The Knock of the Spirit

On occasion I will be posting short pieces mid-stream, as it were, while I work my way through Northrop Frye’s Fearful Symmetry, his engaging study of William Blake. Now and then, something Frye mentions about Blake’s life, and his visionary art and poetry, reminds of parallels from other sources, which become mutually illuminating and clarifying. This is one such….

In the first chapter of Frye’s work entitled “The Case Against Locke”, Frye comments on Blake’s “spiritual utilitarianism” or visionary pragmatism in words that called to mind something Carlos Castaneda commented on regarding his teacher don Juan’s approach to the world — an approach that eschewed any regard or reference to “God” or to something called “the spiritual”, but insisted instead on what he called “the energetic facts”. Here’s Northrop Frye commenting, similarly, on Blake’s approach,

“To Blake, the spiritual world was a continuous source of energy: he harnessed spiritual power as an engineer harnesses water power and used it to drive his inspiration: he was a spiritual utilitarian. He had the complete pragmatism of the artist, who, as artist, believes nothing but is looking only for what he can use.” (p. 8)

Don Juan always insisted on what Castaneda referred to as “the energetic facts” rather than any concern with something called “the spiritual”. His irreligion and pragmatism have been noted by others, in that respect. As with Frye’s remarks on Blake’s attitude of “spiritual utilitarianism”, it’s pretty clear that what some people call “the spiritual” is identical with “the energetic facts”.

That which is experienced as “a continuous source of energy” is not only what Jean Gebser called “the ever-present origin” (in his book by that title), but is also called “the spiritual” only because it is experienced as an influx from outside the physical system of spacetime into the physical system. The conduit for that influx is what is called “faith”, and it has nothing to do with doctrine, belief, or ideology. It is also exactly what Gebser intended to be understood by his term “irruption” in describing the emergence of a new consciousness structure, and even as being something “apocalyptic” or “revelatory”.

Addendum: By the way, I did find a record online of Castaneda’s explanation of the meaning of “energetic facts” as he interpreted it from don Juan’s teachings. It comes from the 30th Anniversary preface to his first book The Teachings of Don Juan. It can be read here.


7 responses to “The Knock of the Spirit”

  1. amothman33 says :

    The spirit has already knocked .All messangers are knockers. There are no more messangers to knock.It is our turn to knock.Let us stop lying, humans have not been left on earth without operating manuals and without faculties to understand these manuals It is ingratitudly ugly to deny these manuals. Sensation and perception go togather.The problem rises when we separate.Perception is infinite ,sensation is the finite. Let us rekindle the finite by the infinte to live wholly holy.It is a question of faith riding the knowledge, not of knowledge without faith.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    Castaneda’s conclusions seem more valid and meaningful every time I read them. The existence and function of the assemblage point is most fascinating. And don Juan told Castaneda that one of the rare occasions when the assemblage point moves is during sleep.

    There’s a moment during our sleep when the spirit or consciousness seem to leave the body momentarily for the duration of sleep. In several such occasions I’ve gained awareness suddenly and unexpectedly. When this happens, an extremely loud and almost hurtful screeching sound begins to ring in my ears and I cannot move my body at all even though I am fully aware. I truly cannot describe how loud the sound is, but the closest thing to it is when a train that has been moving at 100 miles an hour suddenly breaks and I have my ears stuck to the rails when that happens.

    Every time I regain awareness at this precise moment during my sleep, my body is frozen solid and I cannot move my hands to cover my ears, which I desperately would want to do every time this happens. As I sense the spirit returning to my body slowly, the sound begins to subside with the exact same rate, and I once again become able to move my body and limbs. I can verify that the sensation and movement in my limbs are restored fully about what seems 15 to 20 seconds after I become aware in my sleep. Even the slightest ringing of the screeching sound as it diminishes in my ears means that I am not yet ready to move my limbs. Only when all trace of the sound is gone, I once again become able to move.

    • Scott Preston says :

      That’s a pretty interesting account of your “journeys out of the body”. That “screeching” sound you hear somehow seems familiar, but I can’t quite clearly recollect it.

      Have you read Robert Munroe’s Journeys Out of the Body? A pretty interesting book, but peculiar in some ways. There’s one part of the book where, in one OOBE, he reaches back and feels what seems like a “cord” or cable extending outwards from between his shoulder blades. He assumes it is the link that connects him to his body, and that snaps him back like an elastic band when he gets into trouble or wills to return to his physical body.

      How coincidental is it, though, that this “cord” occupies the same position as don Juan described as the position of the assemblage point?

      • LittleBigMan says :

        I haven’t read the Robert Munroe’s book. I’ve made a note of it and I will definitely read it now that I know about it. Thank you.

        I have had OOBE many times. But only in some of them my ears experience the screeching sound, which tells me that only within a certain period of time during sleep this experience is possible. I haven’t yet experienced a “cord” like extension around my body during my OOBEs, but that definitely jibes with one of don Juan’s friend’s climb up the waterfall, where Castaneda in his second journey there was able to “see” cord-like limbs extending from the man’s body helping him climb the trecherous rocks near the waterfall to the top in a matter of seconds.

        At the moment, among other books, I am reading Seth’s “The Way Toward Health.” In it, Seth tells Jane Roberts that no two people experience ‘death’ the same way. By the same token, I could understand how OOBE would be different for different people.

        The most surprising thing for me is that no member of my immediate family or the relatives I’m close to have ever experienced OOBE.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I have not heard of that particular Seth book, The Way Toward Health. I’ve ordered it. While I was at it, I also ordered The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, because it’s high-time I finally got around to reading that one also since, judging from the title, it deals with the same themes I try to tackle in The Chrysalis — or so I’m guessing from the title. I’m already looking forward to having it in my hands.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    “The Way Toward Health” was written shortly before Jane’s death. In fact, she was in the hospital for the entire duration of her communicating the contents of the book with Seth. I make an effort to use a lot of the advice given in the book in my daily life.

    I made a note of “The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events” for the future. Thank you.

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