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.”
THE INORGANIC BEINGS ~
“The old shamans discovered that the entire universe is composed of twin forces, forces that are at the same time opposed and complementary to each other. It is inescapable that our world is a twin world. Its opposite and complementary world is one populated by beings that have awareness, but not an organism. For this reason, the old shamans called them inorganic beings.
I told you that it’s our twin world, so it’s intimately related to us. The sorcerers of ancient Mexico didn’t think like most do in terms of space and time. They thought exclusively in terms of awareness. Two types of awareness coexist without ever impinging on each other, because each type is entirely different from the other. The old shamans faced this problem of coexistence without concerning themselves with time and space. They reasoned that the degree of awareness of organic beings and the degree of awareness of inorganic beings were so different that both could coexist with the most minimal interference. ”
“The inorganic beings who populate our twin world are considered, by the sorcerers of our lineage, to be our relatives. Those shamans believed that it was futile to make friends with our family members because the demands levied on us for such friendships are always exorbitant. That type of inorganic being, who are our first cousins, communicate with us incessantly, but their communication with us is not at the level of conscious awareness. In other words, we know all about them in a subliminal way, while they know all about us in a deliberate, conscious manner.
The energy from our first cousins is a drag! They are as messed up as we are. Let’s say that the organic and inorganic beings of our twin worlds are the children of two sisters who live next door to each other. They are exactly alike although they look different. They cannot help us, and we cannot help them. Perhaps we could join together, and make a fabulous family business corporation, but that hasn’t happened. Both branches of the family are extremely touchy and take offence over nothing, a typical relationship between touchy first cousins. The crux of the matter, the sorcerers of ancient Mexico believed, is that both human beings and inorganic beings from the twin worlds are profound egomaniacs.
Another classification that the sorcerers of ancient Mexico made of the inorganic beings was that of scouts, or explorers; that is, the inorganic beings that come from the depths of the universe, and which are possessors of awareness infinitely sharper and faster than that of human beings. The old sorcerers spent generations polishing their classification schemes, and their conclusions were that certain types of inorganic beings from the category of scouts or explorers, because of their vivaciousness, were akin to man. They could make liaisons and establish a symbiotic relation with men. The old sorcerers called these kinds of inorganic beings the allies.”
“The crucial mistake of those shamans with reference to this type of inorganic being was to attribute human characteristics to that impersonal energy and to believe that they could harness it. They thought of those blocks of energy as their helpers, and they relied on them without comprehending that, being pure energy, they didn’t have the power to sustain any effort.
I’ve told you all there is to know about inorganic beings. The only way you can put this to the test is by means of direct experience.”
Extract from “The Active Side of Infinity” by Carlos Castaneda
- Carlos Castaneda: What is Fake? (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
This is a translation of ”The Six Explanatory Propositions” which were included in the Spanish language version of the Eagle’s Gift but were
never published in the English versions of the book.
Six Explanatory Propositions: from The Eagle’s Gift, by Carlos Castaneda
In spite of the amazing maneuvers that DJ did with my awareness, along the years I stubbornly insisted in trying to intellectually evaluate what he did. Although I have written at length about these maneuvers, it has always been from a strictly experiential point of view and, besides, from a strictly rational perspective. Immersed as I was in my own rationality, I couldn’t recognize the goals of the teachings of Don Juan. To understand the stretch of these goals with a certain degree of precision, it was necessary that I lost my human form and arrived to the totality of myself.
The teachings of Don Juan were meant to guide me through the second stage of a warrior’s development: the verification and unrestricted acceptance that within us lies another type of awareness. This stage was divided into two categories. The first one, for which Don Juan required Don Genaro’s help, dealt with two activities. It consisted of showing me certain procedures, actions and methods that were designed to exercise my awareness. The second one had to do with the six explanatory propositions.
Due to the difficulties that I had in adapting my rationality in order to accept the plausibility of what he was teaching me, Don Juan presented these explanatory propositions in terms of my scholastic records. The first thing he did, as an introduction, was to create a division in myself by means of a specific blow on the right shoulder blade, a blow which made me enter an unusual state of awareness, which I couldn’t recall once I was back to normality.
Until the moment in which Don Juan made me enter such state of awareness, I had an undeniable sense of continuity, which I thought of as a product of my vital experience. The idea that I had about myself was that of being a full entity that could explain everything it had done. Besides, I was convinced that the dwelling of all my awareness, if there was such, was in my head. However, Don Juan showed me with his blow that it exists a center in the spinal cord, at the height of the shoulder blades, that is obviously a center of enhanced awareness.
When I questioned Don Juan about the nature of this blow, he explained that the nagual is a director, a guide who bears the responsibility of opening the way, and that he must be impeccable to impregnate his warriors with a sense of confidence and clarity. Only under these conditions is a nagual in the possibility of giving this blow on the back to force a displacement of awareness, because the power of the nagual is what allows the transition. If the nagual is not an impeccable practitioner, the displacement doesn’t occur, as when I tried, unsuccessfully, to put the other apprentices in a state of heightened awareness hitting them on the back before we ventured into the bridge.
I asked Don Juan what this displacement of awareness implied. He said that the nagual has to strike on a precise spot, which varies from person to person but which is always located in the general area of the shoulder blades. A nagual has to see to specify the spot, which is located in the periphery of one’s luminosity and not on the physical body itself; once the nagual identifies it, he pushes it in, more that striking it, and thus creates a concavity, a depression in the luminous shield. The state of heightened awareness resulting from this blow lasts as much as this depression lasts. Some luminous shields go back to their original forms by themselves, some have to be struck in another point to be restored, and some others never go back to their oval shapes.
Don Juan said that seers see awareness as a peculiar glow. Everyday awareness is a glow on the right side, which extends from the physical body’s exterior to the periphery of our luminosity. Heightened awareness is a more intense shine associated with great speed and concentration, a fulgor which saturates the periphery of the left side.
Don Juan said that seers explain what happens with the blow of the nagual as a temporal dislodging of a center located in the luminous cocoon of the body. The Eagle’s emanations are in reality evaluated and selected in that center. The blow alters their normal behaviour.
Through their observations, seers have reached the conclusion that warriors must be put in that state of disorientation. The change in the way awareness works under these conditions makes this state an ideal territory to dillucidate the commands of the Eagle: it allows warriors to function as if they were in everyday awareness, with the difference that they can concentrate in everything they do with unprecedented clarity and strength.
Don Juan said that my situation was analogous to the one he had experienced. His benefactor created a deep division in himself, making him move once and once again from the awareness of the right side to the awareness of the left side. The clarity and freedom of his left side awareness were in direct opposition to the rationalizations and endless defenses of his right side. He told me that all warriors are cast into the depths of the same situation that polarity molds, and that the nagual creates and reinforces the division to be able to lead his apprentices to the conviction that there is an awareness in human beings yet unexplored.
1.-What we perceive as the world are the Eagle’s emanations.
Don Juan explained to me that the world we perceive does not have a transcendental existence. Since we are familiarized with it we believe that what we perceive is a world of objects which exist such as we perceive them, when in reality there is not a world of objects, but, rather, a universe of Eagle’s emanations.
These emanations represent the only immutable reality. It is a reality that encompasses all that is, perceivable and unperceivable, knowable and unknowable.
Seers who see the Eagle’s emanations call them commands because of their urging force. All living creatures are urged to use the emanations, and they use them without getting to know what they are. Ordinary men interpret them as reality. And seers who see the emanations interpret them as the rule.
Despite the fact that seers see the emanations, they don’t have a way of knowing what it is they are seeing. Instead of entangling themselves with useless conjectures, seers occupy themselves in the functional speculation of how the Eagle’s commands can be interpreted. Don Juan sustained that to Intuit a reality which transcends the world we perceive stays at the level of conjecture; it is not enough for a warrior to conjecture that the Eagle’s commands are instantly perceived by all creatures that live on Earth, and that none of them perceives them in the same way. Warriors must try to behold the flow of emanations and “see” the way in which man and other living beings use it to build their perceptual world.
When I proposed to use the word “description” instead of Eagles’s emanations, Don Juan said that he was not making a metaphor. He said that the word “description” connotes a human agreement, and that what we perceive stems from a command in which human agreements do not count.
2.-Attention is what makes us perceive the Eagle’s emanations as the
action of skimming.
Don Juan used to say that perception is a physical faculty that living creatures groom; the final result of this grooming is known, among seers, as “attention”. Don Juan described attention as the action of hooking and channeling perception. He said that this action is our most singular feat, which covers all the spectrum of human alternatives and possibilities. Don Juan established a precise distinction between alternatives and possibilities. Human alternatives are those that we are enabled to choose as persons who function within the social environment. Our landscape of this dominion is quite limited. Human possibilities are those that we are capable of achieving as luminous beings.
Don Juan revealed to me a classificatory scheme of three types of attention, emphasizing that calling them “types” was erroneous. In fact, they are three levels of knowledge: first, second and third attention; each one of them an independent dominion, complete in itself.
For a warrior that is in the initial stages of his learning, the first attention is the most important of the three. Don Juan said that his explanatory propositions were attempts to bring into first frame the way in which the first attention works, something that passes completely unadverted to us. He considered imperative for warriors to understand the nature of the first attention if they were going to venture into the other two. He explained to me that the first attention has been taught how to move instantly through a whole spectrum of the Eagle’s emanations, without emphasizing at all that fact, in order to reach “perceptual units” which all of us have learned that are perceivable. Seers call this feat “skimming”, because it implies the
capability of suppressing those emanations which are superfluous and selecting which of them must be emphasized.
Don Juan explained this process taking as an example the mountain that we were seeing at that moment. He stressed that my first attention, at the moment of seeing the mountain, had skimmed an infinite number of emanations to obtain a miracle of perception; a skimming that all human beings know because each one of them has attained it by himself.
Seers contend that everything the first attention suppresses to obtain a skimming, cannot be recovered anymore by the first attention under any condition. Once we learn to perceive in terms of skimmings, our senses stop registering the superfluous emanations. To dillucidate this point he gave me the example of the skimming: “human body”. He said that our first attention is totally unconscious of the emanations that compose the external luminous shield of the physical body. Our oval cocoon is not subjected to perception; those emanations have been rejected which would make it perceivable in benefit of those which allow the first attention to perceive the physical body such as we know it. Therefore, the perceptual goal that children must achieve as they grow up consists in learning to isolate the appropriate emanations to be able to channel their chaotic perception and transform it into the first attention; in doing so, they learn how to build skimmings. All grown up human beings who surround children teach them how to skim. Sooner or later, children learn to control their first attention in order to perceive skimmings in terms which are alike to those of their teachers.
Don Juan never ceased to be amazed at the capability of human beings to bring order into the chaos of perception. He contended that all of us, by his/her own merits, is a magistral magician and that our magic consists in rendering reality to the skimmings that our first attention has learned how to build. The fact that we perceive in terms of skimmings is the Eagle’s command, but to perceive the commands as objects is our power, our magical gift. Our fallacy, on the other hand, is that we always end up being one-sided when forgetting that skimmings are only real in terms that we perceive them as real, due to the power that we have to do it. Don Juan called this an error in judgment which destroys the richness of our mysterious origins.
3.- The skimmings are made sense of by the first ring of power.
Don Juan used to say that the first ring of power is the force that stems from the Eagle’s emanations to affect exclusively our first attention. He explained that it has been represented as a “ring ” because of its dynamism, of its uninterrupted movement. It has been called ring “of power” due to, first, its compulsive character, and, second, because of its unique ability to stop its works, to change them or reverse their direction.
The compulsive character is better shown in the fact that it doesn’t only urge the first attention to build and perpetuate skimmings, but it also demands a consensus from all the participants. Each one of us is demanded a complete agreement upon the faithful reproduction of skimmings, since conformity to the first ring of power must be total.
It is precisely this conformity which gives us the certainty that skimmings are objects which exist as such, independent from our perception. Besides, the compulsiveness of the first ring of power does not cease after the initial agreement, but it demands that we continuously renovate the agreement. Our whole life we must operate as if, for example, each one of our skimmings was perceptually the first one for each human being, in spite of languages and cultures. Don Juan granted that even if all this is too serious to be taken jokingly, the urging character of the first ring of power is so intense that forces us to believe that if the “mountain” could have an awareness of its own, it would consider itself as the skimming that we have learned how to build.
The most valuable feature that the first ring of power bears to a warrior is the singular capability of interrupting its flux of energy, or to totally suspend it. Don Juan said that this is a latent capability which exists within us all as a backup unit. In our narrow world of skimmings, there is no need to use it. Since we are so efficiently buttressed and shielded by the net of the first attention, we do not realize, not even vaguely, that we have hidden resources. However, if another alternative to follow would present itself to us, such as is the warrior’s option to use the second attention, the latent capability of the first ring of power could start to function and could be used with spectacular results.
Don Juan underlined that the biggest feat of sorcerers is the process of activating this latent capability; he called it blocking the intent of the
first ring of power. He explained to me that the Eagle’s emanations, which have already been isolated by the first attention in order to build the everyday world, exert an unbending pressure upon the first attention. For this pressure to stop its activity, the intent must be displaced. Seers call this an obstruction or an interruption of the first ring of power.
4.- Intent is the force that moves the first ring of power.
Don Juan explained to me that intent doesn’t refer to have an intention, or to want one thing or the other, but rather has to do with an imponderable force that makes us behave in ways which could be described as intentions, wishing, volition, etc. Don Juan didn’t bring it forth as a condition of being, stemming from oneself, such as is a habit produced by socialization, or a biological reaction, but rather brought it forth as a private, intimate force that we possess and use individually as a key that makes the first ring of power move in acceptable ways. Intent is what directs our first attention in order for it to focus on the Eagle’s emanations within a certain frame. And intent is also what commands the first ring of power to obstruct or interrupt its flux of energy.
Don Juan suggested me to conceive intent as an invisible force which exists in the universe, without receiving itself, but still affecting everything: the force that creates and sustains skimmings. He asserted that skimmings must be incessantly recreated to be imbued with continuity. In order to recreate them each time with the freshness that they need to build a living world, we must intend them each time we build them. For instance, we must intend the “mountain” along with all its complexities for the skimming to be fully materialized. Don Juan said that, for a spectator, who behaves exclusively based upon the first attention without the intervention of intent, the “mountain” would appear as an entirely different skimming. It could appear as the skimming “geometric form” or “amorphous spot of color”. For the skimming mountain to be completed, the spectator must intend it,
whether it is unconsciously through the urging force of the first ring of power, or premeditatedly, through the warrior’s training. Don Juan pointed to me the three ways in which intent comes to us. The most predominating one is known by seers as “the intent of the first ring of power”. This is a blind intent which comes to us by chance. It is as if we were in its way, or as if intent was in ours. Inevitably we find ourselves trapped in its net without having the least control of what is happening to us.
The second way is when intent comes to us by its own. This requires a considerable amount of purpose, a sense of determination on our part. Only in our capability as warriors we can put ourselves voluntarily in the way of intent; we summon it, so to speak. Don Juan explained to me that his insistence in being an impeccable warrior was nothing more than an effort to let intent know that he is putting himself in its way.
Don Juan used to say that warriors call this phenomenon “power”. Thus when they speak of having personal power, they are referring to the intent that comes to them voluntarily. The outcome, he used to say to me, can be described as the facility to find new solutions, or the facility to affect people or events. It is as if other possibilities, previously unknown by the warrior, suddenly become apparent. In this way, an impeccable warrior never plans anything ahead, but his actions are so decisive that it seems as if the warrior had calculated beforehand each facet of his activity. The third way in
which we find intent is the most rare and complex of the three; it occurs when intent allows us to harmonize with it. Don Juan described this state as the real moment of power: the culmination of a lifetime effort in search of impeccability. Only supreme warriors obtain it, and as long as they are in such state, intent lets itself be handled by them at will. It is as if intent had fused in those warriors, and in doing so it transforms them into a pure force, without preconceptions. Seers call this state the “intent of the second ring of power”, or “will”.
5.- The first ring of power can be stopped by a functional blocking of
the capability of building skimmings.
Don Juan used to say that the function of the not-doings is to create an obstruction in the usual focus of out first attention. The not-doings are, in this sense, maneuvers destined to prepare the first attention for the functional blocking of the first ring of power, or, in other words, for the interruption of intent.
Don Juan explained to me that this functional blocking, which is the only method to systematically use the latent capability of the first ring of power, represents a temporal interruption that the benefactor creates in the disciple’s capability for building skimmings. It is a premeditated and powerful artificial intrusion into the first attention, in order to push it beyond the appearances which the known skimmings present to us; this intrusion is accomplished by interrupting the intent of the first ring of power.
Don Juan used to say that in order to achieve this interruption, the benefactor treats intent as what it really is, a flux, a current of energy that can eventually be stopped or reoriented. An interruption of this nature, however, implies a commotion of such magnitude that can force the first ring of power to stop fully; a situation which is impossible to conceive under our normal life conditions. It is unthinkable to us that we can un-walk the steps we took when we consolidated our perception, but it is feasible that under the impact of this interruption we could place ourselves in a perceptual position very similar to the one of our beginnings, when the Eagle’s commands were emanations which we still had not imbued with significance.
Don Juan used to say that any procedure the benefactor could use to create this interruption must be intimately linked with his personal power. Therefore, a benefactor doesn’t use any process to handle intent, but rather moves it and makes it available to the apprentice trough his personal power. In my case, Don Juan achieved the functional blocking of the first ring of power through a complex process, which combined three methods: the ingestion of hallucinogenic plants, manipulation of the body and maneuvering with intent itself.
In the beginning Don Juan relied strongly upon the ingestion of hallucinogenic plants, apparently due to the persistence of my rational side. The effect was tremendous, and yet retarded the sought for interruption. The fact that the plants were hallucinogenic offered my reason the perfect justification to congregate all of its available resources to continue exerting control. I was convinced that I could logically explain anything that I was experiencing, along with the inconceivable feats that Don Juan and Don Genaro used to do to create the interruptions, as perceptual distortions caused by the ingestion of hallucinogenics.
Don Juan used to say that the most remarkable effect of hallucinogenic plants was something that every time I ingested them I interpreted as the peculiar feeling that everything around me oozed a surprising richness. There were colors, forms, details that I had never beheld before. Don Juan used this increment in my ability to perceive, and, through a series of commands and comments used to force me to enter a state of nervous restlessness.
Afterwards he manipulated my body and made me shift from one side of awareness to the other, until I had created phantasmagorical visions or absolutely real scenes with tridimensional creatures that could not possibly exist in this world.
Don Juan explained to me that once the direct relation between intent and the skimmings we are constructing is broken, it cannot ever be repaired. From that moment on we acquire the ability to catch a current of what he described as “phantom intent”, or the intent of the skimmings which are not present at the moment or place of the interruption, this is to say, an intent put at our disposal through some aspect of memory.
Don Juan asserted that with the interruption of the intent of the first ring of power we become receptive and moldable; a nagual can then introduce the intent of the second ring of power. Don Juan was convinced that children of a certain age find themselves in a similar situation of receptivity; being deprived of intent, they are ready to be imprinted with any intent which is available to the teachers who surround them.
After my period of continious ingestion of hallucinogenic plants, Don Juan totally discontinuated its use. However, he obtained new and more dramatic interruptions in myself manipulating my body and making me shift states of awareness, combining all this with maneuvers with intent itself. Through a combination of mesmerizing instructions and adequate comments, Don Juan created a current of “phantom intent” and I was lead to experience common skimmings as something unimaginable. He conceptualized all this as “glancing into the immensity of the Eagle”.
Don Juan masterfully lead me through countless interruptions of intent until he was convinced, as a seer, that my body showed the effects of the functional blocking of the first ring of power. He said that he could see a unusual activity around the area of the shoulder blades. He described it as a little hole that had formed exactly as if the luminosity was a muscular layer contracted by a nerve.
To me, the effect of the functional blocking of the first ring of power was that it managed to erase the certainty which I had all my life that what my senses reported was “real”. Quietly I entered a state of inner silence. Don Juan used to say that what gives warriors that extreme uncertainty that his benefactor had experienced at the end of his life, that resignation to failure that he himself was living, is the fact that one glance into the immensity of the Eagle leaves one without hope. Hope is the result of our familiarity with skimmings and the idea that we control them. In such moments only the warrior’s life can help us to persevere in our efforts to discover that which the Eagle has concealed from us, but without hope that we can get to understand what we discover.
6.- The second attention.
Don Juan explained to me that the examination of the second attention must begin with the realization that the force of the first ring of power, which boxes us in, is a physical, concrete edge. Seers have described it as a wall of fog, a barrier that can be systematically brought to our awareness by means of the blocking of the first ring of power; and then can be perforated by means of the warrior’s training.
After perforating this wall of fog, one enters a broad intermediate state. The task of the warriors then consists in going through it until they reach the next divisory line, which must be perforated in order to enter what it is properly the other self or the second attention.
Don Juan used to say that the two divisory lines are perfectly recognizable. When warriors perforate the wall of fog they feel that their bodies are squeezed, or they feel an intense shaking in the cavity of their bodies, generally to the right of the stomach or through the middle part, from right to left. When warriors perforate the second line, they feel an acute crack on the upper part of the body, something like the sound of a dry
bough that is broken in two.
The two lines that box in both attentions, and individually seal them, are known to seers as the parallel lines. These seal both attentions by means of the fact that they extend into infinity, without ever allowing the crossing unless they are perforated.
Between both lines there exists an area of specific awareness that seers call limbo, or the world between the parallel lines. It is a real space between two huge orders of the Eagle’s emanations; emanations which are within the human possibilities of awareness. One is the level which creates the self of everyday life, and the other is the level which creates the other self. Since the limbo is a transitional zone, there both fields of emanations
extend one upon the other. The fraction of the level which is known to us, that extends into that area, hooks a portion of the first ring of power; and the capability of the first ring of power to build skimmings makes us perceive a series of skimmings in the limbo which are almost as those of everyday life, except that they appear grotesque, uncanny and contorted. In this manner the limbo has specific features that do not change arbitrarily each time that one goes into it. There exist in it physical features which resemble the skimmings of everyday life.
Don Juan sustained that the feeling of heaviness experienced in the limbo is due to the growing burden that has been placed on the first attention. In the area located right behind the wall of fog we can still behave as we do normally; it is as if we were in a grotesque but recognizable world. As we penetrate further into it, beyond the wall of fog, it becomes progressively difficult to recognize the features or to behave in terms of the known self. He explained to me that it was possible to make that instead of the wall of fog anything else appeared, but that seers have opted for ccentuating
that which consumes less energy: to visualize the wall of fog does not demand any effort.
What exists beyond the second divisory line is known by seers as the second attention, or the other self, or the parallel world; and the action of going through both edges is known as “crossing the parallel lines”. Don Juan thought that I could assimilate this concept more firmly if he described each dominion of awareness as a specific perceptual predisposition.
He told me that in the territory of everyday awareness we are inescapably entangled into the specific perceptual predisposition of the first attention. From the moment in which the first ring of power begins to build skimmings, the way of building them becomes our normal perceptual predisposition. Breaking the unifying force of the first attention implies to break the first divisory line. The normal perceptual predisposition passes then into the intermediate area which is between the parallel lines. One keeps building almost normal skimmings for some time. But as one approaches what seers call the second divisory line, the perceptual predisposition of the first attention begins to recede, it loses strength. Don Juan used to say that this transition is marked by a sudden incapability of remembering or understanding what one is doing.
When one gets closer to the second divisory line, the second attention begins to act on the warriors who undertake the voyage. If they are unexperienced, their awareness gets emptied, it goes blank. Don Juan held that this occurs because they are approaching a spectrum of the Eagle’s emanations which has not yet a systematized perceptual predisposition. My experiences with la Gorda and the nagual woman beyond the wall of fog were an example of this incapability. I travelled as far as the other self, but I couldn’t account on what we had done for the simple reason that my second attention was still unformulated and it did not give me the opportunity of formulating all I had perceived.
Don Juan explained to me that one begins to activate the second ring of power by forcing the second attention to wake from its slumber. The functional blocking of the first ring of power achieves this. Then, the task of the teacher consists in recreating the condition which started the first ring of power, the condition of being saturated with intent. The first ring of power is put in motion by the force of the intent given by those who teach how to skim. As my teacher he was giving me, then, a new intent which would create a new perceptual environment.
Don Juan said that it takes a lifetime of unceasing discipline, which seers call unbending intent, to prepare the second ring of power to be able to build skimmings which belong to another level of the Eagle’s emanations. To dominate the perceptual predisposition of the parallel self is a feat of peerless value which few warriors achieve. Silvio Manuel was one of those few. Don Juan warned me that one must not attempt to deliberately
If this happens, it must be through a natural process which unfolds itself without much effort from our part. He explained to me that the reason for this indifference lies on the practical consideration that when it is dominated it simply becomes very difficult to break, since the goal that warriors actively pursuit is to break both perceptual re-dispositions to enter the final freedom of the third attention.
There is not a more eerie or beautiful sound at night than the musical extravaganza of a howling wolf pack. Because of the melody of voices, it often sounds like you are surrounded by scores of wolves.
In truth, there are usually no more than five to eight wolves howling in a pack. The secret is that the wolves are always careful not to duplicate each other. Each wolf assumes a unique pitch, respecting the distinctiveness of the other members the pack. While the notes may change, as in any beautiful song, one wolf will not copy the pitch of another.
Interestingly, this respect for the individual only emphasizes the true unity of the group. They are one, but they are individuals, each contributing to the organization in their own unique way. Every wolf has his own voice. Every wolf respects the voice of every other wolf.
– Twyman L Towery, Ph.D.
Wisdom of Wolves