(Encounters with the Nagual)
Towards the end, he agreed to answer some questions. One of the people present wanted to know what the sorcerers’ view on war was.
Carlos looked annoyed.
“What do you want me to say?” he asked. “That they are pacifists? Well, they are not! Our destiny as ordinary men doesn’t concern them at all! You should understand this once and for all! A warrior is made for combat. When he is at war, he is comfortable.”
Judging from his reaction, it seemed that the question had touched on a sensitive spot. He took his time, explaining that, unlike the petty wars which we as humans constantly involve ourselves in because of social, religious, or economic reasons, the war of sorcerers is not directed against other people, but against their own weaknesses. By the same token, their peace is not the submissive condition to which modern man has been reduced; rather, it is an imperturbable state of internal silence and discipline.
“Passivity”, he said, “is a violation of our nature, because, in essence, we are all formidable combatants. Every human being is, by right, a soldier who has achieved his place in the world in a battle of life and death.”
“Look at it this way: At least once, as sperms, each one of us fought a battle for life – a unique struggle against millions of other competitors – and we won! And now the battle continues, since we are trapped by the forces of this world. One part of us is fighting to disintegrate and die, while another tries to maintain life and awareness at any cost. There is no peace! A warrior realizes this, and uses it to his advantage. His goal continues to be that which inspired the spark of life that created him: Access to a new level of awareness.”
He continued by saying that as we become socialized, human beings are tamed, just like an animal is domesticated, by the power of stimuli and punishments.
“We have been trained to live and die meekly, following unnatural codes of behavior which soften us and make us lose that initial impulse, until our spirit is hardly noticeable. We are born as a result of a fight. By denying our basic tendencies, the society we live in eradicates the warring heritage that transforms us into magical beings.”
He added that the only available way to change is to accept ourselves just as we are, and work from there.
“The warrior knows that he lives in a predatorial universe. He can never let his guard down. Wherever he looks, he sees an incessant fight, and he knows that it deserves his respect, because it is a fight to the death. Don Juan was always moving, coming or going, supporting this or rejecting that, provoking tensions or discharging them in a burst, shouting his intent or remaining silent; doing something. He was alive, and his life reflected the ebb and flow of the universe.”
“He told me that, from the moment when the explosion which gave us origin occurred, until the moment of our death, we live within a flow. Those two episodes are unique, because they prepare us for the encounter of what lies further ahead. And what aligns us with that flow? An incessant battle, which only a warrior will attempt. Because of that, he lives in profound harmony with everything.”
“For a warrior, to be harmonious is to flow, not to stop in the middle of the current and try to make a space of artificial and impossible peace. He knows that he can only give the very best of himself under conditions of maximum tension. For that reason, he seeks out his opponent the way a fighting rooster does – with avidity, with delight, knowing that the next step is decisive. His opponent is not his fellow man, but his own attachments and weaknesses, and his grand challenge is to compress the layers of his energy until they won’t expand when his life ceases, so that his awareness does not die.”
“Ask yourselves these questions: What am I doing with my life? Does it have a purpose? Is it tight enough? A warrior accepts his destiny, whatever it may be. However, he fights to change things, and he makes something exquisite of his passage on Earth. He tempers his will in such a way that nothing can deviate him from his purpose.”
Another of the people present raised his hand, and asked how sorcerers are able to reconcile the principles of the warrior’s way with their duties to society.
“Sorcerers are free, they don’t accept social obligations. The responsibility is to oneself, not to others. Do you know why you were given the power of perception? Have you discovered what purpose your life serves? Will you cancel your animal destiny? Those are sorcerers’ questions, the only ones that can seriously change anything. If you are interested in others, then answer that!”
“A warrior knows that what gives sense to his life is the challenge of death, and death is a personal matter. It is a challenge for each one of us, and one which only sincere warriors accept. Seen from this point of view, the worries of ordinary people are just expressions of their egomania.”
Carlos insisted that we must not lose track of the fact that the commitment of a warrior is to what he called ‘pure understanding’ – a state of being that arises from internal silence – and not to the transient attachments of the modality of the era in which he happens to live. He maintained that our social concerns are a description which has been implanted in us. It does not stem from a natural development of our consciousness. Rather, it is a product of the collective mind, of emotional disarray, feelings of fear and guilt, of a desire to lead others or be led.
“Modern man does not fight his own battles. Instead, he enters into extraneous wars that have nothing to do with the spirit. Naturally, a sorcerer is not moved by this!”
“My teacher used to say that he didn’t honor agreements made in his absence: ‘I was not present when they decreed that I had to be an imbecile!’ He was born into particularly difficult circumstances, but he had the courage to become something more than just a human reaction to those circumstances. He affirmed that humanity’s situation in general is horrendous, and to put emphasis on any particular group is just a covert form of racism.”
“He used to repeat that in this world, there are only two kinds of people: Those who have energy, and those who don’t. He lived in a permanent fight against the blindness of his fellow men, yet he remained impeccable; he did not interfere with anybody. When I tried to explain my concern for people to him, he would point at my incipient double chin and tell me: ‘Don’t deceive yourself, Carlitos! If the human condition seriously interested you, you would not treat yourself like a pig.’”
“He taught me that to feel pity for others is inappropriate for a warrior, because pity for others always stems from concern for the self. He used to ask me, pointing at people we met on our way: ‘Perhaps you believe yourself better than them?’ He helped me to understand that the solidarity of sorcerers towards the people around them comes from a supreme command, not from human sentiment.”
“Mercilessly stalking my emotional reactions, he led me by the hand to the source of my preoccupations, and I was able to realize that my concern for people was a fraud. I was trying to escape from myself, by transferring my problems to others. He showed me how compassion, in the sense we use the word, is a mental illness – a psychosis that will just make us more and more powerfully entangled in our ego.”
It was obvious that remembering Don Juan had moved Carlos. I could see how a wave of affection overwhelmed him. One of the people present raised his hand and commented that, in contrast to what Carlos was saying, compassion towards one’s neighbor is the essential idea of all religions.
He made a gesture of waving away a fly.
“Forget all that! Notions based on pity are a fraud! By the power of telling ourselves the same ideas over and over, we have substituted a genuine interest in man’s spirit with cheap sentimentality. We have become professionals at compassion. And so what? Has it changed anything?”
“When you feel the collective mind putting its pressure on you, trying to convince you to concentrate on the appearances of the world, repeat this crushing truth to yourself: ‘I am going to die, I am not important; nobody is!’ Knowing that is the only thing that counts.”
As an example of misplaced effort, he described the situation of a donkey caught in the mire. The more it moves, the more difficult things become. Its only way out is to act with coldness, try to relieve itself of the load on its back, and concentrate on the immediacy of its problem.
“The same thing happens to us. We are beings who are going to die. We were programmed to live like beasts, carrying loads of customs and other people’s beliefs until the very end; but we can change all that! The freedom which the warrior’s way offers us is within the reach of your hand; take advantage of it!”