1: Not Doing

(From Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda)

I was jotting down my impressions of the surroundings when don Juan, after a long silence, suddenly spoke in a dramatic tone. “I have brought you here to teach you one thing,” he said and paused. “You are going to learn not-doing. We might as well talk about it because there is no other way for you to proceed. I thought you might catch on to not-doing without my having to say anything. I was wrong.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, don Juan.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I am going to tell you about something that is very simple but very difficult to perform; I am going to talk to you about not-doing, in spite of the fact that there is no way to talk about it, because it is the body that does it.”
He stared at me in glances and then said that I had to pay the utmost attention to what he was going to say. I closed my notebook, but to my amazement he insisted that I should keep on writing.
Not-doing is so difficult and so powerful that you should not mention it,” he went on. “Not until you have stopped the world; only then can you talk about it freely, if that’s what you’d want to do.”
Don Juan looked around and then pointed to a large rock. “That rock over there is a rock because of doing” he said.
We looked at each other and he smiled. I waited for an explanation but he remained silent. Finally I had to say that I had not understood what he meant.
“That’s doing!” he exclaimed.
“Pardon me?”
“That’s also doing.”
“What are you talking about, don Juan?”
Doing is what makes that rock a rock and that bush a bush. Doing is what makes you yourself and me myself.”
I told him that his explanation did not explain anything. He laughed and scratched his temples.
“That’s the problem with talking,” he said. “It always makes one confuse the issues. If one starts talking about doing, one always ends up talking about something else. It is better to just act.”
“Take that rock for instance. To look at it is doing, but to see it is not-doing
I had to confess that his words were not making sense to me. “Oh yes they do!” he exclaimed. “But you are convinced that they don’t because that is your doing. That is the way you act towards me and the world.”
He again pointed to the rock.
“That rock is a rock because of all the things you know how to do to it,” he said. “I call that doing. A man of knowledge, for instance, knows that the rock is a rock only because of doing, so if he doesn’t want the rock to be a rock all he has to do is not-doing. See what I mean?”
I did not understand him at all. He laughed and made another attempt at explaining.
“The world is the world because you know the doing involved in making it so,” he said. “If you didn’t know its doing, the world would be different.”
He examined me with curiosity. I stopped writing. I just wanted to listen to him. He went on explaining that without that certain doing there would be nothing familiar in the surroundings. He leaned over and picked up a small rock between the thumb and index of his left hand and held it in front of my eyes.
“This is a pebble because you know the doing involved in making it into a pebble,” he said.
“What are you saying?” I asked with a feeling of bona fide confusion.
Don Juan smiled. He seemed to be trying to hide a mischievous delight.
“I don’t know why you are so confused,” he said. “Words are your predilection. You should be in heaven.”
He gave me a mysterious look and raised his brows two or three times. Then he pointed again to the small rock he was holding in front of my eyes.
“I say that you are making this into a pebble because you know the doing involved in it,” he said. “Now, in order to stop the world you must stop doing.” He seemed to know that I still had not understood and smiled, shaking his head. He then took a twig and pointed to the uneven edge of the pebble.
“In the case of this little rock,” he went on, “the first thing which doing does to it is to shrink it to this size. So the proper thing to do, which a warrior does if he wants to stop the world, is to enlarge a little rock, or any other thing, by not-doing.”
He stood up and placed the pebble on a boulder and then asked me to come closer and examine it. He told me to look at the holes and depressions in the pebble and try to pick out the minute detail in them. He said that if I could pick out the detail, the holes and depressions would disappear and I would understand what not-doing meant.
“This damn pebble is going to drive you crazy today,” he said.
I must have had a look of bewilderment on my face. He looked at me and laughed uproariously. Then he pretended to get angry with the pebble and hit it two or three times with his hat.
I urged him to clarify his point. I argued that it was possible for him to explain anything he wanted to if he made an effort.
