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2: Dreaming Together; The Four States of Dreaming

(The Eagle’s Gift)

The Four Steps:

  1. Restful Vigil
  2. Dynamic Vigil
  3. Passive Witnessing
  4. Dynamic Initiative


One day, in order to alleviate our distress momentarily, I suggested that we immerse ourselves in dreaming. As soon as I voiced my suggestion, I became aware that a gloom which had been haunting me for days could be drastically altered by willing the change. I clearly understood then that the problem with la Gorda and myself had been that we had unwittingly focused on fear and distrust, as if those were the only possible options available to us, while all along we had had, without consciously knowing it, the alternative of deliberately centering our attention on the opposite, the mystery, the wonder of what had happened to us.

I told la Gorda my realization. She agreed immediately. She became instantly animated, the pall of her gloom dispelled in a matter of seconds.

“What kind of dreaming do you propose we should do?” she asked.

“How many kinds are there?” I asked.

“We could do dreaming together,” she replied. “My body tells me that we have done this already. We have gone into dreaming as a team. It’ll be a cinch for us, as it was for us to see together.

“But we don’t know what the procedure is to do dreaming together,” I said.

“We didn’t know how to see together and yet we saw,” she said. “I’m sure that if we try we can do it, because there are no steps to anything a warrior does. There is only personal power.

And right now we have it.

“We should start out dreaming from two different places, as far away as possible from each other. The one who goes into dreaming first waits for the other. Once we find each other we interlock our arms and go deeper in together.”

I told her that I had no idea how to wait for her if I went into dreaming ahead of her. She herself could not explain what was involved, but she said that to wait for the other dreamer was what Josefina had described as “snatching” them. La Gorda had been snatched by Josefina twice.

“The reason Josefina called it snatching was because one of us had to grab the other by the arm,” she explained.

She demonstrated then a procedure of interlocking her left forearm with my right forearm by each of us grabbing hold of the area below each other’s elbows.

“How can we do that in dreaming?” I asked.

I personally considered dreaming one of the most private states imaginable.

“I don’t know how, but I’ll grab you,” la Gorda said. “I think my body knows how. The more we talk about it, though, the more difficult it seems to be.”

We started off our dreaming from two distant locations. We could agree only on the time to lie down, since the entrance into dreaming was something impossible to prearrange. The foreseeable possibility that I might have to wait for la Gorda gave me a great deal of anxiety, and I could not enter into dreaming with my customary ease. After some ten to fifteen minutes of restlessness I finally succeeded in going into a state I call restful vigil.

Years before, when I had acquired a degree of experience in dreaming, I had asked don Juan if there were any known steps which were common to all of us. He had told me that in the final analysis every dreamer was different. But in talking with la Gorda I discovered such similarities in our experiences of dreaming that I ventured a possible classificatory scheme of the different stages.

Restful vigil is the preliminary state, a state in which the senses become dormant and yet one is aware. In my case, I had always perceived in this state a flood of reddish light, a light exactly like what one sees facing the sun with the eyelids tightly closed.

The second state of dreaming I called dynamic vigil. In this state the reddish light dissipates, as fog dissipates, and one is left looking at a scene, a tableau of sorts, which is static. One sees a three-dimensional picture, a frozen bit of something – a landscape, a street, a house, a person, a face, anything.

I called the third state passive witnessing. In it the dreamer is no longer viewing a frozen bit of the world but is observing, eye-witnessing, an event as it occurs. It is as if the primacy of the visual and auditory senses makes this state of dreaming mainly an affair of the eyes and ears.

The fourth state was the one in which I was drawn to act. In it one is compelled to enterprise, to take steps, to make the most of one’s time. I called this state dynamic initiative.

La Gorda’s proposition of waiting for me had to do with affecting the second and third states of our dreaming together. When I entered into the second state, dynamic vigil, I saw a dreaming scene of don Juan and various other persons, including a fat Gorda. Before I even had time to consider what I was viewing, I felt a tremendous pull on my arm and I realized that the “real” Gorda was by my side. She was to my left and had gripped my right forearm with her left hand. I clearly felt her lifting my hand to her forearm so that we were gripping each other’s forearms.

Next, I found myself in the third state of dreaming, passive witnessing. Don Juan was telling me that I had to look after la Gorda and take care of her in a most selfish fashion – that is, as if she were my own self.

His play on words delighted me. I felt an unearthly happiness in being there with him and the others, Don Juan went on explaining that my selfishness could be put to a grand use, and that to harness it was not impossible.

There was a general feeling of comradeship among all the people gathered there. They were laughing at what don Juan was saying to me, but without making fun. Don Juan said that the surest way to harness selfishness was through the daily activities of our lives, that I was efficient in whatever I did because I had no one to bug the devil out of me, and that it was no challenge to me to soar like an arrow by myself. If I were given the task of taking care of la Gorda, however, my independent effectiveness would go to pieces, and in order to survive I would have to extend my selfish concern for myself to include la Gorda. Only through helping her, don Juan was saying in the most emphatic tone, would I find the clues for the fulfillment of my true task.

La Gorda put her fat arms around my neck. Don Juan had to stop talking. He was laughing so hard he could not go on. All of them were roaring.

I felt embarrassed and annoyed with la Gorda. I tried to get out of her embrace but her arms were tightly fastened around my neck. Don Juan made a sign with his hands to make me stop. He said that the minimal embarrassment I was experiencing then was nothing in comparison with what was in store for me.

The sound of laughter was deafening. I felt very happy, although I was worried about having to deal with la Gorda, for I did not know what it would entail.

At that moment in my dreaming I changed my point of view – or rather, something pulled me out of the scene and I began to look around as a spectator. We were in a house in northern Mexico; I could tell by the surroundings, which were partially visible from where I stood. I could see the mountains in the distance. I also remembered the paraphernalia of the house.

We were at the back, under a roofed, open porch. Some of the people were sitting on some bulky chairs; most of them, however, were either standing or sitting on the floor. I recognized every one of them. There were sixteen people. La Gorda was standing by my side facing don Juan.

I became aware that I could have two different feelings at the same time. I could either go into the dreaming scene and feel that I was recovering a long-lost sentiment, or I could witness the scene with the mood that was current in my life. When I plunged into the dreaming scene I felt secure and protected; when I witnessed it with my current mood I felt lost, insecure, anguished. I did not like my current mood, so I plunged into my dreaming scene.

A fat Gorda asked don Juan, in a voice which could be heard above everyone’s laughter, if I was going to be her husband. There was a moment’s silence. Don Juan seemed to be calculating what to say. He patted her on the head and said that he could speak for me and that I would be delighted to be her husband. People were laughing riotously. I laughed with them. My body convulsed with a most genuine enjoyment, yet I did not feel I was laughing at la Gorda. I did not regard her as a clown, or as stupid. She was a child. Don Juan turned to me and said that I had to honor la Gorda regardless of what she did to me, and that I had to train my body, through my interaction with her, to feel at ease in the face of the most trying situations. Don Juan addressed the whole group and said that it was much easier to fare well under conditions of maximum stress than to be impeccable under normal circumstances, such as in the interplay with someone like la Gorda. Don Juan added that I could not under any circumstances get angry with la Gorda, because she was indeed my benefactress; only through her would I be capable of harnessing my selfishness.

I had become so thoroughly immersed in the dreaming scene that I had forgotten I was a dreamer. A sudden pressure on my arm reminded me that I was dreaming. I felt la Gorda’s presence next to me, but without seeing her. She was there only as a touch, a tactile sensation on my forearm. I focused my attention on it; it felt like a solid grip on me, and then la Gorda as a whole person materialized, as if she were made of superimposed frames of photographic film. It was like trick photography in a movie. The dreaming scene dissolved. Instead, la Gorda and I were looking at each other with our forearms interlocked.

In unison, we again focused our attention on the dreaming scene we had been witnessing. At that moment I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that both of us had been viewing the same thing. Now don Juan was saying something to la Gorda, but I could not hear him. My attention was being pulled back and forth between the third state of dreaming, passive witnessing, and the second, dynamic vigil. I was for a moment with don Juan, a fat Gorda, and sixteen other people, and the next moment I was with the current Gorda watching a frozen scene.

Then a drastic jolt in my body brought me to still another level of attention: I felt something like the cracking of a dry piece of wood. It was a minor explosion, yet it sounded more like an extraordinarily loud cracking of knuckles. I found myself in the first state of dreaming, restful vigil. I was asleep and yet thoroughly aware. I wanted to stay for as long as I could in that peaceful stage, but another jolt made me wake up instantly. I had suddenly realized that la Gorda and I had dreamed together.

I was more than eager to speak with her. She felt the same. We rushed to talk to each other.

When we had calmed down, I asked her to describe to me everything that had happened to her in our dreaming together.

“I waited for you for a long time,” she said. “Some part of me thought I had missed you, but another part thought that you were nervous and were having problems, so I waited.”

“Where did you wait, Gorda?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I know that I was out of the reddish light, but I couldn’t see anything. Come to think of it, I had no sight, I was feeling my way around. Perhaps I was still in the reddish light; it wasn’t red, though. The place where I was, was tinted with a light peach color. Then I opened my eyes and there you were. You seemed to be ready to leave, so I grabbed you by the arm. Then I looked and saw the Nagual Juan Matus, you, me, and other people in Vicente’s house. You were younger and I was fat.”

The mention of Vicente’s house brought a sudden realization to me. I told la Gorda that once while driving through Zacatecas, in northern Mexico, I had had a strange urge and gone to visit one of don Juan’s friends, Vicente, not understanding that in doing so I had unwittingly crossed into an excluded domain, for don Juan had never introduced me to him. Vicente, like the Nagual woman, belonged to another area, another world. It was no wonder that la Gorda was so shaken when I told her about the visit. We knew him so very well; he was as close to us as don Genaro, perhaps even closer. Yet we had forgotten him, just as we had forgotten the Nagual woman.

At that point la Gorda and I made a huge digression. We remembered together that Vicente, Genaro, and Silvio Manuel were don Juan’s friends, his cohorts. They were bound together by a vow of sorts. La Gorda and I could not remember what it was that had united them. Vicente was not an Indian. He had been a pharmacist as a young man. He was the scholar of the group, and the real healer who kept all of them healthy. He had a passion for botany. I was convinced beyond any doubt that he knew more about plants than any human being alive. La Gorda and I remembered that it was Vicente who had taught everyone, including don Juan, about medicinal plants. He took special interest in Nestor, and all of us thought that Nestor was going to be like him.

“Remembering Vicente makes me think about myself,” la Gorda said. “It makes me think what an unbearable woman I’ve been. The worst thing that can happen to a woman is to have children, to have holes in her body, and still act like a little girl. That was my problem. I wanted to be cute and I was empty. And they let me make a fool out of myself, they encouraged me to be a jackass.”

“Who are they, Gorda?” I asked.

“The Nagual and Vicente and all those people who were in Vicente’s house when I acted like such an ass with you.”

La Gorda and I had a realization in unison. They had allowed her to be unbearable only with me. No one else put up with her nonsense, although she tried it on everyone.

“Vicente did put up with me,” la Gorda said. “He played along with me. I even called him uncle. When I tried to call Silvio Manuel uncle he nearly ripped the skin off my armpits with his clawlike hands.”

We tried to focus our attention on Silvio Manuel but we could not remember what he looked like. We could feel his presence in our memories but he was not a person, he was only a feeling.

As far as the dreaming scene was concerned, we remembered that it had been a faithful replica of what really did occur in our lives at a certain place and time; it still was not possible for us to recall when. I knew, however, that I took care of la Gorda as a means of training myself for the hardship of interacting with people. It was imperative that I internalize a mood of ease in the face of difficult social situations, and no one could have been a better coach than la Gorda. The flashes of faint memories I had had of a fat Gorda stemmed from those circumstances, for I had followed don Juan’s orders to the letter.

La Gorda said that she had not liked the mood of the dreaming scene. She would have preferred just to watch it, but I pulled her in to feel her old feelings, which were abhorrent to her. Her discomfort was so acute that she deliberately squeezed my arm to force me to end our participation in something so odious to her.

The next day we arranged a time for another session of dreaming together. She started from her bedroom and I from my study, but nothing happened. We became exhausted merely trying to enter into dreaming. For weeks after that we tried to achieve again the effectiveness of our first performance, but without any success. With every failure we became more desperate and greedy.

In the face of our impasse, I decided that we should postpone our dreaming together for the time being and take a closer look at the process of dreaming and analyze its concepts and procedures. La Gorda did not agree with me at first. For her, the idea of reviewing what we knew about dreaming was another way of succumbing to despair and greed. She preferred to keep on trying even if we did not succeed. I persisted and she finally accepted my point of view out of the sheer sense of being lost.

One night we sat down and, as casually as we could, we began to discuss what we knew about dreaming. It quickly became obvious that there were some core topics which don Juan had given special emphasis.

