Writing is one of the most precious human gifts and a wonderful instrument to leave a legacy. We know about our ancestors, their knowledge, wisdom and philosophies through writing and this is why we are inspiring you to write. It takes practice and we are here to support you in expressing yourself.
We created this contest because we know that so many of you have been inspired and impacted by Carlos Castaneda and his writings about the knowledge of the seers of ancient Mexico. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of his death this year, we want to give you all the opportunity to share your stories with the community for a chance to win free tuition to one of our live workshops in Mexico City, England and Moscow! Write about what attracted you to them? What inspired you about them? How old were you? Join our contest on Facebook and post your OWN story here How Carlos Castaneda Inspires You Contest.
My Story- How My Life Changed After Reading My First Book by Carlos Castaneda
By Aerin Alexander
“For an average man, the world is weird because if he’s not bored with it, he’s at odds with it. For a warrior, the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable. A warrior must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous time.” – Carlos Castaneda
Hello, my name is Aerin Alexander and I am the founder and director of the Energy Life Sciences Institute. Below I am sharing with you about the first moment I opened a book of Carlos Castaneda and the turn that took my life as a consequence.
I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1994 when I heard that Carlos Castaneda would be in town to give a talk to a select group of people. My first reaction was emotional. “What?” I thought. “He does exist? And he is in Buenos Aires? That is crazy!”
Carlos Castaneda was an anthropologist and visionary. His books centering on his apprenticeship with don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico, had catapulted him to fame in the 60’s and 70’s. The first time I opened Journey to Ixtlan, Castaneda’s third book, was by accident.
My mother’s older sister, Rosita, used to work for the Mexican publishing house that published Castaneda’s books in Spanish. No one in my family was an avid reader, including me, and I’d never noticed the book until one special day.
Our family had just moved to an apartment above a chicken store, with old tile floors, broken windows and holes on the walls, from a nicer apartment, furnished with carpets and wall papers and a mortgage my parents could no longer afford. My dad was forced to quit his job—he refused to be fired—because of the restructuring taking place in the international company at which he worked for 15 years. It was a stressful moment: my dad was looking for a new job and my mother, as usual, was in charge of the family relocation.
I was entering my first year of high-school and I was concerned about my weight. I was too skinny, and I feared I would end up in the hospital as it happened the year before, when I was hospitalized for a recurrence of rheumatic fever, my childhood disease. I was a picky eater, and under stress, I could not swallow.
The new apartment was filled with boxes, and I was in charge of, amongst other things, organizing the books. As I lined up the few books we owned in our single bookshelf, Journey to Ixtlan escaped my fingers and fell to the ground, landing open on page 15. The text on that page began: PART ONE “Stopping the World.”
I flipped to the next page. It read:
“I understand you know a great deal about plants, Sr.”
Castaneda said presenting himself to don Juan Matus. I randomly flipped ahead to page 110.
“Acts have power,” he said. “Specially when the person acting knows that those acts are his last battle. There is a strange consuming happiness in acting with the full knowledge that whatever one is doing may very well be one’s last act on earth.”
I straightened my back and inhaled; a chill ran up my spine. I sat down on top of the boxes I was emptying and flipped back to page 15 and started reading again from there. I was fourteen years old, and, unwillingly, this book grabbed full my attention. His writings described the world as mysterious and unfathomable and humans, as warriors with purpose and in relation to the vastness universe. Like a healthy food, each page filled empty spaces creating connections and aliveness inside me.
Castaneda’s words sounded familiar somehow. I had never been to Mexico, but I did dream about the possibility of going some day. My birth name was Maria Guadalupe and, besides my mother’s devotion to the Virgin, I had also developed my own longing for Mexico. I had learned at school about Mesoamerica and knowledge of Toltecs and Mayans. It was the pyramid at Chichen Itza in Yucantán, with its precise number of steps representing each day of the year and exact orientation to the sun to reflect a shadow at each solstice, that I couldn’t stop thinking about. The Mayans lived in relationship to the stars, and don Juan was teaching Castaneda about his link with the invisible universe around. I thought I could also, somehow, I could feel my connection to all.
That day something shifted in me and I felt the emergence of a purpose, meaning in my life. I was suddenly interested in books and went on to hungrily read not only more from Castaneda, but also Nietzsche, Borges, Neruda, Coelho. My timing was perfectly synchronized with the availability of books. Bookstores were opening their doors in Buenos Aires after a seven-year dictatorship that had prohibited books from being sold and many authors from publishing. Being a teen, not only was I hungry to learn, but I was also naturally delighted to access what had been forbidden.
Almost 13 years later, I was studying the esoteric teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky with a group of friends, when the group’s coordinator suggested we read Carlos Castaneda. With the group, I reread Journey to Ixtlan, and I intended every night to connect deeper with myself to understand my own life. As if being called to an appointment, a few months later I met Castaneda in person in Los Angeles, and I entered into the sorcerers’ world.
My Acquaintance with the ‘Nagual,” Carlos Castaneda Through his Books
By Sergei Minin
My name is Sergei Minin. I am from Russia and I live in Kirov. I want to share with you my story about my acquaintance with the ‘nagual’, Carlos Castaneda through his books.
I was a student when I first got Castaneda’s book. At that time I had many friends and we met often, listened to music and talked a lot. In the text of one of the songs I heard the phrase “Castaneda did not write about it” and because I was always curious, I began to find out who this Castaneda was. One of my friends gave me Castaneda’s books. When I read his first 4 books, much remained incomprehensible and I abandoned it. It was the first touch I received from the Spirit.
The second case was also connected with my friend, his name was Ed. He was very different from all my other friends – his energy, his attitude to life. He broadcast extremely unusual views on life, which were not in my family and my environment. He gave me a VHS cassette with the first video of 12 basic movements. Women in the video made an impression on me of mysticism, something final and inevitable. It completely fell out of the context of my culture and my tradition. Having looked once, I put the cassette in the box.
The third incident occurred somewhere after six months or a year. After a trip to a hot resort country for vacation, I activated the latent hepatitis B virus. Knowing this for the first time in my life brought me very close to the idea of death. For the first time, I really felt very deeply inside, not at the level of the mind, that death can be very close. The thought sobered me.
The treatment proceeded hard and lasted more than a year. I stopped consuming alcohol and cigarettes and gradually my circle of communication began to decline. I began spending more time alone. Then I accidentally gave a complete series of Castaneda’s books, and I at once read them all. It was a deafening effect, just WOW! A completely new and incomprehensible and very attractive world for me is the world of shamans and magic.
It changed my picture of the world very much. During the reading, the question that tormented me constantly arose: how can I reach the same conditions and get into that world? What needs to be done for this? There were no instructions for this in the book. Just at this time my friend Ed invited me to take part in one enterprise, it failed miserably and I owed a lot of money to the bank.
A few months later I got a very clear understanding that I need to rely only on myself. It was an obvious and strong sense of confidence, detachment, without pity, a new feeling for me. To me came the knowledge, deep from within no doubt, that I need to change – to change the city, the place of work, myself. But again, I did not know how I could approach this, where to start, where are the instructions? One day on a sunny summer day, I climbed into the closet and came across a video with magical passes. I turned on the video and began to learn the movements. A few months later I performed several series of movements. Then I still did not feel any direct effect from the movements, I just did everything.
Events in my life began to develop. I moved to another city, got a new job, quickly returned the debts. And two years later I got to my first seminar on tensegrity in St. Petersburg. This is another story.
How I Discovered the Knowledge of The Seers from Ancient Mexico
By Dr. Miles Reid
Hello, my name is Miles Reid, and I am the director and founder of the Energy Life Sciences Institute. I met and studied directly with Carlos Castaneda and in the last 23 years I have been incorporating the teachings of the seers from Ancient Mexico in my professional practice as a doctor and in my personal life as a father. Here is my account of how I came to discover this knowledge.
The nagual Carlos Castaneda told me that what makes the events memorable or significant is not how bombastic they are but rather when something—seers call it intent or the spirit–crosses our path that awakens dormant qualities, or exposes us to things that deeply influence us in our future actions along our path to knowledge.
My life while growing up was very conventional. My family values, with doctors as parents, educated in the Western European paradigm, were based on science and logic as a reference. Both of them were kind and provided us with security and education, but there was no religion, no space for mystery or abstract thought, neither by instruction nor modeling. If one were to have drawn a line into the future, following the course my life had had until my teens, one could have easily predicted a similar outcome for my sense of reality and worldview when I grew up. But, sometimes, life offers us an event that, even though it would seem trivial at the time, it ends up altering the entire course of our journey. This happened to me with the books of Carlos Castaneda.
It all began when I was fifteen, in high school. Our regular biology teacher had called in sick, and a sub came in to replace her. His name was Julio Alfano, and he talked about strange things that seemed to have nothing to do with biology; he talked about being in a state of silence, about meditating and connecting to the universe.
After that day, he came back to “teach” our class several times. He opened the world of spirit to my attention. He represented a crack, he broke my veil and I saw something else. We all have a description of the world. There is the social environment’s description, and then the seers of ancient Mexico have one, and they brought to me a new description.
One day, he pulled a book from his bag and said to me: “I think you should read this”. It was The Teachings of Don Juan. I took the book with me, and began reading it in the bus while going back home.
I was immediately hooked. Moreover, something in me was touched at a deep cord, and what began to pour out from my being was almost a desperation, an urgency to take all in what I was reading. Nothing I had been exposed to in the past had hooked me in this way. I quickly finished the book and avidly bought the next one in the series, and then the next one after that.
I was so absorbed by the readings that I literally could not put the books down, I read in any moment I was not committed to something else. I read in the bus rides through the city, while standing shoulder to shoulder with the crowd. I even read while I was walking in the street. I would be walking with one arm holding the book high at face level so I could take brief glances up and around to avoid bumping into people, buildings and traffic!
What was it about this knowledge and the way this knowledge was presented in the books by Castaneda, that hooked me so deeply? When I ask myself this question the answer that arises in me is this: because it did not speak to me intellectually; it spoke to me bodily.
It wasn’t an understanding as I had been taught to, contextualizing knowledge through a process of the mind, which, at that time, meant a process of the brain, of reason. It seemed as if my very cells were absorbing the information and the ideas he was presenting, my body itself was being addressed, everywhere at once. The mind and the body were one single unit, awakening to the reality of a world of energy. The apparatus of perception was my entire me. It had an awesomeness that belonged to all of me.
My teacher Alfano had turned on the awareness of spirit in me, and this initiated an avid search for discovering spiritual traditions and any information of the kind. During my teens and early twenties, I got involved in yoga and the Hindu cosmology, attending talks and meditations from different yogis, I read about the life of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha, and got involved in a line of Japanese Buddhism practices.
For over a year, I was a recurrent participant in a community that held traditional Native American sweat lodges from a lineage of Taos, New Mexico, and even became doorman, a position of importance as keeper of the fire during ceremonies. I learned shiatzu and read Lao Tze and the I Ching, striving to live its principles in my life.
But nothing resonated in me like the books of Carlos Castaneda. They introduced me to the magical side of man, it brought mystery into my daily life, it awoke a sense of wonder, of possibilities. At the time I first encountered them, he had written four books, so, after devouring them one after the other, I had to wait until his next book got published. I had figured that he seemed to publish a new book every three years, which reflected his experiences and evolution in his own development during the interims. This rhythm went on throughout my late teens and twenties, including my years as a medical student.
At the time, I became an assistant to a Filipino healer who performed energy surgeries on people that defied logic and I entered into a healing circle of daime, a syncretic tradition of the Amazon basin that used ayahuasca as a medium to access higher states of perception to help people with advanced or terminal illnesses. But one after the next, even though I kept learning and awakening from them, I was ‘half in’. I thought, “Maybe it is just me” that my destiny is not to fully take on any given practice or tradition, but forge my own, from a kaleidoscope of teachers.
During all those years, becoming a formal student of Castaneda was not an option. There was no place to study it and no other direct sources other than the books themselves. But the books were not really written as manuals to learn from, they were direct accounts of his own personal experiences.
Half way during my medical training, I took a two-year sabbatical from my formal studies to travel around the world. During that time, it was a must to ‘travel light’. The backpack contains all one’s belongings, so imagine that space is precious. Such was the cardinal place that Carlos Castaneda’s books had for me that I actually carried all his published books at the time, nine altogether, in soft cover!
I made it a goal to use them as study books during my travels. I wanted to grasp an integrated view as a whole. I made notes, cross-referenced premises he touched on in different moments in different books and practiced it while I traveled around the world, from Australia to Asia to Europe to Africa. I became not just a reader, but a lover, a practitioner and a seeker of infinity.
Nevertheless, I never felt that It was my role to seek going to Mexico to try ‘find’ him, like many readers and practitioners of his books did. I always felt, strangely, somehow casually but convinced of it, that if my destiny was to ever see him, it was going to come by itself, life was going to bring the opportunity to me rather than me forcing it. But, I never imagined that it would actually come true.
Never would have I really dreamed of, or imagined, that my fate a few years later, would lead me to meet him personally, and become his direct student. That indeed, against all odds for a regular, scientist boy raised in the far end of planet Earth, destiny would in fact, orchestrate uncanny coincidences leading to the serendipity of that reality. But that, friends, is a story for another time.
