The Magic Caf
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » We double dare you! » » Rereading Carlos Castaneda books. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

gregg webb
View Profile
Inner circle
1525 Posts

Profile of gregg webb
Castaneda wrote about 12 books. The first three are about drugs, but the rest go into Seeing, and Toltec shamanism and The art of dreaming. Like the people in Tibet before Buddhism, Castaneda's teacher believed the really realistic dreams were real events and real places (parallel dimensions). He sometimes calls what he is learning Sorcery instead of shamanism. There seems to me to be a lot of food for thought for presentational angles, patter ideas, etc. Adjunct Professor Gregg Webb
gregg webb
View Profile
Inner circle
1525 Posts

Profile of gregg webb
The religion in Tibet before Tibetan Buddhism was Dzogchen Clear Light Dreaming. Really heavyweight Lucid Dreaming.
gregg webb
View Profile
Inner circle
1525 Posts

Profile of gregg webb
It seems to me Castaneda was pulling a lot of ideas out of Tibetan Buddhism, and that brings up a long story about a Chinese anthropologist telling me he thought everyone knew the American Indians came from ancient Tibet. Anyway...I'm going through all the Castaneda books with a yellow high-lighter marking the parts I think have patter possibilities. I'll get back to you.
gregg webb
View Profile
Inner circle
1525 Posts

Profile of gregg webb
One great thing I got out of Castaneda books, and this has to do with creativity. Just knowing a lot of stuff takes a good memory, and you're keeping track of things that already exist. To be creative involves looking into the abyss for things that don't exist yet. It is completely different. The Toltec sorcerers called everything that exists the Tonal. They called everything that doesn't exist, yet, the Nagual. It is like looking between the things that exist for things that might exist someday but don't exist yet. I think I explained that pretty well. It is scary for most people to stare into the abyss because we aren't used to it.

Let me try to explain it by saying that before I started studying Toltec sorcery, that I used to have dreams that were very scary. Now I have dreams that may be weird but I don't find them scary. For some reason I also am not afraid of spiders anymore. I think it is connected but I can't put it into words, yet.
gregg webb
View Profile
Inner circle
1525 Posts

Profile of gregg webb
Another idea Castaneda seems to have in common with Tibetan Buddhism is the idea of the Rainbow Body, although he doesn't call it that. He just says that when it is time to leave the earth, the sorcerer "burns from within" and disappears completely and doesn't even leave any ashes. The Tibetans had the same thing but called it the Rainbow Body. This supposedly only happened to someone who was very pure spiritually. The lesser monks became food for the vultures. The fancy musical instruments from Tibetan monasteries were used to call the vultures for a feast on the monk not capable of the Rainbow Body maneuver. And then the very clean bones were stored. The Toltec sorcerers just called it the Fire From Within, but the same thing.

We also were told that the Tibetan monks could levitate (for real). This was back in the 1950's. Yogis in India claimed this too, and also invisibility. After the Beatles went to India to study, Doug Henning went, and also magician Michael Pizzolla (see his Stars of Magic - Synchronicity III) went to learn to "levitate" for real. It was like hopping and at the top of the hop they claimed to be actually levitating for a nanosecond.

Those were interesting times. People were ready to believe anything. There was something called Ekankar-The Ancient Science of Soul Travel. The Ek Master gave a speech and I was invited by some people who were fooled by my Billiard Ball tricks. He claimed he could pass through walls! In true form for myself, I offered to go to the next room and write something on the blackboard and he could travel through the wall and look at what I wrote on the board! Get this...he didn't bat an eyelash but said that while it would be easy for him to do, it would be "showing off" and showing off was frowned upon in Ekankar.

I had met the Amazing Randi several times and was corresponding with him often, and couldn't resist. But believe me, there are many people who believe that if you look hard enough, you'll find people that can do "the real work". More next time.
gregg webb
View Profile
Inner circle
1525 Posts

Profile of gregg webb
Anyway, people thought the Carlos Castaneda books were "real" at the time. Well, they were in a certain sense. When he learned Toltec shamanism, he was really learning what we call Lucid Dreaming. The books were his accounts of things he "saw" in Lucid Dreams. So, not real in the sense that we mean it, but "really" great stories of going to other dimensions etc.

I read each of his books about 100 times. I see many connections to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Dzogchen Clear Light Dreaming, Tibetan Buddhism, and Mexican sorcery.

Much of it all has connections to dream analysis and as I said, there is a lot about that in Freud's work and Carl Jung's work, and Joseph Campbell has a lot about shamanism which also relates to ecstatic dream states. Mercia Eliade wrote THE book on shamanism.

