Nagual and Tonal – the approach of Carlos Castaneda and the evolution of thought.


Carlos Castaneda talks about the difference between the “tonal and the nagual”. The “island of the tonal” is our world as we know it. It is full of labels, symbols, interpretations about the nature of our universe. It is the principles we know of in our conscious thinking.

The tonal is an island on the nagual, including everything in the universe which is not named yet. A lot of people take our world for granted. The way we look at our universe is our universe. Everything we can imagine is the only thing in existence. I think that is an absurd statement. We have no possibility to know that we see as reality is all there is.

An example: 2000 years ago a computer was part of the nagual. It didn’t exist yet. It was impossible for humans to think of something like a computer. It probably couldn’t exist for the people of that age.

Copernicus turned the world view around of so many people. Now we see it as evident truth that our world turns around the sun and is part of a solar system. How many of us really realize that there could be an infinite amount of copernican evolutions yet to come?

String theory has a similar concept, in a sense that our dimensions and perceptions are built out of strings and an infinite amount of other strings are possible.

We can only see what we are “trained” to see. We can only percieve the what our senses allow us to see.

There is no one doubting there are radio-signals in the air, together with wi-fi, television, telephone, light, gps,… But yet to some the eastern concept of energy, qi, prana, kundalini are impossible.

The difficult moment in every big discovery or new way of thinking is the point where worldview isn’t the right anymore. This means alienation, fear, the unknown.

I had the same experience with the ideas of Carlos Castaneda and his of way of approaching them. The books can be creepy, confusing, dark and frightening while they pretend to have the only worthwhile answer to life. They give access to another experience of the world, but they can be very confusing as they don’t give a fulfilling answer to all the feelings of emptiness that comes with these truths.

In one of his books Don Juan, the teacher of Castaneda says life makes no sense to him. He enjoys the greatness of perception, but doesn’t care about mankind and it’s follies. Most people to him are unaware, idiots.

I don’t like this way of thinking and I long searched for an answer. I give my answer later on, but first I want to explain how the problem of clarity manifests in our daily reality.

A good description of the nagual, though a bit different as I approach it:


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