(Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda)
“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 door knob, 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?”
“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?”
(A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda)
“ —Some day perhaps you’ll be able to see men in another mode and then you’ll realize that there’s no way to change anything about them.”
“What’s this other mode of seeing men, don Juan?”
“Men look different when you see. The little smoke will help you to see men as fibers of light”
“Fibers of light?”
“Yes. Fibers, like white cobwebs. Very fine threads that circulate from the head to the navel. Thus a man looks like an egg of circulating fibers. And his arms and legs are like luminous bristles, bursting out in all directions.”
“Is that the way everyone looks?”
“Everyone. Besides, every man is in touch with everything else, not through his hands, though, but through a bunch of long fibers that shoot out from the center of his abdomen. Those fibers join a man to his surroundings; they keep his balance; they give him stability. So, as you may see some day, a man is a luminous egg whether he’s a beggar or a king and there’s no way to change anything; or rather, what could be changed in that luminous egg? What?”
Don Juan casually mentioned that he was going to make another trip to central Mexico in the near future.
“Are you going to visit don Genaro?” I asked.
“Perhaps,” he said without looking at me.
“He’s all right, isn’t he, don Juan? I mean nothing bad happened to him up there on top of the waterfall, did it?”
“Nothing happened to him; he is sturdy.”
We talked about his projected trip for a while and then I said I had enjoyed don Genaro’s company and his jokes. He laughed and said that don Genaro was truly like a child. There was a long pause; I struggled in my mind to find an opening line to ask about his lesson. Don Juan looked at me and said in a mischievous tone:
“You’re dying to ask me about Genaro’s lesson, aren’t you?”
I laughed with embarrassment. I had been obsessed with everything that took place at the waterfall. I had been hashing and rehashing all the details I could remember and my conclusions were that I had witnessed an incredible feat of physical prowess. I thought don Genaro was beyond doubt a peerless master of equilibrium; every single movement he had performed was highly ritualized and, needless to say, must have had some inextricable, symbolic meaning.
“Yes,” I said. “I admit I’m dying to know what his lesson was.”
“Let me tell you something,” don Juan said. “It was a waste of time for you. His lesson was for someone who can see. Pablito and Nestro got the gist of it, although they don’t see very well. But you, you went there to look. I told Genaro that you are a very strange plugged-up fool and that perhaps you’d get unplugged with his lesson, but you didn’t. It doesn’t matter, though. Seeing is very difficult.”
“I didn’t want you to speak to Genaro afterwards, so we had to leave. Too bad. Yet it would have been worse to stay. Genaro risked a great deal to show you something magnificent. Too bad you can’t see.”
“Perhaps, don Juan, if you tell me what the lesson was I may find out that I really saw.”
Don Juan doubled up with laughter.
“Your best feature is asking questions,” he said.
He was apparently going to drop the subject again. We were sitting, as usual, in the area in front of his house; he suddenly got up and walked inside. I trailed behind him and insisted on describing to him what I had seen. I faithfully followed the sequence of events as I remembered it. Don Juan kept on smiling while I spoke. When I had finished he shook his head.
“Seeing is very difficult,” he said.
I begged him to explain his statement
“Seeing is not a matter of talk,” he said imperatively.
Obviously he was not going to tell me anything more, so I gave up and left the house to run some errands for him.
When I returned it was already dark; we had something to eat and afterwards we walked out to the ramada; we had no sooner sat down than don Juan began to talk about don Genaro’s lesson. He did not give me any time to prepare myself for it. I did have my notes with me, but it was too dark to write and I did not want to alter the flow of his talk by going inside the house for the kerosene lantern.
He said that don Genaro, being a master of balance, could perform very complex and difficult movements. Sitting on his head was one of such movements and with it he had attempted to show me that it was impossible to “see” while I took notes. The action of sitting on his head without the aid of his hands was, at best, a freakish stunt that lasted only an instant. In don Genaro’s opinion, writing about “seeing” was the same; that is, it was a precarious maneuver, as odd and as unnecessary as sitting on one’s head.
Don Juan peered at me in the dark and in a very dramatic tone said that while don Genaro was horsing around, sitting on his head, I was on the very verge of “seeing.” Don Genaro noticed it and repeated his maneuvers over and over, to no avail, because I had lost the thread right away.
Don Juan said that afterwards don Genaro, moved by his personal liking for me, attempted in a very dramatic way to bring me back to that verge of “seeing.” After very careful deliberation he decided to show me a feat of equilibrium by crossing the waterfall. He felt that the waterfall was like the edge on which I was standing and was confident I could also make it across. Don Juan then explained don Genaro’s feat. He said that he had already told me that human beings were, for those who “saw,” luminous beings composed of something like fibers of light, which rotated from the front to the back and maintained the appearance of an egg. He said that he had also told me that the most astonishing part of the egg-like creatures was a set of long fibers that came out of the area around the navel; don Juan said that those fibers were of the uttermost importance in the life of a man. Those fibers were the secret of don Genaio’s balance and his lesson had nothing to do with acrobatic jumps across the waterfall. His feat of equilibrium was in the way he used those “tentacle-like” fibers.
Don Juan dropped the subject as suddenly as he had started it and began to talk about something thoroughly unrelated.
I cornered don Juan and told him I intuitively felt that I was never going to get another lesson in equilibrium and that he had to explain to me all the pertinent details, which I would otherwise never discover by myself. Don Juan said I was right, in so far as knowing that don Genaro would never give me another lesson.
“What else do you want to know?” he asked.
“What are those tentacle-like fibers, don Juan?”
“They are the tentacles that come out of a man’s body which are apparent to any sorcerer who sees. Sorcerers act toward people in accordance to the way they see their tentacles. Weak persons have very short, almost invisible fibers; strong persons have bright, long ones. Genaro’s, for instance, are so bright that they resemble thickness. You can tell from the fibers if a person is healthy, or if he is sick, or if he is mean, or kind, or treacherous. You can also tell from the fibers if a person can see. Here is a baffling problem. When Genaro saw you he knew, just like my friend Vicente did, that you could see; when I see you I see that you can see and yet I know myself that you can’t. How baffling! Genaro couldn’t get over that. I told him that you were a strange fool. I think he wanted to see that for himself and took you to the waterfall.”
“Why do you think I give the impression I can see?”
Don Juan did not answer me. He remained silent for a long time. I did not want to ask him anything else.
Finally he spoke to me and said that he knew why but did not know how to explain it.
“You think everything in the world is simple to understand,” he said, “because everything you do is a routine that is simple to understand. At the waterfall, when you looked at Genaro moving across the water, you believed that he was a master of somersaults, because somersaults was all you could think about. And that is all you will ever believe he did. Yet Genaro never jumped across that water. If he had jumped he would have died. Genaro balanced himself on his superb, bright fibers. He made them long, long enough so that he could, let’s say, roll on them across the waterfall. He demonstrated the proper way to make those tentacles long, and how to move them with precision.
“Pablito saw nearly all of Genaro’s movements. Nestor, on the other hand, saw only the most obvious maneuvers. He missed the delicate details. But you, you saw nothing at all.”
“Perhaps if you had told me beforehand, don Juan, what to look for …”
He interrupted me and said that giving me instructions would only have hindered don Genaro. Had I known what was going to take place, my fibers would have been agitated and would have interfered with don Genaro’s.
“If you could see,” he said, “it would have been obvious to you, from the first step that Genaro took, that he was not slipping as he went up the side of the waterfall. He was loosening his tentacles. Twice he made them go around boulders and held to the sheer rock like a fly. When he got to the top and was ready to cross the water he focused them onto a small rock in the middle of the stream, and when they were secured there, he let the fibers pull him. Genaro never jumped, therefore he could land on the slippery surfaces of small boulders at the very edge of the water. His fibers were at all times neatly wrapped around every rock he used.”
“He did not stay on the first boulder very long, because he had the rest of his fibers tied onto another one, even smaller, at the place where the onrush of water was the greatest. His tentacles pulled him again and he landed on it. That was the most outstanding thing he did. The surface was too small for a man to hold onto; and the onrush of the water would have washed his body over the precipice had he not had some of his fibers still focused on the first rock.”
“He stayed in that second position for a long time, because he had to draw out his tentacles again and send them across to the other side of the fall. When he had them secured he had to release the fibers focused on the first rock. That was very tricky. Perhaps only Genaro could do that. He nearly lost his grip; or maybe he was only fooling us, well never know that for sure. Personally, I really think he nearly lost his grip. I know that, because he became rigid and sent out a magnificent shoot, like a beam of light across the water. I feel that beam alone could have pulled him through. When he got to the other side he stood up and let his fibers glow like a cluster of lights. That was the one thing he did just for you. If you had been able to see, you would have seen that.”
“Genaro stood there looking at you, and then he knew that you had not seen.”
I went back to visit don Juan on May 30, 1969, and bluntly told him that I wanted to take another crack at “seeing.” He shook his head negatively and laughed, and I felt compelled to protest. He told me I had to be patient and the time was not right, but I doggedly insisted I was ready.
He did not seem annoyed with my nagging requests. He tried, nevertheless, to change the subject. I did not let go and asked him to advise me what to do in order to overcome my impatience.
