90: The World Is Such And Such Or So And So, Only Because We Talk To Ourselves About Its Being Such And Such Or So And So

(Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda)

He then added that judging by my production in dreaming I must have learned how to stop my internal dialogue at will. I told him that I had.

At the beginning of our association don Juan had delineated another procedure: walking for long stretches without focusing the eyes on anything. His recommendation had been to not look at anything directly but, by slightly crossing the eyes, to keep a peripheral view of everything that presented itself to the eyes. He had insisted, although I had not understood at the time, that if one kept one’s unfocused eyes at a point just above the horizon, it was possible to notice, at once, everything in almost the total 180-degree range in front of one’s eyes. He had assured me that that exercise was the only way of shutting off the internal dialogue. He used to ask me for reports on my progress, and then he stopped inquiring about it.

I told don Juan that I had practiced the technique for years without noticing any change, but I had expected none anyway. One day, however, I had the shocking realization that I had just walked for about ten minutes without having said a single word to myself.

I mentioned to don Juan that on that occasion I also became cognizant that stopping the internal dialogue involved more than merely curtailing the words I said to myself. My entire thought processes had stopped and I had felt I was practically suspended, floating. A sensation of panic had ensued from that awareness and I had to resume my internal dialogue as an antidote.

“I’ve told you that the internal dialogue is what grounds us,” don Juan said. “The world is such and such or so and so, only because we talk to ourselves about its being such and such or so and so.”

Don Juan explained that the passageway into the world of sorcerers opens up after the warrior has learned to shut off the internal dialogue.

“To change our idea of the world is the crux of sorcery,” he said. “And stopping the internal dialogue is the only way to accomplish it. The rest is just padding. Now you’re in the position to know that nothing of what you’ve seen or done, with the exception of stopping the internal dialogue, could by itself have changed anything in you, or in your idea of the world. The provision is, of course, that that change should not be deranged. Now you can understand why a teacher doesn’t clamp down on his apprentice. That would only breed obsession and morbidity.”

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