How I Arrived to Ixtlán
By Ariadna Vasquez Sensors
My name is Ariadna Vasquez Sansores. I’m from Campeche, Mexico, but I’ve lived in Mexico City for many years and that makes me feel part of it too. I would like to share the story of how I got to “Viaje – Ixtlán”. A story of adventures and misadventures that were taking my spirit through inexhaustible trails, until I found this, and other fantastic books by Carlos Castaneda. This is my story:
We spent a few days of rest with my whole family in the U.S.A. One morning, we went to a shopping center. My mom went with my grandmother to find some things, and my aunts took care of my cousins and I. In a few minutes that distracted me or maybe seconds, a person who maybe had been watching the scene and saw that I was out there seeing several things, approached me. First I thought he was a salesman of the store, since he taught me all the games that I could not see because of my height in a very short time I felt in confidence. My aunts, who are incredible and perhaps with so many children, did not perceive the stalking of that person. They did not see him at any time, or maybe everyone thought he was a salesman of that store.
After having my confidence, he took my hand and in a single blink, I walked with him. Then, we took the escalator down several floors. As we passed by each floor, I remember looking for my mother, hoping to see her and my grandmother.
My heart beat a thousand times a second. It felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I also remember the sound made by those escalators, creaking, their smell of old wood and some fresh varnish. Every detail of the place has been recorded in my memory, those memories are stored in all the cells of my body. I can feel it and hear it in my heart.
Just to close your eyes and think about the scene, and everything is unfolding with precise details. With him I walked for hours on the street, at one point I took charge and hugged him. I never yelled at him, I had trusted him.
I felt destroyed and with much fear, I cried, but my tears came out with the most obscure silence. He tried to dry my tears, while he spoke to calm me, his voice … I remember it even very beautiful, very calm ..
But why did he want to take me? , Where would it take me? …
In a moment, after crying with great regret to be heard, I said to myself: “Ari, this will be your new life”.
I resigned myself to living with someone else, I did not put up resistance … I did not know how to say: NO! I was too ashamed to scream.
And I went to his side, crying in silence and hugging him tight again.
Something went through his head, which I can not decipher. But, he returned me to the right place. After hours of walking back, we ended up right back in the same place we started. Quickly, the police found me and I went back to my family
Because of this experience, I grew up full of fears, fear of losing my loved ones, fear of losing myself from my loved ones. I grew insecure and lonely, always with existentialist thoughts. Always thinking about what it would be like if my parents died or died, or if they just disappeared and never saw them again. I grew up thinking about the meaning of being here on earth.
During my childhood, I had 2 incredible teachers. One of them taught us that the house and classroom tasks, cleaning our desk, cleaning the windows, sweeping the room or the classroom, sweeping and cleaning my own room, washing the dishes and all those tasks, could be done with elegance, with fun, with music. All activity could be done with magic, if we only put the desire and attention necessary to make it so.
The other teacher took us to the countryside, made us admire nature, sleep on the dry leaves and feel the difference of sleeping on the fresh leaves, observe the stars and see up close the insects and every pretty leaf that crossed our path. He read us fragments of “Viaje a Ixtlán” that I still remember with my heart vibrating.
I was about 17 years old when, my cousin and best friend of the soul, read for me, several fragments of Castaneda’s books, read me parts of the “Don del Águila”, fragments of “Una realidad aparte”, “Viaje a Ixtlán”. And there I found the statements and phrases that had been preserved in my deep memory, of days of primary school and my teacher who inspired me to love nature. There I connected with that feeling of seeking freedom, of freeing my mind and my spirit from the pain contained by the loss of the being of my bowels, and by the fears with which I fell down day and night.
When Pelu lent me. “Viaje a Ixtlán”, and I read it, I began to remember the chapters read in childhood, I found the magic and the mystery that I needed to begin to understand, I found the codes for a deep communication with my psyche. We sat watching the sky with a new love, with new sight, the storms in the sea, had hidden languages that we were able to decipher, the stars shone with a special mathematics never before understood, the earth was a possible dream. I sat down to observe my fears. And I found life, as the most fabulous of mysteries.
The books filled my spirit with fabulous anecdotes, I wanted to dream and live. Now, many years have passed since those events, and see more clearly, the other edges of this story and my own cosmos.
I did not hate the man who kidnapped me and gave me back anymore. I think maybe we created a connection of love and acceptance for the other. Maybe he discovered there, that although he tried to separate me from them, he could not really steal my love for them, or sever the connection that my soul has with each member of my beloved family. Maybe he connected telepathically to my abstract language, maybe he saw my heart that spoke to him lovingly, and then … he gave me life again.
I keep in touch with those feelings, I explore them, I revive them, I embrace them and I breathe, to then liberate them to the cosmos and learn.
I get up happy, and very grateful.
Living within this mystery, with all its edges, turbulence, textures and tonalities, it is an honor and a pleasure.
With love, Ari