When you were born, the Tonal was there only as potential. It was surrounding you, nurturing you. You knew the Tonal only as an all-encompassing feeling. You did not distinguish between one feature of it and another. You did not say, “This is my mother, and this is a crib.” It was all the same. It was feeding you; it was carrying you into sleep, protecting your form. That’s all you knew.
As time went by, your assemblage point was fixed, and the world became what it is now, and you were able to name and distinguish things. So you looked at your mother and said, “Mama,” and you looked at your father and said, “Not the mama.” And you looked at your toys and said, “Mine.” And then you looked at your neighbor’s toys and said, “Mine.” And then someone beat you up—usually your neighbor’s kid when you took his toys—and you learned to share, out of the goodness of your heart.
From my upcoming book: The Teachings of a Toltec Survivor
When I was in the fifth grade, I had a good friend named Lucía. I called her that because she was born when I was shinning a light behind her shell. It looked like the glow of life came from her as she was stirring alive and broke through this side of life.
My abuelita gave her to me to raise. I carried her warm fuzzy frailty in my hands for the 100 kilometers trip back to the city. She took residence in the small cement square we called a patio, where the water basin was.
I came to visit and speak with her every day after school. She didn’t like to play, but she enjoyed listening. She liked it when I’d tell the cats not to approach, and when I trained the dog to see her as my friend. I failed to train my aunt, who served Lucía to me one afternoon. My older brother laughed at the surprise on my face when I came to the patio after lunch and didn’t find my friend. “You just ate her!,” he mocked.
I covered the real feeling pulsating above my belly, under my heart. I didn’t want him to see. I masked my inner reality with rage, as if the mockery was the only thing I minded. The real feeling, I carried with me safely through life, holding its fuzzy fragility in a tiny square of my solar plexus where a glow of light forever listens and waits.
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.