Don Juan Matus — a brujo’s explanation – Br. Shankara

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Mar. 8th, 2020
Sunday Talk: Don Juan Matus — a brujo’s explanation
with Br. Shankara

This month we will depart from our usual routine of taking up one of the four yogas for detailed study. Instead, we’ll introduce a parallel tradition of spiritual unfoldment, as taught by don Juan Matus. A Yaqui Indian, don Juan was a brujo of the Toltec lineage. This is the first in this series of four talks.

A brujo or bruja is a person who is in command of power. An accomplished raja yogi could be called a brujo — yet, as we’ll see, the comparison is approximate. Don Juan Matus was a great brujo and had many apprentices, both female and male. One of these was Carlos Castaneda, who wrote several books about his training by don Juan. The book we’ll draw on for this series is Journey to Ixtlan.

Castaneda wrote: “… I must first explain the (brujo’s) basic premise … as don Juan presented it to me. He said that for a brujo, the world of everyday life is not real, or out there, as we believe it is. For a brujo, reality, or the world we all know, is only a description … a description that had been pounded into me from the moment I was born. He pointed out that everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of perceiving the world as it is described. … From that moment on … the child is a member. He knows the description of the world; and his membership becomes full-fledged … when he is capable of making all the proper perceptual interpretations which, by conforming to that description, validate it. For don Juan, then, the reality of our day-to-day life consists of an endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we …have learned to make in common.”

Don Juan taught his apprentices how to overcome the limitations of that description, how to free themselves from the entrapment of their inherited membership. He called this achievement “stopping the world.”  This coming Sunday we’ll define and explore that idea, and the ways — some familiar and some new to us — by which Castaneda learned to “stop the world.”

Castaneda, Carlos. Journey To Ixtlan. Washington Square Press.