Finally, in real science, there is a lot of recent experimental work being done on dreaming. The main thing I take away from those is that we were wrong when we thought that dreaming took place just before waking up. It turns out there are also very realistic dreams when we are very deep asleep, but we have trouble remembering that we even had them.

In essence, during meditation, we can program ourselves similar to "post hypnotic suggestions" to get better at remembering THOSE dreams. And so a book like The Art of Dreaming is useful, but Castaneda wrote in very mysterious ways about it and I just explained it in very simple modern terms.

It isn't easy to learn because we all have "demons" inside us that cause us to find certain things very scary. Only after getting over our "demons" do dreams stop being scary. It Tibetan Buddhism there are tales of people being tied to trees in the forest at night, to get over the fear of demons. After they do get over their fear of demons, they are told that there aren't really any demons.

Just at a regular pace we outgrow childhood fears. It is a maturing process that takes many years and seeing many good and bad things. Achieving "enlightenment" is really the acceptance of life with all its good and bad as the way things are supposed to be, and we can relax and not fly into a panic over everything.

Just recently I was trying to tell a little girl that was screaming because she saw a bee that she was scaring the bee. I like bees now, just don't scare the bee. I don't really like snakes, but I know not to sit on one in the woods. I already said I am not afraid of spiders anymore. And that is after seeing huge spiders in my dreams every night when I was quitting smoking...from the Patch. And speaking about the big one, death, I think you have to go to a certain number of funerals before it really sinks in.

So, I think dreams are a great topic to weave into mentalism, but don't expect to get into dream analysis without waking up scared from a dream (a nightmare, of course...or, is it an incubus at work? Or a succubus?) at least for a while.
gregg webb
View Profile
Inner circle
1525 Posts

Profile of gregg webb
So, shamanism and Toltec sorcery are actually early versions of dream analysis. Many ghost phenomena are believed by dreaming experts to be actually dreams. You dream that someone you knew that is dead is standing next to your bed. But what about waking dreams, or clear light dreaming, or daydreams? O.k., well, some of those are about the fact that if you fall asleep during a daydream, it really isn't a daydream anymore. It is a dream.

Anyway, Castaneda is certainly not the only writer to write about ideas they had during dreaming. Many people write down their dreams in a sort of diary - it is called a Noctuary I think. Things that scared you or shocked you, stick in your memory the longest because the memory loop in question was formed at the synapses
in the presence of adrenaline because of the fear or shock. Things that didn't seem to threaten your well being don't show up often in your dreams.

Things are often distorted so you don't recognize them. Let's say your elementary school. It may sort of look like the real place if you looked at it through a fun-house mirror. That's what dream analysis is often about. Decoding the distortion until you recognize what it really is about.

But the other part of Castaneda's work is about the difference between the halves of out brain. The ancient Toltecs figured out a lot. One side is creative and the other side is technical. The division between the 2 halves is called the Corpus Colossum (sp?) and is like the "bus" between the 2.

They called the technical side the Tonal and it is good at memory and orderliness. The imaginative side is called the Nagual. It is good at combining ideas in unusual ways, and making ideas up out of nothing. (Looking into the abyss and pulling something out.) (Looking at the spaces between things and ideas and pulling something out.) (Pulling something out of thin air.)

In all arts you have people who rely on a great memory. They often think that if they know everything there is to know about their subject, that one day they'll make the leap to being creative. Not true, because they are looking at the Tonal.

The Nagual is the other part of the brain entirely. So, lots of daydreaming and meditation and learning to focus on ideas and images derived from daydreaming and meditation instead of studying and memorizing what others have done or are doing, is what is useful. Imagination (Having a mind's eye) is a real thing for about 1/3 of the population. Not having an imagination is a fact of life for about another 1/3 of the population. Then there is about 1/3 of the population, in the middle, who could improve their mediocre amount of imagination through lots of meditation, daydreaming and dream analysis.

I'm trying to explain what Castaneda was talking about after about book 3. Granted, the early books were about drugs, which the teacher was using to try to jolt the student out of a rigid and non-imaginative world view. Then it came to be about how to access the Nagual. Castaneda was using mysterious storytelling techniques and I am just telling it in modern language.

If anyone is curious, I was a psychology major, and then a full-time magician for 16 years. Then I was partly a magician and partly an artist. Then I got into TV and Film design and storyboarding, and didn't do magic for about 10 years. Then I became a college level animation teacher and began writing about magic on the side. Lately I retired from being an Adjunct Professor of animation, and now write about magic. Sometimes I do illustrations for my own articles and sometimes I do illustrations for others and sometimes ghost-write for others.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » We double dare you! » » Rereading Carlos Castaneda books. (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2022 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.04 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL