Interview 1996 Castaneda, La Jornada Newspaper
Carlos Castaneda Interview - La Jornada Newspaper (part 1)
Publication Date: January 29, 1996
English Translation of an article originally written in Spanish by Arturo Garcia Hernandez.
"Marcos? I don't know him... Excuse me. I don't know a bit..." "We as human beings live in constant thirst and with fear to free ourselves" (Castaneda)
"It is necessary to cancel egomania and to discover our energy body", the shaman points out.
Carlos Castaneda doesn't know 'Marcos' neither knows about the EZLN; he doesn't read newspapers; he denies being a guru or a messianic man; he considers compassion and social concerns a lie that regenerates itself; he is a critic of gurus and God merchants; he assures that his mother was 'a communist and a pamphletist'. He approached these and other matters on a conversation with the media during a recess of the seminar 'The New Paths of Tensegrity', held from Friday till Sunday in Mexico City, and with which a stage begins of massive dissemination of his knowledge as sorcerer or shaman. For more than one hour, on Saturday night, the author of 'The Teachings of Don Juan' and 'Tales of Power' answered many different questions. With calm eloquence, often joking, always respectful of his interlocutors, restrainless, Castaneda went from one topic to another as the questions were fired from the eight journalists around him. One thing, though: no cameras or tape recorders. Next there is a version of the talk, edited and put together from notes. It is convenient to keep in mind that for Castaneda words are insufficient and limited to describe or explain his experiences as sorcerer; also, he assigns to them values and meanings that escape the linear logic in which we normally move.
"How do sorcerers consider spirituality and the sense of divinity?"
"I don't know how you understand spirituality. The opposite to the flesh?"
Not necessarily, but as a part of a whole, different.
"Well, in that sense, Juan Matus is pure spirit. The sorcerer believes in the spirit of man, not in spirituality. Don Juan used to say: 'I love my spirit. Man's is a beautiful spirit. If you think that you owe me something and cannot pay me, pay it to the spirit of man'. "As for divinity: "Shamans don't have a sense of prayer and don't kneel before divinity. There is no need for begging. They ask intent, the force capable of building and modifying everything, perennial force. But they don't beg."
"When you speak of the sorcerers of Ancient Mexico, who are you talking about? Because there were different cultures here: the Mayas, the Aztecs..."
"No. For Don Juan the ancient times of Mexico were about seven and ten thousand years ago."
"How was the process of your breakup with Don Juan?"
"I didn't break up. It is he who tells me. A time comes in which he realizes that I am so different to him that he can't go on with me. And he starts trapping me; he closes all my exits and leaves me only one."
"You know the Indians of Mexico. They live in very bad conditions and there are six thousand of them in jails; how much are you interested in the Indians of Mexico?"
"I am absolutely interested. I once made a question to Don Juan. Some time ago I wrote a book that couldn't be published, 'The Fame of Nacho Coronado'. Nacho was a Yaqui Indian who had tuberculosis and thought that with a bank loan he could buy 'Vitaminol' and would be cured. I asked Don Juan: 'Are you not worried about that? The premises of Nacho are my own'. He said: 'Yes, I'm very worried; but at the same time I worry about you. do you think you're better?... Of course, I'm also interested in them; but I'm interested in you. We are involved in a state of thirst that consumes us without giving us treuce, without giving us anything."
"What do you think about Marcos, about the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (Zapatist Army of National Liberation) and of the Indian rising in Chiapas?
"Who? Marcos? I don't know him. I don't have a clue. Puuuucha, I'm lost! Excuse me, I don't know a bit."
"What is your feeling regarding mankind?"
"It is a feeling of sadness. I work for mankind (...) Man is an extraordinary being, which implies a tremendous responsibility. But he is in the me, me, me, me, me, me. Why such homogeneity? Why does everything turn into a cult of the ego? Why the fear to free oneself?"
Freedom as understood by Castaneda encompasses the breaking of the 'perceptive prejudices', the cancellation of egomania; the achievement of Dreaming, which would allow each of us to discover our 'energy body'. And after all, eventually, to be in condition to begin an 'arduous but exquisite' path to other worlds.
"Within the logic of our everyday world, this freeing intention might be interpreted as messianic; and we already know what has happened with messianic experiences...
"No, no, no, no. That's too embarrassing. We are not that worthy. Messianic is new age and all the gurus of the new wave. We don't pretend anything. We don't offer hopes of something that we cannot give."
"How do you conciliate this concern about humankind with the lack of interest for issues like Bosnia, or Chiapas, in which there is a lot of human suffering?"
