However many times I try, I die. However many lives I live, they fly in to the abyss only to be catapulted back through the eye of the storm into the flashing light. Torn asunder by the thundering, smoldering, coal-black clouds, my voice is lost in the din. Recast then in a common form, attuned to a common existence - molded like red clay, a sounding vessel resonating with the void, the humming line between is and isn't. Between the maybes and the knowns and the unknowns, all along transmuting each of the three. An eye, an oval, an egg; a scroll marked by owls and scrawled by knaves.

the great work is not an end-point but a process, although it is common in the beginning stages to assume the former case. in fact its nature resembles the maintenance of a dynamic system within a certain range of values.

cycles, repetitions. easy enough to miss - one has to be looking. this is what Castaneda calls stalking. one looks out for the most subtle of changes in ones environment. truly an endless task, as the more attention one pays to one's reality, the stranger & less commonplace it will seem, until one suddenly finds oneself wondering how they could ever have mistaken this magical place for an ordinary world. but back to our cycles.

some have hypothesized that consciousness itself is a fluctuation, a binary alternation, a flickering, a flashing light1. so perhaps its not so surprising that life itself also seems to move through cycles, expanding, contracting, succeeding, failing, & so forth.

isn't it unfortunate that everybody tends to move through these cycles? not particularly, as this is the way of nature. everything that lives moves cyclically through its existence. people are in fact at an advantage here, as they can realize this fact & work toward making the most of it. but this isn't simply a matter of contemplation (though that's a good start) or a matter of pointless superficial changes. what is required is a radical deconstruction of one's every action to determine what one can do without, energetically more than on a mere material level. although on the surface this might seem like another expression of some ascetic ideal, what is intended is perhaps the use of similar methods, but towards almost the exact opposite objective. one needs to develop the ability to avoid pointless wastes of energy and time that serve no purpose other than as trivial distractions, & to then redirect this energy to whatever one has decided are worthwhile pursuits. the point is that the effort saved through this process can provide a boost that can then be used to enter a whole new world of cycles. a magician is nothing other than a person who has attained a certain experiential understanding of these energetic facts, & can effectively use them to alter their own, or another person's perception. 

& yet, even in this new existence, this new reality, there will eventually arise an inevitable death (at least if this is understood in its technically accurate form of a radical change to one's state of being). why does one have to 'die'? Castaneda speaks of an assemblage point2, which is a way to denote a particular trajectory of perception of the world. from this perspective, success is simply the fixation of the assemblage point in a position that one, or one's society, might consider successful. one might imagine this to be a final objective, at least until it is attained. at that point it slowly loses interest until one finds oneself almost bored with their own success.

from this perspective, it is irrelevant whether one is successful at any given thing or not - or, as Sartre says in Being and Nothingness, "it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone or is a leader of nations." The ultimate point is not to become fixated on any one point of perception, but to become flexible, able to take on whatever appearance or traits are necessary in any given situation. to experience everything that it is possible to experience. only from such a perspective is one capable of forming a comprehensive understanding of the world, & this is the position of a true initiate.

1: it could even be that consciousness is a kind of flow, that moves through but does not belong to anyone in particular. in this case, the self is simply a surface, or the 'set' through which this force acts; anything else is but an illusion caused by the fact that habits, including mental habits (or 'memories') persist.

2: In Castaneda's esoteric anatomy, a person is energetically experienced (but not, as some have erroneously judged, visually apprehended) as a spheroid of glowing energy. the 'subjective' experience of a person's perception of the world depends on where on this shape the assemblage point is located.