He gave me a sly glance and shook his head as if the situation were hopeless.
“Sure I can explain anything,” he said, laughing. “But could you understand it?” I was taken aback by his insinuation. “Doing makes you separate the pebble from the larger boulder,” he continued. “If you want to learn not-doing, let’s say that you have to join them.”
He pointed to the small shadow that the pebble cast on the boulder and said that it was not a shadow but a glue which bound them together. He then turned around and walked away, saying that he was coming back to check on me later. I stared at the pebble for a long time. I could not focus my attention on the minute detail in the holes and depressions, but the tiny shadow that the pebble cast on the boulder became a most interesting point. Don Juan was right; it was like a glue. It moved and shifted. I had the impression it was being squeezed from underneath the pebble.
When don Juan returned I related to him what I had observed about the shadow
“That’s a good beginning,” he said. “A warrior can tell all kinds of things from the shadows.” He then suggested that I should take the pebble and bury it somewhere.
“Why?” I asked.
“You’ve been watching it for a long time,” he said. “It has something of you now. A warrior always tries to affect the force of doing by changing it into not-doing. Doing would be to leave the pebble lying around because it is merely a small rock. Not-doing would be to proceed with that pebble as if it were something far beyond a mere rock. In this case, that pebble has soaked in you for a long time and now it is you, and as such, you cannot leave it lying around but must bury it. If you would have personal power, however, not-doing would be to change that pebble into a power object.”
“Can I do that now?”
“Your life is not tight enough to do that. If you would see, you would know that your heavy concern has changed that pebble into something quite unappealing, therefore the best thing you can do is to dig a hole and bury it and let the earth absorb its heaviness.”
“Is all this true, don Juan?”
“To say yes or no to your question is doing. But since you are learning not-doing I have to tell you that it really doesn’t matter whether or not all this is true. It is here that a warrior has a point of advantage over the average man. An average man cares that things are either true or false, but a warrior doesn’t. An average man proceeds in a specific way with things that he knows are true, and in a different way with things that he knows are not true.
If things are said to be true, he acts and believes in what he does. But if things are said to be untrue, he doesn’t care to act, or he doesn’t believe in what he does. A warrior, on the other hand, acts in both instances. If things are said to be true, he would act in order to do doing.
If things are said to be untrue, he still would act in order to do not-doing. See what I mean?”
“No, I don’t see what you mean at all,” I said. Don Juan’s statements put me in a belligerent mood. I could not make sense of what he was saying. I told him it was gibberish, and he mocked me and said that I did not even have an impeccable spirit in what I liked to do the most, talking.
He actually made fun of my verbal command and found it faulty and inadequate.
“If you are going to be all mouth, be a mouth warrior,” he said and roared with laughter. I felt dejected. My ears were buzzing. I experienced an uncomfortable heat in my head. I was actually embarrassed and presumably red in the face. I stood up and went into the chaparral and buried the pebble.
“I was teasing you a little bit,” don Juan said when I returned and sat down again. “And yet I know that if you don’t talk you don’t understand. Talking is doing for you, but talking is not appropriate and if you want to know what I mean by not-doing you have to do a simple exercise. Since we are concerned with not-doing it doesn’t matter whether you do the exercise now or ten years from now.”
He made me lie down and took my right arm and bent it at my elbow. Then he turned my hand until the palm was facing the front; he curved my fingers so my hand looked as if I were holding a doorknob, and then he began to move my arm back and forth with a circular motion that resembled the act of pushing and pulling a lever attached to a wheel.
Don Juan said that a warrior executed that movement every time he wanted to push something out of his body, something like a disease or an unwelcome feeling. The idea was to push and pull an imaginary opposing force until one felt a heavy object, a solid body, stopping the free movements of the hand. In the case of the exercise, not-doing consisted in repeating it until one felt the heavy body with the hand, in spite of the fact that one could never believe it was possible to feel it. I began moving my arm and in a short while my hand became ice cold. I had begun to feel a sort of mushiness around my hand. It was as if I were paddling through some heavy viscous liquid matter.
