Sunday, June 21, 2015

Life, Death and Freedom

At a recent cybergathering, a seeker asked me the following question:

Do you believe that if you do not have a shamanic death, you will be not be immortal?

My response was as follows...

Basically, I think a lot of folks will make it past the eagle, into some form of "immortality", but I've *seen* that there is "existence" (a form of awareness without much ability to do or to evolve beyond that point), or there is an actual evolution of consciousness into what don Juan called the "state of freedom".

The path of the warrior is largely about acquiring and developing the ability to evolve into that state of freedom where one would be not only ubiquitously aware, but also possessing sufficient power & individuality to maintain what we think of as an "identity" that is both a part of and yet distinguishable from All sentience. My personal understanding of the "state of freedom" is that one would have ubiquitous immortality (existing in all places and times simultaneously), but at the same time would maintain one's own individual cohesion. One would be "I Am" rather than "it is" or "we are".

As for the idea of a shamanic death.. I think all creatures have it within themselves to live a shamanic life, even if they have never heard the word 'shamanism'. At the core of every living thing, there is what don Juan called "the right way to live" -- an instinct that brings us into alignment with the evolutionary mindset of the sentient all. So, in that regard, the old adage of "there are many pathways to the bardo" is very true. But at the core level, I think each individual either does the work of spiritual evolution, or doesn't do it. If it isn't done, then the "individual" is most likely discorporated after death. The energy would remain, of course, as part of the universal sentience, but the I-Am would most likely be lost, dissolved into information (impersonal) as opposed to Knowledge (Knowledge itself implying there is an I-Am based in experience - iow, there is "one-who-knows").

For obvious reasons, this isn't a particularly popular opinion, which is why most organized religions take the more palatable approach that the "soul" is immortal no matter what. While that is true at the level of energy, most shamanic cultures recognize that the individual's life and how it is lived have a direct influence on how one spends eternity. From personal vision quests, I have come to See that Christianity's concept of Hell undoubtedly originated from the same basic core realization that, without some form of "redemption", the soul is cast into limbo after death. Unfortunately, all too many religions seek to place the idea of "redemption" into the hands of an external deity, whereas shamanism (and nagualism in particular) recognizes that the evolution of the Self is the only possibility for redemption from that discorporated awareness-without-identity (aka "limbo").

I've been to both "places" in vision quests - the place of sentient awareness without identity, and the state of ultimate freedom. While words cannot describe either one adequately, one thing I'm sure of is that without the I-Am, there is only a sense of eternal "limbo" -- awareness without cohesion. Personally, I found that discorporated state of ubiquitous observer to be less than desirable because there was no sense of differentiation - and without that, all is virtually sameness, the universe looking at itself through its own eyes and finding nothing new under the suns. It is the I-Am which gives meaning and enables the love affair between Self and Spirit.
Copyright 2015, by Della Van Hise
All Rights Reserved

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Shaman's Double: Dispelling the Myths

"All things exist within the realm of possibility, but only some things will be forced to go through the motions of actually occurring." (Quantum theory)

As a result of participating in forums for the past 15+ years, and particularly in the course of presenting my own work on the subject of the double, one thing continues to amaze and amuse me, and it is essentially the reaction some people have to the mere concept of "the double".

In an online chat where the subject was touched upon, some of the comments put forth included:

"I don't believe in the double."

"The double doesn't exist except as a component of self."

"The double can ONLY be like what Carlos described of Genaro's double. It's an exact duplicate of the warrior."

As I read the transcript of this chat, where the conversation actually turned somewhat volatile, it occurred to me that a lot of the reactions I am seeing with regard to this subject are based almost wholly in the assemblage point of fear - a fear generated by 1) lack of comprehension; and 2) the insecurities of the ego as it resides in the tonal.

When an otherwise advanced warrior proclaims, "I don't believe in the double," to me it's usually a signal that some old program is running in the background which is distorting one's perception of oneself. One warrior whom I questioned about this recently told me, "The double is just a myth, isn't it? It's just a way of explaining a feeling - like Santa Claus being used to promote some essence of Christmas."


While most of what I am going to say here may be repetitious to some, it seems that if the understanding of the double is so limited and distorted, perhaps more work is required. To me, it is simply obvious. But perhaps I am taking for granted that my own path has been blessed with a powerful communion with the nagual for as far back as I can remember. Perhaps what is obvious to me is Greek to someone else, and vice versa.

