A Day in a Life: A Shamanic Experience

One day last week I sat down to meditate in front of a sliding glass door looking out over the deck and into the trees beyond. I focused my gaze on a spot at eye level in the leaves of the large catalpa tree and let it soften. In continually softening my gaze the leaves began to blur, my peripheral vision blurred as well and after a few minutes I was gazing at nothing more than a tiny pinprick of light. At first I did not attach any significance to this light, simply noted it, keeping my gaze on it.

As I concentrated on the point of light it began to float. It began to jiggle and shift in the blurred pattern of leaves. I became fascinated by this light, yet I also warned myself not to attach, to stop “looking” at it and simply let it be. “Achieving inner silence is much more intriguing and important than this pinprick of light,” I smugly told myself. Making a new attempt to banish all thoughts and soften my gaze I noticed that the light was moving again, this time coming towards me and that it now seemed to be something on the glass door.

“Oh,” I said to myself, “it’s just a raindrop!” But as soon as I noticed that, it retreated and was once again a point of light in the leaves. “Oh, perhaps it is just a speck of sky showing through the leaves,” I thought, now somewhat puzzled by what I was actually seeing. This shifting back and forth continued. As I watched in utter amazement the point of light was a tiny bit of sky one second and the next it was a raindrop catching the light on the door.

“Hey, wait a minute!” I said. “What’s going on here?” One minute I’m positive that I’m looking at a drop of water and the next I’m equally positive that I’m looking at a bit of sky. I watch this process with growing frustration and yet I resist the urge to get up off my pillow and investigate close up, aware somehow that this little show is for my benefit.

“STOP IT!” I finally yell out loud. “Calm down! Don’t you get it? It’s both. It is both a bit of sky showing through the leaves and a raindrop on the window and yet it is neither, so let it go!” With that I was able to detach from assigning a label, from creating a logical explanation, from affording it importance, from interpreting it in any way according to the foreign installation as the seers of ancient Mexico call the mind, of putting it into a context at all.

As Carlos Castaneda writes in The Wheel of Time:

“Human beings are perceivers, but the world they perceive is an illusion: an illusion created by the description that was told to them from the moment they were born.

So in essence, the world that their reason wants to sustain is the world created by a description and its dogmatic and inviolable rules, which their reason learns to accept and defend.”

I let go of all the rules. I let go of perceiving the point of light as anything in particular. I simply accepted its presence, without attaching any meaning or significance whatsoever. I allowed it to be part of my meditation practice.

As I let go, the light grew larger. I accepted it. I entered the light and held myself in its nothingness. In this place I was unaware of self, of light, of breath even. I was utter calm emptiness. I stayed for a moment, suspended, sustaining the nothingness of it, transported into a stillness that was so familiar, so known, so all encompassing that I almost resented leaving it.

As I returned to this reality I gave thanks for my experience, got up and walked away. It was only later that I realized I did truly get beyond the syntax of this world, for when I was done I did not, as I might have at an earlier stage in my life, investigate if there was indeed a raindrop on the window. It didn’t matter. It was the experience alone that mattered: letting go of this world in order to have an experience of another.

In The Art of Dreaming when Carlos is having difficulty understanding how he could possibly perceive what don Juan is telling him, they have the following conversation:

The problem of validation always played a key role in my mind in those days,” says Carlos.

He goes on to say: “Forgive me, don Juan, but this business of the assemblage point is an idea so farfetched, so inadmissible that I don’t know how to deal with it or what to think of it.”

Don Juan retorted: “There is only one thing for you to do. See the assemblage point! It isn’t difficult to see. The difficulty is in breaking the retaining wall we all have in our minds that holds us in place. To break it we need energy. Once we have energy, seeing happens to us by itself. The trick is in abandoning our fort of self-complacency and false security.”

It’s obvious to me, don Juan, says Carlos, that it takes a lot of knowledge to see. It isn’t just a matter of having energy.”

It is just a matter of having energy, believe me. The hard part is convincing yourself that it can be done. For this, you need to trust the nagual. The marvel of sorcery is that every sorcerer has to prove everything with his own experiences. I am telling you about the principles of sorcery, not with the hope that you will memorize them but with the hope that you will practice them.”

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Sending you all love and good wishes for good experiences,

NOTE: Excerpts from the books of Carlos Castaneda mentioned in this blog come from The Wheel of Time p. 137 and from The Art of Dreaming pp. 9-10. These and other books are available through our Store.

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