Monday, May 14, 2012

Homo Serpiens Disclaimer & Apologia

To a reader of Homo Serpiens who had some very specific questions about the content: 

You did send this email to the right place BUT I am no longer the person who wrote that book. 

Here's what I would say about it now: relatively little of what is in there can be called 'knowledge' in any real sense, because it is largely filtered through or leavened by belief. Of that little there is that can be called real knowledge, even less could be called practical knowledge. 

At most, as I suggest in the preface, the book is a sort of dream-autobiography, an account of my own inner creative/fantasy life which happens to use factual and semi-factual and mythical "information" (narratives) as raw material. It's like a movie that uses real-life people for characters to tell a fictional story (Nic Roeg's Eureka comes to mind). It's really a novel disguised as non-fiction. 

To whatever degree I believed the things I wrote in that book, I have been hampered and even imprisoned by those beliefs, beliefs which have next to no practical function in my day to day existence. I feel somewhat embarrassed to read your questions, and to realize how seriously people are taking the book (I receive next to no "fan mail" for it, so at least I can deduce the book isn't reaching that many people). However, it may be that part of the function of the book is to cause a satiation in occult knowledge in the reader and so to drive home just how useless this sort of knowledge really is. Actually, it is worse than useless, because we believe that it is not useless and try to apply it. We try to interpret existence through the lens of belief, whether it's occult, religious, or spiritual (or for that matter any kind of belief), instead of basing our interpretations exclusively on the evidence of our senses (by which I would include logical thought and intuition). 

Another, simpler but more poetic way to say this is that none of what is described in the book is true because it is based on the false premise that we, as human beings, exist as separate individual identities. Homo Serpiens is a book about ideas, not facts, but to some degree this is true of any historical account, since people do not exist, only the idea of people exists, and so on. That's all that matters, waking up from the personal and collective nightmare of history which tells you that you exist, and that's the only thing to gain from staring at the details of the dream state. If you become fascinated by the content rather than tracing it back to the source, that will only take you deeper into the dream state. 

And what is the source? Where do these dreams come from? The same place thought comes from, which is the same place the idea of "you" comes from. Nowhere. 

There is thought without thinker, dreams without a dreamer, and a story without a storyteller. All that is happening is life and all there is to life is this present moment. Knowledge refers to the past, and so unless it has some immediate practical application (how to open a can of beans), then it cannot help us to navigate the present. 

Therefore I suggest that you forget all your questions and forget all about the ideas in Homo Serpiens, and ask yourself the only question that really matters. 

What am I?


Nacho said...


Jasun said...

And a few words about Castaneda:

My sense is that the reliance upon concepts to recognize reality leads only to conceptual reality (mental projections) and not to reality. That I think is the trap Carlos fell into, though not before luring a lot of other people towards it with all of his sorcery high-concepts. The warrior's way is the way of doing, and the danger of "doings" (most especially the doing of freedom) is that they reinforce the idea that there is a doer. (I include "not-doing" as a "doing" here, since anything at all that is done to create an effect is a doing.)

What Carlos never realized, perhaps, is that even to focus "the second attention" (whatever that is, another concept) exclusively on freedom is a trap, because (the idea of) the self will turn even freedom into an object. It's not freedom of the self that can be attained, but freedom from the idea of a self. So how can the (illusory) self that wills and that believes it has the power of doing ever bring about its freedom? Whatever happens happens to the body, and it happens of its own accord, through the non-act of surrender.

Sorry if I am going off on a rant. I identify with the warrior's way because i spent 20 yrs practicing it, and i can say with some confidence that it got me absolutely nowhere - and i don't mean to the Nagual!

That said, I am content where I am now, so I wouldn't necessarily change anything. I would only warn others about relying on concepts instead of keeping to the stone cold facts of what our senses tell us, and look always inward to expose the false belief that there is a self acting somehow independently of the body.

It's amazing to me now that I believed Carlos' stories as long as I did - truly amazing to me. I believed them because I wanted to believe. Not that i *dis*believe them now. But they may as well be science-fiction, for all the relevance they have in my life. And for the time that they *were* relevant, it was largely (I now see) the power of my belief that made them so.

That's what I mean by conceptual realities, and conceptual "freedom" may be the greatest trap of them all.

Anonymous said...

' may be that part of the function of the book is to cause a satiation in occult knowledge in the reader and so to drive home just how useless this sort of knowledge really is.'

So the book is useful,nice plug... also wouldn't there be usefulness in occult knowledge by way of learning what not to do, what to avoid - and learning about the trappings that our intentional or unintentional actions are making?

With or without a doer the doings keep doing themselves so we may as well understand them as best we can, right?

Jasun said...

Recognizing our perceptual bias is useful for removing it.

Occultism and spirituality is an alternative perceptual bias to replace the materialistic one - but we grab for answers too readily and so all too often fail to see the questioning process all the way through.

Understanding our doings is only complete if it leads to a recognition that there is no one there doing them. So any doing will do. No need to complicate things with big questions when the little ones are going just as unanswered.