Becoming Inaccessible: A Touch of Castaneda

Becoming integral is a way of life.  It is the light touch cultivated in the art of becoming inaccessible…

I think often of Carlos Castaneda.

“The art of a hunter is to become inaccessible,” he [Don Juan] said.  “In the case of that blond girl it would’ve meant that you had to become a hunter and meet her sparingly.  Not the way you did.  You stayed with her day after day, until the only feeling that remained was boredom.  True?”
            I did not answer.  I felt I did not have to.  He was right.
“To be inaccessible means that you touch the world around you sparingly.  You don’t eat five quail; you eat one.  You don’t damage the plants just to make a barbecue pit.  You don’t expose yourself to the power of the wind unless it is mandatory.  You don’t use and squeeze people until they have shriveled to nothing, especially the people you love.”
—Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan (New York: Washington Square Press, 1991), p. 69. 

“But don’t overdo it,” he went on.  “The touch of warrior-travelers is very light, although it is cultivated.  The hand of a warrior-traveler begins as a heavy, gripping, iron hand but becomes like the hand of a ghost, a hand made of gossamer.  Warrior-travelers leave no marks, no tracks.  That’s the challenge of warrior-travelers.”
—Castaneda, Active Side of Infinity (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), p. 146.

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4 responses to “Becoming Inaccessible: A Touch of Castaneda

  • Keith Wayne Brown

    Many of my talks are peppered with Castañeda. Where he says warrior-traveler, I often replace “philosopher” and talk of the hunt or the seeking after, the need for our loving struggle. Great stuff. Gets a little wonky around the time he begins to become a cult leader, but at least the first four books are full of great stuff. You know he was a student of Garfield who studied with Schutz who studied with Husserl?

    • sam

      I didn’t know about the Husserlian lineage, but I always suspected it. I completely agree about the first four books in contrast to the increasingly wonky later works. Much gratitude for your sense of the philosopher in the loving struggle of the hunt. Beautiful, truly.

      • Keith Wayne Brown

        I would actually recommend combining the hunt metaphor with Ortega’s Meditation on Hunting. Extracting away the romantic notions of hunter, the stuff Ortega does by way of a phenomenology really gets to an aspect of being human: that we have been hunters for far longer than we have been cultivators. I extrapolate from Ortega and from Castañeda that hunting/gathering–two noema of the same phenomenon–is what the philosophic attitude (phenomenology) does while the natural attitude tends to cultivate explications that flatten the world to control it.

      • sam

        Excelente! That seems like a good fit. I’ll have to check out that piece by Ortega, or rather, I’ll have to hunt and gather it. So many creative connections…

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