Don Juan made a sudden movement and grabbed my arm to stop the motion. My whole body shivered as though stirred by some unseen force. He scrutinized me as I sat up, and then walked around me before he sat back down on the place where he had been.
“You’ve done enough,” he said. “You may do this exercise some other time, when you have more personal power.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
“No. Not-doing is only for very strong warriors and you don’t have the power to deal with it yet. Now you will only trap horrendous things with your hand. So do it little by little, until your hand doesn’t get cold any more. Whenever your hand remains warm you can actually feel the lines of the world with it.”
He paused as if to give me time to ask about the lines. But before I had a chance to, he started explaining that there were infinite numbers of lines that joined us to things. He said that the exercise of not-doing that he had just described would help anyone to feel a line that came out from the moving hand, a line that one could place or cast wherever one wanted to. Don Juan said that this was only an exercise, because the lines formed by the hand were not durable enough to be of real value in a practical situation.
“A man of knowledge uses other parts of his body to produce durable lines,” he said.
“What parts of the body, don Juan?”
“The most durable lines that a man of knowledge produces come from the middle of the body,” he said. “But he can also make them with his eyes.”
“Are they real lines?”
“Surely.”
“Can you see them and touch them?”
“Let’s say that you can feel them. The most difficult part about the warrior’s way is to realize that the world is a feeling. When one is not-doing, one is feeling the world, and one feels the world through its lines.”
He paused and examined me with curiosity. He raised his brows and opened his eyes and then blinked. The effect was like the eyes of a bird blinking. Almost immediately I felt a sensation of discomfort and queasiness. It was actually as if something was applying pressure to my stomach.
“See what I mean?” don Juan asked and moved his eyes away.
I mentioned that I felt nauseated and he replied in a matter-of-fact tone that he knew it, and that he was trying to make me feel the lines of the world with his eyes. I could not accept the claim that he himself was making me feel that way. I voiced my doubts. I could hardly conceive the idea that he was causing my feeling of nausea, since he had not, in any physical way, impinged on me. “Not-doing is very simple but very difficult,” he said. “It is not a matter of understanding it but of mastering it. Seeing, of course, is the final accomplishment of a man of knowledge, and seeing is attained only when one has stopped the world through the technique of not-doing.”
I smiled involuntarily. I had not understood what he meant. “When one does something with people,” he said, “the concern should be only with presenting the case to their bodies. That’s what I’ve been doing with you so far, letting your body know. Who cares whether or not you understand?”
“But that’s unfair, don Juan. I want to understand everything, otherwise coming here would be a waste of my time.”
“A waste of your time!” he exclaimed parodying my tone of voice. “You certainly are conceited.” He stood up and told me that we were going to hike to the top of the lava peak to our right. The ascent to the top was an excruciating affair. It was actual mountain climbing, except that there were no ropes to aid and protect us. Don Juan repeatedly told me not to look down; and he had to actually pull me up bodily a couple of times, after I had begun to slide down the rock. I felt terribly embarrassed that don Juan, being so old, had to help me. I told him that I was in poor physical condition because I was too lazy to do any exercise. He replied that once one had arrived at a certain level of personal power, exercise or any training of that sort was unnecessary, since all one needed, to be in an impeccable form, was to engage oneself in not-doing
When we arrived at the top I lay down. I was about to be sick. He rolled me back and forth with his foot as he had done once before. Little by little the motion restored my balance. But I felt nervous. It was as if I were somehow waiting for the sudden appearance of something. I involuntarily looked two or three times to each side. Don Juan did not say a word but he also looked in the direction I was looking.
“Shadows are peculiar affairs,” he said all of a sudden. “You must have noticed that there is one following us.”
“I haven’t noticed anything of the sort,” I protested in a loud voice.
Don Juan said that my body had noticed our pursuer, in spite of my stubborn opposition, and assured me in a confident tone that there was nothing unusual about being followed by a shadow.
