Conversations with don Coyotl
By John Bilby
I have been doing many hours of web searching, meeting and corresponding by e-mail with other teachers in fields that are related to my own--that is, the field of applied uses of mindful awareness--which I have studied and practiced for thirty years, originally as a student of Christian, Buddhist, and Gestalt Psychotherapy teachers.
The most fascinating of the teachers I've met on the net is a man that I am going to call "don Coyotl," a nickname I came up with that he adopted during our correspondence. I tell you truthfully that I have no idea what his age is, what he looks like, what his nationality might be (he has a kind of "an accent"), or even where in the world he lives. In fact, I do not know his "real name" either. But none of that matters a bit. Don Coyotl is a man who comes as close as one could imagine to truly being "faceless." For me he only exists in the shuttling energies of the universe itself.
Those of you who are familiar with the beautiful books by Carlos Castaneda and the teachings of his mentor, Yaqui Indian sorcerer don Juan Matus, will remember that don Juan was a proponent of losing one's personal history. His students were admonished not to be giving other people information about themselves that they would only be thinking about as their own biased mental construct instead of relating with the actual living human person as a mystery in the here and now.
In our times, Castaneda became the living embodiment of a famous man of mystery, whose looks and personal history were not a subject known about in the thinking minds of other people. He has effectively disappeared in this way, even from a large community of readers who have loved him so much over the decades. He has written of the ways of a person of power in the Yaqui tradition of nagüalist maestros, a mystical tradition that had been taught even much earlier in the Toltec sorcery that had originated among the earliest men and women who lived on this "American" continent thousands of years ago.
Don Coyotl is a teacher of this kind. My ears perked up quick when I heard his e-mail talk. When I began looking for other teachers to chat with, it didn't occur to me that I would--right away!--find a personal teacher and begin a personal student relationship on the spot over the net. And that is what happened here. Yet I had some strong doubts about don Coyotl, too, along the way--as you will see.
In the course of our conversations I began to realize that things I had always taken to be "metaphorical" in Castaneda's writings (that is "metaphors of things that I already knew about") --the alterations of time, the transcendental experiences with animals, and all--were not metaphorical in the way that I had supposed them to be. I began to have experiences that showed me--as plain as the face in my mirror--that these things I only took to be words can indeed become the alive direct experiences of another order of existence--a "separate reality"--in the wide-awake sober *knowing* of an ordinary man or woman of today.
The fact that I don't know anything about don Coyotl matters not so much to me as the beautiful integrity and clarity of his teachings. (You will see below that I have even deleted the pseudonym that he gave me to honor his anonymity.) I hope that others can learn as much from hearing him teach as I have. He has helped me to grow. He has helped me to be a better human being. He has helped me calm down in times of trouble. And he has helped me to see some things I didn't even know are here to be seen in this wonderful world that we live in . . . or, that is to say . . . in the world that they are in.
You will hear me express my fears as we go along. And you will see the way he deals with this. You will see me acting-out my ego-driven personality (i.e. making an ass of my "self"), and experience how a man of power behaves in the presence of that kind of thing. Whether or not you will hear jackrabbits and coyotes "speak," that I cannot guarantee you. But you are welcome to come along with us out into the Sonoran Desert, and see how that was done.
I have some observations about the nagüalist petroglyphs of the Stone Age "Hohokam" Indians of southern Arizona that I believe I can relate to teachings about the nagüal and tonal in Carlos Castaneda's writings. Is there someone there that I can chat with about this?
You are most welcome to discuss the matter with me. If you do not prefer e-mail correspondence through this channel, maybe we could set up an IRC-meeting for your convenience?
don, the Nagual
Dear don ,
Wow! This is exciting! I just got on line a few days ago for the first time. Don't know what "IRC-meeting" is. I don't mind e-mail, but if you have the patience to explain how I can do the IRC thing, I'll check it out.
I'll be working--as a ranch hand--24-hours-a-day for several days, and will e-mail you more details next week when I'm home again. I've studied the Hohokam petroglyphs for many years at a dozen sites in the mountains around here. Some years back I visited with don Fel╠pe Garc╠a over a period of a year--102 year old spiritual leader of the Pascua Yaqui tribe in Tucson (now dead), who was referred to by others in his group as "Nagüal," and "Maestro," and led the deer dancers in the annual ritual at the Pascal full moon.
One of the members of his group was named don Juan Matus, then 84. I always doubted he had any connection to Carlos Castaneda's work, and they would razz me when I broached the subject. Juan Matus is a very common Yaqui name. They said they had never heard of Castaneda, who reported in his writings that he met his mentor, don Juan Matus, in a bus station in Nogales on the Mexican border, sixty miles south of here (Tucson).
One day, in response to my repeated requests, don Fel╠pe drew the symbols of the nagual and tonal on the ground for me and gave me a working explanation on how to approach understanding and using them. He represented the nagual by two connected spirals, one clockwise, meaning "inward," and the other counter-clockwise, "outward."
He drew the tonal as a dot in the center (representing the scalp of the "Nagual") surrounded by two concentric circles (time--i.e. two suns), with eight lines extending outward (the linear "paths" a person travels during their life, he said). Anthropologists refer to this symbol as "the sun symbol." It is the same as the Aztec "calendar stone" in Mexico City, with the face of Tonaltiu, the sun god, in the center where only a dot appears in the Hohokam petroglyphs. Notwithstanding, the most distinguished anthropologists around here maintain that the petroglyphs a) are doodles, or b) are for "hunting magic" (although many symbols of animals that were not hunted, such as owls, are included), or c) are not susceptible to translation or understanding.
I found both these symbols to be represented, repeatedly, at different Hohokam petroglyph sites. And I could see that all of these petroglyphs could be divided into those that were in the province of the nagual, or that of the tonal--from their orientation (i.e. whether centrifugal-centripetal, or linear.) From discussion with don Fel╠pe, I learned that the former (inward-outwardness) represented the same "mindfulness" of Buddhist and other teachings (i.e. the "here-now" awareness of the present moment) and the latter represented linear movement (i.e. the conceptual "story" of a person's life over time).
I learned mindfulness thirty years ago in Hawaii from the then-Dean of the UH College of Religion--a zen Buddhist master, ordained Christian minister, and a personal pupil of Martin Buber. I've practiced it ever since, taught it, and used it as a gestalt therapist for many years before retiring. Most of the "mindfulness" I find being discussed on the web (my first keyword) seems to refer to "noting," or objective experiencing with the five senses. But I am referring to the "full-fledged" mindfulness that is characterized by dwelling for periods of time in the inward experience of "aware presence." Whenever I discussed what I'd learned with my teacher in Hawaii, don Fel╠pe always said he'd learned the same things from his own teacher early in this century in southern Mexico--before he had fled Mexico as a refugee and come to live in Tucson.
Well, I've got a bunch of things to do before going back to the ranch this afternoon. I'm eager to continue this conversation, don [ ], if you'd like to.
P.S. I don't have a drawing program on my Macintosh Quadra. Is there a way I can fax hand-drawn copies of these petroglyphs to you, or an address to mail them to?
I will gladly continue this conversation with you, and any other you might want to initiate in the future. However, when it comes to discussing philosophy, religion or science I am not much of an agitator. It used to compell me for various reasons, but no more. The abstract flight or the inward experience of "aware presence" as you put it is the only thing that truly matters to me.
My experience with philosophy is that it is a lot of words that never are backed up by acts. Western religion dwells on the corner-stone of our world-view; fear and guilt. Eastern religions I know not much of, but I have found some striking resemblances between the way of life pertained by Juan Matus and his cohorts and the early Tao. That's all I have to say about that, because when you think of "Tao", you're not doing "Tao" if you catch my drift. Science is for many reasons unimportant to me, mostly because it can never aid you in the preparations for the abstract flight, nor can it by definition ever contribute with substantial guidance of the mental realm of human essence.
>I don't have a drawing program on my Macintosh Quadra...
We'll just have to remedy that, now don't we? Look up the following WWW-address and see if there is anything that might suit your taste: http://[ ] With any of those programs you will, with a little time on your hands, be able to draw whatever you like. I will be most delighted to receive any of your future pieces of art, but mind the graphical format in which you save them (GIF or J-PEG preferably).
Dear don [ ],
I'm astonished at how quickly almost two weeks have gone by since I heard from you, and I apologize for not responding with at least an explanation that I was being delayed.
Thank you for your clickable button that took me straightaway to [ ] where so much interesting shareware is exhibited. I'm amazed that such a thing could be done in the middle of an email. Perhaps that illustrates my extreme degree of uninformedness about the technical side of the web. My usual consultant on computer technical matters, my son, has been unavailable during this past two weeks--painting a house they bought before they can move in, and other such repairs, and working 15-hours-a-day at his regular work. So I haven't downloaded or installed the programs I need for IRC and for sketching petroglyphs that I'd like to pursue with you. Those are excuses, I realize, and usually not very soothing to the offended party. Yet I do feel sorry to have left you hanging in the middle of our interesting conversation. And I hope I am still welcome to proceed with more discussion with you--which, I assure you, I am very interested in.
I agree with your points that Western religion dwells on fear and guilt, most philosophy is a lot of words and thinking without practical applicability, and science for the most part is not a friend of people interested in awakening methods, or, at least, has no concern with this. I catch your drift that thinking and talking about the tao is not being or doing the tao. Yet, even Castaneda's mentor Juan Matus did some talking, although not fond of that apparently, whereas he directed Carlos' efforts with coached experiential exercises, like all legitimate teachers of awareness (from the bias of my own experiential understanding of awareness, at least).
However, I think there are as many cryptic references to awareness in the New Testament (and the Gnostic Gospels) as in most Buddhist or Taoist documents. After all, just as "Buddha" means "awakened," Jesus was apparently calling on people to "awaken" and have eyes and ears that see and hear, as awakened practitioners like Zen masters do. I think that many Christian people, and even ministers, simply haven't caught on to what Jesus was about.
And by the way, the 102-year-old Yaqui teacher that I knew some years ago here in Tucson was called "Maestro" and "Nagüal" by his circle of elderly friends (just as Castaneda's don Juan was), and yet he was also a Christian, and led the deer dancers he instructed in their Pascal full moon ceremonial on the grounds of the Catholic mission in their village (with permission if not the participation of the padres). He used the cross in the yard as a "sextant" in some way, in following the progress of the moon overhead that night. I never understood this ceremonial and wasn't allowed to participate in the deer dancing, or his teachings which were conducted in Yaqui, but don Fel╠pe let me hang out with him for long periods of time and was very forthcoming with me about other things after I had known him for some months. We spoke Spanish together, which I am somewhat fluent in, as he didn't speak English. Don Fel╠pe gave me to understand that the Yaquis had embraced Christianity because they found in Christian rhetoric (and the Bible) reciprocal expressions of the mysticism that they already traditionally knew. The missionaries were content that the Yaquis had "become Christianized," and never suspected, of course, that Yaqui teachers knew more about Christian mysticism than they were aware of themselves.
Awareness ought to be in the province of Christian teachers, but is simply lost for them today. And without an understanding and practice of awareness, some ministers are reduced to con-artistry that appeals to the relative propensity of their parishioners to believe that the money they give and the ardent statements of believing that they make can somehow lead to real salvation (or "liberation," "transcendence," "transformation") or anything at all that is really worthwhile.
