Creator of the World
In our "Contemplating Castaneda" section of this website, I am attempting to explore a variety of aspects of Carlos Castaneda and his works. Bear with me, for there is nowhere to start except in the middle. And so we begin here.
The following is from a post originally made to The Ixtlan Mailing List. What you are reading here is my response to a lengthy statement from someone at another website entitled Sustained Action - a group of individuals seemingly devoted to debunking Castaneda. Though I sent this letter to them, I never received a reply.
Many of these people were very close to Carlos at one time, and so their words might appear to carry more weight than someone such as myself who never met the man. On the other hand, it has been my experience that those who willingly fly too close to the flame often get burned - particularly when the flame has warned you in advance that it is volatile and hot - and it is my opinion that this is what happened to many people who now find an apparently compelling need to debunk the man.
I never knew Carlos. What would have been the point? Had I known him, I would only have known a man, fallible and human. What I do know about him is that the levels of awareness and perception described through his works are real, attainable, and beyond dispute. Ultimately, that is all that matters. My only interest in writing this response to their statement is that I have discovered for myself that the things I've learned from CC far outweigh whatever he might have been in his ordinary life. Was he a womanizer? I don't know. Was he a liar? Probably, but he admits as much. Was he trying to disseminate a higher truth through his writings? I have no doubt of it. All one has to Do is engage the path, Do the work, follow the path of heart, and that much will be undeniably obvious.
I offer this page primarily to other seekers who might not yet have had the opportunity to experience these truths first hand, and who might, therefore, be swayed from the path by the statements made by those at Sustained Action and other similar sites. Remember - the path belongs to each of us individually. We can not follow another, for then it is their path and not ours. And when we fail, we cannot blame another, for failure is always directly traceable to a gap in impeccability or intent. No one can lead us astray unless we are willing to follow.
Each of us is the wizard. Each is the warrior. All of us are alone.
aka "Medicine Witch"
Sustained Action Summary
Greetings, Jeremy. I'm going to take your "summary" point by point, but allow me to begin by saying that I am not what you would refer to rather condescendingly as a TB (true believer, for the uninitiated). The "code" I live by (for lack of a better word) is not based at all on belief, but on experience. While I understand your concern that many people might try to pattern their lives after the actions of Castaneda, do you have the same concern for those who have devoted themselves with the same if not equal fervor to belief systems such as Catholicism or Atheism?
overall point is simply this: You would find an equal if not far, far greater number of
inconsistencies within the bible or any other religious text as within the CC
books, yet entire cultures & Western civilizations are built upon the basic
tenets of Christianity. I'm not
saying this is necessarily a "good" thing, but it is a simple fact
that humans are lazy creatures who will, if given the opportunity, attach
themselves to a belief system as opposed to a system of Knowledge -- i.e.,
Knowledge being a system which engenders them with actual personal experiences
that do not require faith or belief. Truth
stands on its own, but only when experienced directly does it become Knowledge.
contention is really quite simple: while
some of the people who "follow" Castaneda are indeed followers, it is
somewhat clear that CC's original intent was never to gather followers nor form
a so-called cult. "Followers"
are simply ants in a hive, hungry souls looking for something to fill the empty
hole inside them. So are most church-goers.
You'd have as much success trying to convince a TB Christian that God is
only a reflection of their own power to create reality as you would of trying to
convince TB Castaneda "followers" that CC was a hoax.
People who are stuck in belief systems are victims of their own lazy
ignorance. None of us can change
but here's where it gets interesting! There
are some of us -- very few, but some -- who have actually experienced most if
not all of what CC was attempting to describe in his books, and at that point it
is no longer a matter of "following" what he said or did, but a matter
of coming to understand this his books are validations for our own experiences
instead of attempting to create the experiences in an attempt to validate the
books. It's a matter of
seeing which came first, chicken or egg, CC or our own experiences.
In my own case, I had been experiencing incidents similar if not
identical to those described in CC's books long BEFORE I knew those books
existed. Indeed, it was only when I
mentioned my experiences to a well-read friend that she pointed me in the
direction of THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN. I
have found the books to be a delightful confirmation and a workable
"template" of sorts for coming to understand a system of higher
knowledge, but anyone who would literally try to "follow" the
teachings is, by nature, not a doer, but simply a follower.
There's a difference. A big
could stand on a podium and shout "FRAUD!" until you're blue in the
face and you cannot alter the reality basis of personal experience and
knowledge. You can only rattle the
"faith" of someone stuck in a belief system, and to that extent, maybe
you are providing a valuable service. If
people ARE victims of belief systems, whether CC or Catholicism, the only way
they will ever have a chance at their own evolution of consciousness is when
they are disabused of the belief system and thrown into the maelstrom of
experience, for it is a fact that only when a human realizes s/he is alone in
the universe -- no gods, no saviors, no gurus -- that the sheer terror of facing
annihilation into oblivion might be sufficient to hurl them out of the church,
out of the library, and into their own personal search for an evolution of
consciousness. Whether we call it
"freedom past the eagle" or "the soul's salvation" is
altogether irrelevant. As humans,
we are at the mercy of language, and throughout history, real shamans have
struggled for the words to describe what is possible to achieve, but virtually
impossible to describe. So, by all
means, continue destroying "true believers."
As my own mentor said to me, "The destruction of faith is the
beginning of evolution."
short, it's clear to me that what CC was attempting to describe is a set of
truths which, if utilized impeccably, can lead the seeker into an experience
base of their own. No need to
"believe" what CC says when one has done it for themselves.
You could try to describe to me the scent of a fresh rose, but it's all
for naught until I experience it for myself.
And then, from that moment forward, you will never be able to tell me
that the rose has no scent, or that it's like the scent of an orange blossom.
I will know from experience & personal knowledge that a rose is a
rose is a rose.
now to go point by point...
