An Interview with Renata Murez and Nyei Murez, students of Carlos Castaneda with Greg Johnson and Tomislav Maric
This evolutionary element from the lineage of seers of Carlos Castaneda’s teacher, don Juan Matus, comes to the UK on November 24 and 25 in a Tensegrity® workshop, the modern form of the energy-enhancing movements known as Magical Passes®, and other practices for expanding awareness that don Juan taught Carlos Castaneda, Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs. Don Juan was a Yaqui Indian seer and a nagual, meaning a leader of a group of men and women seers whose lineage begins in ancient Mexico and whose practices support a way of knowledge devoted to enhanced awareness and the recognition of the interconnectedness of all beings.
Renata and Nyei are the creative directors of Cleargreen, the Los Angeles organization founded by the students of don Juan to sponsor Tensegrity® workshops and publications, and informed by the guidance of their teachers, have been co-leading workshops on this evolutionary art for twenty years. They and a team of associates will come to London to train new instructors in the art, and to introduce a new layer of one of the units of don Juan’s lineage: Theater of Infinity™.
Here they answer questions from Greg Johnson, Director of Concord Institute in London, and from Tomislav Maric, Educator.
Regarding the workshop on November 24 and 25:
- What is Theater of Infinity™? What was Theater of Infinity™ for the seers of ancient Mexico? For the modern-day seers?
Nyei: Theater of Infinity™ has its roots in the physical and energetic movements that originated in don Juan’s lineage thousands of years ago, movement sequences where one is calling on the awareness of other life forms, such as the coyote, the crustacean, the butterfly, the bird, the plumed serpent, and so on. In these sequences, one is momentarily stepping outside the human perspective to get a glimpse of the awareness of these other creatures, and so, to get a broader view also of the human form, and of oneself–to see from a different angle, so to speak. This renders the human, or the personal perspective, less solid, less “final”; it is no longer the only way to look at things. Freed from the finality of such a limited view, we are put in touch with infinity.
Reni: This ease of ‘shape-shifting,’ or ‘perception-shifting’ as modern day seers like to call it, belonged once to our very early human ancestors. Human identity was not so separate from other forms of life. Ancient man experienced his world as an interconnected web of which he felt himself an inseparable part. But eventually ‘separateness’ and an identification of ‘self’ distinct from other sentient beings entered in, and shaman-seers, wishing to once again touch the power of an interconnected world (a world still residing in our genes today), practiced forms of movement that gave them a possibility of return to that interconnected state.
Modernized versions of these forms are practiced today, carrying with them a similar effect – that of pulling up our stakes, so to speak, of our one identity, our one way of being or responding to the world, rendering us much more fluid and capable of perceiving and operating with greater functional possibilities.
And this is the intent of Theater of Infinity™ as we know it today. It allows us to try on other social masks, or to adopt our usual roles or social masks that we don every day, and replay them, inserting a new intention different from our old one. As we do this, our awareness grows and we learn that we ourselves, as individuals, are a multiplicity, much like infinity itself, and find it then less important to fight for our usual singular role.
Nyei: This modern form of the theater has its beginnings several generations ago, with the naguals Elias and Amalia, who freed the movement sequences from the ritual context they had acquired over centuries, so they could be approached purely as movements that help us to gather our own natural energy. Their students, the naguals Julian and Talia (don Juan’s teachers), brought the practice of these movements into the context of modern theater and dance. Today the theater is accessible as a practice for anyone who wants to gather energy to review their own lives in the joyful and engaging way that the theater can provide.
It is theater that can be performed with or without an audience. In playing a role, we become aware of the role, and so the assemblage point—the point of orientation—and therefore the perception of players and audience, shifts.
Reni: This is what we will do in the workshop in London. We will work in small groups to play scenes from our own lives, maybe a dinner table scene, and interspersing the scene with the movements, of for example, the whale, or the butterfly, and the expanded breath and shift of awareness that they bring, the player can become more aware, as he or she plays and replays the scene, of the social mask he is wearing—the postures he adopts—literally—and the assumptions and judgments he might be making about his family, coworkers, friends, or himself. Seeing those postures, judgments and assumptions, one can then start to get past them, to gain empathy, and expand one’s view. And when one does this—the field of one’s interaction is altered—and those new options are now available for adoption in one’s daily life.
