Monday, August 4, 2008

What is Santo Daime

- on awareness of our double symbiosis

There is a native North American legend that says that in the beginning of Earth’s history, there was a great conference with all the animals, to protest the devastating and ignorant attitude of mankind towards the environment. “Nature is the great mother of every animal, and man wishes to submit her to his fickleness”- accused the serpent, demanding that all the other animals take a stand . “The only way is to make them feel in their own skin the effects of their actions, even if it takes many generations” – pondered the coyote. And then it was decided that each animal would be transformed into a human disease: The lion would be heart disease, the elephant, obesity, the horse, skin afflctions. And the more man destroyed nature, the more he would be the victim of the revenge of the animal spirits, in the form of sickness.

According to this tale, the vegetable kingdom then felt compassion for mankind and decided to help. And each plant transformed itself into a medicine, one for each disease created by the animal instincts. To the noblest plants, however, was given the mission of awakening consciousness, so that man could some day learn to live in harmony with the planet and fulfill his destiny.

So it was that once, during a spiritual service, I asked the Daime: “What is the Daime?”- hoping that It would be able to explain to me Its nature and how It fits into our personal history. No one better than the Daime Itself to explain Its nature and significance.
As an answer to my quest, I started noticing the different people who participated in the service, and the conceptions they had about what was happenning there. I found, then, five different definitions: Daime is a beverage; Daime is a religion; Daime is a doctrine, Daime is a Divine Being, and Daime is a Sacrament.
The first two definitions (beverage and religion) came from visitors and the three last ones (Doctrine, Divine Being, Sacrament) came from ‘Fardados’ (1), that is, adepts who use the ceremony uniform.
Let’s examine each one of these conceptions:
“Santo Daime is a beverage” is a usual conception of ex-drug users who seek a cult, and also of the curious in general. It is the definition of those who are in search of “the trip.” The beverage we are talking about is prepared through the infusion of the Jagube vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leafs of Rainha/Queen or Chacrona (Psycotria viridis) – native of the Amazon regions. The beverage is said to have originated during the Inca empire, and Its use would have spread among many indigenous tribes, such as the Kampas and Kaxinawás, located near the border between Bolivia and Peru. By taking the tea, the Indians absorb the plants´ spirit, and through trance, they have psychic experiences and undergo paranormal phenomenon, such as telepathy, regression to former lives and contact with ancestor spirits, clairvoyance, and long distance vision. There are reports about shamans who used the beverage to discover their patients´ illness and how to real it. (2)

