(Magical Passes by Carlos Castaneda)
Don Juan Matus stated that human beings as organisms perform a stupendous maneuver of perception which, unfortunately, creates a misconception, a false front; they take the influx of sheer energy in the universe at large and turn it into sensory data, which they interpret according to a strict system of interpretation that sorcerers call the human form. This magical act of interpreting pure energy gives rise to the misconception, the peculiar conviction of human beings that their interpretation system is all that exists.
Don Juan elucidated this phenomenon with an example. He said that tree, as tree is known to human beings, is more interpretation than perception. He pointed out that for human beings to establish the presence of tree, all they need is a cursory glance that tells them hardly anything.
The rest is a phenomenon which he described as the calling of intent, the intent of tree; that is to say, the interpretation of sensory data pertaining to the specific phenomenon that human beings call tree. He declared that the entire world of human beings, just as in this example, is composed of an endless repertoire of interpretations where human senses play a minimal role.
In other words, only the visual sense touches the energy influx which comes from the universe at large, and it does so only in a cursory fashion.
He maintained that the majority of the perceptual activity of human beings is interpretation, and that human beings are the kind of organisms that need only a minimal input of pure perception in order to create their World; or, that they perceive only enough to trigger their interpretation system. The example that don Juan liked the best was the way in which he said we construct, by intending, something as overwhelming and as crucial as the White House. He called the White House the site of power of today’s world, the center of all our endeavors, hopes, fears, and so on, as a global conglomerate of human beings-for all practical purposes, the capital of the civilized world. He said that all this wasn’t in the realm of the abstract, or even in the realm of our minds, but in the realm of intending, because from the point of view of our sensory input, the White House was a building that in no way had the richness, the scope, the depth of the concept of the White House. He added that from the point of view of the input of sensory data, the White House, like everything else in our world, was cursorily apprehended with our visual senses only; our tactile, olfactory, auditory, and taste senses were not engaged in any way. The interpretation that those senses could make of sensory data in relation to the building where the White House is would have no meaning whatsoever.
The question that don Juan asked as a sorcerer was where the White House was. He said, answering his own question, that it was certainly not in our perception, not even in our thoughts, but in a special realm of intending, where it was nurtured with everything pertinent to it. Don Juan’s assertion was that to create a total universe of intending in such a manner was our magic.
Since the theme of the first series of Tensegrity is preparing the practitioners for intending, it’s important to review the sorcerers’ definition of intending. For don Juan, intending was the tacit act of filling out the empty spaces left by direct sensory perception, or the act of enriching the observable phenomena by means of intending a completeness that doesn’t exist from the point of view of pure perception.
The act of intending this completeness was referred to by don Juan as calling intent. Everything he explained about intent pointed to the fact that the act of intending is not in the realm of the physical. In other words, it is not part of the physicality of the brain or any other organ. Intent, for don Juan, transcended the world we know. It is something like an energetic wave, a beam of energy which attaches itself to us.
Because of the extrinsic nature of intent, don Juan made a distinction between the body as part of the cognition of everyday life and the body as an energetic unit which was not part of that cognition. This energetic unit included the unseen parts of the body, such as the internal organs, and the energy that flowed through them. Don Juan asserted that it was with this part that energy could be directly perceived.
He pointed out that because of the predominance of sight in our habitual way of perceiving the world, the shamans of ancient Mexico described the act of directly apprehending energy as seeing. For them to perceive energy as it flowed in the universe meant that energy adopted non-idiosyncratic, specific configurations that repeated themselves consistently, and that those configurations could be perceived in the same terms by anyone who saw.
The most important example don Juan Matus could give of this consistency of energy in adopting specific configurations was the perception of the human body when it was seen directly as energy. As it was already said, shamans like don Juan perceive a human being as a conglomerate of energy fields that gives the total impression of a clear-cut sphere of luminosity. Taken in this sense, energy is described by shamans as a vibration that agglutinates itself into cohesive units. Shamans describe the entire universe as being composed of energy configurations that appear to the seeing eye as filaments, or luminous fibers that are strung in every which way without ever being entangled. This is an incomprehensible proposition for the linear mind. It has a built-in contradiction that can’t be resolved: How could those fibers extend themselves every which way and yet not be entangled?
Don Juan emphasized the point that shamans were able only to describe events, and that if their terms of description seemed inadequate and contradictory, it was because of the limitations of syntax. Yet their descriptions were as strict as anything could be.
The shamans of ancient Mexico, according to don Juan, described intent as a perennial force that permeates the entire universe — a force that is aware of itself to the point of responding to the beckoning or to the command of shamans. By means of intent, those shamans were capable of unleashing not only all the human possibilities of perceiving, but all the human possibilities of action. Through intent, they realized the most far-fetched formulations.
Don Juan taught me that the limit of man’s capability of perceiving is called the band of man, meaning that there is a boundary that marks human capabilities as dictated by the human organism. These boundaries are not merely the traditional boundaries of orderly thought, but the boundaries of the totality of resources locked within the human organism. Don Juan believed that these resources are never used, but are kept in situ by preconceived ideas about human limitations, limitations that have nothing to do with actual human potential.
Don Juan stated, as categorically as he was able to, that since perceiving energy as it flows in the universe is not arbitrary or idiosyncratic, seers witness formulations of energy that happen by themselves and are not molded by human interference. Thus, the perception of such formulations is, in itself and by itself, the key that releases the locked-in human potential that ordinarily has never entered into play. In order to elicit the perception of those energetic formulations, the totality of human capabilities to perceive has to be engaged.