“It is just a power, ” he said. “These mountains are filled with them. It is just like one of those entities that scared you the other night.”
I wanted to know if I could actually perceive it myself. He asserted that in the daytime I could only feel its presence. I wanted an explanation of why he called it a shadow when obviously it was not like the shadow of a boulder. He replied that both had the same lines, therefore both were shadows.
He pointed to a long boulder standing directly in front of us.
“Look at the shadow of that boulder, “He said. “The shadow is the boulder, and yet it isn’t. To observe the boulder in order to know what the boulder is, is doing, but to observe its shadow is not-doing.
“Shadows are like doors, the doors of not-doing. A man of knowledge, for example, can tell the innermost feelings of men by watching their shadows.”
“Is there movement in them?” I asked.
“You may say that there is movement in them, or you may say that the lines of the world are shown in them, or you may say that feelings come from them.”
“But how could feelings come out of shadows, don Juan?”
“To believe that shadows are just shadows is doing” he explained. “That belief is somehow stupid. Think about it this way: There is so much more to everything in the world that obviously there must be more to shadows too. After all, what makes them shadows is merely our doing.”
There was a long silence. I did not know what else to say.
“The end of the day is approaching, ” don Juan said, looking at the sky. “You have to use this brilliant sunlight to perform one last exercise.”
He led me to a place where there were two peaks the size of a man standing parallel to each other, about four or five feet apart. Don Juan stopped ten yards away from them, facing the west. He marked a spot for me to stand on and told me to look at the shadows of the peaks. He said that I should watch them and cross my eyes in the same manner I ordinarily crossed them when scanning the ground for a place to rest.
He clarified his directions by saying that when searching for a resting place one had to look without focusing but in observing shadows one had to cross the eyes and yet keep a sharp image in focus. The idea was to let one shadow be superimposed on the other by crossing the eyes. He explained that through that process one could ascertain a certain feeling which emanated from shadows. I commented on his vagueness, but he maintained that there was really no way of describing what he meant.
My attempt to carry out the exercise was futile. I struggled until I got a headache. Don Juan was not at all concerned with my failure. He climbed to a dome-like peak and yelled from the top, telling me to look for two small long and narrow pieces of rock. He showed with his hands the size rock he wanted. I found two pieces and handed them to him. Don Juan placed each rock about a foot apart in two crevices, made me stand above them facing the west, and told me to do the same exercise with their shadows.
This time it was an altogether different affair. Almost immediately I was capable of crossing my eyes and perceiving their individual shadows as if they had merged into one. I noticed that the act of looking without converging the images gave the single shadow I had formed an unbelievable depth and a sort of transparency. I stared at it, bewildered. Every hole in the rock, on the area where my eyes were focused, was neatly discernible; and the composite shadow, which was superimposed on them, was like a film of indescribable transparency.
I did not want to blink, for fear of losing the image I was so precariously holding. Finally my sore eyes forced me to blink, but I did not lose the view of the detail at all. In fact, by remoistening my cornea the image became even clearer. I noticed at that point that it was as if I were looking from an immeasurable height at a world I had never seen before. I also noticed that I could scan the surroundings of the shadow without losing the focus of my visual perception. Then, for an instant, I lost the notion that I was looking at a rock. I felt that I was landing in a world, vast beyond anything I had ever conceived. This extraordinary perception lasted for a second and then everything was turned off. I automatically looked up and saw don Juan standing directly above the rocks, facing me. He had blocked the sunlight with his body. I described the unusual sensation I had had, and he explained that he had been forced to interrupt it because he “saw” that I was about to get lost in it. He added that it was a natural tendency for all of us to indulge ourselves when feelings of that nature occur, and that by indulging myself in it I had almost turned not-doing into my old familiar doing. He said that what I should have done was to maintain the view without succumbing to it, because in a way doing was a manner of succumbing.
I complained that he should have told me beforehand what to expect and what to do, but he pointed out that he had no way of knowing whether or not I would succeed in merging the shadows.
I had to confess I was more mystified than ever about not-doing. Don Juan’s comments were that I should be satisfied with what I had done, because for once I had proceeded correctly, that by reducing the world I had enlarged it, and that, although I had been far from feeling the lines of the world, I had correctly used the shadow of the rocks as a door into not-doing.
The statement that I had enlarged the world by reducing it intrigued me to no end. The detail of the porous rock, in the small area where my eyes were focused, was so vivid and so precisely defined that the top of the round peak became a vast world for me; and yet it was really a reduced vision of the rock. When don Juan blocked the light and I found myself looking as I normally would do, the precise detail became dull, the tiny holes in the porous rock became bigger, the brown color of the dried lava became opaque, and everything lost the shiny transparency that made the rock into a real world.
Don Juan then took the two rocks, laid them gently into a deep crevice, and sat down cross-legged facing the west, on the spot where the rocks had been. He patted a spot next to him to his left and told me to sit down.
We did not speak for a long time. Then we ate, also in silence. It was only after the sun had set that he suddenly turned and asked me about my progress in “dreaming.” I told him that it had been easy in the beginning, but that at the moment I had ceased altogether to find my hands in my dreams.
“When you first started dreaming you were using my personal power, that’s why it was easier, ” he said. “Now you are empty. But you must keep on trying until you have enough power of your own. You see, dreaming is the not-doing of dreams, and as you progress in your not-doing you will also progress in dreaming. The trick is not to stop looking for your hands, even if you don’t believe that what you are doing has any meaning. In fact, as I have told you before, a warrior doesn’t need to believe, because as long as he keeps on acting without believing he is not-doing.” We looked at each other for a moment.
“There is nothing else I can tell you about dreaming.” he continued. “Everything I may say would only be not-doing. But if you tackle not-doing directly, you yourself would know what to do in dreaming. To find your hands is essential, though, at this time, and I am sure you will.” “I don’t know, don Juan. I don’t trust myself.”
“This is not a matter of trusting anybody. This whole affair is a matter of a warrior’s struggle; and you will keep on struggling, if not under your own power, then perhaps under the impact of a worthy opponent, or with the help of some allies, .like the one which is already following you.” I made a jerky involuntary movement with my right arm.
Don Juan said that my body knew much more than I suspected, because the force that had been pursuing us was to my right. He confided in a low tone of voice that twice that day the ally had come so close to me that he had had to step in and stop it.
“During the day shadows are the doors of not-doing” he said. “But at night, since very little doing prevails in the dark, everything is a shadow, including the allies. I’ve already told you about this when I taught you the gait of power.” I laughed out loud and my own laughter scared me.
“Everything I have taught you so far has been an aspect of not-doing” he went on. “A warrior applies not-doing to everything in the world, and yet I can’t tell you more about it than what I have said today. You must let your own body discover the power and the feeling of not-doing.” I had another fit of nervous cackling.
“It is stupid for you to scorn the mysteries of the world simply because you know the doing of scorn,” he said with a serious face. I assured him that I was not scorning anything or anyone, but that I was more nervous and incompetent than he thought. “I’ve always been that way, ” I said. “And yet I want to change, but I don’t know how. I am so inadequate.”
“I already know that you think you are rotten, ” he said.
“That’s your doing. Now in order to affect that doing I am going to recommend that you learn another doing. From now on, and for a period of eight days, I want you to lie to yourself. Instead of telling yourself the truth, that you are ugly and rotten and inadequate, you will tell yourself that you are the complete opposite, knowing that you are lying and that you are absolutely beyond hope.”
“But what would be the point of lying like that, don Juan?”
“It may hook you to another doing and then you may realize that both doings are lies, unreal, and that to hinge yourself to either one is a waste of time, because the only thing that is real is the being in you that is going to die. To arrive at that being is the not-doing of the self.”

