jumping into the abyss

Don Juan and don Genaro stepped back and seemed to merge with the darkness. Pablito held my forearm and we said good-by to each other. Then a strange urge, a force, made me run with him to the northern edge of the mesa. I felt his arm holding me as we jumped and then I was alone. ~ Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power

Rich in metaphor, Carlos Castaneda authored a number of books beginning in the 1960’s. Within them, between the sometimes humorous tales and startling allegories, are nuggets of wise and profound information to be gleaned for the adherent on any evolutionary spiritual path. The trouble comes in when people actually take the metaphors literally. I’ve explained to many people, when asked about their confusion over a Castaneda metaphor, to connect to the energy behind the words and don’t take everything he says so literally.

In a recent discussion on an online forum people were discussing how Carlos jumped off a cliff into the abyss as mentioned in the above quote from Tales of Power. Some people in the conversation said that they will try it when they are ready to dematerialize in mid-air so they could rematerialize upon landing and others said they would only do it if they had don Juan telling them to. It reminded me of the Zen koan that is asked by bewildered parents whenever a child foolishly follows the crowd blindly in poor decision-making choices – “If your friends jumped off the bridge would you jump too?”

So what does it really mean to jump into the abyss? It means to step into the unknown, to remove oneself from the safety net of familiarity. It is an opportunity that we give to ourselves to let go of everything that brings us comfort, to step out of our routines, to move beyond doubt and fear, to make death an adviser and to ultimately shift our assemblage points to perceive things in a new and fresh way.

It is a huge step in self-transcendence because it requires going head-first into the unknown, into unfamiliar, never before experienced territory. It is a massive and almost always scary ego death because we are relinquishing our ability to control ourselves through the survival techniques that we have meticulously put into place over the course of many years or, our entire lifetime. But it is a necessary step for all who want to induce an awakening or a new beginning, to be able to leave old patterns and habits behind. Sometimes, in taking such a leap, we even leave our attachment to people behind. This is known as both detachment and erasing personal history.

The goal of jumping into the abyss is to release our shadow side, the place where restrictive thought forms, self-importance, addictions, obsessions, and other demons that plague our minds reside. The key is to release the limitations that we perceive within ourselves and to confront anything that does not support our journey into freedom, evolution, transcendence, and unification with source energy. We are reminded, as we sail through the abyss, that we are better off when we move from our minds and into a place of trust, surrender, love, and/or emptiness.

Jumping into the abyss is certainly not Castaneda specific. It has been done by every spiritual belief system around the world and continues to be done through a wide range of practices including but not limited to kundalini, deep meditation, entheogens, shamanism, Native American ceremony, vision quest, OBE’s, etc.

A person who chooses to experience this type of leap into the unknown often finds themselves suspended between two worlds, the world of physical materiality where they can be an observer of what was, and an altered state of consciousness where they may witness all that can truly be. It is at this crucial moment when they become aware that they are bridging time and space, and can recognize the totality of illusion for what it is.

At some point and maybe even at multiple points during your life you may become ready and prepared to jump into the abyss. This is an act of courage, strength, will, commitment and bravery. But please, whatever you do, don’t jump blindly off of a cliff, even if don Juan tells you to! He was, after all, a trickster.

Keep dancing!


25 thoughts on “jumping into the abyss

      • A function of awareness is that it builds this world. It is not as solid as it seems. Our perception suggests that it is solid, but the world is essentially in a state between manifest and unmanifest. Perception makes it seem real and the first ring of power, waking attention of people, holds it together by intent. That is also not a metaphor but quite a proper description. If awareness passes a threshold it can be completely loose from the current world and the being can end up somewhere else. Assemble a different world even, of which there are 48 in this earthly realm. Remember? There is no need to jump any abyss, as Don Juan also said, just a matter of quickening. So that indicates he did never mean it as a metaphor.
        Remember they also taught Carlos or tried to teach him, to materialize somewhere else, like the revolving door episode and others ‘Ah, here you are’. Follows the same principle. Second ring of power. Genaro explained how power will organize it so that no one will notice the sorcerer vanish. The first attention would simply not be able to focus on it. I have seen a dreamer vanish from a dream. I told a group of college students in a lucid dream they were dreaming. One listened, started shaking and poof, disappeared.

        Did you ever read Seth books? Seth states that in the context of parallel realities most deaths are not final. He says that you can sometimes feel the energy of another probability, or probable self flow back in to your life. He urges not to try but he says if you were to step in front of a car you would survive as it is not your official death. You would continue in another parallel probability, which are not separated as the word suggests, but as I said, all of reality hoovers constantly between manifest and unmanifest. Intent organizes everything in the world, so only manifesting what is thoroughly intended. Ans even then highly personalized. Therefore death will not manifest as real when it is not intended.

