Tag Archives: don Juan

Chuck’s Place: Finding The True Heart

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.” *

We all have a two-part heart... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We all have a two-part heart…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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.

Rationality is like a predator, constantly swooping in to reassert its presence... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Rationality is like a predator, constantly swooping in to reassert its presence…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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.

Behind the known heart lies the cave of the luminous heart... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Behind the known heart lies the cave of the luminous heart…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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,

* 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

Chuck’s Place: The End Of An Era

The shadow of death is always right behind us... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
The shadow of death is always right behind us…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

I most humbly and with deep gratitude borrow the title for this blog post—The End of an Era—from a section heading in Carlos Castaneda’s final work, The Active Side of Infinity. As I look about me and see the signs of endings everywhere the phrase “end of the story” comes to mind, but I refuse it. It’s not the end of our story; it’s the end of an era.

I have just finished reading to Jan the chapter entitled Death as an Advisor in Castaneda’s early work Journey to Ixtlan. As I look over my left shoulder—where death, our faithful companion sits perched about an arm’s length away—I don’t feel the chill up my spine, the sign death delivers to show us our time is up. The sign is neither there for myself nor the world, and so our story continues.

Nonetheless, death delivers many signs on the world stage, countless atrocities, beheadings and the like. With these signs death advises us to awaken from the daily trance we live in, generated by our complacent minds—the foreign installation the Shamans of Ancient Mexico taught us about—our true antagonist in this chapter of our world’s story.

The storyline of that foreign installation—our mind—is to focus on the pettiness of self-importance and greed, the matrix that keeps us distracted from the real precipice we are perched upon, our survival dangling in delicate balance.

Death broadcasts its message in dramatic voice. Yes, we are in the throes of transformation, one era melding into another. Death advises that we cut through to the bone of the illusions we have clung to, the cornerstone of the era we are leaving. That era has been dominated by the mind’s attachment to greed in all its myriad forms. Greed is a virus unsustainable in the New Era. Our next chapter is immune to the virus of greed.

I do not fault greed, the product of what don Juan called the Flyer’s mind, another term for the foreign installation that challenges us and has held us so tightly in its grasp. Don Juan states:

“We are energetic probes created by the universe…and it’s because we are possessors of energy that has awareness that we are the means by which the universe becomes aware of itself. The flyers are the implacable challengers…They are the means by which the universe tests us.” *

Here don Juan identifies our ultimate reason for being in this world. Through our journeys in this life we become the apparatuses of consciousness that enlighten our World Soul. We are the active side of infinity. The flyers, or foreign installation, that have taken root in our minds are the agents of greed. The dominance of greed has let us sit back in the Matrix** and pretend all is well. Death, our faithful advisor, shows us that the gig is up; wake up!

Like the snow squalls,  a New Era too will blow in... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Like the snow squalls,
a New Era too will blow in…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The flyers, monstrous as they may be, are the necessary antagonists that force us to shine a brighter and brighter light on the truth. This is how the universe challenges us to become aware of itself: The light of consciousness shines through all the veils of illusion to arrive at what really is. Evil—those flyers, the foreign installation that controls our mind—is actually challenging us to wake up, to burn through the illusions and deepen our alignment with the truth.

This is the basis of our New Era, a world that aligns itself with right action, a world that corrects its course and allows Earth’s story to continue in new balance. Of course, this New Era will have its own new antagonists to contend with. And someday this New Era will also end. But the truth is that this Earth story is such a good one that it’s just not allowed to end yet, though someday it will.

All things have their era and then they eventually end because that is the imperative of consciousness, to grow and adventure in this, the ever-deepening, active side of infinity.

World without end, Amen,

*Quote from: The Active Side of Infinity, p. 229

** Reference is made to the movie, The Matrix.

We also note the synchronicity of this day: today is Ash Wednesday, a New Moon phase, and the eve of the Chinese New Year, all endings, and beginnings of new eras.

A Day in a Life: There’s Weird Energy Out There

Cold energy entered the room… - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Cold energy entered the room…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Here is an account of what happened to me last week: I’m sitting in a yoga class, in sweet pose, a comfortable meditation pose. I intend to keep my energy to myself, innerly calm and protected. I don’t want to be affected by outside energy and so I do not turn my palms up but keep them face down. I do not wish to receive from without but only to hold sacred space within.

Placing my hands palms down on my knees, in chin mudra, with thumb and forefinger together, I think about entities, that they are everywhere. I am not interested in engaging them. Within seconds of silently declaring this intent, I feel a burst of cold air sweeping past me on the right, as if a window has suddenly sprung open. Swirling around, it hovers nearby, a strange sort of mini tornado. In the next second, cold energy hovers over my right hand, as if someone has placed a cool wet hand over mine. The sensation lasts at least 30 seconds, perhaps longer.

