“All I can say to you is that a warrior is never available; never is he standing in the road waiting to be clobbered. Thus he cuts to a minimum his chances of the unforeseen. What you call accidents are, most of the time, very easy to avoid, except for fools who are living helter-skelter.”
~ Don Juan Matus
“Therein lies the secret of great hunters. To be available and unavailable at the precise turn of the road.
You must learn to become deliberately available and unavailable. As your life goes now, you are unwittingly available at all times. To be unavailable does not mean to hide or to be secretive but to be inaccessible. It makes no difference to hide if everyone knows that you are hiding.
We are fools, all of us, and you cannot be different. At one time in my life I, like you, made myself available over and over again until there was nothing of me left for anything except perhaps crying. And that I did, just like yourself.
You must take yourself away. You must retrieve yourself from the middle of the road. Your whole being is there, thus it is of no use to hide; you would only imagine that you are hidden. Being in the middle of the road means that everyone passing by watches your comings and goings.
The art of a hunter is to become inaccessible. To be inaccessible means that you touch the world around you sparingly. You don’t expose yourself to the power of the wind unless it is mandatory. You don’t use and squeeze people until they have shriveled to nothing, especially the people you love.
To be unavailable means that you deliberately avoid exhausting yourself and others. It means that you are not hungry and desperate.
A hunter knows he will lure game into his traps over and over again, so he doesn’t worry. To worry is to become accessible, unwittingly accessible. And once you worry you cling to anything out of desperation; and once you cling you are bound to get exhausted or to exhaust whoever or whatever you are clinging to.
I’ve told you already that to be inaccessible does not mean to hide or to be secretive. It doesn’t mean that you cannot deal with people either. A hunter uses his world sparingly and with tenderness regardless of whether the world might be things, or plants, or animals, or people, or power. A hunter deals intimately with his world and yet he is inaccessible to that same world. He is inaccessible because he’s not squeezing his world out of shape. He taps it lightly, stays for as long as he needs to, and then swiftly moves away leaving hardly a mark.”
‘Journey to Ixtlan’ by Carlos Castaneda
At various times I’ve attempted to name my knowledge for your benefit. I’ve said that the most appropriate name is nagualism, but that that term is too obscure. Calling it simply “knowledge” makes it too vague, and to call it “witchcraft” is debasing. “The mastery of intent ” is too abstract, and “the search for total freedom” too long and metaphorical. Finally, because I’ve been unable to find a more appropriate name, I’ve called it “sorcery.” You consider if it is accurate or not.
I’ve given you different definitions of sorcery, but I have always maintained that definitions change as knowledge increases. Now you are in a position to appreciate a clearer definition.
* * *
From where the average man stands, sorcery is nonsense or an ominous mystery beyond his reach. And he is right–not because this is an absolute fact, but because the average man lacks the energy to deal with sorcery.
Human beings are born with a finite amount of energy, an energy that is systematically deployed, beginning at the moment of birth, in order that it may be used most advantageously by the modality of the time.
The modality of the time is the precise bundle of energy fields being perceived. I believe man’s perception has changed through the ages. The actual time decides the mode; the time decides which precise bundle of energy fields, out of an incalculable number, are to be used. And handling the modality of the time–those few, selected energy fields–takes all our available energy, leaving us nothing that would help us use any of the other energy fields.
* * *
The average man, if he uses only the energy he has, can’t perceive the worlds sorcerers do. To perceive them, sorcerers need to use a cluster of energy fields not ordinarily used. Naturally, if the average man is to perceive those worlds and understand sorcerers’ perception he must use the same cluster they have used. And this is just not possible, because all his energy is already deployed.
Think of it this way. It isn’t that as time goes by you’re learning sorcery; rather, what you’re learning is to save energy. And this energy will enable you to handle some of the energy fields which are inaccessible to you now. And that is sorcery: the ability to use energy fields that are not employed in perceiving the ordinary world we know. Sorcery is a state of awareness. Sorcery is the ability to perceive something which ordinary perception cannot.
* * *
Everything a teacher puts his apprentice through, each of the things he shows him is only a device to convince him that there’s more to us than meets the eye.
We don’t need anyone to teach us sorcery, because there is really nothing to learn. What we need is a teacher to convince us that there is incalculable power at our fingertips. What a strange paradox! Every warrior on the path of knowledge thinks, at one time or another, that he’s learning sorcery, but all he’s doing is allowing himself to be convinced of the power hidden in his being, and that he can reach it.
I’m trying to convince you that you can reach that power. I went through the same thing. And I was as hard to convince as you are. Once we have reached it, it will, by itself, make use of energy fields which are available to us but inaccessible. And that, as I have said, is sorcery. We begin then to see –that is, to perceive–something else; not as imagination, but as real and concrete. And then we begin to know without having to use words. And what any of us does with that increased perception, with that silent knowledge, depends on our own temperament.
