The Three Riddles Sorcerers Encounter in Their Search For Knowledge
(The Power of Silence by Carlos Castaneda)
In his teaching scheme, which was developed by sorcerers of ancient times, there were two categories of instruction. One was called “teachings for the right side,” carried out in the ordinary state of awareness. The other was called “teachings for the left side,” put into practice solely in states of heightened awareness.
These two categories allowed teachers to school their apprentices toward three areas of expertise: the mastery of awareness, the art of stalking, and the mastery of intent.
These three areas of expertise are the three riddles sorcerers encounter in their search for knowledge.
The mastery of awareness is the riddle of the mind; the perplexity sorcerers experience when they recognize the astounding mystery and scope of awareness and perception.
The art of stalking is the riddle of the heart; the puzzlement sorcerers feel upon becoming aware of two things: first that the world appears to us to be unalterably objective and factual, because of peculiarities of our awareness and perception; second, that if different peculiarities of perception come into play, the very things about the world that seem so unalterably objective and factual change.
The mastery of intent is the riddle of the spirit, or the paradox of the abstract – sorcerers’ thoughts and actions projected beyond our human condition.
Don Juan’s instruction on the art of stalking and the mastery of intent depended upon his instruction on the mastery of awareness, which was the cornerstone of his teachings, and which consist of the following basic premises:
- The universe is an infinite agglomeration of energy fields, resembling threads of light.
- These energy fields, called the Eagle’s emanations, radiate from a source of inconceivable proportions metaphorically called the Eagle.
- Human beings are also composed of an incalculable number of the same threadlike energy fields. These Eagle’s emanations form an encased agglomeration that manifests itself as a ball of light the size of the person’s body with the arms extended laterally, like a giant luminous egg.
- Only a very small group of the energy fields inside this luminous ball are lit up by a point of intense brilliance located on the ball’s surface.
- Perception occurs when the energy fields in that small group immediately surrounding the point of brilliance extend their light to illuminate identical energy fields outside the ball. Since the only energy fields perceivable are those lit by the point of brilliance, that point is named “the point where perception is assembled” or simply “the assemblage point.”
- The assemblage point can be moved from its usual position on the surface of the luminous ball to another position on the surface, or into the interior. Since the brilliance of the assemblage point can light up whatever energy field it comes in contact with, when it moves to a new position it immediately brightens up new energy fields, making them perceivable. This perception is known as seeing.
- When the assemblage point shifts, it makes possible the perception of an entirely different world – as objective and factual as the one we normally perceive. Sorcerers go into that other world to get energy, power, solutions to general and particular problems, or to face the unimaginable.
- Intent is the pervasive force that causes us to perceive. We do not become aware because we perceive; rather, we perceive as a result of the pressure and intrusion of intent.
- The aim of sorcerers is to reach a state of total awareness in order to experience all the possibilities of perception available to man. This state of awareness even implies an alternative way of dying.
A level of practical knowledge was included as part of teaching the mastery of awareness. On that practical level don Juan taught the procedures necessary to move the assemblage point. The two great systems devised by the sorcerer seers of ancient times to accomplish this were: dreaming, the control and utilization of dreams; and stalking, the control of behavior.
Moving one’s assemblage point was an essential maneuver that every sorcerer had to learn.