Facing Oncoming Time
We met in my favorite convention center. I had my usual sense of cognitive dissonance finding myself in an America Mecca as we drove by the main entrance to Disneyland and saw diverse family groups crossing every which way to get in. It seemed to me that the entrance (like a wide alley) was singularly undistinguished and I would probably not have noticed it at all were it not for so many kids eagerly streaming toward it. When I got to the contention center, people with blue mats were streaming (not in quite such numbers) toward the third floor. In the rooms next to us was a large Falun Gong gathering.
Somebody told me this as the signs at the entrance were in Chinese; so were all the participants that I saw. A group of them were outside on the balcony area doing their own magical passes. I wanted to get a look at them inside but underneath the Chinese characters of the signs at each door was “No Enter.” For those who’ve missed the news, the Falun Gong movement is a widespread group who are being persecuted in China for doing pretty much the same thing we practitioners are doing – raising their energy levels, striving for impeccability, improving their lives by changing their point of view.
We began by doing a breath. First the scarecrow, then making half moons on the floor with one foot at a time, shifting the weight to the other foot, then stretching our hands up and exhaling while sliding the hands down the body to place the knuckles on the toes, finally inhaling up again. We did the steps of nature, sliding the feet back (like a bull pawing the ground) and the lateral kick.
Nyei gave the first talk. She said the passes we were doing came from a different state of awareness, from inner silence. She welcomed us and asked for the new people – she said there were 25 – to raise their hands. She said that Carlos was always very interested when a new person joined them because they “keep us experiencing present time.” New people bring “a fresh view” and are less likely to feel they know it all the way “seasoned practitioners” sometimes do. She said that Carlos always wanted to hear from the new people. She made a gesture encompassing the large room saying: “See the vastness of the sensory input” and then asked if any of the new people had had any perceptions so far.
One woman said: “I felt something warm inside me.”
Another woman felt that: “Everyone was on the same wave -- a oneness -- a buzz.”
Nyei said that since we were forging a new syntax, it was difficult to express these new sensations.
A man said he had felt a “strange familiarity with the people and the room.”
Nyei said that a new cycle of seers began when the seers recognized they would never know everything beyond the human form. She defined stalking and the assemblage point, and that we would be tracking “subtle shifts of the AP” or “tracking energy.”
A woman said that she had initially assumed the floor was a normal flat floor, but after awhile she could see it rolling. (This rug is very psychedelic with a wave pattern that undulates in the third dimension.)
Nyei said that seers “stalked” dreaming by investigating their feelings of vitality and instead of shrugging off these experiences or taking them for granted, they noticed the positions they were in when they felt an increase of vitality and that’s how they discovered the magical passes. Nyei said that Carlos had always maintained that this was a “pragmatic” practice – that one had to find out for oneself: “Find your own enhanced perception. Don’t take someone else’s word for it.”
A seasoned practitioner said: “I feel that I’m with my family.”
A practitioner from a group in Albuquerque said: “When new people visited their group, they all felt there was a shift in the practice.”
Nyei said that we had to resist being on automatic pilot or in a groove, that the groups should make a note of “how do you integrate newcomer in groups?”
We had language and now we could use it for another purpose, to make a “panorama of perception.”
She said: “We spend most of our time at the back of the train, smoking and drinking” and taking everything for granted with a “been there, done that” attitude which allows no room for new perceptions. In the caboose we use a lot of energy to hang back, to criticize, to feel offended; “in the caboose, we have too much time to think.” Instead, go to the front of the train and see everything from a different angle, “where things aren’t so known.” We have to deal with the unknown so let’s not treat the unknown as the known. “Our perspective can shift so fast – one second at the front of the train and then we’re right back in the caboose again.” We have to be aware of these shifts and notice what triggers them.
Being a warrior, said Carlos, is for those who have the desire or the desperation to face the unknown. He wanted to spread these ideas because he was a “proletariat” and didn’t want to keep secrets. Nyei talked about the centers of vitality – left pancreas was for feeling, right liver for ?, adrenals/kidneys around the back. “Because we don’t have enough energy, we can’t be aware. If you’re at the front of the train, you can’t be hitting the snooze button.”
She said that Buckminster Fuller had coined the term Tensegrity – to describe the integrity inherent in all structures, the tension and release that allows their form and yet makes them flexible enough to deform and then rebound to their usual shape when the pressure is withdrawn. Carlos saw the same thing in our own development – changing just one little habit can make the whole structure of ourselves shift and move the assemblage point. Finding a way to fix these tiny shifts in behavior is stalking. The shift moves the assemblage point and stalking fixes it in the new position. She talked about the relationship between “dreaming” and “stalking.”
The next lecture was given by Scott Brandon and Miles Reid: They introduced “Joining Forces” pass (Lujan’s pass).
Miles observed that 100 new palm trees had been planted around the convention center in keeping with the workshop theme of tuning into a different orientation to time by sensing the slower time of trees.
Miles said Carlos asked him: “Cholo, what do you know for sure?”
“Nothing’s for sure.”
“What do you know for sure? What’s an energetic fact?”
“I perceive, I’m alive, I’m going to die.”
Miles said: “The one thing I know for sure is that things are changing, the universe is in flux. We’re only here for a moment but we don’t act as if we are.” He motioned around: “All this could end RIGHT NOW.” Miles said that every year a committee of linguists would pick the one phrase that had been the most often used in the year. In 2002, Miles said that phrase had been: “Weapons of mass destruction.”
“In an instant we can evolve,” he said. If you realize that this is IT, you can get it. If you are aware that this is the last time you are in front of this – that what you do could be your last act in life, then you can’t be so sure of anything – that’s the position of facing oncoming time.”
Gavin and Brandon demonstrated the form: In an instant.
“A warrior is willing to make his last stand here and now.”
While Gavin and Brandon demonstrated the pass, Miles narrated it:
“First encounter: aggressive and suspicious.
“Second encounter: defeated, separate.”
“Third encounter: go back to interaction with a new awareness.”
Miles said that Carlos was talking once and he said: “Miles is very organized but he only thinks of himself.” Then he turned to Miles and asked: “Are you offended?” Miles said: “Self importance is not only a warrior’s supreme enemy but the enemy of the whole human race. In maintaining the illusory idea of our grandeur, we miss the actual grandeur of the universe.”
He continued with the pass: “The pass illustrates that we react first from our limbic system, our reptilian brain stem, our most primitive self. The limbic system sets us in motion, it is reactive and the response is flight or fight. Instead, we must try to act from a state of silence. So in any situation, a warrior retreats for a moment and immerses himself in something extraneous – the fifth principle of the art of stalking.” But a warrior is never alone and he meets others on the path and they can join forces for an instant.
We practiced In An Instant with partners.
As I came into the room, I saw Renata Murez sitting behind the sound table and I was struck by how exquisite she looked. She was reading something intently, looking both focused and very composed, her red framed reading glasses were down her nose, her skin was pale but luminous and she just looked wonderful. I thought “That’s what impeccability looks like.”
We began by practicing In An Instant with a partner.
Lecture: Reni and Aerin: We must learn to recognize when we’re in alignment and when we’re out of alignment, when “our feathers are ruffled.” She gave us an exercise to write in our Navigator’s Log about “What always gets you. What makes you react predictably. What pushes your buttons.”
We wrote, then found a partner and we talked to each other about what we had written. The partner probed into the situation and gave ideas about why or how we could have reacted differently.
The next exercise was to go back to the first scene and fill in the details or the history – how had you been feeling? Were you feeling off balance or tired or hungry, etc. Did your feelings contribute to your reaction.
Again we paired off with our partner and talked about what we had brought to the situation and perhaps might improve our own disposition to react by sleeping enough, not trying to do too much, eating better, etc.
The Tensegrity structure (a geodesic sort of structure of rods and rubber bands) was shown and collapsed. It sprang instantly back into a circle.
Then Nyei said: “Thank every witness to your reactions, to your behavior, good or bad. Everything is a lesson. As a mass we can shift the balance.” This illustrates the “100 monkey principle.” Some monkeys on an isolated island began using a tool. Other monkeys elsewhere also began using the same tool at the same time. “This is the effect of mass energy.”
She said: “Realize that I’m a 100% accountable for my actions,” instead of feeling victimized and oppressed or unfairly treated. The effect of being part of a mass is that we can learn more quickly, using each other’s experiences to reflect on our own. A hermit on a mountain doesn’t get the answers all alone. “You need other people. We can’t do it alone.”
She talked about how our self-programming sets us up so that predictable things always seem to occur to us.
A woman, who told a story about being overwhelmed by too many things to do before she came to the workshop, realized: “Something always happens as long as I continue to think it will happen.”
Another woman told a story about how she felt frustrated and irritable because Cleargreen hadn’t sent her a packet of materials and she couldn’t find the convention center. She was wandering around lost but she noticed that felt immediately better when a cab stopped and the cab driver (who didn’t know where it was either) was sympathetic and gave her a ride in his cab until they found another person to ask. She found that she shifted to a better frame of mind as soon as someone showed some interest in her problem and tried to be helpful.
Another woman said she was always telling herself she was an impatient person. She changed this mantra and began telling herself she was a “calm and patient person,” and, lo and behold, she was.
Lorenzo told a funny story about being in a coffee house, reading his paper. He got up for a moment and when he came back, he found a man (“I think he was an agent”) arrogantly reading his paper. “That’s my paper,” said Lorenzo indignantly. “So?” said the man continuing to read it. Lorenzo was filled with violent impulses and felt like killing the man. When the man went away, he said to Lorenzo: “Eat me.”
Nyei said that while “losing it,” you can always look at your body posture, check your breathing, track your inner dialogue – this alone will keep us in the moment. “Make a tiny shift” to break cycles instead of going to default intent – auto pilot.
Mystery points and In An Instant.
Renata Murez told us a story of her experience of direct perception. She had been in a business meeting on Friday which was a waste of time and resulted in no resolution, just more problems. She stayed awake all night thinking: “I should have said ...” Taisha called her in the morning and asked:
“How is everything going?”
“Fine, I guess, except for this difficult man at work.”
“Difficult?” echoes Taisha. “Pick me up at 3. All will be prepared.”
Taisha got into Reni’s car and began giving her directions along a new route, up unknown twisty streets to a neighborhood of big lawns and trees. She told her to park beside a gate and they entered a park. Reni was reminded of a botany class she had taken and she began walking along pointing out and identifying plants and trees, “That’s an agapanthus. There’s an Australian spear plant...” Taisha just kept walking and nodding. She stopped at a huge 60 foot oak tree and said: “Trees and humans can have relationships. Trees like our speed. If we gaze at them we can sense exchanged emanations. “In the morning a man gazes at a tree, in the afternoon the tree gazes at the man.”
So Reni stopped and gazed at the tree. She felt a pulsating sensation, and saw white tendrils and tiny white dots. The tree was swaying and her arms felt heavy. Then Reni looked at the backs of her hands. Her arms had become stalks and her hands were five-pointed leaves.
She asked: “We use only a bare minimum of our perception. If we use more than our visual sense, can we sense more?”
Taisha answered her: “Stand still and face oncoming time.”
We practiced Facing Oncoming Time again, this time with a tape of wind, bird song, and a thunderstorm. The apprentice musicians: Amber, Robert, Brian, Nyei put on a musical interlude with wind-like sound effects and singing. It gave me a feeling of infinity, of how beautiful the world really is in its manifestations that we take so for granted: the wind soughing in the trees, for example.
We did the mystery spots with the balls and then Facing Oncoming Time form with most of the lights turned off so it was quite dark in the room.
“What’s new? What did you perceive doing the Facing Oncoming Time pass?”
Some people were aware of communicating with others in the room through their roots.
One person was aware of there not being a sun, of it being like night.
Someone said: “Light was like an inhalation, dark like an exhalation.”
One person said that trees were “energy stalkers. They don’t grow their branches helter skelter but deliberately so they can be gather as much light as possible.”
Another person was reminded of going helicopter skiing (i.e., being dropped by helicopter in some remote mountain place) and skiing through the trees, going so fast that there was no time to think; and merging his consciousness with the trees as he skiied through them. “It was the only way I got down alive.”
One person sensed the Tensegrity structure of a tree, “that they are going up and down at the same time, the trunk being a bridge between the branches and the roots, caught in two opposing forces.”
A woman said: “When we look at a tree, we only see the half above ground.”
Nyei said that in stalking the known, unknown and the unknowable, we have to acknowledge the unknowable and that we can free energy by losing self-importance. “We can talk about The News for hours, but what’s new with you?” We need to get to a sense of accountability for our actions, for what happens to us: if we’re having a violent encounter, who’s to blame?” Impeccability is using energy properly. We have learned the predator’s way of assessing the world: it’s a very efficient way to recognize food and danger – a perceived threat. Being in the lizard flight/fight response mode leads to pain, isolation and suffering.
Nyei said that Carlos would tell the apprentices: “I’m asking you to investigate. Don’t take my word for anything. Stand still. Examine what’s behind what we say – ‘they don’t understand, I don’t like them’. Those words mean that perception has shut down.” He told Nyei that she was very violent. “Me? The bunny rabbit?” she said to him. It takes energy to see mystery/complexity. Change doesn’t happen through epiphanies, but very gradually. That’s what why we’re doing the tree form – time has a different quality for trees.
A man said: “The monkey body is the lens though which we perceive.”
Nyei said that Carlos would say to them: “It’s not your fault; it’s not their fault. It’s not a question of fault. Now you have accountability.” You’re not getting rid of your usual responses; you’re just becoming aware of them, and whittling away at them.”
Then we practiced in an instant (the second part).
Lecture by Aerin Alexander: A story about seeing energy.
Carlos invited Aerin and Darien over to his house and he gave them a mini tour of his garden and the trees in it. He pointed to one and said:
“This one is a real fighter. I thought it wouldn’t make it so I just left it alone. It’s a lemon tree – a powerful warrior. Look at it now.”
There was a bougainvillea with red and pink flowers dividing the two patios of Carlos’ house. He had carefully planted it with the help of Nuri Alexander (the Blue Scout). He also praised the hedges around his house and said it was important to keep them moist.
As they continued the tour, Aerin was conscious that the sun shone more and more brightly. She thought Carlos was very proud of the plants around his house. He paused for awhile as if waiting for a signal. Then he walked over to Darien and Aerin and talked about them, carefully selecting his words. He praised them as well as the trees. Florinda gave them hats to wear and food and drink, and told German jokes.
Carlos said suddenly to Aerin: “Look at Darien. She can speak four languages and she’s a true artist.”
Aerin immediately froze up with resentment. She couldn’t look at Darien, felt her breathing become fast and shallow. She thought: “What about me? I know languages too. And I took a class in drawing.”
He went on talking but the only thing she heard of the rest of his discourse was: “You love Darien, don’t you?” Then he whistled an Argentinian tango.
At future meetings in the garden, they found out more about the trees growing there. Carlos sang. He said to Aerin: “Isn’t this a gorgeous tree? You love Darien, don’t you?”
Aerin said: “All I could remember was the fight I’d had with her that morning.”
But the trees made her calm and she felt a liking for them. Later on Carlos was pruning an orange tree on a ladder. Aerin said: “he danced with the tree before cutting a branch.”
She went to work pruning with Darien, but she became impatient because there were so many small branches. She worked hard and was daydreaming of getting an Oscar award for her careful pruning.
She got so carried away she hurt her thumb. Then she remembered that Carlos pruned without hurrying. She said: “We are so involved in criticizing others, we don’t perceive anything.”
She saw the tree, felt its presence in front of her, tried to prune it “like dancing – without an agenda.” She looked at Darien who was also pruning “so dexterously, like an artist.” She was suddenly overwhelmed with affection and said to Darien: “I’m so happy. I love you,” and “Darien opened her big green eyes and showed her two front teeth.”
We did the mystery spots passes with a partner this time. Hayley Alexander and Reni demonstrated, along with Darien, Aerin and Gavin and ?. One partner lay on the mat, and the other
used the Teflon ball in different places, first on the left arm and then on the left leg.
Then we switched places. Then practitioners were asked what they had experienced. One person said they could have gone on being the recipient forever. I think we all decided it was so nice, we’d like to do it again.
Lecture: Announcements were made about upcoming workshops and classes. There’s going to be one in Amsterdam and New York and Mexico City, as well as a new round of classes in Los Angeles.
We were given an assignment to report in to Cleargreen by March 18 (by the next full moon):
(1) Facing Oncoming Time – go out and have a direct experience of a tree and write a description.
(2) Look at moments of collaboration. Send concise specific examples of collaborations you have had.
And then it ended. There was a question and answer period later that evening, but I couldn’t stay for that and hope someone else can write an account.
I found I had a much more relaxed attitude toward this workshop than I usually have. We spent a lot of time doing passes in pairs (“Joining Forces for an Instant”) and this is normally torture for me, especially looking into a total stranger’s eyes and “connecting.” I also have a hard time learning the pairs passes mostly because I’m so self-conscious that I can’t concentrate on the movements. But for the first time, I enjoyed my partners and the passes. I gained some real insight from what my partner said about the exercise re “having my buttons pushed”. While in the middle of doing In an Instant, I looked at my partner and saw a being who was going to die and understood in that same instant that I was going to die too. Under these circumstances, joining forces for an instant was all we could do.
I also had much less trouble than usual with the Navigator’s Log exercises. Usually, I’m so busy second guessing or spinning into intellectual quagmires (“Now what to they mean by...?”) that I miss the actual instructions and go off on tangents. This time the exercises seemed clear and pointed to me and even the collaboration exercise where I wrote – not about a successful collaboration – but about one that had gone awry made me aware that I had willed it to go wrong because of my determination not to go along with another person’s way of doing things. So that exercise turned out to be extremely instructive as I realized very clearly that we sabotage ourselves by clinging to our rigid codes of behavior which is all based on “the enemy of mankind” -- self- importance. Also, the lectures all seemed to hang together and make a lot of sense to me. Maybe I am learning to listen better.
