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13 March 2008


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Mary Scriver

Sharon, sorta like you, I just watched a Netflix movie, a documentary, on Carlos Castanada who had a lot of these same kinds of ideas, though I gather he scorned New Agers -- at least the ones that weren't allied with him. The thought that sticks with me is that one man said as he read through the pop lit of those years about self-governance, spirituality, healing, being free, and all that stuff, he could identify passages that -- shortly after they were published -- showed up in Castanada's work. He was skimming and synthesizing, then putting it through a very strong and energized personality which was an especially effective delivery system for women. Sorta like Mary Baker Eddy inventing Christian Science. And others have done the same.

It's not BAD but as they said in this documentary (which was equally split between the idea that he was magic and could fly -- and the idea that he was a big ol' phony) it begins to verge on the placebo effect or maybe hypnotism.

I think it's like diet. We each have to take careful note of ourselves, try a range of things, keep what works, shrug off what doesn't. Forget the dictatorships and the transient regimes.

But the other thing that REALLY sticks with me from this program, is the emphasis on the idea that one CANNOT be afraid of death. We all die. Some die lucky ways and some do not. But we all die. Accept that, act without fear of it, live each day with clarity and heart. That's the secret.

I believe this. One doesn't ordinarily say it.

Prairie Mary


Hi, Mary -- I know Castanada only second-hand, so cannot speak re his authenticity, or lack thereof (though most second-hand opinion I've read doubts him) -- but I entirely agree with "take what you like and leave the rest."


But sometimes, "the rest" is not neutral. I think.

However, part of my difficulty may lie in the fact (I don't *think* I'm in denial about this) that I have never feared death. Raised by grandparents and their friends, perhaps I escaped the idea that it could be avoided somehow.

And, my single close encounter left me feeling quite at peace. No "life flashing before my eyes", no sudden regrets, just -- well, my, I guess this is it. OK.

But then, I've always been a bit weird...


Thanks for sharing this video. It is one I will keep and share.

Mary Scriver

Well, a near-death experience and a real brain are pretty high standards for teaching ! I read about this woman and wondered what it felt like from the inside. It's one of my real worries, to be in mental troubles incapacitating enough to not be able to make decisions. I suppose I'm afraid of being trapped.

A female minister friend told about being in a nearly lethal car crash, thrown out onto the road. She could not move, but her main sensation was of enormous comfort and the pleasant warmth of the asphalt. She could hear the people around her trying to help her and was grateful for their kindness and their care in the way they touched her. It might have been a matter of endorphins, which flood the system right after trauma.

If a mild electromagnetic current is passed through the temples, the person will be prompted to have a transcendent experience. Maybe voices or bells like Joan of Arc. We know what drugs can do.

Consciousness and the management of it are the professions of people like hypnotists or actors or even writers. We know that memory is encoded through sensations and that the evocation of certain sounds, or smells, or turns of the ankle on a path can bring a former moment flooding back along with the emotion of that moment. This does not work out happily for Iraqi combat veterans.

They say that if you look right, look left, look right again, look left again, it has the effect on most people of putting the two halves of the brain in closer communication, to the benefit of memory.

All this material greatly interests me but I'm not inclined to grant it supernatural status.

Prairie Mary


Hi Sharon, That video is making its way around the internet pretty fast, third place I've seen it now. Pretty amazing and provocative. I found your blog through Ageless Project and I like the way you write, the way you think, and I like your poems. Thank you.


The Dalai Lama would describe enlightenment similarly I think. I have the suspicion that Tolle borrowed the common "enlightened mind" terminology, then convinced himself it was true for him.

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