I have time to consider that perhaps the teacher has gotten up and is walking around the room, that he is doing some kind of energy work, but even so the rush of cold air that I’m feeling seems impossible to be made by anyone walking past, and I very much doubt that his energy would feel so cold. This energy has an otherworldly feel to it. I peek at the teacher just to be sure. He is sitting calmly in front of the class, eyes closed. Obviously he has not moved. Then I think: “It’s an entity. There’s an entity in the room.” And I am certain that it has come to convey the truth of my own insinuation, that there are indeed entities everywhere. It pays to be careful.

That night I dreamed. In the beginning of the dream, I am at an art gallery opening. The room is crowded. I slowly weave my way through the crowds, avoiding contact. I do not want to engage anyone. Seamlessly, I flow like water through the room and out the door. Once outside, I’m glad that I did so well at protecting myself from outside energy. Now I have to cross a stream. The water is fairly deep. I look down and see that four men, each dressed the same and looking remarkably alike, are lying in the water. They form a log-like bridge for me to walk across. I don’t want to go near them, for I am aware that they are entities, but at the same time I know I must cross the stream.

“Come on,” they say, “cross over. You have to.”

“I don’t want to step on you,” I say, concerned. “I’ll hurt you.”

“No you won’t,” they say. “Just do it!”

And so I do. I run as fast and as lightly as possible, still worried, however, that I might hurt them or that I might be infected by their energy. As soon as I get to the other side of the stream they immediately hop out of the water and surround me, standing in the four directions—North, South, East and West—facing me.

“I don’t want entities attached to me,” I boldly say.

“You need us,” they say. “You have to encounter us and you have to engage us. We are your entities, and you can’t get away from the fact that we exist.”

“You won’t advance until you accept us,” they say. “You won’t get anywhere without us.”

Like water I intend to keep flowing… - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Like water I intend to keep flowing…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I know I must acquiesce, for I know the truth of what they say. I am fully aware that everything that is placed before me must be encountered and dealt with, that indeed, I need it in order to advance. I am aware, as I dream, that these four beings will be with me now, my very own entities. I am aware that I must learn about them, who they are and how they operate. I must befriend them and make them my allies, as don Juan Matus discussed with Carlos Castaneda. I must utilize them to my advantage.

I am struck, as I awaken from this dream, how my intent to avoid contact with outside energy—both in my yoga class and in my dream—has resulted in my being presented with exactly what I was trying to avoid. There is great meaning in that. I am also struck by the fact that my entities, inorganic beings, as the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call them, all look exactly alike. And why are there four of them? I surmise that this is part of their teaching methods, tricksters that they are. I expect to be fooled by them until I no longer need to be.

Carlos Castaneda, in The Art of Dreaming, describes his own encounters with inorganic beings. Don Juan tells him he must make friends with them. “They have singled you out themselves,” don Juan says. “When they do that, it means that they seek an association. I’ve mentioned to you that sorceress form bonds of friendship with them.”

Don Juan goes on to explain that a friendship “consists of a mutual exchange of energy. The inorganic beings supply their high awareness, and sorcerers supply their heightened awareness and high energy. The positive result is an even exchange. The negative one is dependency on both sides.”

I am already aware of this exchange of energy. In fact, as I mentioned, I was not interested in engaging in such an exchange. In fact, I have always sought to avoid it. But now I understand that my inorganic beings have come to help me. If I am to advance, I know I must engage them. But I also fully intend to not become dependent. Even in my dream, I was aware that our association will be temporary, only as long as is necessary. I don’t know if that’s possible, or how it will come about, but that is my intent, for I fully anticipate moving on, advancing, which they also implied would happen if I engaged them. But perhaps they were only tricking me. I’ll have to wait to find out!

Watery beings are given more to excesses,” don Juan tells Carlos, as he explains the two kinds of inorganic beings, water and fire. “The old sorcerers believed that they were more loving, more capable of imitating, or perhaps even having feelings. As opposed to fiery ones, who were thought to be more serious, more contained than the others, but also more pompous.”

From this description, I know that my four inorganic beings are water energy. This makes perfect sense to me, as I am a water sign, and because my own energy has always been watery, flowing for the most part, just like I did in my dream as I flowed out of the gallery. But water, though capable of gently simmering, is also capable of great force and power. And so I am both cautious and intrigued.

What does your inorganic being look and feel like? You never know!- Photo by Jan Ketchel
What does your inorganic being look and feel like?
You never know!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

When Carlos asks the meaning of his own two entities, don Juan replies: “The meaning is too vast to discuss at this time. My recommendation is that you vanquish fear from your dreams and from your life, in order to safeguard your unity.” He tells him that he himself refused the inorganic beings, because he did not want to be at the mercy of any entity, organic or inorganic. He tells Carlos that his inorganic being wants his energy and he warns: “It will come to you for more.”

