This essay is from paraquem
Published on October 7, 2001
George Lucas & Carlos Castaneda in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
"Remember your failure at the tree"
Again, comparisons are not Castaneda specific, but as one of the most enigmatic parts of any Star Wars movie, the trial at the tree warrants comment.
When Luke Skywalker descends into the mystical tree, he encounters the entity that those on a mystical quest call chapel perilous, I believe - a description of which can be found in Robert Anton Wilson?s classic book "Cosmic Trigger I" -
" ... One eventually faces a crossroads of mythic proportions (called Chapel Perilous in the trade) ... once you are inside it, there doesn?t seem to be any way to ever get out again, until you discover that it has been brought into existence by thought and does not exist outside thought. Everything you fear is waiting with slavering jaws in Chapel Perilous, but if you are armed with the wand of intuition, the cup of valor, you will find there (the Legends say) the medicine of Metals, the Elixir of Life, the Philosopher?s Stone, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness". (Cosmic Trigger I, page 6)
This chapel perilous (or dark night of the soul) is a minefield for the aspirant sorcerer/Jedi - everything rests on one?s psychological or spiritual (call it what you will) condition. All that is necessary for success or failure is contained within the self, and this again is where the notion of being impeccable or "do or do not, there is no try" rears it?s head. Precision is a must. When Luke Skywalker asks Yoda what awaits him, and Yoda says, "Only what you take with you", we can see without doubt that Luke?s test is a metaphysical one, far more dangerous than the mere physical. His very soul is at stake, and by the end of the scene we are in no doubt that infinite capacities reside within him (the lesson being, by extension, that these capacities are within us all).
With specific reference to Castaneda, it should be noted that his books are replete with such psychological (and physical) tests, and that they evoke the same harsh awakening in Castaneda as we see experienced by Luke. The reader is left in no doubt that these tests are essential tools in the destruction of the old self.