Our destiny is often not what our egos and personalities have come to want. The words of others telling us what to become are often false guides. Only the nature of your true self provides the reason for your incarnation and the direction of your spirit. The key is to simply find yourself, and connect to that silent center as you live your life. The thinking mind doesn’t really need to be the one aware of our destiny, because there’s an invisible hand drawing our story. That hand is the truth of yourself, your essence. Trust in it. Listen in silence, and your destiny will be the most sure and immovable part of your experience in this life.
Recuerdo el día cuando mi abuelita Consuelo se desmayó y la sostuve en mis brazos.
Me preguntó al despertar si acaso la muerte sería como ese dulce flotar hacia el vacío que acababa de experimentar.
“Porque si así es,” me dijo con su inteligente y alegre sonrisa, “ya no le tengo miedo a la muerte.”
A ese dulce vacío voló hace un año mi abuelita.
Ahí estaremos un día, como siempre lo estamos…
Como está la casa de tejas y rayos de sol con humo de leña.
Como está su cuarto con risas de niños y paredes de santos.
Ahí, en ese vacío detrás de las memorias
donde se resuelven vivencias
donde la historia se vuelve viento
donde lo antiguo reverdece entre pájaro y grillo…
Ahí nos espera el consuelo eterno de su vela perpetua.
La quiero por siempre, Abuelita.
As a child, sitting at the beach of El Espino in El Salvador, I would look ahead of me and I would see a horizon where the blue water kissed the blue sky. And I would wonder about that line that divided the heaven and the ocean. It was thin—maybe not really there.
It was there just so I could see it and imagine a separation between the two. And as I tried to penetrate that almost visible barrier, I would notice that the periphery of my eyes would widen, almost as wide as the ocean. And I sat there with my small eyes, with my small mind, in this small world, almost able to hold the immensity of the ocean.
It was vast. Huge. I could not hold it in my thoughts. Any thought I begun to have about it would be washed away with that roar, with that sound, deafening all over—a busy silence. Before every thought formulated in my mind: silence. After every thought: silence. And all around the thought, that loud roaring silence of the ocean.
Today there is no volcano in my view.
No people. No path. No city. No humming.
Today, it’s just the fog that dissolves millions of worlds as it becomes more clear and solid, existing within me and without me.
The word that tells me that there is an external reality is no longer dead. The gate keeper is dead.
Who, then, punishes the archangels? Or do they exist inside me, in caravans?
Do they exist in a room, collecting dust and gathering the consciousness of little children?
Does the manticore fly? Does the unicorn travel on solar currents?
Is the man in the cross still there looking at me with those eyes, asking me if I know that I am there nailed to the same cross, to the same creation, unable to move and therefore only able to upscale or downscale?
From the point of view of neurology, as soon as the baby begins to acquire motor skills and focus their eyes, their brain begins to trim. There are neural connections that cut themselves off. In that cutting off, we begin to bring our attention into this world; to be able to perceive things as separate and distinguish shapes, heights, duration, space, color. Without that trimming, everything that the organism can perceive would be perceived and nothing will be distinguished. So, there is a trimming that happens there, and part of that trimming of our neural system is what culture does with language.
Then, over that language, many things are programmed: llike belief systems, like agreements of what is good and what is bad, what is acceptable and what is not. And then over that series of values we build identities: democrat, republican, Argentinian, Mexican. From those we define our personal identity: “This is me,” “That’s not my family,” “I am not like that,” “I am like this.” But we don’t realize the layers of soil that we use to build that sense of self.
I talked to doves coming down to nest from the dormant volcano of my youth. Sometimes, I walked up the volcano and sit at the summit to watch the city before sunrise. Silence reigns at this time, yet the noises of the creatures of the jungle were there accentuating the silence: some crickets, a few barking dogs, and sometimes noises that I cannot describe. With the Sun came the calls of the proud roosters, the humming of the factories, and the cars going to work. Someone screams in the distance, and someone laughs farther away. A few isolated movements appeared. Then, the sounds began to copulate and mount one another. Suddenly, the cacophony of sound and movement begin to become two, three pitches, two sounds, until only one sound remained. The sound resultant was the humming of the beginning of creation, and with eyes closed then I became one with the humming of a city that was awakening.
He was dressed in dark cloak, wearing a black hat. He had the eyes of a madman. And I knew that was the body I was going to take. So that one day, maybe, I would know what he knew.
He took away all my gods, all my beliefs and convictions. In order to inhabit this body, he began to drill his consciousness and her presence through every nerve in my body, holding on to every gland, and making every second an eternity.
I saw the mechanical and predictable when I, on my seventh birthday, became suspicious that everyone around me had been replaced, and that I was now surrounded by robots or extra-terrestrials; that they were observing me.
I didn’t know why they were observing me. I just knew that they were mechanical, and that they were pretending to be the people I knew.
I knew also that I needed to pretend that everything was the same.
We were a small band of psychonauts, explorers of unintended spaces, out to the Mina Es—a mine of clay soil we had named after the last letter of each of our last names. Ivan, Omar, Milton, Macoy, Ricardo, Pío and Toño. Our last names ending with the sound of es. Not enough money or food at home to make sandwiches or any kind of meal. Only salt, we would take with us. On the way, we could cut lemons to suck with the salt, our provisions for the journey. Sometimes, if someone had a cent, we could buy the refuse of the mango twist from Doña Evelia. She had a machine where a green mango was stripped into long delicious spaghetti-like strips and mixed in a clear plastic bag with lemon, salt, algüaishte and chile. Quite the mouth-watering 25 cents delicacy! So far from our budget, but not the peel of the mango. They discarded the green peel of the mango, and that we could buy in bigger bags for only 1 cent!
And so, armed with provisions and hand made sling shots, we went in our way to the Mina Es. On our way there, we went through ravines and hills, tunnels and shanti towns built on cardboard houses. We visited the abandoned medicine classrooms of the University long ago taken apart and abandoned by the armed forces. We would see the big pig inside a corral, maintained by some unknown caretaker in the deserted department of agriculture. The pigs’ huge testicles protruding behind his legs, each one the size of a soccer ball from some magic or science of the frustrated dreams of some students turned guerrilla fighters.
We went through so many worlds and adventures, running from guard dogs and ignoring the strays, guided by birds and playing with familiar spirits. We went following the maps in our heads, until we found ourselves in a field of golden brown clay, from where we supplied our bags, making room by eating the lemons and salt—or the refuse of the mango twist, if we had scored earlier. We took our loot back, to make cups and plates and strange gods out of the clay: also leaves and toys, little people and trees. And on our way back we would always take a different route. We came to the Mina Es by way of the forgotten passages of Zacamil and Mejicanos, but we returned home through other stranger passages not of this world. We voyaged through uncharted passages of forgotten worlds, using words and stories of long ago, forgotten as the race of people who once inhabited these lands was itself forgotten. We allowed the perceptions of these long ago impressions and sensations, not delegated to hints and adumbrations behind flickering shadows of the unconscious, to come out and guide us on our way back.
Thus we searched for strange maps; maps which described not physical properties of the known world but the shadow world. Waded not through accepted history, but through recurring mythology. We sought the stories of the old ones. We recorded the lies told in prisons and mental institutions. We were guided at times by the sexual fantasies of the dangerously deviant.
Walking from dream to dream, recording every distortion: shadows that move within a blink, the dissolution of the world as we fall asleep, the dissolution of time as we begin to wake up.
Those became our stepping-stones.
Yes, madness. Those were the definitions of our maps for a long, long time: lies, distortions, inaccuracies, old-wives tales, intentional lies, honest beliefs, and entertaining mythologies.
Songs and dreams! They created a vast wasteland, a desert made of thoughts. We started to chart the territories where this sand of mind-stuff had congealed into miles and miles of glass, forming cities—illusory cities made not of glass itself but of the reflection of the moon upon the glass.
Photography by Sharla Sanchez
When we come into this world, we find ourselves open to the environment, with no shields other than those provided by family and inheritance. We are there, exposed to predators and to influences. We are open to receive the programming of our nervous system. At that time there is no division between self and environment; no distinction between the center of the circle—the source of our attention—and the circumference which is the perceived universe around us.
Everything belongs to the same flux. There is hunger and the satisfying feeling of being nurtured. There is no inside, and no outside; just a constant back and forth of consciousness, impressions, and expressions. No difference is made between any two things.
We begin life from a state that is unified, yet quite vulnerable.
Very close to death, we begin life.
The division between life and death at the beginning
is a thin, invisible membrane,
like the rainbow walls of a bubble made of soap,
floating in midair,
going up into the morning sun
and popping out
right at the same moment
that it disappears.
Such is the consciousness
with which we come to this world.