While reading Felix Wolf’s The Art of Navigation, I’m ignited with sudden clarity regarding cognitive dissonance. Describing it to Jan, I crisscross my arms overhead in an abrupt gesture to demonstrate the clash of dissonant energetic currents. At the exact second that my arms cross in the air above my head, loud crashes impact each of the two large living room windows. A cardinal hits one, a blue jay the other. Momentarily stunned, they each fall to the ground and then fly off. I took this dramatic synchronous event as a sign to write this blog.
Felix Wolf, a fellow traveler whom I’ve never met, has also deeply immersed himself in the shamanic world of Carlos Castaneda. Though Carlos ended his shamanic line, the energetic permutations of his knowledge vibrate in new ways throughout the world. For Felix it has emerged as the art of navigation, for me it has been the clinical application of recapitulation.
What comes alive for me in Felix’s writing is the emphasis the Nagual, Carlos Castaneda, put on using cognitive dissonance to achieve the coveted state of inner silence, the springboard to infinity. Carlos explained that the mind, with its modus operandi of rationality, constructs a world with a river of energy that flows in one direction only, its true north being reason. Our internal dialogue, the flow of thoughts in our minds, groups its interpretations of reality along this flow of rationality. What the mind can’t handle is the experience of a thought, fact or event that flows in the opposite direction of its reason. When that happens there is an interruption in the operations of the mind that lands us momentarily into a state of inner silence.
In inner silence we are treated to perceptions devoid of inner dialogue, devoid of the mind’s normal interpretative system. For a moment we step outside the incessant internal dialogue box of the matrix into a world of energy. Joseph Campbell once wrote: “Every now and then, while I’m walking along Fifth Avenue, everything just breaks up into subatomic particles and I think, ‘Well, Jesus Christ, that is what it is.'”
When I was in my very early twenties, Jeanne and I, still in our young marriage, lived and worked in Manhattan. Jeanne, employed by an international importer, had met a young man at a trade show and was smitten with attraction. The depth of her feeling did not go away. What threatened me most was that she was attracted to his spirit. How could this be? I was spirit man!
I allowed these colliding currents of energy to crash. I asked myself the question: “Are Jeanne and I not meant to be together?” Immediately the world grew quiet and I dropped into the most peaceful calm state I’d ever known. I stayed there for a while, utterly calm, no thoughts. I emerged greatly perplexed by the meaning of this experience. I refused the thought that we would end. I awaited the return of my mind to overrun the thought of ending, but I never forgot the experience.
Twenty-five years later, I lay next to Jeanne as she drew her last breath in Switzerland. I was confronted with the dissonance of the person I cherished the most in this world, now dead before me. In that moment, the world went silent and a very deep sense of calm swept over me. It stayed with me for hours.
Several years ago, Jan and I sat in the office with the intent that Jan would channel Jeanne. Jan sat opposite me. As I looked over at her, her form suddenly blurred and before my very eyes she transmogrified into Jeanne; it was like a scene out of the movie Ghost! My reason was overcome by an incontestable contradiction. All went silent and I entered that state of deep calm.
In each of these experiences I was able to hold the dissonant energies together and be transported into the calm of inner silence. However, this is not always the case. Frequently, the collisions of dissonant experiences generate a fragmentation that takes years and deep work to weave together, master, and release to the calms of silence.
In the psychological world, trauma is identified as the mind’s encounter with an incredible disruption to its reason, to its normal expectations of order. This can be the traumatic impact of being in a sudden earthquake or being subjected to unexpected behavior, such as physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a “loved one.” These ruptures in normalcy fragment consciousness, as the normalcy of the mind’s expectations are disrupted, sending one out-of-mind and often out-of-body. In such cases, cognitive dissonance leads to a dissociation that requires a recapitulation to recover the fragmented self and the energy needed to withstand the dissonant energies of the shattering experience before one can release to the deep calm of inner silence.
Shamans spend years recapitulating their lives, piecing together the ruptures in their minds that once led them into states of non-ordinary reality. When we are capable of sustaining the full truth of our own recapitulation experiences—reconciling the dissonance—the mind ceases to be dominant and we reach inner silence with what was or what is, freed from the judgments of the inner dialogue, delivered at last to the place of deep calm.
With recapitulation and reconciliation, we are now capable of seeing and being in the greater reality with deep calm. We are now able to explore dimensions of reality that exist beyond the narrow bands of reason. We are able to participate in infinity, with utter calmness.
May we see our encounters with cognitive dissonance, those ruptures in the continuity of the mind’s expectations, however shattering, as opportunities to accrue moments of inner silence. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico maintain that all our inner silence moments in life accrue until they reach a critical mass. At that point we are capable of living in inner silence at will. Cognitive dissonance—like planes that suddenly disappear without a trace—are opportunities to launch ourselves into an expanded reality through inner silence; a reality we are now charged with evolving into as Planet Reason enters its waning stages.
From the calm,