        Another thing not a metaphor is ‘darting past the eagle to be free’. The words are pretty meaningless literally, but it refers to a truly different way of dying. The third attention means that the warrior can hold his attention together without a body to organize or for him. Not in the same way as you do today, but all of it. The totality of the self, also no metaphor. The bodies of seer sorcerers are pretty much dream bodies after developing their attention. If you utilize more awareness, you’ll know what manifesting really is. A world of attention where death can be reversed and a word can not. Nothing metaphorically about it.

        Not going into personal experiences here, as too complex and not too rewarding for the reasonable mind to consider death, but save it to say I am not speculating.

        The only metaphor that Carlos devised off is the Foreign Installment. It is a metaphor for reason, fixating our attention. He did say that disengaging the inner dialogue was the only thing that helps to get rid off the installment. It is. The grasp of reason dissipates when one becomes proficient in silencing the inner dialogue. It is foreign because you did not partake in developing the concepts of culture. It is an installment because it is highly conditioned and fixating. Mostly beneficial as it makes for a stable looking world where there is none. The Known is a subsection of the Uknown, but man is ignorant of that aspect and continues to focus on what seems to be stable, through reasoning and repetition. Reason is a powerful god, or the first ring of attention.

        For the ones not looking to attain third attention, death is just a concept, that only makes sense from a reasonable perspective. Life and death are not separated as such. It is not a question of to be or not to be, as they are are merely dichotomies created by reason. True reality is something of both, where there was never a division to begin with. Existence is the source of being and not being. A cup is not a cup without the emptiness to hold the liquor. It also needs the space around it to exist as a cup. Same with life. Just like a piece of music does not die with every note. It is not a massacre of notes, it is music.

        We are such stuff as dreams are made off, and our little lives are rounded by a sleep.

        Look up at the night sky and see the end of this dream. That is also not a metaphor but quite real.

        And to make it complete, all posters are also completely right and it can be taken as metaphor, it simply is much more.


  1. Sometimes Castaneda’s allegory has the unfortunate result of causing seekers to get lost in the illusion of needing some kind of magic power, when the true magic of being a warrior is deprogramming ourselves from the dis empowering beliefs we have unconsciously taken on as the truth, and reconnecting with the magical truth of our being, our relationship to source. Grounded translations, like the one you have given, are what is truly required. Thanks for your commitment to sharing and empowering others through his work.


  2. I took it literally as crazy as it sounds to the “rational” mind in this day and age. The shock of acting in such a blunt manner forced the assemblage point to align with one of the other worlds where the jump didn’t exist. Of course without the training for the left and right, Genero ,DJ and familiarity with moving the AP well…I also had the impression it’s where the others Florinda, etc. “disappeared “to. Whether they made it or not.


    • You are not alone, I have met many people preparing themselves for the leap. Back in the late 80’s my friend and I were in Mexico “willing” ourselves up to the roof top of the house. So much intention!!! 🙂 When we finally quit though, a magical thing happened. We watched as two amazing UFO’s hovered and circled around each other for about twenty minutes until finally, the smaller of the two entered into the big one and then poof! they were both gone without a sound. It was cool. Thanks for your comment and keep dancing!


  3. I connected with this post intensely. I also resonate with your description of this process. I find I’ve been confronted with this type of experience multiple times. My teacher often says that if you want to awaken to true reality it requires a complete surrender, letting go or jumping into the unknown by being willing to drop all that one believes, hold dear or resists. Standing naked before Goddess so to speak. The one that jumps is consumed in the surrender and what one emerges as is the true Self. I find this used to feel like a choice and now it feels like I no longer have one. As if the abyss has become my entire life and so if I want to walk my path I must keep jumping!
    So keep jumping until there is no one left to jump any longer….


      • My experience is when you leave it all behind, your life becomes more fluid and source/intent/spirit can then help you, and little miracles happen. I’m working on cleaning my tonal further so big ones can happen to. 🙂


  4. Ah, metaphor… what beauty you bring us, tantalizing us with your mystery, your suggestion of something greater, deeper, something we cannot see without looking askance at it, and in doing so blur our perceptions of this concrete paradigm of perfect ration so we can know perception in a manner fraught with awe and wonder. Carlos uses metaphor just exactly as it was intended, to titalate the ration and send it into a fury so as to stop our worlds and consider the real is behing the curtain when we pull the chaff from our eyes. Metaphor whose original meaning means “to cross over” , “to carry to a new point” , to wander between what is understood and what can be truly understood. To fight such a word, my friends is to misperceive what Carlos really did to the world… he used every ounce of energy from his recapitulation of story towards a great maneuver leaving us to figure it out…. All absolute and literal interpretations of anything is the realm of the predator… you have nothing to fear but freedom… but damn it, don’t repeat it… leap in your own way, find your own metaphor to cross beyond the darkness into the depths of the purely abstract. This warning that Female Warrior has written is critical in these times…. we need to be reminded not to take things so absolute and repeat them or we will be stuck with the holy books of CC in 2000 years and our assemblage points will be fixated once again…. see the metaphor? See how the sages have been pointing to the door, but everyone was afraid to leave the temple???? Gate Gate Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Sowaka! Gone Gone Gone beyond, gone far beyond to complete awareness… A metaphor which tells the truth…..


    • Stopping the world and being free from the predator is much easier than to do what you think of as metaphors to stop the world and free yourself from the predator.
      To take something literal that is intended otherwise is a folly indeed. Yet to take things as a metaphor that are real, is, well, no problem at all. It will work for you on the level of metaphor as well. Only it will bring you nothing more than a reasononable leap, to fall back soon after. Of course you can take a spoon as a metaphor and benefit from it, but you won’t use it as it is intended. The predator would very much want you to see a metaphor where there is an instruction for freedom. You give yourself a chance to understand my words, I can not do that for you.
      The Foreign Installment is overcome far too easy for an impeccable warrior to have to revel in metaphors that keep reason involved. Overcoming the foreign installment is step one. After that you will never be caught (too long) in the projections of reason.

      Everybody has their own path and I am not concerned about the lives and deaths of others.


      • Just as calling something a myth, does not mean that it did not happen… calling something a metaphor does not mean that it did not happen. The ration splits us off from direct experience and knowledge… but how can we communicate any direct experience to anyone else… all words are in essence metaphors to direct knowledge, energy and experience… No predator needed with the sound of one hand clapping.


  5. hmm, read the chapter ” the return trip” from the book “the active side of infinity” and you will see, that to Carlos it was not a metaphor. To me it’s really a story about breaking continuity. Of course our beliefs ride the currents of what resonates with us as individual beings so it works as a metaphor also.


    • Nemo, you know me better than that. I didn’t say it was all metaphor although what Don explained about metaphor above certainly puts metaphor into a new perspective:
      Metaphor whose original meaning means “to cross over”, “to carry to a new point”, to wander between what is understood and what can be truly understood.
      Like everything, balance is necessary, in this case the balance between taking things too literally and doing the work required to stand on the bridge of true knowing.


  6. I am happy that you finally asked me about my controlled folly after so many years, and yet it wouldn’t have mattered to me in the least if you had never asked. Yet I have chosen to feel happy, as if I cared, that you asked, as if it would matter that I care. That is controlled folly! ~ A Separate Reality

    There is no clearer statement to me about what controlled folly is. A warrior who acknowledges that she is unable to comprehend the mysteries of life also realizes that she herself is a mystery. She recognizes that anything she says or does may not matter at all in the grand scheme of things. And as such, she doesn’t care; she just does what she does for the sake of doing it. She chooses to be whatever she dares to create herself to be while knowing that everything she does may not have significance. It is the folly of her way to dance in joy with death as an advisor.

    Thank you all, I love all of the comments and perspectives and perceptions. It is truly a dance of beauty, of individuality, and of freedom. And freedom is the point.

    Keep dancing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Before Carlos jumped, he was a friend of a teacher of mine, name of Dr. Staniford. My teacher had been down in the dunes, learning to hang glide. After mastering the technique, he would always advise his students to leap into the abyss. About a year later, Carlos tells his tale of leaping into the abyss. Hmmm I have long said to myself with regard to this. A further reference is to be found in the writing of poet Blake, who said it is not a good idea to stifle a desire, an opinion reflected in the Tibetan Buddhist idea of the hungry ghost. So there is a way to take Castaneda both figuratively and literally. His metaphors are many faceted, and much of his writing finely honed to give wide access to meaning. Lets not forget sky diving or base jumping as alternatives for the truly athletic and daring.


  8. I see only a claim of ‘metaphor’, but not real argument here.
    If i remember correctly, Carlos wrote that he woke up in his room,
    after that jump, in a very bad shape,
    plus something about having dissolved into consciousness-particles to prevent death from impact, plus having changed into something new that scared the shit out of some perceptive restaurant customer looking at him.
    Wheres the ‘metaphor’ proof? No, I see none. It’s just a ‘metaphor poof’ for meeee/us, until you come up with something better to make us ‘gullible literals’ believe you. You have good texts here, good reads really, but this one from the dark cupboard of ‘CC wrote in metaphors, actually most of his work is metaphoric fiction’ is not convincing. There are people who want to believe that, im not one of them.


    • Seth, from Jane Roberts, who wrote some of the most solid spiritual books with beautiful knowledge remarked something similar. As our lives are not linear, but embedded in probabilities, probable parallel realities that are pretty much also you, Seth added that death is not necessarily final as you will pass over to other probabilities. Actually you simply won’t materialize that reality. He says you can sometimes feel a gush of energy if a probable you merges back into live. To top that, Seth states that you can walk in front of a car, or jump of a cliff for that matter and really survive. Although he suggests not to try that light heartedly.
      In the case of Carlos Castaneda, who hardly ever wrote something metaphorical, especially in this case with indeed to much detail for the metaphorical form, it was even possible to cross over parallel lines without the non materialized death. Attention dissolved and materialized somewhere else.
      If we are stuck with a world view in which the reality of a solid physical body dominates, you will miss a lot of the reality of seer.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s