What Is Tensegrity?
Tensegrity is the modernized version
of some movements called magical passes developed by
Indian shamans who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish
Times prior to the Spanish Conquest
is a term used by don Juan Matus, a Mexican Indian shaman who
introduced Carlos Castaneda, Carol Tiggs, Florinda Donner-Grau
and Taisha Abelar to the cognitive world of shamans who lived
in Mexico in ancient times -- which, according to don Juan,
was between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Don Juan explained to his students
that those shamans discovered through practices that he could
not fathom, that it is possible for human beings to perceive
energy directly as it flows in the universe. In other words,
those shamans maintained, according to don Juan, that any one
of us can do away, for a moment, with our system of turning
energy inflow into sensory data pertinent to the kind of organism
that we are. Turning the inflow of energy into sensory data
creates, shamans affirm, a system of interpretation that turns
the flowing energy of the universe into the world of everyday
life that we know.
Don Juan further explained that once
those shamans of ancient times had established the validity
of perceiving energy directly, which they called seeing,
they proceeded to refine it by applying it to themselves, meaning
that they perceived one another, whenever they wanted it, as
a conglomerate of energy fields. Human beings perceived in such
a fashion appear to the seer as gigantic luminous spheres. The
size of these luminous spheres is the breadth of the extended
When human beings are perceived as
conglomerates of energy fields, a point of intense luminosity
can be perceived at the height of the shoulder blades an arm's
length away from them, on the back. The seers of ancient times
who discovered this point of luminosity called it the assemblage
point, because they concluded that it is there that perception
is assembled. They noticed, aided by their seeing, that
on that spot of luminosity, the location of which is homogeneous
for mankind, converge zillions of energy fields in the form
of luminous filaments which constitute the universe at large.
Upon converging there, they become sensory data, which is utilizable
by human beings as organisms. This utilization of energy turned
into sensory data was regarded by those shamans as an act of
pure magic: energy at large transformed by the assemblage
point into a veritable, all-inclusive world in which human
beings as organisms can live and die. The act of transforming
the inflow of pure energy into the perceivable world was attributed
by those shamans to a system of interpretation. Their shattering
conclusion, shattering to them, of course, and perhaps to some
of us who have the energy to be attentive, was that the assemblage
point was not only the spot where perception was assembled
by turning the inflow of pure energy into sensory data, but
the spot where the interpretation of sensory data took place.
Their next shattering observation
was that the assemblage point is displaced in a very
natural and unobtrusive way out of its habitual position during
sleep. They found out that the greater the displacement, the
more bizarre the dreams that accompany it. From these seeing
observations, those shamans jumped to the pragmatic action of
the volitional displacement of the assemblage point.
And they called their concluding results the art of dreaming.
This art was defined by those shamans
as the pragmatic utilization of ordinary dreams to create an
entrance into other worlds by the act of displacing the assemblage
point at will and maintaining that new position, also at
will. The observations of those shamans upon practicing the
art of dreaming were a mixture of reason and seeing
energy directly as it flows in the universe. They realized that
at its habitual position, the assemblage point is the
spot where converges a given, minuscule portion of the energy
filaments that make up the universe, but if the assemblage
point changes location, within the luminous egg, a different
minuscule portion of energy fields converges on it, giving as
a result a new inflow of sensory data: energy fields different
from the habitual ones are turned into sensory data, and those
different energy fields are interpreted as a different world.
The art of dreaming became
for those shamans their most absorbing practice. In the course
of that practice, they experienced unequaled states of physical
prowess and well-being, and in their effort to replicate those
states in their hours of vigil, they found out that they were
able to repeat them following certain movements of the body.
Their efforts culminated in the discovery and development of
a great number of such movements, which they called magical
The magical passes of those
shamans of Mexican antiquity became their most prized possession.
They surrounded them with rituals and mystery and taught them
only to their initiates in the midst of tremendous secrecy.
This was the manner in which don Juan Matus taught them to his
disciples. His disciples, being the last link of his lineage,
came to the unanimous conclusion that any further secrecy about
the magical passes was counter to the interest that they
had in making don Juan's world available to their fellow men.
They decided, therefore, to rescue the magical passes
from their obscure state. They created in this fashion, Tensegrity,
which is a term proper to architecture that means "the property
of skeleton structures that employ continuous tension members
and discontinuous compression members in such a way that each
member operates with the maximum efficiency and economy." This
is a most appropriate name because it is a mixture of two terms:
tension and integrity; terms which connote the
two driving forces of the magical passes.
As excerpted from Carlos Castaneda's Readers of Infinity,
Number 1, Volume 1, 1996. Published by Cleargreen, Incorporated,
(c) Copyright 1996-2007, Laugan Productions, Incorporated.
All rights reserved.