“You must act like a warrior,” he said.
“One learns to act like a warrior by acting, not by talking.”
“You said that a warrior thinks about his death. I do that all the time; obviously that isn’t enough.”
He seemed to have an outburst of impatience and made a smacking sound with his lips. I told him that I had not meant to make him angry and that if he did not need me there at his house, I was ready to go back to Los Angeles. Don Juan patted me gently on the back and said that he never got angry with me; he had simply assumed I knew what it meant to be a warrior.
“What can I do to live like a warrior?” I asked.
He took off his hat and scratched his temples. He looked at me fixedly and smiled.
“You like everything spelled out, don’t you?”
“My mind works that way.”
“It doesn’t have to.”
“I don’t know how to change. That is why I ask you to tell me exactly what to do to live like a warrior; if I knew that, I could find a way to adapt myself to it.”
He must have thought my statements were humorous; he patted me on the back as he laughed.
I had the feeling he was going to ask me to leave any minute, so I quickly sat down on my straw mat facing him and began asking him more questions. I wanted to know why I had to wait.
He explained that if I were to try to “see” in a helter-skelter manner, before I had “healed the wounds” I received battling the guardian, chances were that I would encounter the guardian again even though I was not looking for it. Don Juan assured me that no man in that position would be capable of surviving such an encounter.
“You must completely forget the guardian before you can again embark on the quest of seeing” he said.
“How can anyone forget the guardian?”
“A warrior has to use his will and his patience to forget. In fact, a warrior has only his will and his patience and with them he builds anything he wants.”
“But I’m not a warrior.”
“You have started learning the ways of sorcerers. You have no more time for retreats or for regrets. You only have time to live like a warrior and work for patience and will, whether you like it or not.”
“How does a warrior work for them?”
Don Juan thought for a long time before answering.
“I think there is no way of talking about it,” he finally said. “Especially about will. Will is something very special. It happens mysteriously. There is no real way of telling how one uses it, except that the results of using the will are astounding. Perhaps the first thing that one should do is to know that one can develop the will. A warrior knows that and proceeds to wait for it. Your mistake is not to know that you are waiting for your will.”
“My benefactor told me that a warrior knows that he is waiting and knows what he is waiting for. In your case, you know that you’re waiting. You’ve been here with me for years, yet you don’t know what you are waiting for. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the average man to know what he is waiting for. A warrior, however, has no problems; he knows that he is waiting for his will.”
“What exactly is the will? Is it determination, like the determination of your grandson Lucio to have a motorcycle?”
“No,” don Juan said softly and giggled. “That’s not will. Lucio only indulges. Will is something else, something very clear and powerful which can direct our acts. Will is something a man uses, for instance, to win a battle which he, by all calculations, should lose.”
“Then will must be what we call courage,” I said.
“No. Courage is something else. Men of courage are dependable men, noble men perennially surrounded by people who flock around them and admire them; yet very few men of courage have will. Usually they are fearless men who are given to performing daring common-sense acts; most of the time a courageous man is also fearsome and feared. Will, on the other hand, has to do with astonishing feats that defy our common sense.”
“Is will the control we may have over ourselves?” I asked.
“You may say that it is a kind of control.”
“Do you think I can exercise my will, for instance, by denying myself certain things?”
“Such as asking questions?” he interjected.
He said it in such a mischievous tone that I had to stop writing to look at him. We both laughed.
“No,” he said. “Denying yourself is an indulgence and I don’t recommend anything of the kind. That is the reason why I let you ask all the questions you want. If I told you to stop asking questions, you might warp your will trying to do that. The indulgence of denying is by far the worst; it forces us to believe we are doing great things, when in effect we are only fixed within ourselves. To stop asking questions is not the will I’m talking about. Will is a power. And since it is a power it has to be controlled and tuned and that takes time. I know that and I’m patient with you. When I was your age I was as impulsive as you. Yet I have changed. Our will operates in spite of our indulgence. For example, your will is already opening your gap, little by little.”
“What gap are you talking about?”
“There is a gap in us; like the soft spot on the head of a child which closes with age, this gap opens as one develops one’s will.”
“Where is that gap?”
“At the place of your luminous fibers,” he said, pointing to his abdominal area.
“What is it like? What is it for?”
“It’s an opening. It allows a space for the will to shoot out, like an arrow.”
“Is the will an object? Or like an object?”
“No. I just said that to make you understand. What a sorcerer calls will is a power within ourselves. It is not a thought, or an object, or a wish. To stop asking questions is not will because it needs thinking and wishing. Will is what can make you succeed when your thoughts tell you that you’re defeated. Will is what makes you invulnerable. Will is what sends a sorcerer through a wall; through space; to the moon, if he wants.”
There was nothing else I wanted to ask. I was tired and somewhat tense. I was afraid don Juan was going to ask me to leave and that annoyed me.
“Let’s go to the hills,” he said abruptly, and stood up.
On the way he started talking about will again and laughed at my dismay over not being able to take notes.
He described will as a force which was the true link between men and the world. He was very careful to establish that the world was whatever we perceive, in any manner we may choose to perceive. Don Juan maintained that “perceiving the world” entails a process of apprehending whatever presents itself to us. This particular “perceiving” is done with our senses and with our will.
I asked him if will was a sixth sense. He said it was rather a relation between ourselves and the perceived world. I suggested that we halt so I could take notes. He laughed and kept on walking.
He did not make me leave that night, and the next day after eating breakfast he himself brought up the subject of will.
“What you yourself call will is character and strong disposition,” he said. “What a sorcerer calls will is a force that comes from within and attaches itself to the world out there. It comes out through the belly, right here, where the luminous fibers are.”
He rubbed his navel to point out the area.
“I say that it comes out through here because one can feel it coming out.”
“Why do you call it will?”
“I don’t call it anything. My benefactor called it will, and other men of knowledge call it will.”
“Yesterday you said that one can perceive the world with the senses as well as with the will. How is that possible?”
“An average man can ‘grab’ the things of the world only with his hands, or his eyes, or his ears, but a sorcerer can grab them also with his nose, or his tongue, or his will, especially with his will. I cannot really describe how it is done, but you yourself, for instance, cannot describe to me how you hear. It happens that I am also capable of hearing, so we can talk about what we hear, but not about how we hear. A sorcerer uses his will to perceive the world. That perceiving, however, is not like hearing. When we look at the world or when we hear it, we have the impression that it is out there and that it is real. When we perceive the world with our will we know that it is not as ‘out there’ or ‘as real’ as we think.”
“Is will the same as seeing?”
“No. Will is a force, a power. Seeing is not a force, but rather a way of getting through things. A sorcerer may have a very strong will and yet he may not see; which means that only a man of knowledge perceives the world with his senses and with his will and also with his seeing.” I told him that I was more confused than ever about how to use my will to forget the guardian. That statement and my mood of perplexity seemed to delight him.
“I’ve told you that when you talk you only get confused,” he said and laughed. “But at least now you know you are waiting for your will. You still don’t know what it is, or how it could happen to you. So watch carefully everything you do. The very thing that could help you develop your will is amidst all the little things you do.”
Don Juan was gone all morning; he returned in the early afternoon with a bundle of dry plants. He signaled me with his head to help him and we worked in complete silence for hours, sorting the plants. When we finished we sat down to rest and he smiled at me benevolently.
I said to him in a very serious manner that I had been reading my notes and I still could not understand what being a warrior entailed or what the idea of will meant.
“Will is not an idea,” he said.
This was the first time he had spoken to me the whole day.
After a long pause he continued:
“We are different, you and I. Our characters are not alike. Your nature is more violent than mine. When I was your age I was not violent but mean; you are the opposite. My benefactor was like that; he would have been perfectly suited to be your teacher. He was a great sorcerer but he did not see; not the way I see or the way Genaro sees. I understand the world and live guided by my seeing. My benefactor, on the other hand, had to live as a warrior. If a man sees he doesn’t have to live like a warrior, or like anything else, for he can see things as they really are and direct his life accordingly. But, considering your character, I would say that you may never learn to see, in which case you will have to live your entire life like a warrior.”
“My benefactor said that when a man embarks on the paths of sorcery he becomes aware, in a gradual manner, that ordinary life has been forever left behind; that knowledge is indeed a frightening affair; that the means of the ordinary world are no longer a buffer for him; and that he must adopt a new way of life if he is going to survive. The first thing he ought to do, at that point, is to want to become a warrior, a very important step and decision. The frightening nature of knowledge leaves one no alternative but to become a warrior.”
“By the time knowledge becomes a frightening affair the man also realizes that death is the irreplaceable partner that sits next to him on the mat. Every bit of knowledge that becomes power has death as its central force. Death lends the ultimate touch, and whatever is touched by death indeed becomes power.”
“A man who follows the paths of sorcery is confronted with imminent annihilation every turn of the way, and unavoidably he becomes keenly aware of his death. Without the awareness of death he would be only an ordinary man involved in ordinary acts. He would lack the necessary potency, the necessary concentration that transforms one’s ordinary time on earth into magical power.”
“Thus to be a warrior a man has to be, first of all, and rightfully so, keenly aware of his own death. But to be concerned with death would force any one of us to focus on the self and that would be debilitating. So the next thing one needs to be a warrior is detachment. The idea of imminent death, instead of becoming an obsession, becomes an indifference.”
Don Juan stopped talking and looked at me. He seemed to be waiting for a comment.
“Do you understand?” he asked.
I understood what he had said but I personally could not see how anyone could arrive at a sense of detachment. I said that from the point of view of my own apprenticeship I had already experienced the moment when knowledge became such a frightening affair. I could also truthfully say that I no longer found support in the ordinary premises of my daily life. And I wanted, or perhaps even more than wanted, I needed, to live like a warrior.
“Now you must detach yourself,” he said.
“Detach yourself from everything.”
“That’s impossible. I don’t want to be a hermit.”
“To be a hermit is an indulgence and I never meant that. A hermit is not detached, for he willfully abandons himself to being a hermit.
“Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he is incapable of abandoning himself to anything. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he can’t deny himself anything. A man of that sort, however, does not crave, for he has acquired a silent lust for life and for all things of life. He knows his death is stalking him and won’t give him time to cling to anything, so he tries, without craving, all of everything.”
“A detached man, who knows he has no possibility of fencing off his death, has only one thing to back himself with: the power of his decisions. He has to be, so to speak, the master of his choices. He must fully understand that his choice is his responsibility and once he makes it there is no longer time for regrets or recriminations. His decisions are final, simply because his death does not permit him time to cling to anything.”
“And thus with an awareness of his death, with his detachment, and with the power of his decisions a warrior sets his life in a strategical manner. The knowledge of his death guides him and makes him detached and silently lusty; the power of his final decisions makes him able to choose without regrets and what he chooses is always strategically the best; and so he performs everything he has to with gusto and lusty efficiency.”
“When a man behaves in such a manner one may rightfully say that he is a warrior and has acquired patience!”
Don Juan asked me if I had anything to say, and I remarked that the task he had described would take a lifetime.
He said I protested too much in front of him and that he knew I behaved, or at least tried to behave, in terms of a warrior in my day-to-day life.
“You have pretty good claws,” he said, laughing. “Show them to me from time to time. It’s good practice.”
I made a gesture of claws and growled, and he laughed. Then he cleared his throat and went on talking.
“When a warrior has acquired patience he is on his way to will. He knows how to wait. His death sits with him on his mat, they are friends. His death advises him, in mysterious ways, how to choose, how to live strategically. And the warrior waits! I would say that the warrior learns without any hurry because he knows he is waiting for his will; and one day he succeeds in performing something ordinarily quite impossible to accomplish. He may not even notice his extraordinary deed. But as he keeps on performing impossible acts, or as impossible things keep on happening to him, he becomes aware that a sort of power is emerging. A power that comes out of his body as he progresses on the path of knowledge. At first it is like an itching on the belly, or a warm spot that cannot be soothed; then it becomes a pain, a great discomfort. Sometimes the pain and discomfort are so great that the warrior has convulsions for months, the more severe the convulsions the better for him. A fine power is always heralded by great pain.”
“When the convulsions cease the warrior notices he has strange feelings about things. He notices that he can actually touch anything he wants with a feeling that comes out of his body from a spot right below or right above his navel. That feeling is the will, and when he is capable of grabbing with it, one can rightfully say that the warrior is a sorcerer, and that he has acquired will.”
Don Juan stopped talking and seemed to await my comments or questions. I had nothing to say. I was deeply concerned with the idea that a sorcerer had to experience pain and convulsions but I felt embarrassed about asking him if I also had to go through that. Finally, after a long silence, I asked him, and he giggled as if he had been anticipating my question. He said that pain was not absolutely necessary; he, for example, had never had it and will had just happened to him.
“One day I was in the mountains,” he said, “and I stumbled upon a puma, a female one; she was big and hungry. I ran and she ran after me. I climbed a rock and she stood a few feet away ready to jump. I threw rocks at her. She growled and began to charge me. It was then that my will fully came out, and I stopped her with it before she jumped on me.”
“I caressed her with my will. I actually rubbed her tits with it. She looked at me with sleepy eyes and lay down and I ran like a son of a bitch before she got over it.”
Don Juan made a very comical gesture to portray a man running for dear life, holding onto his hat.
I told him that I hated to think I had only female mountain lions or convulsions to look forward to, if I wanted will.
“My benefactor was a sorcerer of great powers,” he went on. “He was a warrior through and through. His will was indeed his most magnificent accomplishment. But a man can go still further than that; a man can learn to see. Upon learning to see he no longer needs to live like a warrior, nor be a sorcerer. Upon learning to see a man becomes everything by becoming nothing. He, so to speak, vanishes and yet he’s there. I would say that this is the time when a man can be or can get anything he desires. But he desires nothing, and instead of playing with his fellow men like they were toys, he meets them in the midst of their folly. The only difference between them is that a man who sees controls his folly, while his fellow men can’t. A man who sees has no longer an active interest in his fellow men. Seeing has already detached him from absolutely everything he knew before.”
“The sole idea of being detached from everything I know gives me the chills,” I said.
“You must be joking! The thing which should give you the chills is not to have anything to look forward to but a lifetime of doing that which you have always done. Think of the man who plants corn year after year until he’s too old and tired to get up, so he lies around like an old dog. His thoughts and feelings, the best of him, ramble aimlessly to the only things he has ever done, to plant corn. For me that is the most frightening waste there is.”
“We are men and our lot is to learn and to be hurled into inconceivable new worlds.”
“Are there any new worlds for us really?” I asked half in jest.
“We have exhausted nothing, you fool,” he said imperatively.
“Seeing is for impeccable men. Temper your spirit now, become a warrior, learn to see, and then you’ll know that there is no end to the new worlds for our vision.”
(Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda)
Don Juan’s gaze became quite unnerving. My body shivered involuntarily. He made me feel embarrassed and nervous.
“I’m looking for marks on your body,” he explained. “You may not know it, but this evening you had quite a bout out there.”
“What kind of marks are you looking for?”
“Not actual physical marks on your body but signs, indications in your luminous fibers, areas of brightness. We are luminous beings and everything we are or everything we feel shows in our fibers. Humans have a brightness peculiar only to them. That’s the only way to tell them apart from other luminous living beings.
“If you would have seen tonight, you would have noticed that the shape in the bushes was not a luminous living being.”
I wanted to ask more but he put his hand on my mouth and hushed me. He then put his mouth to my ear and whispered that I should listen and try to hear a soft rustling, the gentle muffled steps of a moth on the dry leaves and branches on the ground.
I could not hear anything. Don Juan stood up abruptly, picked up the lantern and said that we were going to sit under the ramada by the front door. He led me through the back and around the house, on the edge of the chaparral rather than going through the room and out the front door. He explained that it was essential to make our presence obvious. We half circled around the house on the left side. Don Juan’s pace was extremely slow. His steps were weak and vacillating. His arm shook as he held the lantern.
I asked him if there was something wrong with him. He winked at me and whispered that the big moth that was prowling around had an appointment with a young man, and that the slow gait of a feeble old man was an obvious way of showing who was the appointee.
When we finally arrived at the front of the house, don Juan hooked the lantern on a beam and made me sit with my back against the wall. He sat to my right.
“We’re going to sit here,” he said, “and you are going to write and talk to me in a very normal manner. The moth that lurched at you today is around, in the bushes. After a while it’ll come closer to look at you. That’s why I’ve put the lantern on a beam right above you. The light will guide the moth to find you. When it gets to the edge of the bushes, it will call you. It is a very special sound. The sound by itself may help you.”
“What kind of sound is it, don Juan?”
“It is a song. A haunting call that moths produce. Ordinarily it cannot be heard, but the moth out there in the bushes is a rare moth; you will hear its call clearly and, providing that you are impeccable, it will remain with you for the rest of your life.”
“What is it going to help me with?”
“Tonight, you’re going to try to finish what you’ve started earlier. Seeing happens only when the warrior is capable of stopping the internal dialogue.
“Today, you stopped your talk at will, out there in the bushes. And you saw. What you saw was not clear. You thought that it was a man. I say it was a moth. Neither of us is correct, but that’s because we have to talk. I still have the upper hand because I see better than you and because I’m familiar with the sorcerers’ explanation; so I know, although it’s not altogether
accurate, that the shape you saw tonight was a moth.
“And now, you’re going to remain silent and thoughtless and let that little moth come to you again.”
I could hardly take notes. Don Juan laughed and urged me to keep on writing as if nothing bothered me. He touched my arm and said that writing was the best protective shield that I had.
“We’ve never talked about moths,” he went on. “The time was not right until now. As you already know, your spirit was unbalanced. To counteract that I taught you to live the warrior’s way. Well, a warrior starts off with the certainty that his spirit is off balance; then by living in full control and awareness, but without hurry or compulsion, he does his ultimate best to gain this balance.
“In your case, as in the case of every man, your imbalance was due to the sum total of all your actions. But now your spirit seems to be in the proper light to talk about moths.”
“How did you know that this was the right time to talk about moths?”
“I caught a glimpse of the moth prowling around when you arrived. It was the first time it was friendly and open. I had seen it before in the mountains around Genaro’s house, but only as a menacing figure reflecting your lack of order.”
I heard a strange sound at that moment. It was like a muffled creaking of a branch rubbing against another, or like the sputtering of a small motor heard from a distance. It changed scales, like a musical tone, creating an eerie rhythm. Then it stopped.
“That was the moth,” don Juan said. “Perhaps you’ve already noticed that, although the light of the lantern is bright enough to attract moths, there isn’t a single one flying around it.”
I had not paid attention to it, but once don Juan made me aware of it, I also noticed an incredible silence in the desert around the house.
“Don’t get jumpy,” he said calmly. “There is nothing in this world that a warrior cannot account for. You see, a warrior considers himself already dead, so there is nothing for him to lose. The worst has already happened to him, therefore he’s clear and calm; judging him by his acts or by his words, one would never suspect that he has witnessed everything.”
Don Juan’s words, and above all his mood, were very soothing to me. I told him that in my day-to-day life I no longer experienced the obsessive fear I used to, but that my body entered into convulsions of fright at the thought of what was out there in the dark.
“Out there, there is only knowledge,” he said in a factual tone. “Knowledge is frightening, true; but if a warrior accepts the frightening nature of knowledge he cancels out its awesomeness.”
The strange sputtering noise happened again. It seemed closer and louder. I listened carefully. The more attention I paid to it the more difficult it was to determine its nature. It did not seem to be the call of a bird or the cry of a land animal. The tone of each sputter was rich and deep; some were produced in a low key, others in a high one. They had a rhythm and a specific duration; some were long, I heard them like a single unit of sound; others were short and happened in a cluster, like the staccato sound of a machine gun.
“The moths are the heralds or, better yet, the guardians of eternity,” don Juan said after the sound had stopped. “For some reason, or for no reason at all, they are the depositories of the gold dust of eternity.”
The metaphor was foreign to me. I asked him to explain it.
“The moths carry a dust on their wings,” he said. “A dark gold dust. That dust is the dust of knowledge.”
His explanation had made the metaphor even more obscure. I vacillated for a moment trying to find the best way of wording my question. But he began to talk again.
“Knowledge is a most peculiar affair,” he said, “especially for a warrior. Knowledge for a warrior is something that comes at once, engulfs him, and passes on.”
“What does knowledge have to do with the dust on the wings of moths?” I asked after a long pause.
“Knowledge comes floating like specks of gold dust, the same dust that covers the wings of moths. So, for a warrior, knowledge is like taking a shower, or being rained on by specks of dark gold dust.”
In the most polite manner I was capable of, I mentioned that his explanations had confused me even more. He laughed and assured me that he was making perfect sense, except that my reason would not allow me to be at ease.
“The moths have been the intimate friends and helpers of sorcerers from time immemorial,” he said. “I had not touched upon this subject before, because of your lack of preparation.”
“But how can the dust on their wings be knowledge?”
He put his hand over my notebook and told me to close my eyes and become silent and without thoughts. He said that the call of the moth in the chaparral was going to aid me. If I paid attention to it, it would tell me of imminent events. He stressed that he did not know how the communication between the moth and myself was going to be established, neither did he know what the terms of the communication would be. He urged me to feel at ease and confident and trust my personal power.
After an initial period of impatience and nervousness I succeeded in becoming silent. My thoughts diminished in number until my mind was perfectly blank. The noises of the desert chaparral seemed to have been turned on as I became more calm.
The strange sound that don Juan said was made by a moth occurred again. It registered as a feeling in my body and not as a thought in my mind. It occurred to me that it was not threatening or malevolent at all. It was sweet and simple. It was like a child’s call. It brought back the memory of a little boy that I once knew. The long sounds reminded me of his round blond head,
the short staccato sounds of his laughter. The most anguishing feeling oppressed me, and yet there were no thoughts in my mind; I felt the anguish in my body. I could no longer remain sitting and slid to the floor on my side. My sadness was so intense that I began to think. I assessed my pain and sorrow and suddenly found myself in the midst of an internal debate about the little boy. The sputtering sound had ceased. My eyes were closed. I heard don Juan standing up and then I felt him helping me to sit up. I did not want to speak. He did not say a word. I heard him moving by me. I opened my eyes; he had knelt in front of me and was examining my face, holding the lantern close to me. He ordered me to put my hands over my stomach. He stood up, went to the kitchen and brought me some water. He splashed some on my face and gave me the rest to drink.
He sat down next to me and handed me my notes. I told him that the sound had involved me in the most painful reverie.
“You are indulging beyond your limits,” he said dryly.
He seemed to immerse himself in thought, as if he were searching for an appropriate suggestion to make.
“The problem for tonight is seeing people,” he finally said. “First you must stop your internal dialogue, then you must bring up the image of the person that you want to see; any thought that
one holds in mind in a state of silence is properly a command, since there are no other thoughts to compete with it. Tonight, the moth in the bushes wants to help you, so it will sing for you. Its song will bring the golden specks and then you will see the person you’ve selected.”
I wanted to have more details, but he made an abrupt gesture and signaled me to proceed.
After struggling for a few minutes to stop my internal dialogue I was thoroughly silent. And then I deliberately held the brief thought of a friend of mine. I kept my eyes closed for what I believed to be just an instant and then I became aware that someone was shaking me by the shoulders. It was a slow realization. I opened my eyes and found myself lying on my left side. I had apparently fallen asleep so deeply that I did not remember having slumped to the ground.
Don Juan helped me to sit up again. He was laughing. He imitated my snoring and said that if he had not witnessed it himself he would not believe that anyone could fall asleep so fast. He said that it was a treat for him to be around me whenever I had to do something that my reason did not understand. He pushed my notebook away from me and said that we had to start all over.
I followed the necessary steps. The strange sputtering sound happened again. This time, however, it did not come from the chaparral; rather it seemed to happen inside of me, as if my lips, or legs, or arms were producing it. The sound soon engulfed me. I felt like soft balls were being sputtered out from or against me; it was a soothing, exquisite feeling of being bombarded by heavy cotton puffs. Suddenly I heard a door blown open by a gust of wind and I was thinking again. I thought that I had ruined another chance. I opened my eyes and found myself in my room. The objects on my desk were as I had left them. The door was open; there was a strong wind outside. The thought crossed my mind that I should check the water heater. I then heard a rattling on the sliding windows that I had put up myself and which did not fit well on the window frame. It was a furious rattling as if someone wanted to enter. I experienced a jolt of fright. I stood up from my chair. I felt something pulling me. I screamed.
Don Juan was shaking me by the shoulders. I excitedly gave him an account of my vision. It had been so vivid that I was shivering. I felt that I had just been at my desk, in my full corporeal form.
Don Juan shook his head in disbelief and said that I was a genius in tricking myself. He did not seem impressed by what I had done. He discarded it flatly and ordered me to start again.
I then heard the mysterious sound again. It came to me, as don Juan had suggested, in the form of a rain of golden specks. I did not feel that they were flat specks or flakes, as he had described them, but rather spherical bubbles. They floated towards me. One of them burst open and revealed a scene to me. It was as if it had stopped in front of my eyes and opened up, disclosing a strange object. It looked like a mushroom. I was definitely looking at it, and what I was experiencing was not a dream. The mushroomlike object remained unchanged within my field of “vision” and then it popped, as though the light that was shining on it had been turned off. An interminable darkness followed it. I felt a tremor, a very unsettling jolt, and then I had the abrupt realization that I was being shaken. All at once my senses were turned on. Don Juan was shaking me vigorously, and I was looking at him. I must have just opened my eyes at that moment. He sprinkled water on my face. The coldness of the water was very appealing. After a moment’s pause he wanted to know what had happened.
I recounted every detail of my vision.
“But what did I see?” I asked.
“Your friend,” he retorted.
I laughed and patiently explained that I had seen a mushroom-like figure. Although I had no criteria to judge dimensions, I had had the feeling that it was about a foot long.
Don Juan emphasized that feeling was all that counted. He said that my feelings were the gauge that assessed the state of being of the subject that I was seeing.
“From your description and your feelings I must conclude that your friend must be a very fine man,” he said. I was baffled by his words.
He said that the mushroomlike formation was the essential shape of human beings when a sorcerer was seeing them from far away, but when a sorcerer was directly facing the person he was seeing, the human quality was shown as an egglike cluster of luminous fibers.
“You were not facing your friend,” he said. “Therefore, he appeared like a mushroom.”
“Why is that so, don Juan?”
“No one knows. That simply is the way men appear in this specific type of seeing.”
He added that every feature of the mushroomlike formation had a special significance, but that it was impossible for a beginner to accurately interpret that significance.
Don Juan’s mood was unusual. He seemed almost nervous, anxious. He appeared to be willing to speak on his own accord. I believed that he was preparing me for the sorcerers’ explanation and I became quite anxious myself. His eyes had a strange glimmer that I had seen only a few times before. After I told him what I thought of his unusual attitude he said that he was happy for me, that as a warrior he could rejoice in the triumphs of his fellow men, if they were triumphs of the spirit. He added that unfortunately I was not yet ready for the sorcerers’ explanation, in spite of the fact that I had successfully solved don Genaro’s riddle. His contention was that when he had poured water over my body I had actually been dying and my whole achievement had been canceled out by my incapacity to fend off the last of don Genaro’s onslaughts.
