Don Juan comments to Carlos Castaneda in The Art of Dreaming: “Your unbiased reaction is that you can’t stand chains, and you would forfeit your life to break them.”
Carlos had been tricked in his dreaming, as he explored a world of spirit entities. Those entities have much to teach a journeyer, but they exact a huge price for sharing their knowledge. In this case, they sought to entice Carlos to stay in their world, as his high frequency energy provided much entertainment to the more stationary beings of that realm. He survived their obvious attempts to cater to his curiosity but hadn’t bargained for their trickery, which targeted his unbiased reaction that Don Juan spoke of.
What Carlos hadn’t anticipated was an encounter these spirit entities set up for him in their world, contact with a trapped being presenting as a seven-year-old girl, with powerful blue eyes, seeking his help. Spontaneously, he shouted his intent to merge his energy with that prisoner child and set her free. With this impulsive move he became the prisoner, nothing more than a limp figure lying at the bottom of an empty pit, his vital energy completely exhausted.
Carlos was rescued by his warrior cohorts, but his journey marked a turning point for the future of his shamanic line. Carlos and his warrior party ultimately decided to end the shaman’s code of silence and anonymity, launching Tensegrity, freely giving away the technology and knowledge of the Ancient Shamans of Mexico, and formally ending their shamanic line. These actions formatted ancient knowledge to gain footing and have utility in our changing times.
Shamans have always been the spirit journeyers who healed others through soul retrievals, finding lost parts and returning them to the victim, effecting the cure of restored wholeness. Thus, those afflicted with illness depended upon the shaman to provide their cure. In our time it has become clear that healing effected by the hands of another does not hold up if the individual has not inwardly solved the challenge presented by the illness.
The evolutionary shift Carlos and his cohorts made was to offer the tools of empowerment and healing to all to heal themselves. In my psychotherapy practice the tool of recapitulation that I learned in the shaman’s world has proven most effective in the total cure of PTSD. That tool offers every individual the opportunity to completely restore their own lost wholeness as they encounter and integrate split off parts of themselves that were previously lost to traumatic experience.
Through this method, rescue is transformed into self-empowerment. The role of helper becomes one of teaching and supporting this healing practice. The role of healer is transferred to the seeker who is empowered to truly know and reconcile the whole truth of their lives. This is healing through self-empowerment versus the tentativeness and dependence upon the actions of another.
Thus, Carlos transformed his proclivity to rescue into giving away his knowledge that all who truly seek to heal be empowered to heal themselves. In this time of great instability we are empowered to find stability in the consolidation of our wholeness through our personal practice of recapitulation. Thank you, Carlos, for this evolutionary gift.
A shamanic journey is one that ventures beyond the crust of the known world into the heart of darkness where hidden influences upon ordinary life are revealed. The journey is initiated through a breakdown of the dominant normal perceptions and expectations of the world that then opens the door to the fuller reality underlying the prevailing worldview.
At this moment the world finds itself in the midst of the breakdown phase of a collective shamanic journey. The shaman responsible for catalyzing this phase of the journey is the president of the United States, Donald Trump. Wikipedia defines a shaman as “someone who is regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.” Donald Trump’s ritualistic trancelike tweets and the influences he exposes the world to qualify him as a shaman.
I would argue that Donald Trump has opened the porthole to “other worldly spirits” by systematically breaking down the agreed upon decorum that has for a long time ruled the central office of world power, the United State’s presidency. In prior administrations a high values decorum of behavior set a leadership standard agreed upon by a majority of the world’s nations and populations that generated a strong border wall to fend off possession by malevolent spirits. That wall has been completely shattered with the “shithole” adjective President Trump has applied to some other nations.
Rather than debate the ethics of Donald Trump’s behavior I focus on the disintegrating influence his actions accelerate upon our long held consensus reality. In shamanic terms, the rigid fixation of our collective agreed-upon world reality is currently in free fall. On an individual level basic security is severely threatened and has given rise to a host of acute psychiatric disturbances.
Though many might point to the removal or defeat of Donald Trump as an antidote to the current madness, and this may be a necessary or helpful action, I think he is a representative or a pawn of a much greater process of transformation.