But, honey-pies (fam Sp: 'corazonzotes', 'big hearts' [TN]), please, suffering is everywhere, not just there! My mother was a communist, a pamphletist, a proletarian. I inherited that. But Don Juan told me: 'you're lying. You say that worries you and look how you treat yourself. Stop annihilating your body. Do you really feel compassion for your fellow man?' 'Yes', I replied. 'Enough to stop smoking?'. Noooo! My compassion was a deceit. The old bandit told me: "be very careful with social entertainment. Those are placebi, they are the big sucker. It's a lie that regenerates itself'."
"Why don't you, as a man of your time, read newspapers?"
"For the simple reason that I am very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very hardened against topical things."
"You have written that the path of the warrior is a solitary path. Isn't there a contradiction in doing massive courses as the one on Tensegrity?"
"No. I am not here talking about hard things. Perhaps Tensegrity will give you the energy to talk about really hard things. But you have to start somewhere."
"'The Teachings of Don Juan' generated a cult for certain hallucinogenic plants, but now you disqualify that book; you say it's better to forget it. Why?"
"The idea of ingesting one of those plants without preparation will lead nowhere. At most, to a displacement of the assemblage point, but fleetingly. Now, when Don Juan gave them to me, that was the tune of the moment. I grew up convinced of the value of my grandfather's severity. My assemblage point was almost welded. Don Juan Matus told me: 'Your grandfather is an old fart'. My assemblage point was welded and he knew that he could only move it with hallucinogens. But he never did the same with others; he didn't even gave them coffee. The hallucinogens were of value to me, but I took it as a total index."
"What do you expect of the opening that is now beginning?"
"I don't know what will happen. Don Juan never told me what it is that will happen to me in front of the mass (...).
We were previously attentive to carry on in accordance with Don Juan's commands. He forbid us to be under the limelights. Now I want to teach like this, because it is a tremendous debt, which I cannot longer pay to him."
"Are you not afraid to become a guru?"
"No, because I have no ego; there is no way."
© Copyright La Jornada Newspaper
Publication Date: January 29, 1996
Carlos Castaneda Interview - La Jornada Newspaper (part 2)
Publication Date: January 30, 1996
English Translation of a Spanish Newspaper Article by Luis Enrique Ramirez
The Tensegrity Seminar ended. "I am an idiot just like all of you": Carlos Castaneda. "If there is energy, I will keep coming to Mexico".
There is nothing visible in Carlos Castaneda that allows to see a spiritual guide in him. He is very thin, short and homely. He is dark-skinned; he wears his white hair short and combs it forward. He wears a long-sleeved shirt and jeans without back pockets. On a platform, with a small microphone attached to his clothes, he acts loosely before his audience, 700 people gathered at the last of his three lectures about the new paths of Tensegrity in the Centro Asturiano. Either sitting or lying on the carpet, they listen to him anticipating his jokes, which they celebrate laughing out loud and sometimes with applause.
"Do you remember that joke I told you the other night? I will tell it to you again... what was I saying? I'm senile!."
Castaneda always puts humor ahead when he speaks, and thus he solves doubts or leave them as they were, making an effort not to intellectualize the talk.
"Make short, functional questions. Ask them out of desire to know, not because you want me to listen to you."
He does not read letters to avoid facing 'far-fetched questions', he says, and he mentions some of those his followers use to put forth:
"I dreamt I was a bird"
"Bird how? A Faggot, or what? It's a Chinese reply, but adequate."
"How can I know if I am double?"
"You are double, pendeja. Double pendeja." (Pendejo(a) is a Spanish profanity that means extremely stupid. [TN])
"How can I become what I have never been?"
"Well, I don't know. Pushing..."
"Give me a reason for reason to be reasonable. No, no! One must not be guided by intellect. These are questions that seem deep but are not. They are entertainment. Don Juan was so simple that scared me. He was a direct being. He did not get lost in convolutions that lead nowhere. Sorcerers are pragmatic beings. We are dilettanti. Our beliefs are unsustainable. The only way for us to sustain them is by getting angry: 'How can you say this is not true, you imbecile?'. And we go away, angry. There is a terrible truth: no one wants to be free. We are scared. What of? I do not know. We are scared. A brave chicken gets out of the coop and becomes an escapee, a fugitive. Forever?, a girl asked me. Honey pie, it's either the chicken-coop or freedom! I like freedom. I don't like the human-coop. There are things in the human-coop which are not mine."
He establishes: "I am not a guru. I cannot allow or disallow anything to anyone. That's too Hindu! I cannot tell anyone if he is a shaman or not; neither that he is in fact an idiot. Who am I to tell him that? They put me in unsustainable situations. I cannot wind anyone up because I find that to be totally disrespectful. That takes place in friendship. But I am nobody's friend. And the way I defend myself is not-seeing-anyone." He makes revelations about his identity that at another time would have been unthinkable: "I come from South America. Not from Yucatan. They asked me if I was from Campeche, because I am big-headed and short. No, I don't come from Campeche. I come from further down...