* * *
Now, I’m going to give you a different and more precise definition of sorcery.
In the universe there is an unmeasurable, indescribable force which sorcerers call intent. Absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached tointent by a connecting link. Sorcerers, warriors, are concerned with discussing, understanding, and employing that connecting link. They are especially concerned with cleaning it of the numbing effects brought about by the ordinary concerns of their everyday lives. Sorcery at this level could be defined as the procedure of cleaning one’s connecting link to intent.
The task of sorcery is to take this seemingly incomprehensible knowledge and make it understandable by the standards of awareness of everyday life.
The guide in the lives of sorcerers is called “the nagual.” The nagual is a man or a woman with extraordinary energy, a teacher who has sobriety, endurance, stability; someone seers see as a luminous sphere having four compartments, as if four luminous balls have been compressed together. Naguals are responsible for supplying what sorcerers call “the minimal chance”: the awareness of one’s connection with intent.
* * *
Naguals school their apprentices toward three areas of expertise: the mastery of awareness, the art of stalking , and the mastery of intent . These three areas of expertise are the three riddles sorcerers encounter in their search for knowledge.
The mastery of awareness is the riddle of the mind; the perplexity sorcerers experience when they recognize the astounding mystery and scope of awareness and perception.
The art of stalking is the riddle of the heart; the puzzlement sorcerers feel upon becoming aware of two things: first that the world appears to us to be unalterably objective and factual, because of peculiarities of our awareness and perception; second, that if different peculiarities of perception come into play, the very things about the world that seem so unalterably objective and factual change.
The mastery of intent is the riddle of the spirit, or the paradox of the abstract–sorcerers’ thoughts and actions projected beyond our human condition.
The art of stalking and the mastery of intent depend upon instruction on the mastery of awareness, which consists of the following basic premises:
- The universe is an infinite agglomeration of energy fields, resembling threads of light.
- These energy fields, called the Eagle’s, or the Indescribable Force ‘s emanations, radiate from a source of inconceivable proportions metaphorically called the Eagle–the Indescribable Force .
- Human beings are also composed of an incalculable number of the same threadlike energy fields. These Indescribable Force ‘s emanations form an encased agglomeration that manifests itself as a ball of light the size of the person’s body with the arms extended laterally, like a giant luminous egg.
- Only a very small group of the energy fields inside this luminous ball are lit up by a point of intense brilliance located on the ball’s surface.
- Perception occurs when the energy fields in that small group immediately surrounding the point of brilliance extent their light to illuminate identical energy fields outside the ball. Since the only energy fields perceivable are those lit by the point of brilliance, that point is named “the point where perception is assembled” or simply “the assemblage point.”
- The assemblage point can be moved from its usual position on the surface of the luminous ball to another position on the surface, or into the interior. Since the brilliance of the assemblage point can light up whatever energy field it comes in contact with, when it moves to a new position it immediately brightens up new energy fields, making them perceivable. This perception is known as seeing .
- When the assemblage point shifts, it makes possible the perception of an entirely different world–as objective and factual as the one we normally perceive. Sorcerers go into that other world to get energy, power, solutions to general and particular problems, or to face the unimaginable.
- Intent is the pervasive force that causes us to perceive. We do not become aware because we perceive; rather, we perceive as a result of the pressure and intrusion of intent .
- The aim of sorcerers is to reach a state of total awareness in order to experience all the possibilities of perception available to man. This state of awareness even implies an alternative way of dying.
* * *
A level of practical knowledge is included as part of teaching the mastery of awareness. On this practical level are taught the procedures necessary to move the assemblage point. The two great systems devised by the sorcerer seers of ancient times to accomplish this are dreaming , the control and utilization of dreams; and stalking , the control of behavior.
Moving one’s assemblage point is an essential maneuver that every sorcerer has to learn.
Sorcerers consult their past in order to obtain a point of reference. Establishing a point of reference means getting a chance to examine intent and nothing can give sorcerers a better view of intent than examining stories of other sorcerers battling to understand the same force.
* * *
In sorcery there are abstract cores, and then, based on those abstract cores, there are scores of sorcery stories about the naguals of our lineage battling to understand the spirit.
The only way to know intent is to know it directly through a living connection that exists between intent and all sentient beings. Sorcerers call intent the indescribable, the spirit, the abstract.
Some years ago I made the decision, I was going to get back into hiking and camping in a big way. I decided I wanted to go to Scotland, but felt slightly trepidations about heading straight for the highlands. I needed somewhere remote but wanted to test the water first. I found myself in a second-hand book shop, a copy of a map came into my hands. It was for an area of Scotland, called the Ochill Hills, near Perth. I decided I was going to try this area.
I arrived on the train at the place I was going to start my hike and headed off into the hills. Then next day, I was walking along a path near a train line. I noticed some woods just beyond. I crossed the railway line and found lying there the carcass of a dead Roe deer. It had one of its antlers missing, I suspected it had been hit by a train. Some distance from the body, I found the other antler. Then I noticed from where the deer must have come. There was a woodland directly in front of me, which seemed somehow familiar. I stood there for a moment looking into the wood assessing the situation. I suddenly realised, I had been here before in lucid dreaming.
The dream had been a protracted one. As I remembered it had been very intense in its vividness. There was someone in the dream I had known. A person who had been living with me for sometime. I was following him in the dream through various dreamscapes. Then toward the end of the dream, I found myself in another place entirely. This part was more lucid than the rest, it was like waking up in daylight. I climbed over a branch of a fallen tree entering this new location. I looked down on the ground and there was a zippo lighter. The most significant thing about this person I had been following; was that I had given him a zippo just the day before. I picked up the shiny metal object and studied it. I walked several more paces and there to my amazement, was another lighter nestling in the undergrowth. This was a gas lighter but just as shiny, I picked it up as well. It was at that point I looked up and realised, I was in the grounds of something like a stately home; I suspected there might be even a game keeper. I woke from the dream.
This dream had been weird on several levels. It was odd that this person I knew had been in the dream. It was also strange that he had been leading me and the lucidness of the dream was stunning and unforgettable, in particularly this last part. The lighters seemed significant as something I had recently given away. And the fact I was finding them again seemed to mean I was being given something in recompense. The phrase “a double portion of the spirit” reverberated round my head.
The concept of dreaming is an important aspect of Don Juan’s teachings. He set out the idea that there are different levels of dreaming and gates to be crossed. The first gate of dreaming is to gain control over ones attention in dreaming by finding the hands. This anchors the double in the second attention. The second gate of dreaming is to learn how to wake up in the dream into yet another dream – enabling the dreamer to change dreaming locations entirely. The third gate of dreaming is reached when you find you are staring at yourself in a dream. The fourth gate of dreaming involves learning to use the energy body to travel. This can be used to find:
“firstly concrete places in this world; two, to travel to concrete places out of this world; and, three, to travel to places that exist only in the intent of others.”
There are three further gates. The Fifth gate of dreaming is to be able to bring out the dreaming double in everyday life. The sixth is to be able to transport the physical body to another location entirely. And the seventh gate is to be able to transcend the world entirely and to step beyond this world with the totality of oneself.
So, I understood that this is wood now in front of me in some way represented the woodland within my dream. The concept for me was that this was reaching the fourth gate of dreaming. I had found a “concrete places in this world”. The concept then in stalking relative to the dreamed experience, meant I had entered a state of awareness called “Dreaming Awake”. This is finding the location of your dreaming in waking life and dreaming the location again.
I had a moment’s deliberation, then set off into the wood. It all seemed very familiar. I took the zippo out of my pocket and inspected it looking down at my hands. I heard a noise which startled me and which made me look up. There some distance in front of me stood a huge stag. He was staring at me. The moment lasted for a while then he turned and lumbered heavily off into the woods. I went to follow him but realised there was a huge ravine that separated us, one more step and I would have fallen in.
I went back to the railway line. I understood then that I had been in the location of my dreaming. That the dream itself had meant reaching the fourth gate of dreaming and I had crossed it. The Antler was a power object – I took as my spirit catcher. In the dream the friend I had known must have been a Scout, even the shiny lighters I took must have been Inorganic Beings – hiding in the fabric of the dream. But most importantly, I had found in my waking experience the place which I had dreamed (the realisation of stalking)/and within the dream, I had found a real location of the world (the culmination of dreaming).
I had also through this state of ‘Dreaming Awake’ found my spirit animal. I looked up sometime later the significance of the deer and the stag. In terms of the systems of the indigenous Peoples of North America; the Deer is regarded as my spirit animal in connection with their horoscope. Also, especially in relation to the Mayan calendar; my Ahua Kin, is “Manik” which means ‘deer’ and the glyph for Manik shows the hand of the hunter. Manik is the powerful and transformative seventh face of the Ahau Kin and is associated with accomplishment and the Craft of Life. The successful hunt requires that the hunter fully understands – even becomes one with – the life energy of the prey. This balance between hunter and hunted is imagined as wholeness rather than opposition and expresses the character of Manik. Manik is the knowledge and transformation manifested by the sacrifice/forgiveness of Cimi(death).
“Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is not affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition.
I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old person asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it.
I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart?
All paths are the same, they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor’s question has meaning now. “Does this path have a heart?” One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
The trouble is nobody asks the question: and when a person finally realizes that they have taken a path without heart, the path is ready to kill them. At that point very few people stop to deliberate and leave the path.
A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.
For my part there is only the travelling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length.
And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.”
– Don Juan
The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
Excerpted from “The Active Side of Infinity”
by Carlos Castenada
Don Juan said, “This is the appropriate time of day for doing what I am asking you to do. It takes a moment to engage the necessary attention to do it. Don’t stop until you catch that fleeting black shadow.”
I did see some strange fleeting black shadow projected on the foliage of the trees. It was either a shadow going back and forth or various fleeting shadows moving side-to-side or straight up in the air. They looked lie fat black fish to me, enormous fish. It was as if gigantic swordfish were flying in the air. I was engrossed in the sight. Then, finally, it scared me. It became to dark to see the foliage, yet I could still see the fleeting black shadows.
“What is it, don Juan?” I asked.
“[Long ago, the native sorcerer/shamans of Mexico] discovered that we have a companion for life,” he said, as clearly as he could. “We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos, and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The predator is our lord and master. It has rendered us docile; helpless. If we want to protest, it suppresses our protest. If we want to act independently, it demands that we don’t do so.”
It was very dark around us, and that seemed to curtail any expression on my part. If it had been daylight, I would have laughed my head off. In the dark, I felt quite inhibited.
“It’s pitch black around us,” don Juan said, “but if you look out of the corner of your eye, you will still see fleeting shadows jumping all around you.”
He was right. I could still see them. Their movement made me dizzy. Don Juan turned on the light, and that seemed to dissipate everything. Don Juan said, “You have arrived, by your effort alone, to what the shamans of ancient Mexico called the topic of topics. I have been beating around the bush all this time, insinuating to you that something is holding us prisoner. Indeed we are held prisoner! This was an energetic fact for the sorcerers of ancient Mexico.”
Why has this predator taken over in the fashion that you’re describing, don Juan?” I asked. “There must be a logical explanation.”
“There is an explanation,” don Juan replied, “which is the simplest explanation in the world. They took over because we are food for them, and they squeeze us mercilessly because we are their sustenance. Just as we rear chickens in chicken coops, gallineros, the predators rear us in human coops, humaneros. Therefore, their food is always available to them.”
I felt that my head was shaking violently from side to side. I could not express my profound sense of unease and discontentment, but my body moved to bring it to the surface. I shook from head to toe without any volition on my part. I heard myself saying, “No, no, no, no. This is absurd, don Juan. What you’re saying is something monstrous. It simply can’t be true, for sorcerers, or for average men, or for anyone.”
“Why not?” don Juan asked calmly. “Why not? Because it infuriates you?”
“Yes, it infuriates me,” I retorted. “Those claims are monstrous!”
“Well,” he said, “you haven’t heard all the claims yet. Wait a bit longer and see how you feel. “I’m going to subject you to a blitz. That is, I’m going to subject your mind to tremendous onslaughts; and you cannot get up and leave because you’re caught. Not because I’m holding you prisoner, but because something in you will prevent you from leaving while another part of you is going to go truthfully berserk. So brace yourself!”
There was something in me which I felt was a ‘glutton for punishment’. He was right. I wouldn’t have left the house for the world; and yet I didn’t like one bit the inanities he was spouting. Don Juan said, “I want to appeal to your analytical mind. Think for a moment, and tell me how you would explain the contradiction between the intelligence of man the engineer, and the stupidity of his systems of beliefs; or the stupidity of his contradictory behavior. Sorcerers believe that the predators have given us our systems of beliefs; our ideas of good and evil; our social mores. The predators are the ones who set up our hopes and expectations, and dreams of success or failure. They have given us covetousness, greed, and cowardice. It is the predators who make us complacent, routinary, and egomaniacal.”
“But how can they do this, don Juan?” I asked, somehow angered further by what he was saying. “Do they whisper all that in our ears while we are asleep?”
“No, they don’t do it that way. That’s idiotic!” don Juan said, smiling. “They are infinitely more efficient and organized than that. “In order to keep us obedient, meek and weak, the predators engaged themselves in a stupendous maneuver- stupendous, of course, from the point of view of a fighting strategist; a horrendous maneuver from the point of view of those who suffer it. They gave us their mind! Do you hear me? The predators give us their mind which becomes our mind. The predators’ mind is baroque, contradictory, morose, and filled with the fear of being discovered any minute now.
“I know that even though you have never suffered hunger,” he went on, “you have food anxiety which is none other than the anxiety of the predator who fears that any moment now its maneuver is going to be uncovered, and its food is going to be denied. Through the mind, which after all is their mind, the predators inject into the lives of human beings whatever is convenient for them. The predators ensure in this manner a degree of security to act as a buffer against their fear.”
“It’s not that I can’t accept all this at face value, don Juan,” I said. “I could, but there’s something so odious about it that it actually repels me. It forces me to take a contradictory stand. “If it’s true that they eat us, how do they do it?”
