While at Todai-ji, the temple in the city of Nara, I was mesmerized looking at the largest Buddha ever built in bronze, when the concept of the “Warrior’s Way” jolted my memory.
The Warrior’s Way was the framework Carlos Castaneda used to describe living life with impeccability and purpose. It consists of a series of premises and behaviors to have direction in one’s life, like experiencing meaningful relationships and acting with clear intentions.
Meaning, purpose, and direction were what my life was lacking when I met Castaneda. It was 1995, and I had decided to move from Argentina to the US to study this way of being, which became an integral part of my life.
The premises in the Warrior’s Way include the impeccable use of one’s attention for enhancing one’s life, and specific behaviors to live life with vitality and daring, such as regular exercises, practices for enhancing the ability to focus and redirecting one’s thoughts, cultivating inner silence, using food to develop one’s perception and health, working with intention, and sharpening the physical body as the perceiver.
The memory of my first years under Castaneda’s rigorous physical training flowed through my body as I was watching the Buddha.
I had arrived in Tokyo three days prior with my ten-year-old son, to join a couple of friends and a guide to do a ‘mystical’ journey visiting large temples in the main cities of Japan. We took a train from Kyoto to Nara to visit the Great Buddha Hall, which is the largest wooden structure in the world built to protect this Buddha.
I felt dizzy from the jetlag and the long hours we spent on trains from Tokyo to Mount Fuji to Kyoto. Nonetheless a feeling of wonder was growing in me. The trains were crowded and sometimes we waited in long lines. Eventually, they moved faster, holding a mood of respect and acknowledgment for the other.
All transportation showed up on time, and, unlike many cities with large volumes of tourism, no trash was visible anywhere. The streets of Kyoto were ‘dressed’ by the cherry blossom trees blooming, smelling sweet, like the first taste of ice cream. They exuded a pinkish-white color that looked like kindness. Japan, in my first impression, radiated life, purpose, and a mood of reverence that nurtured my soul. It resonated in me as the mood of a warrior.
After feeding the deer that roamed the grounds of Todai-ji, which are regarded as messengers of the gods, we passed the first gate of the temple. As I had done in the previous temples, I washed my hands and mouth from the wheel of the dragon.
A large pit with burning incense was the next step. I held the fire in the white candle and I placed it at the feet of the Buddha in gratitude for our Path with Heart community. The sunlight was entering the temple and I inhaled it through my mouth, as Shanti, my guide and a Mayan leader, taught me.
Each step towards the Buddha served to quiet my thoughts and moved my attention to a growing sentiment of vulnerability and amazement. As if every moment in my life had been built for me to arrive to Todai-ji and experience the majesty of the warrior. The words of Castaneda kept rushing fresh into my mind:
“A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete. Therefore, one may say without being presumptuous that the experience of experiences is being alive.” – Carlos Castaneda
I was alive, and aware. My son asked me if Buddha had been also a child, and what happened to him to become a Buddha. What did he do? he wondered. I an attempted to say something coherent to his age and level of understanding. He may have noticed my struggle because he interrupted my thinking and said: “I think I got it. Buddha just kept meditating.”
We walked behind the Buddha and found a line of people “trying to pass through” a hole of the same size of the nostrils of the Buddha. People believe that if one got through the Buddha’s nostrils, one was blessed with his breath. (See video)
We left the temple filled with reverence and gratefulness.
Castaneda used to tell me about his experiences with Kowayashi, a Japanese mentor he had, before meeting don Juan Matus, his spiritual teacher. He said that Kowayashi was the first one that taught him about a specific aspect of the Warrior’s way: Living with simplicity. Castaneda was a master at that. Except for a chair, a couch and a TV, his house had no furniture, no paintings on the pale walls, no mirrors, no decorations.
There were large, clear spaces to practice movements and silence. In his closet, which I once peeked in, he had 2 pairs of jeans, a few t-shirts and 2 tailored suits. All of his cabinets had just a few items. There was breathable space everywhere through out the house, filled with purpose and silence.
My hostel room in Kyoto had two futons that we rolled during the day to set a small table on the tatami for snack and breakfast. The absence of objects and material belongings is what made the space hold a particular calm and peace. It was a reminder of living the beauty of simplicity and the purpose of strength knowing that “the experience of experiences is being alive.”
One action I took when I got back to Los Angeles was to let go of extra material belongings. I am in this process now, creating spaces for silence to flow through
Time is measured by the intensity of the moment you are living.
Time suspends when experiencing inner silence.
Time is a form of attention.
Time is not measured by the clock.
Time bends when you pay attention.
It is 5 to 12, I am running out of Time!
I am living in no Time. I am facing the oncoming Time.
These are some of the phrases I heard Carlos Castaneda expressed from the moment I met him. He expressed his concerns about time; he re-defined his relationship with time, and hechallenged the idea of time, daily.
Castaneda was on time for each appointment; he didn’t like other people waiting for him. And he was not expecting anyone. Time, how to handle it, how to stretch it, how to experience non-linear time was an intrinsic part of my training with it.
In a calm and sober way, he spoke about his own death as if it were something imminent that would happen in a matter of days or minutes. And yet he acted as if he had all the time in the world.
He was never in a rush or hurry, relaxed at ease, enjoying his meals, there was no hurry in his mood, even when under the pressure of his books presentations or the pressure of delivering a talk in a conference to hundreds of people. He took his time to walk to the stage to deliver his thoughts, with his hands on his pockets and an open expression of ease and cool. He took his time to feel the audience laughter at his jokes and remarks, to answer questions, to engage eye to eye as if truly connecting with people.
Every day of my training with him was filled with the intensity of learning to stop unconscious habits and new ways of behaving, of being. My days felt long, as if stretched out by the intention to arrive to “enlightment” as soon as I could, before he died.
In the early mornings I went to school to learn English, then I worked at his company, then I engaged in physical training at his studio for another 3 or 4 hours, for the rest of the evening. But my routines were not regulated by time, or my time was not regulated by routines, or by the handles of my watch, as it was while living in Argentina. During my apprenticeship I had no routines, since Castaneda would change schedules often and I learned to flow with the daily events, as if facing the oncoming time.
Because I was in a new country, learning a new language, eating unfamiliar foods, and living with people I barely knew,I felt as if suspended in time.
I gave myself permission to ‘disappear’ for a while from the ‘real world,’ like some writers do to write a novel, or some people do after retiring to grow spiritually, and I relinquished my time to follow a different time.
I experienced suspension of time during the long hours of practicing sequences of movements, like martial arts, and long hours of sitting in silence.After overcoming my initial resistance, both physically with my muscles trembling and being out of breath, and mentally with self-defeating thoughts “I can’t do this’, ‘this is way too long,’ ‘I want to go home, sleep, eat tacos, etc”, I experienced states of extasis.
A rush of well being and vitality would flow through my body renewing the joy of my joints moving in unison, the happiness of my lungs fully expanding, the fresh blood oxygenated running through all the blood vessels and cells in my body, removing waste, detoxifying, revitalizing my right to belong here, in this planet at this time.
After long periods of exercises practiced in slow motion, I could experience the tasteful sweetness of calm, and the assurance that I was loved.
Later I started to experience those states when pruning the tress and working in the garden. Or when having lunch with friends, or even at the movies. Or when awakening into the morning, aware of the uniqueness of the day, gratefully aware, sitting at the edge of my bed, closed eyes, taking in the first inhalations of the day, feeling my heart beating, my skin soft and warm, some birds singing at the distance, the honk of the neighbors car, the newspaper throw of the street, the smell of toast, the children laughter passing by on the way to school, the splash of water my husband in the shower, my son at the piano playing Ode to Joy.
The experience of awaken vitality keeps flowing through me as if my teacher had create a vortex through which all experiences are one and Time is just a small part of the constant flow of life that keeps happening in and out of me.
CARLOS CASTANEDA’S NEW YEAR’S RITUAL
Here is the ceremony that our teacher Carlos Castaneda taught us:
It starts during the last days of December, and finishes after the clock strikes midnight on January 1st. Castaneda would tell us that, at midnight, the light of Spirit or the Universe comes and “watches us”—a force descends upon us, forged by the combined intent of the planet over millennia, and this is a very powerful moment to be present and aware—to feel and become acquainted with.
We have been practicing this ritual without failure for the last 23 years and it has brought us, and countless practitioners around the world, a sense of direction, purpose and inspiration to unfold our goals and intentions for the New Year, as well as a sense of connection with the cycles of nature and the entire planet.
We hope that the benefits ripple out through your life, your relationships, your community and the world.
The steps are these:
Clear out the old before the New Year. Renew from the inside out. From December 28 onwards, and even throughout the day of December 31, clear up space in your home. Remove clutter, donate clothing that you aren’t using anymore, clean out and organize cabinets and drawers, and vacuum your floors; water your plants—all with a feeling of openness and readiness. The aim is to clean your home, physically and also energetically, to clean your psyche from negative thoughts and feelings accumulated during the year so that you can be receptive for the New to come in.
Throw things away that are not needed any longer or that are not bringing you joy
Write down all negative thoughts in a piece of paper, writing in a flow and without reading back what you wrote. When you feel you have put all out, burn the piece of paper and wash you hands.
Practice affirmations out loud, of appreciations for your life, for you belongings, for your friends and family
On December 31, before midnight, attend to your desk or personal space. Organize your books and papers, and clear space so that you can comfortably sit to write a list of Intentions, affirmations, dreams and projects you want to manifest or co-create in 2019. Sit in Silence and call onto the light of Spirit, to clear your mind and body and to connect deeply with yourself.
Next, take a pen or pencil and piece of paper, and get ready to LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
Recapitulate the most salient experiences that happened in your life during the year, and appreciate what you learnt in 2018. What challenges did you experience? What was the outcome? What new friends did you make? What new things did you learn, for example, a new recipe, a new skill, a new language? And what would you like to learn in 2019? You may choose to divide your year in basic areas, such as family, work, health, relationships and personal development:
How was your health in 2018 and what would you like to intent for 2019?
What about your work? What experiences did you have? What new projects you have in mind for 2019?
And in your family and relationships? What new relationships have you established? What came to a close? What needs to be healed?
What about your legacy? Write a paragraph describing what you would like your legacy for 2019 to be.
And about the larger community of planet earth, what dreams for a better world would you like to intend?
Listen to your heart, and follow with your pen the wisdom of your heart.
Around 11:30 p.m. (it’s almost midnight!)Sit in silence with your hands in your heart and appreciate your life. You can put your attention on items from your 2019 Intentions—those things that you want to experience in the next year. Sit with it as long as you like, making sure by the time the clock strikes midnight it finds you engaged in some practical aspect of your intentions (researching something, preparing some initial plans, etc) and that you feel connected with them, with your personal life path, and with the Universe.
At midnight, during the first minutes of the New Year, let the wave of your dreams bathe over you with a sentiment of peace, love and gratitude.
By the time I met Carlos Castaneda he was very disciplined with food. He emphasized that food had a direct impact in our emotions and our thought processing. It influenced our perceptual capabilities.
“Es muy simple señorita,” he used to tell me in Spanish, “si comes mal, te sientes mal y ves todo mal.” In other words, if you eat crap, you feel like crap, and perceive the world like crap.
I met Castaneda in 1995 in Los Angeles, at one of his events where he taught sequences of movements to revitalize the mind and body. I had read all of Castaneda’s books in Argentina in my young teen years. His bestseller books from the 70’s described the possibility of mysterious, unfathomable parallel worlds laying beneath the ordinary, repetitive and boring mundane world of everyday life. He described how he gained purpose in his life and found meaning even in daily affairs. He had found a new description for himself, and, he said, and it was available to all.
I was imbued with a longing for gaining, meaning and direction at the time. I wanted to learn to live like a warrior: effectively and with daring. I wanted to experience strength, confidence, and above all, to know that my life had meaning and purpose, that I mattered. Meeting him was like meeting a mystic, a legend like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or the Pope.
At his event, he walked to the stage wearing dark jeans and a yellowish polo style shirt. He was short and, as I heard someone saying behind me, he was in his early 70’s. However, the fluidity and precision in his movements and the lack of wrinkles in his face made him look much younger. He stood up and looked around at the large group of more than 300 people.
“I would like to invite you all to suspend judgment” he said with a large smile. “Don Juan Matus, my mentor, told me new ideas and concepts about the world that were hard for me to grasp, because they contradicted what I knew as a Western man. So I warn you, that the practices that you will experience in this class will challenge your perceptions and the ideas of who you are and of the world around you.”
‘For example”, he continued, “if you come from Argentina, and you had a capuchino this morning, it would be harder for you to remain calm and focused. Caffeine accelerates mental activity and digestion in your intestines. And you may need to run to the bathroom as I speak and miss the lecture,” he said mocking and gesturing as if holding the need to pee. Everyone laughed, including me.
A second later I realized he may be talking about me, even though there were a group of 25 Argentinians. I had had a capucchino in the morning, and a croissant, the typical traditional Argentinian breakfast. And I was holding from going to the bathroom! In the break before his lecture, there had been a large waiting line in the women’s restroom and I had opted for what was familiar for me, holding. Constipation was one of the issues I had as a child, since my basic diet consisted of meat and dairy, with low fiber and green intake. My diet made it challenging for me to digest and eliminate.
“Stimulants, including sugar and salt, weaken your energy systems and for that I urge you all to avoid them, while taking this class. Imperative for those of you suffering from hypoglycemia,” he added. And, again I felt he was talking to me. Low blood sugar was my default state that made my moods swing and my thoughts foggy. I was also used to living on a low-budget, so food was not something that important; if I ate once a day, that was enough.
Castaneda continued walking on the stage with his hands on his pockets as if he was dancing, with ease and largesse, making jokes and joining the laughter with all. For moments he embodied the joy and warmth of a child, and for moments he seemed detached and reflective.All in all, he made us feel like he was one of us, making remarks and jokes, even about himself.
“When I met Don Juan I was chubby and stubborn. I was an intellectual, I did not exercise and I smoked like a pipe. I was a true addict. Don Juan had to trick me to stop,” Castaneda continued. Uncomfortable, I changed the crossing of my legs and straightened my back. Sitting on the floor was hard for me. I was in my early twenties but my back hurt often. I was also a ‘social’ smoker” and I crunched thinking about quitting smoking, yet another thing on my list that I needed to change.
“One afternoon,” Castaneda continued, “Don Juan took me on a long walk to the desert. I needed to buy cigarettes and a new notebook and was walking toward my van with my keys in hand, when he announced he knew a short cut into town. I hesitated but then I agreed. After having a big lunch, it was a good idea to take a walk. As we walked, Don Juan was teaching me about the life in the desert and I didn’t realize that hours had passed until nighttime was upon us. Don Juan told me he was lost and that we needed to spend the night in the desert. We were lucky that he had brought in his backpack some dry meat, covers and water.
I was upset at myself for accepting his invitation, but I didn’t have any other choice. I had no idea where I was and besides, the information Don Juan was sharing with me was invaluable and I enjoyed his company immensely. I couldn’t sleep well that night neither the following nights. We spent the next two-days walking lost and by the fourth day I knew he had tricked me. We finally reached the road, and I realized we had been walking in circles. In town, I was so hungry that I forgot about the cigarettes. And I quit smoking,” he opened his arms to the sides in a triumphal smile.
“I used to carry the cigarette pack on my left pocket” he continued, “and Don Juan suggested to remove all pockets from my shirts to erase the habit of reaching for them. Still, once in a while” –he said bringing his right hand to the left side of his chest, — “I automatically reach for my pockets,” he said laughing with humbleness as admitting the things he couldn’t change.
“But of the things that we can change, are the “auto-pilot” interpretations we made about food,” he explained.
He further said that food was energy, and as such, was meant to not only sustain our body’s energy systems, our health and vitality, but also food was directly related to our states of consciousness, how we experience and feel about ourselves and the world around us.
“When you cut down the stimulants you can sustain mental focus and alertness.” He was now standing still, looking directly to each person in the group, “the real work starts. The question is, What is eating you? What is it inside you that stops you from reclaiming your vitality, your daring, uh? What is it that makes you forget that you are a being that is going to die? Who is eating you?”
I felt so moved and inspired to change my habits and to find out what, inside, was stopping me from feeling vital and strong. After he finished his lecture, he taught movements that resembled martial arts. He said the movements would return the energy back to where it belongs, to the internal organs in the body that he called centers of life and vitality.
After the workshop, I was invited to the lecture he offered to Spanish speakers, and from there to the first, of many lunches with him. I changed my return flight and stayed in Los Angeles with a group of friends. I practiced the movements, the meditations and all what he suggested, and I became part of his inner circle. I learned to use food as energy. I learned to eat food with CHI, energy, to sustain mental alertness and balance my moods. I healed my hypoglycemia and swinging moods. And, most importantly, I learned to OBSERVE thoughts and emotions and not identify myself with them.
In the last year of his life, Castaneda shifted his diet to a plant based one. And that inspired me to shift my diet also to a more plant based one, which supports detoxification at all levels, including addictions. I have been teaching what I learned from him in my classes, and what I have learned from my experience of more than 22 years practicing movements for vitality and increased awareness. But now my question is towards you, my dear reader, what is eating you?
We launched a fun contest to win the participation to our live workshops in Mexico City, England and Moscow! This contest will inspire you to reflect and recapitulate the first time you read Carlos Castaneda’s books. What attracted you? What inspired you? How old you were?
