Vector8 Journals

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Senseless Figures

I've read several of Carlos Castaneda's books about the teachings of Don Juan, and I have found them very useful. My absolute favourite is "The Active Side of Infinity," where Carlos is advised by his teacher, Don Juan Matus, to recapitulate memorable stories in his life that "touches every one of us human beings." The book is a collection of stories that anyone can appreciate because they are universal stories of humanity, some haunting, and others very funny. The stories are about the journey of a sorcerer, a similar journey I'm on. I love how Don Juan's defines sorcery:
"To be a sorcerer," don Juan continued, "doesn't mean to practice witchcraft, or to work to affect people, or to be possessed by demons. To be a sorcerer means to reach a level of awareness that makes inconceivable things available. The term 'sorcery' is inadequate to express what sorcerers do, and so is the term 'shamanism.' The actions of sorcerers are exclusively in the realm of the abstract, the impersonal. Sorcerers struggle to reach a goal that has nothing to do with the quests of an average man. Sorcerers' aspirations are to reach infinity, and to be conscious of it." (The Active Side of Infinity, p. 69)
There is a particular story when Carlos' friend recommends that he visits a prostitute called Madame Ludmilla. Carlos describes Madame Ludmilla "as in her well-lived late forties." Her speciality is dancing in front of a mirror, where she twirls round and round to a "haunting melody." Carlos describes his reactions to watching the woman's movements: "Some despair and loneliness that I didn't know existed in me came to the surface from the depths of my being, and made me get up and run out of the room, down the stairs like a madman, out of the building, into the street." (p.24) Carlos relates the story to his teacher. Don Juan agrees that this story must be included in his collection because everyone can relate to it:
"You see, like Madame Ludmilla, every one of us, young and old alike, is making figures in front of a mirror in one way or another. Tally what you know about people. Think of any human being on this earth, and you will know, without the shadow of a doubt, that no matter who they are, or what they think of themselves, or what they do, the result of their actions is always the same: senseless figures in front of a mirror." (The Active Side of Infinity, by Carlos Castaneda, p.25)
"Senseless figures in front of a mirror" is like having a dream that makes so much sense in your dream but when you wake up, it is meaningless. It is like inviting a friend round for dinner. She turns up at the agreed time and rings your door bell. You open the door and, instead of letting her in, you ask her what she wants.

"What do you mean? You invited me to dinner, remember?"
"Oh yes, I did."
"Are you going to let me in?"
"Stop messing about and let me in."
"Why should I?"
"Because you invited me to dinner."
"I'm not going to let you in. Sorry. Goodbye." And you slam the door in your friend's face.

Your friend is baffled and upset by your behaviour. She decides it's a practical joke. Any moment now she thinks you are going to open the door, let her in and, while you eat dinner, you will have a laugh about it. She soon realises you means business. In your reality, your action makes perfect sense; but to your friend, you've completely lost the plot.

You feel sick and you want the illness to go away, right? What do you do? You're in a quandary. Part of you really wants to be free of this illness but the other part of you can't help but make more out of the nothingness of an illness so you can have something to get rid of, or even write about. You go to see a man or woman in a white coat to have your illness confirmed. S/he examines you with her equipments or comes up with a cause based on your story. It's senseless, but isn't that how we live as humans?

Majority of the jobs humans have created are of the "senseless figures" variety. The law, medicine, education, science, to name but a few, are based on the belief that humans need to be taught and they are not to be trusted. Humans experience internal and external conflicts. All because we continue to dream up new illnesses, theories and beliefs to define ourselves. Ooops. There I go finding a cause to madness. I should know better than this. (smile) Maybe I should stop using the word "because" just because...(LOL!)

If you have resigned yourself to living with "senseless figures" your world makes a lot of sense to you. "Ignorance is bliss." Why would you want to be anything different when people around you are behaving just like you? Why would you want to question what your doctor says when you know he is right? When someone comes up with a different idea that challenges your world view, you laugh at her. You believe she is the one who has gone barmy.

Is there an alternative? You might think about exploring what it means to be the un-conflicted self but that is not an easy option either. Anyone serious about self-realisation knows that one surrenders the self for Self. One lets go of personal will for Will. It means going against the grain of what everyone believes. You soon realise you're the only one among your family and contemporaries who is interested in this approach. People think you're nuts. I wonder how many "awake" people are locked away in asylums?

If you are like Carlos Castaneda who has been drawn into the world of sorcery, you start to realise that everything you believed to be true is senseless. Carlos is an academic and is used to interpreting the world from a linear perspective. Then he is taught by Don Juan who has a different "cognitive system." The sorcerer's perspective is threatening his whole way of life. Carlos tries to integrate the two paradigms but this is impossible. He has to let one go. In Castaneda's books you see how Carlos is gradually drawn into the sorcerers' cognitive system. The process involves dying to the ego or "person." This involves letting go of his friends and family who are his points of reference. As Don Juan puts it "Sorcerers have only one point of reference: infinity." (ibid, p. 106) When Infinity takes over, according to Don Juan,
"That is the moment when sorcerers return to the true nature of man. [..]The old sorcerers also called it total freedom. It is the moment when man the slave becomes man the free being, capable of feats of perception that defy our linear imagination." (ibid, p. 104-105)
The spiritual path for me is about realising that it is the energy body, one's unique Spirit identity, that is being expressed as life; the old life of self releases you or you release it.

It is written in the scriptures:
"For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22: 14)
I interpret this as we are all already free as freedom is our nature. But to live as Spirit we have to die to the ego, or realise the ego as nothing. How many people are prepared to go through the discipline of surrendering self for Self? How many people are interested in the Truth of reality? How many people are willing to stick to the truth even if it means being ridiculed? Don Juan again:
"How can you ask your fellow men to go through those rigors of discipline? They'll laugh and make fun of you, and the more aggressive ones will beat the shit out of you." (ibid, p.221)
People would rather continue to experience "senseless figures." Oh well, it's what freewill is all about, isn't it? We are all supposed to create our own realities. I choose to make Infinity my only point of reference. I end with another quote from "The Active Side of Infinity."
"Infinity chooses," he [don Juan] said. "The art of the warrior-traveler is to have the ability to move with the slightest insinuation, the art of acquiescing to every command of infinity. For this, a warrior-traveler needs prowess, strength, and above everything else, sobriety. All these three put together give, as a result, elegance." (ibid, p. 182)
I am Infinity,

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