***

(From The Universal Spiderweb by Armando Torres)

While reviewing my tapes, I noticed that something had escaped my attention. During one of our conversations, he’d asserted, “We follow the mood that the ancients left to us.”

So, the next time I went to see him, I asked: “What did you mean by ‘mood,’ don Berna?”

He answered, “It’s a kind of language, an implicit acceptance of a world with no ordinary meanings. For outsiders, it seems like something absolutely incongruous, but for us who share the tradition, we understand each other perfectly. You know very well what I’m talking about!”

He was right. Right from the start, they’d been teaching me more with actions than with words, based on a tacit agreement that was assumed among them and that didn’t require bigger explanations; for example, instead of considering that things are material objects, sorcerers see them as different vibratory frequencies; a person is not a solid body, but a bubble of vibrant energy; dreams are not fantasies, but a real space where you can act in a conscious way.”

He said, “Our perception of reality, either mentally or physically, is just what we focus on. What really exists out there is a true perceptive chaos, from which we can choose from among an infinite number of skimmings. From that position, we can break the laws of action and reaction as easily as snapping your fingers… like this!”

“Does that mean that sorcerers deny the universal laws of causality?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that the laws of action and reaction, yes, they have validity, but only up to a certain point,” he said. “If, for example, you were to go to outer space or the nucleus of an atom, the laws that we’re familiar with are no longer valid there.”

“Sorcerers discovered that cause and effect is not something automatic or unavoidable. Its bond is the description that we make of the world, and what gives it validity is the will. So, yes, those laws that you speak of do exist, but only within the parameters that we’ve agreed to call ‘reality.’”

“This is a world of ‘doing.’ All you’d have to do is change some of its elements, and everything would fall apart.”

I asked him him to speak more about doing and not- doing. He said, “Not-doing is the silence of the action. You already know that silence is of vital importance for the warrior; it’s his weapon, his tool.”

“Not-doing is the key to reaching silence. Sorcerers use not-doing as a dam in the current of their imminent destiny; they rechannel it, they reorder it, and they transform their fate into a challenge, which they consider as the only one worth going to battle for.”

“Accepting that the world is a mystery is basic to being able to keep going; otherwise, you would take the explanations as if they were ordinary rationalizations of the mind, and immediately transform them into doings.”

“The ticket of admission to the world of the nagual is internal silence. Each one possesses his own measure, his own personal threshold. When he accumulates enough and a critical quantity of silence is reached, a change happens in his habitual view of the world. Then he begins to perceive the flow of the energy as it really is.”

“The amount of silence necessary to reach that goal varies from one individual to another. Some get it after just a few minutes of sustained intent. Others, however, may never reach it. It has to do with a natural proclivity that manifests to different degrees in each person. The threshold of silence is the sorcerer’s measure.”

“To reach silence, it’s necessary to reach a level of determination that, in general, is beyond the reach of the common man who lives caught up in thousands of commitments, and doesn’t have the time, the disposition, or the energy to face such an abstract task.”

“Perhaps the most dramatic effect of reaching silence is that one suddenly gets disconnected from the parallel mind, and that’s quite a revelation.”

“When the image of oneself stops being so supremely important, then everything falls into place. You realize that you’re not who you thought you were. When you break free from the yoke of the parasitic mind, the idea of ‘doing’ is no longer so genuine; in its place, in a spontaneous way, not-doing emerges.”

“Could you give me some examples of not-doing that I can understand?” I asked.

“The examples won’t tell you much,” he answered, “because a trick of the mind is to transform everything into doing. To understand, you need to redefine your notion of ‘me.’ As long as you don’t put that aspect of your life in order, you’ll never understand it because everything you do will revert to an everyday action.”

“What do you mean by ‘redefining myself?’” I asked cautiously. I felt as if I was about to fall into a trap.

He told me, “You have something unresolved in your life. They’ve already told you before about this, but you always find a way to escape it. It’s a matter of mending the idea that you have about yourself.”

“That’s the twenty-four-hour battle that the nagual insists on so much: the war against the individual me. Not- doing momentarily interrupts them feeling of ‘I am,’ but it’s only an exercise, a preparation for the total collapse of the ego.”