Below please find samples of stories from our teachers of how they got inspired by the books!
My Introduction to the World of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico
By Tom Reavley
My name is Tom Reavley and I live in the capital city of Guanajuato, Mexico, although I grew up in the United States. My story is about how I deviated from a conventional career as a lawyer and found my true path with a heart.
I had just returned to California after finishing law school on the East Coast and I was excited about finally beginning my professional career as a lawyer in a large San Francisco firm. After three years of marriage I was also now honoring my promise to my wife to help her return to finish her undergraduate degree at Stanford University, where we had met. Everything was going so well. Even living in married student housing was a joy—the winter of 1974 was wet and the Stanford hills, visible from our bed, were a brilliant green.
As much as I was committed to succeeding as a lawyer, there were some things that bothered me about my new life. I had always hated the idea of being trapped in the world of business and a life controlled by social expectations. I was particularly concerned about having a long commute every day from Palo Alto to San Francisco. I had to get on a train every day and spend an hour traveling through an urban corridor and then walking a mile past parking lots and city buildings to the 54- story building that housed my law firm. Some part of me was not happy about the prospect of spending the rest of my life on a treadmill.
One day after work my wife mentioned a book I might be interested in—part of her assigned reading in a course entitled the Psychology of Perception. The book was The Teachings of Don Juan, and I read it on my daily commute to and from work. I marveled at the young anthropologist’s courage in undergoing terrifying drug-induced experiences. Castaneda’s second book, A Separate Reality, had already been published and I read this book even more avidly than the first. It seemed filled with a practical philosophy that was different from any I had studied that really excited me.
However, the accounts of Castaneda’s experiences with hallucinogenic plants that filled the first two books put me off. Although I imagined that I might risk taking such plants if they were available and if I had someone like don Juan to supervise the experience, neither don Juan nor the plants were available to me and, in any event, I couldn’t risk my career as a lawyer by taking an illegal substance.
Then I read the third book, Journey to Ixtlan, an experience from which I never recovered. Up to that point in my life, I cannot remember ever having read a book more than once. Over the next several years I probably read Journey to Ixtan cover to cover at least twenty times. In the introduction Castaneda explains that he had finally realized that the real lessons were not the drug experiences but the behavioral recommendations that don Juan made—lessons on how to tighten-up one’s life and stop living as if immortal.
These lessons were so breathtakingly simple and yet beautiful that I just couldn’t get enough of reading them. I wanted to experience this magic for myself. On the other hand, at this stage in my life I had just completed an intense three-year legal training at Harvard, which instilled the value of logic, reason and skepticism. Nobody was going to make a fool of me.
The challenge became, how do I prove these claims Castaneda is making, at least to myself? I needed evidence, and I had to accumulate it without any personal contact with don Juan or Carlos Castaneda. One day after a period of continual practice I suddenly realized that I could maintain the view of everything within my one hundred eighty degree field of vision all at once, without focusing on any one point in particular. For me this was amazing. It subtly forced my mind into a temporary state of silence.
I read all the other books as they were published and each one gave me a boost of energy and excitement. One Sunday in February 1995 I was at a seafood restaurant with my extended family. From the other end of the table my younger brother got up to show me a page from the catalog of a spiritual retreat center in New York that described a weekend seminar with Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar, two female apprentices of don Juan and close associates of Carlos Castaneda.
My brother grinned and said that he and my mother had nominated me to attend and check out this event for them. It was like a jolt of electricity–Castaneda was sponsoring an event for the general public, after 25 years of elaborate efforts to maintain anonymity in his private life!
Intellectually, I maintained a certain amount of distance and doubt—maybe the seminar would reveal that these people were a bunch of charlatans just trying to make some money off of the credulous readers of the books. At an emotional level, I was immediately hooked—I would go to the seminar come hell or high water. How could I not go, after holding on to the books like a life raft for 20 years?
It was not exactly like my fantasy of Castaneda and don Juan knocking on my door and inviting me to join them. No one came to tell me how great I was or how much I was needed. On the other hand it didn’t seem like a momentous decision. I was just going to a weekend seminar. I had the time and could afford the cost. It was only an experiment with no downside.
Yet a part of me already knew that the game was over, that the illusion of my life’s predictable continuity was about to be shattered. The seemingly slow and unhurried process of being drawn into “intent” of the shamans of ancient Mexico was accelerating. I could not resist. More importantly, something essential in me did not want to resist. It welcomed this intent with open arms. I was coming home.
How I got acquainted with the works of Carlos Castaneda
By Anastasiya Ganich
My name is Anastasiya Ganich and I live in Moscow. I was 24 years old when I broke up with a boyfriend, because his family did not accept me. I had to hear many unpleasant and unfair words about myself. It hurt me and I started to get sick.
Mom told me about this and asked me to buy these books for her. Soon I went to the only store of esoteric literature in Moscow “The Path to Yourself.” I bought all the books of Carlos Castaneda available in Russian, published by the publishing house Sofia. These were three voluminous orange books; they are still preserved in my library. My mom read a little and left them to stand on the shelf near the TV.
At one of the meetings with the healer, I asked if she knew anything about Carlos Castaneda and his books. She replied that she had read it, but it did not suit her. And I decided to try it. Soon I picked up the first book “The Teaching of Don Juan”, and did not let go of my hands until I read everything. It was not easy.
The text was rich and complex, the font was small, that I had to strain my eyes, the volumes are heavy. But I carried them with me, continuing to read everywhere, at every opportunity. I was not at all embarrassed that I did not understand the concepts that were presented in the books. Something in the text, in its rhythm, grabbed my attention, and I did not want to stop.
Some time passed and one day I was late for work and nervous, went to the subway and read another book by Carlos Castaneda. I did not notice anything around and completely immersed myself in the text. My reading was interrupted by a young man who leaned toward me and said: “Girl, do not you know that stalkers do not read books on the subway?”
I looked up in surprise and, without remembering his face, stubbornly replied: “I am reading”, and continued reading. This day and this meeting left a deep mark on my life. Since that time, Castaneda’s books have ceased to be an exciting reading for me, they have acquired an emotional depth for me and for years have become the key to deep affection and love. What happened that then was undoubtedly a maneuver of the Spirit, because only through strong emotions and feelings it was possible to catch me.
Six months later, in 2004, I attended my first Tensegrity workshop in Moscow, and the teachings of Don Juan gradually became an element of my spiritual practice.
The next stage of my acquaintance with the wisdom, which was set out in the books of Carlos Castaneda was 2011, when I experienced a strong emotional and physical shock. My world collapsed, and with it me too. That year, Aerin, Miles and their child Axel arrived in Moscow. I visited that first Being energy workshop in Russia. Participation in this seminar saved me, and it’s not just words.
Then followed the modules of the training program and a deep immersion in the practice of Being energy. For me, the next layer became available. Softly and elegantly, the knowledge of seers of Ancient Mexico was introduced and woven into my daily life. It is a long and beautiful path full of unexpected discoveries.
And now, after 7 years, in 2018, I again stand in the doorway. The knowledge and practices that Carlos Castaneda has discovered for us are becoming part of my professional activities. In the summer I will be co-leader of BE workshop in Moscow. It’s incredible, where Path with the heart can lead us.
Unless then, in 2003, could I think about something like this ?! I courageously will enter this door and grab this chance. I feel in myself a vibrating force and will not allow doubts and fears to interfere with me. I believe in myself, ‘I am already given to the power that rules my fate’. I feel deep gratitude for the gift that Carlos Castaneda gave us, inviting through his books to the wonderful world of real life.
How I connected with the Nagual’s books
By Erika Gavin
My name is Erika Gavin, I’m Italian and I’ve been living in Mexico for 22 years. My story is about the time I discovered Carlos Castaneda’s books and talks about how they moved and supported me for the beginning of a great change in my life.
I was enrolled in the first year of the psychology faculty of Padova, after leaving a high school that had directed me towards architecture and could not feel me in my place neither there nor anywhere else. I was not sure that the university at that moment was my way, I felt the cold classes and the knowledge that I had reach did not reach my heart. I lived with my parents, I was 18 years old and there was a lot of tension in the house. My father did not agree with the fact that I studied psychology and my mother gave me some money behind the scenes to support me. I did work when I could, as a waitress or washing cars, until I opened a printing press in partnership with some friends, but that did not work. I felt in a moment of transition where nothing was clear and everything had lost meaning, color and momentum. I asked the spirit, with whom I always communicated in my own way since I was a child, an example of something I could follow and made me feel again excited to be alive and connected to myself, something that would help me find my place.
One day a friend came to see me to bring me the book of “The teachings of Don Juan” by Carlos Castaneda. He said “I brought it to you because I know it’s just for you, it did not convince me much, but I’m sure you’ll understand.” Since childhood I had always been very restless, and I was interested in talking frequently about death, life and existence, questioning everything. I was also very attracted to the mystic and the mystery and magic hidden behind the facade of ordinary things.
The book caught me from the beginning, it made me feel something new, it was as if it were vibrating and had a different energy than what I knew. I had just read several books about the holocaust and felt my spirits wrapped in a black cloud. Reading Castaneda, I experienced the feeling of the desert sun revitalizing me and realized that it was possible to experience the world in a more exciting way than I knew. I felt immediately that there was something there that was the answer to what I had asked for. When I finished the book I looked for the others and I read them one by one as fast as I could. Trip to Ixtlan filled me with astonishment and it echoed deep inside me. It made me feel that it was possible to get home, to this internal place that I longed for; My mind did not understand it completely, but my body knew it in an instant. As I described life, death and the powers that govern this world made me jump the heart, I wanted to feel part of all that and be able to surrender myself to those powers. I felt that the spirit showed me a path to where I had always longed to go. Many concepts and descriptions that I read calmed me down and made me experience deep happiness.
The books gave me a great impulse and aroused my curiosity. I wanted to know and know more and explore that world in some way. I followed my instinct and my desire to travel, I left the faculty of psychology and I prepared myself to go to Mexico. My first trip lasted a few months, but Mexico and its people loved and amazed me, so I came back with the idea of settling there for a while. I am still in Mexico today and I am very grateful for all that I have lived and learned and for finding me transiting a path with a heart.
How I got Acquainted with the Books of Carlos Castaneda
By Andrey Petrov
Hello! My name is Andrey Petrov, I live in Moscow, Russia.
In this short story I want to share with you how I got acquainted with the books of Carlos Castaneda.
Being a child, I always looked for something more that went beyond the world around me.
In the beginning, I literally lived by Russian fairy tales and their magical and omnipotent characters. Becoming a little older, I fell in love with the style of fantasy with its kind and evil wizards, magical transformations and mystical artifacts.
Then the books on Buddhism, yoga and even religion came. Despite the fact that many of the reads were close to me, the overall picture of the “way” still did not add up. Perhaps I was not ready to perceive this knowledge, and maybe the abundance of the unusual and paranormal terminology that is present in these books may have affected. For a while I was also practiced martial arts, but the elements of aggression that came into them did not suit me.
And finally, on the third year of studying at the university, two close friends made me a birthday present. It was the very first book of Carlos Castaneda “Teachings of Don Juan”. This moment coincided with the period when I needed to take the summer session, which I instantly forgot. For several days I did not leave the house, reading the book from early morning until late at night, until I mastered it whole.
From the very first pages it became clear to me that the stories described in the book have a very profound meaning for me. I had a feeling that at last I met my source – everything made a perfect sense and fell into place.
I was happy and thrilled with the knowledge that opened up in Castaneda’s book. However, at that time, I did not realize that this was only the first and perhaps the easiest step in a long, and sometimes dangerous, journey to knowledge and power.
Following the “Teaching of Don Juan”, I read all the other books of Castaneda and his associates, gathering a complete “collection”, issued by the publishing house “Sofia”. At that time, in the late 90s of the last century, books literally had to be hunt – to search for fairs and also to wait for new books that had not yet been published.
Nowadays, I do not read books as often as before. Mostly I address them in those moments when I want to find answers to non-standard questions or solve extraordinary situations. I made an interesting observation that opening the first attracted book in an arbitrary place, I tend to find what I’m looking for, after reading a couple of pages, and often a single paragraph.
Also, compared to the first readings, I began to notice how intense the contents and meaning of all the text written by Castaneda are. For an open reader with a certain level of energy, literally a couple of phrases are enough for a lifeless change in all life.
Concluding my story, I want to express my love and deep gratitude to Carlos Castaneda for his books – an invaluable gift left to all of us, as well as to translators and editors who worked on the first Russian editions. As one of the priorities of my life, I chose to further transfer this knowledge to interested people in order not to let them get lost in the sea of endless and easily accessible digital information.
My Acquaintance with the Nagual, Carlos Castaneda Through his Books
By Sergey Minin
My name is Sergei Minin. I am from Russia and I live in Kirov. I want to share with you my story about my acquaintance with the ‘nagual’, Carlos Castaneda through his books.
I was a student when I first got Castaneda’s book. At that time I had many friends and we met often, listened to music and talked a lot. In the text of one of the songs I heard the phrase “Castaneda did not write about it” and because I was always curious, I began to find out who this Castaneda was. One of my friends gave me Castaneda’s books. When I read his first 4 books, much remained incomprehensible and I abandoned it. It was the first touch I received from the Spirit.
The second case was also connected with my friend, his name was Ed. He was very different from all my other friends – his energy, his attitude to life. He broadcast extremely unusual views on life, which were not in my family and my environment. He gave me a VHS cassette with the first video of 12 basic movements. Women in the video made an impression on me of mysticism, something final and inevitable. It completely fell out of the context of my culture and my tradition. Having looked once, I put the cassette in the box.
The third incident occurred somewhere after six months or a year. After a trip to a hot resort country for vacation, I activated the latent hepatitis B virus. Knowing this for the first time in my life brought me very close to the idea of death. For the first time, I really felt very deeply inside, not at the level of the mind, that death can be very close. The thought sobered me.
The treatment proceeded hard and lasted more than a year. I stopped consuming alcohol and cigarettes and gradually my circle of communication began to decline. I began spending more time alone. Then I accidentally gave a complete series of Castaneda’s books, and I at once read them all. It was a deafening effect, just WOW! A completely new and incomprehensible and very attractive world for me is the world of shamans and magic.
It changed my picture of the world very much. During the reading, the question that tormented me constantly arose: how can I reach the same conditions and get into that world? What needs to be done for this? There were no instructions for this in the book. Just at this time my friend Ed invited me to take part in one enterprise, it failed miserably and I owed a lot of money to the bank.
A few months later I got a very clear understanding that I need to rely only on myself. It was an obvious and strong sense of confidence, detachment, without pity, a new feeling for me. To me came the knowledge, deep from within no doubt, that I need to change – to change the city, the place of work, myself. But again, I did not know how I could approach this, where to start, where are the instructions? One day on a sunny summer day, I climbed into the closet and came across a video with magical passes. I turned on the video and began to learn the movements. A few months later I performed several series of movements. Then I still did not feel any direct effect from the movements, I just did everything.
Events in my life began to develop. I moved to another city, got a new job, quickly returned the debts. And two years later I got to my first seminar on tensegrity in St. Petersburg. This is another story.
How I arrived to Ixtlan
By Adriana Vazquez Sansores
My name is Ariadna Vasquez Sansores. I’m from Campeche, Mexico, but I’ve lived in Mexico City for many years and that makes me feel part of it too. I would like to share the story of how I got to “Viaje – Ixtlán”. A story of adventures and misadventures that were taking my spirit through inexhaustible trails, until I found this, and other fantastic books by Carlos Castaneda. This is my story:
We spent a few days of rest with my whole family in the U.S.A. One morning, we went to a shopping center. My mom went with my grandmother to find some things, and my aunts took care of my cousins and I. In a few minutes that distracted me or maybe seconds, a person who maybe had been watching the scene and saw that I was out there seeing several things, approached me. First I thought he was a salesman of the store, since he taught me all the games that I could not see because of my height in a very short time I felt in confidence. My aunts, who are incredible and perhaps with so many children, did not perceive the stalking of that person. They did not see him at any time, or maybe everyone thought he was a salesman of that store.
After having my confidence, he took my hand and in a single blink, I walked with him. Then, we took the escalator down several floors. As we passed by each floor, I remember looking for my mother, hoping to see her and my grandmother.
My heart beat a thousand times a second. It felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I also remember the sound made by those escalators, creaking, their smell of old wood and some fresh varnish. Every detail of the place has been recorded in my memory, those memories are stored in all the cells of my body. I can feel it and hear it in my heart.
Just to close your eyes and think about the scene, and everything is unfolding with precise details. With him I walked for hours on the street, at one point I took charge and hugged him. I never yelled at him, I had trusted him.
I felt destroyed and with much fear, I cried, but my tears came out with the most obscure silence. He tried to dry my tears, while he spoke to calm me, his voice … I remember it even very beautiful, very calm ..
But why did he want to take me? , Where would it take me? … In a moment, after crying with great regret to be heard, I said to myself: “Ari, this will be your new life”.
I resigned myself to living with someone else, I did not put up resistance … I did not know how to say: NO! I was too ashamed to scream.
And I went to his side, crying in silence and hugging him tight again.
Something went through his head, which I can not decipher. But, he returned me to the right place. After hours of walking back, we ended up right back in the same place we started. Quickly, the police found me and I went back to my family
Because of this experience, I grew up full of fears, fear of losing my loved ones, fear of losing myself from my loved ones. I grew insecure and lonely, always with existentialist thoughts. Always thinking about what it would be like if my parents died or died, or if they just disappeared and never saw them again. I grew up thinking about the meaning of being here on earth.
