Over the past few weeks I have written about recapitulation as both a shamanic journey and as undertaking the inner journey, doing deep psychological work. Today, I touch on the other experiences that arise as one undertakes recapitulation and deep inner work, the experiences of infinity: of spirit, of channeling, of visions, of seeing and experiencing energy. Infinity presented as a shamanic or spiritual term, really boils down to experiencing the self as energy, interconnected to all other energy, having experiences that cannot be defined in rational terms.
Carlos Castaneda writes, in The Active Side of Infinity, that he did not have explanations for the effects his recapitulation was having on him, that when facing the unknown and being confronted with things he did not have interpretations for he could not find a means of describing them. Don Juan presented him with a new source of interpretation by telling him that “infinity, or the voice of the spirit,” would come to his aid. He writes:
“Don Juan has guided me to accept the idea that infinity was a force that had a voice and was conscious of itself. Consequently, he had prepared me to be ready to listen to that voice and act efficiently always, but without antecedents, using as little as possible of the railings of the a priori. I waited impatiently for the voice of the spirit to tell me the meaning of my recollections, but nothing happened.” (p. 169)
As he goes on to recapitulate more memories of how he had behaved towards others in his life he finally arrives at the following: “I didn’t have to ponder anymore the significance of my vivid visions. For an unquestionable certainty invaded me, as if coming from outside me.” (p. 172) He goes on to explain how he discovered that the dictums he had been brought up with had overtaken him, what he had been taught driving his every action; so deeply ingrained they became necessities. This realization is his turning point. He goes on to say:
“I was aware, beyond any doubt, that what was at stake was infinity. Don Juan had portrayed it as a conscious force that deliberately intervenes in the lives of sorcerers. And now it was intervening in mine. I knew that infinity was pointing out to me, through the vivid recollections of those forgotten experiences, the intensity and depth of my drive for control, and thus preparing me for something transcendental to myself. I knew with frightening certainty that something was going to bar any possibility of my being in control, and that I needed, more than anything else, sobriety, fluidity, and abandon in order to face the things that I felt were coming to me.” (p. 172)
Don Juan admonishes Carlos to not get caught in “psychological exaggeration,” but to accept that he had entered an irreversible process. “Your true mind is emerging, waking up from a state of lifelong lethargy,” he says. Carlos writes:
“Infinity is claiming you,” he [don Juan] continued. “Whatever means it uses to point that out to you cannot have any other reason, any other cause, any other value than that. What you should do, however, is to be prepared for the onslaughts of infinity. You must be in a state of continuously bracing yourself for a blow of tremendous magnitude. That is the sane, sober way in which sorcerers face infinity.” (pp. 172-3)
Carlos proceeded to do what most of us do when faced with the “onslaughts of infinity,” he got busy, immersing himself in work, in writing, in anything to keep infinity at bay. During my own recapitulation I too used all my energy to keep infinity from invading and seeping into my life, until finally, out of sheer exhaustion, I realized it was hopeless. There was nothing I could do to keep it away, including my connection with Jeanne, which both greatly aided me and frightened me at the same time. My own experiences mirror what don Juan described to Carlos in the following excerpt, as he talked about the results of going into inner silence:
“He assured me that a dot of a peculiar, rich, pomegranate red shows up, as if bursting from the lavender clouds. He stated that as sorcerers become more disciplined and experienced, the dot of pomegranate expands and finally explodes into thoughts or visions, or in the case of a literate man, into written words; sorcerers either see visions engendered by energy, hear thoughts being voiced as words, or read written words.” (p. 174)
Carlos went on to have an experience of words moving at tremendous speed, impossible to read. After his experience he rushed to tell don Juan about what had happened to him, as I once rushed to Chuck, needing anchoring in this reality. Don Juan assured him that he had had his first encounter with infinity and although its descent was not gentle, it was nonetheless how it appeared and that Carlos was going to have to learn how to adjust to its onslaughts. In my own case, I too had to learn how my connection with Jeanne was meant to be utilized, what it really meant for me personally, but also what I was supposed to be doing with it: what I was being shown and why by infinity.
Carl Jung also experienced the “onslaughts of infinity,” and many of his psychological terms and tools come from these personal experiences. The Red Book is his personal journey into the unconscious, into what don Juan called inner silence, the place where we are offered access to that which lies beyond the rational world, which has so structured and defined our perceptions.
In The Red Book, on pages 230-231, Jung contrasted “the spirit of the time” with “the spirit of the depths” as two opposing forces that must be reconciled with, the outer rational world with the inner unknown world. When he asked “the spirit of the depths” to give him a sign that it was right to no longer resist its call, he received a two hour long vision that happened in broad daylight. This was the beginning of his journey back to his soul, for he could not resist this “onslaught of infinity.”
In daring to take the inner journey, whether it be called recapitulation or inner work, reliving memories or doing active imagination, both Carlos and Carl entered other worlds, as real as this one. Despite initial fear and resistance, in finally acquiescing to the “onslaughts of infinity,” they both perceived and experienced energy differently. Their lives changed when they chose to take the journey with infinity leading the way, as both resource and guide.
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