First was the act itself. It seemed to begin as a unique state of awareness arrived at by focusing the residue of consciousness, which one still has when asleep, on the elements, or the features, of one’s dreams.

The residue of consciousness, which don Juan called the second attention, was brought into action, or was harnessed, through exercises of not-doing. We thought that the essential aid to dreaming was a state of mental quietness, which don Juan had called “stopping the internal dialogue,” or the “not doing of talking to oneself.” To teach me how to master it, he used to make me walk for miles with my eyes held fixed and out of focus at a level just above the horizon so as to emphasize the peripheral view. His method was effective on two counts. It allowed me to stop my internal dialogue after years of trying, and it trained my attention. By forcing me to concentrate on the peripheral view, don Juan reinforced my capacity to concentrate for long periods of time on one single activity.

Later on, when I had succeeded in controlling my attention and could work for hours at a chore without distraction – a thing I had never before been able to do – he told me that the best way to enter into dreaming was to concentrate on the area just at the tip of the sternum, at the top of the belly. He said that the attention needed for dreaming stems from that area. The energy needed in order to move and to seek in dreaming stems from the area an inch or two below the belly button. He called that energy the will, or the power to select, to assemble. In a woman both the attention and the energy for dreaming originate from the womb.

“A woman’s dreaming has to come from her womb because that’s her center,” la Gorda said.

“In order for me to start dreaming or to stop it all I have to do is place my attention on my womb.

I’ve learned to feel the inside of it. I see a reddish glow for an instant and then I’m off.”

“How long does it take you to get to see that reddish glow?” I asked.

“A few seconds. The moment my attention is on my womb I’m already into dreaming” she continued. “I never toil, not ever. Women are like that. The most difficult part for a woman is to learn how to begin; it took me a couple of years to stop my internal dialogue by concentrating my attention on my womb. Perhaps that’s why a woman always needs someone else to prod her.

“The Nagual Juan Matus used to put cold, wet river pebbles on my belly to get me to feel that area. Or he would place a weight on it; I had a chunk of lead that he got for me. He would make me close my eyes and focus my attention on the spot where the weight was. I used to fall asleep every time. But that didn’t bother him. It doesn’t really matter what one does as long as the attention is on the womb. Finally I learned to concentrate on that spot without anything being placed on it. I went into dreaming one day all by myself. I was feeling my belly, at the spot where the Nagual had placed the weight so many times, when all of a sudden I fell asleep as usual, except that something pulled me right into my womb. I saw the reddish glow and I then had a most beautiful dream. But as soon as I tried to tell it to the Nagual, I knew that it had not been an ordinary dream. There was no way of telling him what the dream was; I had just felt very happy and strong. He said it had been dreaming.

“From then on he never put a weight on me. He let me do dreaming without interfering. He asked me from time to time to tell him about it, then he would give me pointers. That’s the way the instruction in dreaming should be conducted.”

La Gorda said that don Juan told her that anything may suffice as a not-doing to help dreaming, providing that it forces the attention to remain fixed. For instance, he made her and all the other apprentices gaze at leaves and rocks, and encouraged Pablito to construct his own not-doing device. Pablito started off with the not-doing of walking backwards. He would move by taking short glances to his sides in order to direct his path and to avoid obstacles on the way. I gave him the idea of using a rear-view mirror, and he expanded it into the construction of a wooden helmet with an attachment that held two small mirrors, about six inches away from his face and two inches below his eye level. The two mirrors did not interfere with his frontal view, and due to the lateral angle at which they were set, they covered the whole range behind him.

Pablito boasted that he had a 360-degree peripheral view of the world. Aided by this artifact, Pablito could walk backwards for any distance, or any length of time.

The position one assumes to do dreaming was also a very important topic.

“I don’t know why the Nagual didn’t tell me from the very beginning,” la Gorda said, “that the best position for a woman to start from is to sit with her legs crossed and then let the body fall, as it may do once the attention is on dreaming. The Nagual told me about this perhaps a year after I had begun. Now I sit in that position for a moment, I feel my womb, and right away I’m dreaming.

