“The first gate is a threshold we must cross by becoming aware of a particular sensation before deep sleep,” he said. “A sensation which is like a pleasant heaviness that doesn’t let us open our eyes. We reach that gate the instant we become aware that we’re falling asleep, suspended in darkness and heaviness.”
“How do I become aware that I am falling asleep? Are there any steps to follow?”
“No. There are no steps to follow. One just intends to become aware of falling asleep.”
“But how does one intend to become aware of it?”
“Intent or intending is something very difficult to talk about. I or anyone else would sound idiotic trying to explain it. Bear that in mind when you hear what I have to say next: sorcerers intend anything they set themselves to intend, simply by intending it.”
“That doesn’t mean anything, don Juan.”
“Pay close attention. Someday it’ll be your turn to explain. The statement seems nonsensical because you are not putting it in the proper context. Like any rational man, you think that understanding is exclusively the realm of our reason, of our mind.
“For sorcerers, because the statement I made pertains to intent and intending, understanding it pertains to the realm of energy. Sorcerers believe that if one would intend that statement for the energy body, the energy body would understand it in terms entirely different from those of the mind. The trick is to reach the energy body. For that you need energy.”
“In what terms would the energy body understand that statement, don Juan?”
“In terms of a bodily feeling, which it’s hard to describe. You’ll have to experience it to know what I mean.”
“Is the goal of dreaming to intend the energy body?” I asked, suddenly empowered by some strange reasoning.
“One can certainly put it that way,” he said. “In this particular instance, since we’re talking about the first gate of dreaming, the goal of dreaming is to intend that your energy body becomes aware that you are falling asleep. Don’t try to force yourself to be aware of falling asleep. Let your energy body do it. To intend is to wish without wishing, to do without doing.”
“Accept the challenge of intending,” he went on. “Put your silent determination, without a single thought, into convincing yourself that you have reached your energy body and that you are a dreamer. Doing this will automatically put you in the position to be aware that you are falling asleep.”
“How can I convince myself that I am a dreamer when I am not?”
“When you hear that you have to convince yourself, you automatically become more rational. How can you convince yourself you are a dreamer when you know you are not? Intending is both: the act of convincing yourself you are indeed a dreamer, although you have never dreamt before, and the act of being convinced.”
“Do you mean I have to tell myself I am a dreamer and try my best to believe it? Is that it?”
“No, it isn’t. Intending is much simpler and, at the same time, infinitely more complex than that. It requires imagination, discipline, and purpose. In this case, to intend means that you get an unquestionable bodily knowledge that you are a dreamer. You feel you are a dreamer with all the cells of your body.”
He assured me that intending the first gate of dreaming was one of the means discovered by the sorcerers of antiquity for reaching the second attention and the energy body.