The Ayahuasca amplifies the psychosomatic capacity of responding to a more subtle scale of stimulus, besides often integrate the various sensorial capabilities into synestesic process. This effect of improving the ability to experience, to evaluate and appreciate one’s self, it’s vital to comprehend its meaning. This amplification, as a magnifying glass, allows a (re) visitation, intense and absorbed on mental contents – memories, ideas, fantasies, thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, sensations in general. (…) The great merit of Ayahuasca, brought to our attention by the Indian societies, is that It dissolves the limits of the unconscious mind; It gives access the repressed and forgotten contents. It allows recognition of the psique´s universal configurations, humanity archetypes, together with a broader list of information and ways to become conscious, even eventually the experience of living various aspects of the mystic communion. As the individual gets to see things in a not distorted manner, seeing clearly not only ones past but also the presumption and blindness of ones own culture and referential groups, he needs, besides tolerating deception and suffering, to overcome feelings of helplessness. It is not always easy to realize and accept that we are not that of victims, but we are responsible for our lives, to accept to be capable, recognizing one’s potential and the responsibility of that requiring courage and determination.” (BARBIER, 2002)
On another side, “Santo Daime is a religion” is the conception of a more spiritualized visitor, searching for the expansion of consciousness. Usually they are people who participate or had already participated of other spiritual services. Since the beginning of the century, in the cultural contact between Indians and rubber latex extractors, the Ayahuasca started to be used by northeastern migrants, who colonized western Amazon. From then on many groups emerged associating the beverage to a spiritualist-Christian religious context, of which the main representatives are the Union do Vegetal (UDV) in the Brazilian state of Rondonia, the Santo Daime and the Barquinha, in the state of Acre.
Parallel to the cult increase, and the expansion of the use of Ayahuasca, there was a strong resistance from the part of conservative sectors of Brazilian society, which was pressing the government to seize the functioning of these institutions in bigger metropolitan centers. However, on June the 2nd of 1992, the council decided to definitively permit the tea’s utilization for religious purposes in the whole territory. According to the president of the Narcotics Federal Council then, Ester Kosovsky, “ the investigation developed since 1985 was based on a multi disciplinary approach, taking into consideration the anthropological, sociological, cultural and psychological, besides fito-chemical analysis” (3). The writer of the investigation process, Domingos Carneiro de Sá, explained that the fundamental fact for permitting the beverage was the behavior of Santo Daime adepts and the righteousness of the spiritual center which use the tea in its rituals: “There was no anti-social attitude, on the contrary, we could notice the integrating and restructuring effects of Daime among individuals who have social and psychological problems before coming to the ceremonies.(SILVA SÁ, 1996 145-174).
Santo Daime expanding to other countries, international legal issues related to the utilization and transportation of the beverage started to come up. Among the many legalization processes, an important reference is the text Religious Freedom and United States Drug Laws: Notes on UDV-USA Legal Case. (MEYER, 2005). Also there is International law literature at the Italian Daime website. (4)
“Santo Daime is a doctrine” That’s exactly the conception that emphasizes this aspect of It as part of Acre´s popular culture, of Brazilian cultural (musical, poetical, spiritual) inheritance. The partisans of this conception give much importance to the ritual, to the liturgical calendar and the ethics teachings prescribed in the hymns, as well as the historical memory of the ritual founders (5).
The hymns, chanted during night time are mediunically received and it is rehearsed priory to its presentation during the ritual. The basic ideas transmitted through the hymns are about sympathy and ecological conscience - poetic ballads intoned in simple and repetitive melodies, which work as ‘mantras’. Besides the chant there’s also a dance – called ‘ball’- that consists in move the body in the music compass, all together, to the left and to the right alternately, in a sort of static circular dance. This chain of voice and movement gets its ritihym from the Maracás, little can rattle. The participants get positioned in line forming a quadrilateral polygon, with ladies on once side, and gentleman in the other, around a table. In official parties, man use white tux with blue tie, and women white shirt, green jardinière with colorful ribbons and a silver crown. In the center, the Holy Cross (Caravaca´s Cross), and the Eastern Star (Solomon’s seal and an eagle by the last quarter moon). Besides Jesus Christ frequently is related to the Sun, the Virgin Mary is associated to the Moon, the Sea and the Forest, and the presences of Saint John the Baptist and Patriarch Saint Joseph are constantly remembered in Santo Daime songs. Other frequent image is the ‘Divine Eternal Father’, an affirmation of the monotheist principle of the doctrine, which commands over a “Celestial Court of Every Divine Beings”- that embodies, in the pantheist covering of the Queen of the Forest, an entity that goes from the Oriental Devas to African Orishas. However, the central entity of Santo Daime´s ritual is Juramidam, the “Master Empire”. According to the hymns and to the participants this is the being that is identified as the spirit of beverage taken during the ceremonies.
The effect Santo Daime´s drink provokes a conscience expansion that, without being prejudicial to the capacity of voluntary action, allows one to observe its own feelings and thoughts clearer.
As the cult occurs, the state of conscience intensified by the tea amplifies the repetitive situations of daily life, revealing existential contradictions and inner process that are repeated unconsciously in various levels. These involuntary processes are comprehended by the intensified conscience of the participant, through the chain created by the ball dance and the hymns that always suggest a positive solution to the problems. According to the adepts of the cult, the ritual is an “auto-analysis”. The process lived during the effect of the drink, opening the doors of the subconscient, and the conditioning movement of the ball, leads to a critic examination of our daily actions, base upon the Christian principles.
The concept that believes that “Daime is a divine being” consider the power of the beverage independently from the ritual (and from the system of beliefs, although he too is a part of the system of beliefs) which credit to communicate directly with the plant’s spirit or to a superior intelligence. This conception has many versions and styles. To the most traditionalists, for example, this being is personified by the image of the creator of Daime, Raimundo Irineu Serra (6). He represents the return of the Christ to earth when one takes Daime (usually by a huge picture of ‘master’ Irene). Is with the spirit of Raimondi Irene Serra that each conscience dialogues. In other tendencies, as the one of Pariah Sebastian, there are also adepts for the idea that Daime is a divine being, but inside a broader and pantheist paradigm: “the master is in the sun, on moon, on the stars”. This conception of “master beverage” also appears in different kinds of shamanism and in other rituals and systems of beliefs, as the UDV.
Is necessary to say that, while the process of legalization of the cult had the decisive participation of the ‘Doctrine’ sectarians, all the globalization process of the plant’s use (mixed with other spiritual cultures) is mainly due to the adepts of the ‘Divine Being’.
And is it Daime a Sacrament? This way of thinking is more embracing and includes the four prior conceptions. The communication with divine is not set just through the hymns or with only one being, but throughout many intelligences, spirits, guides, archetypes, and, mainly, with the focus of attention directed to conscience deprogramming. One could say that the people that thinks Santo Daime ‘is a doctrine’, or ‘is a divine being’ represent the same emphasis from the ones who think Daime ‘is a beverage’ or ‘is a religion’, in a higher octave. The ones who thing It is a beverage ‘upgrade’ to the position to which It is a divine being; while the ones who think It is a religion start understanding it as a doctrine or Christian cult. The conception of It as being a Sacrament perceive the importance of both sides, as beverage and as system of beliefs, but focuses on conscience development.
I have always thought about writing an article about Daime. I had even written a very descriptive one, but it always problem nothing. I wish to write a text to register the spiritual experience that changed my life radically. A subjective testimonial of an individual passionately involved with its object, but who aims to understand it in the most objective way possible. There are many obstacles for this for this ‘objectiveness’. First, one needs to comprehend that Santo Daime is an ‘interpretation’ of Ayahuasca. The same beverage is used in other systems of beliefs, in other rituals, such as in UDV and Peruvian Ayahuasca. And in order to have an objective vision of my experience with Santo Daime, I would have to have a less deficient knowledge of this other interpretations.
There is also the DMT issue (or the chemical substance effect on the brain, the scientific system of beliefs) and how it relates to ritualistic uses of Ayahuasca (and the traditional and religious system of beliefs).
In this sense, the researchers are also divided into three major groups: The ones who emphasize the drink and the DMT (biologists, chemists, among others); the ones who emphasize the system of beliefs (generally anthropologists and historians) and the ‘DMT devotees’ that, considering both aspects, elaborate a new system of beliefs.
Let’s observe each one of these groups of researchers.
To the ones who emphasize DMT, as Ralph Miller (2000), the important thing it’s the psychoactive role of the beverage:
The Pineal gland will produce a large amount of DMT on at least two moments of our lives: when being born and when dieing. Maybe it prepares the coming and the leaving of the soul. People who experimented the ‘near to death situations’ – seeing strong lights, portals, religious icons – report effects close to the experiences with DMT. The DMT molecules are similar to Serotonin and fit in the same brain receptors. That’s extraordinary because, as serotonin, the DMT is a specific key which naturally fits this brain ‘lock’. Thus, you have DMT suiting the brain receptors, which produces visions, while the pro-serotonin and pro-dopamine properties of the tea create a state of awareness and receptivity.
On the scientific point of view, there are many hypotheses on the role of DMT in the brain. One of them is that this substance would be related to schizophrenia manifestation and other psychotic disturbs. However, similar levels of DMT have been found in schizophrenic and healthy people, making this hypothesis to be gradually abandoned. Another possibility, postulated in The Spirit’s Molecule, (Strassman, 2001), says that the DMT is produced by the pineal gland and it is related to apex experiences (to be born, to nearly die, and to die and so on).
A third hypothesis, made by Callaway (MCKEENA, CALLAWAY, GROB, 1998), which relates to the first two, is that DMT is related to sleep regulation, specifically to the production of images of the dreams: The REM sleep. In this case, if DMT was to be produced in excess it could cause hallucinations. Nowadays, many researches investigate the use of DMT-based medication for chemically treating depression, neurosis, phobias, neurological syndromes, as well as its use as conscience developer in therapeutic processes. (7)
As it was said before, there are also researches which give greater emphasis to the context than to the psychoactive aspect. While the focus of the researchers from the biological area is framed particularly on the chemical effects of DMT in the brain, the researchers from the clinical and psychological areas study the changes in the conscience and perception states, distributing their attention in three factors: the beverage, the environment (setting) and the intention (set). The ‘set and setting’ hypothesis, first formulated by Timothy Leary with LSD in the 60´s, affirms that that the content of an experience with a psychoactive substance is a result of the interaction between these three basic factors.
Charles S. Grob made the broadest bibliographical revisal on Ayahuasca within clinic psychiatry and neuron-psychiatry (METZNER, 2002, p 195) and considers hyper- suggestion ability as one of the psycho-chemical effects, detailing the environmental aspect (setting) in many factors (the leader role, the group, the place). He is one of the researchers who conclude that the “context, itinerary, and purpose” are more important than the chemical effects of psychoactive substances (in the processes of cure and self acquaintance provided by the beverage).
In relation to the characteristics of the conscience states altered y the use of Ayahuasca, Grob points out: a) Expansion or reduction of reflexive conscience, with changes on thought, subjective changes in concentration, attention, memory and judgment cam be voluntarily inducted in various levels of the same experience. B)Increase in visual imagination. Grob also identifies, among the experience of thousands of interviewed user, many psychological repeated patterns during trance: Fear of losing control; resistance of the ego (bad trip) and transcendence to a mystic condition (surrender); increase in emotional expression – sadness, happiness, despair, faith; among other less frequent. Other great contribution to the psychological study of Ayahuasca is the work of Benny Shanon, The Contents of Ayahuasca Visions (2003), which, besides working on a list of images and visions and on the hypothesis of acceleration and deceleration of time perception during trance, discuss also mind research through Ayahuasca (and no longer effects of Ayahuasca over human mind). Shanon had already wrote about Ayahuasca as an instrument for mind investigation (in LABATE; 2002; pg 631), through cognitive psychology theoretical parameters. For him, there are first order phenomenological questions (what is being experimented?) and second order ones (is there an order and a reason for what is being experimented?). Towards the first order phenomenological issues, Shanon distinguishes the matters of content from the ones of domain and structure. Thus, felids, birds and reptiles are trance’s most common images, followed by palaces, thrones and heavenly architecture. The research detaches that the images are ‘mind universals’ (similar to Jung’s archetypes), once they appear in individuals culturally different. These contents may come up from different domains and the chain between these forms and these contents create narrative structures that are parallel to the rituals.
And Shanon sees, through this cognitive system of contents/ domains, the structural parameters of conscience, and points out at least four relevant aspects son Ayahuasca effect: The perception of thought as a collective cognition, the undistinction between interior and exterior, the personal unidentification and the not linear time. From these four aspects the most interesting is the one which deals with our perception of time. When people take Ayahuasca, they realize that their thoughts are not individualized, but are ‘net-received’ (the mind as a radio); that they may become an animal (jaguars and eagles are common) or someone else; and finally they perceive time passing unevenly, some seconds taking forever and hours passing fast, and in some moments one can fell time simultaneousness (or the feeling of eternity).
When we download files on a computer, we notice that some seconds are slower than others, due to the size of the file or the internet connection speed. What Shanon suspect is that the same thing happens to the mind, but it only can be noticed when on the effect of Ayahuasca.
The vast majority of researches are subdivided in the ones who emphasize the ritual, and the ones who emphasize the cognitive effect of the beverage. But besides the psychological, anthropological, biological and juridical researches, there are also many of them about the music, the poetry, the dances of the ritual, anyway, all the semi-optical description of the cult. There are also researches who advocate a perspective similar to the adepts that understand Daime as a Sacrament, that comprehend the conception that emphasizes the environment as much as the one emphasizing Ayahuasca and the DMT (8). The McKenna brothers, will turn the cognitive feature of drugs and the psychedelic experience of counterculture will become an ‘ethno-pharmacology’, which is, a systematic study of enteogenenic use traditions.
Terence McKenna (1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996) establishes a strategic association between two different hypotheses then, which became canon for the enteogen movement: First, the hypothesis that was taking psychoactive substances that the monkeys became aware of themselves, starting human evolution. This hypothesis suggests that all our experience with sacredness was originated from chemical consumption. Then, the hypothesis of Gaia (James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis) according to which Earth’s biosphere would actually be a living organism. In a way that, more than devices for social control (drugs), the psychoactive substances would function primarily as a re-connection of man with the planets telluric conscience.
Anyway, what really draws attention to the ideas of the McKenna Brothers is the compression of the enteogenic plants in a context of a ‘great symbiosis’. In this perspective, the symbiosis between plants and animals in the earth’s biosphere is not limited to the exchange of oxygen to carbon dioxide, or mutual production of food or protection, but, above all, to a higher project, in which the enteogenic plants play the key role modifying the human behavior towards the environment. In other words: we are being colonized and doctrined by the vegetable world to change the habits of plundering animals to better interact with the plants organic life.
For us, this symbiosis (between man and the organic world) really exists, but it is not that big, if we consider the possibility of a symbiosis between man and the inorganic kingdom, in which there would be an exchange of organic vital energy for inorganic temporal conscience, as Castaneda suggests. In this case, the Ayahuasca, besides being a vehicle for a message from the vegetable kingdom – to some DMT would be a chemical message to our brain - in order to reverse self-destruction process of man and organic life, would also be a way to accomplish a symbiosis with the mineral kingdom. Jeremy Nearby, for example, in his book The cosmic snake, compares DNA´s double helix structure to the two serpents of the Caduceus symbol and advocates the thesis that DMT is a key to human evolution (the logical ‘program’ from the vegetable world to be processed by human brain) from the point of view of the molecular biology.
As it is known, the oral psycho activity of DMT depends on the inhibition of the MAO enzymes; and neither the leaf nor the vine is psychoactive f taken separately. Then, how did the natives found out the ‘Ayahuasca effect’? How have they figured out, among thousands of plants, without any technical instrument or scientific knowledge, that two of them had an effect able to provoke a trance, without noxious side-effects? For some people, it was the plants themselves that taught them. This is the point that orients the trans disciplinary research (METZER, 2002, 264) in which the experience that emerges from spirituality overflows the limits of every religious tradition: Ayahuasca gives us health, knowledge, spiritual power? And what about us? What are we giving it back? Love and Joy? Personal improvement, money or work to responsible institutions? Or do you not consider yourself in debt with the plant, or the people or the institutions?
There is an evident change in attitude on people that have taken Ayahuasca. Only 10% considered it meaningless to their lives. From the 90% that considerer it to be relevant, half never comes back or participate sporadically of the ceremonies. The institutions estimate that about 30% (9) of the people who get to know Santo Daime adopt it as their spiritual path and get ‘regimented’.
As the years pass by, besides a big rate of discontinuance, the participation of the ceremony becomes trivial and the transformation impact of the start loses its power, taking the adept to new levels of effort to keep up with their progress, or leading to a conformist adaptation towards religious institutions and society in general. Among the tendencies that follow Padrinho Sebastião, there was a period in which communitarian life in the Amazon was stimulated as a way to keep up with the deprogramming of social life, but, nowadays, all the institutions that work with Santo Daime emphasize social integration among its members.
In my personal experience, I noticed that the first two years in the doctrine are about trans personal experience (visions as the one described and classified by Shanon). Invariably these are years of profound transformations.
Next, the adept goes through a period of re-educational experiences form the inter-personal point of view (‘passages’ that involve the projection of their parents on church hierarchy members, the conflicts and friendships with other followers, platonic and real love affairs for learning their preferences and affinities). I believe that this period could indefinitely go on.
And, after ten years, in case one had made an effort on he previous stage, a period of personal development, in which the tone is the subjective ethical improvement, for which conquers are gradual and got to be very consolidated.
In my opinion, a good part of Santo Daime followers gets only to the second level of development, and keep working repetitive situations, trapped into the inter-personal relationship nets. (10)
The key to continuous progress, and to the overcoming of its different levels, could either be in the question formulated by Metzner (what do we give back to the power plants?) as well as in the idea enclosed in the word Daime (11). The retribution to Divine Generosity with human generosity in a huge feeling of gratefulness. “Once it was all given to me, I will give all of myself too” – this idea is what makes the Sacrament meaning surpass, It is no longer the plant, or the beverage, or the doctrine which is sacred, but “I am” (one in communion with divinity”).
[1] Literally Regimented.
[2] e
[3] For consulting Brazilian legislation on Ayahuasca see < >
[4]< >
[5] For more information on the subject, access CEFLURIS official website < >; or the e-magazine A ARCA DA UNIÃO , and < >.
[7] ew.shtml
[8] to better understand the similarities and divergences between both conceptions (Daime as Sacrament and ‘DMT devotees’) we suggest the article Eram os deuses Alcalóides? by Alex Polari. (in Portuguese) < >
[9] Informal data that does not take in account the places and different time periods of doctrines adhesion
[10] Of course these are absolutely subjective parameters (even them being based upon observations other than mine), from someone who believes to maintain progressing within the Daime doctrine for over 20 years. The researches with long-term users (developed by Hoasca project, from UDV, among others) limit themselves to the study of the fact that does not occur any physical damage or the social integration appeased by the beverage. Up to this day no one had studied smaller variables such as changes in alimentation, progressive inhibition of the sexual behavior, and less than all, of course, subjective variables related to the ethical and spiritual progress.
[11] This is a Portuguese conjugation for the verb To give.


ANDRADE E.N., BRITO G.S., ANDRADE E.O., NEVES E.S., McKENNA D., CAVALCANTE J.W., OKIMURA L., GROB C., CALLAWAY J.C., et al. - "Farmacologia humana da hoasca: estudos clínicos (avaliação clínica comparativa entre usuários do chá hoasca por longo prazo e controles; avaliação fisiológica dos efeitos agudos pós-ingestão do hoasca)" [1996], in: LABATE B., SENA ARAÚJO W., O uso ritual da ayahuasca, 2002, p. 621-630.

BARBIER, Regis. Ayahuasca como opção espiritual 2002.

LABATE Beatriz Caiuby; ARAUJO, Wladimyr Sena. O Uso Ritual da Ayahuasca. Campinas, Mercado de Letras/Fapesp, 2004 2ª ed. (1ª ed. 2002)

LABATE Beatriz Caiuby A Reinvenção do Uso da Ayahuasca nos Centros Urbanos. Campinas, Mercado de Letras/Fapesp, 2004.

LABATE, Beatriz Caiuby; ROSE, Isabel Santana de; SANTOS, Rafael Guimarães dos. Religiões ayahuasqueiras: um balanço bibliográfico. Campinas: Editora Mercado de Letras/Fapesp, 2008.

MEYER, Matthew D. Religious Freedom and United States Drug Laws: Notes on the UDV-USA Legal Case. Publicado pelo Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinar sobre Psicoativos – NEIP, 2005.

MILLER, Ralph. Ayahuasca - Universidade de Gaia, 2000. Tradução: Sergio Garcia Paim, originalmente publicado em

MCKENNA, Dennis J.; CALLAWAY, J. C.; GROB, Charles S. The Scientific Investigation of Ayahuasca: A Review of Past and Current Research. The Heffter Review of Psychedelic Research, Volume 1, 1998. >

MCKENNA, T. - Alucinações Reais Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1993.

_______ Alimento dos Deuses Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1995.

________ Retorno à cultura arcaica Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1996.

________ (com Ralph Abraham e Rupert Sheldrake) Caos, Criatividade e o retorno do Sagrado - trialogos nas fronteiras do Ocidente São Paulo: Cultrix/Pensamento, 1994.

METZNER, Ralph. Ayahuasca - Human Consciousness and the Spirit of Nature. Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1999. Tradução Márcia Frazão, Rio de Janeiro: Gryphus, 2002.

SILVA SÁ, Domingos Bernardo Gialluisi. "Ayahuasca, a consciência da expansão", in: Discursos sediciosos. Crime, Direito e Sociedade. Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Carioca de Criminologia, 1996, pp. 145-174).

SHANON, Benny. - Ayahuasca visions - a comparative cognitive investigation, Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness, 7, 1998, 227-250.

_______ A ayahuasca e o estudo da mente in: LABATE B. & SENA ARAÚJO W., O uso ritual da ayahuasca, 2002a, pp. 631-659.

________ O Conteúdo das visões da Ayahuasca. Revista Mana, Out 2003, vol.9, no.2, p.1, 09-152. < >.

STRASSMAN, Richard. DMT: the spirit molecule: a doctor's revolutionary research into the biology. Rochester: Park Street Press, InnerTraditions, 2001.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Osho: Avatar of Insurrection

A critical homage to the pope of esotericism pop. (1)

