Esteemed Reader | Esteemed Reader | Hudson Valley

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“In a entire world exactly where dying is the hunter, my buddy, there is no time for regrets or uncertainties. There is only time for choices.”

Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan

Esteemed Reader,

Wishing for a respite from the cold of the Hudson Valley, I set out by car or truck to go to the mountains of the Sierra Madre in northern Mexico. Arriving these days in this abundant and austere landscape I am reminded of the Yaqui Indian magus, don Juan Matus, who lived in this area. This trainer is described in books by Carlos Castaneda, who started as a doctoral pupil gathering subject notes, grew to become an apprentice in shamanic sorcery, and ultimately initiated other folks into a custom dating back to the Toltecs of historic Mexico. Nevertheless I read through all the books lots of years in the past, the teachings I recalled were being with me as I hiked by way of the hills of northern Mexico and into the mountains now. 

The trail was indistinct and easy to eliminate as I hiked at any time upward towards a position superior in a limestone canyon I had witnessed from considerably under. The initially of don Juan’s teachings that arrived to intellect was to try to “see” the energetic pattern of the path when no pathway is defined. The method is to feeling one’s body and marginally blur and open up the eyesight. Even lacking distinct delineation, the sample appeared as I stepped via the unforgiving brush, lacerating cacti and yucca, and I could discern the route, as while perceiving its traces prepared by past and future tourists. 

Each move led nearer to the intention at the top of the canyon. Sweat drenched my system and my legs ached with the pressure of regular climbing. Some magnetic force pulled my body upward. 

The canyon’s terminus was a cul-de-sac surrounded by overhanging white limestone partitions and overlooked various thousand ft of elevation and a look at of distant mountains and the valley beneath. The tufa rock of the cliff was ribbed with calcified veins working down the experience. I seemed up as a pair of falcons circled towards their nest with legs and talons outstretched. In the symbolic vocabulary of Don Juan this was a pleasant omen of welcome. 

Traversing the base of the cliff I came to a cave stretching 50 feet into the mountain. It opened outward, making it possible for dim light to penetrate to its deepest recess. Bulging stalactites descended from the ceiling, with nubs of stalagmites achieving up from the flooring. The texture of the walls gave the effect of entering an inside organ. Going for walks on the clean flooring to the back again of the cave, I felt a developing feeling of wellbeing and ease and comfort. Transferring to a position together the side I began to sense sick at relieve, and swiftly eliminated myself, returning to the back in which a feeling of wellbeing returned. I was reminded of don Juan’s teachings about “electric power places”—physical spots that are valuable or maleficent for one’s character. 

I sat in the tranquil of the cave for a number of hrs, listening to the sounds outside, viewing my breath and the sun going across the segment of sky I could see through the opening. An historical tree stood sentry squarely in the heart. I recalled don Juan’s injunction: End the earth and erase your own background. 

He said: If you have no personal background, no explanations are desired no one is angry or disillusioned with your functions. And above all no just one pins you down with their feelings. It is ideal to erase all particular history because that tends to make us free of charge from the encumbering thoughts of other individuals.

In the instant, I knew that this did not involve a rejection or judgement of anybody or everything. It is simply currently being current, without the need of judgement and imagined, without having a resume of accomplishments and excuses for failure. It means leaving off telling one’s story and selling one’s attitudes and views about anything. It signifies letting go of attachment to affiliations—with spouse and children, nation, events, genders—and becoming no cost to only be.

Sitting down quietly, a show of light-weight flickered in the corner of the proper facet of my vision. Imagining of don Juan, I recognized it was my demise appear to remind me of the immediacy of the instant at hand. 

He said: Dying is our eternal companion. It is constantly to our left, an arm’s size behind us. Death is the only intelligent adviser that a warrior has. Whenever he feels that almost everything is going completely wrong and he’s about to be annihilated, he can flip to his dying and ask if that is so. His dying will notify him that he is wrong, that practically nothing seriously matters exterior its contact. His death will notify him, “I have not touched you nonetheless.”

—Jason Stern