Expecting Rewards; Getting Silent
By Daniel Lawton dan@stardot-tech.com

I know we've been told not to expect rewards, but I truly believe that's an impossibility. I believe that all we can do is change from seeking one kind of reward to seeking another. Does anyone seriously believe we could avoid that? The Nagual was already a sorcerer who had no choice but to live that life. From his point of view, not expecting rewards was a possibility. For us, maybe it's just an ideal, one, which can easily be used as an excuse for laziness.

The biggest progress I made in learning to get silent was when I discovered that when you get silent something is definitely going to happen. Before that point I didn't try as hard or as long because deep down inside I didn't believe anything was going to happen. I had nothing to work for; I was just being a good little sorcerer apprentice and putting in my "silent time." I was basically humoring an intellectual fancy, so I wasn't willing to really push. The breakthrough finally came when I got sick and tired of being a pretender and made up my mind to really prove it right or wrong. Fortunately I believed it to be true, so I didn't stop until it worked for me.

It's like hiking. If there's a big juice bar at the top of a hill, a hill slightly higher than you would have gone on your own, you're going to hike that extra distance. If you're abstaining from sugar and the juice bar doesn't sound rewarding enough, pretend it's a brothel, or for the female sorcerer's, a shoe store.

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If you've never gotten there before, or if a day comes that you're a little more tired, so the distance seems a lot longer, you won't stop because you know that as long as you don't have that juicy reward you haven't gotten there.

I now know for an absolute fact that no matter how tired I am or how pre-occupied with something else I can always force myself silent and expect to feel really good, and to be endlessly entertained with abstract phenomena. Even if I've spent 3 hours trying to get there and have failed, I have the certainty that I just didn't hold the silence for the required few minutes. It gives me the clarity to admit that a stray thought or two popped in every few seconds and I just wasn't trying hard enough.

At first I just didn't realize the extent of concentration required to get my internal dialogue off for 2 minutes. Even a single word popping in resets the clock. (Abstract thoughts are ok, but it takes a bit of experience to recognize those.) Now days, I get silent by expecting rewards. It's my own personal map. I highly recommend it to anyone else that needs a hook.

I don't give a hoot about becoming an egoless zombie, that has nothing to do with learning to get silent. Learning to get silent comes the same way you learned to talk, by repetition. It doesn't come by following some code of behavior or imitating the way someone dresses or carries themselves. And it has nothing to do with enlightenment. Just because you get silent doesn't mean you'll be transformed. For those of you who believe that, you just didn't hear the Nagual speak enough. He said the same himself, you aren't transformed because you get silent, you'll be the same idiot you were, it's just that you'll now know it's possible to get silent. Its true that the Nagual said that he could recall the exact day and second when he first saw energy cocoons (at UCLA) but that's something else. There are different ways to see energy, through dreaming, through the womb, or with your actual body. And there are different types of people, double beings, etc. Why the Nagual reacted that way I don't know, but we have lots of examples of people who saw little by little, and continued to be cruds in the Nagual's books. And the nagual himself told us in class that we had enough energy to see now. Don't look for a mystical transformation because then you won't work, you'll sit around waiting for a divine revelation. Thinking there's nothing we can do ourselves now is just an excuse for why you don't work harder. Or maybe it's because you don't really care, you're just in it for something else involving imitating people.

You don't accumulate seconds of silence in some holy book of merit written somewhere in the heavens by the great nagual, finally achieving favor with the gods and zapping into a silent enlightened state. You simply learn to extend your own personal time, until it reaches a point your perception gets flexible enough to perceive something else. Along the way you perceive shitty, small things. Some day you'll perceive shitty big things. Lets take the mystique out of it. You can learn to do anything, if you work hard enough.

