Inner Dialog

I was going through an article on Evolution by Subhash Kak on Sulekha.com — (A Most Subversive Idea – 26th June, 2002), when I came across the section where he writes about the analogy between the processes in living cells and processes in the brains of people…

Each cell listens to and comprehends its own DNA speech stream; likewise, the human language helps to generate and maintain a stable network of mental reactions (mental metabolism) by means of the ongoing inner dialogue.

The point made about inner dialog triggered something in my head (no pun intended) — An Inner Dialog.

I have been an avid reader of a Western Author called Carlos Castaneda (some call him a hoaxer, some accolade him with praises and hail him as a Guru of the New Age revolution). Castaneda was an Anthropology student (those who've read his work, please bear with me) at the UCLA in the 60's and 70's, doing his post-graduate thesis work on Native American tribals and their use of medicinal plants (the Yaqui Indians, to be precise).

In the course of his research, he came across an old Indian (Native American) medicine man called Don Juan Matus.

Don Juan took Carlos into his tutelage and taught him for about 13 years the art of Sorcery. (Carlos claimed that this term 'Sorcery' tends to give a very ominous connotation to the knowledge he acquired, but due to the lack of a more appropriate name, he chose to translate the term that Don Juan used into English — and therefore called it 'Sorcery').

In the course of his studies under Don Juan, he was faced with numerous bewildering ideas and concepts (ideas that challenged his traditionally scientific, rational western mind) and he wrote about his experiences in a series of 11 books that sold like popular fiction rather than scientific papers — literally millions of copies, in several languages!

Having read and re-read the books by Castaneda, I was drawn to the amazing similarity between the Native American (actually called the Meso-American) way of knowledge and our very own Indian metaphysics and philosophy.

The practice of Sorcery (by the Shamans), I felt was very identical to the school of knowledge in India called Tantra.

The details of the practice of Sorcery (also called Nagualism, the Warrior's Path, etc) are elaborate and have been written about by several accomplished authors (pre-dominantly Carlos Castaneda — look up Carlos Castaneda on Amazon.com.

I will try to explain the basic concepts as I go along.

The Sorcerer's Way

According to Sorcery, the way of the Warrior as it is called, man is a magical being, capable of incredible deeds.

But, this true nature is hidden to man, being caught up in the mundane world of living his life.

The true nature of man can be realized by following and practising the Warrior's Way. Man is a warrior, constantly at war with himself (meaning his Ego). This Ego is not inherently a part of man, but is a developed additive (as man grows from childhood to adulthood) as a result of the influence of society. It hides his true identity from him, and man gets caught up in a world of make-believe (we might call it Maya).

The true nature of man is realized when man has managed to over-throw Ego from his being. Then he realizes that everything in the universe is pure energy that is actually a part of a larger entity that is called the “Great Eagle”. Everything that exists, does so as an emanation of energy from the Eagle. What we perceive as “this world and its objects” are merely patterns of energy projected onto our sensory mechanism. It further goes on to say that this energy that is in constant flux everywhere, at all time, is conscious in nature, and it is this inherent consciousness that makes us alive (and not our organic constitution and complex biological mechanisms). That means that there are conscious beings that are inorganic in composition.

Getting back on track

Now, if the reader is wondering where the original topic of 'Inner Dialog' comes into picture, here it is. The Egoistical nature of man is the primary hurdle in his path to enlightenment. The Inner Dialog in fact reinforces the Ego. As long as the constant chatter of inner dialog runs in one's head, he doesn't even know that there is something beyond what he sees and experiences everyday. The inner dialog must be stopped before man can understand the universe in its reality.

Let us take for example the act of seeing and cognition. I see an object; it is roundish, red in color and slightly tapered to the bottom. The inner dialog mechanism immediately rallies around and suggests that I am seeing an apple — and thus it becomes an apple. If this inner dialog was missing, or it had taken a break at that moment, I would not know what I have seen is actually an apple… or would I?

Again, I see an object in front of me, it is kind of long, stands on two appendages, has two appendages hanging to either of its side, topped off with a oval shape. Again, my inner dialog rallies around and reinforces the idea that what I am seeing is a person. My analogies might seem a bit lame to some, but I'd be satisfied if you get the hang of what I'm trying to convey here.

The inner dialog is very necessary for our rational awareness. Throughout my life, from when I was a child, my inner dialog has been built and empowered by my environment to make the judgments and decisions for me, as to how I perceive (and thereby react to what I perceive). In other words, inner dialog provides us with the description and the interpretation.

So, if we take the inner dialog out of the equation, what remains? Is it nothing? Or if something else remains, what would it be? Would we then be able to see the real energetic patterns of the objects we would otherwise identify as say 'an apple' or 'a person' or 'a tree' and so on?

A question then arises, “If this inner dialog was that which provides us with the description and the answer, once it is taken away, how would we know what we perceive?”

The answer (according to Nagualism) lies in the categorization of reality in two domains. One domain is governed by reason (called the Tonal) and the other by awareness in its purest form, without interpretation, judgment or translation (called the Nagual). It is claimed that the person who has managed to control his inner dialog (into sustained periods of silence) will be able to perceive things as they really are — emanations of conscious energy, bereft of any description and interpretation (something like the state of Samadhi). Even though, there is a distinction between Tonal and Nagual, the Tonal is also a part of the Nagual, and the sorcerer prepares and learns to live in the realm of the Tonal, to get a glimpse of the Nagual.

It is also suggested that every being has an innate energy within them (personal power — I liken it to the concept of Prana). Most of the time, most people waste this energy in unnecessary activity (both physical and mental), that leaves them with almost no energy to be able to change their habits and perception (and this too is reinforced by internal dialog). [“Man is an energetic being and the enlightened person can see him as a ball or egg of luminous energy, with fibers of energy shooting out in all directions from the mid-section — corresponding to the navel region, like tentacles of an octopus. (This is astonishingly similar to the description of the human aura in ancient Indian and Chinese systems)]

So when man figures out how to conserve and use this energy judiciously, he gets that minimum required potential to be able to silence his dialog and see the true nature of the universe. The process of conserving and utilizing energy judiciously is termed 'Impeccability'. (I could not find an equivalent term in Sanskrit or Hindi, but the concept is definitely there in our ancient Tantrik traditions as well).

The idea is to perform each and every act with absolute sincerity and efficiency, as if it were our last act on earth (that we're going to die the very next moment). This lends a great sense of seriousness and responsibility to the warrior and he does not waste his energy. In other words, in action and in thought, one has to become totally energy efficient, with minimum loss. There are several means of augmenting this energy — the ancient Mexican sorcerers called it the “Magical Passes”.

In nature, the Magical Passes are very similar to our Indian tradition of Hatha Yoga, and the Chinese tradition of Tai Chi and Chi Kung. And the idea of Impeccability is very similar to the concept of Karma Yoga.

Now before this piece turns into a boring lecture (if it already hasn't), I'll end it by suggesting a bunch of interesting exercises suggested by Pagla Baba.

Identify the inner chatter (this dialog) and observe it for a sustained period of time. Every night, before you go to sleep, observe your breathing (without trying to control it in anyway) naturally, without clinging to the thoughts that arise in your mind. Let the thoughts come and go naturally till you come to a point when there are very few thoughts left. Sustain this state for longer periods of time as you go along. Something interesting is going to happen to you… you will find out what.

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