity.”
Had to put that one in! Must admit – I was most curious to find the name Julian in this shamanic context.
“Sadness, for sorcerers, is not personal. It is not quite sadness. It’s a wave of energy that comes from the depths of the cosmos, and hits sorcerers when they are receptive, when they act like radios, catching radio waves. The sorcerers of olden times, who gave us the entire format of sorcery, believed that there is sadness in the universe, as a force, a condition, like light, like intent, and that this perennial force acts especially on sorcerers because they no longer have any defensive shields. They cannot hide behind their friends or studies. They cannot hide behind love, or hatred, or happiness, or misery. They can’t hide behind anything. The condition of sorcerers is that sadness, for them, is abstract. It doesn’t come from coveting or lacking something, or from self importance. It doesn’t come from me. It comes from infinity.”
Have you ever had that feeling – when an almost overwhelming sense of sadness sweeps over you – that you can’t place where it is coming from? Castaneda links this experience directly to an actual ‘state of being’ – a universal one – which is a rather remarkable conclusion. Yet it is at one with our recognition that we are intertwined with the living universe – and it enables us to share with this living universe a special kind of compassionate resonance. The sense that ‘sadness’ is a condition built into the fabric of creation – is deeply moving and gives us the motivation to reflect on the profundity of this often tragic-beautiful thing called life.
“Inner silence is a peculiar state of being in which thoughts are cancelled out and one can function from a level other than that of daily awareness. Inner silence means suspension of the inner dialogue.. What is at work during inner silence is another faculty that man has, the faculty that makes him a magical being, the very faculty that has been curtailed, not by man himself, but by some extraneous influence.”
Here, once again, is this key issue for all of us: that we have had our magical powers ‘curtailed’ by an extraneous influence. So, armed with this knowledge, we must work to free ourselves from this vampiric force by whatever means possible. Here, the method suggested is the achievement of a deep inner silence. The deep meditation state that can put one in touch with essence.
“The desired result is what the old sorcerers called stopping the world, the moment when everything around us ceases to be what it’s always been. This is the moment when sorcerers return to the true nature of man. The old sorcerers also called it total freedom. It is the moment when the man slave becomes man the free being, capable of feats of perception that defy our linear imagination. Inner silence is the avenue that leads to a true suspension of judgement, to a moment when sensory data emanation from the universe at large ceases to be interpreted by the senses; a moment when cognition ceases to be the force which, through usage and repetition, decides the nature of the world.”
Here it is possible to link-in all truly ‘seeking’ spiritual persuasions. Reaching the inner silence appears critical in overcoming our extraneous tormentors – and even our own laxness – lack of sobriety. We get beyond their radar when immersed in universal stillness. But the trick is, to then re-emerge into this present temporal existence still holding onto – embodying – this enriched depth of being. Only this way can we confront, directly, the false agenda in which we find ourselves each day. Face it with courage, and set about changing it. Thus we express – in action – this deepening conviction which is etched ever more generously into our universal souls.
It is the widespread human failure to take action which is holding back the removal from the seats of power of our hidden and not so hidden oppressors, thus prolonging the age of destruction – in spite of much chatter about growing and awakening.
“Sorcerers need a breaking point for the workings of inner silence to set-in… It is very important that you yourself deliberately arrive at this breaking point, or that you create it artificially and intelligently. Your breaking point is to discontinue your life as you know it. You have done everything I’ve told you dutifully and accurately. If you are talented, you never show it. That seems to be your style. You’re not slow, but you act as if you were. You’re very sure of yourself, but you act as though you were insecure. You’re not timid, and yet you act as though you were afraid of people.
Everything you do points to one single spot: you need to break all that, ruthlessly.
I think everything boils down to one act: you must leave your friends. You must say goodbye to them, for good. It’s not possible to continue on the warrior’s path carrying your personal history with you, and unless you discontinue your way of life, I won’t be able to go ahead with my instruction. Your friends and family are your points of reference. Therefore they have to go. Sorcerers have only one point of reference: infinity.”
This advice may appear daunting – yet it’s hard to refute. If our friends and family remain a significant point of reference, we are locked into a relationship that precludes following the path of truth. It is impossible to retain emotional attachment to family and friends and to simultaneously give one’s self over to the call of the universe. This is a stumbling block for many. By committing one hundred percent to the path of truth, we re-align our relationship with family and friends. It becomes a new relationship and a much more singular and defined one. When one does meet – the warmth is retained – but the taken for granted mutual acceptances have been superseded. The message may be harsh, but truth doesn’t come wrapped in pink paper sprinkled with sugar.
“The end of an era means that the units of a foreign cognition are beginning to take hold. The units of our normal cognition, no matter how pleasant and rewarding they are for you, are beginning to fade. A grave moment in the life of a man!
Don’t admire people from afar. That is the surest way to create mythological beings. Get close to them, talk to them, see what they are like as people. Test them. If their behaviour is the result of their conviction that they are a being who is going to die, then everything they do, no matter how strange, must be premeditated and final. If what they say turns out to be just words, they’re not worth a hoot.
Human beings are beings that are going to die. Sorcerers firmly believe that the only way to have a grip on our world, and what we do in it, is by fully accepting that we are on the way to dying. Without this basic acceptance, our lives, our doings, and the world in which we live are unmanageable affairs.
The acceptance of this is far-reaching. However, it’s not the mere acceptance that does the trick. We have to embody that acceptance and live it all the way through. Sorcerers throughout the ages have said that the view of our death is the most sobering view that exists.”
About the Author
Julian is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, an international activist and author.
He is currently president of The International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside. His latest book “In Defence of Life” can be purchased on www.amazon.com or by visiting Julian’ web site at www.julianrose.info
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