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18: The Assemblage Points

(Journal Number 4, Volume 1 by Carlos Castaneda)

Sorcerers consider the assemblage point to be the place where the flow of direct energy is turned into sensory data and interpreted as the world of everyday life. Don Juan said that the assemblage point, aside from doing all this, also has a most important secondary function: it is the linking connection between the physical body and the assemblage point of the energy body. He described such a connection as being analogous to two magnetized circles, each the size of a tennis ball, coming together, attracted by forces of intent.
He also said that when the physical body and the energy body are not joined, the connection between them is an ethereal line, which sometimes is so tenuous that it seems not to exist. Don Juan was certain that the energy body is pushed farther and farther away as one grows older, and that death comes as the result of the severance of that tenuous connection.

(The Eagle’s Gift)
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.


I disregarded Zuleica’s order to enter into a patch of coloration that was forming right at my eye level, and gave myself fully to the exploration of that strange sensation outside me. Zuleica must have seen what I was going through. She suddenly began to explain that the second attention belongs to the luminous body, just as the first attention belongs to the physical body. She said that the point where the second attention assembles itself was situated right where Juan Tuma had described it the first time we met- approximately one and one-half feet in front of the midpoint between the stomach and the belly button and four inches to the right.
Zuleica ordered me to massage that place; to manipulate it by moving the fingers of both my hands right on that point as if I were playing a harp. She assured me that sooner or later I would end up feeling my fingers going through something as thick as water, and that finally I would feel my luminous shell.
As I kept on moving my fingers the air got progressively thicker until I felt a mass of sorts. An undefined physical pleasure spread all over me. I thought that I was touching a nerve in my body and felt silly at the absurdity of it. I stopped.
Zuleica warned me that if I did not move my fingers she was going to bop me on the head. The longer I kept up the wavering motion, the closer I felt the itching. It finally got as near as five or six inches from my body. It was as if something in me had shrunk. I actually thought I could feel a dent.

In my next session with Zuleica, she told me that I had succeeded in making a dent in my luminosity all by myself, and that making a dent meant bringing a distant point in my luminous shell closer to my physical body; therefore closer to control. She asserted repeatedly that from the moment the body learns to make that dent, it is easier to enter into dreaming. I agreed with her. I had acquired a strange impulse; a sensation that my body had instantly learned to reproduce. It was a mixture of feeling at ease, secure, dormant, suspended without tactile sense, and at the same time fully awake; aware of everything.

La Gorda said that the Nagual Juan Matus had struggled for years to create that dent in her- in all three little sisters, and in the Genaros as well, so as to give them the permanent ability to focus their second attention.

He had told her that ordinarily the dent is created on the spur of the moment by the dreamer when it is needed. Then the luminous shell changes back to its original shape. But in the apprentices’ case, since they did not have a Nagual leader, the depression was created from the outside and was a permanent feature of their luminous bodies; a great help, but also a hindrance. It made all of them vulnerable and moody.

First I noticed the itch on the point of the second attention in my luminous shell. I massaged that point by moving my fingers on it as if I were playing a harp and the point sunk towards my stomach. I felt it almost on my skin. I experienced a prickling sensation on the outside of my right calf. It was a mixture of pleasure and pain. The sensation radiated to my whole leg and then to my lower back.

I felt that my buttocks were shaking. My entire body was transfixed by a nervous ripple. I thought that my body had been caught upside down in a net. My forehead and my toes seemed to be touching. I was like a closed U-shape.

Then I felt as if I were being folded in two and rolled inside a sheet. My nervous spasms were what made the sheet roll into itself, with me in the center. When the rolling ended I could not sense my body any more.

I was only an amorphous awareness; a nervous spasm wrapped in itself. That awareness came to rest inside a ditch, inside a depression of itself.

I understood then the impossibility of describing what takes place in dreaming. Zuleica said that the right and left side awareness are wrapped up together. Both of them come to rest in one single bundle in the dent; the depressed center of the second attention. To do dreaming one needs to manipulate both the luminous body and the physical body.

First, the center of assembling for the second attention has to be made accessible by being pushed in from the outside by someone else, or sucked in from within by the dreamer. Second, in order to dislodge the first attention, the centers of the physical body located in the midsection and the calves, especially the right one, have to be stimulated and placed as close to one another as possible until they seem to join. Then the sensation of being bundled takes place and automatically the second attention takes over.

Zuleica’s explanation, given in commands, was the most cogent way of describing what takes place because none of the sensory experiences involved in dreaming are part of our normal inventory of sensory data. All of them were baffling to me.

The sensation of an itch- a tingling outside myself- was localized; and because of that, the turmoil of my body upon feeling it was minimal.

The sensation of being rolled on myself, on the other hand, was by far the most disquieting. It included a range of sensations that left my body in a state of shock. I was convinced that at one point my toes were touching my forehead, which is a position I am not able to attain; and yet I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was inside a net hanging upside down in a pear shape with my toes right against my forehead. On a physical plane I was sitting down and my thighs were against my chest.

Zuleica also said that the feeling of being rolled up like a cigar and placed inside the dent of the second attention was the result of merging my right and left awareness into a single awareness in which the order of predominance has been switched, and the left has gained supremacy.

She challenged me to be attentive enough to catch the reversal motion; the two attentions again becoming what they normally are with the right holding the reins. I never caught the feelings involved, but her challenge obsessed me to the point that I became trapped in deadly vacillations in my effort to watch everything. She had to withdraw her challenge by ordering me to stop my scrutinies, for I had other things to do.

Zuleica said that first of all I had to perfect my command of moving at will. She began her instruction by directing me time and time again to open my eyes while I was in a state of restful vigil. It took a great deal of effort for me to do it.

One time my eyes opened suddenly and I saw Zuleica looming over me. I was lying down but I could not determine where. The light was extremely bright as if I were just underneath a powerful electric bulb, but the light was not shining directly on my eyes. I could see Zuleica without any effort.

She ordered me to stand up by willing my movement. She said that I had to push myself up with my midsection, that I had three thick tentacles there which I could use as crutches to lift up my whole body.

I tried every conceivable way to get up. I failed. I had a sensation of despair and physical anguish reminiscent of nightmares I used to have as a child in which I was unable to wake up and yet I was fully awake desperately trying to scream.

Zuleica finally spoke to me. She said that I had to follow a certain sequence, and that it was wasteful and downright dumb of me to fret and get agitated as if I were dealing with the world of everyday life.

Fretting was proper only in the first attention: The second attention was calmness itself.


He told me that he was going to reveal to me a practical maneuver of the second attention, and right then he turned into a luminous egg. He reverted back to his normal appearance and repeated this transformation three or four more times. I understood perfectly well what he was doing. He did not need to explain it to me, and yet I could not put into words what I knew.

Silvio Manuel smiled, cognizant of my problem. He said that it took an enormity of strength to let go of the intent of everyday life. The secret that he had just revealed was how to expedite letting go of that intent. In order to do what he had done, one must place one’s attention on the luminous shell.

He turned one more time into a luminous egg and then it became obvious to me what I had known all along. Silvio Manuel’s eyes turned for an instant to focus on the point of the second attention. His head was straight, as if he had been looking ahead of him, only his eyes were askew. He said that a warrior must evoke intent. The glance is the secret. The eyes beckon intent.

I became euphoric at that point. I was at long last capable of thinking about something I knew without really knowing. The reason why seeing seems to be visual is because we need the eyes to focus on intent. Don Juan and his party of warriors knew how to use their eyes to catch another aspect of intent and called this act seeing. What Silvio Manuel had shown me was the true function of the eyes; the catchers of intent.

I then used my eyes deliberately to beckon intent. I focused them on the point of the second attention. All of a sudden don Juan, his warriors, dona Soledad, and Eligio were luminous eggs; but not la Gorda, the three little sisters, and the Genaros. I kept on moving my eyes back and forth between the blobs of light and the people until I heard a crack in the base of my neck, and then everybody in the room was a luminous egg.

I felt for an instant that I could not tell them apart, but then my eyes seemed to adjust and I held two aspects of intent; two images at once. I could see their physical bodies and also their luminosities.

The two scenes were not superimposed on each other. They were separate, and yet I could not figure out how. I definitely had two channels of vision, and seeing had everything to do with my eyes, and yet was independent of them. I could still see the luminous eggs, but not their physical bodies when I closed my eyes. I had at one moment the clearest sensation that I knew how to shift my attention to my luminosity. I also knew that to revert to the physical level all I had to do was to focus my eyes on my body.


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