The type of “dreaming” outlined in Castaneda’s teachings, is a step beyond what we normally view as “dreams”. It overlaps with a phenomena often referred to as “lucid dreaming”, where the dreamer is conscious of his dreaming, and learns to take control of the content and direction of dreams. It is akin to “waking up” in dreams, and learning to command your attention in dreams, rather than having the dream proceed in a random, unorganized fashion.

Dreaming was one of the maneuvers invented by the sorcerers of ancient times, and although the techniques were taught to modern sorcerers, it was cautioned against because of its inherent dangers. Dreaming opened up a myriad of unworldly possibilities in terms of visiting the realm of “inorganic beings”, but there was the danger of entrapment there, along with the enticing possibilities of extending human life far beyond its normal duration, by choosing to stay in those realms.

Don Juan’s party of warriors were not given to indulge in the dangers of these potential realms. Carlos had a proclivity of visiting the realm of the inorganic beings and tapping into their wisdom and experience, but it had a cost attached to it.

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Inner Silence

Also called “stopping the internal dialogue”, inner silence has been described as the initiation or nexus of elevated human awareness. It is the starting point of seeing, of dreaming, of moving the assemblage point, and of intending any of a range of far-reaching consequences.

Our “internal dialogue” is something that all of us experience. It is a cascading fabric of voices and understandings that plays constantly in the background of our consciousness. It is sometimes referred to as the “monkey mind” or the “ego”. It is a constant barrage of judgments, evaluations, criticisms, fears, memories, anticipations… and on and on. It is a complex overlay of programmings from both internal and external sources that ends up being the driving and guiding force in our lives. It’s also the series of “agreements” that keeps our view of reality locked into the currently approved societal sphere.

What the sorcerers of ancient times discovered was that this internal dialog is what limits the perception of contemporary man to the “cocoon” we live and die in, the agreed-upon manifestation of “reality” referred to as the “first attention” – the normal day-to-day world that the average man unconsciously maintains and ferociously guards with the powers of ego and logic.

As Don Juan pointed out many times in his teachings, when inner silence is attained, it is a stepping-stone to infinity. From that vantage point, anything is possible. Inner silence curtails the incessant barrage of beliefs that keep us anchored within a very limiting and mundane set of boundaries. It opens us up to the magical and wondrous world of intent. It tunes us to the calling of the greater power referred to as “spirit” or “infinity”.

In his last book, “The Active Side of Infinity”, published posthumously, Carlos adds yet another clincher onto the understanding of inner silence. Don Juan reveals to him that the “voices” we hear internally, that have become known as the mind of man, is not truly our own voice, but has been “installed” within us by a predatory and malignant force that basically is grooming us for our own self-destruction. Most humans live life unconsciously, and are not aware of the nature of this “foreign installation” that has taken over human consciousness; but men of knowledge, or sorcerers, have understood this, and devote their lives to freeing themselves from the enemy within.

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Death as Advisor

In the years he spent with Don Juan Matus, Carlos Castaneda was often reminded about mortality.  This was not introduced on a conceptual basis, but as an experiential glimpse into the reality of death’s presence in our day-to-day existence.   What is essential here is an understanding of who we are at our core, deep beneath the layers of assumption and societal programming that we wear like overcoats around our more fragile centers.

The programming we all have around death is inescapable and often impenetrable.  It’s fused together with many viscous elements, including – but not limited to – religious beliefs, fear, television and media programming, personal and familial trauma and aversion programming, societal and material addictions and distractions. These incessant and ongoing programs fuse us into a living a robotic ‘DisneyLand’ script of unfocused consumerism that becomes our life blood, our purpose, and our hiding place. Unconsciously, we weave a perceptive illusion that marries the denial of mortality with the false assumption of immortality.

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