During my childhood, I had 2 incredible teachers. One of them taught us that the house and classroom tasks, cleaning our desk, cleaning the windows, sweeping the room or the classroom, sweeping and cleaning my own room, washing the dishes and all those tasks, could be done with elegance, with fun, with music. All activity could be done with magic, if we only put the desire and attention necessary to make it so.
The other teacher took us to the countryside, made us admire nature, sleep on the dry leaves and feel the difference of sleeping on the fresh leaves, observe the stars and see up close the insects and every pretty leaf that crossed our path. He read us fragments of “Viaje a Ixtlán” that I still remember with my heart vibrating.
I was about 17 years old when, my cousin and best friend of the soul, read for me, several fragments of Castaneda’s books, read me parts of the “Don del Águila”, fragments of “Una realidad aparte”, “Viaje a Ixtlán”. And there I found the statements and phrases that had been preserved in my deep memory, of days of primary school and my teacher who inspired me to love nature. There I connected with that feeling of seeking freedom, of freeing my mind and my spirit from the pain contained by the loss of the being of my bowels, and by the fears with which I fell down day and night.
When Pelu lent me. “Viaje a Ixtlán”, and I read it, I began to remember the chapters read in childhood, I found the magic and the mystery that I needed to begin to understand, I found the codes for a deep communication with my psyche. We sat watching the sky with a new love, with new sight, the storms in the sea, had hidden languages that we were able to decipher, the stars shone with a special mathematics never before understood, the earth was a possible dream. I sat down to observe my fears. And I found life, as the most fabulous of mysteries.
The books filled my spirit with fabulous anecdotes, I wanted to dream and live. Now, many years have passed since those events, and see more clearly, the other edges of this story and my own cosmos.
I did not hate the man who kidnapped me and gave me back anymore. I think maybe we created a connection of love and acceptance for the other. Maybe he discovered there, that although he tried to separate me from them, he could not really steal my love for them, or sever the connection that my soul has with each member of my beloved family. Maybe he connected telepathically to my abstract language, maybe he saw my heart that spoke to him lovingly, and then … he gave me life again.
I keep in touch with those feelings, I explore them, I revive them, I embrace them and I breathe, to then liberate them to the cosmos and learn.
I get up happy, and very grateful.
Living within this mystery, with all its edges, turbulence, textures and tonalities, it is an honor and a pleasure.
Twenty three years ago, during my first lunch with Carlos Castaneda at a local Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles, he introduced me to a warrior’s premise that is one of the most important: Freedom of Perception. I learned that my interpretations and beliefs are not unalterable, but the product of unquestioned repetition. Castaneda urged me to question my thoughts, to take a deep look at my beliefs. He then said that my beliefs were stored in my body, and by questioning them I could not only free my perception, but also boost healing from any ailment and restore my vitality.
I could perceive the world as mysterious, unfathomable, filled with possibilities. I could dream myself anew. I would be free.
It was a lovely sunny day in Los Angeles! My friends Cecilia and Rosa and I arrived at the restaurant at around noon. Castaneda was already there, sitting at the head of a large table with several people. He greeted us and, pulling a chair from a nearby table, indicated for me to sit between him and Florinda Donner-Grau, a writer and Castaneda’s close colleague.
The restaurant was packed and the customers loud, as loud as lively Latino families like mine can be. I squeezed in between Florinda and Castaneda. My hands were sweating and I held a tight smile between my teeth. I was hungry. As usual, I was running on empty. Raised in Argentina, my breakfast habits consisted of a cappuccino and a croissant. Following Castaneda’s suggestions, I’d been avoiding both things—caffeine and sugar—because, according to him, stimulants deplete the energy systems. At the hotel where I stayed the night before, it was hard to find anything but sugar and caffeine in the morning, so I opted for skipping breakfast.
I had flown from Argentina to the U.S. for the first time to assist at a workshop that Castaneda was leading in Culver City on the Arts of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico. I had read his books for years, and practiced the movements his teacher taught him with a small group of friends in Buenos Aires. I was passionate about and admired his work. However, there I was sitting next to him, at a greatly desired lunch, paralyzed, with an empty stomach, feeling crappy and like a loser. I wanted to hide under the table.
Yet I was looking at the table with hungry bear eyes, searching for bread, seeking the waiter. “Oh darling, you are hungry. Wait here,” Florinda said and left the table. Florinda was energetic and alert!
Castaneda, seemingly aware of my moods, out of the blue said: “The thoughts running in your head are not your creation: They are the product of your socialization,” he said with a large smile, showing all his teeth. “Repetitive thinking leads to fixation. For example, señorita, if in the background of your head you keep telling yourself that you are not good enough, guess what?” he waited for my answer.
“I won’t feel good enough?” I guessed trying to please him.
“Yes. And, you will suffer from low blood sugar,” he affirmed as if reading my thoughts. I did suffer from hypoglycemia and I thought it was weird for him to immediately see that in me.
“We have been conditioned to believe that our thoughts are real and that they define us, but is that so? ‘Question your thoughts,’ Don Juan told me 30 years ago. And still today it is great advice…Eat something,” he said to all, pointing with his chin to the table as the waiter started serving dishes with fish, rice and beans to everyone. “You need energy for your assemblage point to shift.”
I heard him mention the assemblage point quite a lot during that weekend. According to sorcerers in his lineage, the assemblage point is an area within our energy field, the size of a tennis ball, located between the shoulder blades at an arm’s length away from the physical body. The big deal about the assemblage point is that it is where we translate the pure energy as it exists in the universe into something perceivable, and then we interpret what we are perceiving. Awareness or perception takes place by means of alignment between the energy inside of us and the energy outside of us; the point where this alignment takes place is our assemblage point.
