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Castaneda - The Art of Dreaming

Castaneda - The Art of Dreaming



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Published by: mackdude4703 on Dec 29, 2008
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By Carlos CastanedaAUTHOR’S NOTE:Over the past twenty years, I have written a series of books about my apprenticeship witha Mexican Yaqui Indian sorcerer, don Juan Matus. I have explained in those books thathe taught me sorcery but not as we understand sorcery in the context of our daily world:the use of supernatural powers over others, or the calling of spirits through charms,spells, or rituals to produce supernatural effects. For don Juan, sorcery was the act of embodying some specialized theoretical and practical premises about the nature and roleof perception in molding the universe around us.Following don Juan’s suggestion, I have refrained from using shamanism, a category proper to anthropology, to classify his knowledge. I have called it all along what hehimself called it: sorcery. On examination, however, I realized that calling it sorceryobscures even more the already obscure phenomena he presented to me in his teachings.In anthropological works, shamanism is described as a belief system of some native people of northern Asia—prevailing also among certain native North American Indiantribes—which maintains that an unseen world of ancestral spiritual forces, good and evil,is pervasive around us and that these spiritual forces can be summoned or controlledthrough the acts of practitioners, who are the intermediaries between the natural andsupernatural realms.Don Juan was indeed an intermediary between the natural world of everyday life and anunseen world, which he called not the supernatural but the second attention. His role as ateacher was to make this configuration accessible to me. I have described in my previouswork his teaching methods to this effect, as well as the sorcery arts he made me practice,the most important of which is called the art of dreaming.Don Juan contended that our world, which we believe to be unique and absolute, is onlyone in a cluster of consecutive worlds, arranged like the layers of an onion. He assertedthat even though we have been energetically conditioned to perceive solely our world, westill have the capability of entering into those other realms, which are as real, unique,absolute, and engulfing as our own world is.Don Juan explained to me that, for us to perceive those other realms, not only do we haveto covet them but we need to have sufficient energy to seize them. Their existence isconstant and independent of our awareness, he said, but their inaccessibility is entirely aconsequence of our energetic conditioning. In other words, simply and solely because of that conditioning, we are compelled to assume that the world of daily life is the one andonly possible world.Believing that our energetic conditioning is correctable, don Juan stated that sorcerers of ancient times developed a set of practices designed to recondition our energeticcapabilities to perceive. They called this set of practices the art of dreaming.
2With the perspective time gives, I now realize that the most fitting statement don Juanmade about dreaming was to call it the “gateway to infinity.” I remarked, at the time hesaid it, that the metaphor had no meaning to me.“Let’s then do away with metaphors,” he conceded. “Let’s say that dreaming is thesorcerers’ practical way of putting ordinary dreams to use.”“But how can ordinary dreams be put to use?” I asked.“We always get tricked by words,” he said. “In my own case, my teacher attempted todescribe dreaming to me by saying that it is the way sorcerers say good night to theworld. He was, of course, tailoring his description to fit my mentality. I’m doing the samewith you.”On another occasion don Juan said to me, “Dreaming can only be experienced. Dreamingis not just having dreams; neither is it daydreaming or wishing or imagining. Throughdreaming we can perceive other worlds, which we can certainly describe, but we can’tdescribe what makes us perceive them. Yet we can feel how dreaming opens up thoseother realms. Dreaming seems to be a sensation—a process in our bodies, an awarenessin our minds.”In the course of his general teachings, don Juan thoroughly explained to me the principles, rationales, and practices of the art of dreaming. His instruction was dividedinto two parts.. One was about dreaming procedures, the other about the purely abstractexplanations of these procedures. His teaching method was an interplay between enticingmy intellectual curiosity with the abstract principles of dreaming and guiding me to seek an outlet in its practices.I have already described all this in as much detail as I was able to. And I have alsodescribed the sorcerers’ milieu in which don Juan placed me in order to teach me his arts.My interaction in this milieu was of special interest to me because it took placeexclusively in the second attention. I interacted there with the ten women and five menwho were don Juan’s sorcerer companions and with the four young men and the four young women who were his apprentices.Don Juan gathered them immediately after I came into his world. He made it clear to methat they formed a traditional sorcerers’ group—a replica of his own party—and that Iwas supposed to lead them. However, working with me he realized that I was differentthan he expected. He explained that difference in terms of an energy configuration seenonly by sorcerers:instead of having four compartments of energy, as he himself had, I had only three. Sucha configuration, which he had mistakenly hoped was a correctable flaw, made me socompletely inadequate for interacting with or leading those eight apprentices that it became imperative for don Juan to gather another group of people more akin to myenergetic structure.I have written extensively about those events. Yet I have never mentioned the secondgroup of apprentices; don Juan did not permit me to do so. He argued that they wereexclusively in my field and that the agreement I had with him was to write about his field,not mine.
3The second group of apprentices was extremely compact. It had only three members: adreamer, Florinda Donner-Grau; a stalker, Taisha Abelar; and a nagual woman, CarolTiggs.We interacted with one another solely in the second attention. In the world of everydaylife, we did not have even a vague notion of one another. In terms of our relationship withdon Juan, however, there was no vagueness; he put enormous effort into training all of usequally. Nevertheless, toward the end, when don Juan’s time was about to finish, the psychologi cal pressure of his departure started to collapse the rigid boundaries of thesecond attention. The result was that our interaction began to lapse into the world of everyday affairs, and we met, seemingly for the first time. None of us, consciously, knew about our deep and arduous interaction in the secondattention. Since all of us were involved in academic studies, we ended up more thanshocked when we found out we had met before. This was and still is, of course,intellectually inadmissible to us, yet we know that it was thoroughly within our experience. We have been left, therefore, with the disquieting knowledge that the human psyche is infinitely more complex than our mundane or academic reasoning had led us to believe.Once we asked don Juan, in unison, to shed light on our predicament. He said that he hadtwo explanatory options. One was to cater to our hurt rationality and patch it up, sayingthat the second attention is a state of awareness as illusory as elephants flying in the skyand that everything we thought wehad experienced in that state was simply a product of hypnotic suggestions. The other option was to explain it the way sorcerer dreamers understand it: as an energeticconfiguration of aware ness.During the fulfillment of my dreaming tasks, however, the barrier of the second attentionremained unchanged. Every time I entered into dreaming, I also entered into the secondattention, and waking up from dreaming did not necessarily mean I had left the secondattention. For years I could remember only bits of my dreaming experiences. The bulk of what I did was energetically unavailable to me. It took me fifteen years of uninterruptedwork, from 1973 to 1988, to store enough energy to rearrange everything linearly in mymind. I remembered then sequences upon sequences of dreaming events, and I was ableto fill in, at last, some seeming lapses of memory. In this manner I captured the inherentcontinuity of don Juan’s lessons in the art of dreaming, a continuity that had been lost tome because of his making me weave between the awareness of our everyday life and theawareness of the second attention. This work is a result of that rearrangement.All this brings me to the final part of my statement: the reason for writing this book.Being in possession of most of the pieces of don Juan’s lessons in the art of dreaming, Iwould like to explain, in a future work, the current position and interest of his last four students: Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar, Carol Tiggs, and myself. But before Idescribe and explain the results of don Juan’s guidance and influence on us, I mustreview, in light of what I know now, the parts of don Juan’s lessons in dreaming to whichI did not have access before.

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