In the beginning, just like la Gorda, I had done it while lying on my back, until one day when don Juan told me that for the best results I should sit up on a soft, thin mat, with the soles of my feet placed together and my thighs touching the mat. He pointed out that, since I had elastic hip joints, I should exercise them to the fullest, aiming at having my thighs completely flat against the mat. He added that if I were to enter into dreaming in that sitting position, my body would not slide or fall to either side, but my trunk would bend forward and my forehead would rest on my feet.Another topic of great significance was the time to do dreaming. Don Juan had told us that the late night or early morning hours were by far the best. His reason for favoring those hours was what he called a practical application of the sorcerers’ knowledge. He said that since one has to do dreaming within a social milieu, one has to seek the best possible conditions of solitude and lack of interference. The interference he was referring to had to do with the attention of people, and not their physical presence. For don Juan it was meaningless to retreat from the world and hide, for even if one were alone in an isolated, deserted place, the interference of our fellow men is prevalent because the fixation of their first attention cannot be shut off. Only locally, at the hours when most people are asleep, can one avert part of that fixation for a short period of time. It is at those times that the first attention of those around us is dormant.

This led to his description of the second attention. Don Juan explained to us that the attention one needs in the beginning of dreaming has to be forcibly made to stay on any given item in a dream. Only through immobilizing our attention can one turn an ordinary dream into dreaming.

He explained, furthermore, that in dreaming one has to use the same mechanisms of attention as in everyday life, that our first attention had been taught to focus on the items of the world with great force in order to turn the amorphous and chaotic realm of perception into the orderly world of awareness.

Don Juan also told us that the second attention served the function of a beckoner, a caller of chances. The more it is exercised, the greater the possibility of getting the desired result. But that was also the function of attention in general, a function so taken for granted in our daily life that it has become unnoticeable; if we encounter a fortuitous occurrence, we talk about it in terms of accident or coincidence, rather than in terms of our attention having beckoned the event.

Our discussion of the second attention prepared the ground for another key topic, the dreaming body. As a means of guiding la Gorda to it, don Juan gave her the task of immobilizing her second attention as steadily as she could on the components of the feeling of flying in dreaming.

“How did you learn to fly in dreaming?” I asked her. “Did someone teach you?”

“The Nagual Juan Matus taught me on this earth,” she replied. “And in dreaming,someone I could never see taught me. It was only a voice telling me what to do. The Nagual gave me the task of learning to fly in dreaming, and the voice taught me how to do it. Then it took me years to teach myself to shift from my regular body, the one you can touch, to my dreaming body.”

“You have to explain this to me, Gorda” I said.

“You were learning to get to your dreaming body when you dreamed that you got out of your body,” she continued. “But, the way I see it, the Nagual did not give you any specific task, so you went any old way you could. I, on the other hand, was given the task of using my dreaming body. The little sisters had the same task. In my case, I once had a dream where I flew like a kite.

I told the Nagual about it because I had liked the feeling of gliding. He took it very seriously and turned it into a task. He said that as soon as one learns to do dreaming,any dream that one can remember is no longer a dream, it’s dreaming.

“I began then to seek flying in dreaming. But I couldn’t set it up; the more I tried to influence my dreaming, the more difficult it got. The Nagual finally told me to stop trying and let it come of its own accord. Little by little I started to fly in dreaming. That was when some voice began to tell me what to do. I’ve always felt it was a woman’s voice.

“When I had learned to fly perfectly, the Nagual told me that every movement of flying which I did in dreaming I had to repeat while I was awake. You had the same chance when the saber-toothed tiger was showing you how to breathe. But you never changed into a tiger in dreaming, so you couldn’t properly try to do it while you were awake. But I did learn to fly in dreaming. By shifting my attention to my dreaming body, I could fly like a kite while I was awake. I showed you my flying once, because I wanted you to see that I had learned to use my dreaming body, but you didn’t know what was going on.”

She was referring to a time she had scared me with the incomprehensible act of actually bobbing up and down in the air like a kite. The event was so farfetched for me that I could not begin to understand it in any logical way. As usual when things of that nature confronted me, I would lump them into an amorphous category of “perceptions under conditions of severe stress.”

I argued that in cases of severe stress, perception could be greatly distorted by the senses. My explanation did not explain anything but seemed to keep my reason pacified.

I told la Gorda that there must have been more to what she had called her shift into her dreaming body than merely repeating the action of flying.

She thought for a while before answering.

“I think the Nagual must have told you, too,” she said, “that the only thing that really counts in making that shift is anchoring the second attention. The Nagual said that attention is what makes the world; he was of course absolutely right. He had reasons to say that. He was the master of attention. I suppose he left it up to me to find out that all I needed to shift into my dreaming body was to focus my attention on flying. What was important was to store attention in dreaming, to observe everything I did in flying. That was the only way of grooming my second attention. Once it was solid, just to focus it lightly on the details and feeling of flying brought more dreaming of flying, until it was routine for me to dream I was soaring through the air.

“In the matter of flying, then, my second attention was keen. When the Nagual gave me the task of shifting to my dreaming body he meant for me to turn on my second attention while I was awake. This is the way I understand it. The first attention, the attention that makes the world, can never be completely overcome; it can only be turned off for a moment and replaced with the second attention, providing that the body has stored enough of it. Dreaming is naturally a way of storing the second attention. So, I would say that in order to shift into your dreaming body when awake you have to practice dreaming until it comes out your ears.”

“Can you get to your dreaming body any time you want?” I asked.

“No. It’s not that easy,” she replied. “I’ve learned to repeat the movements and feelings of flying while I’m awake, and yet I can’t fly every time I want to. There is always a barrier to my dreaming body. Sometimes I feel that the barrier is down; my body is free at those times and I can fly as if I were dreaming.

I told la Gorda that in my case don Juan gave me three tasks to train my second attention. The first was to find my hands in dreaming. Next he recommended that I should choose a locale, focus my attention on it, and then do daytime dreaming and find out if I could really go there. He suggested that I should place someone I knew at the site, preferably a woman, in order to do two things: first to check subtle changes that might indicate that I was there in dreaming, and second, to isolate unobtrusive detail, which would be precisely what my second attention would zero in on.

The most serious problem the dreamer has in this respect is the unbending fixation of the second attention on detail that would be thoroughly undetected by the attention of everyday life, creating in this manner a nearly insurmountable obstacle to validation. What one seeks in dreaming is not what one would pay attention to in everyday life.

Don Juan said that one strives to immobilize the second attention only in the learning period. After that, one has to fight the almost invincible pull of the second attention and give only cursory glances at everything. In dreaming one has to be satisfied with the briefest possible views of everything. As soon as one focuses on anything, one loses control.

The last generalized task he gave me was to get out of my body. I had partially succeeded, and all along I had considered it my only real accomplishment in dreaming. Don Juan left before I had perfected the feeling in dreaming that I could handle the world of ordinary affairs while I was dreaming. His departure interrupted what I thought was going to be an unavoidable overlapping of my dreaming time into my world of everyday life.

To elucidate the control of the second attention, don Juan presented the idea of will. He said that will can be described as the maximum control of the luminosity of the body as a field of energy; or it can be described as a level of proficiency, or a state of being that comes abruptly into the daily life of a warrior at any given time. It is experienced as a force that radiates out of the middle part of the body following a moment of the most absolute silence, or a moment of sheer terror, or profound sadness; but not after a moment of happiness, because happiness is too disruptive to afford the warrior the concentration needed to use the luminosity of the body and turn it into silence.

“The Nagual told me that for a human being sadness is as powerful as terror,” la Gorda said.

“Sadness makes a warrior shed tears of blood. Both can bring the moment of silence. Or the silence comes of itself, because the warrior tries for it throughout his life.”

“Have you ever felt that moment of silence yourself?” I asked.

“I have, by all means, but I can’t remember what it is like,” she said. “You and I have both felt it before and neither of us can remember anything about it. The Nagual said that it is a moment of blackness, a moment still more silent than the moment of shutting off the internal dialogue. That blackness, that silence, gives rise to the intent to direct the second attention, to command it, to make it do things. This is why it’s called will. The intent and the effect are will; the Nagual said that they are tied together. He told me all this when I was trying to learn flying in dreaming. The intent of flying produces the effect of flying.”

I told her that I had nearly written off the possibility of ever experiencing will.

“You’ll experience it,” la Gorda said. “The trouble is that you and I are not keen enough to know what’s happening to us. We don’t feel our will because we think that it should be something we know for sure that we are doing or feeling, like getting angry, for instance. Will is very quiet, unnoticeable. Will belongs to the other self.”

“What other self, Gorda?” I asked.

“You know what I’m talking about,” she replied briskly. “We are in our other selves when we do dreaming. We have entered into our other selves countless times by now, but we are not complete yet.”