Don Juan had a broad smile on his face. He was as pleased as punch. He explained that sorcerers see infant human beings as strange, luminous balls of energy covered from the top to the bottom with a glowing coat something like a plastic cover that is adjusted tightly over their cocoon of energy. He said that that glowing coat of awareness was what the predators consumed, and that when a human being reached adulthood, all that was left of that glowing coat of awareness was a narrow fringe that went from the ground to the top of the toes. That fringe permitted mankind to continue living, but only barely. As if I were in a dream, I heard don Juan explaining that, to his knowledge, man was the only species that had the glowing coat of awareness outside that luminous cocoon. Therefore, he became easy prey for an awareness of a different order; such as the heavy awareness of the predator.
He then made the most damaging statement he had made so far. He said that this narrow fringe of awareness was the epicenter of self-reflection where man was irremediably caught. By playing on our self-reflection, which is the only point of awareness left to us, the predators create flares of awareness that they proceed to consume in a ruthless, predatory fashion. They give us inane problems that force those flares of awareness to rise, and in this manner they keep us alive in order for them to be fed with the energetic flare of our pseudo-concerns. There must have been something in what don Juan was saying which was so devastating to me that at that point I actually got sick to my stomach.
After a moment’s pause long enough for me to recover, I asked don Juan, “But why is it that the sorcerers of ancient Mexico and all sorcerers today, although they see the predators, don’t do anything about it?”
“There’s nothing that you and I can do about it,” don Juan said in a grave, sad voice. “All we can do is discipline ourselves to the point where they will not touch us.
“How can you ask your fellow men to go through those rigors of discipline? They’ll laugh and make fun of you; and the more aggressive ones will beat the shit out of you… and not so much because they don’t believe it. Down in the depths of every human being, there is an ancestral, visceral knowledge about the predators’ existence.”
My analytical mind swung back and forth like a yo-yo. It left me and came back, and left me and came back again. Whatever don Juan was proposing was preposterous, incredible. At the same time, it was a most reasonable thing; so simple. It explained every kind of human contradiction I could think of. But how could one have taken all this seriously?
Don Juan was pushing me into the path of an avalanche that would take me down forever. I felt another wave of a threatening sensation. The wave didn’t stem from me, yet it was attached to me. Don Juan was doing something to me, mysteriously positive and terribly negative at the same time. I sensed it as an attempt to cut a thin film that seemed to be glued to me. His eyes were fixed on mine in an unblinking stare. He moved his eyes away, and began to talk without looking at me anymore.
“Whenever doubts plague you to a dangerous point,” he said, “do something pragmatic about it. Turn off the light. Pierce the darkness; find out what you can see.” He got up to turn off the lights. I stopped him. “No, no, don Juan,” I said, “don’t turn off the lights. I’m doing okay.”
What I felt then was a most unusual, for me, fear of the darkness. The mere thought of it made me pant. I definitely knew something viscerally, but I wouldn’t dare touch it, or bring it to the surface, not in a million years!
“You saw the fleeting shadows against the trees,” don Juan said, sitting back against his chair. “That’s pretty good. I’d like you to see them inside this room. You’re not seeing anything. You’re just merely catching fleeting images. You have enough energy for that.”
I feared that don Juan would get up anyway and turn off the lights, which he did. Two seconds later, I was screaming my head off. Not only did I catch a glimpse of those fleeting images, I heard them buzzing by my ears. Don Juan doubled up with laughter as he turned on the lights.
“What a temperamental fellow!” he said. “A total disbeliever, on the one hand; and a total pragmatist on the other. You must arrange this internal fight, otherwise you’re going to swell up like a big toad and burst.”
Don Juan kept on pushing his barb deeper and deeper into me. “The sorcerers of ancient Mexico,” he said, “saw the predator. They called it the flyer because it leaps through the air. It is not a pretty sight. It is a big shadow, impenetrably dark, a black shadow that jumps through the air. Then, it lands flat on the ground.
“The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were quite ill at ease with the idea of when it made its appearance on Earth. They reasoned that man must have been a complete being at one point, with stupendous insights and feats of awareness that are mythological legends nowadays. And then everything seems to disappear, and we have now a sedated man.”
I wanted to get angry and call him a paranoiac, but somehow the righteousness that was usually just underneath the surface of my being wasn’t there. Something in me was beyond the point of asking myself my favorite question: What if all that he said is true? At the moment he was talking to me that night, in my heart of hearts, I felt that all of what he was saying was true, but at the same time and with equal force, I felt that all that he was saying was absurdity itself.
“What are you saying, don Juan?” I asked feebly. My throat was constricted. I could hardly breathe.
“What I’m saying is that what we have against us is not a simple predator. It is very smart and organized. It follows a methodical system to render us useless. Man, the magical being that he is destined to be, is no longer magical. He’s an average piece of meat. There are no more dreams for man but the dreams of an animal who is being raised to become a piece of meat: trite, conventional, imbecilic.”
Don Juan’s words were eliciting a strange, bodily reaction in me comparable to the sensation of nausea. It was as if I were going to get sick to my stomach again. But the nausea was coming from the bottom of my being, from the marrow of my bones. I convulsed involuntarily. Don Juan shook me by the shoulders forcefully. I felt my neck wobbling back and forth under the impact of his grip. The maneuver calmed me down at once. I felt more in control.
“This predator,” don Juan said, “which, of course, is an inorganic being, is not altogether invisible to us as other inorganic beings are. I think as children we do see it, but we decide it’s so horrific that we don’t want to think about it. Children, of course, could insist on focusing on the sight, but everybody else around them dissuades them from doing so. The only alternative left for mankind is discipline. Discipline is the only deterrent. But by discipline I don’t mean harsh routines. I don’t mean waking up every morning at five-thirty and throwing cold water on yourself until you’re blue. Sorcerers understand discipline as the capacity to face with serenity odds that are not included in our expectations. For sorcerers, discipline is an art; the art of facing infinity without flinching; not because they are strong and tough, but because they are filled with awe.”
“In what way would the sorcerers’ discipline be a deterrent to the flyers?” I asked.
Don Juan scrutinized my face as if to discover any signs of my disbelief. He said,”Sorcerers say that discipline makes the glowing coat of awareness unpalatable to the flyer. The result is that the predators become bewildered. An inedible glowing coat of awareness is not part of their cognition, I suppose. After being bewildered, they don’t have any recourse other than refraining from continuing their nefarious task. If the predators don’t eat our glowing coat of awareness for a while, it will keep on growing.
“Simplifying this matter to the extreme, I can say that sorcerers, by means of their discipline, push the predators away long enough to allow their glowing coat of awareness to grow beyond the level of the toes. Once it goes beyond the level of the toes, it grows back to its natural size. The sorcerers of ancient Mexico used to say that the glowing coat of awareness is like a tree. If it is not pruned, it grows to its natural size and volume. As awareness reaches levels higher than the toes, tremendous maneuvers of perception become a matter of course.
“The grand trick of those sorcerers of ancient times was to burden the flyers’ mind with discipline. Sorcerers found out that if they taxed the flyers’ mind with inner silence, the foreign installation would flee, and give any one of the practitioners involved in this maneuver the total certainty of the mind’s foreign origin. The [alien mind control of these creatures] comes back, I assure you, but not as strong; and a process begins in which the fleeing of the flyers’ mind becomes routine until one day it flees permanently.
“That’s the day when you have to rely on your own devices which are nearly zero. A sad day indeed! There’s no one to tell you what to do. There’s no mind of foreign origin to dictate the imbecilities you’re accustomed to. My teacher, the nagual Julian, used to warn all his disciples that this was the toughest day in a sorcerer’s life for the real mind that belongs to us. The sum total of our experience after a lifetime of domination has been rendered shy, insecure, and shifty. Personally, I would say that the real battle of sorcerers begins at that moment. The rest is merely preparation.”
I became genuinely agitated. I wanted to know more, and yet a strange feeling in me clamored for me to stop. It alluded to dark results and punishment, something like the wrath of God descending on me for tampering with something veiled by God himself. I made a supreme effort to allow my curiosity to win. I heard myself say, “What-what-what do you mean, by taxing the flyers’ mind?”
“Discipline taxes the foreign mind no end,” he replied. “So, through their discipline, sorcerers vanquish the foreign installation.”
I was overwhelmed by his statements. I believed that don Juan was either certifiably insane or that he was telling me something so awesome that it froze everything in me. I noticed, however how quickly I rallied my energy to deny everything he had said. After an instant of panic, I began to laugh, as if don Juan had told me a joke. I even heard myself saying, “Don Juan, don Juan, you’re incorrigible!”
Don Juan seemed to understand everything I was experiencing. He shook his head from side to side, and raised his eyes to the heavens in a gesture of mock despair. He said, “I am so incorrigible, that I am going to give the flyers’ mind which you carry inside you one more jolt. I am going to reveal to you one of the most extraordinary secrets of sorcery. I am going to describe to you a finding that took sorcerers thousands of years to verify and consolidate.”
He looked at me, smiled maliciously, and said, “The flyers’ mind flees forever when a sorcerer succeeds in grabbing on to the vibrating force that holds us together as a conglomerate of energy fields. If a sorcerer maintains that pressure long enough, the flyers’ mind flees in defeat. And that’s exactly what you are going to do; hold on to the energy that binds you together.”
