I don't know if you've ever been followed home by a self-invited homeless man who knew how to make folks dematerialize, but I think if I had to describe it in one word, that word would be "ambivalous".
Sure I wanted to know more about how to make yuppies dematerialize, but in my younger days I'd crawled around the block two or three times and I knew what sorts of superfluous life challenges you could open yourself up to by allowing yourself to be adopted by some pushy homeless fella that you just met. I'd even come to distrust some of the pushy homeless fellas that I'd known for a while. I'd had to ditch more than one street-met friend in the past, and a couple times on Day One I also considered ditching this so-called 're-invented Carlos Castaneda' as he put it.
The Carlos I knew found the term 'apprenticeship' distasteful. So my new 're-education program' started up full-blast before we even got out of the diner. Carlos had warned me I would have to be tested first before he would follow me home, because if I couldn't cut the mustard, whatever that was, he wasn't gonna waste his precious energy moving in with me. At first he'd seemed pretty friendly, but when I'd refused to buy him a ham-and-cheese croissant at the diner, he seemed a bit taken aback and maybe a little bit ambivalent about me. But I threatened to leave him there at his home on the sidewalk, and he followed me away from the diner, wondering aloud whether I had more food in my refrigerator than my empty wallet seemed to indicate. Then he stopped at the first bus stop we came to and stood there pouting while I kept going. While wondering how he knew which bus went by my house, I had to turn around and go back to inform him that we had to walk because I lacked the funds to pay for the bus. He started muttering and shaking his head, and followed me down the sidewalk. If I hadn't seen him dissolve a whole entire yuppie, I would've gone ahead and left him.
But then he immediately informed me that I had passed his test twice, by not giving him any money. He told me that money is energy and you can be all kinds of stupid, uneducated and lazy, and still learn how to get unworlded. But if you are a spendthrift, you are never going to get unworlded because you have to be disciplined about keeping your energy for yourself, on the one hand, and sharing it with what he called 'your other dream bodies' on the other hand. I was not sure what my reward for passing his test entailed, and not sure I wanted to find out.
After that, he kept up a pretty good pace for awhile but then he turned into the opposite of what his lazy street bum exterior seemed to suggest and started getting aggressive and competitive, giving me these looks from several strides ahead, as if to suggest I should be keeping up with him. When I finally made the mistake of suggesting that he walk a little slower, he stopped mid-stride and looked me up and down with one eyebrow raised. "You mean to tell me a young whipper-snapper like yourself can't keep up with an old has-been, walked-on, reinflammation like me?" I was about to object that I was a far shot from being a young whipper-snapper, when his eyes seemed to go out of focus as he stared off into the distance behind me. Then I got the impression that he'd seen something in the far-off distance, and he grabbed my arm and dragged me across the street in that direction. I didn't mind, it was another way to get home, so I just kept up the best I could.
Carlos kept walking faster and faster, but somehow I managed to keep up with him. He was also doing some odd kind of huffing and puffing instead of breathing normally. Once he stopped and wobbled in place, so I hurried to catch up. "What's wrong?" I asked him, helping him to steady himself. He held up a hand for silence, took a big deep, slow breath, let it out over an absurdly long duration, took a big deep breath, and then started striding down the sidewalk again, right back to the same huffing and puffing routine. I was afraid he was making himself dizzy, because when I tried to breathe like he was, I got light-headed and wobbly and I had to put my hand out to hold up a light pole because I thought it was swaying and might fall down and land on my head.
Normally I wouldn't try to emulate a homeless old weirdo who had invited himself to follow me home, but I figured, just in case this really is Carlos Castaneda's not-a-walk-in not-a-reincarnation-but-the-real-thing, I might as well give it a shot and see what he's up to. By the time we crossed the street into a vast city park, I was the opposite of being out of breath. I was so dizzy from being overly full of air that I dropped to my knees on the grass, because I was pretty sure I was gonna fall down anyway if I didn't. But it wasn't the normal kind of dizzy, not spinning dizzy. It was something different, like when you stand up too fast and almost pass out.
And you know what Carlos did? He shouted at me: "Breathe! Breathe goddam it! You breathe like a girl, get some air in ya fer chrissake!" And on and on, with me trying to breathe more but getting dizzier and dizzier. My eyeballs felt like they were vibrating, and I know my hands and lips were vibrating, but when I looked at them I couldn't see anything unusual so I figured my soul must be doing the vibrating. And I noticed that walking fast kept me from noticing the dizziness, but if I stopped walking I'd start to sway.
