Castaneda’s writings have always fascinated me. It is like a portal to transcendence, or at least, a way into understanding ancient cultures and human nature.
In his books he writes about his apprenticeship with nagual don Juan, a Yaqui Indian sorcerer. Don Juan is wise. I would say he is wiser than Joseph Campbell, but their wisdom cannot be compared. Their lives were too different and for some crowds the actual existence of one of them is under dispute.
Over the years he teaches Castaneda all about the sorcery of his culture. In The Power of Silence he unveils that all sorcery is about intending the change of the position of the connecting link in our endless bundle of energy clusters. The destination where they reach with their catchy and unbelievable stories is about deploying your intent to move your connecting link to the cluster where silent knowledge lay.
Now, all that to someone who hasn’t read his books might sound like a bunch of gibberish; to skeptics, BS. However, I wouldn’t rush to a judgement just yet and recommend reading his books for deploying your mind like a parachute – open it up.
The legend don Juan describes says that the ancient people knew exactly what to do and how to do it best. Due to doing the things so brilliantly well they developed a sort of an ego, a selfishness that gave them the feeling they can plan and calculate their actions beforehand. So appeared the individual self that began dictating the volume and style of people’s actions. As the feeling of an individual self grew stronger, the people lost the natural connection with the silent knowledge. Modern human, inherited this change, finds themself hopelessly isolated from this source so all they can do is express their desperation through violent and cynical self-destruction. The reason for this cynicism and desperation is the remaining part of the silent knowledge that serves primarily two functions: it hints the human of their ancient connection with the source and lets them feel that without this connection they have no hope for peace, satisfaction nor fulfillment.
This reminded of the moments when, suddenly and randomly, we just KNEW things. Moments like these often happen after asking a well phrased question and right after finishing asking it we just knew the answer.
If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.
Does defining the problem link us to the source and shift our connecting link to the silent knowledge energy cluster? Don Juan would probably chuckle and tell stories of finding oneself in a desperate situation where one’s options are either giving up and dying or jumping out of one’s skin and coming up with the solution.
We have heard stories of how drivers, 3 seconds before collision, experienced how time was endless and they had enough time to either think and come up with a solution to save one’s life – a heightened consciousness, don Juan would explain; or just knew what to do. Stories of people lifting cars after accidents to save loved ones shock us as much and make us wonder how capable the regular human really is.
Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the great Japanese inventor is certainly aware of the phenomenon as he defines a problem and dives underwater, only the problem in mind, till he is not capable of holding the breath no longer. He is persistent not to come to the surface till he has the answer, so his mind has no choice but to obey and give him a solution before time runs out. 4k inventions including the floppy disc, CD and the karaoke machine. Not bad.
In the framework of the Yaqui sorcerers’ beliefs, these people experience the shift of the connecting link to a place where lay the energy that is necessary for solving the problem. Like hours before the deadline we find ourselves more creative and focused, because our asses are on the line and we either fail or deliver. So we find ourselves in a mood where there’s something in us that drives to deliver. We enter a different state of consciousness.
In neuroscience perspective it is stress that triggers the synthesis and release of necessary hormones. Fight or flight. Silently just knowing something would be the result of our neurons linking with each other, having us see the pattern and become aware of our thoughts. After all, our thoughts are not the result of our own thinking, but they live their own lives in our heads like animals in forests as C.G. Jung said. Thoughts are part of human experience just as opinions and beliefs, not to be considered a property.
What is consciousness?
Whether the stories are true or not, consciousness is a mystery we can debate over and over over, yet never get to an answer. Science has no clue, barely hypothesis, but no thesis. Mayor religions barely discuss it.
The transcendental philosophies and religions like metaphysics and Tibetan Buddhism might offer answers to thee who search for the answers or wonder about the ways our ancestors lived, thought and felt. Castaneda’s writings fall in the same category. It might work as a getaway from the hectic lifestyle of the western culture, an option to consider or a fictional story which’s metaphors to study. In every case, it is a good read to practice your mind to understand concepts not able to explain in words. The stories try their best for regular minds to comprehend the lingering concepts.
The end leaves us with a richer world view and a dream to be part of these experiences.
The Power of Silence: Further Lessons of don Juan