Erasing ‘personal history’: Don Juan & Carlos Castaneda

Personal history must be constantly renewed by telling parents, relatives, and friends everything one does. On the other hand, for the warrior who has no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with his acts. And above all, no one pins him down with their thoughts and their expectations.

—  Carlos Castaneda

“A warrior doesn’t need personal history. One day, he finds it is no longer necessary for him, and he drops it.“
—  Carlos Castaneda, “Journey to Ixtlan”


What injures the spirit is having someone always on your back, beating you, telling you what to do and what not to do.


People hardly ever realize that we can cut anything from our lives, any time, just like that. For example, smoking and drinking are nothing. Nothing at all if we want to drop them. Only one thing is indispensable for anything we do; the spirit. One can’t do without the spirit.

I have no routines or personal history. One day I found out that they were no longer necessary for me and, like drinking, I dropped them. One must have the desire to drop them and then one must proceed harmoniously to chop them off, little by little. If you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts. It is best to erase all personal history because that makes us free from the encumbering thoughts of other people. I have, little by little, created a fog around me and my life. And now nobody knows for sure who I am or what I do. Not even I. How can I know who I am, when I am all this?

Little by little you must create a fog around yourself; you must erase everything around you until nothing can be taken for granted, until nothing is any longer for sure, or real. Your problem now is that you’re too real. Your endeavors are too real; your moods are too real. Don’t take things so for granted. You must begin to erase yourself.

You’ve said that you want to learn about plants. Let’s put it this way then. If you want to learn about plants, since there is really nothing to say about them, you must, among other things, erase your personal history.

Begin with simple things, such as not revealing what you really do. What’s wrong is that once people know you, you are an affair taken for granted and from that moment on you won’t be able to break the tie of their thoughts. I personally like the ultimate freedom of being unknown. No one knows me with steadfast certainty, the way people know you, for instance.

From now on you must simply show people whatever you care to show them, but without ever telling exactly how you’ve done it. You see, we only have two alternatives; we either take everything for sure and real, or we don’t. If we follow the first, we end up bored to death with ourselves and with the world. If we follow the second and erase personal history, we create a fog around us, a very exciting and mysterious state in which nobody knows where the rabbit will pop out, not even ourselves.

When nothing is for sure we remain alert, perennially on our toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind than to behave as though we know everything.

—  Carlos Castaneda, “Journey to Ixtlan”


Erasing Personal History

(Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda)

{ larger search on the site, much here: )

excerpts from “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” by Carlos Castaneda,
and covers the subject of “erasing personal history.”

did a useful search for all here

and this page especially useful

What is recapitulation?

Taisha:   The recapitulation is a method of bringing back all of the energy trapped in the world in order to have it available to use for other things. It enables one to see that the reality to which you’re born isn’t the only reality, but merely a fixation of energy. When an infant is born, his Assemblage Point is very erratic; he isn’t able to perceive as a functional human being. As he matches the adults around him, his energetic body emulates their position. Energetically, he patterns himself on those who are around him. We all have the position of our Assemblage Points on more or less the same place, enabling us to perceive the same reality. The recapitulation enables you to move that point by using a psychic process of extending your breath to call back any energy you’ve left throughout your lifetime. Every epoch is characterized by what don Juan calls the “modality of the times”: a specific pattern of ideas or cultural ethos. The modality of our times is what’s on our televisions, in our books and newspapers. We’re constantly bombarded with certain themes and ideas that we have to adhere to. Sorcerers call this ethos of our day the “poor baby, me” syndrome because everyone out there is dominated by that sentiment. It’s not only a poor baby world, it’s a poor baby universe with black holes consuming constellations and planets. Sorcerers see that our energy is constantly being consumed by something else. In order to go where we want to go, we have to have energy. In our waking state, all of our energy is used up in our waking concerns: our jobs, our families, or wherever we are. To move away from that position, we have to have extra energy. The recapitulation is the fundamental means of storing that energy.

How does one recapitulate?

Taisha:   First, you make a list of everyone you’ve known in your lifetime, every person you’ve ever come across. That, in itself, is an endeavor of intense concentration. Just making the list loosens up things and enables you to focus your attention on something specific. When you have your list, find a place that puts pressure on the energetic body, like a closet. Sit comfortably and begin with the first person on your list. Work backward, recapitulating or visualizing all the situations in which you encountered this person, those interactions in which energy was exchanged. See yourself interacting and going through all sorts of energetic maneuvers in order to maintain the situation. We all construct our reality energetically. Even when we are just driving down the street, we’re constructing. We take that act for granted and say that the street is always there. But really, we’re all sorcerers who are constituting the world around us, and we’re agreeing upon it’s tacticity. [Sic.] Through recapitulating, you take back energy of the past that is lost in your personal history and hangs around you like a comet’s tail of debris. To disentangle yourself from your remembered pasts, start at your right shoulder and, moving your head from right to left, breathe in. Then, turn your head back again and exhale, sending everything back that you no longer want to be connected with. Then bring the head back to the center again. You don’t have the sensation with every image, but you breathe everything out deeply, sending out lines with each breath. When you have pulled your energy back, breathe that in as a clump and proceed on until there is no more energy left there. The scene will be vacuous, empty because there’s no energetic component in it.

What effect does recapitulating have on your life?

Taisha:   You’ll find that your attachment with your family and friends will be lessened. You can still interact with them, but you’re no longer attached to them because you won’t have that energetic dependence upon them.

and this page especially useful:



The information in this file was compiled by Jack Schryver. 11/16/94.

The Eagles Gift (Florinda; pp 289-291) Copyright 1981 Carlos Castaneda

“… a recapitulation is the forte of stalkers as the dreaming body is the forte of dreamers. It consisted of recollecting one’s life down to the most insignificant detail. Thus her benefactor had given her that crate as a tool and a symbol. It was a tool that would permit her to learn concentration, for she would have to sit in there for years, until all of her life had passed in front of her eyes. And it was a symbol of the narrow boundaries of our person. Her benefactor told her that whenever she had finished her recapitulation, she would break the crate to symbolize that she no longer abided by the limitations of her person.

She said that stalkers use crates or earth coffins in order to seal themselves in while they are reliving, more than merely recollecting, every moment of their lives. the reason why stalkers must recapitulate their lives in such a thorough manner is that the Eagle’s gift to man includes its willingness to accept a surrogate instead of genuine awareness, if such a surrogate be a perfect replica. Florinda explained that since awareness is the Eagle’s food, the Eagle can be satisfied with a perfect recapitulation in place of consciousness.

… She said that the first stage is a brief recounting of all the incidents in our lives that in an obvious manner stand out for examination.

The second stage is a more detailed recollection, which starts systematically at a point that could be the moment prior to the stalker sitting in the crate, and theoretically could extend to the moment of birth.

She assured me that a perfect recapitulation could change a warrior as much, if not more, than the total control of the dreaming body. In this respect, dreaming and stalking led to the same end, the entering into the third attention…

Florinda explained that the key element in recapitulating was breathing. Breath for her was magical, because it was a life-giving function. She said that recollecting was easy if one could reduce the area of stimulation around the body. This was the reason for the crate; then breathing would foster deeper and deeper memories. Theoretically, stalkers have to remember every feeling that they have had in their lives, and this process begins with a breath…

Florinda said that her benefactor directed her to write down a list of the events to be relived. He told her that the procedure starts with an initial breath.

Stalkers begin with their chin on the right shoulder and slowly inhale as they move their head over a hundred and eighty degree arc. The breath terminates on the left shoulder. Once the inhalation ends, the head goes back to a relaxed position. They exhale looking straight ahead.

The stalker then takes the event at the top of the list and remains with it until all the feelings expended in it have been recounted. As stalkers remember the feelings they invested in whatever it is that they are remembering, they inhale slowly, moving their heads from the right shoulder to the left. The function of this breathing is to restore energy. Florinda claimed that the luminous body is constantly creating cobweblike filaments, which are projected out of the luminous mass, propelled by emotions of any sort. Therefore, every situation of interaction, or every situation where feelings are involved, is potentially draining to the luminous body. By breathing from right to left while remembering a feeling, stalkers, through the magic of breathing, pick up the filaments they left behind. The next immediate breath is from left to right and it is an exhalation. With it stalkers eject filaments left in them by other luminous bodies involved in the event being recollected.

… Unless stalkers have gone through the preliminaries in order to retrieve the filaments they have left in the world, and particularly in order to reject those that others have left in them, there is no possibility of handling controlled folly, because those foreign filaments are the basis of one’s limitless capacity for self-importance. In order to practice controlled folly, since it is not a way to fool or chastise people or feel superior to them, one has to be capable of laughing at oneself. Florinda said that one of the results of a detailed recapitulation is genuine laughter upon coming face to face with the boring repetition of one’s self-esteem, which is at the core of all human interaction…

Florinda said that her benefactor considered the three basic techniques of stalking- the crate, the list of events to be recapitulated, and the stalker’s breath- to be about the most important tasks a warrior can fulfill. Her benefactor thought that a profound recapitulation is the most expedient means to lose the human form. Thus it is easier for stalkers, after recapitulating their lives, to make use of all the not-doings of the self, such as erasing personal history, losing self-importance, breaking routines and so forth.

and a non-book perspective

Q: What’s the aim of you not allowing yourself to be photographed, having your voice recorded or making your biographical data known? Could this affect what you’ve achieved in your spiritual work, and if so how? Don’t you think it would be useful for some sincere seekers of truth to know who you really are, as a way of corroborating that it is really possible to follow the path you proclaim?

A: With reference to photographs and personal data, the other three disciples of don Juan and myself follow his instructions. For a shaman like don Juan, the main idea behind refraining from giving personal data is very simple. It is imperative to leave aside what he called “personal history”. To get away from the “me” is something extremely annoying and difficult. What shamans like don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal “me” does not count. He believed that an absence of photographs and biographical data affects whomever enters into this field of action in a positive, though subliminal way. We are endlessly accustomed to using photographs, recordings and biographical data, all of which spring from the idea of personal importance. Don Juan said it was better not to know anything about a shaman; in this way, instead of encountering a person, one encounters an idea that can be sustained; the opposite of what happens in the everyday world where we are faced only with people who have numerous psychological problems but no ideas, all of these people filled to the brim with “me, me, me.”


others on personal history, who refer to ‘Personal history’, Don Juan / Carlos Castaneda info:



scroll to personal history

which is from this big teaching

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