Carlos stopped shouting and started doing his special breathing again, indicating with a certain look in his eyes and gesture of the hands that I was to breathe exactly like him. I did so, and pretty soon I was waking up in the grass, looking up at a cloudy blue sky, and after a second I realized where I was and who I was with. That was about the tenth time I thought about ditching him, and maybe this big hilly park would be the right place to do it.
Before I could complain about his breathing method making me pass out, he put his hands over my open eyes and hissed with great intensity, "Don't move!" I froze in place obediently and held my breath. "Stop holdin' yer damn breath!" he hissed. "Now tell me what just happened!"
"Well, I guess I breathed too fast and passed out."
"No, no, after that. What happened after you dissolved your body? Quick, think hard!"
I couldn't think of anything and shrugged my shoulders. He pushed his hand against my eyes and pushed my head into the lawn. "Try again. What just happened? Fishing hat? Blue outline?"
The memory slammed into me. After passing out, I had dreamed that I was floating over a man lying in the grass, then I dreamed that I WAS the man on the grass looking at a guy in a fishing hat sneaking away from me, but the guy in the hat wasn't a normal person, he was just a neon-blue outline of one. That's when I woke up in the grass.
I propped myself up and pushed his hand off my face. "How did you know about the fishing hat?" I asked him. As a young man I'd worn a fishing hat whenever I could, starting from the onset of puberty till I was about 23 years old, and the more I dug into my uniqueness as a wandering artiste and angry prophet, the more I tended to never take off my fishing hat which I wore as a flaunted badge of individuality.
"Never mind how I knew about your fishing hat, did you remember what just happened or not?"
I told him about the little dream and he said, "Dream is just a word we use because there's no better word in a language like English that's built around physicality, conformity, and commerce. That was an unworlding experience. You got unworlded. You visited the Unworld. Repeat after me..."
He coached me for at least five minutes on not ignoring the slightest snippet of any dream, and told me never to assume a dream wasn't a real experience, also explaining that something he called "the Voice of Idiossification" was trying to make ossified mind-addled idiots of us by telling us to forget our dreams and pay more attention to physical reality. He said our Attention is a form of money or currency so paying Attention to what was going on around us--awake or asleep--should be considered an investment of some kind. Then he abruptly changed the subject.
"You know what a lucid dream is." It was a statement, not a question.
"Of course I do, I've had lucid dreams before."
"Not recently you haven't. You're outta shape."
I told Carlos that I had experienced a streak of lucid dreams once when I had two dishwashing jobs and became determined not to seek out the company of my pot-head friends who I considered to be useless hang-out artists, and consequently quit smoking weed. At that time I had learned how to have lucid dreams by going to sleep very slowly doing a difficult visualization exercise. Then one night in the wee hours, I had woken up vibrating as if a freight train was going through the house, and I was so happy about finally experiencing the famed vibrations that I stopped doing the concentration exercises and bought some weed to celebrate, thus ending my practice. I had decided to put off my interest in lucid dreaming and astral projection till I reached retirement age, so I could put my whole attention into it and do nothing else but lucid dream and astral project the rest of my life.
"Unworld," he corrected me. "If you say 'lucid dream or out-of-body experience' in every other sentence, you sound like you don't know what you want to say, but the term 'unworlding' covers all bases, so you don't have to waste your precious hot air fiddlefucking around about whether it was a lucid dream or-- one of these..." He whipped out his sketch pad and wrote a word on it: 'OBE'. Then very lightly he added a small letter so the word read 'OBEy'.
He grinned. "Get it?" I didn't. He shook his head. "It just means that as soon as some dickweed has six unworldings under his belt, he thinks he's some kinda revelation sponge, so he rushes to get it all down in black and white and puts his supposed enlightenment up for sale. Once that happens, Swami Know-it-all can't change his story, because he's already published and sold his first book, so he's no longer free to learn more or unlearn wrong first impressions, he has to stay consistent with Volume Zero of his unworlding development so people will keep buying his books or seminars. So in order to follow someone else's personal beliefs about the Unworld and how to get there, you have to be obedient to a lowest-common-denominator mindset about what unworlding even is, instead of using your imagination to learn how to engage your sense of humor--which is guaranteed to get you unworlded, I might add--and that's why so many people are neither comprehending nor apprehending the simple matter of freeing themselves from planet earth through unworlding. They think of it as entertainment or enlightenment, both of which are a pathetic jerkfest, so the Dream Usher won't let them into the Unworld for more than a few seconds. Total idiots are not allowed to live there, only to visit. And only the fringe areas at that. We already know how to get unworlded. You know it like the back of your hand, but when I say 'you' I mean your remote mind, which is comprised of the Uppers, your higher dream bodies, while your ignorant, greedy conscious mind is made up of your lower dream bodies."
Well, I had so many questions by then that I didn't know where to start. Instead of voicing my several objections, I asked him to explain why he had made me breathe until I passed out.
"You didn't pass out. You disappeared yourself, your world, and your mind all at the same time. I had to go find you. One of your dream bodies helped me find you, he said you'd be easy to find and he was right. You were stuck in an astral prison cell right between two fat old drag queens, and you smelled like a combination of rancid saliva, puke and bongwater. I didn't even want to touch you, so your dream body pulled you out by the foot, rolled you up into a ball, and we kicked your ass back to here between the two of us, like a soccer ball."
"That's not where I imagine myself going when I'm asleep."
"Well you were totally comatose when I found you wedged up between them two big ole bimbos."
"But that's not what I dreamed..."
"Unworlded, not dreamed. You're as good as dreaming right now, everything is a dream, so the word 'dream' doesn't mean anything."
"OK, that's not what I remembered from unworlding. Unworlding. I was just lying on the grass..."
"Yeah, after we brought you back, but you only caught the tail end of it with your conscious mind. You were in that Unworld intake cell for years, I was afraid I was gonna have to show you some porn or marshmallows or something as bait, to get you to wake up enough to want to come back here and get re-interested in the physical world."
Now I was the one shaking my head. I was sure he was just making this up. And yet... how did he know... about the marshmallows...
Once again I asked him to explain the breathing method and what was so great about breathing till you passed out.
"You didn't pass out. You disappeared your mind-world-body and took it someplace where it no longer intersected with mine. I had to go find you in your deeply unconscious dark alley of the Unworld... A skanky place if there ever was one..."
"All right, all right, I get the picture, just tell me how to breathe like that and why. And don't shout this time."
Carlos stood up in one smooth move, as if someone had pulled him to his feet with a string tied around his chest, and walked away muttering. I thought I heard him say, "I don't obey," but I couldn't tell for sure.
I followed him around the park, calling out questions, and he answered me in a rude tone of voice, as if I was barely worth his consideration. Finally I realized I was the one with an apartment and a refrigerator, and he was the homeless old fart.
"Don Carlos, Don Carlos," I quipped, "why do you breathe so ferociously?"
"The better to eat you," he muttered.
"Bite me!" I hollered.
"Be careful what you ask for, Junior."
"No really, tell me how to breathe."
"Without shouting?" he said in a whiny tone of voice.
"Sure, that would be great."
He stopped walking and I noticed that he was already breathing in that certain way. His abdomen and then his rib cage pushed way out, every time he inhaled, and at the end of the inhale, his eyebrows popped up a little, as well as his shoulder blades and his collarbones. I tried to mimic his inhale.
"Don't jerk so much, it has to be smooth. Lungs are delicate, don't mess them up. Get them full willingly, don't blow them up, and stop rushing. The focus on the intake is to act like you want more air, not to get a sideache and give yourself a hernia."
I breathed slower. "Not so damn slow, it isn't beddie-bye time. Act like you mean it." He showed me again. After a while I learned to just follow his motions exactly through one cycle, but it seemed like each time I finished exhaling, I got all discombobulated again. Finally he told me I was doing it right on the inhale, so he told me to forget about that now and focus on the exhale.
"When you intake air, the focus is on fullness. You should act like you want more air than you absolutely need just to stay alive. If you rush it, you won't get your lungs full and you'll bust a gut for being in a hurry. If you breathe too slow you'll get as bored as a Buddhist, when the whole point is to act like air is chocolate covered marshmallows and you gotta have some now. But on the exhaust, your focus is on getting rid of the old air ASAP. I mean yesterday. So on the exhaust, your emphasis is on speed. That's what's screwing you up. If you hurry on the intake, you get tired without getting full of air. But if you don't hurry on the exhaust, you lose the momentum you gained by taking in more air than you wanted. You gotta want to unleash yourself from the past, that's a quick exhaust, but don't be anal about it, don't try to blow out every speck of air from your lungs, because you're eager for more air, you want to inhale again. Intake fully, welcoming the future, no matter how sickening the future might happen to turn out, and exhaust fast, no matter how addicted you are to your own stale fumes. That's all you do. That's the Breath of Flight."
I tried breathing fully on the inahle and pushing the air out fast on the exhale. After a few practice shots I finally managed to keep the inhale noticably longer than the exhale.
"You're getting the idea," he said, "but now to smooth it up the rest of the way, you have to add a tiny pause at the end of the exhaust, to give time for the piston to turn around and head back up for the next intake stroke. The tiniest of pauses prepares you for your next dive into the unknown, your next intake stroke."
I added the tiniest of pauses at the end of the next exhale, and he was right, that made it a lot easier to keep the rhythm mismatched between inhale and exhale, without the whole thing speeding up on me. He continued, "See, because there's a disproportionality between intake and exhaust, if you don't recalibrate every time at the end of the exhaust, you'll get a hitch in yer get-along and it won't be smooth or steady. And don't blow so hard on the exhaust, you'll just hyperventilate and--you see that dippy broad givin' us the eye over there--I guarantee if one of us so much as goes asleep again for two seconds, she will use her cell phone to call the police and the anti-homeless squad will be here in a jiffy to scoop us up and make compost out of us. Exhaust quickly, not fully. You should be happy to get the slime out of your lungs, but not desperate. Do not pass out in public. It's illegal in modern day America today to be unconscious in a public place, and if you pass out walking down the street you'll probably fall under a bus and get squished."
I tried again. After only about five or six consecutive breaths, I felt a long series of shivers go up my spine, and I could hear a high-pitched sizzling sound in my head. I started feeling euphoric, and grinned. "Wow, thanks a lot--"
"Stop that indulging!" he said. "Just barely observe the vibes with simple noticing. As soon as you fall into feeling appreciative, then grateful, then indebted, you're ripe pickin's for the first religious rat trap you stumble onto, and then you'll forget all about unworlding and start buying into all kinds of airy-fairy beliefs about fixing yourself, making yourself spiritually worthy of some clown's religious dogma. That can get embarrassing, fast. One or two confession sessions down the road and your pretty little image of yourself as some kinda local smarty-pants intellectual will be hamburger. You'll have to move to a new city where no one knows you. So, never apologize to anyone over the age of twelve, never say thanks, and never tell anyone your problems. You'd be better off with those two fatgirls for eternity, than to let anyone think you have the slightest emotional complaint about anything. Mental hamburger can't get unworlded. This is a consensus reality, created by agreement among those whose worlds intersect. What people think about you--" he shuddered, "--just don't let anyone think anything about you. Keep them wondering. When they know what they think you are, you're screwed forever."
I stretched out on the grass, breathing. I felt good, but I tried not to smile.
As if he could read my mind, Carlos said, "Don't worry, as soon as you stop breathing you'll sink right back into your everyday scummy condition of unadulterated self-pity." I ignored him and kept breathing.
"I'm never going to stop breathing like this," I said.
"Then it's a good thing you're chronically unemployed, or else you'd be getting that way pretty fast. Living on the mountaintop is for goats, not people. The purpose of breathing is to dissolve your body, mind, and world, not your intelligence."
It wasn't long before I passed out again and woke up looking at a blue sheet of ice, then realized it was the sky. He spoke up immediately, "What just happened?"
This time I remembered a little dream, or unworlding, as he insisted I call it. Once again my dream body had appeared, a brightly blue-outlined vaguely humanoid shape wearing a fishing hat. We again traded vantage points, what Carlos called the "first person perspective". Several unworldings later, he announced that I now held the world's record for how many times a person could make himself pass out in half-an-hour's time, and suggested that we go find something to eat before I had a hypoglycemic seizure, but I refused to stop breathing. "I want more air," I said dreamily.
"Then breathe more," he said in a bland, unemotional tone of voice. Something about how he said it, more than what he said, snagged me and I doubled my dosage of air effortlessly, as if the air was breathing me. He was breathing right along with me, but as far as I know, he never passed out. Every so often I would forget where I was and start following some sort of full-bodied vibration straight out into the ozone, and he just said in that bland tone of voice, "More air."
And then I woke up and I was alone. It was starting to get dark. I sat up in one smooth move, as if I'd been pulled up by a string wrapped around my chest, and started going through my backpack for a flashlight. I found a flashlight, and then a twenty-dollar bill. But something was troubling me, and I thought hard to think of what it might be. Suddenly I realized that I had not brought my backback, didn't own a flashlight, and certainly didn't own a twenty-dollar bill.
Something made me look up, and my body was lying a few feet away from me over there on the grass. I froze in panic for a second, then leapt quickly at the still form, which looked dead.
I sat up.
It was only mid-afternoon, Carlos was there, but he was walking away. Although his back was to me, he seemed to know I had just woken up. He called out over his shoulder without looking, "Was that better?"
I jumped up and hurried to catch up with him. "Was what better?"
"No shouting Breathe goddam it! Just plain, unemotional, get more air without any haranguing."
I agreed that I was glad he had mellowed his tone.
