Cleargreen Night Sessions, Part VI (Castaneda on Howard Y. Lee)
by Corey Donovan
Monday, December 30, 1996, Dance Home, Santa Monica 8 - 9 PM
[Carol, Nury, Tycho, Talia and Kylie were missing. From the Sunday group it was Greg, Paul, Daniel, Thorton, Darby, Nina, Larry, Bunny and me.]
[Before we started, downstairs, I showed Grant, Ellis and a few others the pictures from my wildlife books of the Toyon plant that Castaneda had mentioned on Sunday and the different plants with yellow flowers that might be the groundcover weed he had mentioned. Ellis showed Castaneda the book when he got there. I went over to see what he said. He was fussing with the book, and didn't see the small yellow flowers, and said, "These are flowers. The one I mentioned is just a weed." So he didn't recognize anything there. Castaneda took me by the arm and said, "There are a few more dates I want to give you," meaning for the list of birth times and Corona Borealis transits I was preparing for him, "and then it will be complete."]
Castaneda began, "Kylie and Talia aren't here. The big girls are in bad shape. Talia needs a system overhaul, and new programming. They haven't been the same since they saw the Flyer. The Blue Scout took them somewhere and they saw this crocodile standing on its tail. That is how don Juan described the Flyer, but they'd never heard that description from me. They can really let out a scream now. Talia lets out a beautiful scream when she gets excited. I'll start doing Rev. Osgoode, 'Have you been saved?' and she'll scream. But they're also making huge progress now. They're moving like crazy."
Castaneda went to the back and brought Aerin and Nina up, as stand-ins for Kylie and Talia. He also told Carola, "You fill in for Talia, President of Cleargreen."
We started with shoulder rolls forward, and a long neck stretch, where we placed the chin touching the chest, and to the left and the right. We did an upper lung breath, bringing the arms up with elbows out and fists nearly touching the backs of the hands facing each other. That was the inhale. Then exhaling, bringing the arms out to the sides, but not all the way, slightly bent with the thumb of the fist toward the body and hands held tightly. He told us this was a shallow breath. Then we did arm circles, especially with the left arm.
Castaneda told us, "I had the intellectual shoulder. When I was first starting to do the rolls and other movements, I had very little range of movement with my arm. I thought I was moving them all the way back, but I was just making little circles out to the side. I worked with Howard Lee. Howard was my Kung Fu teacher for 10 years. [From 1974 to 1984, according to Howard.] He was a great Kung Fu teacher. I went to him because I wanted more movement, I wanted to learn martial arts to get the more complete, full movement.
"Taisha and Florinda became karate experts. I had the picture of them. Florinda stole it." Florinda interjected, "We looked like concentration camp survivors." Castaneda countered, "No, from the nuthatch." He described the uniforms they were wearing. Florinda told us, "They were pictures I had taken for an article in a magazine advertising karate. I had removed the pictures and blamed it on Globus and Phoebus, but I ultimately confessed. But you were going to show those pictures." Castaneda responded, "Ah yeah, well it's a good thing you destroyed them then. Thank you. Thank you Florinda."
"The martial arts connection with Tensegrity goes back to the Nagual Lujan, but after him, we had just the form of his movements without the rationale. It wasn't until Clara Böhm, with her martial arts training, formalizing the number of movements we should do, that the rationale was restored for the movements. Originally I was doing the movements in the way the sorcerers did them, which was shittily. They weren't good at movement, they were focusing on perception and changing perception, so movement wasn't really their fort? But I wanted both.
"The sorcerers were on a schedule too. That schedule called for me to burn with the fire from within and leave in '87. But I hadn't done anything yet. We'd pulled together this wonderful group, and Carol had come back, but I hadn't done anything yet.
"So I worked with Howard Lee." He did a devastating impression of Howard Lee's mush-mouth mumble, with a Chinese accent, at length. "He was a wonderful practitioner--very gifted. It's unfortunate that he doesn't teach kung fu anymore. He found it demeaning. He was also a wonderful acupuncturist, but he doesn't do that anymore either. He just heals by pointing with his finger. But he was truly marvelous. To work with Howard Lee required no ego, because he was so good that nobody in his class, even his best student, was any good by comparison. He would criticize us all. So just to get out on the floor with Howard Lee required no ego. He would tell me 'You're not doing it very well. You could do it better.' He'd ask me, 'Why are you standing that way?' I told him, 'Well, it relaxes me. This is the particular way I stand.' Howard would say, 'Why don't you sit down?'" He imitated his mush-mouth drawl, "Yeah, why don't you do that? Why don't you just sit down?'
"Howard Lee had a real knack for stating the obvious. He'd look at me and say, 'Gee, you're short.' Or someone else and say, 'Gee, you're big.' or 'You're really dark.' He really had a knack for that.
"When Howard Lee closed down his studio, his students were really upset. We told him he could raise his prices, but he didn't see the point of it. And because he was a Chinese man, he was really fucked up. He was really rigid--once he decided something, he never changed his mind. The mother of a student had an abscess on her leg. She was very wealthy. She came to him and he did his thing with needles. He told her to go home and come back in two weeks. She had big money and was willing to pay him $20,000 to have him work on her every day, or every hour. The woman's son asked, 'Would you please charge her $2,000?' Howard asked, 'Why? It'll heal it.' And it did, within a couple weeks, and it only cost her a couple hundred dollars. Howard was just a dog. He could have made a lot of money for it, but he didn't get it, or he didn't see the point.
"I felt very obligated to him, and considered him my sifu. He helped me a lot with movement. I asked him if it would be okay if I dedicated a book to him." He mimicked Howard responding, in mush-mouth mumble, 'Errrrr, if you want to.' Then later he told me, 'You don't have to have that vainglory that you're writing a book,' as though I was making it up or being pompous to talk about dedicating a book. He just knew me as Carlos Arana. So I took him to Mexico with me once, and there were the galleys of the book--the Random House version and the Mexican translation, because I was supposed to look at them. I showed Howard Lee where I'd dedicated to H.Y. Lee. Howard responded, 'You're Carlos Castaneda?' He'd read the books, and said, 'I got a lot of ideas, a lot of my stuff from those books.' It completely changed him. He was never the same toward me again. He used to be really comfortable and natural with me, and do acupuncture on me, but after that it was never the same. So I don't see him anymore. He's one of two people I would have liked to have helped.
"Chris, whom I grew up with, and did all kinds of malevolent things with. I once came to him one day and asked, 'Do you ever get the feeling that there's some other entity that's controlling how we act and behave?' He responded, 'Wow, here's someone I really looked up to as being intelligent. I just can't believe--it's disgusting--to hear you speak that way.' I said, 'Oh no, forget it. We all have our lapses.' This guy was just so insistent that I couldn't share anything with him. And he subsequently got killed. And Howard Lee is the other one. I would have helped him if I could, but there doesn't seem to be any way.
"We're not in touch. I don't send him Christmas cards. What Christmas card could I get him? You know how hard it is to find Christmas cards and just the right thing to say," he joked. Bruce interjected, "A donation has been made in your name." Castaneda broke up with laughter.
"There also used to be some slick guy, Chinese American who was really American, called Marshall Ho, who used to teach offensive and defensive Tai Chi. He was just kind of a charlatan, taking people's money. He really wasn't a practitioner, but he talked well. He was teaching at a Disney-owned school. He had Howard as his gofer, in exchange for Howard getting lessons. Howard was essentially his errand boy. He was going to use Howard to demonstrate something in class. He told him, 'You're going to have to brace yourself. You're going to fall over. Just do it gracefully.' So the guy started making these silly movements. Howard said, 'Uhh, that doesn't look too good.' So Howard did something and basically threw the guy across the room. It was a classic moment in local martial arts lore when he did this to the guy.
"Howard once had a nervous reaction to something, and it cause this little bald spot on the side of his head. Eventually it wound around and grew until it covered a large section of his head. Somebody I knew once had that happen to part of his beard. It started with just a little section of his beard and eventually it spiraled out from there until eventually it was it like half of his face. It never covers the whole face, which would be great, to get rid of the beard. It only goes part way. I can't seem to use Intent to push it--'Go this way. Intent. Intent.'
"Margarita Nieto went to Howard a lot. I used to refer everyone there, because I wanted to help the guy." Margarita mumbled a response. Castaneda followed up, "Oh yeah, you went to Howard, and he helped you a lot with your expression." He mimicked Howard's mumbling again.
"A lot of the movements I show you, like the arm circles, I got from Howard Lee. They are refinements to the movements because of Howard Lee."
We completed the second part of the lung movement, the breath that starts with the hands and arms down, in front of the body, and then you circle around in front and pull the hands to the sides, with the palm out flat. That's for the inhale. Then you exhale as you raise the hands, elbows back, up along the sides of the body to the chest level or higher. It feels weird to exhale that way, as you pull up the diaphragm, so he referred to it as a "not-doing of breathing." It felt very gentle as compared to the first lung breath, and Castaneda said, "It's gentle, but it can knock you out."
"It was Carola's twelfth birthday a couple of days ago, but she is still free of the Flyer. There are a lot of Flyers in her school, and the potential for Flyers, but up to now she has dodged them very effectively. When I first saw her she had three attachments. But when you talk to her you're not talking to a Flyer. It may not be much, but she's worlds ahead of people who are just Flyer's mind. She can't engage you in pseudo intellectual conversation--'this reminds me of a book I read' kind of conversation. But she is also hell to get information out of. You can ask her, 'What did you think about that?' or 'Did you see that.' All you get is 'No. I don't know.' or 'No, I didn't see it.' It's like pulling teeth. She ought to be an agent, because she's just like my agent, very closed mouth. She worked at Julius's office and did quite well, taking messages and doing a lot of other things. As compared to the woman who was 'just dying to work with him'--who said she would 'do anything' to work with him, to be with him. We had her work for a few days in the office with Tracy and she was going to have a breakdown. Her hair was standing on end, she couldn't manage the button on the phone, and she kept moving her chair. She just lost it.
"That reminds me of the woman who was the secretary for the Anthropology Department, Mrs. Beck, who's the one I got the expression 'frieeends' from. She used to say, 'Frieeend. I'll do anything to go with you, frieeeend.' So I finally made a suggestion to her. I told her, 'You could cut off those curls.' She had these curls framing her face that made her look like a little girl, and she was in her 30s. I told her, 'They're too young for you. They make you look senile.' She let out a scream, 'AAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHH.' I said, 'Never mind. It was just a joke.' She said, 'Oof. I thought you really meant it there, that I'd have to cut my curls. And I'd do anything to go with you.' What does she mean by that, she obviously wouldn't cut the curls? And she says, 'I'd do anything.' What do people mean by that?
"Today you learned lung movements, and that's really important because, from lack of use, the lungs really deteriorate. The secret is building them back up. So that's really important and you should do them all the time."