Tag Archives: cognitive dissonance

Chuck’s Place: Sorcery & Crazy Wisdom

Wholeness: engaging the light & the dark…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Carlos Castaneda said that if anyone opened to the energy of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico they would be inundated by their influence. The modern day shamans of his line acknowledge that all their knowledge comes from this ancient heritage; what has changed is their intent in how they use that knowledge.

The ancient shamans coveted power, and their ability to perform such supernatural acts as defying physical death itself, by remaining in physical form, for centuries. The modern shamans saw this intent as binding one to the physicality of the Earth rather than allowing one to move completely into the energy body and evolve into the subtler dimensions upon dying. Freedom to evolve is the intent of these modern-day shamans.

Don Juan Matus was concerned, throughout his mentorship of Carlos, that Carlos’s nature was too infused with the predilection of the ancient shamans. He foresaw that Carlos might become a Nagual partial to the sorcery ways of the ancient shamans. Those shamans trained their apprentices with the full-on ruthlessness of sorcery.

Sorcery has absolutely no morality, nor compassion, in its training manual. Jan’s Recapitulation Diaries document her, at the time, unknown early life apprenticeship with a dark sorcerer of ancient tradition. The training was brutal, yet her survival and recapitulation advanced her to a complete equanimity of consciousness.

Jan’s early life of abuse was the journey with the ancient shamans, whose throw ’em in the deep end predilection was later completed with the modern shaman’s road to freedom via recapitulation. Being shattered is forced psychic awakening; recapitulation leads to psychic wholeness and keen functionality.

Jan’s journey reflects the pervasive journey of our time: incessant trauma. Complex PTSD is the natural human response to the events, human and environmental, of current life upon the planet. Gaia is challenging us now with full-on sorcery, crushing our left brain’s fantasies of control. She expects a total recapitulation, and right action, for us to be ready to retake the helm with integrity.

Sorcery takes no prisoners. Petty tyrants are not fair. To survive, the ego must learn to be a keen observer, taking action only as absolutely necessary and appropriate. Demanding fairness and entitlement from a petty tyrant depletes energy and puts one at risk. Trauma forces entry into to the subtler dimensions, but even there one must not dally in the safety of dissociation. Mindful presence is the necessary ego state of survival.

Mindful presence must be cultivated out of defensive vigilance, which, if unrefined, depletes energy reserves and forestalls the necessary ability to go with the flow. Edy Eger in her memoir, The Choice, documents the impeccability of her mindful presence during her time in Auschwitz. Nonetheless, her journey remains a work in progress, as the full retrieval of her energy from the traumas of her life is still a work in progress.

As long as the sensational and emotional imprints of trauma remain charged in the central nervous system—in the form of triggers—present life remains partially frozen in the past. A fully clear and present life requires the complete experience of everything, and full detachment from everything, that has ever happened to us.

I experienced the modern shamanic side of Carlos Castaneda. The tools he offered are tools of freedom. Recapitulation is the tool of freedom from the trappings of trauma. I did not experience the fully ancient sorcerer side of Carlos that Amy Wallace documents in her memoir, Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda.

I know too many characters from my time in that world to doubt the validity of her journey. The cognitive dissonance between her experience and mine, made me keep her book at bay for years. She documents experiences that are so anathema to everything I stand for, that if Carlos were still in this world I believe he should be imprisoned. 

At the same time, the validity of the tools he passed on have cracked the nut of total healing from PTSD.  Certainly, Carlos ensured, by his extreme polarized ego states, that he would not be venerated beyond this life. The value of his tools are in their utility, not in their association with him.

Buddhism has its own brand of sorcery. Chogyam Trungpa, Tibetan refugee, teacher, scholar, founder of the Shambala Training method and Naropa University, had a similar shadow life to Carlos Castaneda’s. This included sexually abusive and inappropriate behaviors.

Many in the Buddhist world have been so positively impacted by Chogyam’s teachings that they accept the cognitive dissonance of his shadow behavior as “crazy wisdom”, essentially appreciating his sorcery activity as a deeply challenging but valid form of teaching.

As with Carlos, if Chogyam were still alive in this world, he too should be prosecuted for unlawful behavior. Tricksters have their value in teaching but they are not above the laws of this world. At the same time, spiritual advancement requires that we totally accept every experience we have ever had, regardless of how beautiful or horrific it might have been.

Though we may subscribe to the highest level of morality, life itself is amoral. Though rising in the subtler dimensions requires progressively deeper refinements of love, we will not progress on that journey if we cannot accept every experience of our lives with equanimity. If we can’t find our way to love with that which is most horrific, its mastery defines our karmic destiny.

Sorcery and crazy wisdom are indeed expressions of the dark side of the force. Encounters with the dark side are required Earth School courses. Achieving wholeness—the coveted diploma from Earth School—requires that we know and accept everything we have ever done, or that was done to us, with equanimity.