These days, it would seem that the most common strategy of the few people still desperately attempting to hold onto belief in the work of Carlos Castaneda is what I would call the "it's possible" argument. To each individual point raised by Sustained Action, the "it's possible" TB is able to come back with "well, it's still possible that ... blah blah blah". The reason this response is so naive and inappropriate is that, above and beyond each individual point, there is a PATTERN to the data which has been uncovered regarding Carlos Castaneda and his associates, and the gist of that overall pattern is what is being ignored by the few remaining TB's, in a desperate attempt to hold onto the crutch of their beliefs. My intention in giving this summary is to explicitly delineate that overall pattern in condensed form, in this fashion hopefully kicking out the remaining crutch.
I wish you luck. Truly, I do! I say this because when all the "believers" and "followers" are gone, it will be easier for the rest of us to see who remains behind. Those will be the ones who have actually had the experiences and have moved beyond faith or belief. As said above, "The destruction of faith is the beginning of evolution." You're actually helping us out, although not in the manner you might think.
1) From the very beginning Castaneda was criticized because he did not offer any real evidence backing up his alleged field work. He never provided one shred of evidence that the large group of "sorcerers" he continually wrote about actually existed as described. There was a great deal of early criticism pointing out actual contradictions and discrepancies in his work as well. In the end, he was not taken seriously as an anthropologist, simply because he NEVER provided any REAL evidence. There is no serious anthropologist who supports CC these days.
The world has plenty of excellent anthropologists, but what the world is lacking are good visionaries and shamans. I'm going to address this point in two ways. First, on a purely mundane level, it's been my suspicion for a long time that don Juan was "merely" (hah!) the higher consciousness of CC himself -- IOW, the quantum shaman inside the human skin of Carlos. But as has been the case throughout history, the world has no interest in the "mere" rambling of a man who is perceived to be a "nobody", and so shamans -- being tricksters by nature because they have to be in order to accomplish their task -- find ways to deliver their messages so as to be heard. A hundred years from now, the books of CC will still be "heard". Will the words of Sustained Action carry as much weight? Doubtful. Not because I am attempting to hurt your feelings, but because you're trying to attack the fortress in a straightforward manner with a hammer & chisel. You won't last long. CC, on the other hand, went through more subtle avenues, and invaded the fortress by seeping through the cracks, underneath the door, in through the back window -- into all those nooks & crannies of our human consciousness which are described by Joseph Chilton Pearce as "THE CRACK IN THE COSMIC EGG". Secondly -- Important clue: it's not about anthropology & never really was. It's about finding a way to wake up the human heart & mind. This is the shaman's territory, not the anthropologist's. Ah, but the shaman is clever enough to realize that "shaman" isn't on any job application, and so disguises himself as an anthropologist. Perhaps he meets (or even creates) an old Indian sorcerer -- a mysterious brujo who is wise in the ways of the underworld -- to serve as the disseminator of those higher truths which are available to any of us, but traditionally begin somewhere within shamanism itself. The shaman knows without knowing how he knows. His task, if he is true to his heart & soul, is to find a way to give these truths to his people. Sometimes, like hiding a pill in a ball of hamburger before feeding it to the cat, he has to disguise the truth in order to get the people to take the pill. Truth is like that. So are shamans.
2) No significant portion of CC's famous "field notes" were ever produced. In later years, he lamely claimed they had been destroyed.
What would they prove anyway? Some scribblings on paper? Photos of an old man in Mexico, perhaps? If CC really was intending to defraud from the beginning, it would have been easy enough to produce field notes & photos of "don Juan".
3) According to many people, including his wife, Castaneda often told enormous lies about his life, long before he ever claimed to meet "don Juan". For example, he claimed to have been wounded in a war, when he never even served in the military.
Hearsay. We don't & can't know the context of statements made in the presence of disgruntled ex-wives or ex-compatriots. For all we really know, he could have been referring to being spiritually wounded in the battle of life. Or perhaps it was simply an outright lie. The question is: by whom? Carlos? Or his ex-wife? My ex-husband refers to me as a man-eating shark. Is that to be taken as a statement of truth?
4) Castaneda had changed his last name, had left his country of origin, and had left all his friends and family behind, prior to ever meeting his "don Juan". He even left a woman who was bearing his child. This shows that many elements of the freewheeling philosophy CC claimed to get from a magic man, were really just his own way of dealing with life (running away from everything and calling that "freedom").
It's all in how you choose to look at it. Do you stay in relationships that are detrimental to the Self out of obligation alone? If you do, you're trapped in the grand play of life, the script of meaningless interactions based on some non-existent paradigm of What We're Supposed To Do. Listen to what you're saying: "he left all his friends & family behind... even left a woman who was bearing his child." Understand this: each and every human being on this planet must be responsible to themselves before they can attempt to assume any sort of responsibility for others. I also left my "friends & family" behind -- mainly because they were a bunch of hillbilly simpletons with a combined IQ of room temperature in Alaska in January. Am I responsible for that? Must I enslave myself to their needs because of some accidental tie of blood? I do understand your point -- moral responsibility, blah blah blah -- but the highest responsibility we have is to the Self. In the end, it's who we sleep with for eternity. We can love & respect one another, to be sure, but first those we love & respect must love & respect themselves. In all likelihood, CC "ran away" from the mundane mediocrity of What We're Supposed To Do. Too bad more people don't have that courage!
5) It has been demonstrated that there exists a single anthropological work published *prior* to Castaneda's books which includes, among other things, Native American accounts of: 4 male and female types, the earth as a living being, an axis through the body with "vibratory centers", men of power turning into trees, spirit beings taking ordinary human forms, men being equal to plants, talking to plants and thanking them for their use, men turning into birds, warriors journeying to other worlds, legends of voladores or "fliers", engaging in seven years of celibacy to grant power, etc. (Frank Water's book of the Hopi)
And your point is? There are books published on Rare Wildflowers of the Mojave Desert, but that doesn't make it impossible for me to go out into the desert & "discover" those flowers for myself. The prior existence of knowledge is as much validation in this case as invalidation, each source confirming the other.
6) It has been documented -- in spite of CC's insistence over the years that don Juan's knowledge came from NO well-known tradition -- that in fact, widespread beliefs in "power" existed among several tribes of California Indians. Moreover, CC was acquainted with a woman (Joanie Barker) who in the early days prior to the advent of the don Juan books is known to have visited the Cahuilla Indians. CC's wife has confirmed that CC's original native contact was made at the Cahuilla reservation just a few hours from LA. This would explain the emphasis on use of datura for divination in CC's early papers and books (a practice of California Indian shamans). This would also explain the frequent objection by scholarly critics of CC that his "Yaqui" acts nothing whatsoever like a real Yaqui. CC continually distorted the information he was reporting, right from the beginning.
What DOES a "real" Yaqui act like? Hmmm. I know some "real" Mexicans who speak no Spanish. I know some "real" Americans who consider themselves Marxist Humanists. I know some real Cahuilla Indians (living as I do practically right next door to the reservation) who practice devout Catholicism. I know others who practice shamanism & participate in mushroom circles even though the mushrooms are not indigenous to Cahuilla territory. So what does a "real" Yaqui act like? It's called cross-culture "contamination", and even in the 60s, we were enough of a global community for this to have already long-since contaminated any ideas of "pure" culture.
that aside, I retire to my original point:
a shaman who is attempting to disseminate universal truths -- which can
be verified by any human being with the intent to do so -- must find ways of
placing those truths into the ball of hamburger so the suspicious cats will eat
the pill. As I recall, even the old
prophets of Biblical times were always saying, "God said unto me... blah
blah blah." Well, a lot
that blah blah blah is rather interesting, and some of it really does enter into
the realm of universal truth. But
if Joab-the-Nobody had simply said, "You know, fellas, I had this idea that
maybe we should all treat one another the way we would like to be treated
ourselves," the so-called golden rule might never have made it past the
drawing board. Ditto for the ten
commandments: If "God"
hadn't said, "Thou shalt not kill," we might live in a different
world. We don't listen to one
another. As a species, we need our
mystics and our gurus to disseminate those truths, whether rolled up in a ball
of hamburger or through the mouth of God or don Juan.
Ah, but never forget: the
truth itself will stand up to examination & experimentation.
Whether "God" or don Juan ever existed is completely irrelevant
on the level of Truth. This is what
I think the folks over at SA don't understand and perhaps don't want to
understand. You're attacking the
messenger, ignoring the fact that the message is valid.
quick example/experiment: Let's say
I tell you that fire is hot and will burn you if you stick your hand in it.
But you know for a fact that I'm a liar, I left my family & friends
behind 20 years ago, and I cheat at Bingo.
Does that invalidate the fact that fire really is hot?
If you think so, go hold your hand in flame for a few minutes, then get
back to me. The whole point is
simply this: you can only
invalidate the messenger. For
anyone who has had these experiences and can validate them through direct
personal experience, the message is valid.
The same is probably true for just about any system of so-called higher
truth. For example, Jesus had some pretty good ideas, but if people
are only polishing pews with their arses, sucking on wine & wafer instead of
going out looking for the real elixir of immortality -- continuity of
consciousness into eternity achieved by gathering the Self into a unit of
cohesive awareness -- then all they're going to have are crackers stuck in their
teeth and wine stains on their pretty Easter dresses.
I suspect that a lot of the prophets (Jesus, Buddha & plenty of
others) never really said, "I am the way, the truth & the light."
What they probably said was, "I have found the way, the truth &
the light." But being the
lazy, complacent mortal slobs they are, humans chose to re-write the message
into some passive, non-sensical clap-trap so they could exonerate themselves
through some attempt at "faith".
I have to hand it to Carlos for one thing:
he never said, "Have faith."
Faith in oneself, perhaps. But
never blind faith. Maybe that
really is the purpose of SA. You
can rattle the foundation of the True Believers because theirs really is a world of
"faith" in CC. But you
can never shake the truth. I've been
in third attention. I am
having "memories of the other self" which exist in defiance of
conventional explanation. I do
interaction with the realms of "gnosis" (aka second attention).
And none of this happens as a result of CC's books, but instead the books
only serve as validation for what I already Know.
7) Key scenes from CC's books, such as Don Genaro crossing the waterfall, were reported in more believable contexts by other anthropologists CC had met, *prior* to their appearing in more fantastic contexts in CC books. To give examples: at a conference CC attended, another anthropologist, Peter Furst, reported how Ramon Medina Silva, whom CC later met, did a real waterfall crossing balancing act. Later, the scene with Genaro showed up in a CC book. And beings very similar to "the fliers" were described in detail in the earlier works of Michael Harner (CC knew Harner). Many years later, CC made a big deal of this idea in his own work. CC continually picked up the stories of others, and modified the ideas so as to appear more fantastic, never crediting the real originators.
Practitioners from CC's Sunday class who have taken Howard Lee's internal kung
fu classes have reported there exists a great similarity between many of Lee's
movement sequences and what CC sold as Ancient Mexican Magical Passes. It is known that CC studied internal kung fu under Lee for
many years, even dedicating the Fire From Within to him, but CC never publicly
credited Howard Lee for any of his movements.
I've been a practitioner of martial arts for over 20 years, and immediately recognized the magickal passes for precisely what they were. In my opinion, this is probably where the wide-scale "commercialization" of CC began -- Tensegrity, et al. There's nothing wrong with that -- these are valid systems of self-Realization, meditation, concentration, and just plain good exercise. And, indeed, the kata (the more slow-moving "dance"-like movements) can even be a method of achieving a gnostic trance if practiced diligently over a period of years. BUT... even though this idea might not be popular with a great many people, I do feel this is where CC and others began to realize that the world at large wasn't interested in "the truth", but wanted to be "sold" something that might have the potential to save their souls, or at the very least bring them closer to the guru himself.
with that said, knowing the world to be what it is, who can really blame CC
& the others? We live in a
capitalist society driven by greed. He
was simply giving the people what they wanted, and they were willing to pay Big
Bucks to get it. If CC had already
recognized these higher truths for himself and had placed them before the world
in the form of his books, his own demands of impeccability had been met.
IOW, he had done what was required of him by the spirit.
my own experiences, I have discovered that some of the things CC attempts to
describe in his books are virtually impossible to understand even for one who has
experienced it. For those who
have not experienced it, those accounts (particularly the stuff in THE EAGLE'S
GIFT and THE FIRE FROM WITHIN) are going to see like he was making it up as he
went along. I can assure you from
my own experience that this is not true. Been
there. Seen it.
Done it. Still there.
Still doing. Stopping only long enough to talk to you here on this path of
heart, and hopefully make it clear to anyone who is actually going through these
experiences that the truth is still valid even if the messenger has been
discredited a thousand times over.
9) It has been documented that Castaneda and other Cleargreen people lied about alleged pivotal events in their "mythology", such as Carol Tiggs supposedly being gone from the world for 10 years prior to meeting up with CC again at the Phoenix bookstore. Instead, just prior to meeting up with CC again, Tiggs was married and living in LA, working to get a degree in acupuncture. When confronted with these documented facts, Cleargreen merely produced another big whopper about Tiggs supposedly having been in two places at once on and off for 10 years, an explanation which aside from being loopy, was never offered at all prior to the facts being exposed. When they get caught in a lie they change their story.
Still and again, my comments to item #8 apply. By this time in CC's life, he was simply giving the "masses" what they wanted. If the people came away from the seminars or Tensegrity sessions with something that they considered "their money's worth", what's wrong with that? Even if they didn't get what they feel to be their money's worth, that's America. I've seen a lot of bad movies, bad plays, and read a lot of bad books. I don't get my money back, but chalk it up to my own fault. We have to take responsibility for our own actions. Those who are truly on the path can "see" the truth and move only in the direction of that truth, not in the direction of CC or his followers. In my opinion, THAT was his original intent in writing the books -- he wanted to show people that the world really isn't what we think it is. These are truths that have been around since the dawn of time -- as evidenced by these other books & source material you refer to. The problem was that he was such a good storyteller that people got caught up in the characters & the "story" instead of reading between the lines to see the deeper intent. Granted, many people did and still continue to be reached on the level of those truths, but there are far more who are simply "fans" in the same way some people are STAR WARS fans. Speaking of which, didja know George Lucas borrowed "the force" from the works of Castaneda, and has admitted doing so? Ditto for Anne Rice, when she talks about "seeing" the world through vampire eyes. The truth is out there, Young Skywalker. And it's far more interesting than a witch-hunt for the truth-sayers.
10) With lawsuits, Castaneda and Cleargreen harassed people who tried to use or promote CC's work (e.g. Victor Sanchez), and people who tried to report the actual facts of CC's life (Margaret Castaneda).
Irrelevant to the point. My ex-partners have all sorts of "facts" about me that are about as factual as recent reports of Hillary Clinton being in league with alien missionaries.
11) Castaneda's descriptions of key features like the "luminous egg" were not consistent, and his descriptions changed considerably over the years. For example, we did not even hear about his famous and crucial "assemblage point" until 1984, 24 years after the teachings supposedly began. Yet for all this apparent volatility, CC's experiences always "magically" correspond exactly to whatever description of the luminous egg he claimed don Juan was giving him in the current book.
Any real system of knowledge is a progressive venture. You don't study physics in first grade because you don't know the first thing about 1 + 1. Trying to explain the assemblage point to a newbie would be like trying to explain calculus to a 2-year old. We grow into deeper understanding -- if we're bothering to grow, that is. You're only validating what you are attempting to invalidate.
12) After CC got poor reviews for his book -The Second Ring of Power - the only book which does not include anecdotes of "don Juan" -- CC reinvented don Juan, by claiming mysterious memories of the "other self" which suddenly began to come back to him. This device let him continue to keep don Juan in all of his books from then on. Yeah, that's the ticket ... I just forgot about it, see. It was at a whole different level of awareness; now I remember everything! Oops, not quite, here's another book of don Juan stuff. Oops, here's a little more. etc. And we believed this...
You don't have to believe anything. You only have to experience it for yourself if you're capable of doing that. Not everyone is. No shame in that. Not everyone can be a rock star. Not everyone can see luminous eggs. I've experienced approximately 80% of the material CC writes about in his books, but I've still never seen a "luminous egg".* The path is different for each of us and the truth reveals itself to each of us in different ways, perhaps, but it's still a "universal" truth -- meaning that it can be verified through one's own personal efforts & experiences. I'm not asking you to believe anything. And in the end, don Juan never really asked Carlos to believe anything. This is the value of experience. It cannot be undone.
Several months after this was written, I did begin to "see" the
luminous form, though it is altogether different for me than how CC described
it. The same thing, but different words. So, yet again, validation
occurs long after the messenger has left the stage. -MW, August 18, 2001]
*[NOTE: Several months after this was written, I did begin to "see" the luminous form, though it is altogether different for me than how CC described it. The same thing, but different words. So, yet again, validation occurs long after the messenger has left the stage. -MW, August 18, 2001]
13) CC and the "witches" claimed that the Orange and Blue Scouts were beings from another world who had been incarnated somehow in physical bodies given human birth by Tiggs and Donner. But it was possible to track down the real families of those ordinary human girls, and document the facts of their actual birth and upbringing. This is another hard example of how the "mythology" CC always swore was a factual reportage is actually riddled with lies. And these lies are not of the same character as the tricks of "don Juan" in CC's books, where DJ is always seeking to make real magic more palatable or acceptable to his apprentice, rather, the lies are always found to be covering up some very unmagical and ordinary facts. Castaneda over the years repeatedly claimed his books and teachings were factual reportings of the actual events of his life. He repeatedly claimed that he had invented nothing. Yet clearly this is not true at all.
Perhaps this is a valid point, but it also falls under the category of "giving the people what they want". At this point in CC's life, it seemed to me that a lot of the seminars & such were simply ways of stalking the world. Remember: the value systems we live by are virtually illusory in the grand scheme of things. We agree not to lie, cheat & steal (and have laws against same) because as a species we perceive this to be harmful to the good of the many. And yet, nature has no such rules. There are predators and prey, and in some cases an unimpeccable predator can become prey for a more impeccable predator. Point being: if people wanted to believe "Orange Scout" and "Blue Scout" stories, who cares? I maintain that The Truth Is Out There -- and I am not referring to only the so-called "factual" truths disseminated by SA or any other source. "Facts" can be manipulated or altered over time, as evidenced by the inaccuracy of our history books, the OJ trial, et al. For anyone who is truly in touch with themselves, there is a center of silent knowing that could also be called a Bullshit Detector. As long as it's reasonably active, no one can deceive you without your permission.
14) CC, obviously used to getting caught lying, early on decided to do something about it, and just made it part of the holy path to freedom to have it be a virtue to lie any time one pleases. It's the perfect solution: just build lying into the teachings themselves, and say it is great to lie for pleasure, for stalking, for whatever. This leaves just one little problem always to be swept under the rug: how can you ever know when such a person is telling the truth (if they ever do)??
See reference to Bullshit Detector directly above. Actually, what is lying? Now think about this. We live in an entire world of lies and always have, and these are called belief systems. To me, it's a lie to say, "The Christian God exists." It's a matter of opinion, yet wars have been fought over that perception throughout history. Parents lie to their children all the time: "It won't hurt when the doctor gives you a shot." "Grandma just went to heaven, honey." What's the difference? We all lie and we live by the lies of others, so the world isn't real, when one really thinks about it. It's just a consensual agreement. An impeccable shaman (or "brujo") recognizes this and uses strategic lies to actually reveal truths. I don't expect you to understand this unless you've experienced it. Kudos to those who do get it.
15) In the spiritual and scientific literature of mankind, there is no pre-Castaneda account of the structure CC referred to as the "assemblage point", a crucial element of his entire model of the universe. On that subject, why would someone supposedly as vitally interested in *perception* as Castaneda claimed he was never say a single word about the human brain, other than to say "don't ask me about the brain"?
The brain is an organ of the body, a processor of information, but quite possibly not wholly responsible for "awareness" or even "perception". I refer you to the near-death-experience in cases when people have been clinically dead far beyond the time limits of continuing brain function. To limit consciousness & perception to the brain in the name of Science Proves It is rather like it used to be when Science Proves The Earth Is Flat. We simply don't know enough about the brain to make absolute statements. Consciousness, awareness & perception are perhaps as much attributes of the spirit as of the flesh. The brain is simply the processing organ. The liver processes & detoxifies food, but it isn't the source of the food. We assemble the world through perception & awareness, not through "the brain".
16) Castaneda claimed that, in all life forms, dreaming and waking perception are due to greater or lesser shifts of the "assemblage point", but people who have sustained severe damage to the inferior parietal lobes of the brain, while still experiencing ever-changing waking perception, can no longer dream at all. IOW, certain basic mechanisms of perception actually *differ* between dreaming and waking states, implying they are NOT both due to movements of the exact same structure, as CC asserted. This same conclusion is supported in other ways, such as by the fact that animals more primitive than reptiles, while experiencing waking states, also do not dream. Dreaming is something which *evolved* as the *brain* evolved. Moreover, the human infant does not begin to dream until about the fourteenth week in the womb, as it's own developing brain semi-duplicates that evolutionary process and arrives at the point where dreaming is "ignited." This data, and an enormous amount of additional hard evidence, imply that CC's entire model of perception, for which he never offered any evidence, is bogus.
See above. Science once proved the earth was flat. I used to be a fan of the original STAR TREK and made a comment to my high school science teacher that it would be really cool to have talking computers in one's house. I was told in scientific terms this was "patently impossible." So much for science. My personal feeling is that "Magick is only science not yet understood." IOW, we can only explain what our scientific instruments can measure. What we know about the person with severe damage to the inferior parietal lobes who can no longer dream is that this person can no longer remember dreams, or perhaps that portion of the brain can no longer process dreaming -- i.e., if dreams occur as a matter of awareness & perception and are merely processed through the brain, the processing organ has been damaged & so there would be no ordinary-awareness perception of having dreamed.
17) Castaneda claimed all memories are stored in positions of the assemblage point. But research shows that long-term memories are stored in a kind of a "global fashion" pulling from different locations all over the brain. Removing any part of the brain can have deleterious effects on long-term memory. There are strange cases of people who have lost functionality to the temporal lobes of their brain who can still remember things from their childhood, but cannot remember things that happened five days ago. Again, the evidence shows that CC's model of memory is also totally unsupported, and actively contradicted by much of what is known about the brain.
CC never claimed to be a scientist. He reported events as a shaman would, not as a scientist. Even if he were a hard-core anthropologist, was he expected to have a neurosurgeon's comprehension of the brain? And even if he had, what does the neurosurgeon really know about consciousness itself? When arguments "for" or "against" any system of knowledge deteriorate to the level of Pure Scientific Facts, any attempt to discern higher truths has been abandoned. You won't find the soul under a microscope or eternity in a telescope. They're within each of us, accessible only by the Self.