I had the most inexplicable reaction I could have imagined. Something in me actually shook, as if it had received a jolt. I entered into a state of unwarranted fear, which I immediately associated with my religious background.
Don Juan looked at me from head to toe. “You are fearing the wrath of God, aren’t you?” he said. “Rest assured, that’s not your fear. It’s the flyers’ fear, because it knows that you will do exactly as I’m telling you.”
His words did not calm me at all. I felt worse. I was actually convulsing involuntarily, and I had no means to stop it.
“Don’t worry,” don Juan said calmly. “I know for a fact that those attacks wear off very quickly. The flyer’s mind has no concentration whatsoever.”
After a moment, everything stopped as don Juan had predicted. To say again that I was bewildered is a euphemism. This was the first time in my life ever, with don Juan or alone, that I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I wanted to get out of the chair and walk around, but I was deathly afraid. I was filled with rational assertions, and at the same time I was filled with an infantile fear. I began to breathe deeply as a cold perspiration covered my entire body. I had somehow unleashed on myself a most godawful sight: black, fleeting shadows jumping all around me wherever I turned. I closed my eyes and rested my head on the arm of the stuffed chair.
“I don’t know which way to turn, don Juan,” I said.
“Tonight, you have really succeeded in getting me lost.” Don Juan said, “You’re being torn by an internal struggle. Down in the depths of you, you know that you are incapable of refusing the agreement that an indispensable part of you, your glowing coat of awareness, is going to serve as an incomprehensible source of nourishment to, naturally, incomprehensible entities.
“And another part of you will stand against this situation with all its might. The sorcerers’ revolution is that they refuse to honor agreements in which they did not participate. Nobody ever asked me if I would consent to being eaten by beings of a different kind of awareness. My parents just brought me into this world to be food, like themselves, and that’s the end of the story.”
Don Juan stood up from his chair and stretched his arms and legs. “We have been sitting here for hours. It’s time to go into the house. I’m going to eat. Do you want to eat with me?”
I declined. My stomach was in an uproar.
“I think you’d better go to sleep,” he said. “The blitz has devastated you.”
I didn’t need any further coaxing. I collapsed onto my bed, and fell asleep like the dead.
[When I arrived] home, as time went by, the idea of the flyers became one of the main fixations of my life. I got to the point where I felt that don Juan was absolutely right about them. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t discard his logic. The more I thought about it, and the more I talked to and observed myself, and my fellow men, the more intense the conviction that something was rendering us incapable of any activity or any interaction or any thought that didn’t have the self as its focal point.
My concern, as well as the concern of everyone I knew or talked to, was the self. Since I couldn’t find any explanation for such universal homogeneity, I believed that don Juan’s line of thought was the most appropriate way of elucidating the phenomenon. I went as deeply as I could into readings about myths and legends. In reading, I experienced something I had never felt before: Each of the books I read was an interpretation of myths and legends. In each one of those books, a homogeneous mind was palpable. The styles differed, but the drive behind the words was homogeneously the same: Even though the theme was something as abstract as myths and legends, the authors always managed to insert statements about themselves.
The homogeneous drive behind every one of those books was not the stated theme of the book. Instead, it was self-service. I had never felt this before. I attributed my reaction to don Juan’s influence. The unavoidable question that I posed to myself was: Is he influencing me to see this, or is there really a foreign mind dictating everything we do? I lapsed, perforce, into denial again, and I went insanely from denial to acceptance to denial. Something in me knew that whatever don Juan was driving at was an energetic fact; but something equally important in me knew that all of that was guff.
The end result of my internal struggle was a sense of foreboding; the sense of something imminently dangerous coming at me. I made extensive anthropological inquiries into the subject of the flyers in other cultures, but I couldn’t find any references to them anywhere. Don Juan seemed to be the only source of information about this matter.
The next time I saw him, I instantly jumped to talk about the flyers. I said, “I have tried my best to be rational about this subject matter, but I can’t. There are moments when I fully agree with you about the predators.”
“Focus your attention on the fleeting shadows that you actually see,” don Juan said with a smile. I told don Juan that those fleeting shadows were going to be the end of my rational life. I saw them everywhere. Since I had left his house, I was incapable of going to sleep in the dark. To sleep with the lights on did not bother me at all. The moment I turned the lights off, however, everything around me began to jump. I never saw complete figures or shapes. All I saw were fleeting black shadows.
“The flyers’ mind has not left you,” don Juan said. “It has been seriously injured. It’s trying its best to rearrange its relationship with you. But something in you is severed forever. The flyer knows that. The real danger is that the flyers’ mind may win by getting you tired and forcing you to quit by playing the contradiction between what it says and what I say.
“You see, the flyers’ mind has no competitors. When it proposes something, it agrees with its own proposition, and it makes you believe that you’ve done something of worth. The flyers’ mind will say to you that whatever Juan Matus is telling you is pure nonsense, and then the same mind will agree with its own proposition, ‘Yes, of course, it is nonsense,’ you will say. That’s the way they overcome us.
“The flyers are an essential part of the universe, and they must be taken as what they really are; awesome, monstrous. They are the means by which the universe tests us. We are energetic probes created by the universe,” he continued as if he were oblivious to my presence, “and it’s because we are possessors of energy that has awareness that we are the means by which the universe becomes aware of itself.
“The flyers are the implacable challengers. They cannot be taken as anything else. If we succeed in doing that, the universe allows us to continue.”
I had a pivotal experience many years ago of seeing the gaps between the sounds of the world. I was driving to my home town which I was moving back to. I had been reading Castaneda for sometime, and during the drive I was contemplating, whether I was to going to continue following this path that had recently been opened up to me.
When I was not too far from where I was going, I suddenly had the feeling that I should not go straight back home but should instead turn off. It felt like an omen and I didn’t feel as if I could ignore it. This was partly because I almost didn’t want to reach my destination undecided. I got to a slip road and pulled off and ended up at a place where I parked up to stretch my legs.
I had been practising listening to the gaps between the sounds of a world for a while. And I thought this for some reason this was a good opportunity to try. I sat on the bonnet of my car and listened intently. This was a quiet area near a huge suspension bridge. There was just the sounds of the distant cars on the road behind me and the lapping of the waves on the water near by. There I sat and listened to the world. The more I listened the more I could hear the blank areas between the sounds. These gaps opened up and became incredibly clear. The break in the continuity was obvious. The listening started to blur my perception of the world. The gaps themselves became more defined than the sounds. I started to feel a vibration in my ears; something like a silent alarm being triggered. Then I saw wisps of light begin to appear in the night sky. These formed into eight golden rings of light suspended sequentially in the air in front of me….like enormous rings of smoke.
These shapes seemed like a representation of the gaps I had been experiencing – like some sort of physical manifestation. I was unable to maintain the attention needed for distinguishing the gaps; the scene hung there for a moment then disappeared. I felt a calm and returned to my car to continue on my journey. I was now decided on my course of action.
It is obvious to me now that this is a powerful ‘Not-doing’, the activity Don Juan prescribed to Carlos Castaneda for ‘Stopping the world’. In specific this is the ‘Not-doing’ of ‘listening’. Not-doing is defined as the counter point to things we know well in the world – the ‘Doing’ of the world. In order to ‘Stop the world’ which is to end the description of the world, one must cease ‘Doing’. Stopping the internal dialogue is the means to end this description and the activity of ‘Not-doing’ is the way to achieve it. The most obvious example of ‘Not-doing’ is shadows as compared to the solid objects that creates them, they are that which is unfamiliar to us and unnoticed. Also the twilight is the ‘not-doing’ of the day so to speak. ‘Seeing’ is described as the ‘Not-doing’ of looking, ‘dreaming’ the ‘Not-doing’ of Sleeping and so on…
Quotes from “Journey to Ixtlan”
“The world is the world because you know the doing involved in making it so,” – Don Juan Matus
“Once you know what it is like to stop the world you realize there is a reason for it. You see, one of the arts of the warrior is to collapse the world for a specific reason and then restore it again in order to keep on living.” – Don Juan Matus
When one focuses so intently on the gaps created by the silences between sounds – One is unable to maintain the attention needed to continue with the internal dialogue. The world as such collapses and the description of the world is suspended, enabling the participant to ‘see’ the energetic nature of the world.
Excerpt from “A Separate Reality” by Carlos Castaneda
“(Don Juan said)…that I should focus all my attention on listening to sounds and do my best to find the holes between the sounds… I began to listen and I could distinguish the whistling of birds, the wind rustling the leaves, the buzzing of insects… I was immersed in a strange world of sound, as I had never been in my life… After a moment of attentive listening I thought I understood don Juan’s recommendation to watch for the holes between the sounds. The pattern of noises had spaces in between sounds!… the timing of each sound was a unit in the overall pattern… Thus the spaces or pauses in between sounds were, if I paid attention to them, holes in a structure…
“I shifted my attention from hearing to looking… The silhouette of the hills was arranged in such a way that from the place where I was looking there seemed to be a hole on the side of one of the hills… a space between two hills… It was as if the hole I was looking at was the ‘hole’ in the sound… Then the other sounds began again and their structure of pauses became an extraordinary, almost visual perception. I began seeing the sounds as they created patterns and then all those patterns became superimposed on the environment… I was not looking or hearing as I was accustomed to doing. I was doing something which was entirely different but combined features of both…my attention was focused on the large hole in the hills. I felt I was hearing it and at the same time looking at it.”