A rebel is not someone who does react against society, is someone who comprehends the whole game and simply gets out from it. The game starts to no make sense to him. He is not against the game. This is the beauty of rebellion: It is all about freedom. The revolutionary man is not free; he spends his whole time fighting against something. – How could there be freedom in reaction? Liberty means comprehension. The person comprehends the game and, when realizes that the game is a way to stop the soul from improving, a way of not allow someone to be what it is, just abandons it, not letting it to leave signs in its soul. The person forgives and forgets, going on without been attached to society in the name of love or hate. Society simply disappears for the rebel. He can live in the world or leave it, but does not belong to it any longer, he is an outsider. (OSHO 2006d, 63)
The night of January 19th 1990, night of Saint Sebastian, the same in which African- Brazilian Candomblé celebrates the cult to Oxossi, Orisha who is the master of the forest, had a great significance for my spiritual life.
First, due to the death of Sebastião Mota, leader of the Santo Daime wing of which I participate up to this day, in the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. The very same day, with a difference of a few hours, in the city of Puna, in India, another great spiritual leader was to expire: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the Osho.
In the occasion I had a dream in which, inside a checkered circular room, there was a polarity between the figures of Padrinho Sebastião, using a white Daime uniform and with a black beard, and Osho using a black tunic and with a white beard – both impassible, into deep meditation. The room started to become oval, similar to the Chinese symbol of Yin/Yang and took off, taking both to the distant sky.
But let me open a small parenthesis to better explain who Sebastião Mota is. The Padrinho Sebastião I met was a person of multiple contrast: very serious and also very joyful and playful: calm and patient at the same time that stubborn and perseverant; a man of great knowledge, but yet a very humble student and diligent on the subject related to spirituality.
He was born in Eirunepé, in the state of the Amazon, in the rubber extraction reserve of Monte Ligia in the 1920; he started to work as a healer in the Juruá Valley, yet in the Kardecist doctrine. He moved to Rio Branco with his family approximately in 1957, seven years later he met Raimundo Irineu Serra and the Santo Daime. He worked also together with the “Esoteric Circle of Thought Communion” with Mestre Irineu and always kept on the wall of his room his diploma on a frame. He founded the 5000 colony, emphasizing communitarian life in his doctrine’s proposal. In 1980 he transferred the community, which was in the surroundings of Rio Branco, to a virgin area in the deep forest, called rubber extraction reserve of Rio do Ouro. In 1982 he also founded, on the state of Amazonas, the village Céu do Mapiá; headquarter of his religious and philanthropical organization, called Cefluris.
He was also a key person on many spiritual services in various countries of every continent on earth. However, for me, the greater contribution of Mota was not the international expansion, the communal life, or even the polemic adoption of other plants in the ceremonies of Santo Daime, but really a certain relation with the idea of urgency and with the end of times. And that is expressed in his hymn book: The Justice Maker. A hymn book reflects the training of the person that received it and expresses his spiritual biography, with the tests and experiences that he faced during his life. When begin in the doctrine, I did not like the hymn book of the Padrinho (2). I found it was full of "whip" and of "sinners come to regret" and so on. Until the day when I had a dream with a friend (Luis Fernando Nobre) in which he said "You only get hit because you feel guilty and sorry for yourself. Sing the hymns as a justice maker and not as a justice defendant." That was a key to me. I uncovered that, in the first person of the present tense ( I ), The Justice Maker is a weapon against everything that really oppressed and injured me. But the years passed and I saw also another side: People singing the Padrinho’s hymn book to put the 'peia' (3) over others, without examining their conscience. I discovered, then, a second secret: Not be punished and neither to want to correct the others. One should love the others like themselves. To love yourself a lot or to love others more than oneself, is a way of getting out of the razor’s edge of the hymn book.
Thus the teaching of the Justice Maker is a very fine study, in between those two mistaken opposite interpretations (masochist and sadistic). Today, after many services to Padrinho’s hymn books and years of spiritual work, I notice that the idea that "ceremony without punishment nobody knows what is going to do" (excluded all the guilt and auto-punishment mechanisms of the Christian ideology and considering only with aspect of discipline) drifts from of the idea of irreversible time - one of the main signs of the philosophy and the spiritual practice of Sebastião Mota. It is common among the Santo Daime followers that search to follow exclusively the teachings of Mestre Irineu a certain way to understand time in which everything is perpetual, with an emphasis in calmness and spiritual security. The punishment, in this understanding, it is only a clean up, necessary to syntonize with the universal and to find you within the Divine. (4)
On the other side, the conception of the Padrinho Sebastião followers is more warlike, emphasizing the end of world and of the possibility of the perpetual death (or that only who deserves reincarnates). In this perspective, "substance is on the edge" - as it affirms one of the last hymns of his son Alfredo. In this conception, it is necessary to pay attention to the instant and to the detail. There is a "feeling of emergency" that impels us to the Master’s Eternity (a promise of the hymn book). And this ‘urgency’ on constructing a better world it must be considered his greater contribution. The discipline, in this chronological context (that count time backwards), is a conscientious and constant effort of adapting to the immediate present. Padrinho Sebastião was a man who learned to read singing his own hymn book. He was a coherent man (that fought to place his ideas in his life and to place his life in his ideas) and died as a warrior battling for what he believed. Sebastião Mota de Melo passed away of cardiac problems in 20th of January 1990, day of Saint Sebastian, in the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, doing what he wanted and what he liked to do most, singing his own hymn book during a spiritual work - in the same day of Rajneesh.
This said, we come back to Osho.
Despite having already have read some books of Rajneesh and liking it, my dream (then interpreted in a tendentious way, as if being a war between good and evil) caused me to nourish, for many years, certain dislike by the teachings of Osho. Today, I realize that Rajneesh "is not evil"; on the contrary, he is someone that should be respected, not just as a singular spiritual leader, but, especially, as one of the most important personalities of our time. I comprehend, also, that the polarity between him and Padrinho Sebastião is complementary, representing the contradiction between discipline and surrender. What is to say: While the Padrinho (re-interpreting the Christian tradition) prescribes the sacrifice, the firmness and renunciation as forms of ethical improvement, the main message of Osho is the vulnerability and the pleasurable surrender to life. In fact, always I liked the texts and the ideas of Rajneesh; however, always felt something, a gap between his words and his spiritual practices, that leaded me to suspect of the seriousness of his teachings.
In order to practice the theory of the Avatars, according to which a enlightened being was born to save the spirit of humanity every two thousand years, as described in the Secret Doctrine of Lady Blavatsky, its main disciple and successor in the direction of the Theosophical Order, Annie Besant assigned herself with the mission of locating and preparing the person that would be new Avatar. She found an Indian young man and took him to study in England. That fact had as immediate consequence the dissension opened by Steiner: the Anthroposophy.
However, few months before assuming the direction of real empire organized for his return, Krisnamurti gave up to carry out the destination for which he had been educated, and initiated a crusade in favor of meditation and the development of the conscience above any system of beliefs or rituals. For Rajneesh, Krisnamurti was weak and did not receive the solar spirit he was destined to incorporate. Thus, he had the incumbency of fulfilling the mission of being the Avatar, starting to be called Osho, originally a title of reverence given to certain masters in the tradition of the Zen Buddhism. Even he not being a Buddhist or a master pertaining the Zen tradition, from a certain moment in the 80’s Rajneesh passed to call himself Osho.
In another work (GOMES, 2001), without entering in merit of the ideas of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (in fact, Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain) nor of his pretension on calling himself Osho and consider himself the Avatar of the New Age, I affirmed that one of its most important contributions was his net organization marketing – what generally passes disregarded to his critics, as well as to his defenders. Beyond Tantra as head car (of which we will speak ahead), Rajneesh had re-launched a series of esoteric products of other chains and traditions with his brand (Osho’s tarot, Osho’s massage, Osho’s dances, Osho’s Reike and so on). But, instead of a new synthesis of these practical techniques, Rajneesh created a `spiritual surmounting' in decentralized nets, as a transnational identity of planetary extension: the Osho brand.
Actually, Rajneesh formulated a synthesis “Buddha-Zorba”, a spirituality that congregates the meditating aspect of Buddhism and the joy of living, the dancing and to right to be amused by the Zorba personage, the Greek. (OSHO, 2004, 214; 1999, 15).
In the media, Osho was known as the guru of sex and of the rich people – due to his attitude against sexual repression and to his fleet of 93 Rolls-Royces that existed in his commune in the United States, called 'Rajneeshpuram' that received, in the beginning of the 80’s, thousands of visitors from everywhere. Osho was accused, by the state government of Oregon of perversion, brainwashing and fiscal evasion; his disciples were involved in a case of poisoning and of electoral fraud. He was arrested and subsequently deported of the United States. In July of 1986, Osho goes back to India and install himself once again in Puna and founds a Multiversity (not a University) of Spiritual Studies (5). In November of 1987, his doctors diagnosed him with generalized deterioration of his physical condition, due to poisoning by thallium, a heavy metal whose effect is slow, progressive, and deadly. During a public speech, Osho affirmed that The U.S.A. government had slowly poisoned him during the 12 days when he was in jail.
The reasoning of Rajneesh is displayed in more than 1000 books, although he had never wrote a single one. His books are transcriptions of recorded excerpts from lectures made in different moments and for different public. Texts that, after time elapse, started being rewritten by his followers (6). Suspect, however, that the Osho is not only a person, but an institution. In that sense, the posthumous compilation ‘Autobiography of a spiritually incorrect mystic’ (2000) allows a clear glimpse, even it being a text edited in a way to conceal the differences, of three phases of Osho: before, during and after his passage by the U.S.A. In his last years, he improved his meditations and central ideas. That’s when he got to the optimum point of his production.
Furthermore, different transversal reading strategies are possible over these three phases of the work of Osho. One can, for example, observe his discourse about different traditions (Buddhism (s), Zen, Taoism, Christianity, and Muslimism). Another interesting strategy would be to analyze his books on meditative and therapeutical practices (as ‘The Book Orange’ or ‘Pharmacy of Soul’) or still study his interpretations of stories, narratives, anecdotes, legends and cases that he frequently uses to explain his ideas.
Would it be possible, from the point of the discursive analysis of his main books, to reconstitute a conception of world, a doctrine or even a coherent set of teachings and ways of thinking? Yes, clearly. There are recurrent subjects and a proper philosophy with constant characteristics: anarchy, relativism, hedonism and anti-rationalism with emphasis for instinct and intuition.
We choose, for the purpose of study, the `sanniasi ideology' the ‘moral’ texts of Osho. For `moral' understand prescriptive texts organized in ten books of the collection `Tips for a new way of living' on different ethical subjects: freedom, intuition, creativity, joy, maturity, courage, intimacy, intelligence, compassion and conscience. Clearly Osho would not like his prescriptive texts to be called moral, therefore he is not a moralist in the normative sense, which is, does not establishes rules for behavior (2004, 127). Nevertheless, these texts suggest ethical behavioral procedures to the ones who aim spiritual freedom. E this could also can be considered ‘moral'.
Initially it is necessary to observe that Osho is part of an international context and time, guarding several points in common with others contemporary esoteric thinkers, such as Castaneda and Gurdjieff, as well as with critical authors, adept of the libertarian philosophy of the 60’s. Ken Wilber (2000, 33) is the one who better characterizes the philosophy of the counterculture movement as relativist pluralism.
In this way of thinking there are no reasoning rules that transcend what is accepted by a society or epoch. The value of something is the value that the people attribute to it and each person has the legitimate right to attribute value differently. The human thought and action are inherently local, rooted in variable facts of nature and human history. For Wilber, the main characteristic of the counterculture’s relativist pluralism is that it can not perceive or admit that its form of think is also relative to a historical and social context (being inserted in a chart of universal references) and that, by excluding universalisms and radically affirming relativeness, it is being absolute.
In the academic field of post-modern deconstructivism, which believes every behavior to be culturally relative and socially built; he is the main representative relativist pluralism. And, in the esoteric field, besides Osho, there are also thinkers as Gurdjieff and Castaneda, whose characteristics are very keen to post-modern thought, mainly in the radical refusal to 'New Gnosis', Platonism and on the adoption of an experimental and empirical perspective, in opposition to the beliefs imposed by social conditioning (2004, 79). Relativism here is perceptive (and not merely discursive): there is not an objective reality and we are conditioned to believe it as in a collective mirage, a matrix out of which we should escape, a dream out of which we should wake up.
That rebellious character before society is the main common feature between Osho and the anti-Gnostic esoterism, but there are also other important similarities mainly in relation to Gurdjieff, who is very cited by Osho. For Osho, for example, we are all sleeping in a state of unconsciousness and automatism; we need to take a shock in order to awake our conscience (OSHO, 2001, 11). Ours multiple ‘selves’ are like ‘dampers’ that stop the shocks of life to wake us up. The ‘selves' waste our energy (OSHO, 2004, 75), preventing us to become more complete and conscientious. The idea that it is necessary to reorganize and to save our proper energy, mainly the sexual energy, is also common to Osho, Gurdjieff and Castaneda. There are also minor similarities as not celebrating birthdays and festive days. For Osho, life is a celebration (2004, 35).
In this sense, Osho as well as Gurdjieff and Castaneda are skeptical and hyper-realistic, focusing almost exclusively in the social unconditioning of the individual conscience. They, then thought to escape the system of beliefs. But their beliefs are what forge their experiences, and these, on its turn forms and strengthens the beliefs. In the case of Osho, the refusal in admitting his beliefs (as also the beliefs of the ones who worship the concrete experience in general) resulted in a subjectivist relativism in which everything is matter of opinion. And perhaps this may be the main problem to undertake a systematic critic of Osho.
This due to two reasons. One, the form how he places his ideas; especially before being banish from U.S.A., Osho speaks in the condition of illuminated, of someone that had already reached nirvana and it is guiding those who desire to be where he had already arrived. The ontological superiority, this privileged place of speech and of the enunciator, of someone who already experienced the lighting is what gives Osho a discursive authority to be radically subjective.
Another difficulty, connected to the empirical subjectivism of Osho, is that he advocates his right to have his opinion just as his critics have the right to discord of him. He gives himself the right of, by example, to say that Nietzsche drove crazy because he envied Jesus Christ (2006d, 114) or to say that the parents destroy their kids’ intelligence in order to enslave them (2007b, 123). It is possible to make a long inventory of pure opinions and rhetorical silliness.
Controversial? More: provocative. Osho is always against consensus and common sense, makes an issue about swimming against the flow and show the other side of everything: he is against Christianity and in favor of Jesus; he is against all the religions and in favor of all the forms of spirituality, etc.
In fact, Osho has his own vocabulary, nevertheless there is a compilation called Osho from A to Z – a dictionary of the Here and Now (OSHO, 2004), in which several words are redefined according to his way of thinking, some being over-rated, while others are disqualified. For example, Osho strongly avoids the words 'Absolute' and 'Abstract' (2004, 11); ‘Abstinence', for him, is a perversion; never uses the word 'renunciation' (2001.11; 2004, 154) do not like the word 'friend', and neither 'friendship' (2006d, 84). There is also various themes – such as fear, compassion, meditation and liberty – that penetrate every text and that is why they are difficult to be precised. Others, secondary, need redefinition – as is the case of the notions of responsibility, discipline, intelligence and maturity. Still, there are also paradoxical themes.
But, it is Osho himself who points out some key concepts, as in the case of the 3 C’s (1999, 13): Conscience (regarding existence and opposing mind and ego), Compassion (referring to feeling e generally opposed to fear) and Creativity (referring to the action field and opposing to political activity)
“The world is the rainbow; the mind, the prism; and the being the light ray”. (2006c, 168). The mind is like a package of the conscience; one is peripheral, the other one is in the center (2001, 60). We are like an onion with overlapping rinds and different levels of conscience: of the body, the thoughts, the feelings and the conscience of conscience, or `the observer' (2001, 13). In another book (2006c), the onion has six layers: the senses (2006c, 111), the conditionings of the systems of beliefs (P. 117), rationalizations, sentimentalism, the repression and the corrupted intuition.
“The mind is the memory, you are the conscience” (2001, 112). For Osho, the mind is in the past and conscience is a synonym of present perception. Conscience is `reminding one self' (Gurdjieff) and the mind is forgetfulness. “The mind is a deposit of bitterness” (2004, 86), it collects wounds and insults. According to Osho: “The only sin that exists is unconsciousness, the only virtue is conscience” (2001, 164).
By the way, for Osho, `the empty mind is not the Devil’s office', but actually the holy cradle of creativity (1999, 21; 2004, 130). Meditation and silence are the methods to keep the mind silent and reach conscience (2005, 155). And according to Osho (2001, 182), the mystic Mahavira affirms that forty-eight minutes of perfect Vipassana meditation, plain of continuous attention (of conscience) on the breathing lead to illumination. Actually, one of its more repetitive fixed ideas is that one should not try to be a better person nor make any effort in the sense of improvement.
"Be yourself instead of trying to be what you are not. Live the gratitude of being and not the neurosis of should be" – affirms, without explaining the contradiction of prescribing to persons that 'want to be' to just ‘be’. This is an important point. It is necessary to Be and not to Become. For Osho, 'to be a better person' is a disgraceful desire (2004, 169; 1999, 42). One have to be total in every act, try to be integer, spontaneous, intense, authentic – immediately and every second.
There is, therefore, two paths (2004, 30): the path of instant illumination, the awakening of conscience to the present in one only shock (is the 'way with no way’ - idea taken from the Zen that Osho repeats constantly) and the path of self improvement, that happens through several shocks from which the person starts changing its energy standards and evolving, until it comes to the absence of unconscious desires. Osho speaks very little and nearly always on a negative form about the self improvement path. For him, what is important is the immediate presentification of conscience. To the ones who do not achieve the instant illumination (personally, I had never heard of anyone), remains the expectation:
Expectation must be pure. Enjoy expectation itself, without wanting anything more. Don’t you see the beauty of only expect? The purity, the blessing, the innocence? Just to expect, without even knowing what will come up. [...] On realizing that there is not how to imagine the future, there is not how to imagine the unknown, then what is known ceases and all the ideas inside the mind disappear: the ideas about God, the ideas about Samadhi, illumination, all of them disappear. This disappearance is where illumination occurs [...] But one thing is certain: to wait is infinitely beautiful, the expectation is infinitely flooding with joy. (OSHO, 2004, 69-70)
There are many illnesses, but one only remedy: conscience. “My entire message is summarized in this: you need conscience, you do not need principles” (2001, 166). By the way, there are two words in English to assign the conscience: consciousness and conscience (2001, 171). Thus, `conscience' for Osho is not the moral or mental conscience, but the immediate perception of the present, without taking in account the values that contextualizes it (2001, 175).
At other moments, the conscience is opposed to the ego, to the intellect and the rational activity. For such, also the idea of Intelligence is redefined. According to Osho, `Intelligence' is not the capacity of survival of the most adapted, but the capacity to solve new problems. It is not acquired culturally, on the opposite, the human being is born intelligent, is the society that numbs it (2007b, 33). Intelligence is a gift of nature, is innate and intrinsic to life. Only mankind is stupid, the universe is intelligent. We are born without ego, the ego is a mirror for us to see ourselves through the others because we fear to look ourselves face-to-face (2004, 62).
True intelligence is intuitive and comes from heart (2007b, 27). It is naturally rebellious, won’t accept training. Alternatively, the mind is external and collective, a set of beliefs acquired by the ego that, on its turn, was structuralized socially. The Knowledge (intellectual) it is not Realization (experiential) of the conscience. However, Osho’s rationalism sometimes incur in exaggeration.
For example: "Intuition cannot be explained scientifically because is irrational" (2006c, 09). Intuition nowadays is seen by the neuron sciences as a cognitive shortcut between neurons, as a creative synapse. Nowadays we explain intuition scientifically, even confirming the ideas of Osho about the cognitive activity.
Several others examples of irrationalism exaggerations could be given, used for disqualify other forms of thinking. That is another of the contradictions of Osho: he is a thinker that disqualifies thought. On the other hand, Osho is enough condescending with the use of drugs by the youth (2006a, 138; 2006c, 81-82; 1999,124-125), when he says that he sees it like a wild attempt of the youth to destruct the ego and to enter spirituality, and considers that the computers are 'artificial minds', that could replace the human mind with several advantages. "The computer allows man to meditate. The computer can be a big quantum jump, a split with many of the conditionings of the past" (2007b, 156). For him, the psychological memory will disappear (2007b, 177) and the factual memory will become more precise (1999, 151). Furthermore, Osho believes that the "unconsciousness is not innate"; it is a sub-product of the civilization (2007b, 143). What leads us to a second pair of opposite concepts.
The theme of fear (2004, 123) surpasses Osho’s entire discourse. One can find it as the opposite of love (of the love-blessing as well as of the love-need that for times he refuses to even call love) (7) or as a natural instinct to be respected, as a society mechanism of control over the person, as a challenge to the overcoming its limits, among others. For Osho, 'courage' is the inclination to live in uncertainty; confidence is the disposal to live in the unreliability. “Do not call it uncertainty – call it amazement; do not call unreliability, call it freedom” (OSHO, 1999). Courage is to face the unknown despite the fear. Counter -phobic bravery is not fearlessness. The man becomes fearless accepting his fears. (1999, 153), risking what is known for what is unknown. Plus: a fearless man not only ‘do not fear anyone', but also is not feared by anyone.
In this logic, the fear, when accepted, becomes freedom, the denied fear becomes guilt. Then, the only way to transcend the fear of the death is to accept it. Then, the energy spent with fear turns into liberty. “Everyone have fear. But why? Nobody has nothing to lose” (1999, 87). According to Osho, the fear acts in the mind keeping all under the control of the system of beliefs, preventing the natural development of man. On the other hand, he believes also that, the greater the risk, the greater is the possibility of personal and spiritual growth.
E in this sense, the biggest fear of the world is the opinion of the others (1999, 113). On one way everybody fears intimacy. We are strange to ourselves and the intimacy reveals us. Yet, everybody wants intimacy. Having nothing to hide is to accept oneself. Unpretentious simplicity inspires confidence (2006b, 11-12). Osho calls this `Vulnerability' (2004, 209). We are born free of conditionings, intuitive and we naturally trust the people and ourselves. And to this innate spontaneity, the he calls ‘Innocence'. To be innocent is to remain ignorant despite knowledge and to trust. “Not to act for the sake of the past, to remain willing to learn and look for happiness in small things" (1999, 119). But, so that the innocence and the vulnerability do not deteriorate into ingenuity and in irresponsibility, Osho develops the notion of Maturity (2004, 120), which is to accept the responsibility of being (8). Society destroys our self-confidence and it teaches us to trust the institutions (the beliefs). And once one does not trust himself, and also do not trust anyone it starts to believe in abstract ideas, shaping him into the social configurations. Society itself is nothing more than a belief that depends on others and all its structure is self-hypnotic. (2006b, 43) Together with socialization, there is loss of confidence, adoption of beliefs and elaboration of masks to conceal our intimacy from others. Now, "everything that is concealed grows bigger; and everything that is exposed, if it is wrong, disappears" (1999, 163). Osho believes that the vulnerability put an end to falsehood of ego and allows a return to the original innocence with maturity. To be sincere is to be authentic (2006b, 31); it is to be truthful with oneself, "there is no other responsibility" (2006b, 41). In the moment in which you accept yourself you become open, vulnerable and receptive. To trust became an intransitive verb. "Start trusting yourself, then trust others and one day you will trust a stranger" (2006b, 49). "I don’t need to improve myself anymore" (2006b 125).
Other ethical themes constantly opposing the matter of fear imposed the conditioning to the system of beliefs in the speech of Osho are Joy and Compassion. Joy, for Osho, is above pleasure and happiness (2004, 15). For him, the pleasure is biological; happiness, psychological; and joy, spiritual. Joy is spiritual transcendence, it is beyond time and space. To accept Joy is to follow the stream of the events, being grateful for life, challenges and opportunities, to desist of impose conditions and demands. It is to fearlessly live the adventure of the present.
And joy, self-acceptance, vulnerability and innocence overflows to the feelings of compassion. The Compassion (2004, 39) is the higher form of love. Thus compassion should not be called com -passion (9), but instead counter-passion, therefore, for Osho, Compassion is the quality for where the energy goes when desire ceases. Compassion is to give love to all the beings, but without feeling sorry of them. Osho defends compassion without mercy, which helps others for proper benefit. For him the idea of charity is a delusion (2004, 32). And true compassion is a form of universal not-altruist love (2007a, 147-154).
Observe that Osho proceeds to a re-interpretation of many important Buddhist concepts: happiness, which becomes more psychological; compassion, that is impersonal and becomes less merciful; and acceptance, which starts to not be so conformist but actually puts on rebellious way “to give the other cheek”. Osho distinguishes reacting (mechanically) from answering (conscientiously). In various moments, he affirms that total acceptance of oneself and life does not imply in conforming to the inequalities of the world (2004, 23). By the way, the word ‘Responsibility' in Osho´s spelling book, means the capacity to answer creatively to reality and not to respect the obligations imposed by society (2006b, 173; 2004, 158).
Life itself is meaningless, it is necessary to provide life with a meaning, that is creativity (1999, 193). And if you do not to use your energy in a creative manner, you will use in a destructive way. In relation to you and in relation to nature. Nature gives creative energy to all us, and it only becomes destructive when obstructed. The creativity is the higher form of rebelliousness. To create it is necessary to breach with the conditioning of the past. The ones that sleep are mechanical, act on collective behavior, do not create. The creative one is solitary and non conformist. Osho considers the emergency of intuition and creativity a resultant of the development process in which the person becomes more and more individual, singular and free of the collective social identities. Everything begins with the relaxation that leads to energy saving and to a change of standards from the destructive to the creative standards. The instinct is to the body what intuition is to the soul (2006c, 27-28): "When a person is completely creative, she transcends sex without repressing it" (2004, 172).
There is not exactly repression to sexuality, but the obstruction of the energy that should be used creatively. The question is not sex itself, but the use it is given to it (10). A very important point that Osho constantly makes, throughout his work, is a structural analogy between orgasm and nirvana, in several levels of speech. As far as contents are concerned, one can achieve illumination through catharsis, and the orgasm is treated in a sacred way. But, the analogy has also a subtler aspect in the form the speech of Osho treats the whole process of development of the conscience. "Do you want to be an unhappy person? Then ignore the needs of your body and follow your mind desires". Do you want to be happy? Answer your biological requests and silence your mind, just observe your desires, whereas they are aversion or greed. You become more and more intuitive, more creative. And, continuing like this, one day, illumination will blast inside you.
Said like this it may seem easy. To fast, to sleep little, not to keep sexual relations, not to speak, to be in static position - not to mention mortification - are common practices among Christians, Buddhists, Jewish, and Muslims mystics. And how come every religious tradition always preferred ascese, which is the privation from the senses and necessities? And organized religions had transformed the voluntary ascese of the mystics into sexual repression to the masses, losing the holiness of sexuality and instituting guilt as a form of social control.
Re-inserting sacred sex as a spiritual practice in the Occidental person during the counterculture context of liberation of the customs, Osho re-invented the ‘art erotica' of the East as one new catharsis therapy (something quite different from traditional Tantra) - what it is, without a doubt, something really creative.
Original Tantra is a mystical, vertical path, in which the main goal is to higher the apprentice to transcendence and to the Divine Unity. Osho’s Tantra (2004, 186) gives much emphasis to affectivity, to horizontal relation with the Other, the overcoming obstructed emotions and psychological problems. The masculine homossexuality in the traditional context is condemned, once that the energy poles are essential. For Osho, the sex between tantric partners is secondary before the feeling and the affection necessary to develop the kundalini. Therefore, there are many different approaches, resultant from various historical contexts.
Actually, this transformation of spiritual practices in therapies of catharsis (or he would be the opposite?) is a characteristic of the techniques prescribed by Osho, such as the dancing meditations - the chaotic, dynamic, kundalini meditations, the meditation of gossip (to chatter until silence) an others less known - and the initiating process known as Mistic Rose (a week of laughers, a week of crying and a week of full attention). All of them aim to put an end to body tension, and the relaxation allows conscience: "It is necessary to put outside the big gorilla within you" (2001,105).
And in straight opposition to the re-direction of sexual energy to creativity and intuition is the matter of the spiritual liberty in opposition to politics and the dissociation between the mechanical activities and conscious action (1999, 26).
"Enjoy life to celebrate, do not waste time fighting or battling for anything to change" (2006d, 112). For Osho, we are born free, but the society redefined with rules the individual liberty. According to him, no society up to this day helped a human to be realized as a person.
And only the humans need rules; the others animals do not follow them. Osho believes that the social rules are contrary to the natural evolution of the individuals and those new forms of collectiveness will arise from the developing of the individuals. Actually, to Osho, the society does not exist (2006d, 11-28; 2004, 178), it is only a word. Tor him, the collectivity is an abstraction made by concrete individuals.
It is not suitable to doubt of the uprightness of this opinion, which is, if Osho really believes this insanity (that contradicts all sociology’s history) of individuals (that only began to exist really after the French revolution ) being less (or more) abstract that the society. The important thing is to observe that Osho makes politics when seems to condemn it.
“I am an Anarchist of a very different dimension. First, let the people to prepare, and then the governments will disappear on their own. I am not in favor of ending up with governments; they are filling a necessity. The man is so barbarian, so vile, that, if he was not stopped by force, all society would be in chaos.” [...] “The governments will evaporate as dew drops under the morning sun” [...] “I am not against the government, I am against the need for a government.” (2006d 96-98).
Another controversial opinion is of that the family is the cause of all our problems (2006d, 28) and it is obsolete (2006d, 24). It appeared with the private property (as Plato and Marx sais) but it will be replaced by the commune (P.25). Osho never voted (2004, 63), he said “what exists today is no democracy” (2006c, 105) and is in favor of a world-wide government (2007b, 43). For him, the difference between authority and authoritarianism is that in the first decision comes from who obeys as in the second it is imposed (2006d, 35).
One of the most important ideas of Osho is that “the time is horizontal and the eternity is vertical” (2005, 100-101; 2004, 202). Horizontally, we are all equal, we are graded even by death; however, some people are closer to eternity than others. E this verticalization has two equally important consequences to understand the ideas of Osho: 1) Makes us singular as individuals in the spiritual evolution process; it is the experience of eternity that brings the development of the conscience; and 2) it establishes a spiritual (and political) hierarchy; there are ones that are closer to the eternity (they are more responsible) and the ones that still are distant. According to Osho, the man who moves vertically is a mirror (2005, 103), in which other men (that move exclusively horizontally) see themselves. And that, at the same time that confers a natural authority to indistinct men, generates also greater loneliness and singularity.
In another text, Osho says that the animals live their lives horizontally, and only mankind, upon getting in touch with eternity acquires a soul (2006d, 64). Thus he approaches the theory defended by Castaneda and Gurdjieff, for whom there is not an eternal soul and only with a strong effort may escape from the second death.
In others moments, however, Osho affirms that "we are immortal" (2004, 99) and the eternity exists (2004, 75). The Eternity and the Transcendence of Osho regarding those thinkers is not reduced to this aspect, but puts in discussion, even though partially, the perceptive relativism and the Universal.
Osho thinks through paradoxes (Koans Zen): He is said to be against the moral and prescribes how a person should live; he is a thinker that disqualifies thought; is a snappish critic of the traditions and of the political authorities who presents as solution the radical individualism (the end of the family) and the theocratic commune, based in the consensual recognition of the more spiritualized. Defends the hyper-realism of the conscience fighting against the conditioning beliefs and an defends an instant illumination that no one had ever saw. But, the greater contradiction, the one that, according to Osho himself, summarizes all the other, is the paradoxical ideal of master-rebel: the image of Zorba, the Buda.
Let’s Imagine we are in a closed room, where there is only one toilet and all the people present suddenly have the urge to use it. In a first paradigm that we’ll call pre-conventional or natural, the criterion for choice of the first to use the bathroom would be ‘the strongest, the faster, and/or the smarter’. On a second moment, in a paradigm which we’ll name conventional or cultural, there would be rules: “ the oldest, women and children first’. Still, a third paradigm is possible, where the choice would be made through quiet looks and would take in account the specific situation of each.
In the scope of improvement psychology, Wilber (2000, 33) defined these behaviors: the pre-conventional are those behaviors egocentric that refuse to submit to the social rules and the post-conventional are the behaviors that rebel against the rules that discipline them, that ‘break the rules from the inside’.
I believe that we are making the transition from the conventional paradigm to the third level, based on a not arbitrary coordination of the relations, in which it is possible a deregulation, where the differences and pluralities could be integrated on natural interdependent flows.
The conventional level is democratic, communitarian, ecological. It comes to the decisions through the consensus in interminable debates. Strongly equalitarian , anti-hierarchic and pluralists values, social construction of reality, diversity, subjectivism, multi-culture, systems of relativists values; this vision of the world is called by Wilber of ‘relative pluralism'. In the post-conventional level, the equalitarism is complemented with natural degrees of hierarchy and excellence. Knowledge and capability must take over power, statute or group sensitivity. The main priorities are flexibility, spontaneousness and functionality.
The major difficulty passing from the level of conventional to the post-conventional relationship is the issue of authority. In the
conventional paradigm, the authority is elected and, in the post-conventional paradigm, It is natural and technical (although recognized by everyone). The difficulty to distinguish the imposed social hierarchies from the natural hierarchies (or holarchies, as Wilber calls it) is what prevents us to live in a post-conventional paradigm - what would be equal to say in our example: our incapacity to give the key to the toilet to the elderly person so she would coordinate the entrance.
"Leave society as it is. Do not fight with it" (2006d, 27). Osho calls us to be a silent transformer and not a revolutionary. In the revolutionary, there is dissociation between 'from' and 'for'. In the rebel, destruction and creativity walk together. He was able to define insurrections as disobedience to the constituted authority, to the imposed social hierarchies, as well as defining it as not observance of negotiated and consensually accepted rules. The first one is a vertical rebelliousness that brings the desire of a liberty 'from' who oblige us to do things we don’t want to. The second is insurrection 'for' the others and for ourselves, horizontally, and puts on us the matter of discipline.
If someone establish a difference between the rebelliousness against the social institutions (in fact, against the conditioning of the system of beliefs) and insurrection as personal indiscipline, indolence or incapacity of achieving one’s own goals will then be demarcating a clear border between Osho and Sebastião Mota. To Osho, insurrection is synonym of intelligence. "It is necessary to learn how to say no definitely, therefore it is the only way to reach the point from which one is able to say yes" (2004,152). And Discipline "stands more for a methodology to make us more centered, more alert, more receptive [...]” (2004, 58). The word `discipline' comes from the word `disciple' (1999, 129) and means ‘capacity to learn' (2005, 167- 168). To Osho, obedience castrates the creativity progress (2004, P. 133) and it easies the burden of responsibility, keeping people in unconsciousness. The machines obey consciencelessly. “Everything that is made on behalf of the duty (and not of the joy) is ugly” (2004, 55). The notion of `responsibility', as we saw, is redefined as the “capacity to answer”, being dismissed of any content close to ideas of duty and obligation.
It is clearly that Osho and Sebastião Mota had lived in different contexts and had spoken before much different public. Osho spoke for rich and stressed Europeans, in its majority in a post-conventional stage of development; Padrinho Sebastião spoke for ‘ayahuascerians’ and poor rubber extractors of Acre, in their majority on pre - conventional stage of development. But, even taking in account these context differences, it is possible to discern that the speech of Osho confuses social revolt with spiritual indiscipline. For Osho, the true men do not have ideals (2006b, 39); to live in uncertainty is to live in simplicity; it is to live without ideals (2007b, 141-142; 2004, 176). But, sometimes, there comes certain confusion between simplicity and simplification. Simplicity is profound; the simplification, superficial. The excessive emphasis on the present time (and the inconsideration of historical and social realities) leads to not go on deeper study of the conditions that structuralize the person in the world. E radical acceptance of oneself (not provided with social responsibility social with others and summed to the lack of effort on ethical improvement) leads to the accommodation of some of his readers in pre-conventional stage. But, even with all these small objections, it is impossible to not recognize the importance of the ideas of Osho for the contemporary esoteric thought, to such point that several of his ideas and subjects still are unconsciously blended with the form of thinking of the present spiritualist generations.
Besides, I feel, considered the proportions, in a similar situation to the one described by Carlos Castaneda, when he had his perception divided in two by Don Juan and Don Genaro: while one called its first attention to the tonal-horizontal, the material world; the other fixed his second attention of the nagual-vertical one, the eternity.
In my case, however, the situation is imaginary and the polarity between Padrinho Sebastião and Osho, lived in the dream I told in the beginning of this text, influenced me for many years without me consciously noticing.
Therefore, here it is the critical homage of this applied, let say, anti-disciple of the Osho. As a proof of my gratitude and of my recognition to his priceless contribution to the our growth and, especially, to our liberty.
[1] Also a reverence to Deepech (Stefan Lauschner), dear friend.
[2] Literally Godfather to Brazilians a respectful and yet very familiar term.
[3] Peia is the word given to a ‘bad trip’ when the ‘lesson’ of Santo Daime is too much to take.
[4] There is a general tendency to oppose “peia” (the punishment) to “miração” (the excellence) giving an moral idea of training of the ego, a brainwash where the hymns are self-hypnotic and the Daime becomes a chemical facilitator. For a more complex approach of the subject, there is an excellent scientific work of Leandro Okamoto Da Silva, published in the NEIP website: Marachimbé veio foi para apurar. Estudo sobre o Castigo simbólico, ou peia, no culto do Santo Daime. < >
[7] “love is a subtle type of servitude” (2005, 87).
[8] Osho summarizes the biographical theory of the seven years cycles proposed by Anthroposophy (2005, 41)
[9] ‘Com’ in portuguese means ‘with’
[10] Osho has a similar position about the wealth "It is necessary to resign the mentality driven by money and not to money itself" (2004, 57).


