To start with, I first started to think that maybe I was wrong, maybe I was misguided, that maybe I had just grown up all alone, and had been alone too long. But gradually but surely I started to interact a bit more with people and I realised that, "No, it's not necessarily that I am wrong,” because often when I expressed how I saw things, or how I experienced them, people would say, "Gosh, where did you learn that from?"
So I started to look a little more deeply, as I grew older, and I started to realise that in fact we are all different, different people, each and every person has their own way of thinking about life. When I say about life, I mean our daily experiences. I also realised that people feel differently about their experiences.
And then, as I grew older still, and I started to understand concepts such as perception, I started to realise that this is really all about perception. So in other words, how people react to their lives, or how they respond to their lives -- how they feel about their lives. And again, I want to stress, about their daily experiences. It's how they perceive, it's how they think, how they feel, and therefore how they either respond, or they react. And this is really how I started off. So when I speak about my experience, yes it was as fundamental as that. It was learning from a very early age that there is something like perception, and how perception actually influences our whole existence upon the physical plane.
Elizabeth: You have shared with us part of your growing up. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
THÉUN MARES: I was born in Zimbabwe. As I have said, my father was a goldminer. When I say goldminer, he was what was called then a small worker. In other words, he was not an employee on one of the big mines, but he worked for himself. He was literally digging gold all by himself.
So I very much grew up in the wilderness, because you don't find goldmines in the middle of cities!
Elizabeth: So, in finding your path with a heart, and in your own digging for gold, where did you first hear of the word Toltec, if you were out in the wilderness? How did it actually come to you?
THÉUN MARES: I was already in my mid 20s before I first came across the word Toltec, and I suppose I was absolutely bewitched and bewildered by it, because I had never heard of Toltec ever in my life before.
And in fact, the way I came across it, was in the first book written by Doctor Carlos Castaneda. In fact the word Toltec is not actually mentioned in that book, and I absolutely loved what his benefactor -- if you like, his teacher, but I prefer to call him a benefactor -- had taught him. Because Juan -- it wasn't his real name by the way, but it is what Carlos called him in the books -- Juan's words to Carlos rang so true to me, which is why, as I said, I became totally fascinated and I just had to know more. I just had to know why it rang so true for me. And so it was from there that I really started my own studies in terms of, "What is this Warrior’s Path? And what does it actually mean to be Toltec?"
Elizabeth: How did you find this book? Did it fall on your head in a bookstore?
THÉUN MARES: Almost! What had happened was that I was doing a tour of Europe in 1977, I was on a study tour, going from city to city in Europe, and also the United States and Canada, studying with various universities and other institutions of learning. But it was during the summer break that the friend I was travelling with, and myself, were having a short break with a relative of his in Switzerland, and this relative of his happened to have a skiing cottage in the Alps somewhere. And she invited us to spend a week there. It was summer, and of course there was no snow. And because she and my friend were relatives, they used to sit around the table and gossip endlessly about catching up with where all the relatives were at.
I felt completely out and had nothing to do, but I realised that she had quite a nice bookshelf. So I asked her if she would mind if I read one of the books. And I think it was one of the first or second books that I pulled out, which was Carlos Castaneda's first book. I had no idea what it was about, but I started to read it anyway, and within the first few pages I was engrossed. I was just sorry that she did not have any more.
Elizabeth: And how did finding this book and these teachings affect your life from then onwards?
THÉUN MARES: Well, it was quite an amazing experience, really. Because, to cut a long story short, after that year was finished, I returned to Cape Town, which was where I was then living and working. But by then I absolutely knew that I had reached a point which I call an act of survival in my life. I really, really needed to find answers as to what my life was all about. What am I supposed to be doing in this lifetime?
I might just add, that at that stage, by the time I had gone overseas, I had already achieved huge success in terms of my career. And as far as my work was concerned, really I could pick and choose as to what I wanted to do in terms of earning a living, because I had reached what most people see as being a success. But none of it brought me fulfilment, none of it, because I had these burning questions within -- "I can't believe that I am just on this planet in order to work, earn money, have a house, have a car, have friends, lead a social life."
Even socially I was very successful. I had lots and lots of people that I saw as my friends, and they saw me as a friend, but I started to hate more and more the parties, and the endless dinners that I went to, because it all seemed so meaningless. And people's conversations seemed so meaningless. So I was desperate to find real meaning in my life.
It actual fact, that was one of the reasons why I arranged for myself to travel overseas on this study tour for a year, because I was hoping against hope, that somehow, if I just got out there, and travelled for a year, I might just stumble across some of the answers that I was looking for.
I didn't directly stumble across the answers, except I did find this book that we spoke about just now, which certainly had a huge impact on me. But strangely enough, what also started to happen, at the time I was overseas, but I didn't know what was going on, was that I started to have spontaneous flashbacks of knowledge gained in previous lifetimes. Unfortunately, because I had no real knowledge of what was going on at that time, I seriously believed that I was losing my mind!
Elizabeth: Is this not a good thing in terms of what you have shared about the mind!
THÉUN MARES: Well probably! But at that stage, in my mid 20s, I really felt that I might be going insane! Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went through all of that, which had a deep impact on me, I found this book of Carlos Castaneda, which also had a deep impact on me, and then I got back to Cape Town, and I knew now that I was back, that I had to start up my career again, I had to earn a living again, buy myself another car, find a house to live in, do all the normal things that normal people do, and I just couldn't put my heart into it. I kept thinking, "I've got to find meaning. If I can't find meaning in all of this, then what's the point? My life might as well end right now."
Anyway, one morning I just woke up, and there was a very strong feeling in me that I needed to go into Cape Town, and I needed to go into the bookstores. The way I rationally interpreted that for myself, was that I might find a book which just might possibly point me in the right direction, even if it didn't provide me with the answers I was seeking -- it might just point me in the right direction.