The world prior to Donald Trump’s presidency was unsustainable. Human population with its ever expanding needs can no longer be accommodated within the confines of balance upon this planet. Donald Trump did not cause climate change, though he certainly has made every effort to undue efforts to address the crisis it has generated. The reality that our consensus world needs reconfiguring transcends who the current leaders of the world are. This reconfiguring involves all of nature, which is, quite independently of human action, molding a new world.
The dependence upon a world leader to mesmerically fixate human consciousness upon an agreed upon reality is an outdated technology. Carlos Castaneda was the last shaman leader of a shamanic line that extended back 16 generations. His teacher, the nagual don Juan Matus made it abundantly clear to him that infinity had determined that Carlos was the end of the line, that there would be no new nagual, or shamanic leader, to direct the future for his shamanic line.
With that, Carlos and his shamanic party altered the course of future direction of the line by birthing a virtual internet of shamanism. All the secrets were revealed, all the shamanic technology to journey beyond the confines of ordinary reality was made available to everyone, regardless of age, race, sex, creed or color. All that is required to initiate the journey is the intent to evolve. And that journey is an individual experiential journey, available to all who live in this world.
That intent to evolve is the intent for total freedom unfettered by the materialistic preoccupation of our current old world consensus reality. The technology of this shamanic perspective frees its energy from being offended by world tyrants and instead deploys it in the exploration of the much broader world of energy and the possibilities there that facilitate a new balance within each individual and here upon the earth as a whole.
Donald Trump’s behavior leads us to the same shamanic reality: we all must assume responsibility for our own journeys, the era of paternalistic security is over. We have all been launched on a collective shamanic journey and must decide individually what spirits, benevolent or malevolent, will influence our present lives. Though malevolent spirits have a definite role in the breakdown phase of change, they are not the foundation of a sustainable new balance.
For that we need both our intent to evolve and the support of benevolent spirits.
To be special warms the heart; to be special tears us apart. Why this contradiction?
Both Carlos Castaneda and his teacher, don Juan Matus, who’s lineage stemmed directly from the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, taught with both humour and piercing seriousness that the greatest scourge of humankind was the need to be special. They pointed to the internal dialogue we all experience that constantly judges everyone and everything, particularly the self, which is judged as either less than or better than everyone else.
From an adaptive perspective those shamans speculated that our ability to make these rapid judgements serves well our ability to survive as we navigate our predatory world. Less benevolently they point to the lion’s share of personal energy that all humans spend grooming and protecting their self importance. This energy is then lost to the evolving human potential, which to access requires a shutting down of the overarching investment we make in feeling and being judged as special.
And yet, feeling genuinely special is thought to be one of the most necessary prerequisites to feeling worthy enough to be in this world and to feeling secure enough to partake of its bountiful opportunities. Hence, the field of mental health places a premium on attachment and the quality of care in foundational relationships in childhood.
Unarguably, the quality of attention children receive in childhood places a powerful imprint on the incessant internal dialogue they will repeat to themselves as they form an identity and strategy for living. A neglected child might become the adult whose internal dialogue incessantly reminds them that they are not worthy to live other than to serve the needs of others and that they should be grateful that they are even tolerated by others.
The overly valued child might constantly be reminded by their internal dialogue that they are superior, really of royalty, entitled to the adoration and respect of the mere mortals that surround them.
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico would argue that the true culprit here is the internal dialogue itself that channels our energy into defining and upholding our self importance, good or bad, for the better part of our lives. Rather than focus on challenging the message of the internal dialogue those shamans encourage eliminating the dialogue itself, which then frees our energy to explore our true innate potential, unbiased by the judgements that usually limit our sense of self.
From this perspective there is no advantage to having had a special versus neglected childhood. Either way we are saddled with the limiting judgements that steal away our vital energy for life. The real culprit is the internal dialogue, the true dungeon master of our lives. Rich and poor alike are saddled with the same enslavement. In fact, it could be argued that a neglected childhood may offer the advantage of seeking versus merely indulging in life.
The question of specialness is at the forefront of our current world fixation. Our world leaders express entitlement for their special interests and needs over and above the needs of others. Truthfully, persons of different cultures and religions share the same attachment to their own specialness over the needs of competing or just plain other groups.
Family, the foundation of a society, is perhaps the greatest perpetrator of specialness. “Blood is thicker than water” is the adage that summarizes this fixation of the internal dialogue. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico considered it crucial to break this fixation in order to free the trapped energy spent upholding it, to then have it available to be employed in the full realization of selfhood beyond the border of specialness.
Their methods to achieve this coup may sound severe, but they actually coalesce with the Buddhist practice of detachment. The shamans call their practice “erasing personal history.” The practice is to separate the special significance afforded family and loved ones, merely because of their family ranking and role, as well as to reduce emotional attachments. While not denying any of the truths of these relationships, the goal is to reduce them to the level of all human experiences, all entitlements removed.
Thus if someone has failed me, I fully face my feelings, but by removing the pressure of my entitlement, due to familial bonds, I am freed to see all my family and neighbors equally. A world where all is viewed equally is the template for the world we are evolving into, despite current appearances!
Freedom from the constraint of specialness is the practice that readies us for a world built on true universal love. Override the internal dialogue that creates hierarchy and special groupings with universal compassion for all beings.
Every 2,150 years the Earth tilts toward a different constellation. This repeats itself twelve times before it completes a full revolution on it axis for a total of 26,000 years.
Astrologers assign to each of these epochs a different zodiacal sign. Earth is just completing its 2,000 year plus stay in the sign of Pisces. We are currently indeed at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, the beginning of a new 2,000 year era.
“And now we are moving into Aquarius,” wrote Carl Jung in a letter in 1955, “of which the Sibylline books say, …Aquarius inflames the savage forces of Lucifer.”*
As with the ending of any epoch, new life is preceded by great destruction. Put another way, we are in the early contractions of a cosmic birth. Jung’s final vision on his deathbed in 1961 was a vastly changed Earth, some 50 years in the future. This vision is shared by many psychics. In fact, Jan channeled a similar prediction in which Jeanne suggested that the re-formation of earth mass may create a whole new orbit of the planet.
Whether these predicted changes will occur through nuclear engagement, currently threatening the world, or through the melting of the ice caps and the rising oceans, or some combination of both, it’s pretty clear that major change is already in motion. The saving grace is that all predictions suggest that, though deeply challenged, the Earth and life will endure.
Aquarius is the water bearer, and it is associated with all things water, from nurturance to flood. Aquarius is also forward looking, idealistic, bent on freedom and humanitarianism. These are the higher chakras in the human energy system, from the heart to the third eye, the mental and spiritual planes.
The period we are exiting, Pisces, was characterized by hierarchy and power, the chakra of the ego or solar plexus and its dominance of the lower chakras, particularly sexuality.
The religions of the Piscean era offered their guidance and garnered their power through insistence on belief and forced adherence to dogma. The Aquarian age, though highly intuitive, insists on proof, genuine experience as its spiritual path, to “know” rather than to simply believe.
With its insistence on fairness, Aquarius is in direct opposition to the wily ego of power and control, a vestige of the Piscean age. This is the clash with Lucifer that Jung references from the Sibylline Oracle. We are currently witnessing such opposition on the world stage as narcissistic power motives clash with the true needs of the planet. It will be the challenge of the Aquarian age to reconcile narcissism with true freedom and equality.
Interestingly, Jung believed that even more fundamental to world survival was the issue of overpopulation. Even Tesla, the rising star of the electric car industry, though producing an intelligent energy solution to gas guzzling cars still aims to produce 10,000 vehicles per week, modest by auto industry standards but absurd in terms of the burden on the planet. The truth is that an ever-expanding human population will destroy the planet regardless of its attempts at energy conservation measures.
From the perspective of overpopulation, the humans of the Aquarian age will have to arrive at a new relationship to the sexual instinct if the planet and life on it are to survive.
Interestingly, don Juan Matus, Carlos Castaneda’s teacher, concluded that the only way for the world to survive and evolve was for human beings to access the energetic side of life, the energy body. Reaching the energy body and interacting on an energetic level require a refined use of sexual energy. Honing sexual energy for higher purposes has long been known and utilized in kundalini yoga, as well as Buddhist and shamanic practices.
Life at an energetic level offers completely transparent union. And connection at that level involves direct knowing and complete merging with another being; a more completely satisfying union than the physical copulation of our current permutation, where large parts of our beings remain hidden from our partners. At an energetic level all is revealed, all is known, all is accepted.
I am reminded of a young Jane Fonda as Barbarella, a 1968 movie about a futuristic woman who encounters a man from our time who wants to have sex with her. She is amused and grants him his wish, but sees it as an antiquated, limited approach to intimacy from a once physical, lower-chakra dominated time in human history.
Deeply satisfying union that transcends mere physical need opens a whole new possibility for achieving balance upon the planet in this coming age of Aquarius.
Though there are established practices to reach the energy body, such as Tensegrity, dreaming, and meditation, in my clinical work I have discovered that trauma often precipitates an immediate out-of-body jolt, introducing a person to the energy body, where they witness their physical body from a vantage point outside of the physical body.
Obviously, I am not advocating that people go out and engage in activities that will trigger traumatic jolts out-of-body. But I am suggesting that perhaps what we are going to be facing in this Aquarian age, in our clash with Lucifer and whatever earthly calamities result, may offer jolts that will collectively catapult our species out-of-body and into energy body states with all its evolutionary possibilities for harmony and understanding. Stripped of our current collective ego consciousness, the possibilities for a new collective consciousness, dissolved of ego dominated by narcissism, is truly a new age dream.
The true clash of the Aquarian with Lucifer is the clash between spirit (mental plane) and body. This translates into the opposition and split between the lower chakras of the physical body and the higher chakras of the energy body. In the Piscean age regulation of this opposition was handled through romantic ideals such as courtly love, celibacy, or downright repression. This form of control burst apart with the freedom and ideals of the dawning of the age of Aquarius in the experimentation and free love of the 1960s.
Those new age ideals have transmuted into a cool detachment, deep intelligentsia, and avoidance of human commitment in favor of abstract connection via technology in a multitude of forms of social media. That incredible new opportunities for connection and communication have opened via this channel, as they present new means of connection and mass efforts to effect change, is obvious. However, the shadow of this medium is a dissociation from real human contact and genuine feeling, which the liberated Aquarian may neglect in its idealism. This can activate the ire of Lucifer, the earthbound body.
On an individual level the reconciliation of spirit and body endures in new forms in this Aquarian age. As we allow ourselves to discover our new found energetic freedoms let us not neglect the true needs of our physical, animal, instinctual selves, which must be included fairly in our new selves, or meet them as inflamed savage forces as the Sibylline book warns.
To address the needs of the whole self, with full transparent honesty, is an Aquarian ideal. As this transparency extends beyond the self to others the door opens to greater energetic connection. As the wave of Aquarian energy more fully enters the world, a greater mass of human beings bent on evolution will embrace compassion, truth, and loving kindness, manifesting a newly balanced world.
Don Juan’s fundamental guidance to Carlos Castaneda was to choose a path with heart, for “a path with heart is easy—it does not make a warrior work at liking it; it makes for a joyful journey; as long as a man [or woman] follows it, he [she] is one with it.” *
Here don Juan speaks to what Sri Aurobindo called being in alignment with the Divine Spark, the Psychic Being hidden in the cave at the center of the heart chakra. To realize the truth of this Divine Spark as one’s path in this life is to truly find and traverse one’s path with heart. And yet, the heart is of two parts, its emotional side offering “an obscure and often uncertain and misleading power,” as Aurobindo states, as well as behind that emotional heart, “a profounder mystic light which, if not what we call intuition…has yet a direct touch upon Truth and is nearer the Divine that the human intellect in its pride of knowledge.” ** This second, mystical heart, is the heart that is hidden in the cave at the center of the heart chakra, this is the true heart that seeks and recognizes a path with heart.
