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A Toltec view of Self


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#1 Stigweard

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 03:19 PM

This is presented as merely ‘another view’ and is in no way presented as ‘the only way’. There are some interesting correlations between Toltec and Taoist spiritual ‘technologies’ that may be of practical use.

In the Toltec ‘view of the world’ we have the Nagual and the Tonal (pronounced “Nah-whal” and “Toe-nahl”). These can be viewed as an island (the Tonal) existing within an infinite ocean (the Nagual).

The Tonal is the personal self; it is everything about oneself and one’s world that can be described in words: your personal history, your personality, the details of your life, your associations with other people and the world, etc, etc. The Tonal is therefore your ‘view of the world’ and is upheld by your internal dialogue and your habitual behaviour.

The Tonal is a double edged sword because, to a seeker of spiritual freedom, the Tonal is the ‘great adversary’ but also, as will be discussed below, it is the greatest tool we have.

The Tonal is our adversary because it is our fixations of our Tonal that keeps us trapped within limited consciousness, and a tightly woven trap it is. For it is our internal dialogue that forms our view of the world which in turn determines our habitual behaviour and it is our habitual behaviour that reinforces our internal dialogue. A self perpetuating loop is created.

Eg: The individual says to themselves: “I am terrible with people.” So their inner conflict creates terrible interactions with people whence they say to themselves: “See, I knew I am terrible with people.”

The real problem is that all our available energy is enmeshed within this cycle, and it is this energy we need to make our bid for spiritual freedom.

The secret to unravelling the fixations of the Tonal is of course to stop the internal dialogue, and there are many practical techniques including:
• Not-doing: deliberately engaging in behaviour that is contrary to internal dialogue.
• Recapitulation: recalling all the memories that formed one’s view of the world and dissolving fixations and resolving energy losses at their roots.
• Sensory saturation: gazing, listening, watching the breath; also includes intricate physical activities for example martial arts kata and forms; immersion in artwork, music, calligraphy etc can also be included here.
• Internal dialogue interrupters: Zen Koan are a good example of this as are the “Who am I?” / “Who is asking?” practices. In this category the proper use of mantras can also be included.

The process of turning off the internal dialogue is called “Stopping the World” because when the internal dialogue ceases the inherent view of the world built upon that internal dialogue also ceases. And it is only when we stop the world (i.e. our Tonal) that we are able to experience the Nagual directly.

In this sense, when we dissolve all the features of the Island of our Tonal we merge back into the infinite Ocean of the Nagual (I am sure that you can see the Taoist implications here).

However, even though our Tonal is our adversary (so to speak) it is also the greatest tool we have for two very important reasons. The first of which is that our Tonal is our ‘road map’ to spiritual freedom in the sense that, because of our built up fixations, by following the ‘weave’ of our fixations we can trace ourselves back to our original self. The act of tracking the features of your Tonal and following its trail back to your original purity is called “Stalking the Self”.

The second very important reason why our Tonal is a great tool is that it provides us a reference point from which we can make sense of our experiences within the Nagual. The Nagual is infinitely mysterious and unknowable, words will never be able to describe it as words are strictly confined to the realm of the Tonal. So we need to be able to dissolve our Tonal so that we can experience the Nagual but then we have to recreate our Tonal so that we can both make sense of our experiences and also so that we can reveal and elucidate the ‘road’ leading to the Nagual to help others on their way.

It is this ability to create and dissolve the Tonal at will and have a completely fluid perception that, to the Toltec, constitutes true spiritual freedom.

Your comments are welcome. :)

Stig

 


#2 clearclouds

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 04:47 PM

Excellent post. The concept of the Tonal seems to be quite a good umbrella term for the endless array of interference that self has between itself and connection with emptiness.

I wonder if they were able to take the concept beyond just theory to the extent that the Taoists did with their ability to extend life and access the unlimited power of the void for here-and-now use in life.

#3 cat

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 04:56 PM

That was a concise and clear presentation. Thankyou, I enjoyed reading it. I have been drawn to some of these practises in the past. Done some recapitulation.

I found, when I began consciously on the Daoist path, that it was interwoven with shamanic experience and practise.. and of course Taoists were Shamans, originally. or are Shamans, depending upon your point of view.

The book by Victor Sanchez, The Toltec Path of Recapitulation, is useful and interesting. But recapitualtion is quite a laborious process.

I think EFT adresses issues much faster. Donna Eden has a book on Energy Psychology also, which offers clear bodily rooted ideas as to how to deal with what is manifesting as an emotional or psychosomatic issue.


We 'stop the world' by doing Qigong or meditation, or by painting or writing or cooking or whatever, then we 'return' and find 'ourselves' again, tiresome as that might be, or maybe it is a joyous reunion..


Ultimately as Daoists, our training tells us all answers are to be found in the body. get the body right and all else will be right. Keep doing the practise. Begin, and continue.
There is no need of any other strategies.


But we like strategies! And stories, and new words. New sensations.

