Oscar Ichazo

From an Interview with Sam Keen, Psychology Today, July, 1973

...Ichazo: When I was 19, a remarkable man found me in La Paz. He was 60 years old and when he began to teach me, I knew from the beginning that he was speaking the truth. This man, whose name I have pledged not to reveal, belonged to a small group in Buenos Aires that met to share their knowledge of various esoteric consciousness-altering techniques. I became the coffee boy for this group. I would get up at four a.m. to make their coffee and breakfast and would stay around as inconspicuously as possible. Gradually they got used to my presence and they started using me as a guinea pig to demonstrate techniques to each other. To settle arguments about whether some particular kind of meditation or mantra worked, they would have me try it and report what I experienced.

Keen: What kinds of disciplines were being shared in the group?

Ichazo: About two thirds of the group were Orientals so they were strong on Zen, Sufism and cabala. They also used some techniques I later found in the Gurdjieff work.

Keen: Where does the story go from there?

Ichazo: One day when I was serving coffee, an argument arose between two members of the group. I turned to one and said, "You are not right. He is right." Just like that. Then I explained the point until both of them understood. This incident changed everything. They asked me to leave and I thought I was being kicked out for being pretentious. But after about a week, they called me back and told me they had all decided to teach me. They worked with me for two more years and then opened doors for me in the Orient. After a time of remaining at home in Chile, I began to travel and study in the East; in Hong Kong, India and Tibet. I did more work in the martial arts, learned all of the higher yogas, studied Buddhism and Confucianism, alchemy and the wisdom of the I Ching. Then I went back to La Paz to live with my father and digest my learnings. After working alone for a year, I went into a divine coma for seven days. 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. At first I worked with a group of 10. Then in 1970, a group of Americans -- about 50 -- came and stayed for nine months. Fifteen of these were from Esalen. It was clear to me that the time had come to move to North America. So here we are -- The Arica Institute with centers in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco....