Journey to Ixtlan

Many readers of Carlos Castaneda stop reading after A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Some read on to A Separate Reality. As I’ve stated before, Castaneda admits later on that his compulsive obsession on non ordinary reality as produced by hallucinogenic plants was the wrong area to fixate, and in Journey to Ixtlan, he recapitulates on many of the notes previously discarded.

It is in this wonderful story that Carlos introduces many concepts, or rather elucidates on many concepts, which Don Juan had introduced since their initial encounter; not-doing, stopping the world, living as a warrior, and dreaming.

What baffles me the most is that skeptics-and I was one-fixate on the impossibility of the story without so much as trying any of the prescribed techniques.

I remember being a small child. When I went to my grandparents’ house, I used to spend countless hours just lying on the couch staring at the popcorn ceiling. After a while, the ceiling appeared to invert and the little pieces of stucco, or whatever, seemed to be holes rather than protuberances. When I did that, all my regular thoughts slowly subsided until I had none whatsoever…that was my not-doing, and I think we forget those kinds of incidents. Furthermore, we obsess over the information that we only use some 10% of our brains and ask ourselves what can we accomplish if we focus the totality of ourselves on only one thought? Well…that is what stopping the world entails; shutting off our constant description of the world as reiterated by all those around us for just long enough to focus on nothing at all…or to focus ourselves on just one thing.

Yes, I think the teachings are real. No, I don’t think they apply to all of us in particular. We are all so very different and unique, that nothing is truly the same for any us. If you have not read any of these books, you may want to consider doing so. If you have read them and think they are phony, you may want to consider quieting your mind tonight when you lay down in bed, and try to find your hands in your dreams. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish.

Here’s another on of those little exchanges that pleases me to no end:

“What’s the use of having beautifully polished crystals if you never find the spirit giver of power?” he said. “On the other hand, if you don’t have the crystals but do find the spirit you may put anything in his way to be touched. You could put your dicks in the way if you can’t find anything else.”

The whole story is replete with power, emotion, revelations, and touched lightly with such grace and humor that it is just so pleasant to read over and over again. I also like Juan’s counterpart, Genaro. His antics and personality are so like myself that I cannot help but love the character. In later books, Juan describes that there are only so many kinds of men, and that Genaro is a man of action. This doesn’t mean much to those who have not read any of the books, and it doesn’t mean much to those who only give the stories a cursory read, but I promise you, if you find your path with heart, you will see plainly that it doesn’t matter how much of the story is real; the people’s names, the area in question (both of which Carlos admits were made up in an effort to follow Juan’s instructions), the point is that many of us are plain dormant. You can keep doing everything you do. Maybe you’re happy, maybe you’re not, but why not try something new and see if the universe can’t show you something unknown?

Thanks for reading.