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39: The Universe is Predatorial

(The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda)

Don Juan explained that in the opinion of sorcerers, the universe is predatorial, and sorcerers more than anyone else have to take this into account in their daily sorcery activities. His idea was that consciousness is intrinsically compelled to grow, and the only way it can grow is through strife, through life-or-death confrontations.

“The awareness of sorcerers grows when they do dreaming,” he went on. “And the moment it grows, something out there acknowledges its growth, recognizes it and makes a bid for it. The inorganic beings are the bidders for that new, enhanced awareness. Dreamers have to be forever on their toes. They are prey the moment they venture out in that predatorial universe.”


“This time, you not only saw energy but crossed a dangerous boundary,” don Juan said, after hearing my account.

He reiterated that the drill for the third gate of dreaming is to make the energy body move on its own. In my last session, he said, I had unwittingly superseded the effect of that drill and crossed into another world.

“Your energy body moved,” he said. “It journeyed, by itself. That kind of journeying is beyond your abilities at this moment, and something attacked you.”

“What do you think it was, don Juan?”

“This is a predatorial universe. It could have been one of thousands of things existing out there.”

“Why do you think it attacked me?”

“For the same reason the inorganic beings attacked you: because you made yourself available.”

“Is it that clear-cut, don Juan?”

“Certainly. It’s as clear-cut as what you would do if a strange-looking spider crept across your desk while you were writing. You’d squash it, out of fright, rather than admire it or examine it.”


(Encounters with the Nagual)

“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.

He answered:

“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.”


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