It was a beautiful workshop.
I was tired; my body was relaxed, at ease and aching at the same time after a weekend seminar in Anaheim. When I got home, the first thing I did after getting out of the car was saying hi to all the trees around my house (I rarely pay any attention to them while rushing in and out the house), specially one of them that I usually feel annoyed by because of its thousands of minute sticky seeds that stick on my shoes and on my carpet forming dark stains on it.
I told this tree and all the rest (the two on the west side of the house, the line of trees on the south and the two on the east) that I'm starting to see how much we have in common, I asked them how they were doing and thanked them for protecting my home from the heat of the sun. I touched and hugged each one of them and got in the house.
After eating and putting my things away and before going to bed, I did the form "Facing the oncoming time" ... I felt the breeze on my branches, the sounds and music from the seminar were sounding ... I was still singing. I felt the dynamic mood of the trees. After finishing, I paused for an instant ... and a voice, not male nor female and both at the same time, but a human-like audible voice whispered a fraction of an inch away from my right ear ... it made two or three word-like sounds, and for a fraction of an instant I knew what they meant.
But almost instantly, I got a body reaction ... an animal fear that made me jump like a wild cat five feet to the left and instantly forget the meaning of those sounds.
However, the fear went away almost as quickly as it came and what remained was a feeling of oneness ... a sense of balance and well being that brought me another glimpse of the inviting vastness I have around me ready to be explored.
Thank you very much.
When my roots are spreading deep and far
into the vastness of my darling mother earth
I firstly feel her perfume so intense and delicate
speaking to me from the sweet & sour curiosity
of my strange childhood
and then, at once,
I can feel the pleasure of taking shelter and refuge
into the fresh darkness of her deep embrace
and, at the same time,
the joy to grow my branches
high and more high
toward the light to reach the sky
and the warm touch of the wind
that make me singing.
The wind blows out from the trees
when they want to speak.
And me, so a minute black dot,
against the earth's ice caps,
so vast and white.
I remember then
when I was so proud that I wanted to teach
to the trees to grow airborne roots
so to be free to follow our moving...
and now I have to thank them instead,
my forefathers the trees,
to teach me how to be silent, quiet
and connected to all of you
through my magic roots;
and to be so grateful
to the shining revolutionary intent of the nagual
desvelating the old secret
The science of perception
to the all of us.
thank you for your attention
whispering in the wilderness
I have been recording some of my recollections of the workshop. There was an indescribable feeling, that even now, as I write, comes back, pressing into and behind me. From the very beginning of the workshop, after doing the opening sequence of the Facing the Oncoming Time pass, I experienced a change in the vantage point of my perception. It seemed that my visual perception popped, like a blip in the normal radar, that with several deep inhalation and exhalations my point of view, from the area of my eyes, moved lower, to a crouched down position, even though my body hadn't moved. It was as if my breath moved my vantage point. This was very brief and I tried to physically recall the experience again, with no luck.
After vibrating the areas of mystery, and again after the opening sequence of the pass (outlining arcs on the ground with the feet), while centering my body, I had the feeling of every part of my body opening up, like all the pores of my body were open, and I was vibrating or pulsing like an organic sponge in water, or rather from every pore, inhaling and exhaling a watery substance. I became more aware of my back, or what was behind my back, and sensing some movement there. I began to feel with my back.
While practicing the Facing the Oncoming Time pass at the workshop, it seemed that the merest suggestion would elicit powerful feelings, like growing roots and sprouting branches, and awesome to experience with over 300 people. The roots were strong, yet gave me the freedom to move with the slightest breeze, and I remember feeling very light from my lower disc upwards. While practicing at home, I felt my arms like branches sprouting up and out, then the sensation of threads casting out of my wrists, like spider thread, in whatever direction my hands moved. It is a wonderful feeling to sense with my arms and hands and only the slightest emphasis on my eyes. The sensation of branches sprouting out is strongest at the end of the pass when my hands are opening outwards unfolding and revealing all of the fibers all over.
Finally, I need to comment on the affection that has enveloped me each time I recall the workshop.
Interconnecting and mingling my roots with every other tree at the workshop has had a great effect. The interconnectedness of everything is what surfaced when I got on the plane to return to NY. Somehow I feel more open, more able to receive. The feeling had really been there since the workshop, perhaps I was able to acknowledge it because I was again around a large group of people. It seems the feeling of a group, especially with the same intent, is pressing into and behind me.
Thank you for a most wonderful, inspiring experience.