JOURNEY TO IXTLAN
...For me the world is weird because
it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been
to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in
this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time.
I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since
you are going to be here for only a short while; in fact, too short for
witnessing all the marvels of it.
Abstracts of Carlos Castaneda's JOURNEY TO IXTLAN (Vol. 3)
by Vera Zlatkina - woman-nagual
A BATTLE OF POWER
The basic premise of sorcery as don Juan presented it to me. He said that for sorcerer, the world of everyday life is not real, or out there, as we believe it is. For a sorcerer, reality, or the world we all know, is only a description. ...a description that had been pounded into me from the moment I was born.
He pointed out that everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of preceiving the world as it is described. According to don Juan, we have no memory of that portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point of reference to compare it to anything else. From that moment on, however, the child is a member. He knows the description of the world; and his membership becomes full-fledged, I suppose, when he is capable of making all the proper perceptual interpretations which, by conforming to that description, validate it.
For don Juan , then , the reality of our day-to-day life consists of an endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we, the individuals who share a specific membership , have learned to make it common.
The idea that the perceptual interpretations that make up the world have a flow is congruous with the fact that they run uninterruptedly and are rarely, if ever, open to question. In fact, the reality of the world we know is so taken for granted that the basic premise of sorcery, that our reality is merely one of many descriptions, could hardly be taken as a serious proposition.
His contention was that
he was teaching me how to "see" as opposed to merely "looking",
and that "stopping the world" was the first step to "seeing".
Stopping the world
REAFIRMATIONS FROM THE WORLD AROUND US
I pick plants , or rather
, they let me pick them
ERASING PERSONAL HISTORY
I don't have personal
history any more...I dropped it one day when I felt it was no longer necessary.
- Begin with simple things, such as not revealing what you really do. Then you must leave everyone who knows you well. This way you'll build up a fog around yourself.
- "But that's absurd," I protested. "Why shouldn't people know me? What's wrong with that?"
- What's wrong is that once they know you , you are an affair taken for granted and from that moment on you won't be able to break the tie of their thoughts. I personally like the ultimate freedom of being unknown. No one knows me with steadfast certainty, the way people know you for instance."
- But that would be lying.
- I am not concerned
with lies or truths...Lies are lies if you have personal history.
When one does not have personal history ,nothing that one says can be taken for a lie. Your trouble is that you have to explain everything to everybody, compulsively, and at the same time you want to keep the freshness, the newness of what you do. Well, since you can't be excited after explaining everything you've done, you lie in order to keep on going.
- From now on you must simply to show people whatever you care to show them, but without ever telling exactly how you've done it.
- I can't keep secrets ! What you are saying is useless to me.
- Then change !
You see, we only have
two alternatives; we either take everything for sure and real , or we don't.
If we follow the first, we end up bored to death with ourselves and with
the world. If we follow the second and erase personal history ,we create
a fog around us, a very exciting and mysterious state in which nobody knows
where the rabbit will pop out, not even ourselves.
You take yourself too seriously. You are too damn important in your own mind. That must be changed ! You are so goddamn important that you feel justified to be annoyed with everything.
You're so damn important
that you can afford to leave if things don't go your way. I suppose you
think that shows you have character. That's nonsense ! You're weak, and
Self-importance is another
thing that must be dropped, just like personal history. As long as you
feel that you are the most important thing in the world you cannot really
appreciate the world around you. You are like a horse with blinders, all
you see is yourself apart from everything else.
It doesn't matter what
you say to a plant. You can just as well make up words; what's important
is the feeling of liking it, and treating it as an equal.
So, all in all, the plants
and ourselves are even. Neither we nor they are more or less important.
DEATH IS AN ADVISER
Death is our eternal companion. It is always to our left, at an arm's length... It has always been watching you. It always will until the day it taps you.
How can anyone feel so
important when we know that death is stalking us?
The thing to do when you're impatient is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is there watching you.
Death is the only wise adviser that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do , that everything is going wrong and you're about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you're wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, 'I haven't touched you yet.'
We remained quiet for
more than an hour, then we started walking again. We meandered in the desert
chaparral for hours. I didn't ask him if there was any purpose to it ;
it did not matter. Somehow he had made me recapture an old feeling, something
I had quite forgotten, the cheer joy of just moving around without attaching
any intellectual purpose to it.
When a man decides to
do something he must go all the way, but he must take responsibility for
what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing
it, and then he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or
remorse about them...Death is stalking me. Therefore, I have no room for
doubts or remorse. If I have to die as a result of taking you for a walk,
then I must die.
You, on the other hand,
feel that you are immortal, and the decisions of an immortal man can be
canceled or regretted or doubted. In a world where death is the hunter,
my friend, there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for
You are complaining.
You have been complaining all your life because you don't assume responsibility
for your decisions.
To assume responsibility
for one's decisions that one is ready to die for them. It doesn't matter
what the decision is. Nothing could be more or less serious then anything
else. