Date: October 1995
The Phantom Tollbooth -- My Time With the Sorcerers
LA the stalker's moon of 95
It had not been a good week. It started off disaster and the situation would not stabilize. I worked all night, and ran home to shower and run to the airport. On the way I caught myself being impatient with my fellow drivers. And I made it in the end. So my anger was probably unjustified. Not an auspicious beginning to what I hoped might prove transcendental. But I still had until evening, and hoped to adopt a warrior's mood before then. The flight actually wasn't bad--I had to change in El Paso, but both flights found me with an empty seat beside me, which is important when you're gorilla sized.
An odd thing happened in the El Paso terminal. I found an unobtrusive seat on the border of two adjacent gates. Directly in front of me but several rows away there was a hispanic family, parents and three daughters, the youngest of which was early twenties. They were all attractive, but the father caught my eye--he was very lively, and had a contagious grin. He laughed and joked with everyone in his party, he hugged his youngest daughter. My gaze moved on. I happened to look their direction and caught them both watching me as they talked, perhaps coincidentally-- and perhaps not. I tuned in in time to catch his last phrase, as he noticed my attention and smiled at me. He was saying, "...shouldn't be so aloof."
The car was another lesson in patience. I shuttled quickly out to the remote agency. "If you have a reservation, go through the doors to the left," the tough chicana chick driver rattled into the mike. This turned out to be Alamo Rentals' version of a one way ticket to the killing fields on the cattle car express. I was pipered through the automatic doors, like the wickedly inocuous gates of a concentration camp/retail outlet, and stood blinking in betrayal--the line was eighty people. Five clerks. No way out. No where to run.
I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused--the flaming self-importance of the rants in the queue was silly. I felt superior now--briefly. It is very much a stale joke, to be vain about one's humility. What's more obnoxious than self-righteousness? I mean, if you won't be a warrior, insist on fucking up, at least have some fun--rock and roll, dude. Don't whine about it. And get off my case. I cruised down the couple miles to the Travelodge and checked in. I slickered up and arrived on time. Carlos asked us not to take notes during the lectures; here's what I wrote beforehand:
6:30 FRIDAY EVENING--How Many Techs Could a Toltec Toll,
If a Toltec Could Toll Techs?
"I am in a large hall filled with smecking and govoreeting 'sorcerers.' Personally, I am in a state of lowered awareness, having had no sleep for the last twenty-two hours. I have filled out a form reminiscent of a high school field trip permission slip; perhaps this is why we're in a high school cafeteria. I feel a great spaciness, and I'm not sure it's all within myself. As I looked at some geometrically patterned wallpaper back at the hotel, I recaptured some altered states in transforming the paper into a 3-D pattern by crossing and unfocussing my eyes (largely involuntarily.) In other words, for this evening at least, I am a less than unbiased witness.
We sit Indian style on the hardwood floor surrounding a 10X10 square stage in the middle of the room, for about an hour. All around old acquaintances are being renewed, while I try not to stare at the purty girls."
So. Let me run it down for ya. The trip from the hotel was as interesting as any sojourn into strange country. I learned that the LA drainage ditches have precedence over the through streets. I parked next to a public tennis facility, part of a large high school sports complex. There were people everywhere, and competitions at the various fields. I followed the directions through campus, and was given the aforementioned form to fill out, and had to pass through two checkpoints. I entered the cafeteria, which looked as though it had been converted from an old gym. It had a hardwood floor, anyway, and was bare except for the stage. I found what I considered the most strategic of the available seating. I got bored with sitting, so I wrote the tripe above.
Eventually, a tall bespectacled man took the stage and fiddled with a wireless microphone. (For no good reason, I formed the opinion that this was Bruce Wagner, the director/sorcerer--I believe he introduced himself as Daniel.) He welcomed us all, and ran us through a few points of business (the second video may be pre-ordered, there will be a caterer/roach coach available outside at meal breaks, breaks the news about no note-taking), and left the stage.
A few minutes later a group walks in through a door at the left end of the room, and everyone stands and applauds. (This became the standard greeting and farewell at each lecture.) It is not until Carlos has stepped on stage that I can even see him, for he is several inches either side of five feet tall. He is a dark Latino (definite Indian blood), he is in fact Argentinean. Carlos looks to be in his sixties, but is very animated. He punctuates every phrase with fluid and elegant gestures. His close-cropped hair is gray, nearly white. And English is definitely his second language, something I would never have guessed from his books. He is articulate, but speaks with a distinct accent. Carlos has a stalker's gaze--he constantly checks out the details of the expressions and body language of those around him, never lighting anywhere for more than a second or two. He has a very charming manner and winning smile, yet on the few occasions when he did make eye contact with me, his gaze was very penetrating and yet detached, like a bird of prey. Trite, but true.
Carlos began by stating that the sorcery passes we were to learn were discovered by men thousands of years ago. Don Juan had told him that it was on the order of 10,000 years, but Carlos had always had difficulty reconciling that with his archaeological background. Carlos pointed out that an important part of the warrior's way was to pass through the world without leaving a trace, that it would be impossible to prove the existence of don Juan himself at this point-- he felt that we might infer from this that the very earliest of the "old sorcerers" were indeed from the time of the nomads, pre- agriculture, and thus don Juan's time frame was correct.
Carlos then reiterated that there should be no note-taking. What we were about here was deploying energy, and the full participation of everyone was essential at all times. He said that the Chac-Mools would be addressing the energy body directly, as was he, and that our bodies would like it, and bring us back for more.
Since the Chac-Mools had come into his group and re-energized them all, Carlos had come to view the secrecy and rituals that had historically attended the passes as a waste of time. Energy is all that is important. The passes gather and redistribute energy. It is not necessary to understand how they work, or to believe that they work--it is only necessary to do them. He said that when he confonted don Juan with the same issue, don Juan had given him the same answer--"Humor me," he had said. Carlos asked us to do the same. He again stated that since note-taking was only going to get in the way, he asked us not to do it. (I interpreted this to mean during the actual sessions--an "individual interpretation of the rule.") Carlos acted out the way he used to take notes in the pocket of his windbreaker, on little pads with numbered sheets. Don Juan once asked him if he was playing with himself, since his pen and hand-motions resembled it. When Carlos explained what he was doing, don Juan told him that if he was going to waste his time on tiny masturbations like that, he might as well do the real thing.
As to why Carlos had decided to "open sorcery" to the world, he invited us to invent a reason, as it was only another tiny masturbation--beliefs and rationales don't matter in the sorcerers' world, only action does.
Carlos pointed out that he had been a well-read member of academia before he became a sorcerer. The sum total of all academic philosophy and religion amounted, it seemed to him, to "Life's a bitch and then you die." He finds this proposition odious, and has continued to seek out "gurus," even after becoming involved with don Juan's world. As he put it, it is hard to believe that only one man, don Juan, is not prepared to accept that proposition, and instead try to become a "navigator of infinity." And not with the "soul" or "spirit," terms which have no meaning for sorcerers, but with the total package that comprises us, body and all.
Carlos had asked this of don Juan--was sorcery the only path to knowledge? Don Juan pointed out that Carlos was the latest link in a long chain of evolution, which had placed him at the door of sorcery. He said that although it was indeed possible that Carlos might be able to seek out an alternate way of knowledge before Death found him, it seemed to him a risky waste of time and energy, since he was already standing at sorcery's door. As, Carlos pointed out, are we. And as don Juan had done for him, he invited us to go through it, to become, ourselves, navigators of infinity.
Carlos then recounted his meetings with several wise/holy men. I regret that I cannot recapture the supreme raconteurship with which the stories were told, but can merely try to recall the facts.
1) Baba Maharishi (sp?), an Indian sage, was interviewed by some magazine at the time Carlos was introduced to him. They had to speak through an interpreter, and the awkwardness of the situation reduced Carlos to commonplaces, such as "So how long have you been in America?"; "Do you like it?", etc. A thoroughly inane conversation. Carlos was amazed that the transcript of the "meeting of the great men" was published with fanfare anyway.
He also mentioned a radio interview he had given to some West Coast radio talk show host who obviously didn't take him seriously; therefore, as required by the art of stalking, Carlos didn't take him seriously either, yet blathered on as if he did--controlled folly. It wasn't until later that he realized that the interview had been taped and sold through Esalen and others. He pointed out the danger inherent in second-hand accounts, and again stressed the importance of active participation. (Caveat emptor.)
2) Timothy Leary--Carlos asked Leary what he had brought back to us from his 500+ trips into "no man's land." Leary's response was to ask Carlos what sign he was. He accused Carlos of being a Capricorn and a "structure freak." Carlos derided Leary's current enthusiasm for computers, specifically artificial intelligence. Carlos maintained that there was no way that a giant, miraculously fast adding machine would ever embody human awareness. He used the example of a prosthetic hand, and pointed out that in a simple flesh and blood hand movement the algorithm went from the vast complexity of the organization of matter into living cells, the organization of cells into tissues and organs, and the supreme mystery of the awareness that could direct the movement and how it did that, to the relative simplicity of the actual movement. Man's "mechanical fallacy" was to go from a few simplicities, such as nuts and bolts, steel rods, and flesh colored latex, to the relative complexity of the artificial hand movement, and call that as good as the real thing. (I thought of the intro to The Six Million Dollar Man--"faster, stronger, better than he was before!") He chided Leary's belief that he could be kept alive cryogenically until technology could revive him.
3) The Pope--Carlos had a semi-private audience with the Pope. In the receiving line, the Pontiff blessed him, and asked him, "What do you do, my son?" Carlos became tongue-tied and couldn't answer--after all, he said, the last thing he wanted to do was lie to the Pope. The next man in line had no problem, however--he told the Pope he owned a second-hand bookstore, and asked him to bless it. He had, Carlos observed, "maximized his time with the Pope." (A parable, as we shall see.)
4) An un-named (?) master in India--Carlos asked him about energy, and was told that women were not created by God, but were lesser beings, by virtue of the hole between their legs. When the male energy wanted to unite with the female, it had to lower itself through sex. Carlos parodied the conscientious note-taking going on in the presence of this guru, and marvelled at how many of the most attentive and adoring note-takers were women.
5) An un-named Chinese practioner--a psychiatrist friend took Carlos to see a man "dripping with chi." Upon arrival, Carlos was told that he was unworthy to enter through the front door, to use the servants' entrance around back. Carlos and his friend acquiesced, but when they got there, they were met by a large, fierce man, who promptly stumbled coming down the stairs to meet them and landed dead at their feet. Carlos' friend advised that they flee, as he didn't want to be a "material witness." Carlos didn't want to be one, either, and they left.
Carlos then talked about self-importance, and how it is evident in everyday life. He pointed out that what passes for dialogue is only two people, each of whom is waiting for the other to cease their monotonous drivel in order that their own verbal brilliance can shine forth. He laughed at psychiatry, which he said was paying people large sums of money to listen to you talk about yourself. He said that what are called cures occur when even you get tired of hearing about it.
Carlos then made several oblique references to awareness-eating entities called fliers, which can only be warded off through discipline. He said that they quickly lose their appetite for disciplined awareness. The Chac-Mools, he said, were going to help us bring some of that discipline into our lives, and he invited us to take them as peerless examples of such discipline. He was then asked a few questions, all of which had been answered (to my satisfaction) in the books, and turned it over to the Chac-Mools.
The Chac-Mools then took over, with Kylie being the evident leader, as in the video. She took the center stage, while Reni and Nyei went to smaller stages at each end of the room. I gravitated to one end, which is where Nyei was. (Over the course of the sessions, they changed stages, each one teaching different passes from the center, the others assisting from the ends. In this way, even though most people stayed more or less in the same spot all three days, we each got one-to-one interaction with all the Chac-Mools.) They each wore wireless mikes, and were dressed exactly alike, as they would be in each session, although wearing a different color each time. As the great Texas songwriter Robert Earl Keen says, I am "no kind of dancer," so it was with some trepidation that I awaited the instruction. I had visions of being asked to do splits or some other painful gymnastic movement, but this was not the case, in any of the movements. The greatest requirement in all passes was concentration.
The first pass we were taught was called Redeploying Energy to the Center of Sustained Action. We practiced the pass until we could do it without cues from the Chac-Mools. We then called it a night. I went back to the hotel, and although I should have been exhausted, I was strangely energized. I wrote most of what I related above, as well as making a stick figure diagram of the pass, before I finally went to bed.
Carol Tiggs, the Nagual Woman, took the stage at 9:30 the next morning. She is a beautiful woman, shapely, with dark hair and black eyes. She looks to be about forty, although as a contemporary of Carlos and the others she should be decades older. She told us about herself when she was younger, and don Juan was still around--how she lisped, etc., as told in The Art of Dreaming. She was the only one of the female warriors who wore a skirt, and she joked that she was still not used to being onstage, and was concerned with making sure that all we could see were her knees.
Carol then took up where The Art of Dreaming left off, and told us of her own meeting with the Death Defier. It apparently took place in the same church where Carlos had his meeting. Carol entered the church, and the sudden darkness caused her to stumble on an unseen step. At that moment of self-conscious embarassment, she was seized by an icy hand, while a raspy voice said, "Carol Tiggs, it is a pleasure to finally meet you--I've been watching you for a long time." Carol said that the Death Defier's use of her full name pacified her understandable terror, for she felt it was a sign of the respect she felt she deserved. Carol was still extremely frightened, and would not even look at the Death Defier. The Death Defier told her there was nothing to be afraid of, that she was "all woman." She grabbed Carol's hand and put it on her large breast. Carol was aghast, and told the Death Defier to stop before the other people in the church saw them. The Death Defier explained that there was no cause for worry, that they were in a dream, and those other people didn't exist--only she and Carol did. The Death Defier then offered to make a deal with Carol for some of her energy. Like Carlos, Carol behaved like anything but a shrewd businesswoman, and basically agreed to anything the Death Defier wished. The Death Defier offered to show her the "Sea of Awareness," and Carol, expecting some sort of trip to a cosmic beach, agreed. Instead she was given a fleeting glimpse of something indescribable. She then felt a heaviness in her legs, and a pain in her foot. She was in Tucson, far away from the town in Mexico where she met the Death Defier. She found a newspaper, and discovered that ten years had elapsed in the instant she'd been gone.
Carol is no longer sure whether she is the same Carol Tiggs who left that day, or a Carol Tiggs possessed by the Death Defier, or some wierd amalgamation of the two. She is still trying, even in the act of telling us her "tales of energy," to recover the memory of what happened to her. She proceeded to share more of those tales.
Carol said that when the assemblage point moves to a place where it assembles an entirely new world, sorcerers see the movement of pure energy for just a moment, before the assemblage point, which dictates not only what but how we perceive, imposes its interpretation on the new world.
Carlos and Carol reached a point where they found themselves dreaming together. Their entrance into that state took three forms--they would find themselves walking together, driving together in a car, or in bed together naked. She related a series of these experiences.
When they were driving, they would usually end up in front of a white house, which Carol intuitively knew was her home. She usually woke up before she ventured inside. Finally she did, however, and was greeted by someone who was a dead ringer for the 1940's actor Gerald Mohr, who apparently had a very distinctive voice. He said, "Hi, honey, I'm glad you're home." Carol had the feeling that this was not a human personage. This feeling was intensified by the demonic laughter that issued from it. She bolted back to our world.
On another occasion, she and Carlos woke up together naked in the bedroom of the white house. A little girl ran into the room, saying, "Mommy, mommy, who is that naked man and what is he doing in your bed?" She and Carlos freaked out, and Carlos yelled, "Twirl, Carol, twirl!" (Apparently the sensation/technique of assembling a new world gives one the feeling of spinning rapidly.)
At this point in their relations, Carlos and Carol had a great deal of suspicion about each other. They each felt the other knew a lot more than they let on, and that the other was in cahoots with don Juan and his nefarious schemes. Carlos at this time was very fat, and loved to cook. He would never let Carol so much as wash a dish, because she couldn't do it well enough to appease his finnickiness. On one occasion, Carlos outdid himself cooking carnitas with chiles, which they found so filling that they postponed their daily run. They laid down together on their dreaming couch, and were immediately asleep and transported to the bedroom of the white house. The little girl was knocking on the door and asking to be let in. Carol got out of bed and slipped into her robe at the foot of the bed (as if she had done so for years.) Carlos slipped into an armoir to observe what happened. Carol noticed a newspaper lying there, and was dumbstruck to see that it was definitely not in English. She wanted to show it to Carlos, who had somehow gotten himself locked in the armoir. Carol could not figure out how to open it, and was growing frantic, as now both the child and Gerald Mohr were outside the door asking her what was wrong and demanding to be let in. Carlos (who also had an inexplicable familiarity with the house) instructed Carol to step on a black spot on the floor, which opened the armoir. Now it was Carol's turn to beseech Carlos to leave, which he post-poned to the last possible second due to his anthropological curiousity about the newpaper. When they returned to normal awareness, Carlos turned on Carol. "You fucking bitch!" he yelled. "What did you slip into my food?" Carol just smiled, for she had him, and said, "Fuck you. You never even let me in your kitchen!"
Carlos was also afflicted at this time with terrible fits of rage, which he attributed to high blood pressure. Carol would treat these attacks with some form of acupuncture. On one occasion, she asked Carlos which needles he preferred, the thick or the thin, and she made an inadvertent wave with her left hand as she said it. The left side of Carlos' face drooped as though he were having a stroke, and in a slurred voice he asked for the thin ones. Carol was unable to bring him around, and was about to go for a most drastic maneuver, which required inserting the needle at the base of Carlos' scrotum. This caused Carlos to rally his energy and snap out of his spell. They argued for hours about what had happened, until finally Carol went home in the wee hours. She happened to glance at herself in the little-used mirror, and waved her left hand to clear the dust from it. She woke up with her face against the mirror five hours later when a car alarm went off outside. They then figured out that Carol's left eye had become altered by her visits to the second attention, and that she could mesmerize with it. She said for awhile she took great delight in zapping everyone from the other apprentices to the grocery checker.
Carol then gave us a demonstration. She called up an Argentinean girl she had met previously, and mesmerized her. She then took a volunteer stranger from the audience. She explained beforehand that what she was doing was shutting off their internal dialogue. She urged us not to regret that we weren't the ones on stage, that we could make the demonstration "for our eyes only," and that we could also experience the internal stoppage. It was her hope that our bodies would remember, and that we would be able to utilize the memory as we needed it. I can report that it worked for me, both times. Carol then turned us over to the Chac-Mools.
We learned another pass, Crossing the Central Boundary of the Body, and broke for lunch. Nearly everyone, it seemed, opted for the roach coach. The line was too long to deal with, so I went and sat at a picnic table near the door. At the next table, some members of the staff, who I assumed were members of Carlos' group, were talking and eating. The guy who was serving as master of ceremonies (Bruce? Daniel?) was talking about Microsoft, and wondering rhetorically why no one was challenging his dominance in the software field.
The line thinned out, and I went and got a plate. At the grill, a long-haired cook asked of the four or five of us in line what we were up to. I sensed a sudden tension. However, I saw no need for secrecy. I asked the cook if he was familliar with Carlos Castaneda. He said no. I told him that he was an anthropologist who had studied the magical practices of ancient Mexico, and that he was teaching us about those practices. "Cool," he said. He asked how much it cost, and whether it was worth it, and I replied that it was to me.
