Interview 1995 Castaneda, Swami Muktananda Paramahansa
Castaneda's Conversation with Swami Muktananda Paramahansa
Cathy Speeth and Claudio Naranjo, spiritual teachers with a sizable following in the San Francisco Bay area, spent a great deal of time with Muktananda in Piedmont. One day, they brought a friend of theirs, Carlos Castaneda, author of the best-selling series of books in which Castaneda chronicles his apprenticeship under a Yaqui Indian sorcerer. Quite naturally, the conversation between Baba and Castaneda focused on a comparision of the traditions of yoga and American Indian sorcery. Carlos Castaneda: I am very delighted to be here with you, in such holy company.
Baba:In India, it is impressed upon our minds again and again that we must seek the company of yogis, saints, and other spiritually evolved people.
CC: I come from a different tradition. The way that I met don Juan was not premeditated at all. I am a Catholic, and our only interest in the realm of religion is to conform to dogma; as long as you do that, you are safe. To meet don Juan was really fortuitious. I was not seeking it. Now, of course, my attitudes have changed. He has shown me that the only way to grow is to seek the company of beings who are on the path of knowledge.
Baba:What you are saying makes a lot of sense. We cannot get inner contentment just by following dogma. If dogma could help to find the contentment that lies beyond it, it might have some use. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within you. Dogma will justify itself only if it helps you to find that kingdom.
CC: In the case of don Juan, for instance, there is very little dogma to follow.
Baba:The inner Self is supremely free. It is independent of all external factors, it transcends all rituals, and it is beyond all dogma. In our scriptures, the various philosophical doctrines are called "paths." Now, just as you had to leave the path outside in order to enter this temple, likewise, if you want to enter the temple of God within your own being, you have to leave all the dogmas and rituals outside.
CC: Yes, it requires a complete transformation. I am wondering if you have apprentices or students? I make this distinction: a student is an intellectual, whereas an apprentice is more involved with the practical side of learning.
Baba:You will find quite a few apprentices here. In due course, disciples become like the Guru.
CC: How are they chosen? Is it a matter of the teacher's selection, or are they pointed out by some other, independent force?
Baba:The selection takes place in a most natural manner. As seekers come and visit me time after time, they give expression to more and more of their love, and in this way they choose themselves. It is not a hard task; it doesn't involve much on my part. Once the inner Shakti, the divine energy, touches a seeker and causes an inner awakening, that person is then qualified. I don't have to make a selection; it is the inner Shakti which makes the selection.
CC: That is similar to don Juan's method. He relies on the spiritual forces to point out an apprentice. The only difference is that once the apprenticeis pointed out, the teacher has to trick him into coming for instruction.
Baba:I don't have to trick my disciples into accepting me. The Shakti, which I have received from my Guru, does the work for me, without my willing it. The Shakti passes into a seeker of Her own accord. I don't have to do anything. If you read my book, Play of Consciousness, the way in which Shakti grabs people will become clear. This Shakti is also called Kundalini, which is the creative power of the universe.
CC: This process is very different from the way in which sorcerers of the American Indian traditon work.
Baba:There can't be that much difference between the two traditions, because the same Shakti pervades everywhere.
CC: The American Indians believe that no one is willing to undertake a very rigorous training. Don Juan's people feel that a volunteer should be doubted. They believe that the only people who can handle the knowledge are naturally reluctant people, and anyone who volunteers is looked at skeptically. That is why the teacher has to go out and lasso an apprentice.
Baba:We believe that the Shakti, before becoming active in a person, selects him very carefully. This Shakti is the same energy that creates the entire cosmos, and therefore it is very intelligent, very conscious, and all-knowing. She knows past, present, and future, and She knows which people to enter.
CC: Don Juan has had only two apprentices-I am one-in his lifetime, and they came to him when he was at a very advanced age, around eighty.
Baba:Each yogi, or holy man, has a different way.
CC: Do you think there is any difference between the holy quest and what we call sorcery? Is there anything like sorcery or magic in your tradition?
Baba:There is no sorcery or magic in our tradition. In Siddha Yoga, the inner Shakti unfolds itself through meditation, and it is this awakening which grants what are called siddhis, or psychic powers. In ancient times, there were yogis who had marvelous and miraculous powers. There was one whose name was Jnaneshwar Maharaj. One day, he wanted to go to meet someone; so he commanded the wall on which he was sitting to move, and the wall carried him to his destination. This is the magic of the inner Shakti, the magic of God's grace.
CC: Yes, I will agree with that. But do you emphasize the practices that lead to the attainment of these powers or are they only incidental to greater development?
Baba:As you go deeper into yourself through meditation, you discover the centers of these powers, and when you come upon them, the various powers make themselves available to you.
CC: Are these centers in the body?
Baba:Not in the physical body; I am talking about subtle centers. There is, for instance, a center in the heart, but it is not the physical heart.
CC: If the centers are not in the physical body, are they in another body?
Baba:Within this body are three more bodies; the subtle centers are situated in those bodies. Right now, you are functioning in one body. When you dream, you enter another body. During deep sleep, you move into yet another body, and when you meditate; you move into still another body. So there are four bodies, not one. According to our philosophy, there are also four corresponding states: waking, dream, deep sleep, and turiya, the transcendental state.