There was a long silence. I conceded to myself that she was right in saying that we were not complete yet. I understood that as meaning that we were merely apprentices of an inexhaustible art. But then the thought crossed my mind that perhaps she was referring to something else. It was not a rational thought. I felt first something like a prickling sensation in my solar plexus and then I had the thought that perhaps she was talking about something else. Next I felt the answer.

It came to me in a block, a clump of sorts. I knew that all of it was there, first at the tip of my sternum and then in my mind. My problem was that I could not disentangle what I knew fast enough to verbalize it.

La Gorda did not interrupt my thought processes with further comments or gestures. She was perfectly quiet, waiting. She seemed to be internally connected to me to such a degree that there was no need for us to say anything.

We sustained the feeling of communality with each other for a moment longer and then it overwhelmed us both. La Gorda and I calmed down by degrees. I finally began to speak. Not that I needed to reiterate what we had felt and known in common, but just to re-establish our grounds for discussion, I told her that I knew in what way we were incomplete, but that I could not put my knowledge into words.

“There are lots and lots of things we know,” she said. “And yet we can’t get them to work for us because we really don’t know how to bring them out of us. You’ve just begun to feel that pressure. I’ve had it for years. I know and yet I don’t know. Most of the time I trip over myself and sound like an imbecile when I try to say what I know.”

I understood what she meant and I understood her at a physical level. I knew something thoroughly practical and self-evident about will and what la Gorda had called the other self and yet I could not utter a single word about what I knew, not because I was reticent or bashful, but because I did not know where to begin, or how to organize my knowledge.

“Will is such a complete control of the second attention that it is called the other self,” la Gorda said after a long pause. “In spite of all we’ve done, we know only a tiny bit of the other self. The Nagual left it up to us to complete our knowledge. That’s our task of remembering.”

She smacked her forehead with the palm of her hand, as if something had just come to her mind.

“Holy Jesus! We are remembering the other self!” she exclaimed, her voice almost bordering on hysteria. Then she calmed down and went on talking in a subdued tone. “Evidently we’ve already been there and the only way of remembering it is the way we’re doing it, by shooting off our dreaming bodies while dreaming together.

“What do you mean, shooting off our dreaming bodies?” I asked.

“You yourself have witnessed when Genaro used to shoot off his dreaming body,” she said.

“It pops off like a slow bullet; it actually glues and unglues itself from the physical body with a loud crack. The Nagual told me that Genaro’s dreaming body could do most of the things we normally do; he used to come to you that way in order to jolt you. I know now what the Nagual and Genaro were after. They wanted you to remember, and for that effect Genaro used to perform incredible feats in front of your very eyes by shooting off his dreaming body. But to no avail.”

“I never knew that he was in his dreaming body,” I said.

“You never knew because you weren’t watching,” she said. “Genaro tried to let you know by attempting to do things that the dreaming body cannot do, like eating, drinking, and so forth. The Nagual told me that Genaro used to joke with you that he was going to shit and make the mountains tremble.”

“Why can’t the dreaming body do those things?” I asked.

“Because the dreaming body cannot handle the intent of eating, or drinking,” she replied.

“What do you mean by that, Gorda” I asked.

“Genaro’s great accomplishment was that in his dreaming he learned the intent of the body,” she explained. “He finished what you had started to do. He could dream his whole body as perfectly as it could be. But the dreaming body has a different intentfrom the intent of the physical body. For instance, the dreaming body can go through a wall, because it knows the intent of disappearing into thin air. The physical body knows the intent of eating, but not the one of disappearing. For Genaro’s physical body to go through a wall would be as impossible as for his dreaming body to eat.”

La Gorda was silent for a while as if measuring what she had just said. I wanted to wait before asking her any questions.

“Genaro had mastered only the intent of the dreaming body” she said in a soft voice. “Silvio Manuel, on the other hand, was the ultimate master of intent, I know now that the reason we can’t remember his face is because he was not like everybody else.”

“What makes you say that, Gorda?” I asked.

She started to explain what she meant, but she was incapable of speaking coherently.

Suddenly she smiled. Her eyes lit up.

“I’ve got it!” she exclaimed. “The Nagual told me that Silvio Manuel was the master of intent because he was permanently in his other self. He was the real chief. He, was behind everything the Nagual did. In fact, he’s the one who made the Nagual take care of you.”