18) Castaneda claimed the real difference between male and female was that their assemblage points are turned with different sides facing outward (humorously, when this was described at a Women's workshop my ex-wife caught them saying the *opposite* of what appears in CC's books regarding which side faces outward for men and women, and they had to make up some nonsense to cover their butts when she questioned them on it). But there is very well-documented research tracing just exactly how sex is determined, by the X and Y chromosomes. In fact, they have traced it down to the exact segment of the Y chromosome which is responsible for determining sex, and since 1990 have been able to directly alter the sex of an egg which is known to be female simply by injecting it with a *single* gene. Once again, CC's model does not stack up with the actual evidence.
Same comments as to #17. My own mentor once said to me that trying to understand "magic" with the mind of logic is pointless. You can't see the beauty of a Van Gogh painting if you're only looking at the paint. You can't smell a rose through an atom smasher. A journey of the spirit is personal & unique to each of us. Followers & believers & detractors go to workshops looking for some sort of validation or chink in the armor of the so-called guru. Anyone who is truly serious about achieving an evolution of consciousness, freedom into eternity, knows that it isn't going to be found in a workshop. I'm often amused at a lot of online BBSs where the participants are arguing whether one is supposed to breathe in or out when doing a recapitulation, or whether the male/female assemblage point faces east, west, in, out or upside down. Guess what? The only one who can make those determinations is you. If you're going to a workshop to have CC or anyone else tell you how to breathe... well... you deserve what you get.
19) Karlis Osis, research fellow at the American Society for Psychic Research in NY, wrote about how Castaneda once claimed he could send an ally to a place where scientific instruments would be rigged up to detect its presence, but claimed it might be dangerous. Osis (probably to CC's dismay) responded by offering the laboratory of the American Society for Psychical Research--replete with such gadgetry as an eight-channel polygraph, a video system, a soundproof room--and assumed all responsibility for any ensuing danger. Neither Castaneda nor the ally ever showed up. This is the major point: Castaneda never demonstrated anything "amazing" for anyone. Ever. No other person associated with him did either. Ever.
He demonstrated an ability to wrap words around concepts which are real to anyone who makes the commitment to experience those same concepts through personal experience. That's pretty amazing. I'm not defending him, just pointing out that you seem to be trying to explain "magic" with "logic" and they're two separate realities. We have within our "brains" (don't ask me about the brain) a left side & a right side. This is one of those scientific facts. As a general statement, one side attunes to the abstract, the other to the concrete. Trying to comprehend a poem "logically" is pretty much ludicrous. At that point, it's no longer a poem, just metered words on a page. The meaning is lost. As for manifesting allies under microscopes, who's to say the allegorical microscope could detect its presence at all, even assuming CC had shown up? As Mr. Spock was so fond of saying, "Our instruments only register what we program them to register."
20) Castaneda repeatedly claimed, in magazine articles, in public speeches, and in private ones to the Sunday class, that he was "pure" -- that he was celibate -- that he was a "bored fuck" who therefore needed to use all his energy exclusively for dreaming. We later found out he was continually having sex with a large number of women over the years, and was even trying to seduce women from our class. In front of our class he made fun of one Cleargreen inner-circle student for wanting to be his lover, laughingly claiming he just couldn't be that for her. It turned out he had been having sex with this very student for years. She is writing a book about her experiences, so look forward to that one.
Ah, the "truth" from the lips of a disgruntled employee. I'll definitely look forward to it. You say you "found out he was continually having sex with a large number of women over the years." Er... so what if it is true and so what if it isn't? What does that have to do with the ideas of freedom into infinity, continuity of consciousness, etc? I couldn't care less if he fucked Mother Teresa & her merry band of nuns. Jesus was supposedly banging Mary Magdalene, too. Does that invalidate everything he ever said? Lest you get on a roll with this, let me assure you I'm not comparing CC to Jesus. It's just that both were quite probably shamans, so some of their truths overlap. Ditto for Buddha, Mohammed & a host of others. They just had different words to describe it. Where or if they were dipping their sticks is irrelevant.
21) Castaneda, from the beginning, kept telling and retelling the same incidents from his encounters with "don Juan", but often his accounts do not agree at all. For example, a story of a man who runs out of the restaurant screaming after looking at CC is used in two different books in totally different contexts, with directly conflicting story elements (see SA web site article: Story Inconsistencies). Oh wait, no, it really happened like this. No, wait, it really happened like this! Witness the different contradictory ways (also documented on the web site) in which CC describes his alleged first historic meeting with "don Juan". Rather odd for someone who always claimed to be a "factual reporter".
Witnesses to a crime or an accident -- any unusual incident -- often have conflicting memories. As for those "scientific facts" which so impress you, consider this: the human brain runs on what could loosely be called a "program" or a paradigm of reality. We simply expect things to be a certain way, and usually they are. When something totally out of the ordinary occurs -- a man shoves a gun in your face or someone looks at you in a restaurant & runs away screaming -- it is a quite natural function of that human brain to attempt to reinstate its normal program. In short, the brain attempts to tell us this simply didn't happen. Or if it did happen, it must have been different than how we THOUGHT we perceived it. It's called rewriting reality, and we all do it all the time. There's no such thing as a factual reporter, for facts are always -- ALWAYS -- filtered through the belief systems & perceptions of the reporter. There are no exceptions to this.
22) Joanie Barker -- the woman Castaneda claimed had been "don Juan's first disciple" -- was from the earliest days kept in the background of CC's life. Castaneda gave us to understand Joanie had failed on the path of knowledge, and had to be cared for. Joanie never made an appearance, never wrote a book, and never claimed to have done anything even remotely sorceric. But if Joanie really was another apprentice of don Juan, wouldn't she have at least come forward to help verify that this "don Juan" really existed, especially during the days when there was considerable controversy over the validity of CC's Ph.d at UCLA? She never said a word. However, Joanie was known to visit the Cahuilla Indians just a few hours from LA, and is known to have been with CC in the days prior to his first book, so it is probable that she WAS involved somehow in helping CC connect with whatever shamanic sources he managed to find. However, recently, by telephone, Joanie was directly asked by Gloria Garvin (one of CC's lovers for many years) if she had ever met Castaneda's "don Juan", and Joanie candidly replied that she had not.