Maybe noticing my expression of anguish, he said, “Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that you’ll cease to exist; in fact, it’s just the opposite: it’s an awakening, in which the true ‘me’ takes control. The idea of ‘I am’ is a by-product of the parallel mind. It’s an absolutely pernicious sensation because it reinforces the ego and identifies with self-pity, which is the worst plague that has ever ravaged humanity, making us timidly accommodate a miserable life routine, meekly agreeing to the fate that they’ve imposed on us instead of fighting for freedom until death.”

I protested! I absolutely didn’t agree with it. For years, my search had been to define and polish my sense of ‘I am.’ For a while I’d even used it as my meditation mantra. But he wasn’t willing to let it go. Parodying the words of a classic of literature, he asked me who I was.

“I don’t know,” I responded, willing to fight. “But ‘I am.’”

“The problem is that you don’t know it because, if you came to know it, you surely wouldn’t like it, since you’re a jumble of feelings that fight hopelessly to find a center of equilibrium. But that secondary center that you call ‘me,’ in fact doesn’t exist, it’s only an illusion, a descriptive assemblage that creates the illusion of ‘me.’ Our true being is in silence and it doesn’t require bigger explanations. “

“The goal of the warriors is to perceive directly, without having to pass through the customs of reason, where the fact, after going through the filter of interpretation, loses its true meaning.”

“Humans are the only ones who have to appeal to words to establish the feeling of being. Animals don’t have that problem. What should be something simple and natural has become a crossword puzzle, a parody. To constantly repeat ‘I am’ like a parrot may seem like an innocent thing, but when you realize that you’re lost in a labyrinth of the ego, not knowing who you are and not being able to find a meaning for your own existence, many prefer to commit suicide.”

“‘I am’ is a command; with those words you program yourself to avoid any state of consciousness or perception in which the image of yourself doesn’t play a clear and dominant role. That phrase exacerbates personal importance. Do you realize how much passion you defended your precious ‘me’ with?” he asked me with a mocking smile. I remained quiet; I didn’t understand the reason, but I felt threatened.”

“That command makes you heavy; it quells any attempt to give fluidity to the assemblage point. So for you, all those exercises of ‘not doing’ you’ve practiced become useless. The identification with ‘me’ is what keeps you anchored to the world of reason.”

“Sorcerers compare human beings to ruminants that, by fixing the attention only in specific areas, tear out and chew up mouthfuls of the world that surrounds them, ignoring all the rest. Then they regurgitate those mouthfuls of perceptions, to ruminate them through the ‘me,’ where everything becomes a reasoned interpretation, so that the perceptive entity becomes an interpretive identity, and their testimony becomes a reflection.

“So, in fact, that second center for assembling the information works as an anchor that maintains the assemblage point lodged in its habitual position. It rectifies and adjusts the direct reading that we unceasingly make of reality, transforming it into something convenient or acceptable, according to the parameters that we’ve learned.”

“As soon as the thoughts are silenced, one recovers the ecstasy of existing, and copies of any nature are no longer accepted.”

“After a life of learned submission to reason, the rigidity of perception becomes predominant to such a point that it obscures all other centers of perception. A moment comes in which one no longer gives credit to any perception that has not previously gone through the censorship of reason, and anything that is seen as a threat to that fixed position is bad or simply doesn’t exist, or both things at the same time. It’s for this reason that common people have such conflicting feelings about the sorcerer’s idea.”

“What centers are you talking about?” I asked, hoping to take a break from the topic that we were discussing that caused me so much anxiety.”

“As they’ve already explained to you, the human being has eight main centers, each one with its own perceptive function. In ordinary people, only two of those centers are functioning, while for them, the other ones are just vague sensations. In the sorcerer, all the centers have to be integrated and working fully; only then can he can claim the totality of himself. When he achieves such a feat, words are no longer necessary because he can perceive with the whole body without the necessity of explaining to himself rationally what he’s perceiving.”

“Could you give me an example?” I grumbled from my seat.