OSHO Coragem – o prazer de viver perigosamente. Tradução Denise de C. Rocha Delela. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 1999a.

_____ Criatividade – liberando sua força interior. Tradução Milton Chaves de Almeida. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 1999b.

_____Autobiografia de um místico espiritualmente incorreto. Tradução Melania Scoss. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2000.

_____ Consciência – a chave para viver em equilíbrio. Tradução Denise de C. Rocha Delela. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2001.

____ Osho de A a Z – um dicionário espiritual do Aqui e Agora. Tradução de Carlos Irineu Costa. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Sextante, 2004.

____ Maturidade – a responsabilidade de ser você mesmo. Tradução Alipio Correia de Franca Neto. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2005.

_____ Alegria – a felicidade que vem de dentro. Tradução Leonardo Freire. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2006a.

_____ Intimidade – como confiar em si mesmo e nos outros. Tradução Henrique Amat Rego Monteiro. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2006b.

_____ Intuição – o saber além da lógica. Tradução Henrique Amat Rego Monteiro. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2006c.

_____ Liberdade – a coragem de ser você mesmo. Tradução Denis e de C. Rocha Delela. Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2006d.

_____ Compaixão – o florescimento supremo do amor. Tradução Denise de C. Rocha Delela. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2007a.

_____ Inteligência – a resposta criativa ao agora. Tradução Leonardo Freire. Coleção: Dicas para uma nova maneira de viver. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2007b.
WILBER, Ken. Teoria de Tudo – uma visão integral para os negócios, a política, a ciência e a espiritualidade. Tradução Denise de C. Rocha Delela e Rogério Tadeu Correia Lima Leão. São Paulo: Cultrix, 2000.