“Genaro’s power was like a tide that engulfed you,” he said.
“Did don Genaro want to hurt me?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “Genaro wants to help you. But power can be met only with power. He was testing you and you failed.”
“But I solved his riddle, didn’t I?”
“You did fine,” he said. “So fine that Genaro had to believe that you were capable of a complete warrior’s feat. You almost made it. What floored you this time was not indulging, though.”
“What was it then?”
“You’re too impatient and violent; instead of relaxing and going with Genaro you began to fight him. You can’t win against him; he’s stronger than you.”
Don Juan then volunteered some advice and suggestions about my personal relations with people. His remarks were a serious sequel to what don Genaro had jokingly said to me earlier. He was in a talkative mood and without any coaxing on my part he began to explain what had taken place during the last two times I had been there.
“As you know,” he said, “the crux of sorcery is the internal dialogue; that is the key to everything. When a warrior learns to stop it, everything becomes possible; the most farfetched schemes become attainable. The passageway to all the weird and eerie experiences that you have had recently was the fact that you could stop talking to yourself. You have, in complete sobriety, witnessed the ally, Genaro’s double, the dreamer and the dreamed, and today you almost learned about the totality of yourself; that was the warrior’s feat that Genaro expected you to perform. All this has been possible because of the amount of personal power that you have stored. It started the last time you were here when I caught sight of a very auspicious omen. As you arrived I heard the ally prowling around; first, I heard its soft steps and then I saw the moth looking at you as you got out of your car. The ally was motionless, watching you. That to me was the best omen. Had the ally been agitated, moving around as if it was displeased with your presence, the way it always has been, the course of the events would have been different. Many times I have caught sight of the ally in an unfriendly state towards you, but this time the omen was right and I knew that the ally had a piece of knowledge for you. That was the reason why I said that you had an appointment with knowledge, an appointment with a moth that had been pending for a long time. For reasons inconceivable to us the ally selected the form of a moth to manifest itself to you.”
“But you said that the ally was formless, and that one could only judge its effects,” I said.
“That is right,” he said. “But the ally is a moth for the onlookers who are associated with you – Genaro and myself. For you, the ally is only an effect, a sensation in your body, or a sound, or the golden specks of knowledge. It remains as a fact, nonetheless, that by choosing the form of a moth, the ally is telling Genaro and me something of great importance. Moths are the givers of knowledge and the friends and helpers of sorcerers. It is because the ally chose to be a moth
around you that Genaro places such a great emphasis on you.”
“That night that you met the moth, as I had anticipated, was a true appointment with knowledge for you. You learned the moth’s call, felt the gold dust of its wings, but above all, that night for the first time, you were aware that you saw and your body learned that we are luminous beings. You have not yet assessed correctly that monumental event in your life. Genaro demonstrated for you with tremendous force and clarity that we are a feeling and that what we call our body is a cluster of luminous fibers that have awareness.”
“Last night you were back again under the good auspices of the ally. I came to look at you as you arrived and I knew that I had to call Genaro so he could explain to you the mystery of the dreamer and the dreamed. You believed then, just as you always have, that I was tricking you; but Genaro was not hiding in the bushes as you thought. He came over for you, even if your reason refuses to believe it.”
That part of don Juan’s elucidation was indeed the hardest to take at its face value. I could not admit it. I said that don Genaro had been real and of this world.
“Everything that you’ve witnessed so far has been real and of this world,” he said. “There is no other world. Your stumbling block is a peculiar insistence on your part and that peculiarity of yours is not going to be cured by explanations. So today Genaro addressed himself directly to your body. A careful examination of what you did today will reveal to you that your body put things together in a most praiseworthy manner. Somehow, you refrained from indulging in your visions at the irrigation ditch. You kept a rare control and aloofness as warriors should; you didn’t believe anything, but you still acted efficiently and thus you were capable of following Genaro’s call. You actually found him without any aid from me.”
“When we arrived at the rock ledge, you were imbued with power and you saw Genaro standing where other sorcerers have stood, for similar reasons. He walked over to you after jumping from the ledge. He himself was all power. Had you proceeded as you did earlier by the irrigation ditch, you would’ve seen him as he really is, a luminous being. Instead, you got frightened, especially when Genaro made you leap. That leap in itself should have been sufficient to transport you beyond your boundaries. But you didn’t have the strength and fell back into the world of your reason. Then, of course, you entered into mortal combat with yourself. Something in you, your will, wanted to go with Genaro, while your reason opposed him. Had I not helped you, you now would be lying dead and buried in that power place. But even with my help the outcome was dubious for a moment.”
We were silent for a few minutes. I waited for him to speak. Finally I asked, “Did don Genaro
make me leap up to the rock ledge?”
“Don’t take that leap in the sense that you understand a leap,” he said. “Once again, this is only a way of speaking. As long as you think that you are a solid body you cannot conceive what I am talking about.”
He then spilled some ashes on the ground by the lantern, covering an area about two feet square, and drew a diagram with his fingers, a diagram that had eight points interconnected with lines. It was a geometrical figure.
He had drawn a similar one years before when he tried to explain to me that it was not an illusion that I had observed the same leaf falling four times from the same tree.
The diagram in the ashes had two epicenters; one he called “reason,” the other, “will.”
“Reason” was interconnected directly with a point he called “talking.” Through “talking,” “reason” was indirectly connected to three other points, “feeling,” “dreaming” and “seeing.” The other epicenter, “will,” was directly connected to “feeling,” “dreaming” and “seeing”; but only indirectly to “reason” and “talking.”
I remarked that the diagram was different from the one I had recorded years before.
“The outer form is of no importance,” he said. “These points represent a human being and can be drawn in any way you want.”
“Do they represent the body of a human being?” I asked.
“Don’t call it the body,” he said. “These are eight points on the fibers of a luminous being. A sorcerer says, as you can see in the diagram, that a human being is, first of all, will, because will is directly connected to three points, feeling, dreaming and seeing; then next, a human being is reason. This is properly a center that is smaller than will; it is connected only with talking.”
“What are the other two points, don Juan?”
He looked at me and smiled.
“You’re a lot stronger now than you were the first time we talked about this diagram,” he said.
“But you’re not yet strong enough to know all the eight points. Genaro will someday show you the other two.”
“Does everybody have those eight points or only sorcerers?”
“We may say that every one of us brings to the world eight points. Two of them, reason and talking, are known by everyone. Feeling is always vague but somehow familiar. But only in the world of sorcerers does one get fully acquainted with dreaming, seeing and will. And finally, at the outer edge of that world one encounters the other two. The eight points make the totality of oneself.”
He showed me in the diagram that in essence all the points could be made to connect with one another indirectly.
I asked him again about the two mysterious remaining points. He showed me that they were connected only to “will” and that they were removed from “feeling,” “dreaming” and “seeing,”
and much more distant from “talking” and “reason.” He pointed with his finger to show that they were isolated from the rest and from each other.
“Those two points will never yield to talking or to reason” he said. “Only will can handle them. Reason is so removed from them that it is utterly useless to try figuring them out. This is one of the hardest things to realize; after all, the forte of reason is to reason out everything.”
I asked him if the eight points corresponded to areas or to certain organs in a human being.
“They do,” he replied dryly and erased the diagram.
He touched my head and said that that was the center of “reason” and “talking”. The tip of my sternum was the center of feeling. The area below the navel was will. Dreaming was on the right side against the ribs. Seeing on the left. He said that sometimes in some warriors seeing and dreaming were on the right side.
“Where are the other two points?” I asked.
He gave me a most obscene answer and broke into a belly laugh.
“You’re so sneaky,” he said. “You think I’m a sleepy old goat, don’t you?”
I explained to him that my questions created their own momentum.
“Don’t try to hurry,” he said. “You’ll know in due time and then you will be on your own, by yourself.”
“Do you mean that I won’t see you any more, don Juan?”
“Not ever again,” he said. “Genaro and I will be then what we always have been, dust on the road.”
I had a jolt in the pit of my stomach.
“What are you saying, don Juan?”
“I’m saying that we all are unfathomable beings, luminous and boundless. You, Genaro and I are stuck together by a purpose that is not our decision.”
“What purpose are you talking about?”
“Learning the warrior’s way. You can’t get out of it, but neither can we. As long as our achievement is pending you will find me or Genaro, but once it is accomplished, you will fly freely and no one knows where the force of your life will take you.”
“What is don Genaro doing in this?”
“That subject is not in your realm yet,” he said. “Today I have to pound the nail that Genaro put in, the fact that we are luminous beings. We are perceivers. We are an awareness; we are not objects; we have no solidity. We are boundless. The world of objects and solidity is a way of making our passage on earth convenient. It is only a description that was created to help us. We, or rather our reason, forget that the description is only a description and thus we entrap the totality of ourselves in a vicious circle from which we rarely emerge in our lifetime.
“At this moment, for instance, you are involved in extricating” yourself from the snarls of reason. It is preposterous and unthinkable for you that Genaro just appeared at the edge of the chaparral, and yet you cannot deny that you witnessed it. You perceived it as such.”
Don Juan chuckled. He carefully drew another diagram in the ashes and covered it with his hat before I could copy it.
“We are perceivers,” he proceeded. “The world that we perceive, though, is an illusion. It was created by a description that was told to us since the moment we were born.”
“We, the luminous beings, are born with two rings of power, but we use only one to create the world. That ring, which is hooked very soon after we are born, is reason, and its companion is talking. Between the two they concoct and maintain the world.”
“So, in essence, the world that your reason wants to sustain is the world created by a description and its dogmatic and inviolable rules, which the reason learns to accept and defend.
“The secret of the luminous beings is that they have another ring of power which is never used, the will. The trick of the sorcerer is the same trick of the average man. Both have a description; one, the average man, upholds it with his reason; the other, the sorcerer, upholds it with his will. Both descriptions have their rules and the rules are perceivable, but the advantage of the sorcerer is that will is more engulfing than reason.
“The suggestion that I want to make at this point is that from now on you should let yourself perceive whether the description is upheld by your reason or by your will. I feel that is the only way for you to use your daily world as a challenge and a vehicle to accumulate enough personal power in order to get to the totality of yourself.”
“Perhaps the next time that you come you’ll have enough of it. At any rate, wait until you feel, like you felt today at the irrigation ditch, that an inner voice is telling you to do so. If you come in any other spirit it’ll be a waste of time and a danger to you.”
I remarked that if I had to wait for that inner voice I would never see them again.
“You’d be surprised how well one can perform if one is against the wall,” he said.
He stood up and picked up a bundle of firewood. He placed some dry sticks on the earth stove. The flames cast a yellowish glow on the ground. He then turned off the lantern and squatted in front of his hat, which was covering the drawing he had made in the ashes.
He commanded me to sit calmly, shut off my internal dialogue, and keep my eyes on his hat. I struggled for a few moments and then I felt a sensation of floating, of falling off a cliff. It was as if nothing were supporting me, as if I were not sitting or did not have a body.
Don Juan lifted his hat. Underneath there were spirals of ashes. I watched them without thinking. I felt the spirals moving. I felt them in my stomach. The ashes seemed to pile up. Then they were stirred and fluffed and suddenly don Genaro was sitting in front of me. The sight forced me instantly into my internal dialogue. I thought that I must have fallen asleep. I began to breathe in short gasps and tried to open my eyes, but my eyes were open.
I heard don Juan telling me to get up and move around. I jumped up and ran to the ramada. Don Juan and don Genaro ran after me. Don Juan brought his lantern. I could not catch my breath. I tried to calm myself as I had done before, by jogging in place while I faced the west. I
lifted my arms and began breathing. Don Juan came to my side and said that those movements were done only in the twilight.
Don Genaro yelled that it was twilight for me and both of them began to laugh. Don Genaro ran to the edge of the bushes and then bounced back to the ramada, as if he had been attached to a giant rubber band that made him snap back. He repeated the same movement three or four times and then came to my side. Don Juan had been looking at me fixedly, giggling like a child.
They exchanged a furtive glance. Don Juan said to don Genaro in a loud voice that my reason was dangerous, and that it could kill me if it was not placated.
“For heaven’s sake!” don Genaro exclaimed in a roaring voice. “Placate his reason!”
They jumped up and down and laughed like two children.
Don Juan made me sit down underneath the lantern and handed me my notebook.
“Tonight we’re really pulling your leg,” he said in a conciliatory tone. “Don’t be afraid. Genaro was hiding under my hat.”
“Let’s say that a warrior learns to tune his will, to direct it to a pinpoint, to focus it wherever he wants. It is as if his will, which comes from the midsection of his body, is one single luminous fiber, a fiber that he can direct at any conceivable place. That fiber is the road to the nagual. Or I could also say that the warrior sinks into the nagual through that single fiber.
“Once he has sunk, the expression of the nagual is a matter of his personal temperament. If the warrior is funny the nagual is funny. If the warrior is morbid the nagual is morbid. If the warrior is mean the nagual is mean.
“Genaro always cracks me up because he’s one of the most delightful creatures alive. I never know what he’s going to come up with. That to me is the ultimate essence of sorcery. Genaro is such a fluid warrior that the slightest focusing of his will makes his nagual act in incredible ways.”
“Did you yourself observe what don Genaro was doing in the trees?” I asked.
“No, I just knew, because I saw, that the nagual was in the trees. The rest of the show was for you alone.”
“Do you mean, don Juan, that, like the time when you pushed me and I ended up in the market, you were not with me?”
“It was something like that. When one meets the nagual face to face, one always has to be alone. I was around only to protect your tonal. That is my charge.”
Don Juan said that my tonal was nearly blasted to pieces when don Genaro descended from the tree; not so much because of any inherent quality of danger in the nagual, but because my tonal indulged in its bewilderment. He said that one of the aims of the warrior’s training was to cut the bewilderment of the tonal, until the warrior was so fluid that he could admit everything without admitting anything.
When I described don Genaro’s leap up to the tree and his leap down from it, don Juan said that the yell of a warrior was one of the most important issues of sorcery, and that don Genaro was capable of focusing on his yell, using it as a vehicle.
“You are right,” he said. “Genaro was pulled partly by his yell and partly by the tree. That was true seeing on your part. That was a true picture of the nagual. Genaro’s will was focused on the yell and his personal touch made the tree pull the nagual. The lines went both ways from Genaro to the tree and from the tree to Genaro.
“What you should have seen when Genaro jumped from the tree was that he was focusing on a spot in front of you and then the tree pushed him. But it only seemed to be a push; in essence it was more like being released by the tree. The tree released the nagual and the nagual came back to the world of the tonal on the spot he focused on.
“The second time that Genaro came down from the tree your tonal was not so bewildered; you were not indulging so hard and therefore you were not as sapped as you were the first time.”
Around four in the afternoon don Juan stopped our conversation.
“We are going back to the eucalyptus trees,” he said. “The nagual is waiting for us there.”
“Aren’t we risking being seen by people?” I asked.
“No. The nagual will keep everything suspended,” he said.
(The Second Ring of Power by Carlos Castaneda)
“The Nagual’s command is that you have to change your path and go with us. That means that you have to do dreaming with us and stalking with the Genaros. You can’t afford any longer to be where you are, on the awesome side of your second attention. Another jolt of your nagual coming out of you could kill you. The Nagual told me that human beings are frail creatures composed of many layers of luminosity. When you see them, they seem to have fibers, but those fibers are really layers, like an onion. Jolts of any kind separate those layers and can even cause human beings to die.”
She stood up and led me back to the kitchen. We sat down facing each other. Lidia, Rosa and Josefina were busy in the yard. I could not see them but I could hear them talking and laughing.
“The Nagual said that we die because our layers become separated,” la Gorda said. “Jolts are always separating them but they get together again. Sometimes, though, the jolt is so great that the layers get loose and can’t get back together anymore.”
“Have you ever seen the layers, Gorda?”
“Sure. I saw a man dying in the street. The Nagual told me that you also found a man dying, but you didn’t see his death. The Nagual made me see the dying man’s layers. They were like the peels of an onion. When human beings are healthy they are like luminous eggs, but if they are injured they begin to peel, like an onion.”
“The Nagual told me that your second attention was so strong sometimes that it pushed all the way out. He and Genaro had to hold your layers together; otherwise you would’ve died. That’s why he figured that you might have enough energy to get your nagual out of you twice. He meant that you could hold your layers together by yourself twice. You did it more times than that and now you are finished; you have no more energy to hold your layers together in case of another jolt. The Nagual has entrusted me to take care of everyone; in your case, I have to help you to tighten your layers. The Nagual said that death pushes the layers apart. He explained to me that the center of our luminosity, which is the attention of the nagual, is always pushing out, and that’s what loosens the layers. So it’s easy for death to come in between them and push them completely apart. Sorcerers have to do their best to keep their own layers closed. That’s why the Nagual taught us dreaming. Dreaming tightens the layers. When sorcerers learn dreaming they tie together their two attentions and there is no more need for that center to push out.”
“Do you mean that sorcerers do not die?”
“That is right. Sorcerers do not die.”
“Do you mean that none of us is going to die?”
“I didn’t mean us. We are nothing. We are freaks, neither here nor there. I meant sorcerers. The Nagual and Genaro are sorcerers. Their two attentions are so tightly together that perhaps they’ll never die.”
“Did the Nagual say that, Gorda?”
“Yes. He and Genaro both told me that. Not too long before they left, the Nagual explained to us the power of attention. I never knew about the tonal and the nagual until then.”
(The Eagle’s Gift by Carlos Castaneda)
All of us stood up. They were still laughing as don Juan told me that those women were the east, that Carmela was the stalker and Hermelinda the dreamer, and that Vicente was the warrior scholar and his oldest companion.
As we were leaving the plaza, another man joined us, a tall, dark Indian, perhaps in his forties. He was wearing Levi’s and a cowboy hat. He seemed terribly strong and sullen. Don Juan introduced him to me as Juan Tuma, Vicente’s courier and research assistant.
We walked to a restaurant a few blocks away. The women held me between them. Carmela said that she hoped I was not offended by their joke, that they had had the choice of just introducing themselves to me or kidding me. What made them decide to kid me was my thoroughly snobbish attitude in turning my back to them and wanting to move to another bench.
Hermelinda added that one has to be utterly humble and carry nothing to defend, not even one’s person; that one’s person should be protected, but not defended. In snubbing them, I was not protecting but merely defending myself.
I felt quarrelsome. I was frankly put out by their masquerade. I began to argue, but before I had made my point don Juan came to my side. He told the two women that they should overlook my belligerence, that it takes a very long time to clean out the garbage that a luminous being picks up in the world.
The owner of the restaurant where we went knew Vicente and had prepared a sumptuous breakfast for us. All of them were in great spirits, but I was unable to let go of my brooding. Then, at don Juan’s request, Juan Tuma began to talk about his journeys.
He was a factual man. I became mesmerized by his dry accounts of things beyond my comprehension. To me the most fascinating was his description of some beams of light or energy that allegedly crisscross the earth. He said that these beams do not fluctuate as everything else in the universe does, but are fixed into a pattern. This pattern coincides with hundreds of points in the luminous body.
Hermelinda had understood that all the points were in our physical body, but Juan Tuma explained that, since the luminous body is quite big, some of the points are as much as three feet away from the physical body. In a sense they are outside of us, and yet they are not; they are on the periphery of our luminosity and thus still belong to the total body. The most important of those points is located a foot away from the stomach, 40 degrees to the right of an imaginary line shooting straight forward. Juan Tuma told us that that was a center of assembling for the second attention, and that it is possible to manipulate it by gently stroking the air with the palms of the hands. Listening to Juan Tuma, I forgot my anger.
Zuleica started then on another facet of her teachings. She taught me how to move. She began her instruction by commanding me to place my awareness on the midpoint of my body. In my case the midpoint is below the lower edge of my belly button. She told me to sweep the floor with it, that is, make a rocking motion with my belly as if a broom were attached to it. Throughout countless sessions I attempted to accomplish what her voice was urging me to do. She did not allow me to go into a state of restful vigil. It was her intention to guide me to elicit the perception of sweeping the floor with my midsection while I remained in a waking state. She said that to be on the left side awareness was enough of an advantage to do well in the exercise.
One day, for no reason I could think of, I succeeded in having a vague feeling in the area of my stomach. It was not something defined, and when I focused my attention on it I realized that it was a prickling sensation inside the cavity of my body, not quite in my stomach area but above it.
The closer I examined it, the more details I noticed. The vagueness of the sensation soon turned into a certainty. There was a strange connection of nervousness or a prickling sensation between my solar plexus and my right calf.
As the sensation became more acute I involuntarily brought my right thigh up to my chest. Thus the two points were as close to each other as my anatomy permitted. I shivered for a moment with an unusual nervousness and then I clearly felt that I was sweeping the floor with my midsection; it was a tactile sensation that happened over and over every time I rocked my body in my sitting position.
(The Power of Silence by Carlos Castaneda)
When we got to the rock ledge it was almost dark. Don Juan sat down hurriedly, in the same position as the first time. He was to my right, touching me with his shoulder. He immediately seemed to enter into a deep state of relaxation, which pulled me into total immobility and silence. I could not even hear his breathing. I closed my eyes, and he nudged me to warn me to keep them open.
By the time it became completely dark, an immense fatigue had begun to make my eyes sore and itchy. Finally I gave up my resistance and was pulled into the deepest, blackest sleep I have ever had. Yet I was not totally asleep. I could feel the thick blackness around me. I had an entirely physical sensation of wading through blackness. Then it suddenly became reddish, then orange, then glaring white, like a terribly strong neon light. Gradually I focused my vision until I saw I was still sitting in the same position with don Juan – but no longer in the cave. We were on a mountaintop looking down over exquisite flatlands with mountains in the distance. This beautiful prairie was bathed in a glow that, like rays of light, emanated from the land itself. Wherever I looked, I saw familiar features: rocks, hills, rivers, forests, canyons, enhanced and transformed by their inner vibration, their inner glow. This glow that was so pleasing to my eyes also tingled out of my very being.
“Your assemblage point has moved,” don Juan seemed to say to me.
The words had no sound; nevertheless I knew what he had just said to me. My rational reaction was to try to explain to myself that I had no doubt heard him as I would have if he had been talking in a vacuum, probably because my ears had been temporarily affected by what was transpiring.
“Your ears are fine. We are in a different realm of awareness,” don Juan again seemed to say to me.
I could not speak. I felt the lethargy of deep sleep preventing me from saying a word, yet I was as alert as I could be.
“What’s happening?” I thought.
“The cave made your assemblage point move,” don Juan thought, and I heard his thoughts as if they were my own words, voiced to myself. I sensed a command that was not expressed in thoughts. Something ordered me to look again at the prairie.
As I stared at the wondrous sight, filaments of light began to radiate from everything on that prairie. At first it was like the explosion of an infinite number of short fibers, then the fibers became long threadlike strands of luminosity bundled together into beams of vibrating light that reached infinity. There was really no way for me to make sense of what I was seeing, or to describe it, except as filaments of vibrating light. The filaments were not intermingled or entwined. Although they sprang, and continued to spring, in every direction, each one was separate, and yet all of them were inextricably bundled together.
“You are seeing the Eagle’s emanations and the force that keeps them apart and bundles them together,” don Juan thought.
The instant I caught his thought the filaments of light seemed to consume all my energy. Fatigue overwhelmed me. It erased my vision and plunged me into darkness.
When I became aware of myself again, there was something so familiar around me, although I could not tell what it was, that I believed myself to be back in a normal state of awareness. Don Juan was asleep beside me, his shoulder against mine.
Then I realized that the darkness around us was so intense that I could not even see my hands. I speculated that fog must have covered the ledge and filled the cave. Or perhaps it was the wispy low clouds that descended every rainy night from the higher mountains like a silent avalanche.
Yet in spite of the total blackness, somehow I saw that don Juan had opened his eyes immediately after I became aware, although he did not look at me. Instantly I realized that seeing him was not a consequence of light on my retina. It was, rather, a bodily sense.
I became so engrossed in observing don Juan without my eyes that I was not paying attention to what he was telling me. Finally he stopped talking and turned his face to me as if to look me in the eye.
He coughed a couple of times to clear his throat and started to talk in a very low voice. He said that his benefactor used to come to the cave quite often, both with him and with his other disciples, but more often by himself. In that cave his benefactor saw the same prairie we had just seen, a vision that gave him the idea of describing the spirit as the flow of things.
Don Juan repeated that his benefactor was not a good thinker. Had he been, he would have realized in an instant that what he had seen and described as the flow of things was intent, the force that permeates everything. Don Juan added that if his benefactor ever became aware of the nature of his seeing he didn’t reveal it. And he, himself, had the idea that his benefactor never knew it. Instead, his benefactor believed that he had seen the flow of things, which was the absolute truth, but not the way he meant it.
Don Juan was so emphatic about this that I wanted to ask him what the difference was, but I could not speak. My throat seemed frozen. We sat there in complete silence and immobility for hours. Yet I did not experience any discomfort. My muscles did not get tired, my legs did not fall asleep, my back did not ache.
When he began to talk again, I did not even notice the transition, and I readily abandoned myself to listening to his voice. It was a melodic, rhythmical sound that emerged from the total blackness that surrounded me.
He said that at that very moment I was not in my normal state of awareness nor was I in heightened awareness. I was suspended in a lull, in the blackness of non-perception. My assemblage point had moved away from perceiving the daily world, but it had not moved enough to reach and light a totally new bundle of energy fields. Properly speaking, I was caught between two perceptual possibilities. This in-between state, this lull of perception had been reached through the influence of the cave, which was itself guided by the intent of the sorcerers who carved it.
Don Juan asked me to pay close attention to what he was going to say next. He said that thousands of years ago, by means of seeing, sorcerers became aware that the earth was sentient and that its awareness could affect the awareness of humans. They tried to find a way to use the earth’s influence on human awareness and they discovered that certain caves were most effective.
Don Juan said that the search for caves became nearly full-time work for those sorcerers, and that through their endeavors they were able to discover a variety of uses for a variety of cave configurations. He added that out of all that work the only result pertinent to us was this particular cave and its capacity to move the assemblage point until it reached a lull of perception.
As don Juan spoke, I had the unsettling sensation that something was clearing in my mind. Something was funneling my awareness into a long narrow channel. All the superfluous half-thoughts and feelings of my normal awareness were being squeezed out.
Don Juan was thoroughly aware of what was happening to me. I heard his soft chuckle of satisfaction. He said that now we could talk more easily and our conversation would have more depth.
I remembered at that moment scores of things he had explained to me before. For instance, I knew that I was dreaming. I was actually sound asleep yet I was totally aware of myself through my second attention – the counterpart of my normal attentiveness. I was certain I was asleep because of a bodily sensation plus a rational deduction based on statements that don Juan had made in the past. I had just seen the Eagle’s emanations, and don Juan had said that it was impossible for sorcerers to have a sustained view of the Eagle’s emanations in any way except in dreaming, therefore I had to be dreaming.
Don Juan had explained that the universe is made up of energy fields which defy description or scrutiny. He had said that they resembled filaments of ordinary light, except that light is lifeless compared to the Eagle’s emanations, which exude awareness. I had never, until this night, been able to see them in a sustained manner, and indeed they were made out of a light that was alive. Don Juan had maintained in the past that my knowledge and control of intent were not adequate to withstand the impact of that sight. He had explained that normal perception occurs when intent, which is pure energy, lights up a portion of the luminous filaments inside our cocoon, and at the same time brightens a long extension of the same luminous filaments extending into infinity outside our cocoon. Extraordinary perception, seeing, occurs when by the force of intent, a different cluster of energy fields energizes and lights up. He had said that when a crucial number of energy fields are lit up inside the luminous cocoon, a sorcerer is able to see the energy fields themselves.
On another occasion don Juan had recounted the rational thinking of the early sorcerers. He told me that, through their seeing, they realized that awareness took place when the energy fields inside our luminous cocoon were aligned with the same energy fields outside. And they believed they had discovered alignment as the source of awareness.
Upon close examination, however, it became evident that what they had called alignment of the Eagle’s emanations did not entirely explain what they were seeing. They had noticed that only a very small portion of the total number of luminous filaments inside the cocoon was energized while the rest remained unaltered. Seeing these few filaments energized had created a false discovery. The filaments did not need to be aligned to be lit up, because the ones inside our cocoon were the same as those outside. Whatever energized them was definitely an independent force. They felt they could not continue to call it awareness, as they had, because awareness was the glow of the energy fields being lit up. So the force that lit up the fields was named will.
Don Juan had said that when their seeing became still more sophisticated and effective, they realized that will was the force that kept the Eagle’s emanations separated and was not only responsible for our awareness, but also for everything in the universe. They saw that this force had total consciousness and that it sprang from the very fields of energy that made the universe.
They decided then that intent was a more appropriate name for it than will. In the long run, however, the name proved disadvantageous, because it does not describe its overwhelming importance nor the living connection it has with everything in the universe.
Don Juan had asserted that our great collective flaw is that we live our lives completely disregarding that connection. The busyness of our lives, our relentless interests, concerns, hopes, frustrations, and fears take precedence, and on a day-to-day basis we are unaware of being linked to everything else.
Don Juan had stated his belief that the Christian idea of being cast out from the Garden of Eden sounded to him like an allegory for losing our silent knowledge, our knowledge of intent. Sorcery, then, was a going back to the beginning, a return to paradise.
We stayed seated in the cave in total silence, perhaps for hours, or perhaps it was only a few instants. Suddenly don Juan began to talk, and the unexpected sound of his voice jarred me. I did not catch what he said. I cleared my throat to ask him to repeat what he had said, and that act brought me completely out of my reflectiveness. I quickly realized that the darkness around me was no longer impenetrable. I could speak now. I felt I was back in my normal state of awareness.
In a calm voice don Juan told me that for the very first time in my life I had seen the spirit, the force that sustains the universe. He emphasized that intent is not something one might use or command or move in any way – nevertheless, one could use it, command it, or move it as one desires. This contradiction, he said, is the essence of sorcery. To fail to understand it had brought generations of sorcerers unimaginable pain and sorrow. Modern-day naguals, in an effort to avoid paying this exorbitant price in pain, had developed a code of behavior called the warrior’s way, or the impeccable action, which prepared sorcerers by enhancing their sobriety and thoughtfulness.
Don Juan explained that at one time in the remote past, sorcerers were deeply interested in the general connecting link that intent has with everything. And by focusing their second attention on that link, they acquired not only direct knowledge but also the ability to manipulate that knowledge and perform astounding deeds. They did not acquire, however, the soundness of mind needed to manage all that power.
So in a judicious mood, sorcerers decided to focus their second attention solely on the connecting link of creatures who have awareness. This included the entire range of existing organic beings as well as the entire range of what sorcerers call inorganic beings, or allies, which they described as entities with awareness, but no life as we understand life. This solution was not successful either, because it, too, failed to bring them wisdom.
In their next reduction, sorcerers focused their attention exclusively on the link that connects human beings with intent. The end result was very much as before.
Then, sorcerers sought a final reduction. Each sorcerer would be concerned solely with his individual connection. But this proved to be equally ineffective.
Don Juan said that although there were remarkable differences among those four areas of interest, one was as corrupting as another. So in the end sorcerers concerned themselves exclusively with the capacity that their individual connecting link with intent had to set them free to light the fire from within.
He asserted that all modern-day sorcerers have to struggle fiercely to gain soundness of mind. A nagual has to struggle especially hard because he has more strength, a greater command over the energy fields that determine perception, and more training in and familiarity with the intricacies of silent knowledge, which is nothing but direct contact with intent.
Examined in this way, sorcery becomes an attempt to re-establish our knowledge of intent and regain use of it without succumbing to it. And the abstract cores of the sorcery stories are shades of realization, degrees of our being aware of intent.
I understood don Juan’s explanation with perfect clarity. But the more I understood and the clearer his statements became, the greater my sense of loss and despondency. At one moment I sincerely considered ending my life right there. I felt I was damned. Nearly in tears, I told don Juan that there was no point in his continuing his explanation, for I knew that I was about to lose my clarity of mind, and that when I reverted to my normal state of awareness I would have no memory of having seen or heard anything. My mundane consciousness would impose its lifelong habit of repetition and the reasonable predictability of its logic. That was why I felt damned. I told him that I resented my fate.
Don Juan responded that even in heightened awareness I thrived on repetition, and that periodically I would insist on boring him by describing my attacks of feeling worthless. He said that if I had to go under it should be fighting, not apologizing or feeling sorry for myself, and that it did not matter what our specific fate was as long as we faced it with ultimate abandon.
His words made me feel blissfully happy. I repeated over and over, tears streaming down my cheeks, that I agreed with him. There was such profound happiness in me I suspected my nerves were getting out of hand. I called upon all my forces to stop this and I felt the sobering effect of my mental brakes. But as this happened, my clarity of mind began to diffuse. I silently fought – trying to be both less sober and less nervous. Don Juan did not make a sound and left me alone.
By the time I had re-established my balance, it was almost dawn. Don Juan stood, stretched his arms above his head and tensed his muscles, making his joints crack. He helped me up and commented that I had spent a most enlightening night: I had experienced what the spirit was and had been able to summon hidden strength to accomplish something, which on the surface
amounted to calming my nervousness, but at a deeper level it had actually been a very successful, volitional movement of my assemblage point. He signaled then that it was time to start on our way back.
(The Active Side of Infinity by Carlos Castaneda)
He explained that the sorcerers of ancient Mexico saw; that the universe at large is composed of energy fields in the form of luminous filaments. They saw zillions of them, wherever they turned to see. They also saw that those energy fields arrange themselves into currents of luminous fibers, streams that are constant, perennial forces in the universe, and that the current or stream of filaments that is related to the recapitulation was named by those sorcerers the dark sea of awareness, and also the Eagle.
He stated that those sorcerers also found out that every creature in the universe is attached to the dark sea of awareness at a round point of luminosity that was apparent when those creatures were perceived as energy. On that point of luminosity, which the sorcerers of ancient Mexico called the assemblage point, don Juan said that perception was assembled by a mysterious aspect of the dark sea of awareness.
Don Juan asserted that on the assemblage point of human beings, zillions of energy fields from the universe at large, in the form of luminous filaments, converge and go through it. These energy fields are converted into sensory data, and the sensory data is then interpreted and perceived as the world we know. Don Juan further explained that what turns the luminous fibers into sensory data is the dark sea of awareness. Sorcerers see this transformation and call it the glow of awareness, a sheen that extends like a halo around the assemblage point. He warned me then that he was going to make a statement which, in the understanding of sorcerers, was central to comprehending the scope of the recapitulation.
Putting an enormous emphasis on his words, he said that what we call the senses in organisms is nothing but degrees of awareness. He maintained that if we accept that the senses are the dark sea of awareness, we have to admit that the interpretation that the senses make of sensory data is also the dark sea of awareness. He explained at length that to face the world around us in the terms that we do is the result of the interpretation system of mankind with which every human being is equipped. He also said that every organism in existence has to have an interpretation system that permits it to function in its surroundings.
“The sorcerers who came after the apocalyptic upheavals I told you about,” he continued, “saw that at the moment of death, the dark sea of awareness sucked in, so to speak, through the assemblage point, the awareness of living creatures. They also saw that the dark sea of awareness had a moment’s, let’s say, hesitation when it was faced with sorcerers who had done a recounting of their lives. Unbeknownst to them, some had done it so thoroughly that the dark sea of awareness took their awareness in the form of their life experiences, but didn’t touch their life force. Sorcerers had found out a gigantic truth about the forces of the universe: The dark sea of awareness wants only our life experiences, not our life force.”