Silent Knowledge

In the book, The Power of Silence, Don Juan talks about “Silent Knowledge” as a state of awareness that mankind was once anchored in. It was described as a position of the assemblage point that was governed not by reason, but by intent. He went on to say how mankind was now anchored in the place of “reason” – rather than silent knowledge – but that due to our true nature as humans, we still long for the place we have lost, the place of deeper wisdom and knowing the infinity of human potential that is embodied in the expression, “silent knowledge”.

Silent Knowledge is something that all of us have, something that has complete mastery, complete knowledge of everything. But it cannot think, therefore it cannot speak what it knows.

“Sorcerers believe that when man became aware that he knew, he lost sight of what he knew. This silent knowledge, which you cannot describe, is of course, intent – the spirit, the abstract. Man’s error was to want to know it directly, the way he knew everyday life. The more he wanted, the more ephemeral it became. Man gave up silent knowledge for the world of reason. The more he clings to the world of reason, the more ephemeral intent becomes.”

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Benefactor vs Teacher

In the book, Tales of Power, Don Juan Matus reveals a significant truth in the roles that he and Don Genaro Flores were playing in Carlos Castaneda’s apprenticeship.  To understand the contrast of these two roles, one must first understand the concepts of first and second attention, and the juxtaposition of tonal and nagual.

In following Don Juan’s teachings through Castaneda’s 4 books – up to and including Tales of Power – one develops the understanding that Juan Matus is the main teacher and benefactor to Carlos.  Genaro is seen as somewhat of an oddity: one who is imbued with the 2nd attention, or permanently trapped in his dreaming body; and in being such an enigma – a constant source of terror and mystery to Carlos (and entertainment to us!)…

So, halfway though the 4th book, Juan Matus drops this bombshell on Carlos: no, he is not the “benefactor”, he is a mere teacher – one who is cleaning and preparing the island of the tonal, for the ‘real’ lessons of the nagual himself, who happens to be Don Genaro.

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Quote: “A Man of Knowledge…”

“A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning, a man who has, without rushing or faltering, gone as far as he can in unraveling the secrets of personal power.”

~ Don Juan Matus – from Journey to Ixtlan

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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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The Second Attention

Early in Carlos Castaneda’s apprenticeship, Don Juan introduced the basics of the second attention.  This was a state of heightened awareness that was distinct and different than our day-to-day state of mind, which was called the first attention.  Besides being an altered state of awareness and perception, it was also a portal or gateway to other realms; for example the threshold crossed in dreaming.

The first attention, our normal modus operandi, is the way we operate, perceive and navigate in daily life.   This state of being (or more appropriately – “doing”) is arrived at through the complex development and layering of the mind-ego conglomerate, with its attendant programs, scripts, justifications, excuses, self-adoration, criticisms, flaws and patterns.  It’s as though our consciousness was on “auto-pilot” and we careen through life, largely unaware of the true nature of self and world.

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