CC: I am very curious about these concepts because sorcerers such as don Juan, in the final ordeal of any apprentice's career, pick up the apprentice and throw him into an abyss. But the apprentice never reaches the bottom. It is difficult for me to understand rationally. What happens to the body? It should smash itself at the bottom of the abyss. Yet don Juan says that it doesn't. He says that what would make me disintegrate is simply the notion I have about my body being solid.
Baba:According to the yoga of meditation, you pass from gross matter to pure Consciousness. What appears to be gross has emanated from Consciousness. Though the body does not disappear, it loses its grossness, and is transformed into Consciousness. We think that it is physical, that it is gross, but in reality, it is pure Consciousness.
CC: Are there steps, in your tradition, that lead to the awareness that everything is Consciousness? Is meditation one of them?
Baba:Our path consists only of meditation. This awareness comes through meditation. As you go deeper and deeper into yourself, you become more and more aware of the fact that you are not gross matter but that you are Consciousness. We call it the different stages of evolution. It appears to me that whatever you do must have roots in our tradition; probably the outer form has changed.
CC: I want to ask you about seeing your own double, which you mention in your book, Play of Consciousness. In don Juan's knowledge, one of the key facets is development of an "outer self"-an exact replica of what we are-which will act in the world for us. Is there anything similar in your tradition?
Baba:Yes, we call it pratika darshan, or vision of one's own double. What you describe forms a part of the classic yogic tradition. There have been yogis in India who could exist in two places at once. There was one yogi calld Manpuri, who would be in his ashram in one form, and at the same time, would be working elsewhere, in another form. Again, it seems to me that what you are talking about has its basis in our scriptures. The original university, from which these two traditions have come, must be one and the same. If you read our mythological scriptures, you will find yogis or divine incarnations assuming different forms for different tasks which needed to be performed in different places.
CC: Even now, today, is there any emphasis on that practice?
Baba:Yes. Take for instance, the case of my Guru. Even though he is no longer in a physical body, he often appears to me and gives me advice on different matters. Though he has departed from the physical body, we consider him to be quite real, and we worship him. He appears to us in meditation and dreams, gives us messages, and then goes away. My Guru has revealed himself to many of my followers and gives them messages.
CC: Is a real Master one who has transcended his death?
Baba:No one would be regarded as a great Guru in India if he had not transcended his death.
CC: How interesting. That is very different from don Juan's viewpoint. He does not have the concept of transcending death at all. The sorcerers believe that once the body disintegrates, that is the end of everything.
Baba:That is not so. For instance, profound sleep is a kind of death; yet we return from it. At the time of death, we leave only this body, but we do not cease to exist. Whoever has departed from this body can come back in a different body. Would you like to give me an idea of what you do to attain the state which you are supposed to attain?
CC: I have finished my apprencticeship, which lasted fifteen years. Don Juan has now left me; he has thrown me out into the world. Now everything is up to me.
Baba:In India, also, one has to serve as an apprentice for at least twelve years. But there comes a time when the Guru knows that his disciple has become perfect and lets him go.
CC: What you mentioned earlier, about seeing the Master in dreams, is very appealing to me. There was a time when I could meet don Juan in dreams; but now that he has let me go, I cannot find him anywhere, not even in dreams.
Baba:Some dream experiences bear enormous fruit. What your mind is intensely interested in shows itself in dreams. In India there was a saint called Tukaram Maharaj, and he received spiritual initiation in a dream. As a result of that, he achieved perfection. My own Guru appears to me even now, because to me he is quite alive. I honor him as a living being in my meditation. I love my Guru with all my inner heart; therefore, he appears to me.
CC: Are the dreams in meditation or sleep?
Baba:There are different kinds of dreams. Some are ordinary sleep dreams, whereas others are quite close to meditation, and those are the most dependable dreams. There is also a state in meditation called tandra, which is neither dream nor waking, and whatever you see or dream in that state turns out to be true.
CC: So you could have a validation of that?
Baba:You are a very good listener. What you say has a great deal of reflection behind it.
CC: For fifteen years don Juan trained me to listen attentively; so I am always hooked to what is being said-all of me is.
Baba:I can see that.
CC: The only thing I am not doing now is taking notes. I took notes as I talked to don Juan because he doesn't like tape recorders.
Baba:People like tape recorders because their brains can't absorb what is being said. My Guru didn't like tape recorders either.
CC: Don Juan says that if you have a tape recorder, you are never listening, because you rely on listening to the tape later.
Baba:I agree; but everyone doesn't have the capacity to listen well. It is only rare people who, through long practice, acquire the ability to listen with full attention. Whenever I talked to my Guru I didn't even take notes. Then, when I composed Play of Consciousness, whatever I had heard from him rushed up from within and was written down. It was finished in twenty days. Every word he spoke is still in my head.
CC: Yes, I know the feeling. I have the same experience when I try to write about don Juan, even though I have notes.
Baba:Is don Juan still alive?
CC: Oh, yes.
Baba:From the account that you have given of him, he seems to be worth meeting.
CC: Yes, and it would be very interesting if he would come to the United States, but he never does. He likes to travel a great deal, but he doesn't go out of Mexico. I have asked him several times to meet various people, but I have never gotten the opportunity to take anyone down to meet him.
Baba:I am very fond of meeting such beings.
CC: We should make an arrangement, but I don't know when I will see don Juan again. It may be a matter of a few months or perhaps years; he doesn't see me any more. It depends on me now, and on how well I live my life.
Baba:I am very happy that you came here with such love.
CC: I will be back later.
Baba:You will be most welcome; we can meet at any time.