Carlos Castaneda Interview - La Jornada Newspaper (part 1)

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