Another warrior friend once asked me, "If you had to define the double in 5 minutes or less, what would you say?"

My response: "The double is the evolved self, projected initially by the mortal warrior as a manifestation of the intent to preserve awareness beyond the threshold of 'death'. It is created from the energy of the warrior, literally, but takes on a life of its own as a projection of the warrior's Will. We give the double 'life'. When the warrior puts forth the intent which says, "Teach me," or "Make me whole," the double is the teacher who then begins 'dreaming the warrior'*. In this manner, the warrior is able to perceive well beyond the assemblage point of the tonal, and actually begins to utilize information and Knowledge gleaned directly from the assemblage point of the double - which might also be termed the AP of the nagual. As the warrior progresses on her path, the two assemblage points begin moving closer together, so that when the warrior's tonal is vacated at death, the dual assemblage points conjoin to create 'the totality of oneself' - or what I have come to call 'a singularity of consciousness'." 

Carlos Castaneda wrote: "The self dreams the double. Once it has learned to dream the double, the self arrives at this weird crossroad and a moment comes when one realizes that it is the double who dreams the self. Your double is dreaming you. No one knows how it happens. We only know that it does happen. That's the mystery of us as luminous beings. You can awaken in either one." (Don Juan, TALES OF POWER)
Though these words have been perceived as a riddle by many over the years, my own work has shown that CC was speaking in a very literal sense here - but our own understanding will be either limited or enhanced, depending entirely on the preconceived notions we bring to the table. Put another way: ir someone has already determined that they don't "believe" in the double, or that the double is "only a component of self", then that is the colored filter through which the words will be viewed, and from that filter, the warrior's own understanding will be limited at best, and often even thwarted altogether. Why? Because when we do not allow ourselves to even consider what might lie beyond what we already believe, we have closed off the energetic connection to the realm of all possibility, and have confined ourselves to our own narrow and rigid belief systems.

The double is not a theory. It is not a religion. And it is not a belief system. To the warrior who has experienced her double, it is simply what-is. To the warrior who has not experienced her double, it remains as an energetic potential in the realm of all possibility which must be forced to go through the motions of actually occurring.

So much of this Toltec path (or any serious path of Knowledge) lies within our ability to set aside what we believe and deal instead with what we have never even considered - those concepts and other worlds which exist beyond the worlds and in the realm of actual experience. But that's where the ego can become fragile and fearful and slam on the brakes with blanket statements such as, "I don't believe in the double." Obviously, the ego may not want to believe in the double, for the simple reason that the double tends to represent something "larger" than the sum of our human parts - and the ego is not particularly forgiving of anything which it may perceive as "greater" than itself.

To limit the double is to limit the self. To limit the self is to defeat the purpose of the double. To see and acknowledge only the tonal self is nothing more than a manifestation of the ego's insecurities. Please consider that - for it is ultimately the insecurities of the ego which have the greatest potential to derail the warrior entirely. If you are given to meditation, this is a topic which almost always yields new insights & perspectives. What do we have the potential to BE when we set aside ego and belief, and open the door to the manifestation of "all possibility"?

So ultimately, the double represents the other half of the dual assemblage point of man. We perceive the tonal with our 5 ordinary senses. We perceive the nagual with the *other* senses (no way to know how many) which are inherent in the energetic construct of the double. When these assemblage points overlap (through dreaming, meditation or gnosis/silent knowing), the warrior gains glimpses of her connection to the infinite. When the 2 assemblage points conjoin at death (or at the moment of transmogrification, in the case of "death-defiers"), the warrior may be said to inhabit the totality of herself, achieving what some have referred to as "ultimate freedom."

Of course... my personal sense is that the ultimate freedom of our totality is most likely only one more step in an infinite journey. From the wholeness of our totality, we embrace the first step of the next evolution.

Della Van Hise, copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved

The double only exists when we do the work to create it.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Sorcerer and the Ordinary Man

(A message from the double, via silent knowing)

It is easier for a sorcerer to perform the chores of an ordinary man than it is for an ordinary man to comprehend the ways of the sorcerer. You are skating on the edge of two different worlds, which are nonetheless the same world, the only world. The trick is learning to See that, and to be neither the sorcerer nor the ordinary man, but the cohesive I-Am which is both.