There is nothing intrinsical to transform me into something special. There isn't. I have made energetic inquiries and no, I don't have anything extraordinary. I am an idiot like all of you. The most important key learned from Don Juan was to achieve inner silence, to abolish the hegemony of the mind as a method to find freedom. That's silencing the mind. Don Juan told me that when I achieved 8 or 10 seconds of silence things were going to get interesting, and my question as a fart was: 'And how do I know it's eight seconds?'. No, honey-pie, it's not like that. I don't know what tells you it's eight seconds. Something internal tells us. The point is to accumulate silence second by second. I suddenly got to that threshold without knowing it, accumulating second after second. There is no more mind. Just that silence. That silence is over thirty years old now. From that silence I speak to you."
"In this kind of seminars", he affirms, "I have seen things Don Juan never saw. People unknowingly attracting their energy bodies. The knowledge learned in 30 years comes in two seconds. Since august up until today I don't know what to think. I have seen a lot of energetic talent and I don't know what to do with it. I see the speed at which you learn. If I took you one at a time it would take me months to show you one fucking movement. How do you do it so quickly together? I don't know. The mass... The group gives more strength..."
He insists on 'Unhooking the mind' and use the energy body.
"My mind is something very foreign to me. There is a layer within you which is what you really are. Unhook the mind and that will be you. This takes the righteousness away from oneself and transforms you into something functional: a being made for the fight."
He again combats the egocentrism.
"The ideology of the me is the most pernicious one. People live thinking only about themselves, going to the psychiatrist to talk about oneself. What a tragedy! I care about me and me and only me (he sings). We are not like that! Why do we defend postures that are not ours? They are mental masturbation. We don't question what they impose on us because we don't have energy. What could transform our actions is the energy body, and we don't have it. This is not sorcerer paranoia. Sorcerers are too simple and direct, they don't wear a mask, they go straight to the answer."
He tells about his experience with a famous astrologist whom he went to see sometime ago. He introduced himself as Joe Cortez, Chicano, and she told him that his chakras were in bad shape.
"She left me very intrigued and I went back months later. She had already forgotten about me. I told her that I was Carlos Castaneda and now she exclaimed: 'So much light! So much light!'.
"He also says that Julio Iglesias approached him. "He's a darling". He revealed to him: 'I fuck everyday. Not very well, but everyday'.
Castaneda does not know the reason for this personal revelation, but he could only reply: 'Me too. You fuck, I cogitate.' (Pun. In Spanish, 'you fuck' is 'tu coges', and 'I cogitate' is 'yo cogito' [TN]).
He explains: "I'm a bored fuck. Don Juan turned me into an energy miser. I don't spend it. I don't do anything. But I do everything. What the hell is this sexual impulse when you don't feel anything? I know a woman called 'the bed-buster'. She never felt a thing, but she busted 11 beds."
He listens to the questions of his audience at this last lecture, which lasted about two hours. There are many doubts concerning Tensegrity and the series of physical exercises implied in it. Many address him as 'nagual'.
"How is the will strengthened?
"With energy. It's the only way."
"Is Intent enough?"
"Oh, honey-pie! Intent is everything. It's like saying 'Is life enough?'. Intent is a force in the Universe."
"Are we a part of one Intent?"
"We are the sum total of Intent."
"Is Tensegrity the only key?"
"It's the only one I know. And I've heard more than you. Thirty years as Carlos Castaneda... Oof! I have heard wonders."
"Can Tensegrity be done without shoes?"
"Do it naked, but do it."
"What's the right way of speaking?"
"Ah! We would have to talk about the right way of shitting. Don Juan spoke about a right way of chewing. 'What for?' I asked him. 'To avoid sins', he told me. (Apparently, another pun. Somewhere else, Castaneda says Don Juan had told him not to talk while he was eating to avoid farting. In Spanish, 'Pecados' (sins) and 'Pedos' (farts) are very similar words [TN]).
"I have practiced Tensegrity and I feel it's not enough."
"Enough for what?"
"Can we untie our children from the social order?"
"We are part of the social order. What we can do as parents is untie ourselves from so much bullshit of the social order".
"What would happen if a lot of people did what you say?"
"What would happen? How do I know? I can't speculate. Like Don Juan used to say: 'Ask the stars...'
"Will you keep coming to Mexico?"
"If there is energy, yes. We are going to build a company... Well, a small group of people who wants to know more about these things. They are the same people who organized this seminar... Mexico is filled with things that cannot be understood because we don't have the subtlety. We are full of things which are not feasible to find under these lines of behavior..."
The seminar ends and Castaneda steps down from the platform into a crowd wishing to approach him. He only signs one book. A young man asks him: 'Nagual, could you sign for me an autograph with your finger?'. He extends his right wrist for Castaneda to touch him but he says no, not that, and vanishes behind a door.
© Copyright La Jornada Newspaper, Publication Date: January 30, 1996