Pomona February 1998
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Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 13:05:24 EST
Pomona Not-Doing Workshop
February 7th & 8th, 1998
by Fred Turnbuckle and Bab Lynn Inanities
~~ Prelude ~~
The Fairplex Convention Center, located in the rolling hills of Pomona, California, east of Los Angeles, was the site of an intensive two day seminar and workshop on Tensegrity organized by Cleargreen, Incorporated. Early the Friday before, another in a series of El Niño storms dropped buckets of rain on the LA area, closing down freeways for a while and making the hour drive from LAX an adventure for some of the attendees who flew in.
Fortunately, Pomona is located on higher ground and didn't suffer the flooding some of the lower lying areas to the west and north did. By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, the bulk of the storm had blown inland leaving the air refreshingly clear. The lush greenery and flowers surrounding the convention center complex stood out with rain- washed clarity, and the colors of sunset were in eye-popping contrast to the previous grayness of the day.
~~ Saturday morning ~~
The next morning broke sunny blue and warm as workshop participants made their way to Building 5 on the Fairplex grounds. It was a short walk for those in the Sheraton, which was a stone's throw away, and a drive of several miles for those in surrounding hotels. Building 5 was a large rectangular structure with a round Quonset hut looking roof and a tan facade. Along the top, running the length of the building, was a row of those whirly bulb-like exhaust fans spinning merrily in the morning breeze.
Almost a thousand attendees filed past the security folks and their metal-detecting paddles into the huge cavernous space where tables were set up immediately inside to check people in. Plastic reddish-pink-orange ID badges were issued along with yarn strings to hang them around the neck. The concrete floor past the tables was marked off with white tape in rectangles for attendees to lay down on their mats in while practicing the not-doing passes. As at the previous LA workshop, large, slightly concave projection screens were set up -- three evenly spaced along each of the two long walls -- and three platforms had been positioned down the middle of the hall.
On the center platform a podium had been set up facing the entrance to the southeast. Attendees milled about, checking out the bookstore tables to the right of the entrance, greeting friends, and generally settling in for an hour or two. Eventually Lorenzo Drake went up to the podium, welcomed us to the workshop, and made a few announcements. He said a workshop was being planned for the beginning of August this year which would cover The Wheel of Time series. He also mentioned the availability of the 30th anniversary edition of Castaneda's first book, The Teachings of don Juan, which contained a new section called Author's Commentaries.
He told a little story about the editor at Washington Square Press that was responsible for the new commentary. Apparently this woman spent days and days reading and re-reading what Castaneda had written but couldn't understand any of the concepts. She sent it back to Castaneda's literary agent saying that the type of thing she wanted to have in the new commentary were things like, 'What have you been doing in the last 30 years?' and, 'Do you have any children?', etc.
The manuscript sat on the editor's desk until the publication date became imminent. Carlos did not submit another commentary. The editor's boss pressed her to take what Castaneda had already written, which is what the publisher finally did. Lorenzo concluded his story by mentioning that the editor has since had a nervous breakdown.
Shortly after Lorenzo's announcements, around 10am, Florinda walked in from a side entrance beaming happily at the crowd as she strolled over and stepped up on the platform to the podium. Most everyone was now either to one side or in front of the platform. Those sitting on the floor stood up and there was a warm round of applause.
"I am Florinda Donner-Grau," Florinda said as the applause died down.
She welcomed us to the 33rd Tensegrity seminar and workshop, the first of which was held in 1994. Before that they had met with people in informal groups but hadn't gotten anywhere, so they decided to teach in a more formal, regimented fashion. She went on to give a short history of how the teaching of Tensegrity had come about.
It all started when Carol came back and changed everything. Her return was an unprecedented occurrence in the lineage of the sorcerers up to that point. She had apparently left with don Juan's party ten years before, thus fulfilling her role as the Nagual woman of Castaneda's party.
Carol's sudden reappearance was quite a shock and threw open doors energetically for all of them as far as what was possible. It also confirmed once and for all that the four of them -- Florinda, Taisha, Carlos and Carol -- were in fact the end of don Juan's lineage.
Carol's return is what gave them the energy and motivation to publicly open up and reveal the secrets of the sorcerers' world which they had been so meticulously taught by don Juan and his party of warriors. Carol's return meant there was no longer reason to keep their knowledge of the magical passes veiled in secrecy.