“Each one of those energy centers is related to a specific organ; for example, reason is connected with the brain, and feeling corresponds to the heart. The heart is a sensitive organ that requires care; it’s necessary to treat it kindly. Bad treatment of that center is the main cause of heart attacks. The same happens with all the other organs. The sexual organ, for instance, perceives intensely and it knows a lot, but, once those perceptions go through the interpretive filter of the brain, the sensations are given names and labels.”

“This is this how original perceptions get filled with prejudices and fade away, leaving only a copy of low quality, full of words that try to explain things verbally even though they can’t be explained.”

“Maybe words are the main cause of misunderstandings among people since, on many occasions, they don’t express correctly what one is trying to explain, creating confusions that end up destroying relationships, and even starting wars between nations.”

“How can someone activate the other centers?” I asked, full of curiosity.

“The cures, massages and exercises that you’ve been practicing are the means to achieve that. When working a certain organ, it’s revitalized and begins to send stronger signals that the warrior learns how to perceive and interpret.”

To my dismay, as soon as he finished his explanation about the centers, he resumed the previous topic. “‘I am’ is a made-up sentence; its interior is hollow, and it feeds on a nucleus of insecurity. Not-doing is an interruption in the flow of the habitual interpretation of the world. As long as you’re not able to overcome the feeling of ‘I am,’ there’s no way of stopping that flow.”

“Then by suppressing the ‘me,’ do you automatically enter into not-doing?”

“In a certain way,” he answered. “‘Doing’ is when you act in accordance with the personal inventory, the summary of everything that someone has put together during their life. It’s like a warehouse that’s revised constantly, discarding the readings that are not practical and accentuating the value of those most used.”

“The fixation on being ‘myself’ or on my way being better or more important than the others comes precisely from that; it’s the basis of personal importance, and it’s what impels people to need to control others. It is, in fact, the obsessive focus on the ‘me’ that transforms people into petty tyrants. Making the inventory is an order that no one can disobey; however, through the practice of not-doing, it’s possible to maintain a healthy control over the inventory. That, by itself, casts one directly into a magical environment where everything is possible.”

“Not-doing is a technique, a different way of hooking the world. A small shakeup in the value scale of the inventory, and the priorities change. Just by suppressing some detail or throwing a dissonant element in to disrupt common sense, suddenly, not-doing emerges, filling the awareness with an extraordinary range of new perceptions.”

It was during that time that he put to me the challenge to stop using the pronoun ‘I.’ At first, it was difficult to communicate in that way, but over time, I adapted and came to understand that the constant reference to oneself is a vice that ties us to the ego, like a quadruped to its water trough, and everything becomes me, me, me.

“One of the best ways to approach not-doing is by imitating the games of children,” he said with an amused expression, and continued explaining. “To change the perceptive command, you can carry out non-utilitarian activities, for example, walking blindly or walking backwards, going in circles around a tree, concentrating the attention on a pebble or the clouds, stalking your own shadow, and anything else you can think of. But the most important of all is to take care not to transform those into a routine.”

“In what way can not-doing change the perceptive commands?”

“Not-doing is truly a trick that deceives the mind for a moment, allowing it to break free from conventional things by aligning to something entirely new. The body feels it as an energy burst; that’s the reason why people feel dazzled by a magician’s show, despite knowing that the tricks are mere deception.”

“Keeping the perception in line with not-doing depends totally on the warrior’s personal power, on anchoring the perception – or else he’ll fall back into everyday life again. That happens because our world is formed by very delicate principles. If you remove some of its key pieces, the whole scenario comes tumbling down.”

“The warrior tunes his perception; he focuses his attention on certain aspects of being aware so that he becomes an energy tracker; he finds in daily events the points where the energy is manifested in a more evident way. Such points are the signs of intent.”

“The signs of the spirit are what indicates to us the way to escape from the corral. This is how the warrior makes a quantum leap with his thought, transforming each moment into a new experiment, with which even the quotidian becomes an exciting trip to the unknown.”

“Does it mean that that the warrior no longer has an ultimate destiny?” I asked.

“No,” he answered. “That means that his destiny has become mysterious; it no longer fits into the pinche sequence of causes and effects.”

***

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