From this exchange, I intuit the necessity of remaining independent, to maintain my unity, my wholeness. But I must also learn how best to use these four watery energies for my advancement. The fact that they all look alike, capable of imitating, as don Juan tells Carlos, is going to be quite a challenge. I see that already. In fact, i believe they entered the yoga studio, invited in by my first challenge, my intent to avoid them. They saw an opening and they took it. “Be extremely careful,” don Juan tells Carlos, and that is exactly what I intend to be: Extremely careful!

Alert to what may come next,

Quotes from: The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda, pp 52-55.

Chuck’s Place: Being Of No Importance

Still looking back? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Still looking back? – Photo by Jan Ketchel

Don Juan Matus told Carlos Castaneda that the view of human beings is frozen, fixated out the back window of the caboose of a train that is moving forward into oncoming time. Humans are not free to face life as it approaches, like the engineer who drives the engine car, but instead see only the rails of life already lived.

This fixated view is the product of our self-importance, which reigns supreme over our ability to assimilate and interpret reality as it funnels all events through the filter of “me,” thus depriving us of the fuller view of life, as it truly is, in real time. The sorcerers of don Juan’s lineage strove relentlessly to become beings of no importance; mindful shamans, fully present to life unfolding, in the engine car of life.

The shamans place no blame on humans for their narcissistic predicament, in fact, removing judgment is the primary mechanism to freeing all events from being rendered as a reflection of self. For example, I’m standing on line at a store, calmly waiting my turn to go to the register. Up walks a being who cuts the line and proceeds to the cashier. I see red. I’m offended, in fact I’m incensed! Who do they think they are? Do they think they’re special, that I don’t matter! It’s not fair; we all had to wait. This person must be stopped, confronted.

No one is saying anything, though obviously everyone has noticed. I’ll be the hero! I won’t allow my self-importance, my value, my significance to be undermined or negated. Not again. Not like when I was a powerless child. Why do I have to be the one to stand up? Why is it always me that has to take the risks and maybe get hurt? Am I afraid I’ll be hurt? Will my voice crack? Will sound come out if I open my mouth? Am I supposed to turn the other cheek? Isn’t that just a copout? Is it okay to be angry? Is someone noticing that I’m nervous? Etc., etc., etc.


This is an example of the incessant internal dialogue of “me” that reports and constantly gauges all events in terms of my self-worth, self-importance, self-esteem, etc. If I, on the contrary, feel worthless, then the dialogue switches from offense to pity, and a stream of comments that construct and reinforce my inferior self spew out. Perhaps I’ll realize, as I stand on that checkout line, that I don’t have the right to exist and hence have no right to complain about any injustice perpetrated upon me. Either way, “me” is the common denominator of the internal dialogue. Feeling unimportant is equally attached to “me.” It’s still all about “me,” however diminished that “me” may feel.

Now that's more like it! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Now that’s more like it! – Photo by Jan Ketchel

Being of no importance is being mindfully present, without obligation to change, fix, or defend anything. Without importance there is no offense. How can I be offended if I have no importance to uphold? I might choose to act or not to act when standing on that checkout line, but my criteria for action will not be to defend offense to myself. I might indeed challenge the perpetrator, but won’t be offended by the outcome of my challenge—it simply doesn’t matter. There’s no self-importance to defend. I am not attached to the outcome; in no way is it a reflection on me. The mirror of self-refelction no longer mars my view when I lose my importance.

As a being of no importance, I cherish and have gratitude for all who might offend me. You give me the gift of breaking the mirror of my self-refelction, as I break through my attachment to being offended by you. So thank you! Through your gift, I further unburden myself of the weight of “me,” too cumbersome to carry on my journey through infinity. I’m ready to hop out of the caboose and move up to the engine car. Deep gratitude for helping me to lighten my load and to clarify the view—the view of a being of no importance facing oncoming time. And quite a clear view it is!

Figuring it out at the checkout line,

Chuck’s Place: Intent, A Natural Solution

A solution is reached when a problem is solved. Problems dissolve when a solvent is applied. Solvents break down barriers, divisions, and oppositions that result in a sense of unity and wholeness. This is known as resolution, or “re-solution” for the purposes of this blog.

The psyche is composed of many opposing parts, each with their separate points of view, separate needs, and separate desires. This is why, on some level, we are all bipolar beings, beings charged with the task of re-solving our polarities into a unified whole, what Jung called individuation.


Humans often ingest substances to re-solve the rigidities and polarities within the self that block unified action and fulfillment. A glass of wine might prove to be the dis-solving agent to loosen rigidity, relieve stress, quiet the mind, unleash vision, or allow us to open to the body and creativity, as we seek to transcend the wear and tear of daily life or the stilted energy of our deeply fragmented selves.

Wine is the highly celebrated fruit of Dionysus, the god of creativity and spontaneity. Wine is the transforming agent at the heart of the Christian mass. Wine is the agent that dissolves differences and takes us beyond our humanness. With it we commune with the gods. Of course, when we dry out, when the potion has run its course, we return to our humanness.

At the end of these journeys, however, the rigidities and polarities of our everyday lives return with a bad mood—a sobering moment to say the least. But, spiritual beings that we are, we long for the resolving qualities of dissolution again, a solution to solve our boredom and limitations, a solution to take us out—out of ourselves, beyond ourselves, or to feel fully free and whole within ourselves. We may find ourselves dependent on solutions, liquid or herbal, to solve our dilemmas.

The Allies are always ready to engage us...

The shamans of don Juan’s lineage recognized the power of these solvents. They realized that behind the solvents were entities that willingly catered to the desires of humans. The Ancient Shamans called these inorganic beings Allies, and they reveled in the belief that they could control these entities, who would reveal secrets like the fountain of youth to them. It was the contention of the New Seers of don Juan’s lineage, however, that this was the fatal flaw and downfall of those Ancient Shamans. The New Seers contended that the Ancients were duped into obtaining extraordinary powers in exchange for their attachment to these allies. In the shamanic world, this is the equivalent of addiction.

In the world of everyday life, we ingest all kinds of substances as we seek resolution to our problems, as we seek to achieve fulfillment and to transcend our human limitations. By our very nature we are consumers. We consume to solve and resolve our lives. From a shamanic point of view, this is a recipe for bondage, dependence upon substances that themselves consume the lion’s share of our lives.

The urge to seek resolution, wholeness, and transcendence is utterly healthy—it’s why we are here—and although it may be necessary to consume and engage the slippery slope of the inorganic world of allies, knowingly or unknowingly, there is a better solution: Engaging INTENT.

The shamans discovered Intent as an energetic wave that permeates the universe. We naturally engage intent to define our world. In our time, the mind has intervened to rationally limit our human potential. We engage intent largely to reinforce a known world and a known self. However, intent has the capability to open us up to the full realization of our true human potential, if we allow it to do so.

Intent seeks individuation and change

The mind, however, makes us nonbelievers, too shy to call out to intent, too impatient to allow it to unfold, too doubtful and judgmental to accept its path. In my experience, when we set an intent, simply by repeatedly intending it, it works its magic in the events, synchronicities, and encounters of our lives. Eventually, our intent is realized, though perhaps not as we might have expected.

In actuality, we constantly engage intent to create and reinforce the world we live in. We have become so entrenched in rigid definitions of a world of solid objects and unchanging self that we don’t believe anything else is possible and thus we limit our access to a greater world and greater solutions. We get caught in addictive behaviors as we turn to consuming solutions, seeking to gain temporary entrée into our hidden resources. Our access to intent and higher resolution, however, is limited by what we staunchly believe, what the mind rationally insists upon, and what the judgments of others reinforce.

We all have to encounter the inorganic world in our lives, we must all become consumers of one sort or another, but that world always exacts a toll in return for its gifts. Even as it asks us, “Are you really going to go down that path?” it entices us to do so, for its own energetic purposes.

The Ancient Shamans thought they could handle the power of the inorganic world, but the New Seers discovered that it was far more efficient to shift away from extraordinary powers in the human form and eternal life on earth to a new kind of freedom: no contracts, no attachments that could exact a toll on their energy, but instead total freedom to humbly continue without any special powers, other than that of engaging the pure power of intent on their continuing journeys in infinity.

When Carlos Castaneda got caught in the inorganic world of the Allies, don Juan, because he had refused to enter such worlds, didn’t know what to do. He turned to Carol Tiggs—another apprentice in Carlos’s group who had fully explored that world—and asked her to lead a mission to rescue Carlos. In this example, we are privy to don Juan’s process as he refused to break with his intent and be pulled into something that he knew was potentially harmful.

Intending and engaging a new energy for re-solution

Once we set our intent, even if we forget that we have done so, the energetics of it are set in motion. This is not a rational process; it’s an energetic process. It defies logic, it defies rationality, it defies the belief system of the mind. It is not connected to effort, will, goodness or badness—the constructs of change ordained by the mind. It does not involve hidden contracts to arrive at its solution. It’s part of our inheritance, our natural endowment, if we can allow ourselves to engage this most natural solution, with unbending intent.

It is truly an energy thing! Just do it, as the shamans do, and literally call it to your changing self.