Editor’s Introduction:

Karl E. Balliet (real name), now retired, had a long career as a Chief Chemist, and has several patents. His experience was inspired by reading Carlos Castaneda’s books.

I have always marveled at Castaneda’s books, for they have challenged many of my ideas of reality – and I’m pretty liberal in that area to begin with! What has been even more amazing to me has been the reactions to Castaneda’s books. In spite of his clearly stating in his first book that he was not going to give the real name or location of his shaman teacher, styled don Juan, people ranted and raved for years that they could not objectively verify don Juan’s existence….. The stimulating ideas in the books must be evaluated on their own merits, and Balliet’s account is an intriguing example of how such ideas can work in experience.

Was his experience a coincidence? Or a Coincidence? I used to be primarily concerned with transcendent experiences that were obviously so different from our expectation that they forced either a change in world view or a strong rejection of the experience, but lately I have become psychologically intrigued with those “borderline” experiences where you can’t really be sure it wasn’t coincidence, but you can’t really just dismiss it either….

Karl E. Balliet

I had read Carlos Castaneda’s books (several times): “Teachings of Don Juan”, “A Separate Reality”, and “Journey to Ixtlan”.

Don Juan, a Mexican Indian Shaman, had, several times, mentioned the importance of observing crows. One Sunday afternoon I decided to go for a hike, to see if I noticed anything about crows. I walked on a path I had frequently taken in the past, and saw nothing. On the way back, I thought it might be better to go off the path and to just go wherever I happened to feel like going. I did so.

In about 5 minutes I heard a noise in the bushes near me and looked to see what it was. It was a crow! I went towards it and it tried to get away. It was a young one that had not yet learned to fly. As I got closer, its wings caught on some bushes and I was able to pick it up. I took it home and fed it for several days. It seemed to be getting along OK. I wanted to keep it and raise it, but I had to leave on a business trip and had no one to take care of it, so I released it.

Contributor’s Comments on the Experience

My scientific, rational brain told me that this must be just a coincidence. But this same brain told me, approximately, what the odds were against such a coincidence. I never did figure out what to make of it.

When I first started to walk, I was looking for crows in the air, where I thought I might see one. It never occurred to me that I might see one on the ground. The fact that I found it only after starting to go in accordance with my “feelings” greatly increased the already high odds against its being a coincidence