This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Hello, my name is Miles Reid, and I am the director and founder of the Energy Life Sciences Institute. I met and studied directly with Carlos Castaneda and in the last 23 years I have been incorporating the teachings of the seers from Ancient Mexico in my professional practice as a doctor and in my personal life as a father. Here is my account of how I came to discover this knowledge.
The nagual Carlos Castaneda told me that what makes the events memorable or significant is not how bombastic they are but rather when something—seers call it intent or the spirit–crosses our path that awakens dormant qualities, or exposes us to things that deeply influence us in our future actions along our path to knowledge.
My life while growing up was very conventional. My family values, with doctors as parents, educated in the Western European paradigm, were based on science and logic as a reference. Both of them were kind and provided us with security and education, but there was no religion, no space for mystery or abstract thought, neither by instruction nor modeling. If one were to have drawn a line into the future, following the course my life had had until my teens, one could have easily predicted a similar outcome for my sense of reality and worldview when I grew up. But, sometimes, life offers us an event that, even though it would seem trivial at the time, it ends up altering the entire course of our journey. This happened to me with the books of Carlos Castaneda.
It all began when I was fifteen, in high school. Our regular biology teacher had called in sick, and a sub came in to replace her. His name was Julio Alfano, and he talked about strange things that seemed to have nothing to do with biology; he talked about being in a state of silence, about meditating and connecting to the universe.
After that day, he came back to “teach” our class several times. He opened the world of spirit to my attention. He represented a crack, he broke my veil and I saw something else. We all have a description of the world. There is the social environment’s description, and then the seers of ancient Mexico have one, and they brought to me a new description.
One day, he pulled a book from his bag and said to me: “I think you should read this”. It was The Teachings of Don Juan. I took the book with me, and began reading it in the bus while going back home.
I was immediately hooked. Moreover, something in me was touched at a deep cord, and what began to pour out from my being was almost a desperation, an urgency to take all in what I was reading. Nothing I had been exposed to in the past had hooked me in this way. I quickly finished the book and avidly bought the next one in the series, and then the next one after that.
I was so absorbed by the readings that I literally could not put the books down, I read in any moment I was not committed to something else. I read in the bus rides through the city, while standing shoulder to shoulder with the crowd. I even read while I was walking in the street. I would be walking with one arm holding the book high at face level so I could take brief glances up and around to avoid bumping into people, buildings and traffic!
What was it about this knowledge and the way this knowledge was presented in the books by Castaneda, that hooked me so deeply? When I ask myself this question the answer that arises in me is this: because it did not speak to me intellectually; it spoke to me bodily.
It wasn’t an understanding as I had been taught to, contextualizing knowledge through a process of the mind, which, at that time, meant a process of the brain, of reason. It seemed as if my very cells were absorbing the information and the ideas he was presenting, my body itself was being addressed, everywhere at once. The mind and the body were one single unit, awakening to the reality of a world of energy. The apparatus of perception was my entire me. It had an awesomeness that belonged to all of me.
My teacher Alfano had turned on the awareness of spirit in me, and this initiated an avid search for discovering spiritual traditions and any information of the kind. During my teens and early twenties, I got involved in yoga and the Hindu cosmology, attending talks and meditations from different yogis, I read about the life of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha, and got involved in a line of Japanese Buddhism practices.
For over a year, I was a recurrent participant in a community that held traditional Native American sweat lodges from a lineage of Taos, New Mexico, and even became doorman, a position of importance as keeper of the fire during ceremonies. I learned shiatzu and read Lao Tze and the I Ching, striving to live its principles in my life.
But nothing resonated in me like the books of Carlos Castaneda. They introduced me to the magical side of man, it brought mystery into my daily life, it awoke a sense of wonder, of possibilities. At the time I first encountered them, he had written four books, so, after devouring them one after the other, I had to wait until his next book got published. I had figured that he seemed to publish a new book every three years, which reflected his experiences and evolution in his own development during the interims. This rhythm went on throughout my late teens and twenties, including my years as a medical student.
At the time, I became an assistant to a Filipino healer who performed energy surgeries on people that defied logic and I entered into a healing circle of daime, a syncretic tradition of the Amazon basin that used ayahuasca as a medium to access higher states of perception to help people with advanced or terminal illnesses. But one after the next, even though I kept learning and awakening from them, I was ‘half in’. I thought, “Maybe it is just me” that my destiny is not to fully take on any given practice or tradition, but forge my own, from a kaleidoscope of teachers.
During all those years, becoming a formal student of Castaneda was not an option. There was no place to study it and no other direct sources other than the books themselves. But the books were not really written as manuals to learn from, they were direct accounts of his own personal experiences.
Half way during my medical training, I took a two-year sabbatical from my formal studies to travel around the world. During that time, it was a must to ‘travel light’. The backpack contains all one’s belongings, so imagine that space is precious. Such was the cardinal place that Carlos Castaneda’s books had for me that I actually carried all his published books at the time, nine altogether, in soft cover!
I made it a goal to use them as study books during my travels. I wanted to grasp an integrated view as a whole. I made notes, cross-referenced premises he touched on in different moments in different books and practiced it while I traveled around the world, from Australia to Asia to Europe to Africa. I became not just a reader, but a lover, a practitioner and a seeker of infinity.
Nevertheless, I never felt that It was my role to seek going to Mexico to try ‘find’ him, like many readers and practitioners of his books did. I always felt, strangely, somehow casually but convinced of it, that if my destiny was to ever see him, it was going to come by itself, life was going to bring the opportunity to me rather than me forcing it. But, I never imagined that it would actually come true.
Never would have I really dreamed of, or imagined, that my fate a few years later, would lead me to meet him personally, and become his direct student. That indeed, against all odds for a regular, scientist boy raised in the far end of planet Earth, destiny would in fact, orchestrate uncanny coincidences leading to the serendipity of that reality. But that, friends, is a story for another time.