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77: Will

(The Eagle’s Gift by Carlos Castaneda)

Don Juan had explained to me that the dreaming body is sometimes called the “double” or the “other,” because it is a perfect replica of the dreamer’s body. It is inherently the energy of a luminous being, a whitish, phantomlike emanation, which is projected by the fixation of the second attention into a three-dimensional image of the body. Don Juan explained that the dreaming body is not a ghost, but as real as anything we deal with in the world. He said that the second attention is unavoidably drawn to focus on our total being as a field of energy, and transforms that energy into anything suitable. The easiest thing is of course the image of the physical body, with which we are already thoroughly familiar from our daily lives and the use of our first attention. What channels the energy of our total being to produce anything that might be within the boundaries of possibility is known as will. Don Juan could not say what those boundaries were, except that at the level of luminous beings the range is so broad that it is futile to try to establish limits – thus, the energy of a luminous being can be transformed through will into anything.


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 intent from 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.”


The man of action has some fibers emanating from the area of the will. The number of fibers varies from one to five, their size ranging from a mere string to a thick, whiplike tentacle up to eight feet long. Some have as many as three of these fibers developed into tentacles.


She asserted that what warriors call will belongs to the wheel of time. It is something like the runner of a vine, or an intangible tentacle which all of us possess. She said that a warrior’s final aim is to learn to focus it on the wheel of time in order to make it turn. Warriors who have succeeded in turning the wheel of time can gaze into any furrow and draw from it whatever they desire, such as the cosmic vagina. To be trapped compulsorily in one furrow of time entails seeing the images of that furrow only as they recede. To be free from the spellbinding force of those grooves means that one can look in either direction, as images recede or as they approach.


“What is that mysterious force?” I asked.

“It’s a force that is present throughout everything there is,” he said. “The old seers never attempted to unravel the mystery of the force that made them create their secret practices; they simply accepted it as something sacred. But the new seers took a close look and called it will, the will of the Eagle’s emanations, or intent.”


(The Fire from Within)

“Once silence is attained, everything is possible,” he said.

I told him I was very conscious of the fact that in general I had stopped talking to myself, but did not know how I had done it. If asked to explain the procedure I would not know what to say.

“The explanation is simplicity itself,” he said. “You willed it, and thus you set a new intent, a new command. Then your command became the Eagle’s command.”

“This is one of the most extraordinary things that the new seers found out: that our command can become the Eagle’s command. The internal dialogue stops in the same way it begins: by an act of will. After all, we are forced to start talking to ourselves by those who teach us. As they teach us, they engage their will and we engage ours, both without knowing it. As we learn to talk to ourselves, we learn to handle will. We will ourselves to talk to ourselves. The way to stop talking to ourselves is to use exactly the same method: we must will it, we must intend it.”


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