To display the thought of Castaneda in an analytical manner, is somehow to betray it, once it has always emphasized the practical and irrational nature of the Toltec teachings. And it is a great initial difficulty to characterize the ideas of Castaneda, since his thinking is neither esoteric nor academic, but combines elements of both in sophisticated concepts – as 'point of perception amalgamation' or' inorganic beings' - without presenting them in a systematic manner. But in some rare moments, it is possible to discern his theoretical references.
In the journal “Lectores del Infinito- Un diário de Hermenéutica aplicada” Castaneda confesses his admiration for Phenomenology:
“Trató que la Fenomenologia fuera un método de acercamiento a la experiencia de la vida tal como ocurre em el espacio y en el tiempo. Es um tentativa de describir directamente nuestra experiencia tal y como ocurre, sin detenerse a considerar sus orígenes o sus explicaciones causales.”
One cannot classify the text of Castaneda as literary or sub-literary (in the sense of commercial item, or fad), however, it is clear that he uses autobiographical literary artifice to move its key concepts so subliminally. For example, Castaneda passes the image that he is stupid and too rational, leading their readers to underestimate him and imagine that they would be cleverer as apprentices of Don Juan. Behind this manipulation of devaluating his own confounded intellectuals, Castaneda, actually, slyly puts on sophisticated concepts in the mouth of Don Juan. He hides his theoretical effort emphasizing the pragmatic, relative and mysterious character of the world of witchcraft, but in fact, wedges ways to see and understand the witchcraft in a very abstract and precise way.
Another interesting trick is that Castaneda tells the same story in virtually every book, the story of his apprenticeship with Don Juan, but he always tells the same events with completely different frameworks and syntax. Within his purpose, this fact occurs due to late memories of events lived in another state of consciousness. This creates also an interesting literary effect, once, to understand the history, we must know its different versions, and at the same time, a consider a life experience research method, in which there is an extension of the syntax of his memory and of his way of interpreting reality.
Although few scientists acknowledge this, Castaneda is a milestone in anthropology. Moreover, anthropology could be subdivided into three main stages: the evolutionist and ethnocentric period, when anthropologists consider the other primitive people; the functionalist-structuralist period, where Franz Boas and Levi-Strauss, among others, were found equal to the tribes they study, and the ethno-anthropological period, in which, reversing the initial perspective, the anthropologist gets to psychologically and culturally know himself through the tradition that he studies. And in this sense, Castaneda theoretical effort of is still very poorly understood.
But, besides being a social scientist of the new paradigm of knowledge, Castaneda is also "the new nagual" (or the three points nagual), starting a new line of witches without fetishes.
And more: his theoretical interpretation of Mexican shamanism was made in a global environment, so that this knowledge was set apart from territorial issues spreading throughout the planet millions of groups with no cultural or physical relationship with the traditional lines. Among the various contradictions generated by this situation there is the fact Castaneda have become a 'invisible celebrity', that is, a public character that deleted his personal history (1).
Armando Torres notes that because of his strategy of becoming invisible, Castaneda had to revamp its relationship with the 'plants of power' (an essential part of Mexican´s shamanism), because it threatened his public image, making secondary the lessons he considered essential.
That said, remains to explain that here, rather than expose systematically the thought of Carlos Castaneda, our goal is to use his ideas to approach other thinkers again and formulate something different than what he thought and wrote. My intention is not to confirm or criticize but to move forward creatively into developing a new knowledge, in which science and tradition may dialogue.
There is a big difference in approach between the New Age esoterics (or new Gnosis) and the teachings of Castaneda and D. Juan: for them there is transcendence, platonism or permanent idea-images - similar to post-modern authors. There is nothing beyond this world (archetypes, spirits or dimensions) and the reality is just a description (actually, an inventory) done by the mind. Castaneda denies reincarnation and the law of karma? No. He believes them to be irrelevant to his strategic spiritual aims. He also does not deny the creation of an immortal soul, just acknowledge a conglomerate of selves fighting to unify.
By the way, I think that this spirituality 'without telos' is present in several contemporary authors (incorrectly identified as having been influenced by Buddhism and Eastern thought) (2). You can even say that these authors do not consider the trans-personal dimension of the psyche, which, to them, it is only illusion or ideology of institutionalized religions.
On the other hand, in the books by Armando Torres (disciple of Castaneda) and Merlyn Tunnshende (from Don Juan’s group), the characters Genaro and Soledad are very different. One is a healer and the other is a fortuneteller - something unthinkable for Castaneda´s warrior ethics. The emphasis on the struggle against self commiseration and self importance led to a little generous conception. Many accuse Castaneda to have reinterpreted the Toltec tradition in away too ... 'Post-modern'. (3)
The most shocking book is Amy Wallace´s, daughter of the famous writer Irving Wallace. The book, unlike others, does not deal with witchcraft, but with the development of her love affair with Castaneda, presenting him as immature and undisciplined person in matters of affection, womanizer, dominating and cruel leader. In addition to unmask many lies (4), the book brings a copy of the death certificate of Castaneda, to prove that he died of liver cancer (a shameful death for a warrior) and not turned into a ball of fire, giving a jump to the infinite, as some of his followers began to spread. Amy also believes that the three witches who followed the Nagual - Carol Tiggs, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner – had suicide. Some of Castaneda´s readers and one of his assistants (5) do not believe in Amy Wallace narrative. Moreover, consider that it may even be deliberately lying to conceal the true destination of Castaneda and the three witches - which certainly matches his ideas and his warrior strategy.
For us, however, none of this matters. What is relevant is the abstract ideas that we want to analyse, and not the gossip of ex-girlfriends or the beliefs of his admirers. But there's no way to deny the role that counter-information plays regarding everything that involves Castaneda.
It is as he worked his concepts so discreetly, as he suggested his ideas so delicately, that in the end there would be the doubt: "Well maybe this guy does not even exist, is just a quirk of the American book market, but who would have thought of all this? "
The concepts of Tonal and Nagual, for instance, represent both principles and perceptive fields that oppose and complement each other, in which the first is the order, the rational, the known, and last, the chaos, the irrational and the unknown.
The tonal is our ordinary perception (sensorial-mental) of the world as something formed by concrete objects, solid people and things. The nagual is when we realize that we are in a universe of relations, that everything is made of energy at different levels of organization and adaptation.
Actually, there are three perceptive positions: the known (first or tonal attention), the unknown (nagual or second attention) and the inconceivable or third attention, or Intento. Attention here understood as the ability to focus on what we want to discern.
“Three thousand years ago there was a human being, living near a city surrounded by mountains. (...) One day, while sleeping in a cave, he dreamed that he saw his own body sleeping. Out of the cave in a night of new moon. The sky was clear and he saw thousands of stars. (..) He looked to his hands, his body felt and heard his own voice saying: "I am made of light, I am made of stars." He looked back to the top and realized that it were not the stars that created the light but the light that created the stars. "Everything is made of light," he added, "and space in the middle is not empty." (...) So he realized that, although made of stars, it was not these stars. "I am that exists between them," he thought. Thus, called the stars of tonal and the space between the two nagual, and realized that the harmony and the space between the two were created by Life or Intention”.
RUIZ, Miguel, 2005: p. 13 and 14.
In many texts tonal is compared to an island (or bubble of perception) and the nagual to the ocean-universe that surrounds it: the dark sea of consciousness. In this context, to dream is the foundation of all cognitive experience: we are dreaming all the time, whereas we are sleeping or awake. The difference is in the sensorial framework that the state of vigil (or tonal) has over the perception of energy, without the sensorial reality of altered states of consciousness (or nagual). Moreover, perceptive fields can even compare the relationship between Tonal and the Nagual and between of algorithmic conscience and quantum conscience, in vogue among neurocientists.
It is also called Nagual the leader of a group of warriors in Shamanic Mexican tradition. In the groups, the warriors are subdivided into dreamers and stalkers, and the nagual is the only one who has the mastery in both arts. He is the leader because he has his second self rooted in the nagual field and has enough energy to the hit the "coup of nagual," that is, a discharge of energy in the middle of the warrior´s omoplate, where is the point of agglutination of warriors, moving their perception towards the nagual and making irreversible its further development. The 'coup' can also be an event (the death of a close relative or a fatal accident with the own person) that causes the unknown to emerge in the life of the stroked, changing its perception of time and its purpose in life.
There is also the 'Nagual rule', more than a set of standards of oral tradition, it is a particular energy configuration of shamanic lines that govern relations between the leader and the sixteen warrior group, with two dreamers and two stalkers for each cardinal point. Some practitioners call Nagualism the set of practices and ideas associated with this tradition. Moreover, the terms ‘Toltec Shamanism' - name most associated with the practice prior to Castaneda and to other groups parallels to the one of D. Juan, such as Miguel Ruiz - and 'tensegrity' - a term more associated with his successors, Florinda Donner, Carol Tiggs and Taisha Abelar - never appeared in his books.
The lesson taught by Mr. Carlos Castaneda is the “Art of Sorcery”, redefined as the art of accumulate and redistribute energy with the purpose of escaping the second death - regardless of the systems of beliefs, traditions or magic practices.
And wizardry is subdivided into two main parts: the Art of Stalking and the Art of Dreaming.
1. The art of stalking is the ability to consciously set the point of perception amalgamation through the ordinary cognition field, also called the first attention or tonal. This art presents different techniques and stages (the not-do, the little tyrant, the art of controlled madness through disguises, the recapitulation) and makes the practitioner released from his self-importance (or the improper use of his ego) through changes in behavior that reduce the waste of mental energy. To stalk means to consider everything a prey, including one’s own weaknesses, it involves acting in a strategic manner in relation to one´s own behaviour and its ongoing transformation. "The art of stalking is connected to the heart, as the mastery of consciousness is linked to mind, and mastery of intent to the spirit." It is a silent battle to "hit the target" the best way in each situation. The stalk can be applied to everything, but stalking the self is its finest and most valuable expression.
To stalk requires a purpose, to be impeccable, to get out of self-importance, to bannish habits and practice controlled madness (pretending to be immersed in action, but without being identified or either being noticed). The recapitulation is the strong point of the close observers because it is a specialized form of stalking internal routines. It is governed by seven principles (6) and has four steps of learning (merciless, cunning, patience and sweetness).
2. The art of dreaming consists in the ability of deliberately moving the point of amalgamation of perception through the field of extraordinary cognition, also called second attention or nagual. Through this art, the practitioner must build a 'second self' or Double, which could take other forms and persist to his physical disappearance.
This experience – of recognizing oneself as a conglomerate of energy fields - is called "to lose the human form" and it is considered an irreversible step in the development of dreamers which then get to see the universe as a living energy and thus losing all their social conditioning.
For Castaneda, we see only a consensual description of reality, a tonal island. To overcome the perceptive limits of this island one have to learn to see itself as an energy field, as another self or dreaming body, built through the consciousness development and different perception states.
This is the sorcerer manoeuvre, that is, to prepare the dreaming body to survive physical death and keep existing (similar to the suicidal soul, which is stuck in astral until the day they should really have died, but for an indefinite period and with materializing power among others) up to the moment to dive into the infinite and exchange the consciousness for freedom.
This idea is certainly what's different and more controversial about this lesson. Unlike the astral body, the ethereal Other, and other noticed (or imagined) bodies in traditional esoterism, the dreaming body of nagualism is an entity yet to be built. And the best way to build a dreaming body in the sense proposed by Castaneda and D. Juan is to obsessively seek to understand yourself.
Indeed, we must recognize that there exists a universal 'telos', a transcendence of dreaming. The truth is that the Jewish pray for the up coming of the messiah, the Christian want to be good to anticipate the social utopia, the Buddhists meditate because believe in nirvana and the Toltec persues a body that survive death and the formation of a group.
Everyone has a transcendence that gives meaning to their lives, even if they do not like to admit. Although Buddhism and Toltec nagualism believe to be empirical, the purpose that gives meaning to life of people who follow these systems is not better than those who believe in the regress of the messiah or the heavenly Jerusalem.
Through dreaming and stalking, which is, shifting the conscience focus to different points of perception stablishment, the practitioner travels through a vertical horizon through various aspects of a single reality. According to Taisha Abelar (7) there is 'nine ways to move the point of amalgamation’ that can be practiced separately or in combination with each other one. Tensegrity; Recapitulation; To not Do ( 'Do' meaning, essentially, not to use items from our old inventory); Small Tyrannous; techniques of the observer, the inner Silence; Discipline and impeccable actions; dream, and stalk. The nine types are listed in ascending order, in terms of the necessary energy to get to practice it properly. Thus begins up by passes, recapitulation and inventory; then one is able to meet the power challenges and, finally, you arrive at the energy level that allows to be current the pair to stalk-dream.
In fact, to move the point of the perception agglutination we need to fit together the required energy through two simultaneous and constant practices: recapitulation and magical passes.
"The redistribution of energy is a process that consists in carrying, from one place to another, the energy that already exists within us. That energy was shifted from vitality centers of the body, energy needed to produce a balance between the mental agility and physical dexterity." (CASTANEDA, 1999,14)
1. The magical passes are sequences of gestures, movements and breathings to intensify conscience, and also to stimulate and redistribute the energy of the physical body and help building the second self. The magical passes are also known as Tensegrity – another Castaneda’s sophisticated concept imported from architecture and biomechanics, where it is synonymous for tensional integrity, a property present in objects whose constituents use traction and compression on a combined basis in order to provide them stability and strength.
2. The Recapitulation is a special type of magical pass that is to review one´s own life with help from breathing aiming to rescue the energy stuck in the past. To recapitulate is to rescue and rid the energy spent with emotional wounds of the past, allowing to re-structure the memory, so that we can serve from the surplus energy to dream. This process is also called, particularly during the early nagual books, "erasing personal history." The recapitulation as a practice of memory re-organization and gradual expansion of consciousness that is more detailed in the books of Taisha Abelar and Victor Sanches than in those of Castaneda.
The purpose of these practices (of energy gain and redistribution) and the development of the Other and Mastery in transferring the point of perception agglutination (and in the stalk and in the dream) is to train to jump to the infinite into the third attention, to survive physical death.
Unlike the reencarnationism, Castaneda affirms that death may be a final end and that the vast majority of humanity, after having been sucked throughout life by Energy Predators, is destined to serve as food for Inorganic Beings – Demons or spirits of the earth and the moon which feed from the organic life in a parallel evolutionary scale.
Thus, we can say that the thought of Castaneda is doubly contrary to the humanist and anthropocentric vision of esoterism, which always saw the Human Being as small god in the apex of universe evolution, once it argues that beyond the existence of other creatures that are not morally higher nor lower than mankind, the goal of stopping being human is to not be food for these beings. Some individuals, however, after losing the human form and forge dreaming or Double bodies, survive and receive the Eagle´s Gift, the possibility to continue to develop and live in inorganic kingdoms of other evolutionary order. One of the direct consequences of this permanent conscience with death (eternal, as end of existence) is the Warrior´s Way and his struggle for impeccability. More than a simple code of behavioral conduct, the ethics of the warrior is a certain energetic configuration in which the practitioner, through his unbending purpose aligns itself to the Intention, an intelligent energy that can train and guide you towards your jump to infinity.
The Warrior must learn to act for acting, without hope or despair, to give the best of him without expecting retribution, to believe without believing, to live deliberately through constant challenges, to always choose the way of the heart, among other requirements.
There are still many more other practices (the inventory of beliefs, stopping internal dialogue or the world) and other concepts (Inner Silence, The Bright of Consciousness, the Emanations of the Eagle). We will not here detail all these terms and stages of development. For us, what is important is to realize that, if in one hand, there is a hidden metaphysics in the pragmatism of those who believe to be empirical and concreteness lovers (the illumination is the Buddhist and Osho´s escatology, the 'nagual rule' is the Toltec’s teleology tradition), on the other hand, we must also recognize that there is, in the lessons professed by Castaneda, a new syntax for perception (8), or at least, a new way to put on old issues.
For example, the difference between the dream and astral projection. There is a single cognitive activity or state of consciousness that is interpreted by different systems of thought. And from the practical point of view there are also differences on from there.
The first is that you can daydream and projection usually happens during sleep. Actually, we dream all the time, but during vigil we have a sensorial environment. Dreaming together is not only to meet during sleep, but above all having common goals in life. The dream and astral projection are just different ways to dream the dream, different interpretations on the scope of dream.
Another difference is that the dream of Castaneda has is another self with many possibilities (shamanic animals, dreaming to be someone else, be recognized as a ball of energy), during projection, there is another body (astral body) with the same self. In experiments related to astral projection there is continuity between the self from ordinary reality and the projected self. The term astral projection itself suggests continuity, extension. While in the experience of dreaming there is an interruption of the ordinary self and a different consciousness of daily life.
Another very important aspect in relation to the teachings of Castaneda, at least in my opinion, is the challenge of rationing radical autonomy (individual stalk) and dreaming together.
We are parts of networks of spiritual development. To be transformed, energy is required. Nobody can, alone, get away from relation nets of the relationships in which they got involved. When many people have a common purpose - transformation - the total energy is more than the sum of each individual energy. These energy profit provide each one to have more energy to accomplish transformation than if he had tried alone. That was called 'critic mass' by Castaneda. On the other hand, if people get organized into groups and / or in institutions, the initial energy gain has just become a collective capital and people become dependent one of the other, losing autonomy and entering neurosis.
There is a known passage where Castaneda becomes a crow. Than asks Don Juan: "Did I became a crow or had I imagined to have become one?". The Indian replied: "What's the difference?" As we know, every objectiveness is a subjective reading.
Not yet resigned, Castaneda also asked: "What if someone was by my side, he would see me as a crow or as a man who imagines to be crow?" And Don Juan explained that the point of perception amalgamation works by induction and that if anyone was there probably would have their connection point swiched to the same place, and not only see Castaneda as crow but also see himself as another crow.
If you believe to be a luminous egg, or if the group of people with whom you share an alternative way of seeing the world thinks so, one may really see himself as such. If we share images of shamanic animals or other archetypes, is with them that we will recognize ourselves. There is a cognitive pact that says that we are men. You can propose an alternative pact saying that we are eggs or a vermin, but alone, I am not able to say that I am nothing. We always depend on the energy of critical mass to be defined as something. That is why we keep always believing in spite of not really believing in anything. This is because we could not overcome the system of beliefs and dream a new dream, a new syntax. To try to systematize irrationalist thinkers appears to be walking in circles, always writing the same thing without ever being conclusive. But if there is any message in the teachings of Castaneda is that we need to change our point of collective perception agluttination, we have to change our dream of the planet. Besides, the period of 'invisible celebrity' and the sudden disappearance of the nagual and his group are part of this strategy to grow the critical mass around his ideas and, at the same time, erase his personal history.
[1] Biography and main interviews in portuguese :
[2] Indeed, the emphasis on spiritual immanence in the West (or the anti- platonic transcendentalism) has a long list of supporters, with emphasis on Spinoza and Nietzsche.
[3] Domingues Delgado, for example, distinguish “toltecness” from Casteneda thinking >
[4] One of Castaneda´s lies, and actually the most polemic, was the story of the Nagual woman (Carol Tiggs was really Muni Alexander, or Elizabetg Austin, or yet Kathleen A. Pohlman), who would have desapeard during “Second Attention” during 12 years, from 1973 to 1985. She was actually enrolled in a acupuncture school, and was married and divorced about the same time. To check Castenadas biography chronological contradictions see < >
[5] Both books can be purchased on < >
[6] To choose the battlefield, to enter the battle only when one knows everything there is to know about the battlefield, eliminate everything unnecessary, to be willing and ready to get to the last battle, anywhere and anytime, do not attach to oneself, not fear anything, to not be taken by tendency. Compress time, every second counts. Not waste any instant. Never expose the game, never expose yourself.
[7] Lecture from Tensegrity seminar, May 1995. Omega institute. Transcription from Rich Jennings notebook.
[8] Syntax is the structure of words in a sentence and sentences in a discourse. In both cases, the term syntax refers to the space organization of language in patterns. In contemporary linguistics, syntax is the analogic axis opposed to the repertory (or lexic) in language organization. That’s were Casteneda imported the term syntax, giving it a broader sense: the rules of the perception game. And swiching the word repertory to inventory.


