Chuck’s Place: Truth or Consequences

Carlos Castaneda in conversation with don Juan, excerpted from A Separate Reality:

From where I was seated I could see the group of boys through the glass window… After three days of watching them go like vultures after the most meager of leftovers I became despondent, and I left that city feeling that there was no hope for those children whose world was already molded by their day-after-day struggle for crumbs.

“Do you feel sorry for them?” don Juan exclaimed in a questioning tone.

“I certainly do,” I said.


“Because I’m concerned with the well-being of my fellow men. Those are children and their world is ugly and cheap.”

“Wait! Wait! How can you say that their world is ugly and cheap?” don Juan said, mocking my statement. “You think that you’re better off, don’t you?”

I said I did; and he asked me why; and I told him that in comparison to those children’s world mine was infinitely more varied and rich in experiences and in opportunities for personal satisfaction and development…

“Do you think that your very rich world would ever help you to become a man of knowledge?” don Juan asked with slight sarcasm… “Can your freedom and opportunities help you to become a man of knowledge?”

“No!” I said emphatically.

“Then how could you feel sorry for those children?” he said seriously. “Any of them could become a man of knowledge. All the men of knowledge I know were kids like those you saw eating leftovers and licking the tables.” –from pp. 20-22.

We in America still live in the richest economy in the world. Do our freedom, opportunity and richness make us people of knowledge—people able to see and align with the true nature of reality? Do our educational institutions enlighten us or merely groom us to uphold an old world order? This old world order is so out of balance that nature is leading the revolution now to bring it down.

The Truth

Nature has delivered a profound blow to the country of Japan. Perhaps we can ignore dead sea turtles in the oil-polluted Gulf of Mexico as new drilling leases are approved for oil companies, but can we really ignore radioactive waste filling the ocean? Who really feels reassured at the suggestion that by the time this waste finds its way to the human dinner table the radioactivity will be negligible and fit for human consumption? How can we ever really feel comfortable eating fish again? Are not the oceans all interconnected?

Don Juan challenges the worldview that privilege and wealth create advantage. In fact, he would argue that privilege and wealth lead to complacency and clinging to delusional beliefs. Don Juan would likely suggest that what appears as compassion for Japan is, in fact, displaced self-pity emanating from a deeply threatened old world order.

Our world of solid objects may be maya—sheer illusion—but even illusion requires some integrity to hold it together. The Newtonian dimension of our world—that of dense solid energy—is so out of balance that nature is unleashing its own corrective measures to root out the culprit: GREED!

The invasion of greed into the quantum level of reality through nuclear energy has now completely exploded. In a world of interdependence and interconnectedness, no amount of prosperity can insulate us from nuclear fallout. We are all in it together; we all live in Japan now.

Traumatized Japan is not a victim. Japan has been jolted awake. Japan is challenged to take the lead and overthrow greed, and align itself with needed change: a new world order in balance with nature. Can we all take that lead, see reality and become a people of knowledge?

Can we align our actions, policies and intent with what the seers of ancient Mexico call direct knowledge, or the Taoists call the Way: right action based on truth? This is our challenge: Truth or Consequences?

Citizen of the new world,

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