So I duly did that. I still didn't have a car, because I still didn't have a job, so I still didn't have any money. So anyway, I put myself on a train, and I got off in Cape Town, and I started to go to all the bookstores that I could think of. And I wandered around for hours, going from bookstore to bookstore, and nothing jumped out at me, or as you said, no book fell on my head! And nothing appealed to me -- I spent hours in these bookstores.
Eventually, feeling quite dejected, I ended up walking down one of these streets in Cape Town which was at that time very little known. In other words, it wasn't a traditional shopping area. It was mainly small businesses, and certainly not the sort of street in which you would find a bookstore. But for some reason I just found myself walking up this street. And then, low and behold, I suddenly came across this tiny little bookstore, and I stopped dead in my tracks, looking at the books displayed in the window, and they all seemed fascinating to me, although I didn't know what half of them meant. I only discovered later that it was actually an esoteric bookstore, but at that stage of my life I didn't even know what esotericism meant.
Anyway, I felt so drawn that I went into this bookstore, and I started to just look at the books that were on the shelves, not knowing what I was looking for, or what I was hoping to find, but I noticed a man in the shop who was very obviously the owner of the bookstore, and he was busy talking to another client. But I noticed that he kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye. Not knowing why he was looking at me, I assumed that he was watching me in case I was going to steal a book! So I kept my hands behind my back and I didn't pick up any books, in case I got turfed out of the bookstore!
Then the client he was talking to eventually left, and this man came over to me and asked if he could help me. And then I felt really foolish, I said, "Well, I must be honest with you, I am looking for a book, but I really don't know what I am looking for." And he stood and he looked at me for a long time, and then he said the strangest thing of all. He said to me, and you must please forgive the French, but I am going to express it in the way he said it to me, "I think you should get your arse to me every Sunday morning." I had no idea where he was coming from! I was absolutely mortified that a complete stranger should tell me to get my arse to him every Sunday morning! I said, "For what?" He said, "We are going to restore your memory." I said, "I beg your pardon?" He said, "We are going to restore your memory." I said, "Memory of what?" He said, "Being a Toltec." I said, "A what?"
I had no idea. Because although I have said to you that I had read Carlos Castaneda’s first book, there was no mention in that book of Toltec. But certainly on that morning when I was in the bookstore, I had not registered what Toltec is. So I said to him, "What is a Toltec?" And he said, "Come here on Sunday morning, and we will start working."
Anyway, that seemed that, and so I just left the shop, wondering what on earth had happened. And then I started to think that maybe this was one of those moments when I was going insane again! Anyway, I didn't feel as if I was insane, but I couldn't make head or tail of it. But something pulled me, so I found myself there on Sunday morning, as we had agreed, and then he started to work with me on what is commonly called, restoration of memory. So that's the story!
Elizabeth: Most people in their 20s, would still believe that they were immortal, and would be doing all of the parties, and all the other things that you mentioned before. So it seems like a very early age for you to be seeking those very deep questions. Did you ever find with hindsight that your mother or your father had had any Toltec knowledge or influence?
THÉUN MARES: I suppose I started to search so early, because I was an absolute delinquent! By my mid-twenties I had done what most people were still trying to do! But seriously, both my parents were devout Christians, and they would certainly have looked upon anything that did not belong to the Christian church as being from the devil. So, there was nothing from that side.
However, I might add, that although I didn't know it at the time, but I understood it after I found the Toltec teachings again, and after my own memory had been restored, was that my mother had been a natural seer. By natural, in other words, she had no apparent training in this lifetime. I have spoken about natural aptitudes, well my mother just had a natural aptitude for seeing in this lifetime. So she used to get very clear visions of either what was busy happening, but nobody was talking about, or nobody was revealing, or of something that was about to happen. In other words, something of the future. However, I remember as a child, being very distraught by all this, because whenever she had a spontaneous seeing, my mother would burst into tears, reach for the Bible, and start praying frantically! Because she was convinced that it was the devil that was visiting her.
Elizabeth: How would you describe seeing?
THÉUN MARES: Seeing is not difficult to explain from a seer’s perspective, but it is exceedingly difficult to explain to somebody who doesn't see. Quite literally, what happens in seeing, is that it is a direct and instantaneous knowing of what is actually happening. If it is a person that you are seeing, it is a complete identification with that person, in the sense of, for that moment in which you see where that person is at, you quite literally, momentarily, become that person. In other words, that person's thoughts, their feelings, their emotions, everything about them, for that moment of seeing, is like it is yours.
Elizabeth: And it was this part of your training of your restoration of memory that started to happen for you?
THÉUN MARES: Indeed. I didn't have it as a young child -- I didn't have the ability to see. I was very sensitive, and I was very intuitive, but I have no conscious recollection of being able to see as a child. But once I started with the restoration of my memory, then I started to see.
Elizabeth: And being in your 20s, your life must have changed completely. Did you start to see things differently, just on a day-to-day basis?
THÉUN MARES: Oh, it changed astronomically. Literally for me, at that time, it felt like my life had been turned completely on its head. So much so, that I found that I just couldn't approach life in the same way as I did before. And that had devastating results within my life. One example is that I suddenly found myself devoid of any friends. Because all the people, the many people who had claimed to be my friends up until that moment in time, they, in themselves, had found that I had changed so dramatically, and so much, that more than one of them said to me, "What happened to you? You are just not the same person that we used to know."
I felt it of course from my side, but I was just being more real. But, quite frankly, it upset them to such an extent that, as I said, within the space of about eight months, I found myself without any friends whatsoever. Until, of course, I learned with my new experience, how to build new relationships and new friendships. But, it had a huge impact, an astronomical impact on my life. Everything changed dramatically from that moment on.