ABELAR, Taisha A Travessia das Feiticeiras. Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1995.

CASTANEDA, Carlos. A Erva do Diabo (The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge - 1968). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1972.

______________ Uma Estranha Realidade (A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan - 1971). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1975.

______________ Viagem a Ixtlan (Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan - 1972) - Esse livro foi a tese de PhD de Castaneda na UCLA em 1973 com o título: "Sorcery: A Description of the World";. Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1977.

______________ Porta Para o Infinito (Tales of Power - 1975) Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1978.

______________ O Segundo Círculo do Poder (The Second Ring of Power - 1977). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1980.

______________ O Presente da Águia (The Eagle's Gift - 1981). = Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1984.

______________ O Fogo Interior (The Fire from Within - 1984). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1986.

______________ O Poder do Silêncio (The Power of Silence: Further Lessons of Don Juan - 1987). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1987.

______________ A Arte do Sonhar (The Art of Dreaming - 1993). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1996.

______________ Readers of Infinity: A Journal of Applied Hermeneutics - 1996 - Diários do trabalho de Castaneda com suas discípulas ainda não traduzido.

______________ Passes Mágicos (Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico - 1998). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1999.

______________ O Lado Ativo do Infinito (The Active Side of Infinity - 1999). Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 2000a.

______________ Roda do Tempo (The Wheel Of Time: The Shamans Of Mexico - 2000) - uma antologia de citações comentadas. Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 2000b.

DONNER, Florinda. Sonhos Lúcidos. Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1993.

_______ Shabono. Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1994.

_______ A bruxa e a arte do sonhar. Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1998.
TORRES, Armando. Encontro com o Nagual. Tradução coletiva através da lista Ventania, 2003.

SANCHES, Victor. Os ensinamentos de Don Carlos – as aplicações práticas dos trabalhos de Carlos Castaneda. Rio de Janeiro: Record/Nova Era, 1997.

RUIZ, Miguel. Os Quatro compromissos. Rio de Janeiro: Best Seller, 2005.
WALLACE, Amy. Aprendiz de Feiticeira – minha vida com Carlos Castaneda. São Paulo: Nova Era, 2007.