I speak of this because I'd like to drum up some interest in awareness among Christian ministers one of these days when I have the time--perhaps a futile idea on my part. It strikes me as odd that only the Buddhist teachers seem to consider awareness in their province today--even though only very few Buddhists really know what awareness is.
This gets around to my own agitating in recent years because I am disappointed and even angry that some high-ranking Buddhists I've met who know about awareness appear to be content to keep it in their "inner circles," and perpetuate an elitism that seems to deny the altruism that they profess. I feel this especially when they set up their followers in rooms, doing only sitting meditations and "visualizations" that take many, many years to ripen into spontaneous awakenings in mindfulness (called "jethop experiences"), or "awareness." This amounts to self-serving "slavery" to me. Their response to this outrageous judgment is that my "anger at bhodisattvas" costs me kalpas of future lives every time I express it. And when I am reduced to being that egotistical about it, I can empathize with their point of view on that.
Yet I feel that anger, when it is merely "what's so" is worthy of mindful contemplation in its own right. And I'd like to see awareness taken out of the meditation hall and out into the midst of the world that we live in--the sooner the better, because this can lead to insights that support consciously shifting from unnecessary aggression to a more harmonious way of relating with the people that we know and relate with in life.
As I gather you feel, I am only interested in awareness. I do not catch on to your phrase "abstract flight," or possibly I do. I'd like to hear more from you about that, if you'd like to share more about it. If you can catch on to my phrase "aware presence" it seems that we genuinely do know at least this experience in common. "Luminous egg" would also be a beautiful metaphor for what I experience in this regard, as well.
Continuing in the theme above, there may be some worthwhile information (pertaining to awareness) in the early Greek philosophers, but I have not studied there enough to be able to ascertain this. However, the modern phenomenologists and certain existentialists, do seem to be right on target. Are you at all familiar with Edmund Husserl? His work seems to be discussing awareness and the application of awareness in transformative work throughout. Likewise, Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber. My own principal teacher, in his eighties now, a Zen Buddhist master, ordained Christian minister, and personal pupil of Buber, guided me to have a coherent experience of awareness for the first time in my life. This was thirty years ago.
I respect your feelings about these fields, and you don't need to discuss them at all if you don't wish to. I'd just like to get these few observations off my chest if you don't mind, since you brought it up that I seemed to be heading in these directions. If you don't like this I'll be willing to restrain my remarks to such as might pertain directly to the teachings of your don Juan Matus in the future.
Finally, in the field of science, although by far the most of it is an unhealthy influence on those who would like to experience lives of awareness (or frequent episodes of awareness), here too there appear to be some exceptions. I am referring most of all to the work of David Bohm (described as a "secular saint") and those physicists whose contemplations of Einstein's formulas, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, etc., etc. have led to breakthrough realizations of what is referred to as "the explicate and implicate orders." This beatific experience appears to have resulted in shifts to more loving and altruistic attitudes than are found in the rest of the community of scientists. Here, I would refer you, if you would be interested, to the first dozen pages or so of Stephen Wolinsky's "Quantum Consciousness-the guide to experiencing quantum psychology." Although I am not an expert in this area, I think you might find some resonance with your understandings of the tonal (compared to the "explicate order") and the "indefineable" nagual (compared to the "implicate order"). I'd like to get into this more with you when I am able to send you sketches of Hohokam petroglyphs and some commentary about them that I am already writing down in another document, in reference to things that don Fel╠pe said to me some years ago.
In fact, this is the heart of what I'd like to explore with you the most, if you have patience to hear me out, as perhaps this will enrich my own understanding of what you mean by "abstract flight," which I'd like very much.
For now, I send my best wishes to you, and hope you are not too put out by my long, and rather impolite silence.
There is no need to apology, since no offense has been taken. This is something you will never need to worry about - no matter what you say or do you can be rest assured that I will not be offended in any way. There was a time when I spent my days feeling unjustly treated and was offended by all and everything. That period in my life has thankfully passed. I'm not claiming myself rid off the chains of ego completely, because that would be a grand lie. It is rather that I have in my heart accepted the thought of not having the time to be offended. I am a mortal, and as one this may very well be my last moment on earth. As we mortals are stalked by death constantly there is no time for us to feel offended, there is only time to act. This is my strife - to take full responsability of my actions every moment of my life. To take responsability, for me, means to be ready to die for. There are no more or less important acts in the presence of death. Nothing matters and every moment is crucial. On the razor's edge I balance, but that might just be the thrill of it all. The challenge of weighting the awfulness of being a human against the wonder of being a human...isn't that what it's all about after all?
I catch your drift that thinking and talking about the tao is not being or doing the tao. Yet, even Castaneda's mentor Juan Matus did some talking, although not fond of that apparently, whereas he directed Carlos' efforts with coached experiential exercises, like all legitimate teachers of awareness (from the bias of my own experiential understanding of awareness, at least).
Yes, very true. Talking has its place as with everything else. Juan told Carlos many things as they were, but as Carlos's mind was entangled with intellectual efforts he did not even notice them. This was why Juan's "coaching" was divided into two parts: in heightened awareness Carlos would be able to directly understand the meaning of his words, and second in normal awareness where Juan again and again tricked Carlos' reasonable mind by giving him instructions of doing the most ridiculous of things. The latter had of course multiple purposes - to silence the internal dialogue, to deflate self-importance and to build a bridge between the nagual and the tonal within.
However, I think there are as many cryptic references to awareness in the New Testament (and the Gnostic Gospels) as in most Buddhist or Taoist documents. ...I think that many Christian people, and even ministers, simply haven't caught on to what Jesus was about. ...The missionaries were content that the Yaquis had "become Christianized," and never suspected, of course, that Yaqui teachers knew more about Christian mysticism than they were aware of themselves.
I cannot but agree with you completely. When it comes down to it, Jesus was not a Christian - that came afterwards. I have studied the New Testament myself and found many instances where one can directly relate to the ways of enlightenment as described in the path of heart. There are of course always the risk of interpreting messages to one's own bias - seek and you shall find (what you were looking for). But true Clarity remedies that - direct knowledge without the interference of the ego. A quite wonderful state of being. Such ease and simplicity. Too bad one so easily falters and again grows dull and heavy...
Their response to this outrageous judgment is that my "anger at bhodisattvas" costs me kalpas of future lives every time I express it. And when I am reduced to being that egotistical about it, I can empathize with their point of view on that.
Hmm yes, I can relate to that too. The cycle of reincarnation is the Buddhist's answer to the Christian's Hell where one will end up if one commits any of the Deadly Sins (anger at bhodisattvas). Enough said already :-)
And I'd like to see awareness taken out of the meditation hall and out into the midst of the world that we live in--the sooner the better, because this can lead to insights that support consciously shifting from unnecessary aggression to a more harmonious way of relating with the people that we know and relate with in life.
A wonderful thought indeed. The knowledge must definately be "broadcasted" and made accessible to the mass of mankind. Yet, when it comes down to it, we are all alone on our paths toward freedom, since it is a super-personal battle we weigh against ourselves to reach it.
The abstract flight is the final step toward freedom - breaking the mold, shattering the chains of our personal history. The abstract flight starts with becoming aware of one's full potential. It is the full awakening - burning from the fire within. The flight itself is then to make the somersault into the unknown. As an awareness behold the unspeakable and finally travel through it to the other side (hmm Jim Morrison's flaring up here it seems *laughter*). The abstract flight is an alternative way of dying. Death is two-fold, and die we must no matter how.
Speak of your heart's content of any matter you feel a need to bring forth. Feel no need to restrain yourself on my account. Juan Matus is not a master or a guru or a "Christ" to me - he is simply a simpleton, like me, that found a way to truly be what he really was. That in itself is enough for me not to retrace his steps, but to travel along my own path of heart.
I do look forward to viewing your petroglyphs and hearing what insights you have made. I know a little about quantum theories and some about Einstein's relativity theories, so I just might be able to comprehend what you will be refering to.
Looking forward till next time,
don [ ]
P.S. You are probably aware of this already, but just to empahsize the non-importance of my signature - it's a pseudonym partly chosen as a joke and to remain anonymous, but most of all to eliminate the egomania of my own person. I hope you don't mind. [[Here, he signed two initials, apparently of his real name--I guess, to show me he was willing for me to see that he had one, yet without telling me what it is.]]
Thanks, [using those two initials],
The kindness of your gestures is such that were you Carlos Castaneda himself--as well you might be from the clear and true ring of all your remarks--it is the wisdom of your words and acts that matters the most to me. So I am content to go on knowing you as don [ ], the Nagual, as long as that is your wish.
Whatever intended, you have already been a teacher for me in several specific ways that have lightened my life. And . . . I don't want to get superstitious now . . . I've been having some odd experiences with wild animals since meeting you (for one who's been living outdoors in the Sonoran Desert so much over the years). While I was sitting on the ground awarely reading a book on a hill overlooking a river that is running now, a jackrabbit came right up and faced me real close for a long time, in a most peculiar way.
A day later, a mangy and seemingly starving coyote that I encountered circled all the way around me, twice--not in a threatening way, but looking me over calmly, as they do. Again, I found this most peculiar. For one thing, there's no reason for any animals to be going hungry in this wet winter desert, and this coyote was emaciated like I've never seen before.
And another thing: Sunday I slept through my alarm and woke up hopelessly late to get to the ranch where I work on time. Even before getting angry about it, I remembered some of the things you said in your last letter. I set about calmly and methodically doing all the preparations I usually do without looking at the time again, then drove twenty miles over paved roads and dirt, without looking at the speedometer or the clock, and--impossibly!--arrived to punch in exactly on time. Now, that's an odd one! Maybe some things are loosening up in a new way in my tonal.
Oh, yes--speaking of Jim Morrison--I had an odd experience of incredible synchronicity relating to Jerry Garcia (on the day I met the jackrabbit) . . . oh well, enough words for now, lest I really start spinning and don't get my work done this afternoon.
It never ceases to amaze me - the moves of Spirit. When I speak of "Spirit" I am not refering to any Holy Ghost or Godly being, but rather an abstract force that permeates all living. Spirit is that which is alive in nagual. Something completely nagual that whispers in our ears. The trick is just to pay attention to it. You did that while getting to work right on time. Spirit has undoubtedly touched you. Let's see if you can set aside your hopes and fears long enough to grab that cubic centimeter of chance... Sorcery is a peculiar thing; its like a bird that flies past you once in your lifetime- you either follow it or ignore it. "Sorcery"? Ask your furry little friend.
So it has gone so far? Thankfully Spirit found the means to re-establish the contact with me - through you. With you it brought me the message. It showed me clearly the state of my present being, for I am the emaciated coyote.
It seems both you and I are in for a treat, and Spirit is our host. Whatever happens next...be ready to embrace it no matter what. Fear is our first natural enemy that we encounter on the path of knowledge. The way to overcome it is to defy it - step by step until it yields and let us see with the clarity of life itself. This is most intriguing. I'm looking forward to the grand show that awaits...
Until next time, take care amigo!
Ah, I really dig your instructions, don [ ]--they are so precise, and timely. Today, time has changed for me. Four in the afternoon? I just got up at eight an hour or two ago.
Naturally, I was scared shitless by your last letter. ("I am the emaciated coyote.") And in four short paragraphs you have had the presence of mind to include telling me what I can do about it: "Defy it." Beautiful!!!
Mind you, I haven't read Castaneda for decades. But I still remember his chronicles and the remarks of don Juan quite well. I also remember the parts of his account that seemed to be far-reaching ("So it has gone so far?")--the parts that my intellect naturally assumed were only allegorical, and not really, of course, existential reality. I didn't think I was about to encounter that kind of a realm with you because I didn't think that kind of a realm really existed. Now it seems I have been mistaken. Suddenly. Perhaps in the 'Sixties and 'Seventies I wasn't ready for the opening of such an exposition.
And . . . I don't know if I am now. Yet . . . Banzai!
I have, honestly, seen many more bobcats in the desert in the past year than jackrabbits in my whole lifetime. The few previous times I have seen jackrabbits, they also have seemed unearthly strange to me. Now it's coming back to me, like the last one I saw maybe five or six years ago, outside the window of my house. I remember thinking, in studying its demeanor and postures, that it looked like "a creature from outer space." I can remember how upset about it that I was at that time. The encounter--through a windowpane--left me with an uneasy feeling for hours. And then I forgot about it, completely, never to remember again until now.
This time, eyeball to eyeball, on the hill overlooking the river, I was delighted. But, didn't don Juan say it was very dangerous to look directly at these . . . what shall I call them? . . . creatures? . . . entities? . . . nagual, or tonal animals? . . . allies? . . . No, I don't want you to answer that. Because I see myself--just like Carlos used to do--fighting to reduce these experiences to intellectual concepts. I'll let you be the arbiter of whatever you wish to put into words for me.
I feel I must be a better student this time than in younger years, than when I sat in the red dirt on the side of a furrow in don Fel╠pe's lush garden of squash, corn, melons, tomatoes, beans and chiles, not far from where I live today--askings questions, questions, questions, taking notes furiously (what else?), and trying to subordinate everything that the dear old man shared with me to my own self-importance and intellectual understandings! (I sometimes saw Fel╠pe's friend don Juan Matus rolling his eyes.)
So I'm devoting my energies, as I go about my work of the day (much accomplished, seemingly without effort, during this "nearly timeless" episode!) to checking in awarely, taking stock, and cleaning house here and there, setting aside hopes and fears, and treating "this whole thing" as if nothing matters and nothing is really happening anyway.
Thank you for calling me "amigo." It made me feel more secure under the circumstances. Perhaps that paragraph was the most important to me of the four, as I jump into "sorcery" for the first time. I've never really looked at it All in that context before--even when I lived for awhile among Hawaiian kahunas thirty years ago (da real kine, and not the ones that go out on the lecture circuit) and had visions and "out of body" experiences. Your techniques are most "affective" as the old gestaltists used to say in my day.
I pray your emaciation is treatable. Better do something about that mange.
Ah, I really dig your instructions, don [ ]--they are so precise, and timely.
Well I can't take any of the credit for the timing and directness. After all, it's not up to me as you might have grown aware of by now.
Naturally, I was scared shitless by your last letter. ("I am the emaciated coyote.") And in four short paragraphs you have had the presence of mind to include telling me what I can do about it: "Defy it." Beautiful!!!
Hmm yes, I figured as much. This is why I didn't write this reply until now. Something told me you needed the time to regain your balance concerning quite a few things.
Ah. Spirit is hammering away already. Good for you! Enough said.
I can emphathize with you completely. It is a delicate balance one must obtain and sustain to prevail on the path of heart indeed. Fear rattling one's bones for each new step one trods on the path. It never gets better than this. It just gets worse. But one grows strong by each obstacle one overcomes. And man, do you feel alive or what?? Life pumping through one's veins...each moment becomes a mysterious miracle...and you get to witness it...marvellous indeed.
Again; there is a guiding force that puts the words in my mouth so to speak. I'm not a religious man, so don't confuse concepts out of social habits you might have lingering around. What it is exactly is irrelevant. What it does is all that matters. Most of the time I don't even know what I'm doing or saying, but then afterwards it all fits perfectly. Amazing. Truly amazing.
Oh it is. Indeed it is. It is already dissipating. Our meeting was perhaps fortunate for the both of us in more ways than we can concieve right now. I have a feeling things will become much more clearer just ahead...behind the next bend of the road..
I am going away on a trip and will not be back until the end of this month. I trust you will keep your regained force alive and kicking. Until then, take care.
don [ ]
Adiós. Buen viaje!
I'm doing very well.
Look forward to hearing from you again when you get back.
It seems the ride is turning out to be one hell of a roller-coaster. Spirit had a little something up its sleave for me during my trip. I don't want to dwell on the subject any longer right now, but it seems that this year will truly alter most of everything in my way of living. It always goes off with a bang - those great changes in life. At least they do to me. Over the years I've grown more sensitive to spot the harbingers of change in advance. Life is truly an amazing journey. How is your ride for the moment?
don [ ]
My ride has been very smooth lately, don [ ]. I've never been so happy in my whole life. Maybe that's not such a good thing to speak of just now, from what you have written. Yet, you don't sound like the kind of a man who would be discouraged about other people's well-being when he, himself, is facing challenges. (I've known many people like that, however--even friends.) And I've known life as "one hell of a roller-coaster," too, during my sixty-plus years on this planet--not so long ago, in fact. So I can share genuine empathetic concern.
I don't mind, by the way, if you do "dwell on" this challenge, don [ ]. I was a gestalt therapist for many years, and I'm a very good listener. Perhaps I could even come up with some helpful suggestions. Your "Defy it!" is one of the best interventions I've tried. (Yet, it certainly can't be easy to do that with events that change one's whole life around.) Nietzche had a useful comment (that you're probably already aware of): "That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger."
So you can feel free to share whatever you'd like with me at any time. Whatever is going on wouldn't affect my respect for you as a teacher, or for the things you teach about. I'm fond of telling people that I'm a teacher of "imperfect mastery" because I don't care for the unnecessary pressure of having to hide some of the hellacious problems that I bring on myself with "self-important activities" from time to time. I'm certainly no "perfect master," and I wouldn't expect that of others, either.
Life *is* truly an amazing journey. Mine is being so both at the ranch where I work and at home, where I am now for a few hours (after working overnight last night watching over the horses).
The weather has been warming. And yesterday we caught our first two rattlesnakes of the season (transported without harm in a garbage can far from the house-stable-corral area). And two of the other hands tracked a pair of mountain lions chasing a deer not far from the main compound. The deer got away, however. We are all of a mind to cheer for the preservation of life out there--as unrealistic as that may be in the realm of Great Nature. It's fallen to me to have a plastic bag of lion scat, which they picked up at the time, sitting on the passenger seat of my truck. Later today, I'll take it over to the curator of mammals (at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum) for examination. We've heard that there's a lone jaguar in our area, as well--up visiting from Mexico--which is quite a rarety around here. But none of us have seen it yet with our own eyes.
At home, I'm engaged in the most interesting work I've ever done--constructing a web site that I plan to go on-line with next month--an interactive mindfulness (awareness) training school on the web . . . totally unelitist, nothing to join, mostly free, easy to catch-on to and try out. I'll tell you more about this, if you're interested, in due time.
Until I hear from you again, I send my best wishes to you.
You are very right in listening to your gut. I do know the type as well. As I said in a previous letter - you need never worry about me taking offence in any way; I may at times fall back into indulgence, but it seldom last very long. Self-pity has lost it touch over the years somehow - thank goodness ;-) The "roller-coaster"-metaphor might have been a vague one to choose, I realize this now. Words have never been much of a vehicle for direct information. It is a good thing, however, that we still have a chance to salvage the ability of telepathy and empathy... Tune in - and no words are necessary. Pretty convenient at times, let me asure you :-) Anyway. I did not refer to an emotional bungy-jump-sensation by using the roller-coaster metaphor, but rather a "whoo! that was a sharp turn! wonder what's behind the next?" in a paris-dakar fashion. *Laughs* That's words for you - try to explain one metaphor and you'll end up with a handful new ones! :-)
Yes, defiance is my only real option here. When facing numerous big changes in life which all occur simultaneously and a heavily increasing load of responsibility is the outcome of such events it is easy to feel a bit tired at times. It is all indulgence on my part and I snap out of it with ease (mostly because I can't stand being in the same room as myself when I'm being a complete jackass ;-) ) The words of Juan whispers inside my mind: "on the path of knowledge there are no more or less important decisions". Very true. Impeccability is to treat each moment as one's last battle on Earth. That is accepting responsibility. Remembering this makes my indulgence flee head over heals.
Always stand last in line and never in front. Always lead and never follow. While the self-proclaimed master is busy climbing his throne and frowning at the world, the humble one remains at ground level - equal to all things at all times - and thus able to receive the most precious of insights from each moment he lives. Enough said. You know it by heart :-)
Your accounts on your work at the ranch makes my mind drift very far. I am very happy for you. Whenever I reach out to "feel" you - you sense very balanced and in tune with all things around. A most wonderful state of being I must say. While in it mysteries seem to reveal themselves at each bend of the road. It is a time of happily holding back, biding one's time for things to come. And they will. Oh they will.
I will gladly venture to your part of the web when your work is finished. I might even be able to give you a few pointers when it comes to HTML-design if you like. Just remember to keep your distance to it all. The net can be a very seductive mind-fogger if you let it. I'm sure you rather watch the sun rise and set over the desert than waste those precious and highly magical moments by the computer. Just figured I'd give you a reminder, that's all :-)
don [ ]
P.S. My malady is dissipating for each day. It feels quite refreshing!
Yes, whereas words are indeed so insufficient, "Clarity defies Reason" is a perfect phrase--for me--to describe the work I do with awareness. Yet you helped me find a new dimension of meaning in "defying"--so practical and down-to-earth on that occasion when I was being scared of you as the mangy coyote.
Although the thrust of my extensive web-searching has been in other directions (from Buddhism to Transpersonal Psychology to Phenomenology and Existentialism to Bohm's insights into Einstein) I have also done some searching in "Nagualism." Part of this has been to see if I could find you again from another direction.
This has brought me into the experience of a number of other expressions of the teachings of don Juan and Carlos Castaneda. Much as I loved Castaneda's books, some other web pages I found were somehow unsatisfying. Some of these seemed to suggest interpersonal conflicts among their adherents. I suppose it was unavoidable that they had to deal with questions about this. None of these seemed willing to share anything concrete with their web visitors, although they appeared eager to "sign them up." I had a gut feeling--perhaps incorrect this time--that there was a lot of indulgence in self-importance at these sites. They came across to me as somehow cold to others, in their exhuberance. At least I can say with certainty that they didn't turn me on. From the clarity and integrity of your communications with me, I have the feeling that you are a more authoritative commentator on Nagüalism than any of those others who are representing themselves as "Naguals" that I have run across.
That is presumptuous to say. And, I don't mean to be flattering you. I am just musing out loud.
There was actually nothing in your last previous letter that suggested that you were "in trouble" with the "sharp turn" you encountered--on the contrary . . . for all I went on saying about it in my response. I have become somewhat skilled over the years in picking up on the specific words that people use in communicating their experience. This is an art that I attempt to share with students who are interested. Retrospective study has usually verified my assumptions along these lines--thousands of times. There was no such "cue" of underlying ego-activity in your last previous letter for me. I did pick up on one line that seemed more "poignant" than the others:
"Over the years I've grown more sensitive to spot the harbingers of change in advance."
It was the word "sensitive" that caught my attention, and which gave rise to all my remarks last time. "Sensitive" is a very positive term--and certainly so as you use it here! Sensitivity is one of the things that modern humans are most lacking in--or so it seems to me in exploring the world with awareness. (And I can certainly admit that I have been far too insensitive over much of the course of my own life. But I wasn't aware of it then.)
Yet "sensitive" can have a negative connotation as well. I am speaking of the sensitivity that people sometimes experience when they are being rejected by other people. One can be "over-sensitive," as artists sometimes are when their work is being rejected--an indulgence for sure, as you use the term. "Sensitivity" is a term that may apply to people when they feel that others are "spoiling the beauty of it." This is germaine in the lives of all artists, and may be a principal driving force underlying the phenomenon of art, itself--as artists are concerned with "moving" people to appreciate "the beauty of it." You, my friend, are an artist who appears to have mastered this problem very well.
In the context in which you used the term, I was stimulated to do some fantasying and projecting (also indulgences along the lines of which you speak)--i.e. thinking one knows something when one really doesn't (as when one mistakenly thinks they understand where another person is coming from when they really don't). Of course, intuition can lie closely along these lines, and it is the temptation to think that one's fantasies are intuitions that leads to many mistakes that people make in their daily lives.
And so I thought I might have intuited that perhaps your "sharp turn" had something to do with these other American Nagüalists that I have been observing (perhaps they are tried and true friends of yours, after all--or perhaps people that you've never met or paid any attention to). I fantasied that your trip had been to see them, and that your challenge had something to do with them. Despite your many (welcomed) admonitions that my remarks need not be censored on your behalf, I did not bring this up with you previously out of sensitivity about intruding into your personal privacy. Instead, I went into that long song-and-dance that I wrote as a gentle (yet roundabout) way of "providing a space for it" if you wished to be forthcoming about what was actually my own fantasy and projection . . . or possibly intuition.
This failure to get to the point is a good example of the kind of manipulation that I attempt to show my students as an "object lesson" when I am discussing "real communication." So my remarks about "imperfect mastery" are given further credence in this phenomenon. When it comes to teaching "imperfect mastery" my own foibles still remain the best examples that I have.
A much better example of communication (in my own scheme of things), and far simpler than all that razzamatazz, would have been to say: "I'd like to know your impressions of the other Nagüalists on the web."
And I would! Yet, now I've "done it to myself." In order to attempt to be actually "impecable" I would either have to not send this email to you (and take what I got), or else admonish you not to respond to my question in the interests of supporting my own potential impecability. However, as a proponent of "imperfect mastery" I will indulge my "insistent" *curiosity* anyway, and let you make up your own mind again. Better to importune you a second time, I guess, than not to communicate at all, and hide-out with my self-created embarrassment. I can relate very much to your remark about not being able to stand being in the same room as my self when I'm being a complete jackass.
I appreciate your teachings about "self-proclaimed masters" and humility. It's very important for me to be reminded and re-reminded of this as I'm preparing my web page, if my efforts are to actually *work.* I'll send you the URL when I'm on-line with it (and you can re-remind me again, if need be).
I'd also like to hear your pointers on HTML-design. Thanks for the offer. I'm not clear about how to take you up on that, however. Someone else will actually be constructing the site for me, beginning tomorrow, as I email him parts of the text of it that I've been writing. I haven't been planning on using any photos or other art at the outset, although the text will be HTML formatted.
I've found that my Macintosh Quadra 605 won't download the drawing programs at [ ] (or other share-ware providers). I got the Quadra used, as it was all I felt I could afford at the time. The drawing programs available now apparently aren't compatible with its outdated hardware.
I'm glad your malady is dissipating and you are feeling refreshed, don Coyotl.
I have to start getting ready to go back out to the ranch again. Last night was uneventful, except for--yes, you're quite right--the magical sunset! And the horses are good company, too. I ought to be getting some days off pretty soon, and I wouldn't be looking forward to that . . . except to continue work on the website. It won't be as magical as a sunrise or a sunset or mountain lion tracks mingling with a deer's. Will be magical in its own right, though, and I'm very excited about it. And I'll be very honored to have you there as a visitor, and maybe participant, as well.
Humbly yours, as well!
Ah. You must be refering to the "[ ]" controversial as where [one] claims of being one of the apprentices of don Juan and spreading the word that Castaneda uses his tensegrity workshops to steal energy from the "stupid" masses. I know nothing about this ordeal and Carlos never made a fuzz about it. Why bother? After all an impeccable nagual is not trying to win a contest of popularity or the nobel price for humanity for that matter.
Not to worry. I know you are not inclined to venture down that ally. I've never been someone that felt flattered by whatever. I actually had an opposite malady - I could not accept praises at all. Just as bad. The key is, again, that nothing matters. An impeccable warrior is not looking for reward nor punishment. I am constantly battling to keep that status quo.
Heheh. Eloquently put my friend. I was very well aware of your diplomatic act of circling on the tip of your toes around the underlying question. That was why I figured I'd give you some refunds and do a little tip-toeing of my own. Possibly intuition huh? You sure are persistent, I'll give you that ;-)
Enough already - my belly is aching! I am not trying to make fun out of you or turn you into a laughing spectacle (even though you show me a good time now and then). It is rather that I see myself in you. People usually react when they see in others what they lack themselves or despise in themselves. The reaction is commonly rage of various levels. The fact that these things mostly hide out on a sub-conscious level doesn't make it any easier to remedy. Recapitulation brings these flaws to surface so that we may deal with them directly. I laugh at myself all the time. I could just as well cry (without feeling sorry for myself), but I guess I'm bent toward laughter.
Anyway... As long as we have a face to protect we keep cornering ourselves until we are completely out of air. Again - nothing matters remedies that.
Me neither actually. I could give you my honest review of the site's layout when it is finished though.
don Coyotl (chasing the roadrunner into the sunset)
P.S. It wasn't your intuition talking this time around. Clarity is regained by tracing back to the source. If the source is without and yet within then you're on the right track.
Again I'd like to say how much I am enjoying your beautiful teaching, don [ ]. Our correspondence goes a long way in confirming for me the possibility of real interactive teaching on the net. (Assuming, of course, there is a real teacher, *and* a real pupil!). Your words are sparse, yet you reach me on several levels every time.
Here are some "I likes" that I have about you, sir. You don't indulge me--or very little, at least. You maintain an incredible integrity along with your poise. When I am indulging, you never seem to get caught up in it, and yet you have the patience and altruism (I dare say, despite your disclaimers of "spirituality") to say *enough* in return to heal my emotionalism, enough to put me "on the track," and no more. You are very kind to me.
For instance, in only seven lines of response to my emotional needs to find out your impressions of "other Nagualists on the web" you gave me everything I needed. Yes, you were right-on in figuring out that the "[ ] controversial" was the focus of my distress. (I didn't wish to insult anybody by name--least of all "powerful sorcerers." I should have known better than to associate your teachings with their articulations, and not "needed" reassurance in the first place!) This faction had made a strong impression on me--or rather, I had affected my self very powerfully in encountering them along the web trail. The orientation you provided to the Tensegrity people has been tremendously reassuring for me, as well as totally helpful in a practical sense. If I "had to" get this reassurance by acting-out emotionally, you were very forgiving indeed.
Another thing I really like about your style is that you *never* seem to be merely rehashing things that don Juan or Mr. Castaneda have said or written--as other commentators always seem to do. You have your own way of expressing about don Juan's teachings. As far as I have seen, it is the best and clearest expression of this that I have seen anywhere. (I know you don't care about the former--i.e. "best" --but I'm sure that the cultivation of clarity must be of interest to you.
And whereas I, my self, might have been overly "sensitive" about your "taking me down a peg" and felt "rejected" by you, the graciousness and humor of your expression has enabled me to both "get it," and enjoy laughing at my self, as well! Thank you for being who you are, don [ ]. I appreciate you to the max.
Thank you, don [ ]. You are the very essence of "spirituality" in my view. Yet I *do* take your serious and strict admonitions on this point seriously. Nothing matters. It is all a question of impecability in relating with each moment as if it is our last on this planet. The usual meaning of "spirituality" to some people is sentimental and naïve--and possibly useless. Yet, learning how to love (by that I mean "unsimulated altruism") does seem to have a crucial part to play--mechanically, I mean--in the development of a "person of power." Little by little, "cleaning out" the selfish self from one's economy of being seems to actually, physically, make "more room for" the growth and proliferation of awareness in one's life. Or, do you disagree?
I love you, don Coyotl.
Let me assure you John; kindness has nothing to do with it. The world is filled with compassionate Samaritans. I am not one of them. When it comes down to it the only person that can help you is you yourself. We all make our own choices. Facing up to that responsibility is what matters. This means every single moment matters. Since all is equally important and everything matters the opposite is also true - thus nothing matters. This you already know. It is the two sides of the same coin. What can this teach us? For example...to truly help someone you must first of all have no desire to do so other than for the mere act itself (or just for the hell of it will do fine as well). Second, to act impeccably when helping someone this way you must not care about this person or your act of helping him. You just do it without careing for yourself or for the person you're helping. This is a kind of ruthlessness that pertains the mood of the warrior. It is one of the corner-stones of the art of Stalking, and a very crucial one. It is not to be confused with cruelty however. It may seem cruel at times - but that cruelty is just designed to deflate ego in a precise fashion. It is not kindness you experience John, it is rather resentless ruthlessness.
The cultivation of clarity is of interest to me, certainly. Clarity, to me, is analogous to "connection to Spirit". The cultivation of that connection is making the link stronger by clearing out all debris that my ego-mania has polluted it with. The reason to why the words that are written through me strike you as the most clear is due to that they are tailormade just for you. No books can compete with that. Nor can I. Not in a hundred years would I know what to tell you with such accuracy. It is all the work of the mysterious force that don Juan used to refer to as Intent or Spirit. Its connection between you and I is two-fold; just as well as Spirit gives you advice through me, it gives me advice back - through you. In the end it is up to us to listen or not.
Love is definately a polluted word when spoken in the everyday world. Most of us don't have an clue of what true love really is. We confuse it with loyalty, compassion, kindness, sacrifice, sexuality and even jealousy. To love the way sorcerers love is to love beyond death no matter what (since nothing matters after all). It might be quite difficult to comprehend this intellectually, but it may seem impossible to even then apply it on the deepest sub-conscious level. To be able to love like that and maintain that state of being one must constantly defy ego in any form. Only as an impeccable warrior true love is possible to attain. Love is not ownership or a bound relation. Love is the ultimate expression of personal freedom. Love is not a feeling and definately not an emotion - it is a vibration; an awareness. In a way true love is analogous to being resentlessly ruthless against all and everything including oneself.
don Coyotl (one of these days I'm gonna outsmart that road-runner)