don Juan Matus: An Empirical Overview of the Yaqui Shaman’s Physical and Mental Way to Higher States of Consciousness
Teresa Frisch, RN, Reiki Master / Teacher 2.13.09
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Whenever new technology is presented to a more primitive culture it will seem magical, but “primitive” by whose standards and on occasion, in which direction? Carlos Castaneda introduced the world to don Juan Matus in 1968 when he gave us The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. In 1998 he gave us an anniversary edition with new commentary. That new commentary contains information which bears a striking resemblance to what, in 2008, could be termed as a discussion of the human biofield and quantum physics.
A bit of basic background in energy medicine and energy fields is helpful as we compare cultural descriptors to scientific ones (see areas within this website, or NCCAM / energy medicine). The lack of a common language to describe events has been and still is a key issue. As a result each human observer has been left to flounder on their own, inventing their own terminology and letting the chips fall where they may. With no common language, how do we compare and evaluate an experience? How do we begin to identify and separate, observe then re-associate and correlate descriptive events and begin to look for patterns?
Drop the language. Forget the language. Across time, across culture, across region, and even gender, it won’t match. Convert the information you are being given about the experience into pictures and /or symbols. Look at it from a fresh perspective and then, and only then begin to evaluate the situation. Begin to branch out, look at it from the outside, then the inside, and then the inside out. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What does it smell like, sound like, taste like?
That being said, let’s look at a brief summary of the specific information in the “Author’s Commentaries” section of The Teachings of don Juan. Please note that all italicized terms are sourced directly from the “Author’s Commentaries” (xi-xix). What picture is the don painting for us?
As explained by the don to Castaneda, the shamans were able to see and perceive energy as it flowed through the universe, labeling it “energetic facts.” The ability to perceive energy in this way allowed them to observe human beings as energy fields with the appearance of luminous balls. Each of the luminous balls was connected to a mass of energy of inconceivable proportions, which they labeled “the dark sea of awareness,” and the point of attachment was even more brilliant than the ball itself. This point of attachment was called “the assemblage point,” and this is where perception converts energy to sensorial data.
Let’s look at that again. The sensorial data is then reassembled in the human mind and interpreted according to the lifelong frames of reference built by that individual. In other words, they mentally assembled the sensory information being given to them from the “dark sea of awareness” and converted it into “cognition:”a working version of a mental image. They recognized the image, labeled it and gave it a name. Once a “tree” was mentally defined, it was forever a “tree.” In the future it could have variations but it was, forever, a “tree.” According to Castaneda, these Yaqui shaman were the first to see individual vibratory energy in this way.
Being able to see “the dark sea of awareness” gave them the ability to see that the universe was filled with infinite, huge clusters of luminous filaments. They also saw the universe of “intent” and for them intent meant intelligence. The don described that the “assemblage point,” where the data from the energy field is transformed into sensory perceptions and translated into the world as they knew it, is “located at the same place on the energetic luminous spheres: at the height of the shoulder blades, an arm’s length behind them, against the boundary of the luminous ball.” You will find a similar description of energy and shoulder blades in Aesthetic Emotion: Abby’s Story, another Empirical Vignette here on Aesthetic Impact.
There is more information in the “New Commentary” than what I have given you in this short empirical vignette, descriptions and definitions about concepts and working realities such as “infinity” and “animate” and “inanimate” energy. Historical human observations such as this could be very valuable as the study of quantum physics, nonlocality and biofields continues to emerge. Especially when the don goes on to describe that “intending” the movement of the “assemblage point” allowed the shaman to move into other worlds, where different sensory data presented entirely different perspectives, analysis and outcomes. “Other worlds” are merely inches away, if we only knew where to find the key and how to fit it into the lock. Imagine what that might look like. I am.