Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Death of Carlos Castaneda: Fact or Fiction?


The words above come to me as I am trying to fall asleep on the summer solstice of 1998.  We had just learned of the death of Carlos Castaneda, though just as his life was a mystery, so is his reputed “death”.  It happened on April 27 at his home in LA.  According to the LA TIMES, the body was cremated immediately & the ashes taken to Mexico.  No funeral, no body.  Just the word of the doctor & his agent.  Did he really die at all, or has he merely broken ties with this world completely in order to be utterly “free” of consensual constraints?

We don’t realize how bound we are to this society just by virtue of being alive, being human.  We are expected to behave in certain ways because we are human, & so we do.  If we live, we are expected to age, to become sick & finally die – and so we do.  Merely by virtue of being alive we are already condemned to death by the programmed belief system of the entire world – a belief system that has nothing to do with religion or culture, but the belief system which is the foundation of Man himself. If one person knows you are alive, you are then bound to this belief system through all 7 billion people on earth – i.e., you do not need to be seen as Jack or Jill or Carlos, but only as human to be trapped & condemned by the energetic constructs of those (false) belief systems.

I see this as a higher truth that can’t be ignored if we really do intend to evolve beyond the social hive, beyond human, beyond the eagle's reach.

If I see a man on the street, a stranger – I automatically make certain assumptions that do not even require conscious thought, that are literally a part of the foundational belief system of the entire human race.  For example, I automatically assume that the man is human, going thru a life that is “normal” to him.  I assume he was once a baby, then a boy, then a man – and all of these assumptions lead to the belief that he is a creature living inside of time – he was born, he grew up, he will grow old, & he will one day die.  Without knowing anything at all about this stranger, I know his entire history, his entire future.  And just as I believe these things about this man, so does everyone else who sees him. Indeed, the man believes these things about himself, and even accepts the beliefs as irrefutably valid, so no attempt can be made to even try to refute what is seen, known & accepted as irrefutable.  This stranger on the street is a victim of all of mankind’s belief system just by virtue of being human & recognized as such by me when I see him passing by me on the street.

Perhaps the only way to be truly free of such belief systems is to be already dead – or at least to be perceived by your fellow man as already dead.  If I see a man on the street who looks like Carlos, but it has already been “irrefutably written” that Carlos is dead, then I automatically assume that the man is not Carlos, but a different man who might look like him.  I “condemn” that man, perhaps, but at the same instant, I free Carlos, allowing him to be “dead”, & therefore automatically consigned to those realms of thought & speculations which exist beyond human consciousness.  IOW, I “trap” the stranger on the street in the web of consensual beliefs, but at the same exact moment, I say to myself, “It’s not Carlos, for he is already dead, and I hope he made it past the eagle.”  In short, because I do not know what happens to a man after death, I cannot trap him into any consensual belief system.  Only after the man is perceived as “already dead” do we stop making automatic assumptions as to his past, present & future.

Throughout his books, don Juan teaches Carlos about the damage done to a man merely by virtue of existing inside the hive of any social structure.  But how can any man be truly free of it.

Point is… if Carlos found himself in a position to program the hive to already believe him “dead”, perhaps he has truly slipped past the eagle – that strange & inexplicable “entity” which seems to exist merely to devour human consciousness at the moment of death. If the eagle believes/accepts/knows that it’s already devoured a man, then it believes/accepts/knows it can’t devour that same man a second time.  But if the eagle has been tricked by a master shaman, is the shaman not then free even of death itself, or at the very least, free of the expectations placed upon all mortal men?

Whatever his ultimate fate, whether he is dead or alive or both simultaneously, I have to congratulate Carlos for making even his supposed “death” an ongoing part of the story, fodder for speculation, mulch for mystery & mysticism.  In the tradition of the true shaman, he has made us wonder about ourselves and the nature of reality, right down to the question of Death itself.

"Reality is a progressive belief."

Copyright 2014, by Della Van Hise
All Rights Reserved

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