Nyei: This frees an enormous amount of energy. Carlos Castaneda pointed out that it takes a ton of energy to “do” “you” every day—to present, uphold, defend, reestablish the “doing” of Susan or Jim or whoever it is and accompanying dialogue such as: “I didn’t send out the order because I was waiting for you.” “I do all the work around here.” Etc. etc.
We might find a shift, through playing the scene in the context of Theater of Infinity™: “I had a feeling I should call you to check on the order.” “I really appreciate the way my sister/brother/co-worker/boss does work that I can’t do.” Etc. etc.
Reni: And the beauty of this continuing change of perception as the scene is played again and again, is that it’s the individual and their inner seer finding his or her own options—nobody is telling them what to do, or giving advice. It’s the theater play, and Tensegrity® movements themselves, as well as the support of the other players, that help the person awaken what don Juan called the inner seer—our internal link to infinity. And following that inner compass, one’s Theater play and life start to make a lot more sense, and create a lot more joy.
- Can you say more about how can it be used and applied to everyday life? Could you give some practical examples?
Reni: You can see this at play for example when in Theater of Infinity™ you play yourself in a recent scene at the meeting table at work. You might notice that you came in expecting the meeting to be trying and tedious. You might even have been playing scenarios in your mind beforehand, scenarios of the dumb, controlling or pointless things you expect the others (and you) are going to do or say. When you enter the room, your breath is short, your shoulders and jaw tight—you are closed off. And not surprisingly you once again find the meeting tedious and restricting and you just tolerated it and left with the same judgments of your peers (and yourself) that you entered with. And not much got accomplished.
Shift that state, shift your breath, practice a movement with an intention to change, gain and initiate a new action, inspired from your inner seer and play the scene again, and this time you might notice that the person next to you, whom you had judged as stubborn in his ideas, simply wants to know that his ideas have been heard—and that when breathe while you are listening and you ask relevant questions while he talks, he becomes less rigid in his thinking and is willing to adjust his plans; or you see something in his plans that you like.
Then shift again with a movement, gain a new intent, play your scene another time and you might notice this time that if you pay attention to others, they pay attention to you. Then move, find a new impulse again, and realize that your meeting can be productive if you take an active, intentional and conscious part.
Another point is to know that our personal histories and social masks are not the whole of who we are. We are beings who come from the stars – not only the carbon elements of our flesh and DNA but our energetic aspect too. Knowing this on a physical, emotional, mental and energetic level that we are but travelers here on this great rotating earth, who while visiting accumulated personal histories and social masks, allows us to drop them that much faster and get to our essence that much quicker from which to perceive, experience and live.
This is a primary value of Theater of Infinity™, for it begs an answer to the question: “If I am able to play so many different roles, which one is my true self?” With the possible answer being: “None!” or “All!” And isn’t life the greatest stage or theater of all! In the words of the immortal Shakespeare –
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…
- Are there any memorable stories from the books of don Juan’s students that exemplify this art or practice?
Nyei: Yes –the nagual Julian, who was don Juan’s benefactor, taught his apprentices through theater that he enacted in his daily interactions with them. he was continuously setting up scenarios or playing roles to bring across what he wanted them to learn. For example: When the nagual Julian wanted to take don Juan to “meet the Spirit,” he announced a party. He invited all of his apprentices and the people of the town to the high bank of a river, and they had a full fiesta, with a banquet, and skits, dancing, the works. And at a given moment the nagual Julian announced it was time for don Juan to “meet the Spirit,” and without warning don Juan, the nagual Julian picked don Juan up and threw him into the river, which was so high at the time it was nearly flooding its banks. “Don’t get mad at the river,” the nagual Julian exclaimed to him. And this became the way that don Juan became aware of his energy body—his twin body, made out of energy, his connection to infinity. He couldn’t fight the river, as he had tried to fight every other event or obstacle in his life—so he acquiesced and found himself both in the river and his energetic component running along its banks. He had gotten what the nagual Julian was aiming to show him, which included: that if he stopped fighting the current in his life, so to speak, a transcendent reality opened up for him.
Our daily life is theater, Carlos Castaneda said. The question is—can we be artists in that theater, conscious of our part—impeccable, meaning staying in our integrity, no matter what comes our way. The origin of the word theatre or theater in English is Greek théātron, meaning the place for viewing. The nagual Julian was continuously finding or creating scenarios in which his students could see or learn something. And don Juan, in his way, did the same. As did our teachers. We were continuously put in situations where we would have to get past our idea of ourselves, and play another part, in order to succeed.
