Naranjo, Ichazo, and the School 
Part TwoNaranjo believed that the teaching situation in Arica beginning in 1970 would be extremely intense. Ichazo told him that he was using a Sufi method called “the Rapidness”.The Rapidness, also known as the Shattari method, was used in India in the fifteenth century by the Sufi Sheikh Abdullah Shattar. It is said to be a secret technique for rapid development which is preserved by the Naqshbandi Order.

As Naranjo states, this method is not normally used in the Sufi orders. It is a highly-reserved method which is preserved for historical emergencies. Although by using this technique people can be very quickly prepared for playing a part in an important operation, there is also an increased danger of wrong development. The Sufis usually use ways that blend into ordinary life, so that development happens gradually.

Using this “Rapid” method, students would be expected to be involved in developmental work for at least 12 hours a day. A high-protein diet would be used to give high energy. An account of the techniques used by Ichazo as part of his program at that time can be found in John Lilly’s “Center of the Cylone”.

According to Naranjo, Ichazo guaranteed a permanent awakened condition: “If you work and you let me work, I can do that.”

Ichazo told Naranjo that it was “lawful” for him to use this method at this time– speaking in terms of a Higher Law. He said this could be done in some world cycles, and that this was a moment in history (c. 1970) that had not happened in 2000 years, where one culture dies and another one is born. Consequently, there was a need for “seed” people. Comparing humanity to a tree, a “seed” person contains a whole spirit of a culture and can regenerate a whole culture, generating a new tree. Ichazo said this was a plantation moment, a “seeding” moment.

Interestingly, an analysis of these world cycles and the way a new culture springs from certain people at certain moments was a major part of the work of Rodney Collin, a student of P.D. Ouspensky who began teaching in South America in 1949 (see Collin’s Theory of Celestial Influence, 1954.)

These moments of “plantation” are said to happen only once in a very long time. The type of work Ichazo was doing was supposedly related to these cycles, and would last for 20 years. However, Naranjo didn’t think that Ichazo would be doing this for 20 years; he believed Ichazo would withdraw to one of the secret schools known as “Power houses”.

In fact, by 1980, Ichazo had withdrawn to Hawaii, to work on various “trainings” and “letters” which he would then send to the Arica Institute Headquarters in New York. The members of Arica who had reached the highest levels through their early work directly with Ichazo would then be responsible for implementing these ideas in Arica Centers around the world.

Ichazo conveyed to Naranjo that this (c. 1970) was an important moment. Ichazo later began predicting that a major cataclysm would take place in the next ten years if humanity did not change its ways, and that Arica was going to be an extremely important factor in this global change. This prediction was made in the early 1970’s.

Ichazo is Bolivian, from South America, and he made statements to the effect that the person who’s mission it would be to do this work would have had to be Bolivian. Naranjo noticed how some statements like the above displayed Ichazo’s almost messianic sense of mission, although “nothing about his demeanor is messianic.” For instance, speaking intimately, Ichazo said that he was the Alpha and the Omega, a seemingly biblical reference to the Book of Revelations.

Some events in Ichazo’s life made him think he was chosen, and chosen early in life. Naranjo wondered why “they” chose Ichazo and not someone more gifted!

Ichazo told Naranjo he was contacted early in life, and his way was very difficult and strenuous, taking many years. He didn’t have a natural group, so an artificial one was created for him.

The question arises, who chose Ichazo and what School was created for him? The following is a summmary of what allegedly took place:

When Ichazo was 19, he was discovered by a 60-year-old European businessman in La Paz, Bolivia, c.1950. They discussed the work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, as well as various European occultist groups which were prominent at the end of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. This man, whose identity has remained anonymous, invited Ichazo to participate in a study group of high-ranking European and Oriental mystics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, composed of Martinists, Theosophists, Rosicrucians and Anthroposophists. Ichazo served them coffee, and they taught him Kabbalah, Sufism, Yoga, Zen and techniques from the Gurdjieff work. They used him as a kind of “guinea pig” on which to try out different techniques. They were attempting to synthesize all mysticism and present the synthesis as a new Way.

Eventually they decided to teach Ichazo in earnest, and he passed through an initiation in which he had to sit in a lotus position on a post for three days until the teachers returned. When they returned, Ichazo’s body was so rigid he had to be lifted off the post. Back in his hut, Ichazo’s personality structure broke down completely, after which he was transformed. When he went to the apartment where his teachers were, he found the men waiting for him. Now, they said, he could join the group.

This group worked with Ichazo for two more years and then opened doors for him to study in the Orient. Before travelling, however, he remained at home in Chile for a few years.

He studied mythological aeneids, the theories of numbers of Pythagoras and Euclid, the non-Eucldian geometry of Bolyai and Lobachevsky, the Atomic Models of Bohr, the work of Mendeleyev, and the biological cycles of paleontology. He noted the resemblances of these things to systems of divination like the Kabbalah, the I Ching, astrology and numerology. By 1954, through the studies and practices he was engaged in, he had synthesized his theory of the 108 enneagons.

In 1956, he began to travel and study in the East. He studied Sufism in Afghansitan and the Pamir, studied Tantra in the Kashmir in 1958, and the martial arts in Hong Kong in 1960. He learned all of the higher yogas, studied Buddhism and Confucianism, alchemy, and the wisdom of the I Ching.

During this time, when he was back in Chile, he would teach a study group which focused on the wisdom of Pythagoras, Plato, the Stoics, Sceptics, Epicureans and Cynics, and based on that, he synthesized a set of exercises called the Pampas. (He was using the Pampas exercises as a major part of his teaching in 1970; see Lilly’s The Center of the Cyclone for a description).

By 1960 he had synthesized his Theory of Trialectics, a new logic based on cycles.

In 1964, in La Paz, while living with his father and digesting his learnings, Ichazo went into a “divine coma” for seven days. According to Ichazo, “When I came out of it I knew that I should teach; it was impossible that all my good luck should be only for myself. But it took me two years to act on this decision. Then I went to Santiago and started lecturing in the Institute for Applied Psychology. Things got so busy and crowded there that I decided to move to the remote little town of Arica and filter out all except the really committed persons who would follow me there….”

The above implies that he was acting on his own initiative, but according to Claudio Naranjo and John Lilly, he was still acting under the direction of his own teachers.

For instance, according to Naranjo, Ichazo was given given the “order” by his teachers to go to Arica, Chile, to teach there. Naranjo also believed that Ichazo seemed to be in contact with his own teachers, but they weren’t in Chile. According to Naranjo, “They direct…”

A story also circulated that, after one of his original teachers had died, Ichazo had taken his position as one of the heads of the School and began his teaching mission.

Who, exactly, these teachers were, has never been disclosed. The only name Ichazo has ever mentioned publicly is Leo Costet de Mascheville, a Martinist teacher from a French family living in South America in the early 20th century. The Maschevilles were known to be in contact with the head of the Martinist organization at that time, the French occultist known as Papus.

Leo Costet de Mascheville, the only one of his teachers Ichazo has ever mentioned by name.

According to Naranjo, Ichazo said specifically that he was handed the whole of the Tradition that is spread in many branches around the world in various cultures. He was given “the whole works” and the mission of translating it into Western terms. A new culture would be born from his efforts, and those people who will be the “seed people” would be the seed of a very important development– the creation of new cultural reforms which would embody the Truth.

Ichazo explained the reason behind South America being the center of this new cultural movement. Europe had had its time, and now it would be the Americas’ time, especially South America, because the European influence was not as strong there and Christianity could fade away. So South America would be the source from which the new movement would begin.

Naranjo had no doubts that Ichazo had been taught by Sufis, based on things he said and terms he used. Naranjo had been in contact with another Sufi school and said there were certain things that the Sufis knew but which were not in the Sufi books– at least not the Sufi books which were part of Naranjo’s large collection. So Naranjo had no doubt that someone “handed over the Tradition” to Ichazo, but Ichazo wouldn’t mention what school it was.

According to Naranjo, however, Ichazo did speak slightly disdainfully of the traditional Sufi orders, saying that there was not time to waste on discussing them.

Judeo-Christian sources were also present in his terminology; for instance, he said that Jesus is the School’s greatest saint.

Ichazo also spoke disdainfully about current Mahayana Buddhism, saying that it had been great at one time, when it originated, but was no longer viable. He put down the schools of contemporary India in general, saying they had become very “byzantine”, making unnecessary and misleading elaborations in their system, becoming an expression of the worst of the Hindu spirit. As for “enlightened” Hindus of recent time, Ichazo said, “That is not our way…” because although they have attained Union with God, they don’t have “the key”, they can’t pass it down. “Our tradition is highly technical” he said, comparing it to a science. “You must have the key… you must be able to go in and out of the world.”

Ichazo told Naranjo that the Way of Buddha is easier because he’s rejected the world. Ichazo said, “Our way is the way of the Juggler… In a world that’s asleep, you play…”

Ichazo would say, “I’m always awake behind my veil but you can’t see me.”

Naranjo asked Ichazo about Castaneda’s Don Juan, and Ichazo seemed to have a high regard for Don Juan. However, in later interviews, Ichazo declared Don Juan a fake and the whole thing a hoax.

Naranjo noticed that Ichazo’s communication style would change significantly from one person to another. He could be emotional and poetic with one person, dry with another.

Naranjo opened up to Ichazo about his feelings of distrust for him. Ichazo said it was “ok”, as long as the work continued. He said “You never know till you have proof… we need questioning minds.”

He recommended to Naranjo that he should work at least 2 hours a day, giving him certain meditations.

Naranjo said Ichazo knew some very sophisticated meditations, very physical ones. There was one that took an hour and a half, with mantras, breathing techniques, movements, stretching, all done together in a certain way.

In connection with the 10-month training he was offering, Ichazo talked of “higher bodies”: The Astral body, the Mental body, and the Divine body, ideas found in most traditional esoteric schools, including that of Gurdjieff. The “permanent awakened condition” (which he guaranteed could be produced in the 10-month training) corresponded to the development of the Astral body, which is the body of true feelings, the body of Virtues.

According to Naranjo, Virtues are the true feelings, as opposed to habitual feelings, which are false, substitute feelings. These lower feelings are called “Passions”. They need to be replaced by higher feelings.

After the development of the Astral body, there are two more stages: the Mental body and the Divine body. Ichazo said that some people would feel satisfied stopping after the first stage, but others would feel called to continue. These later stages would not necessitate the same kind of intense training period, but could be a more gradual development as part of ordinary life.

According to Naranjo, when one is “awakened”, one is open to impressions all the time, whether one strives for it or not. One cannot help but grow. A person then has Astral contact which can give assistance and guidance, and would also have telepathic contact with Ichazo and other members of the School.

Ichazo told Naranjo that there was no commitment to continue with him after the 10 month training. He imagined that some would want to stay in a group, continuing along those lines. Others might do some teaching.

Ichazo also mentioned that he wanted to show both the traditional ways and the “experimental” way that he himself had created. This latter is a Westernization. He said “I want people with research-oriented minds… people who want to compare, who want to interrelate things…”

In fact, before they had formally met, Naranjo had sent Ichazo some of his writings on the commonalities of the traditional ways of growth, both spiritual and therapeutic. Ichazo seemed impressed by these. Naranjo got the impression that there would be innovation and experimentalism in the School, not exclusivism, until the School was complete.

Naranjo asked Ichazo about what came next after the establishment of the Arica school. Ichazo spoke of School “games”, and in connection with this, the Tarot was very important. Ichazo would take on a different tone when discussing the Tarot: more respectful, ceremonious, with a serious aspect and attitude. He would say, “Forget anything any book says about the Tarot.. It’s God’s game… I am here because of the outcome of a Tarot game.” (Naranjo was under the impression that after such a Tarot game, Ichazo’s teacher had told him to go to Arica and be there at a certain date and hour and just wait.)

Ichazo also spoke of possibly travelling in connection with other stages of the work.

Naranjo found it all to be a very integral and integrated tradition. But he was not impressed in the least by Ichazo the person, and could not emphasize that enough. He was very distrustful of Ichazo.

When he returned to California after spending those first few weeks with Ichazo, people asked Naranjo if he recommended Ichazo. His response: “I don’t feel like recommending him… I don’t dare recommend him… but I wouldn’t want to miss it… ”

Naranjo decided to take the risk for himself because he felt he had enough hints that there was something real there. This was unusual, for him because he bypassed his “heart”. He usually went by “smell”, and Ichazo didn’t “smell” holy or wise or even intelligent, but Naranjo couldn’t deny that he’d been effective. If nothing else, he had gotten Naranjo more irritated than he had been in years, so Naranjo thought it might be intentional and part of the teaching.

Naranjo had gotten to Arica feeling very detached, feeling he had nothing to lose, not expecting anything. But after a while he was finding he was investing a lot of energy trying to decide if he approved or not, and he was fighting his own paranoia. He felt something was going on; he had been touched somehow.

However, Naranjo was skeptical of the ecstatic states he had experienced with Ichazo. He was doubtful of their impact and asked himself if he felt like a better person because of them, if he was more enlightened and closer to his ultimate goals after those first 2 months. He didn’t feel that he was. Then again, he had not worked in the real sense of the intensive 10-month program. The work he did was fragmentary.

Naranjo decided to take these experiences as indications that something was really happening, indirect evidence that Ichazo had a power and/or technique that worked.

So in 1970, Naranjo began the intensive 10-month program… However, he never finished the program and had to leave Arica prematurely. The details of what took place are unclear:

Naranjo’s version can be found at

While Ichazo’s version can be found in his “Letter to the Transpersonal Community” at

Claudio Naranjo


Naranjo, Claudio. Report from Chile: Oscar Ichazo and the School. Big Sur Tapes (1970).

Naranjo, Claudio. Character and Neurosis (1994).

Harner, Michael, ed. Hallucinogens and Shamanism (1974).

Bleibtreu, John. Interviews with Oscar Ichazo (1982).

Ichazo, Oscar. Letters to the School (1988).

Ichazo, Oscar. Master Level Exercises: Psychoalchemy (1986).

Ichazo, Oscar. “Letter to the Transpersonal Community” in The Arican Journal, Autumn 1991.

Tart, Charles, ed. Transpersonal Psychologies (1975). (See “The Arica Training” by J. Lilly and J. Hart)

Bakhtiar, Laleh. God’s Will Be Done, Vol 1-3 (1993-94).

Fortune, Dion. The Mystical Qabalah (1935).

Shah, Idries. The Sufis (1964).

Shah, Idries. A Perfumed Scorpion (1979).

Scott, Ernest. The People of the Secret (1984).

Lilly, John. The Center of the Cyclone (1971).

Lilly, John and Antoinetta. The Dyadic Cylcone (1974).

Patterson, William P. Taking with the Left Hand (1998).

Collin, Rodney. Theory of Celestial Influence (1954).

For more on Ichazo’s reputed South American teachers, see:

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