In my view, a pragmatic analysis, or "mapping," could be made of the process of getting silent by watching one's own thoughts and paying attention to one's own reaction to them. Mapping would consist of taking what one learns and practices during the effort to get silent, and making it available (remembering it) when you aren't trying to get silent. It's not much different than weight training. People have learned a tremendous amount about how to build big muscles. The tricks save you time, but you still have to do the work. I've learned dozens of tricks, but I haven't a clue what they are when I'm not using them. Here's what I can remember, but there are lots more I can't remember:

  1. Look for rewards. Rewards are really good. Sorcerers are fibbing when they say you shouldn't look for rewards. Look at the way the Nagual used to dole out the little rewards, like new names, or commenting on how much weight someone had lost. The new name reward was so popular people even do it on their own. So reward yourself the way the Nagual used to do. Rewards are things that happen that excite you to practice more. As you become more familiar with your own thoughts, you'll encounter thoughts that are different. Take these as a signpost. You'll be able to use them as mini-goals when it's especially difficult to get silent. If you get something really different, give yourself a physical "thumbs up" at the time it happens. That way you'll remember later, when you've forgotten what happened. You're in a different state of consciousness, remembering is truly an issue, so don't think it silly to actually move a finger to remind yourself later that at least you got something different to happen.
  2. The Nagual always said he was after different things, changes. So remember that. Anything "different" that happens when you are getting silent is something to take notice of. Also look for strange sensations. These can also be indications you're getting closer to being silent. Sensations I've had include: "bliss", muscle spasms, not feeling my hands, tingling up my spine like the feeling you get at an emotional movie, a pop or snapping on my back or on the top of my head, and the feeling that my thoughts are moving down inside my chest. Of course, visual phenomena are good, but I suspect anyone that gets those will feel sufficiently motivated. Just remember that no matter how vague they are, if you are even willing to believe it happened then that's something different right there, unless of course you're normally inclined to believe something happened. You're looking for differences.

  3. Once you realize you really can get silent (as opposed to having some social obligation to say you believe it), you'll be way better off. You won't have any doubt left. You'll know for a fact that if you aren't getting silent it's because you aren't forcing hard enough, and not subconsciously think it's because there's no such thing. It's one thing to believe there's gold up in the San Gabriel mountains, it's another thing to know exactly where to find a whole bunch of it. We'd all be up there right now if we knew where to find a 5-pound nugget like the one that was just found in Australia.
  4. Silence produces dreaming, dreaming produces gazing, and gazing makes it easier to practice getting silent because it's a big reward. Do both dreaming (by trying to re-enter dreams after you wake up from them), and getting silent. The two practices compliment each other. Then gazing will come while you're sitting in your chair and that will make sitting in the chair a whole lot more entertaining. I believe this can be accomplished in a few months, but realistically you'll work in spurts, with big pauses between them, and it will take years. With all the rewards I get these days, I still work in spurts, with guilt as the motivation to get back to work.
  5. Don't ignore small things, like a tiny dream, no matter how small or quick they are, or how dimly you remember them. The mind has a mechanism that automatically discards "invalid" thoughts or input. That's the thing you have to learn to suppress once you get silent. You could also call it being "flexible". The things it suppresses are rationally invalid, meaning that you would ignore them even if you were looking for something "valid" to happen. So don't ignore anything different, no matter how small. Getting silent is as much a matter of redirecting attention as it is of suppressing thoughts. You can suppress thoughts hard for the required time, then you'll blank out and wake up in a different state of consciousness. But an easier way is to quiet yourself sufficiently to encounter that part of your mind that discards "invalid" thoughts, and then not discard them. They're like ships floating on an ocean, you can hook your attention to them and drift somewhere else. Each time you try to get silent you have to be flexible enough to take whatever comes along. If something comes, go with that. If nothing, just keep forcing.
  6. Sometimes you'll feel an overall feeling, which you'll attach to something that happened in reality. For instance, in a group setting I sometimes feel like something I said has left someone angry with me. While getting silent, this builds up to a physical pressure. But this is a bonus. All I have to do is focus my attention on the embarrassment, which has a physical pressure superimposed on it, and I've redirected my attention. I can ride that straight into a full blown view of energy fibers.

  7. Your energy body might come along. There's no advice to give there except to say that if you find yourself having a conversation with someone, who's really you, be playful and don't discard the input. It doesn't make any sense, but it saves lots of work when it happens.
  8. If you get a choice between watching dreams and continuing to be more silent, I recommend watching the dreams. Flexibility is better than the ability to concentrate because getting silent is easier when you can focus your attention on something else. The stick doesn't really do anything, so do whatever you want to make it more comfortable. It's just a focus for your attention, to give you the feeling you are doing something, like sitting on a bunch of pebbles. None of the silence techniques really do anything, in my opinion, yet I use them all the time. They redirect the attention.