In my case, I had to overcome always attempting to play the part of “genius.” Carlos Castaneda was relentless in calling this out. “Hello Nyei!” He would say in front of everyone. “How’s the genius today?” It took me a while to laugh, and begin to understand, to recognize what I was doing and stop acting as if I was the smartest person in the room. To be effective in my task of helping to lead workshops, I had to rein it in and learn to listen. To play other parts.
Reni: In my case, I had to overcome the tendency to play the role of victimized heroine. And it was suggested to me not only to practice Magical Passes® a lot to effect change but also to attend acting school. So with nothing but my fabricated self to lose, I did, and after several years of playing the roles of victimized heroines – Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire, Joan from Saint Joan, and Laura from The Glass Menagerie – roles with which I identified greatly, I favored a shift of character to those of successful and triumphant females who were not carted away to the psyche ward, burned at the stake, or left loveless. By playing roles so close to mine and then stepping out afterwards to laugh at myself being cast in the same role again and again by my acting teachers, my point of perception loosened in my art as well as in life: I began hungering for and adopting new roles.
- The day after the workshop, there is an excursion to Stonehenge. How is the workshop and the theme Theater of Infinity™ connected with this ancient monument?
Nyei: For us it’s a living reminder of where we come from— built by a culture whose internal quiet allowed them to experience and live in collaboration with the forces of nature; one can feel the tremendous vibratory nature of what has been set up there—the hum of these monoliths, bridging earth and stars, honoring their seasons and cycles. We ourselves shift with those cycles, and so do our roles in life—we move from child, sibling, parent, wise elder—and through it all, our awareness grows.
Regarding Cleargreen, Tensegrity® etc:
- How do you see the evolution of Cleargreen and its future? What do you consider the overarching intent of this path?
Reni: Our mission at Cleargreen is to support the development and evolution of Tensegrity®—the modern version of what don Juan taught his students. Tensegrity is a word that Carlos Castaneda borrowed from architect R. Buckminster Fuller; the word is a combination of tension and integrity, the forces that hold together tensegrity structures in nature, such as a tree, or in architecture, such as a geodesic dome. All the parts of these structures work and adapt together, so the structure holds its integrity with any outside pressure. Communities work this way as well—there is an adaptability that allows us to cooperate with integrity.
So at this point, our emphasis is on supporting the Tensegrity® community by supporting the Tensegrity® Facilitators-in-Training around the world. They are a key part of creating a global community of local communities supporting enhanced awareness, collaborating with the aim of being more conscious, more present, more alive in daily interactions. The facilitator trainees are leading local Tensegrity® classes with this purpose.
Nyei: And this is a key element of the overarching intent of this path: to be able to live and work and dream together. This comes from each of us practicing the art of living as consciously and joyously and purposefully as possible.
Reni: So this is a path to help anyone following it to return home to themselves, to return home to their energetic side and nature which in our modern, fast-paced, “wired” culture often gets overlooked and dismissed. It is our coming back to this essence of ourselves that allows us freedom of perception.
For our energy body becomes known to us when we are in states of silence; and from that state we begin to perceive far more than just cars, buildings, and jobs. With our energy body, we transcend our usual or ordinary perception, defined by our personal histories.
Nyei: We might perceive, quite possibly, that the tree outside our window is asking for water, or sending affection; or that the boss we labeled tyrant is actually very similar to us. Or that when we feel the ground with our feet, we are more present; that when we breathe in the sunlight, our mood brightens.
Reni: This is the magic of Tensegrity® – the ability of its practitioners to use shamanic principles for the enhancement of their daily lives. Don Juan told Carlos Castaneda, “Be of your time.”
So freedom is something you practice here and now, in the modern world, in your town, with your family, your job, whatever your circumstances are. It’s recognizing that since you are born from source, or infinity, you can always connect with infinity, whether you are in a prison, or a palace. If you move informed by that connection, wherever you might be, you are free. Who could stop you?
- Currently, are you planning to write a book of your experiences with Carlos Castaneda? If so, when might it be published?
Nyei: Yes—In the next year, we are coming out with a book that will convey our experiences with our teachers.