The challenge for them had been to take the four separate individualized lines of passes they had been taught and render them usable to anyone, while removing a certain morbid aspect that lingered from the mood of the sorcerers of ancient Mexico who had originally discovered the passes in their dreaming practices.
This is where the Energy Trackers and Elements came in. Their work over several years is what enabled a transformation of the passes into what we now know as Tensegrity, and allows them to be taught to anyone who is interested.
There's currently a new configuration of two instructors that will be teaching the not- doing passes, in addition to Miles and Zaia. Their names are Nuri Alexander and Haley Alexander Van Austin. These two are the same, not because they look alike but because their energy is exactly the same. The team of Miles and Zaia are referred to as 'Awareness through Harmony'. The team of Nuri and Haley are referred to as 'Awareness through Sameness'.
"We believe the ancient sorcerers knew of such an occurrence, but don't think that don Juan or the 27 generations of sorcerers before him ever saw it," Florinda said concerning Nuri and Haley. "The effect of these two is so powerful that we guarantee that everyone will feel the effects of the not-doing passes because of them. If not today, then after you leave the workshop."
Even Carlos feels the impact of Nuri and Haley leading the not-doing passes. When he is with them they apparently have a dramatic effect on his awareness. He says they take him and smash his head into the ceiling again and again until it goes into the attic and he reaches a new level of awareness. He has gone into fits of rage over their effect on him because he's too old to be affected by these young people! Florinda thinks what Carlos is really mad about is change, though. None of us really like to change.
She went on to say that they had thought the not-doing passes taught in August were the final versions but, as happened to don Juan and Julian before him, the more they focused on remembering the not-doing passes in order to teach them, the more complete versions of the forms slowly emerged. In the past, the not-doing passes were taught to disciples in order for them to reach a new level of awareness. After this enhanced level of awareness was achieved, the not-doing passes were immediately forgotten until the need arose for them to be recalled and taught to others in turn by the next generation.
Florinda commented that The Series of the Five Concerns which we were about to learn, nicknamed the Westwood Series for where it was originally taught, was a very important series, one which was extremely complementary to the practice of the not-doing passes. It stirred up energy in all directions. The sorcerers of ancient Mexico, and those who came after, all considered the unique saturation engendered by the Westwood Series to be vital in performing the passes for not-doing.
After Florinda concluded her short lecture, which she read primarily from notes (much to all the translators' relief -- they only had to ask her to slow down once :-), she departed through the side entrance to enthusiastic applause.
The almost one thousand attendees then spread out across the huge room after a short break and took their places around the three platforms. Three Elements -- Brandon, Jules and Gavin -- walked out and took their places. Brandon, on the center platform with the live mic, then led in the instruction of the individual Westwood Series passes as portrayed in the book, Magical Passes.
Before completing the series, there was a two hour lunch break, at which point attendees filed out into the bright sunshine of a beautiful southern California day in search of food.
~~ Saturday afternoon ~~
After lunch and a few words from Lorenzo, some of which were about the availability of a Vivaldi CD at the bookstore tables in back that participants would really appreciate after this evening, Taisha came out to speak.
She introduced herself by saying, "I am Taisha Abelar."
She went on to explain that for the last six months, since the August workshop, she's been Ann Marie Carter, one of three stalking personalities. The other two are Anna Maria Cordova and Sheila Walters. Taisha wanted to give us an example of the all inclusive world that is created when a stalker enters into another persona. She told a story of what had happened to her recently.
Anne Marie promised a friend of hers that she would put up some kitchen cabinets. She got involved in the measuring, figuring of angles (few of which were 90 degrees), figuring the height of the cabinets, collecting and computing a long list of numbers. She then went to a giant cabinet wholesaler and worked through the dizzying array of cabinets they had available. After all this was done, Ann Marie wanted to treat herself to lunch.
Taisha at this point explained that Ann Marie treats herself very, very well. She used to go out and Carlos would wonder what Ann Marie was treating herself to now.
"If he only knew!" Taisha exclaimed.
Ann Marie went to a very nice restaurant down by the ocean, and was seated at a table. The harried waitress ran over, gave Ann Marie a menu and said, "It doesn't matter how bad my day is, a sorcerer walks in and I'm walking on a cloud."
The waitress was gone in a flash to wait on another table. Ann Marie thought to herself, 'What? Who is she talking about?' She looks around and sees a man behind her and wonders if that is the sorcerer the waitress is talking about, but decides, 'No, he doesn't have the lean look of a sorcerer.' As Taisha related this part of the story she gestured around her lower midsection to indicate a paunch or a big ass.
When the waitress comes by again, Ann Marie says, "Excuse me, what was it you said to me before?"
The waitress again says, "It doesn't matter how bad my day is, a sorcerer walks in and I'm walking on a cloud."
All of a sudden, as if through a haze, Ann Marie remembers something. She remembers Taisha Abelar as if Taisha is a dream. Ann Marie asks the waitress if she has ever been to a seminar (not mentioning what type of seminar she is talking about).
The waitress says, "Oh yes, I've been to two of them."
The waitress then starts asking Ann Marie questions about recapitulation, but Ann Marie is clueless to help her. She knows that Taisha knows all about it and is desperately trying to bring Taisha back but because she is so deeply 'in' Ann Marie, she can hardly remember anything, and ends up being of little help to the waitress.
She doesn't want to disappoint the waitress and tries to be Taisha. She skips desert because Taisha never eats sugar, and even ends up picking at some lettuce and a hamburger patty when what she really wanted, and the whole reason she had gone to that restaurant, was the hazelnut torte.
Taisha went on to explain that what we need to move the assemblage point from one persona to the other is FLUIDITY, ENERGY and DETACHMENT.
She said the reason they all called don Juan the old Nagual is that he had four separate personas, one of which was unique to each disciple. Taisha believed that he could live an entire lifetime in one of those personas, but he was fluid and switched between them as he saw fit. For Taisha he was John Michael Abelar, for Carol he was Melchior Yowkeeskay, for Carlos he was Juan Matus, and for Florinda he was Mariano Aureliano.
Taisha went on to talk about our names, how we learn to identify with them, how they pin us down. She pointed out that many of us are named after someone else, and with that name often come expectations to be like the person we're named after. She said that we are stuck in the persona we create for ourselves, that we are attached to our names and family history. We will go to great lengths to explore our family tree and talk proudly of great uncle Omar, the pioneer. Taisha told us that there is a company that will for a fee guarantee finding royalty in your family tree.
'Doña Perfecta' by Benito Perez Galdos is a novel Taisha went on to talk about. It's been translated into English, but the Spanish version is better. Cleargreen wanted to get it to offer at the bookstore but it's out of print. They're looking at re-publishing it so they can have it available in the future.
It's the story of a 'perfect woman'. A woman who in her own eyes can do nothing wrong. Everyone around her makes mistakes and it is doña Perfecta's self-appointed responsibility to 'help' these people, trying to get them to behave in her 'perfect' way. Taisha says she keeps a copy of the book by her bedside and reads it every night (sparingly, of course, because it's painful to see oneself).
Taisha also read from notes during her short lecture, but not quite as much as Florinda had (which Florinda mainly did for the benefit of the translators). Her notes were more of an outline which she glanced at from time to time while pacing around behind the podium telling stories. Florinda had started things out on a somewhat concrete level, then Taisha launched off from her foundation into the abstract.
Taisha concluded her short lecture and left through the side entrance.
After her talk, the three Elements completed showing the individual Westwood passes, then led us in the long form version, which had been changed slightly since it was last shown at Omega in October and LA in August.
After repeating the long form several times we took a break, after which a serious spreading out of the participants began. It was dim-the-lights, roll-out-the-mats, time! The six huge video projection screens came alive, and shortly thereafter Nuri and Haley walked out to the center platform. When everyone was settled in, like a bunch of extras on some strange movie set, the lights in the arched ceiling dimmed and light shown on the center platform revealing on-screen the image of Nuri and Haley laying down wearing dark sunglasses.
Nuri gave a short talk. She spoke eloquently and passionately, in a calm sort of way, about what had become the Elements and Energy Tracker's primary motivation -- the enhancement of awareness. Everything else in their daily lives was secondary to this single-minded pursuit. It was their purpose.
"This is how we live. We don't do one thing and say another. This is our life."
She then led instruction of The Legs Rule Vitality.
The next not-doing series to be taught, Unbending Purpose, was led by Haley. Before doing so she spoke briefly about vitality and awareness and how enhanced awareness heralds true behavioral change. She also spoke of the explosive, eruptive nature of the revised versions of the passes, saying they were more appropriate to our time.
As participants filed out for the dinner break, there was little doubt that this was going to be an 'intensive' seminar/workshop. People walked off in different directions looking for food; some to the van pulled up on the right side of the building, some to the Sheraton for its restaurant, or Cleargreen sponsored buffet set up in nearby rooms, others drove off to points unknown as the sun slowly set on a graying southern California sky.
~~ Saturday evening ~~
During the dinner break it began to rain. The Los Angeles area was catching the southern part of yet another El Niño inspired storm. Workshop attendees walked and trotted back into Building 5 with umbrellas, coats and other things over their heads, or in some cases, nothing at all. The sound of rain on the roof from inside the large hall was soothing.
As participants settled down on their mats, mostly thin blue ones, Nuri and Haley came out and got situated on the center platform, which was being projected onto the six video screens. After a few minutes, the lights were dimmed.
On the handout attendees had been given, there were three series of not-doing passes listed. Nuri and Haley had been teaching them in reverse order from the list, so the first one on the list was now being taught -- The Running Man.
Nuri made a few comments about the series before beginning. She said The Running Man series was sufficient in and of itself, that of the different not-doing series it was the most important and could be practiced by itself. She said the shamans of ancient Mexico had discovered that what they considered 'filler' passes, ones that were done in between the others, like the 'back' pass where one pulled one's feet back and held them tense to a count of 20, were actually the most powerful. The ancient sorcerers had hence collected them together in The Running Man series.
Nuri said that performing The Running Man series delivered a weird, mysterious punch. She went on to make a few comments about coveting awareness and vitality, then she and Haley, wearing sunglasses as before, lay down and began instruction.
Very few words were used and very few questions were asked, perhaps two or three. The mood was amazingly quiet for as many people as there were, all laying down moving their legs and feet to the sound of rain in the dimly lit hall. Looking up into the three-story high bowed ceiling, there was a certain tensegrity-like feel to its construction. The technique of using horizontal rods with turnbuckles had been employed to make the ceiling bow out, and on its inner surface there were offset braces which formed a diamond pattern painted black.
After going through The Running Man series a few times, Nuri sat up and explained that in ancient times The Running Man would sometimes be performed to sounds, whether sounds of nature, such as wind or rain, or the sound of music. The speed and rhythm at which the passes were executed would be determined by the sound. The execution of the passes would then become non-volitional, she said, and dictated by the sounds of nature or whatever music was being played.
Nuri went on to say that we were now going to do The Running Man series one last time to the music of Vivaldi's Four Seasons*. She made comments about the feet not often having a chance to experience joy and freedom, and that they would be ending The Running Man series on the next to the last piece so that we could listen to the end in silence and let our feet exult!
Or something like that . . .
She also sang a bit of verse from the song, 'Tomorrow'.
Some participants later commented that they weren't into classical music, or that it was too loud, but the sound quality in that cavernous space was superb. The music mixing with the steady down-pour of rain pounding on the roof was mesmerizing. A certain non- volitional movement indeed seemed to take over, and during the motionlessness of the last movement almost a thousand pairs of feet exulted in the beauty of it all.
And old Lang died . . .
Sometime during the evening, a thousand-year-old oak tree in Encino fell over in the pouring rain.
~~ Sunday morning ~~
The next day dawned mostly clear and fair. A podium was set up on the center platform when attendees arrived, so they settled in on the floor in front and to the side of it. Lorenzo came out and made a few brief announcements, then left abruptly. One participant was heard asking, "What the hell did he say?"
Shortly thereafter, Carol walked in to an enthusiastic standing ovation. She introduced herself then said, "You brought the roof down last night!"
She explained that she was standing against the wall in back by the entrance watching us practice The Running Man series when suddenly a chunk of the ceiling fell on one of the participants. He jumped up and started brushing himself off. Someone next to him turned and said, "Wow, what kind of omen was THAT?"
Carol quickly and mischievously said to the audience, "I'm not going to go into that."
(Wonder if old Lang might have fallen around that time?)
Carol commented that it was weird to see people she loved up on the screens looking so strange and foreign, as if they were floating in the air with their dark sunglasses. (The not- doing pass instructors wore dark sunglasses because of the strong spotlights that were trained on them.)
She went on to talk about Miles and Zaia, and the energetic configuration that they shared which made it possible for them to present the 'On the Run' series as a harmonious team. She called them Mila and Zaio and said that it was rare that a man and a woman could work together with no underlying need for one to assert themselves over the other.