I experienced a great physical discomfort upon hearing la Gorda say that. I nearly became sick to my stomach and made extraordinary efforts to hide it from her. I turned my back to her and began to gag. She stopped talking for an instant and then proceeded as if she had made up her mind not to acknowledge my state. Instead, she began to yell at me. She said that it was time that we air our grievances. She confronted me with my feelings of resentment after what happened in Mexico City. She added that my rancor was not because she had sided with the other apprentices against me, but because she had taken part in unmasking me. I explained to her that all of those feelings had vanished from me. She was adamant. She maintained that unless I faced them they would come back to me in some way. She insisted that my affiliation with Silvio Manuel was at the crux of the matter.

I could not believe the changes of mood I went through upon hearing that statement. I became two people – one raving, foaming at the mouth, the other calm, observing. I had a final painful spasm in my stomach and got ill. But it was not a feeling of nausea that had caused the spasm. It was rather an uncontainable wrath.

When I finally calmed down I was embarrassed at my behavior and worried that an incident of that nature might happen to me again at another time.

“As soon as you accept your true nature, you’ll be free from rage,” la Gorda said in a nonchalant tone.

I wanted to argue with her, but I saw the futility of it. Besides, my attack of anger had drained me of energy. I laughed at the fact that I did not know what I would do if she were right. The thought occurred to me then that if I could forget about the Nagual woman, anything was possible. I had a strange sensation of heat or irritation in my throat, as if I had eaten hot spicy food. I felt a jolt of bodily alarm, just as though I had seen someone sneaking behind my back, and I knew at that moment something I had had no idea I knew a moment before. La Gorda was right. Silvio Manuel had been in charge of me.

La Gorda laughed loudly when I told her that. She said that she had also remembered something about Silvio Manuel.

“I don’t remember him as a person, as I remember the Nagual woman,” she went on, “but I remember what the Nagual told me about him.”

“What did he tell you?” I asked.

“He said that while Silvio Manuel was on this earth he was like Eligio. He disappeared once without leaving a trace and went into the other world. He was gone for years; then one day he returned. The Nagual said that Silvio Manuel did not remember where he’d been or what he’d done, but his body had been changed. He had come back to the world, but he had come back in his other self.”

“What else did he say, Gorda?” I asked.

“I can’t remember any more,” she replied. “It is as if I were looking through a fog.”

I knew that if we pushed ourselves hard enough, we were going to find out right then who Silvio Manuel was. I told her so.

“The Nagual said that intent is present everywhere,” la Gorda said all of a sudden.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m just voicing things that come to my mind. The Nagual also said that intent is what makes the world.”

I knew that I had heard those words before. I thought that don Juan must have also told me the same thing and I had forgotten it.

“When did don Juan tell you that?” I asked.

“I can’t remember when,” she said. “But he told me that people, and all other living creatures for that matter, are the slaves of intent. We are in its clutches. It makes us do whatever it wants. It makes us act in the world. It even makes us die.

“He said that when we become warriors, though, intent becomes our friend. It lets us be free for a moment; at times it even comes to us, as if it had been waiting around for us. He told me that he himself was only a friend of intent – not like Silvio Manuel, who was the master of it.”

There were barrages of hidden memories in me that fought to get out. They seemed about to surface. I experienced a tremendous frustration for a moment and then something in me gave up.

I became calm. I was no longer interested in finding out about Silvio Manuel.

La Gorda interpreted my change of mood as a sign that we were not ready to face our memories of Silvio Manuel.

“The Nagual showed all of us what he could do with his intent,” she said abruptly. “He could make things appear by calling intent.

“He told me that if I wanted to fly, I had to summon the intent of flying. He showed me then how he himself could summon it, and jumped in the air and soared in a circle, like a huge kite. Or he would make things appear in his hand. He said that he knew the intent of many things and could call those things by intending them. The difference between him and Silvio Manuel was that Silvio Manuel, by being the master of intent,knew the intent of everything.”

I told her that her explanation needed more explaining. She seemed to struggle arranging words in her mind.

“I learned the intent of flying,” she said, “by repeating all the feelings I had while flying in dreaming. This was only one thing. The Nagual had learned in his life the intent of hundreds of things. But Silvio Manuel went to the source itself. He tapped it. He didn’t have to learn the intent of anything. He was one with intent. The problem was that he had no more desires because intent has no desire of its own, so he had to rely on the Nagual for volition. In other words, Silvio Manuel could do anything the Nagual wanted. The Nagual directed Silvio Manuel’s intent. But since the Nagual had no desires either, most of the time they didn’t do anything.”


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