With gratitude to the dark and the light—the wholeness,


Chuck’s Place: The Value of the Petty Tyrant

Is that even possible?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

A central feature of shamanic technology is the  use of a petty tyrant for the purpose of growth. In The Fire From Within, Don Juan Matus defines a petty tyrant for his apprentice, Carlos Castaneda: “A petty tyrant is a tormentor… someone who either holds the power of life and death over warriors or simply annoys them to distraction.”

From a shamanic perspective, the more ruthless the tyrant the greater its potency. The tyrant disrupts any attachment one might have to moral fairness as an inalienable right and resting place.

The benefit of such disruption is to obtain access to a more expansive plane of consciousness better suited to navigating the greater reality of infinity. If we remain too fixed in our entitlement for a fair and reasonable universe, we remain unschooled in the ways of a predatory universe. The greatest predator of all is the irrational within ourselves that refuses to be tamed.

On a lighter note, the tyrant can be found in a Freudian slip, where we are tricked into revealing the irreverent side of our own judging nature. Though we hide behind a well-crafted persona, the trickster makes us cringe in shame as we inadvertently expose our true feelings. That trickster is the petty tyrant tormentor that resides within ourselves. How will we ever become whole beings if we disavow the Id of the Freudian unconscious?

If we can allow ourselves to laugh at our leveled ego, releasing the chains of a bruised self-presentation, then we will have passed the tyrant’s test. The tyrant truly helps us to get beyond the limitations of self-pity and self-importance that so limit our growth.

Petty tyrants also show up daily in our outer world lives, via the law of attraction. We actually, unknowingly, attract those individuals who frustrate and torment us, as an outer means to grow beyond the trap of feeling sorry for ourselves in our seeming powerlessness.

The key to the tyrant’s technique is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance occurs when the mind is confronted with two seemingly irreconcilable opposites. For instance, someone who truly helps and cares for you, suddenly stabbing you in the back. These contradictory behaviors simply do not compute in the mind, and cause disbelief and disorientation.

Emotionally, such cognitive dissonance leads to anger, sadness and depression. The task is to depersonalize the contradictory behavior and accept the pure truth presented: the reality you believed to be true, and the emotional attachment you had to that illusion must be released. You have entered a new reality through acceptance of the real truth presented.

To be able to be thankful to a ruthless, irreverent tyrant, who renders you a victim, is the resolution of two distinctly opposing experiences with the same person. The ability to reach such resolution frees one from the necessity of clinging to the safety of a predictable and fair universe. The key is in always being able to ultimately find love and laughter in whatever we are presented with. If we take ourselves too seriously, we burden ourselves with expectations that hamper our fluidity.

The fact is that coming into a life on planet Earth implies that we made the decision to do a tour with the petty tyrant. The greatest tyrant on Earth is death itself. After all the work we do to attach to loved ones and  accomplish our Earthly roles, we are then forced to relinquish it all upon physical death. This hidden fact makes us all victims  of human life.

In our advanced rational and technological age, belief in life beyond the physical body is largely rhetoric. Our obsession with the physical, as the only provable reality, casts a huge shadow of doubt over an afterlife. Frequently, it is the blow of the petty tyrant that opens the gates to life beyond the physical body.

Trauma is the blow of the petty tyrant. Trauma is cognitive dissonance. In trauma our precious hold on predictable reality is shattered by events that break all the rules yet introduce us to a deeper truth. And that truth is that everything is possible, even the unthinkable. If we can flow with that knowing, we need not cling to the illusion of guaranteed safety.

Of course, by one standard this rupture is unfair and deplorable, yet the jolt to the security of the known and predictable is the ticket to the discovery of heretofore unknown dimensions of the self. Most significant is the discovery of the self that lives outside the limits of the physical body; the body will die in time space but this self will live on.

From this place, the tyrant, though still reprehensible from one perspective, is met as the teacher, the initiator into greater reality. Of necessity, the tyrant’s blow makes us dissociative victims. And make no mistake about it, that blow is lethal.

Nonetheless, if we can take the journey to resolve the cognitive dissonance we are presented with, we advance freely into advanced consciousness and our fuller potential in the energetic dimension of our being. This is the greatest value offered by the petty tyrants who disrupt the comfort of our lives.

Of course, there are many stages, filled with many tasks to complete before we can arrive at the knowing that the petty tyrant is our chosen and necessary teacher. That knowing is the crowning realization of a completed recapitulation of a life, and lifetimes, that honed the sobriety, fluidity and analytic ability to come home to the fullness of self.

Be accepting of wherever you are on that journey. All roads lead to home.

There’s no place like home,


Chuck’s Place: Cognitive Dissonance & Inner Silence

Can you handle the cognitive dissonance? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Can you handle the cognitive dissonance?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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.

In holding together through our recapitulations we are able to see what's there... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In holding together through our recapitulations we are able to see what’s there…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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.

The machinations of the mind are like the squirrel's incessant chewing... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The machinations of the mind are like the squirrel’s incessant chewing…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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,