"That was a demonstration of how you have to treat yourself, now that you know how to breathe, when you find yourself not breathing right most of the time. You can't get annoyed with yourself, or get in a hurry, or expect to get anything out of it, or waste energy kicking yourself. Just take another breath and get on with it. We unworlders have no time for keeping track of our mistakes or cataloging our inadequacies or building monuments to our successes. We all have emotions, but an unworlder has to stop regurgitating and re-consuming the same emotions over and over. Think of emotion as "ex-motion," and "ex" means out, gone, goodbye, got rid of. Never feel the same emotion twice."
"Is that like what you said about gratitude?"
"Yes and no. Gratitude is not an emotion, it's a stand-alone positive. It has no polar opposite. It's the sixth harmonic of awareness, but you're not ready for that much information. Emotion is the second harmonic of awareness. Emotion is twoness, duality. It creates the world by splitting oneness, which is pure awareness, into parts. You're a part, I'm a part, etc. All things are parts of awareness, because awareness is oneness, the fundamental energy of existence. Infinity. Twoness comes in many forms, but the form most of us meet first is fear, because pure awareness can't be first person perspective like a separate individual can. Making all of our fantasies of a wise, thoughtful, loving, Creator just about the silliest fantasy anyone could imagine. Existence is just weather. But rest assured, it is also infinite and eternal. But fearing first the existence as an individual and then later fearing that one's existence is anything but forever, the edge of panic is our constant companion. And fear gets masked as all kinds of emotions so we spend the rest of our lives running in circles in a panic instead of sitting down and breathing."
"So breathing is to make me pass out..."
"No, breathing is to dissolve your addiction to the human form, the conscious mind, the solid reality, the physical world. Why were you unaware of the two bimbos in the Unworld intake cell? Those were your 4ness bodies, they're twins, but you're not ready for that much information yet. You lost all awareness when you went to sleep, and by you, I mean your 2-3-4 mind, your conscious mind. You're not ready for this much information yet, but it's the key to everything and I've only just begun to endlessly repeat myself. You'll have to hear some basic truths dozens of times before you realize that what I'm telling you is obvious and you've known it all along. That's because the 2-3-4 mind is an expert at fooling itself, keeping itself stupid, going totally unconscious, and staying that way as long as it can. That's OK, it gives your upper chakras or remote mind dream bodies plenty of extra energy to play with when you're sleeping like you were drunk. Dream bodies live in the Unworld all the time, they use your conscious mind's unleashed energy when it's asleep, like the blue fella in the fishing hat. He's your 8ness body--"
"Wait, I'm lost..."
"That you are. We will have to work overtime to find you. When did you stop breathing?"
He made as if to slap my face. "I thought I told you not to kick yourself when you screw up. Don't make me slap you awake. When you catch yourself not breathing, just start breathing, never mind the mental masturbation about how messed up and slovenly you are. That part's obvious, but there's no excuse to bring it up in polite conversation."
I was breathing fully now, tingles were going up my spine.
And then I was waking up, asking myself what just happened.
And Carlos was gone. I clambered to my feet and stumbled around looking for him.
"Carlos!" I called.
I heard his voice from inside somewhere: "We create this world with our emotions. We escape this world through our breath. They are the opposite ends of the same thing, and that thing is 2ness."
I started doing the Breath of Flight while I walked around looking for him. It was a big park, and I eventually stopped looking for the old man and just walked around breathing. It felt so good, I didn't care about anything else. Many times I had to steady myself and slow it down so I wouldn't fall on the grass.
Finally I decided the whole thing had been a dream. Obviously I'd fallen asleep on the grass and my mind had made the whole thing up, starting with the disappearance of the yuppie in the diner. It was getting dark, so I walked the rest of the way home, occasionally grinning involuntarily because my body was tingling, full of oxygen, and my mind was blissfully empty.
Arriving across the street from my apartment building, I barged across the busy street like some kind of minor deity, ignoring traffic, causing cars to slam on their brakes. I felt immortal.
Carlos Castaneda was waiting for me outside my apartment building.
"What a dump," he said, and followed me inside.
As we climbed the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment, he began a monologue that didn't end very often until he disappeared from my life many surprising months later. "We dissolve the world with the Buzz Breath so the world can recreate itself in a non-habitual pattern, along more fluid lines. Reality is what we make it, and air is the fuel of flight, the way out of this mental institution we mistake for earth. With air we dissolve the world and wake up in a new world."
"Is that how you made that guy disappear in the diner?"
"Heck yeah, if you smack someone good in just the right spot when they aren't paying attention, you knock 'em right straight out of your world. You have to get it just right though, or you could get your ass kicked."