If don Juan was, as I have postulated, the shaman inside the skin of Carlos, Joanie could have "met" him. I'm sure this will all seem "impossible" to someone who is examining sorcery with logic, but shamanism is neither an exact science nor an easily understood path except by those who walk it as practitioners. Not even the best scholars can truly understand how this system of knowledge "functions", and even to call it "shamanism" invites negative discourse for the simple reason that that is only another word, another label that cannot encompass the knowledge & the practices themselves. Again, I am not defending CC as much as I am trying to point out that the concepts, truths & ideas explored in his books will probably not stand up to scientific scrutiny any more than incidents of faith healing -- yet both can be demonstrated to be "real" to those who have experienced them.
23) Castaneda, we were told by his disciples, had for some time been looking for a special being known as the "Electric Warrior", a being who was to complete his party somehow. Well, we eventually discovered that CC told many women they were (or might be) the "Electric Warrior". Apparently it was another seduction tactic. One such woman, who had been told she was the "Electric Warrior", after making some little "mistakes" that apparently angered Castaneda (including not responding properly to his seduction tactics), was ostracized by the group, and was shunned and snubbed until such time as she managed to drop out of the cult and go get some therapy to put herself back together again. She went from being the special queen of the universe to being garbage, all in a pretty short stretch of time. I had dinner with this woman a few times, and found her to be a sincere and intelligent young woman. I ask you, if this woman really had been the special being they needed so much to complete their party, would she have been treated that way? The truth is: Castaneda used women, flattering them by giving them an "energetic title", then trashed them and threw them away if they ever displeased him or disobeyed him.
Any woman who would fall for this should examine her own sense of self-worth and get in touch with that Bullshit Detector. I've had men run similar scams on me in years past, and when I've fallen under their spell it's been because I wanted to fall under their spell. IOW, no one can deceive you without your permission, at least not beyond a certain reasonable point. We're all vulnerable, but if some man -- any man -- starts telling me I'm the "electric warrior", my first obligation is to look inside myself and see if this is in any way a potential truth. If so, approach it on that level. If not, implement BS Detector and get out of harm's way.
24) Castaneda repeatedly claimed that sorcerers do not die but instead vanish from the world, after burning from within. He claimed that even sorcerers who do not make it into the "third attention" at very least make it into the second attention, or escape into the inorganic realm. In any case, they do not merely die like the average man. Carlos Castaneda repeatedly told us that he had long been ready to leave, implying continually that he might just decide any day to vanish into the unknown never to be seen again. He always claimed he was trying to take us with him. He also claimed don Juan was dancing with youthful energy on the day he left the world! However, after all this endless talk about alternative ways of dying, all the evidence shows that Carlos Castaneda died like any average man. Of course his remaining followers now lie about this, but the truth was made obvious, thanks to two of Castaneda's former students who followed him around catching him on video. They were able to shoot video footage of CC right up to one month before he died. In the final video sequences, Castaneda is clearly quite ill and feeble, barely able to walk a block on his own power, and he displays the discoloring of skin characteristic of one dying of liver cancer, which is what his death certificate lists as his actual cause of death. The same followers even went to the Culver City mortuary where Castaneda was taken after he died and confirmed that the people who ran the mortuary did indeed cremate the body of one Carlos Castaneda.
Carlos had also said on more than one occasion that he was afraid he himself would not "burn with the fire from within", was afraid that he didn't get it and wouldn't make it. Maybe he did and maybe he didn't ("make it"). No one can say for sure. That he apparently didn't burn with the fire from within in a physical manner is, shamanically speaking, irrelevant. A theory: if don Juan really was the shaman inside the skin of Carlos Castaneda, apparently don Juan had already "left" this world many years before. From my own experiences, I have very strong reason to suspect that shamans & those who might truly be called "warriors" (if one must resort to labels at all) generate for themselves what is tantamount to an immortal vessel -- i.e., the double, the energy body, whatever words you choose to wrap around the concept. At some point in a warrior's life, that "energy body" becomes separate and exists within the third attention, beyond the eagle, in a separate reality, etc. This is the double described not only by CC, but in thousands of other shamanic texts throughout history, and it is a concept not easily understood by those who have not experienced it. The physical self remains in this world and continues its journey -- the gathering of identity, cohesive consciousness, etc., with the "goal" being to "install" that consciousness into the double at the moment of death. The double simply goes before us, serving as a receptacle for its human consciousness at such time as the human body dies. No, science cannot prove this. It can be experienced as I myself have experienced it, but I cannot prove it to you.
it's far more horrific to me that some of your followers were following a frail,
sick man around with a video camera than anything to do with the details of that
man's life or death. In your great
quest for "the truth" about CC, you were clearly missing "the
truth" that's right in front of you if only you'll choose to see it.
As always, you can persecute the messenger, but have you really stopped
-- really -- and tried to determine how the message might apply to your own
experience in your own life?
25. Castaneda, in his interactions with the Cleargreen inner-circle, in many ways fit the portrait of a typical, authoritarian, narcissist guru figure. He kicked people out of his group if they did things he did not approve of. He publicly humiliated his people, occasionally accusing them of misbehavior he had supposedly *seen* (in many cases these accusations turned out to be completely false). He initiated "shunning" of his people for misbehavior. He discouraged interpersonal communication between his inner-circle followers, attempting to prevent them from comparing notes on him. Why? Because he was doing utterly ridiculous things with them individually which he did not want them talking over, like having intercourse with female followers on the basis that his sperm was "heavier" than that of a normal man and would "fix her energy".
Ho hum. The messenger or the message?
26. Carol Tiggs apparently received explicitly written out *scripts* detailing what she was to tell other Cleargreen insiders regarding certain key elements of Castaneda's mythology. We know this, because one of those scripts was recovered from the trash outside her house. Now supposedly this was the "nagual woman", allegedly one of the most powerful beings in the universe. So why did she need to have prewritten scripts telling her how to interact with other members of the Cleargreen staff?
Again, at this point the "group" was stalking the world, predator/prey, giving the public what they wanted. Since the public is comprised largely of people who remain "asleep" and are only looking for entertainment -- even if that entertainment happens to be on a spiritual level, such as going to a seminar by Castaneda, Sylvia Browne, or The Amazing Kreskin -- the fact remains that these people aren't looking for any sense of "truth", but are only looking to be entertained. They paid their nickel and they took their chance.
27. Florinda Donner, one of the witches, was forced to leave her doctoral program, after heavy suspicions of plagiarism arose regarding her work on her book SHABONO, wherein she claimed to have lived for an extended period with the Yanomomo Indians. Her book is suspiciously very similar to that of an earlier author on the same topic, and a careful review of the actual chronological events of her life leaves one wondering when she could have found the time to even do what she claimed. A statement from her professors exists, expressing puzzlement over these very matters. So it looks as if Florinda tried the same trick Castaneda successfully used to make himself famous -- i.e. borrow a few facts and mix them with extraordinary fiction -- but ... she got caught.
How many doctoral theses are plagiarized every day? The message or the messenger? Actually, Florinda isn't even the "messenger" except to those who are followers of the followers. She was, at most, a fellow apprentice.
28. Florinda Donner was married and living with her husband in Manhattan Beach until mid-1972, so it is nearly impossible to fit the trips and long sequences with don Juan and the women of his party described in Florinda's book Being-in-Dreaming into Florinda's real-life chronology for the period of mid-1972 to
(the year don Juan's party supposedly departed from the world), especially
considering that she was then attending UCLA full time.
Florinda never even mentioned being married, of course.
In general, the chronologies of the real lives of all of the women cast
extreme doubt on their claims of having interacted with CC's "don
You can't see the forest for the trees, can you? It's entirely possible -- probable, in fact -- that those who were closest to CC, including Florinda & a couple of the others -- knew exactly who & what don Juan was/is, that being the shamanic manifestation within Castaneda himself. Quite often, our greatest teachers are the ones we find within ourselves, for ultimately no "external" validation is desirable nor possible. If CC spent most of his life playing the straight man to his own internal don Juan, he's had the last laugh as far as I'm concerned. The shaman is a being who is (symbolically?) dismembered and rebuilt in the underworld -- rebuilt with so-called "magickal" elements, sometimes even outfitted with a "spirit" which is or becomes "the double". These things happen in "visions" or journeys to the "underworld" -- and, again, to someone who has no direct personal experience of this, it is virtually impossible to explain, certainly almost impossible to understand. In my own personal experience, I was taken into that shamanic underworld, literally torn apart & "gutted" fantastical beasts which defy explanation, and when only my skin remained and was stretched out on the ground, a shamanic "double" lay down inside my skin and proceeded to sew himself inside. IMPORTANT NOTE: This was BEFORE I had read any accounts of shamanic initiations, but upon researching this, I find it is a common happening. So it could be said that people who meet "me" also meet the shaman within me. He is far "wiser" than my ordinary-awareness personage, and has revealed a lot of higher truths to people with whom I work. On the other hand, you can discredit me up one side and down the other. I've lied to my own mother. I've cheated at poker. One has little to do with the other.
29. Large individual disbursements of cash, taken from workshop proceeds, were made to individuals working for Cleargreen, Inc. A considerable part of the money being made via the Tensegrity workshops was not being put back into the corporation at all, but was, rather, being distributed directly to the shareholders of the corporation, who were the Cleargreen employees themselves. To give just one example, in a September
statement recovered from court records, Florinda, Taisha, and Carol each
received shareholder distributions in excess of $70,000 apiece.
So some people made some money. The Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations in the world. So what? People got what they paid for with regard to the seminars, Tensegrity workshops, etc. I run my own business and get paid, too. Sometimes I stick a few bucks in a slot machine, but it's my buck to stick. I've "delivered the goods" with regard to the business. If the ring I sell someone doesn't fit them a week later, it's hardly my fault.
30. Around the time Castaneda died and was cremated, some of the prominent women associated with his party bought new cars and soon afterwards split town. To the uninformed, this might look as though they all may have burned from within with the master or something -- but you don't need new cars in the second attention, now do you?
You really sound bitter. I don't intend that as a judgment call, just an observation of what is. Clearly you feel you've been hurt by CC or something to do with his teachings, yet I can't help but think that you gave your permission to be deceived, and now you're whining about it, trying to save the world from the works of your self-perceived devil. As I say, I'm not interested in defending Castaneda, only in reminding people that the truth stands on its own for those who truly seek it. You can't follow Castaneda or Jesus or Buddha or anybody else. You can learn from what they had to say, perhaps, but how you put the information to use is up to you. Obviously you still have some time left in the world, Jeremy. Who's to say how much? Do you really want to spend that time locked in this hate-filled pursuit of a dead man, or is there even a spark still alive inside you that might be able to find its own journey into the infinite?
Give me an F. F! Give me an R. R! Give me an A. A! Give me a U. U! Give me a D. D!
that spell? FRAUD! What's that
spell? FRAUD!! What's that spell?
Obviously this is a pursuit filled with passion for you, but is it the kind of passion you want? Seriously, I wish you would think about that. Who are you? Who or what CC might have been really doesn't matter. You've clearly learned some valuable lessons from him, one way or another. Thank the spirit, take what you've learned, and go discover yourself. You might just be amazed!
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