On a physical level the heart is the center of life and vitality in the body. There is no physical life without a heartbeat. The movement of the heart distributes energy to every cell of the body to enable all cells to act. This action extends to emotional life, where feelings spur human action and interaction.
Aurobindo states: “…there is in front in men a heart of vital emotion similar to the animal’s, if more variously developed; its emotions are governed by egoistic passion, blind instinctive affections and all the play of the life-impulses with their imperfections, perversions, often sordid degradations,—heart besieged and given over to the lusts, desires, wraths, intense or fierce demands or little greeds and mean pettinesses of an obscure and fallen life-force and debased by its slavery to any and every impulse.” **
Here Aurobindo refers to the heart’s action capacity as being under the dominance of the three lower chakras, animal instincts ruled by the archetypal governances or gods of the planetary being at its purely survival mode, as well as a mixture of ego-willfulness supplanting nature’s imperative to its own self-serving ends. (See last week’s blogpost for further explanation: Beyond Archetypal Bondage)
Here arises confusion at the heart center, for though the emotional heart dominates through much of life this irrational emotive center is incapable of guiding the true needs of the Self, the higher being that we all are. This part of the heart chakra, with all its powerful emotionality, provides the justification for the rise to order and reason of the rational mind, as it insists on its superiority and hegemony over the vagaries of the feeling heart.
Aurobindo comments: “This mixture of the emotive heart and the sensational hungering vital creates in man a false soul of desire; it is this that is the crude and dangerous element which the reason rightly distrusts and feels a need to control, even though the actual control or rather coercion it succeeds in establishing over our raw and insistent vital nature remains always very uncertain and deceptive.” ***
Unfortunately, attempts at rational control over emotive behavior, or cognitive behavioral therapy, rarely quell the base impulses raging in the heart. More often than not they are sentenced to the prison of the shadow unconscious where they lie in wait, scheming their next disruptive moves. The apparent calm after the storm is generally short-lived.
How many times couples find themselves immediately reignited in a conflict, after a voluntary break for calming and cooling, reflects the thin veil of control reason holds over the fiery energy of an ignited heart.
Though reason might offer a pause, it cannot settle matters of the true heart. For don Juan, reason would be a false path, not the path that could be guided by spirit. How then does one go about achieving the quiet heart, of locating “the true invisible heart hidden in the luminous cave” *** of the heart center, and truly find a path with heart.
Tibetan Buddhism has developed the practice of Tonglen breathing where the fire of emotion is allowed to burn off and transform in the heart center, through breathing in the fire that wants to attack or attach outwardly and breathing out a cooler breath of compassion. This is an alchemical process of transforming emotional heat into the steady flame of cool luminosity utilizing the heart chamber as the retort, or flask, to burn off the impurities of the lower chakras to arrive at truth and compassion. Once we find our way to true compassion, compassion that is not tainted with sympathy, empathy, or guilt, we’ve entered the cave of objective truth where the cool Divine Spark glows in all its luminosity.
The I Ching in the hexagram Ken, the Mountain, hints at the practice of yoga as a method to still the restlessness of the heart, another alchemical process. Regardless of methodology, the essence of an alchemical practice is to contain the energy of the lower chakras that would drive the heart to outbursts of emotive activity. Through containment of this emotional energy a transformation takes place whereby the cave of the hidden mystical heart appears. Then the Psychic Being, the true higher Self, is available to come forth and take the reins in right action.
In opening access to the true heart chakra where the Psychic Being resides, that inmost link to Divine Soul, only truth and compassion flow. As Aurobindo states: “It is as this psychic being in him grows and the movements of the heart reflect its divinations and impulsions that man becomes more and more aware of his soul, ceases to be a superior animal, and, awakening to glimpses of the godhead within him, admits more and more its intimations of a deeper life and consciousness and an impulse towards things divine.” ****
The path to unveil the hidden heart is truly the path with heart.
With compassion, Chuck
* The Wheel of Time, Castaneda, p. 19
** The Psychic Being, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, p 26
*** The Psychic Being, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, p 27
**** The Psychic Being, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, p 27-28