I like the way you have framed this answer to the question of the place of self or the ego , in spiritual work.

Since there is absolutely no chance of extinguishing the ego(unless we wish to be in a coma) it is just as well to befriend it.

#4 Stigweard

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 06:28 PM

Taoism and the Toltec path have many similarities and can supplement each other in many ways. In a real sense they are both 'sciences' exploring the same universal reality.

As an example, practices like qigong and taijiquan achieve the Toltec goal because they work in two powerful ways. Firstly they work to liberate the energy locked away in the blockages within one's system; blockages that arise from the energetic enmeshment of our consciousness as a result of our internal dialogue fixations. Thus by clearing these internal blockages you are dissolving your 'view of the world', thus bringing your awareness back to original purity.

And also, because qigong and taijiquan necesitates unified awareness, it serves as a 'sensory saturation' and thus stops the internal dialogue.

Stig

 


#5 steve

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 02:13 PM

Very nice post, Stig.
I was first exposed to Toltec tradition through Castaneda's work in the late '70's (geeze, geeze... wheeze, wheeze.... :) ).
I reread his ouevre last year. Truth or fiction (much more likely), it is wonderful stuff.

Another reason why the tonal is our friend and ally (I'm using this word in the ordinary sense) - it is that which develops and acts on the drive, in some of us, to begin questioning itself and looking for what is beyond.

Here's a question: does the drive to experience the nagual (Dao, the Self, God, truth, enlightenment...) originate in the big Self (nagual) or the little self (tonal)?
Steve

When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom.
When I look outside and see that I am everything,that is love.
And between these two, my life turns.
- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

#6 Stigweard

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 05:30 PM

Here's a question: does the drive to experience the nagual (Dao, the Self, God, truth, enlightenment...) originate in the big Self (nagual) or the little self (tonal)?


I believe the natural drive in nature is to become whole and harmonious, so in my view there is a deep natural urge in us all to become reunited with the Universal Essence (in this context the Nagual). So my understanding is that the drive to experience the nagual originates in the "big Self".

Through the act of self-preservation, our Tonal fixations have a tendency to fight tooth and nail when faced with the prospect of annihilation (i.e. merging with the Nagual). This tendency is often witnessed when, after a period of spiritual progression, a practitioner 'springs' back to old habitual behaviour.

This 'two-steps-forward-one-step-back' affair continues until these threads of self-attachment (which can also be called 'self-importance') are sufficiently weakened and dissolved. It is not that our Tonal is erased, it is just that we no longer have attachments to it.

Stig

 


#7 forestofsouls

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 06:18 PM

The Tonal is the personal self; it is everything about oneself and one’s world that can be described in words: your personal history, your personality, the details of your life, your associations with other people and the world, etc, etc. The Tonal is therefore your ‘view of the world’ and is upheld by your internal dialogue and your habitual behaviour.

The Tonal is a double edged sword because, to a seeker of spiritual freedom, the Tonal is the ‘great adversary’ but also, as will be discussed below, it is the greatest tool we have.


First off, some of those exercises I had not encountered before and sound interesting.

But how does other inner content fit into the Tonal? Mental images, associations, feelings (bodily, emotional and mental), etc.

#8 Stigweard

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 06:56 PM

First off, some of those exercises I had not encountered before and sound interesting.

But how does other inner content fit into the Tonal? Mental images, associations, feelings (bodily, emotional and mental), etc.


To clarify further the Tonal can be also be referred to as the "known" whilst the Nagual is the "unknowable". So your inner content would still be part of the Tonal as it can be known.

Important point here is that the Tonal also covers that which is unknown but can be knowable. For example Qi perception for many is unknown but with the right sort of instruction and practice and it can be known.

I agree with Freeform's usage of the term 'bandwidth' when it comes to our cognitive awareness.

Purely as a hypothetical model of example, let us say that humans are able to percieve from bandwidth 89 through to bandwidth 144. However most people, through their social conditioning, only perceive from 95 to 105. So for these people their Tonal (i.e. their known) is the bandwidth 95-105, which means their unknown are the bandwidths from 89-94 and from 106-144 (again purely hypothetical).

If this model has any congruency to universal reality then the first 'step' or objective is to engage in disciplined self-cultivation to access the full range of human potentional (89 through to 144 in the above hypothetical example), this in Taoist translation is the emergence or revitalisation of the Original Self, Original Spirit, or True Nature.

Once the wholeness of self-nature is achieved then comes the alchemical process of sublimation where consciousness 'ascends' into a bandwidth beyond human possibility which, from the reference point of human awareness, can only be called the Nagual, the unknowable.

Stig

 


#9 Stigweard

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 12:41 AM

My wife, Carol, has developed an interestingly effective technique for silencing the internal dialogue. A case of using the features of the Tonal to unravel the Tonal.

We have been having a stressful period with our teenage daughter (enough said) and it was really throwing my wife's emotions around. I made a point of this and suggested she implement a way for her to interrupt the disturbing thought patterns she was having. She turned and smiled at me with that all knowing glint in her eye and told me what she had accomplished.

Carol is a singer who has also participated in quite a few kirtan chanting groups. Using what comes natural to her she has started chanting Om Mani Padma Hum in her mind ... but get this -- she is actually singing the chant in multipart cannon with each part harmonising with the others. Apparently she has got 2 parts down solid and is working on the third and will aim at a four part harmonised cannon in her head !!!

As you can imagine her internal dialogue ceases completely and she is able to create the state change of her choosing.

I love it!

Stig

 


#10 Mantra68

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 01:23 AM

Great post!

I personally can relate to the experience of dissolving the Tonal via the Kunlun method. But while it takes you through your own history and clears things quickly, you inevitably end up at the barrier of self-identity.

Standing on that threshold is an interesting experience and you will face some tough questions. How do you break the barrier? Can you let go all the way? If you do, what happens to "you?"

Most people will find that it is too much and they will resign themselves to the safe belief that they are happy with where they are at. They may approach the edge again later, but more cautiously and with baby steps.

The dissolved state is the Dragon Body or Diamond/Rainbow body and, I believe, you need a very enlightened mind to allow such a release of form.

Edited by Mantra68, 24 February 2008 - 01:12 PM.

Surrender to your heart.

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#11 Stigweard

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 04:08 AM

Standing on that threshold is an interesting experience. How do you break the barrier? Can you let go all the way? If you do, what happens to "you?"


This threshold is quite literally 'the edge of a cliff over the void'; the verge between our tonal and the awesomeness of an infinitely unlimited universe. Our words and instruction can lead us to the edge but beyond that the practitioner has naught to do but jump (or be pushed lol). The "what happens to you?" is totally irrelavent because it is indescribable. It is your attachment to 'you' that is the barrier.

Most people will find that it is too much and they will resign themselves to the safe belief that they are happy with where they are at. They may approach the edge again later, but more cautiously and with baby steps.


Without an authentic teacher, or Nagual (of which I make absolutely no claim to be in any way shape or form ... lol had to be said ;) ), the best way is 'cautiously and with baby steps'. This is where I believe the Taoist tradition has so much to offer.

Step 1: Nourish and integrate your three treasures Jing, Qi, and Shen
Step 2: Cultivate virtue
Step 3: Silence the internal dialogue

Note that these three steps are simultaneous. Do this and at the very least you will have the foundation of a healthy, happy life. Don't bother heading to the cliff's edge until you do (I know of at least one foolhardy yet eternally optimistic practioner who tried to do so ... hahhahahahaa :lol: )

Ahem ... where was I? Oh yes...

The dissolved state is the Dragon Body or Diamond/Rainbow body and, I believe, you need a very enlightened mind to allow such a release of form.


Try not to get too attached to your classifications. In all likelihood the founders of your tradition came up with these terms as their best description of a state of being that is beyond rational comprehension. The names are the proverbial finger pointing to the moon.

Stig

 


#12

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 11:10 AM

hi Stig, ive been a Castaneda fan myself, i wonder if you read the books of marylin tunnenshende (i dont know if its spelled right), and if so, what is you oppinion on it

thanx

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Rambunctious much?

Warm reminder: "中国绝学不传外国人, 大家谨记, 传出去的都是些皮毛"


#13 Stigweard

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 04:12 PM

hi Stig, ive been a Castaneda fan myself, i wonder if you read the books of marylin tunnenshende (i dont know if its spelled right), and if so, what is you oppinion on it

thanx



Hehehe ;) Castaneda was a wild ride but in terms of books I find Theun Mares to be much more lucid and practical. Sorry don't know much of Merilyn Tunneshende.

Stig

 


#14

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 11:56 PM

what does he say about the 21 abstract cores and their ideograms? i was always puzzled about them. how do they look, what do they mean. thanx again

宁 / Ning

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#15 Stigweard

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 04:10 AM

what does he say about the 21 abstract cores and their ideograms? i was always puzzled about them. how do they look, what do they mean. thanx again


I understand that the Abstract Cores are what Carlos wrote was Don Juan’s distillation of centuries of knowledge. They involved resolving the paradoxes in organising the magical and transformative elements of the Toltec tradition as revealed by Carlos and that they involved the teachings and/or energies of the cardinal directions.

I may be wrong (it has been known to happen ;) ) but you may find that these abstract cores are fairly isolated to Carlos’ domain. I have yet to encounter them being discussed elsewhere.

You may appreciate it when I say that I have chosen to be very discriminative when regarding Carlos’ literature. Regardless of being factually correct or not, Carlos’ obsession with phenomena saw him treading the Path of High Adventure a little too much for my preference.

Sorry I couldn’t help you further on your request.

Stig

 


#16 steve

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 08:05 AM

A friend recently loaned me some books by Don Miguel Ruiz. He spoke highly of them.
Anyone read his work? Comments?
Steve

When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom.
When I look outside and see that I am everything,that is love.
And between these two, my life turns.
- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj




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