Then, when the two become one, there is no longer any sense of urgency or conflict, for then you will always be doing sorcery even in ordinary actions, and ordinary acts will become enhanced with magic, and only then will you start to remember that it isn't the destination that matters nearly as much as the manner in which you travel that long dirt road on the outskirts of time, yes?

Orlando (November 25, 2003)


Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Warrior's Party - Reality or Myth?

Since the topic of a "warrior's party" has come up in several threads on the Carlos Castaneda FB group recently, I'd like to open a discussion on the subject. I'll offer some of my own opinions, which anyone is free to disagree with - though I'm hoping for some genuinely authentic forward thinking here.

From my own experience and Knowledge, I'd have to say that the idea of a warrior's party as it was described by Carlos is probably not as viable in today's world as it was when Carlos was roaming the desert with Don Juan Matus (and that's IF those events really happened as they are described, vs. whether they may be allegorical). Though they are valid either way it is my opinion that IF the events as described are accurate, what Carlos left us with is what amounts to a road map to freedom. Both Carlos and don Juan made comments which implied that the old lineages were ending. That being the case, it is also my contention that Carlos was "selected" (whether by DJM or by Spirit) to chronicle some of the Toltec wisdom and the ways of nagualism - not just as field notes for an anthropology thesis, but for future generations.

If read as a whole unit, CC's books (as well as the writings of many other Toltec/nagualism authors) provide the seeker with various techniques, as well as with the suggestion that any REAL change has to come from the Self. No teacher, no other warriors, no nagual man or nagual woman is going to take you to Freedom. If you're going there, it's a one-way trip and a one-person ticket. The idea of a warrior's party (in my opinion) is more of an allegory than a fact - so for those who are actually looking for a warrior's party... I think you would have better luck looking for leprechauns or Lilliputians.

This isn't to say that warrior's parties don't exist. They probably do. But I'm not sure they are what a lot of seekers imagine them to be. So many seekers I've worked with over the years have an idea in their head that a warrior's party means gathering in the desert to participate in mitotes, to argue vehemently with other warriors, and to sit at the feet of some don Juan character who exists solely in their own head.

The path must evolve - and I feel that it has since CC wrote his books, and it will continue to evolve and adapt because that is simply the way of Spirit. It approaches us on the level where we presently exist, and encourages us to advance, grow and evolve. I'm sure there was a time when actual warrior parties were the way of things. But that is no longer the world in which most of us live, and yet I know from direct experience (with myself and many, many others) that Spirit still calls to us and gives us the means whereby to reach Freedom. No warrior's party necessary. What is necessary is "The Work", but also the willingness to let go of the "ideas" in our head which try to tell us - "It can only be this way and no other way." As long as seekers cling to such fixed and inflexible ideas, they are probably not in service to themselves, but to the Program, and to the Eagle.

The idea of a warrior's party is extremely appealing, even romantic in many ways (spiritually romantic, not necessarily sexually romantic, just for clarification). And yet... I don't perceive it to be a realistic goal in the context of the world we live in today. Most of all, a warrior/seeker has to be adaptable and forward-thinking at all times (fluid, in other words). Spirit and the nagual are all around us, and when we learn to connect to them through the power of silence (gnosis or silent-knowing) we have the library of the Infinite at our fingertips. The warrior's party is inside each and every one of us. Learning to recognize and identify the various "characters" within our own skin is just part of the journey. You are already don Juan, don Genaro, dona Soledad, La Gorda, the witches, Silvio Manuel... and all the rest.

Do you want to be hooked to your fellow men, or to infinity? Take back your power - that's where you'll find the warrior's party.

Della Van Hise
June, 2015


First Shaman, First Nagual

(A "silent knowing" from the double)

A teacher is a necessary thing, but first one must decide what makes a teacher. Is it a human being who stands before you with rigid lessons or facts to be memorized? Or is it a drop of rain falling onto the surface of a still pond and the ripples that flow outward? Most often, those who are ready, those who have learned to See, begin to engage with the teacher within almost from the start – even if it is only the voice of the mortal self at first, asking questions of the spirit which only the spirit can answer. Ah, and can you see that it is the questioning and the answering, the give and take between the spirit and the self, which is the first step in the creation of the double, and once this process is internalized, it creates a link to the infinite which no earth-bound teacher could ever match?

And yet, to others, perhaps an external teacher is required in the beginning – someone to teach the apprentice how to undo the world of matter and men, how to hear her own voices, how to see with the inner eye, how to listen with the heart, how to speak to the spirit and be heard by the infinite. Learning these things may take a year, a decade, or a lifetime. To some, the lessons are never finished, and so they remain at the level of apprentice forever. But to the warrior who Sees, once the techniques are learned, it becomes almost a compulsion to seek the inner silence, listening only to the inner teacher, which is the act of beginning to embrace the double as the sentient, Whole Self outside of time, who knows you better than you know yourself and therefore is most qualified to teach you how to be who and what you already Are, but have only briefly forgotten. When that occurs, when the warrior begins to live with the totality of herself, the student becomes the teacher, and in some cases, even the new nagual - whether it is her conscious desire or not. Such is the evolution of the nagual. Such is the manner in which the Knowledge self-perpetuates even after lying dormant for centuries, for it is not stored in the fabric of space-time, but within the energetic sentience of the universe itself, within the Be-ing of every nagual who has ever been or ever will be. It is a living energy and as such can never be destroyed.

Each nagual is the first nagual. Each shaman is the first shaman. It cannot be otherwise. All that is ever really handed across generations is information: techniques, concepts, ideas. You are an infinite being, and as such you are comprised of infinite Knowledge. All that is required to embrace it is Intent.

(Orlando, April 1, 2003)

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Benefactors, Teachers & the Shaman's Double

One thing I've always found interesting about the photo on the left
is that the characters of don Juan and the Eagle are both
 inside the head of the apprentice. To me, this indicates
that our greatest teachers and our greatest fears are reflection
 of the Self - the ability to create ourselves Whole, or the ability
 to destroy ourselves completely. "Look within," as the old saying goes.
If one happens upon a teacher or benefactor with whom one can personally connect, then they might consider themselves truly fortunate. But I do not for a moment think an extant teacher is necessary, for the simple reason that the first knowledge had to come from somewhere.

Who was the first Zen master?

Who was the first Toltec benefactor?

Who is The One?

It is always and only the Self - connecting with the infinite through gnosis (silent knowing). I did not gain my experiences sitting at the feet of any guru, nor uploading the belief systems of any religion, nor analyzing my reflexive behaviors through the prodding of any human being. Human beings have agendas. There can be no exceptions, for that is the nature of being in human form. Psychiatrists have a vested interest in keeping their patients coming back, so they aren't going to offer a "cure" right away unless they themselves are truly evolved, and most simply aren't. The same is true for spiritual teachers, psychics and the like. Unless they are spiritually evolved themselves (and most aren't), they have a powerful interest in keeping the hook in the student, and so even if they have their finger on the pulse of All Knowledge, they aren't going to reveal it in a single setting because it isn't profitable to do so (nor is it possible). Even those who offer their services and advice for free are often feeding on the adulation and dependencies of their apprentices, so there is ALWAYS an agenda from ANYONE in human form.

Not all agendas are bad, but to think they don't exist is foolhardy. What matters is having sufficient AWARENESS to *see* this. This was addressed briefly in one of the CC books, when don Juan was talking about how everything we do is "self-centered" in one way or another. Even if we give money to a homeless guy with no strings attached, somewhere inside ourselves our agenda involves making ourselves "feel better" - not just about the homeless man, but most of all, about the self.

Each of us has to do the work of our own evolution, and it's always the self/double at the helm. A really good extant benefactor can point out our weaknesses and strengths, and maybe even provide advice or working with both, but all too often the student gets ensnared in the process to the point that the process can take the place of actual evolution. The double will not allow this to happen, because it isn't in his/her own best interest, and so it's like a constant "push" once we set our intent and begin opening to our own gnosis - which really is the only "guide" we ever need, because it is the direct interface between the Self and the Infinite.

Put simply, any warrior who has come far enough on the path to recognize the need for a benefactor is rather like Dorothy in Oz. The ruby slippers were right there all along, but Dorothy had externalized her salvation to "the wizard"... who... in the end... couldn't save her at all.
Click your heels together. Meet your double in the mirror. Take back your own power. Within that equation lies the single centimeter of chance that leads to Freedom.