Scientists, shamans, spiritual seekers and others have spent hundreds of years trying to find how this process takes place. According to the tradition of shamans of ancient Mexico, the assemblage point answers the question. If the assemblage point is loose and flexible, our perception and ability to interpret the world around us is being enhanced and changes fluidly, as it is stimulated by new filaments of energy passing though it. If the assemblage point, on the other hand, becomes fixed or solid, our perception and interpretations become limited and static.
“You can question your thoughts and free yourself from the heavy ones you don’t want to have,” Castaneda continued with lovely Spanish intonation. “Once you start being more flexible in your thinking, and in your joints, the assemblage point is no longer fixed. You are free to change your thoughts and perceive yourself and others in more uplifting ways.”
I had witnessed him the day before teaching movements with ease, as if dancing on the stage. He was strong and flexible, and encouraged us all to be so.
“Direct your attention to what really matters to you. Don’t be a babosa. Use your energy and time to manifest whatever you intend,” he added. Then, almost whispering, he said, “My time is clicking: for me it is five to twelve. What is interesting to me now is to know what you are going to do with what I am going to teach you.”
That was the very first day of my formal apprenticeship, which continues to this day. Even thought Castaneda is no longer in his physical form, he still teaches me through the legacy he left behind. He introduced me to the ancient seers’ world in the traditional ways in which he was introduced to that world, and I became aware both of myself and of the world around me as a source of endless creativity, improvisation and growth.
Today I am still growing and teaching through the organization I founded with Dr. Miles Reid called Being Energy. I learned how to release old beliefs stored in my body and heal myself from hypoglycemia and diabetes. I regained my joy for life, my enthusiasm for movement, and my thirst for learning. Today, I nourish my body with nutritious healthy foods. Today I know I am enough.
Castaneda inspired me to live my life as a path with heart, not only shifting my assemblage point and living my life from the heart, but also accessing a state of heightened awareness he described as “seeing energy as it flows in the Universe,” granting me the freedom to follow the flow of life and growth that is open to us all.
WHAT HE TAUGHT ME IS WHAT I SHARE WITH YOU IN THE ONLINE CLASS SERIES: Path with Heart.
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Learn how to release unhealthy beliefs and free your body’s healing response
Break the chain between self judgments and your biology
Give birth to your own definition of freedom
Free your joints and connective tissue by bringing light to unconscious patterns of moving and thinking
Achieve wellbeing through movement, visualization, and something we call recapitulation (reframing your experiences)
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Being Energy’s online Path with Heart classes can make the difference in freeing you to experience the health and enhanced awareness that you have wanted for so long.
Carlos Castaneda would often talk, and even joke about the cult of “me, me, me”—the self-centered, human, ego-driven obsession of self-importance.
In my years of training with him, I had the opportunity to observe myself worry and be obsessed with my “self-presentation”—taking extra time to fix the way I looked, which I judged harshly. I spent so much energy in seeking external approval, and in trying to “fit in” with friends and people at work. The self-presentation, the idea I created about myself, was a heavy load to carry around. I could never feel fully satisfied. In fact, it made me feel joyless, worried and stressed out.
out of this,” Castaneda told me one day, smiling at me, aware of my misery. “You need to leave the cult of Me, Me and create a new reference point for yourself, a new way of being by thinking of yourself as a mystery, as something to be discovered, unfolded.”
He taught me endlessly about dropping off the mask that I used to wear and to dream a new mask for myself, a new mask that would make me feel lighter, joyful, and more open. “You need to build your personal power,” he said, “and that is something that you intend, that you call upon, that you dream about.”
It has been almost 20 years since that conversation. I have been practicing tools and recapitulation to free myself from ideas of unworthiness and feeling unlovable—slowly releasing my “idea of myself,” the “me, me, me” inside me. Then something special happened to me just a few weeks ago.
Recently, I have been taking my son to the ocean for daily swims. He loves the water, and I get great pleasure watching him swim. However, every time my son asked me to join him, I resisted getting my head under the water.
I made the decision to look deeper into what was preventing me from submerging myself in the water. I immediately started remembering a time in childhood when I really enjoyed swimming. Then a memory came up about an experience in the ocean: One afternoon when I was 14, vacationing with my family, I got in the ocean and got paralyzed. I remember standing on my tippy toes, with the water just below my nose, being completely unable to move. After 20 minutes of struggling, I was able to wave my arms and was rescued by a lifeguard. It was scary, embarrassing and traumatic. I knew how to swim, but I got paralyzed by fear.
Since then, my relationship with water had somehow been frozen in time. I realize now that I’ve always found excuses for NOT going swimming. “Too cold,” “too hot,” “my hair is done,” “I don’t look good in a bathing suit,” etc, etc. It turns out that I was numbed by fear, not able to enjoy the water for more than 30 years.
So this is what I did last Friday: I went into the ocean, and I recapitulated right there in that spot, my experience as a 14-year-old. I called on my “personal power”—the part of myself connected to Spirit—and I cried (and didn’t care about people watching me). I prayed to Mother Ocean and I released a big chunk of self-defensiveness and stress. I’d been holding fear deep down in my bones without even being consciously aware of it. After that experience, which lasted around an hour, my body completely changed. I felt much more relaxed and my belly was softer. I have been sleepier and have allowed myself to take naps (something unthinkable to me just a few months ago!). I am still processing, but something fundamental shifted in a very deep way.
Getting out of the cult of “me” and awakening to my higher self has been a journey. It’s a process. It doesn’t get done in one weekend. But I can say that thanks to the consistent practice of movements and knowledge given to me by Carols Castaneda and inherited from his teacher, and to the Path with Heart classes that I have been guiding with my husband for the last five years, I have been able to release this thing that was so old and deep.
Our Path with Heart series has been especially effective in supporting this process and sustaining my energy levels and my commitment to transformation, growth and expansion of awareness.
I am a happy fish again, free from the obsession of the Me, Me, Me.