2nd Lecture-- Florinda Donner-Grau
Of all the members of Carlos' party, Florinda is the one who most looks the part. She has a face that brings the word elvish to my mind-- mischievous, animated, possessed of secret knowledge. She is very attractive, with white hair and dark eyebrows forming a V. She has a great smile. For some reason, I have a harder time remembering what she said than any of the others. Part of it, I think, is because she spoke of many things I have (at least intellectually) assimilated.
She spoke of self importance, and reiterated what she had written about how devastated she had been by don Juan's assessment that her entire self-worth was based on being born blond and blue-eyed in a dark-skinned country. She said he always picked on her for being a "typical German," even calling her mein FÃŽÃŽÃŽÃ‘ÃŽÃˆhrer. Whenever he wanted to get a rise out of her, he would ask her whether she was being German that day.
Florinda said she hoped we had all benefited from Carol's demonstration. She then asked us if we had noticed that Carol's eyes had been black. Florinda said that Carol's eyes were blue when she was her normal self, but black when she was an incredibly powerful sorceress. She said we had seen something truly marvelous that day, which our energy bodies would remember. She joked that the whole party, including Carlos, had to beware when Carol's eyes were black. She said that she would call Carol before going to see her, to ask what color her eyes were that day.
Florinda then gave the most straightforward explanation so far of what Tensegrity was about. She pointed out that the idea of luminous eggs was an artifact from the time of the old sorcerers, that man's shape had evolved to where most people are seen as perfect spheres of energy. In very young people, the energy is clustered at the center of the shell. Worldly experience moves our energy to the surface of the shell, forming a sort of energetic crust. This energy is not utilizable. The goal of Tensegrity is to redistribute that energy from the surface of the shell back to the center. This will cause our energy bodies to return to us.
Someone asked if the energy body is in our physical body. Florinda answered that while it is part of our totality, it is not in the physical body. Our energy bodies tend to become separated from us due to the fixation of the assemblage point on self-reflection. She said that don Juan used to joke with Carlos that his energy body was in Japan. Florinda was luckier, though, he said, hers was only in New York.
A question was asked about the energetic effects of recapitulating about someone you still dealt with everyday. Florinda cleared up the misconception that we are retrieving energy from others. She said that every being has a finite amount of energy--the retrieval process is similar to Tensegrity's effects--one is bringing back one's energy from the outer shell to the core.
Florinda then addressed the "poor me" issue. She said it was meaningless to complain that one doesn't have the benefit of a teacher like don Juan, or Carlos. She said Carlos had complained that don Juan had the benefit of don Elias and don Julian, that she had complained that Carlos had had more interaction with don Juan and his party than she had, that the Chac-Mools complained that they never met don Juan. It was all unimportant. There are no better or worse circumstances, and there are no rewards associated with sorcery. It is an endless challenge, and that's all. We all face infinity alone--energy is all that matters.
Someone asked whether facing infinity alone implied that the nagual's party was separated after the abstract flight. Florinda answered that the final destination of the nagual's party is not known, but that we were all facing infinity alone right now, even in that crowded room.
Someone brought up the subject of the "energy worms" left in the female by the male after sex. Florinda said that this was indeed true, as was the fact that having children made holes in the luminous shell. But she asked, so what? She did not agree with don Juan's extreme strategy for erasing personal history by leaving behind everything you knew. They were not asking us to give up our families or our lives. What matters is detachment, which follows from losing self-importance, which is a product of energy.
Florinda exhorted us to use death as an adviser, and to lose our self- importance. She then turned us over to the Chac-Mools.
We learned another pass, The Five Point Connection. This was described as being similar to the charging of a battery. We broke for dinner.
Evening Lecture -- Carlos
Carlos threw the floor open to questions. Someone asked him whether he was working on a new book. He said that he was, and to remind him later, that he would give us an idea of what it dealt with. Someone then asked him whether it was true that he had actually written The Art of Dreaming years ago, but hadn't been able to get it published. He said that was more or less true, that his agent had told him that it was too weird, and that he should write something more contemporary, perhaps about computers. He went back and wracked his brains about how to make it more palatable, but ended up leaving it as it was. He explained that he was not really a writer, that don Juan had set him the task of finding his books in dreaming, which he had done. All he was doing was reporting the words he had found in dreams, an act of immense concentration. He discussed the problem of writing or even speaking about sorcery, as its taxonomy had little in common with the everyday world's.
Carlos told us of a comment don Juan had made once about the everyday world of the tonal. He had said that what we consider to be reality was a contract that had been made far back in the past, a contract which we were forced to uphold, even though we had not been in on its negotiation. Why, he asked Carlos, did he feel obligated to uphold a contract he had been given no say in? This is basically the essence of sorcery, the renegotiation of that contract.
The subject of sex came up, and Carlos reiterated what has been said about one's capacity for sexual activity depending on the energy of the intercourse by which you were conceived. Carlos said that don Juan had seen Carlos' moment of conception. His parents were very young, teenagers, and had had hurried and furtive sex behind a door. Carlos felt this was the reason he was himself furtive, and, he joked, short. Don Juan told him that this made him a bored fuck, and that he should therefore avoid sexual activity. Carlos did not like this, because at this time he was young and even though he was very fat, he thought himself very sexy. He said that he still wishes he were taller and not a bored fuck, yet he is still the latest link in a five billion year long chain of evolution, and he can not let these things be the stumbling block that defeats him.
He told the story of a young man who came to him and told him that he wanted to be a warrior, but that he had been sexually abused by his stepmother. Carlos asked him how long the abuse had gone on, and was told for three years, from the time he was eighteen until he was twenty one. Carlos then got serious, and told us of a young girl who had been abused first by her youngest brother, then when the older brother found out, by them both, then when the father found out, by all three. This started at eleven years old and went on until she left home. Carlos said that this was indeed abuse, but that all he could think to say to her was what don Juan had told him about personal history many years before--"Then was then, and now is now, and now there is only time for freedom."
A question was asked about losing the human form. Carlos said that pragmatically what it meant was that one loses interest in the things of vital interest to humanity. Someone had asked him at a previous seminar, "But what should I do if I see a shapely ass?" Carlos said that those who walk around crying about "What am I going to do with my sexuality?" are the sort who would never do anything about it anyway. The truly dirty minded, he said, keep their thoughts to themselves.
Carlos talked about self-importance, and the way we like to collect remembrances. He said that we accumulate an amazing variety of garbage as adjuncts to our personal inventories--old letters, photographs, even ticket stubs from shows we've seen. He told of an artist he knew who had taken a photograph of himself everyday for the last forty years. He also kept a daily journal. This person had already willed all of his letters and other personal effects to various institutions which he felt would appreciate them and do them justice. In the life of sorcerers, there is a tendency to collect things as well, amulets, crystals, and the like. He urged us to let go of such things, to clean our personal inventories.
One of the Argentineans then asked in Spanish whether Carlos would put him into the second attention. Carlos rolled his eyes as if to say, "Here we go again." (I thought--Maximizing our time with the Pope.) He told us that don Juan's lineage believed that forcing apprentices into the second attention via the nagual's blow to the assemblage point was the most expeditious route to gaining their acceptance of sorcery. He said that such blows left dents in the luminous coccoon, and that all of the members of don Juan's party had permanently dented cocoons due to the number of such blows they had sustained. Carlos and his party no longer subscribe to this way of thinking, and believe that discipline and energy are all that are needed to gain access to sorcery. Therefore the answer was no, we would have to accomplish this journey on our own.
Carlos said it had taken him and the members of his party many years to repair the dents that had been made in their cocoons. At birth the assemblage point is not fixed on the point of self-reflection. This only happens later, with socialization. They had also discovered that a person's energy at birth is clustered at the center of the cocoon, but that everyday living and the accumulation of experience caused the energy to move to the outer shell, forming a sort of crust. The older and more socialized a person becomes, the more of their energy is crusted on their shell, and the firmer the fixation of the assemblage point, locking them into their worldview. Hence Tensegrity, to return the cocoon to a luminous sphere, with the energy in the center and the assemblage point at the place of birth.
I then asked Carlos, "What does it mean to say that sorcerers face the oncoming time?" He replied that this was one of the most elegant aspects of sorcery. It meant that sorcerers faced existence without any a priori assumptions, which arise from the habitual position of the assemblage point. Carlos said that don Juan had evoked the metaphor of a passenger on a train: ordinarily we perceive time as someone seated on the caboose of a moving train perceives the rails. We only see what has just passed, and the long line of the rails (our past) receding into the distance. Sorcery allows one to race to the engine of the train, and see what's coming down the line. The past is invisible from this position, all that matters is what's happening now. This is only possible when we are no longer concerned with our personal history, including the human inventory, as it is defined by the assemblage point position of self-reflection. Concern for ourselves costs us that precious moment needed to experience directly; experience has to pass through the filter of our self-importance. By the time we're paying attention to the world outside our selves, the next event has arrived.
Carlos was asked something about the teleology of the sorcerers' new stance. He replied that don Juan's group had succeeded in their aims, and existed in a place where perception was 360 degrees. However, the fact was that we are always forced to deal with how our assemblage point perceives, even when we've gained a large measure of control over what it perceives. Carlos reiterated that for sorcerers there was no separation between the body and soul, and that when new worlds are assembled, the body is unaltered. Thus, he complained, wherever in infinity he went, he was still short. The problem don Juan was experiencing was that he was still limited by his perceptual equipment, and therefore could only simulate 360 degree perception by constantly twirling. (Carlos did not explain how he knew this, whether he had seen don Juan since he left, nor what happened in the shift below, for instance when he became a crow. Questions for next time!)
Someone asked what had become of the Eagle. (I interpreted the question as asked in the light of the change of focus Carlos' group was experiencing.) Carlos replied that the Eagle was merely a name for a vast impersonal force which imbues things with awareness, then takes the enhanced awareness back when they die. In other words, nothing has changed as far as the Eagle is concerned.
Carlos then went on to say that the sorcerers' new view was more pragmatic than that of don Juan's lineage. They had realized and accepted the limitations imposed by how the assemblage point perceives, and were no longer interested in reaching the place of 360 degree awareness. Instead, they had become navigators of infinity. They wanted to visit, as themselves, as many worlds as they were capable of attaining. In this way, they would in effect cheat death, extending their lives indefinitely, while retaining awareness and volition. The world of the inorganic beings is the escape hatch they are going through.
Someone asked whether there was anything Carlos or we could do to help don Juan out of his predicament. Carlos said definitely not, that any offer of such help, if possible, would be met by don Juan's spitting in our face. It is not possible to intervene in the impeccably personally responsible decisions of a warrior, especially one like don Juan. Such ideas of help or even compassion were not worthy of his peerless warriorship.
Carlos made several derisive remarks about centering your existence around playing the guitar and smoking pot. He said that at one time, he had noticed that the luminousity of pot smokers was green, which he had attributed to that habit. But he had learned that at one time green was a common hue for human luminousity to take, and speculated that these people he had seen were merely examples of this type of human. He reminded us that he was a student at UCLA in the Sixties, and that he had been exposed to all of the happenings of that era. He said that it did not appeal to him. He was especially put off by the sham mysticism--dressing up in "togas and flashlights and weird hairdos" were only for fakers. True witches, he observed, were burnt.
Someone asked about the difficulty in the modern world of losing one's personal history. Carlos related the story of having to go to a doctor about a problem he was experiencing with his vision. The doctor wanted his age, height, weight, etc., when all Carlos wanted was his opinion. The doctor told him that he was having retinal problems due to the violence of his orgasms, but that the problem would correct itself over time. Carlos said he could not bring himself to tell the doctor that as a warrior he had been celibate for many years. Nor could he tell him that he had realized that the most probable cause of his problem was his twirling in infinity.
Someone then reminded Carlos that his time was almost up, and that he had promised to tell us about his new book. Carlos sidestepped the question, saying that he had to turn the stage over to the Chac-Mools, lest one of his party stick a pin in his scrotum.
We then reviewed all the passes we had learned so far.