Friday, June 10, 2016

Of Don Juan, Dumbledore, and Captain Kirk

In the course of hosting and participating in forums for the past 15+ years, as well as working directly with others as a counselor, teacher, workshop leader and so on, it has come to my attention that many people place an expectation upon their teachers and mentors that is tantamount to some fantasy such as Kung Fu. But as I have spent a great deal of time and energy attempting to explain to a friend lately, there is a vast difference between fictional teachers (yes, including Don Juan), and actual human begins who walk the earth being human.
When I say don Juan is a fictional character, what I mean is that we only ever see of don Juan what Carlos allows or wants us to see. Whether don Juan ever walked the earth as a flesh-and-blood human being, who's to say? 
In our celluloid fantasies, we only ever see the "motivational" side of Dumbledore, or Kwai Chang Cain, or Master Po or Yoda or Captain Kirk. Put simply: we see only a 2-dimensional character who finds himself involved in situations which have already been pre-determined by the writer. We don't see don Juan having a bad day at the races and we don't see Captain Kirk when the Klingons win, and we don't see Yoda on a bender.

Real teachers are real people who are, in the end, really human.

There have been incidents in Toltec chatrooms over the years wherein  members lost their temper and ended up in a shouting match. Now, some might say that this completely invalidates those people as warriors or especially as teachers, but I am really curious as to why that kind of judgment would be leveled when each and every one of us knows in our hearts that - despite all that we have learned or experienced - we are still human beings at the core. Yes, even those who have lost their human form are still human, and that being the case, they will have human feelings, human reactions, human passions.

It is only this strangely prevalent Toltec fantasy largely present on the internet that tries to tell us that "losing the human form" means becoming some disassociated, unemotional, unfeeling robot who moves through life feeling nothing, reacting to nothing. Er - folks - that's actually called a Vulcan, and it has nothing to do with this path because (now hear me), it is fiction. Sure, it made a great metaphor, an excellent allegory, maybe even a fine role model for some of us growing up in troubled times. But it is still fiction.

When we are dealing with a paradigm for a teacher that we found in a book or on the television, it's vitally important to remember that the teachers we encounter in the real world are going to be a bit more 3-dimensional and real. So you have to make a decision. You have to decide whether you can accept these people for who they are - foibles, faults and all - or whether you are going to hold them to some impossible standard of excellence, in which case it has been my general observation that you will be setting yourself up for one major disappointment after another.

As I was saying to another warrior in email, who was criticizing me heavily for my human foibles...
Quantum Shaman wrote:
The mistake I made with you was allowing you to know my human half. Now, it is all you can see of me. That's okay. You can invalidate me all you want. But the work I have done and the truths I have given you remain. You will have to decide whether you want to invalidate the messenger or deal with the messages. It's up to you.
What many warriors simply do not understand  is that when a wo/man of Knowledge moves their assemblage point beyond a certain 'safety' point, not only is there no going back, but there is also no desire to conceal the fact that one is, frankly, a wee bit to the left of what is considered "socially normal." It goes with the territory of being a seer, alone in the world of folly. And if you were to ask most shamans or medicine people, you would find that it is because of their abilities to move outside of the world that, in many ways, they are no longer even a part of the world. Doesn't make them better or worse... just makes them somewhat different by definition.

Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to see a one-man play by Leonard Nimoy, entitled Theo - in which Nimoy played the role of Theo Van Gogh, Vincent's older brother. The play consisted of a passionate discourse by Theo with regard to Vincent, mostly communicated through actual letters which had been exchanged between them, and are preserved in a museum somewhere.

At one point, when Theo is attempting to intercede with some art critics at a gallery, he is faced with the fact that they find Vincent to be strange, inappropriate, and even mad. They tell Theo that they adore Vincent's work, but they cannot abide Vincent himself. At this point, Theo is moved to tears, and in an impassioned cry, says to the art critics (I'm paraphrasing), "Can you look at the beauty of his work and deny its worth? Why must the man fit into your social circles, too? And do you not see that if he did, he would no longer be the artist he is?"

Those words have always stuck with me, and I return to them whenever I find myself feeling judgmental or critical of someone whom I might expect to be held to some higher standard. The reality is that most artists who are genuinely talented are also genuinely at least one step removed from this world. And so it is with teachers, shamans, and even truly devoted monks seeking enlightenment.

Expecting a flagellist monk to be an appropriate dinner guest would cause me to question the host's expectations far more than the monk's behavior. Why would we expect anyone to live up (or down) to our own definitions of what they "should" be? That, to me, is the real madness.

No one (and I mean no one) can truly take this journey and not be changed forever - and I am referring to the kind of change that is unpredictable, energetically visible, and irreversible. One cannot travel into the heart of the nagual, be embraced by it (even though one cannot entirely wrap one's mind around it), and not be forever altered. To read about it in Carlos Castaneda's books is one thing. To do it is another.

One major aspect of this path, therefore, is centered around examining our own expectations of others. Yoda, Kwai Chang Cain, Dumbledore, don Juan and the rest, are fictional characters controlled entirely by the writer. We see only what the writer wants us to see... and so to build expectations onto real human beings based on fictional characters is altogether ludicrous - rather like certain sects of Christianity who take the Bible literally. In reality, we saw relatively little of Jesus - but we did see that he got pissed off one day and wreaked havoc on some money changers at a temple... and we saw that he felt betrayed by God when he was hanging on the cross (for those who believe in that particular allegorical fiction, I mean).

But we also saw that he went into the desert for 40 days and nights, and came back changed forever. Changed. Forever. By Do-ing the work.

It's easy to see someone as a saint until you have lived with them. It's easy for someone to let you see only their good side, and that is usually the case when dealing with modern-day new age teachers who lead their apprentices on expensive excursions to Mexico and Peru. I'm not really sure how honest that is. I'm not sure it doesn't just promote the false expectations of the public, with the bottom line of money being the bottom line while the sheeple stand in line to stand in line at the feet of the master they have created in their own mind, and who will inevitably disappoint them when he falls from grace in their adoring eyes.

Sure, I offer counseling services, workshops and the like. But on forums and online groups, I make myself available. Nothing is concealed because 1) I do not choose to conceal my authenticity; and 2) it would be virtually impossible to maintain that facade of "sweetness & light" which so many new age teachers carry around with them and which, to me, is a quick and sure sign of false pretenses.

The reality of it is that I am here because it benefits my own assimilation to actually be wholly real with people, even when that means they will see a side of me they might not want to see. Do I care if anyone loses respect for me? Absolutely not. That's their issue to deal with. Do I care if someone sits in the shadows judging me for my human qualities, usually because they are too conflicted to take the journey for themselves? No, but I do find it sadly annoying that anyone would waste so much time and energy trying to discredit me when they could be using that same time and energy to advance their own path.

Bottom line: if you are expecting your teachers to be larger than life or other than human, go back to your books or watch a good movie. Invalidate all of your teachers, discredit all of your mentors, and you can sleep better at night. But you will still be left with the question or your own journey and what you hope to get out of it.

Instead of asking, "Who is Della?" Or "Who is Castaneda?" Or "Who is don Juan?" The question remains: "Who are you?"

Simple stuff.

Originally Posted to "The Sorcerer's World"
December, 2007


To read similar essays & opinionated ramblings,
I hope you'll buy my books.

Many thanks and infinite blessings...



Visit the Quantum Shaman website at

No comments: