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 [Dhamma Talk]


 

Don Juan's Table

Nagual

A pre-columbian Chatino stela depicting a nagual transforming into a jaguar. His name is inscribed in Zapotec glyphs on his abdomen and translates to "5 Alligator".
--Wikipedia

Or maybe it depicts 5 Alligator not as 'changing into' but as he really is.

It's hard to quote a look. When Carlos Castaneda one time brought up the subject of the Nagual to Don Juan, his response was a look of bemused scorn. Carlos had described the idea of the Nagual according to the understanding of anthropologists at the time, roughly that quoted from Wikipedia in footnote 1 below.[1]

They were sitting at a table in a restaurant on a journey between the U.S. and Mexico. Don Juan pointed to the table.

"This is the Tonal." he said. Reaching for the Katsup he placed it in the center of the table. "This is in the Tonal." He did this for the fork and knife and spoon; the glasses, the plates. "Everything on the table and the table is all in the Tonal."

"Everything is in the Tonal."

"Everything you can imagine is in the Tonal."

"Even consciousness is in the Tonal."

"The Nagual is everything that is not on the table, not in the Tonal."

Don Juan repeated this exercise another time with all of his apprentices. That time he had them walk miles and miles into the countryside carrying the table and every conceivable sort of miscellaneous object. Then setting up the table they had a riotous time putting things on the table. Then they had to walk all the way back with all their stuff.

 

§

 

I used to copy this lesson with visitors to my palace in New York. At that time my table was a large round white marble slab sitting on the floor on a box.

"This is the World," I would say, circling my open hand around the table.

"Everything you can conceive of is in the world."

"Where you want to be is here," I would say, indicating a position away from the table.

"The difference between Buddhism and every other religion or philosophy or psychology out there is that for those systems there is behavior that if successful takes you from here [on the table] to there [on the table]. This is another way of describing something that involves Time. In Gotama's system you go from anywhere on on the table to not being on the table."

Snap fingers. No Behavior. No Time.

 

§

 

You don't want to be on the table. The table is bound up in Time. Time involves coming to an end. If you are on the table when that happens, it hurts. And then it starts over again.

Being on the table is described in a multiplicity of ways that allows for no wiggle-room with regard to the meaning: everything conceivable is on the table.

It is only so far as there is conjunction of Named-Form and Consciousness that there is that which can be called 'being'.

Named-form is bound up in consciousness and consciousness is bound up in named-form.

With the ending of consciousness, the ending of named-form; with the ending of named-form, the ending of consciousness.[2]

The ending of being is Nibbana.

 

§

 

The constituents of being are 5:
Forms,
Perception,
Sensation,
Personalization and the Personalized, the own-made,
Consciousness.

There is no 'being' outside of these things and there is no thing there that is the self or soul or essence, or on-going beingness of a being.[3]

The attainment of Nibbana is accomplished by so abiding that of these things not a single one is seen as the self or soul or essence or on-going beingness of one's self. No seeing anything as 'me'. No seeing anything as 'mine'. No seeing anything as 'comes from me.' No seeing anything as 'I come from it.'

 

§

 

This is the All:
the eye and visual objects,
the ear and sounds,
the nose and scents,
the tongue and tastes,
the body and feeling,
the mind and things.[4]

The All is the all. There is no other all outside of this all that is more encompassing than this all.

This All is in flames. Inflamed with the flames of lust. In flamed with the flames of anger. Inflamed with the flames of blindness. Inflamed with the flames of aging, sickness and death, grief and lamentation, pain and misery and despair.

Whosoever is not free from the All is not free from pain,
whoever is free from the all is free from Pain.

 

§

 

This is Pain.
This pain comes from hunger
To end the pain, end the hunger.

This is the definition of This, the description of what is hungered-after, the description of what it is necessary to end hunger for to end the pain, the description of Pain, the definition of 'Dukkha':
Birth
Aging
Sickness
Death
Grief and Lamentation
Pain and Misery
Despair
Not getting what you want
Getting what you don't want
In a word, this entire stockpiled shitpile defined as:
Forms
Perception
Sensation
Personalization and the Personalized
Consciousness.[5]

 

§

 

The root concepts describing Everything Whatsoever:
Earth or solidity
Water or liquidity
Firelight or heat and light
Wind or motion
Having become
Dieties
The Creator or Death, The Evil One
The Supreme Being
Radiant beings
Luminous beings
Those who enjoy the fruit
Lordship
Space
Consciousness
Nothingness
Neither-perceving-nor-not-perceiving
Oneness
Diversity
Endlesness
Nibbana.

Of these one who is off the table understands: 'This is not me,' 'This is not mine,' 'This is not derivative of me,' 'I am not derivative of this.'[6]

 

§

 

Is it possible, then, that one's meditation can result in sucha state as, neither is there 'of earth', earth-perception, nor is there 'of water', water-perception, nor is there 'of fire', fire-perception, nor is there 'of wind', wind-perception, nor is there 'sphere-of-space' sphere-of-space-perception, nor is there, 'sphere-of-consciousness' sphere-of-consciousness-perception, nor is there 'sphere-of-no-thing-there' sphere-of-no-thing-there-perception, nor is there 'sphere-of-neither-perception-nor-non-perception' sphere-of-neither-perception-nor-non-perception-perception, nor is there 'this-world' this-world-perception, nor is there 'afterworld' afterworld-perception, and yet there is perception?

It is.

How?

In this case, this is the perception:
'This is the resolution, this is the conclusion, that is:
the calming of all ownmaking,
the release of all that has arisen,
dispassion,
ending,
Nibbana.[7]

 

§

 

Nibbana is not a Void, not an Emptiness. Nibbana is devoid of, empty of disturbances eminating from perceptions of the City, human beings, the forest, earth, space, consciousness, nothingness, neither-perception-nor-non-perception, the six sense-spheres reacting to life ... the Tonal, the table.

So seeing through attending only to the perception of that which has no signs of lust or anger or blindness one attains detachment by understanding that "This Mental serenity that is Signless is something that has been constructed, thought out. Whatever has been constructed or thought out is subject to change and coming to an end." Knowing and seeing this, his heart is free from the grip of sense pleasures, his heart is freed from the grip of living, his mind is free from the grip of blindness. In Freedom comes the knowledge of Freedom, and he knows: "Left Behind is Rebirth, Lived is the Best of Lives, Done is Duty's Doing, Crossed over Am I; No More It'n and At'n for Me!"[8]

 


[1] From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Mesoamerican folk religion, a Nagual or Nahual (both pronounced [na'wal]) is a human being who has the power to magically turn him- or herself into an animal form: most commonly a donkey, turkey, or dog, but also other and more powerful animals such as the jaguar and puma.

Such a Nagual is believed to use his powers for good or evil according to his personality. Specific beliefs vary, but the general concept of nagualism is pan-Mesoamerican. Nagualism is linked with pre-Columbian shamanistic practices through Preclassic Olmec depictions which are interpreted as humans transforming themselves into animals. The system is linked with the Mesomerican calendrical system, used for divination rituals. The birth date often determines if a person will be a Nagual. Mesoamerican belief in tonalism, wherein all humans have an animal counterpart to which their life force is linked, is also part of the definition of nagualism. In English the word is often translated as "transforming witch", but translations without the negative connotations of the word witch would be "transforming trickster" or "shape shifter".

The word nagual derives from the Nahuatl word nahual, an indigenous religious practitioner, identified by the Spanish as a 'magician'. The nagual is acquired along with the other characteristics of a person's birth day at birth. Each day is associated with an animal which has strong and weak aspects. A person born on "The Dog Day" would have both strong and weak 'Dog' aspects. In Nahuatl the word tonalli was used to refer both to a day and to the animal associated with that day. The nagual is different, where the tonal is the day spirit proper, the nagual is the spirit familiar of the day. It is probable that the tonal represents the daytime aspect and the nagual the nighttime aspect of the tonalli, 'the thigs of the day'. Because practitioners of powerful magic were normally born on certain days related to animals with a strong or harmful aspect they would often have specific tonals such as the jaguar or puma. In Aztec mythology the God Tezcatlipoca was the protector of nagualism, because his tonal was the jaguar and he governed the distribution of wealth.

In modern rural Mexico, nagual is sometimes synonymous with brujo ("witch"): one who is able to shapeshift into an animal at night, (normally into an owl, bat, or turkey) drink blood from human victims, steal property, cause disease, and the like.

In some indigenous communities the position of Nagual is integrated into the religious hierarchy. The community knows who is a Nagual, tolerating, fearing and respecting them. Nagualli are hired to remove curses cast by other nagualli.

In other communities the accusation of nagualism may result in violent attacks by the community towards the accused—much like the witch processes of renaissance Europe.

The Western study of Nagualism was initiated by noted archaeologist, linguist and ethnologist Daniel Garrison Brinton who published "Nagualism: A Study in Native-American Folklore and History" which chronicled historical interpretations of the word and those who practiced nagualism in Mexico in 1894. He identified various beliefs associated with nagualism in some modern Mexican communities such as the Mixe, the Nahua, the Zapotec and the Mixtec.

Subsequently many studies have described Nagualism in different Mesoamerican cultures such as the Zoques and the Jakaltek, K'iche', Q'eqchi', and Tzeltal Maya. Among the Jacaltec, Naguals reinforce indigenism by punishing those who collaborate with non Mayas.

Discussion continues on which degree nagualism represents a pre-Columbian belief system or is modelled on European popular religion. Gustavo Correa, suggests nagualism is not pre-Columbian, arguing that it was wholly imported from Europe, where he compares it to the medieval belief in werewolves.

However, Indigenous sources of pre-Columbian origin such as the Popol Vuh describe concepts clearly related to modern Nagualism.[dubious – discuss]. Nonetheless, the only version of this document which has survived was transcribed well after the Spanish Conquest and may contain concepts introduced by European missionaries.[citation needed]

Kaplan conclude that, in Oaxaca, the belief in Naguals as evil shape shifting witches is common in both indigenous and mestizo populations. According to Kaplan, the belief in animal spirit companions is exclusively indigenous.

[2] DN 15.

[3] SN 3.22.1. One of many.

[4] SN 4.35.23.

[5] MN 10

[6] MN 1

[7] AN 10.6

[8] MN 121

 


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