To illustrate her point she performed a quick skit where she played both the man and the woman talking to one another. She said that as soon as a man and woman are put in a room together, something like the following takes place.
Woman: "Does he like me?"
Man: "I wonder if she notices me? Hey baby, you going with anyone?"
Woman: "No . . ."
Man: "Oh yeah? Really?"
Woman: "Yes, I've been saving myself for you."
On and on. Such deep-seated roles leave little room for getting away from a social competitiveness that always seems to lurk just below the surface. What Miles and Zaia represent are a team that has done just that. They don't try to out-do each other or take control, that's why they're referred to as 'Awareness through Harmony'. Carol said, as Florinda had regarding Nuri and Haley, that what Miles and Zaia were going to teach us later, the On the Run series of not-doing passes, would have a long lasting and powerful effect -- if not now, later.
Carol went on to say that it was amazing to see the participants learn the passes so quickly. Talk about mass!
"The four of us could never remember what don Juan showed us," she said. "He said that we were incapable of not only remembering but also of even thinking. The old Nagual would show us a long pass and then say, 'Okay, now you do it.' We four would hem and haw and one of us who was very articulate, I'm not going to mention names, but HE would try to save us by buying time asking questions about the pass. He would say, 'Don Juan, when you did that last movement, were you using your forearm or your wrist?' Don Juan would look at him and say, 'I was using my arm, my wrist and my dick. Now do it!'"
Carol said that all she used to remember were don Juan's insults.
Don Juan's contention was that they couldn't remember anything. They couldn't conceive a complete thought or hold anything in their minds. Not only couldn't they remember the passes, they couldn't concentrate long enough to think.
This state of scattered attention is due to a lack of energy, which is what the magical passes help restore.
At one point Carol said, "You people must be sore."
She said it was okay to smile at your muscles. After that you could even smile at your liver, your adrenals, etc.
[Here are some interesting comments, after-the-event:
"It's called the Inner Smile meditation. Begin by getting a smiling feeling around the eyes, then the mouth, then let it spread down through the body -- first down the front line, through the thyroid, thymus, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys/adrenals, spleen/pancreas, bladder and genitals (there are a couple of alternate sequences that could be done -- slightly different order of organs). Then the middle line through the entire alimentary tract, then down the back line through the brain and spine.
"The purpose is to cultivate the positive virtues associated with those organs according to five-element theory. Also, it's to cultivate health in all the organs by sending them positive thoughts, i.e. to focus one's intent on health and feeling good rather than on sickness, as a way of changing unconscious negative internal dialogue. Also consider -- 'The qi follows the yi' (classical saying) -- the energy goes wherever you focus your attention and intent, so you can bring healing energy to any of your organs."]
Carol said they live minute-to-minute and see each day with awe and wonder; each moment is precious.
"Even if it is a bad day," she said, "it is a splendid day, and we love it."
Carol said they always thank those who are important to them.
"Because each day is so precious," she said, "we thank those around us who we may never see again. Thank you. Sorcerers also say good bye. Another corny saying -- Aufwiedersehn."
With this sentiment, Carol concluded her short lecture and walked out the side entrance.
When the applause died down and attendees had spread out once again, the three Elements returned and reviewed the Westwood series passes. Following that, Nuri and Haley came out and reviewed The Legs Rule Vitality and Unbending Purpose till the lunch break.
~~ Sunday afternoon ~~
After lunch, the remaining part of the afternoon which concluded the workshop, consisted of Miles and Zaia teaching the 18 unnamed On the Run series, or Run of the Running Man passes. These passes would later be broken up into groups of three, each of which would be book-ended by a set of 'opening and closing' passes. The twelve 'opening and closing' passes were taught at once, as were the 18.
In the end, the 18 were performed not in the order they were taught, but in the order of the Sorcerers' Code with the 'opening and closing' passes bracketing them into groups of three. This series of 30 passes was then performed four times through, vocal cues alternating in each round between Miles and Zaia, till 4pm or so rolled around.
On this focused and silent note, the workshop came to a close.
* Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra with Claudio Abbado Conducting and Gidon Kermer on Violin, copyright 1981, #431 172-2.
[NOTE: Our recollections of this workshop are far from complete and not necessarily accurate. We did not take notes during the lectures, and few were taken afterwards. What we have striven to do is bring back as much as possible energetically. We have had some success in doing this, but have a long way to go. We both feel there's a fair amount of stuff missing, and further, that there was a lot more going on than met the eye.]
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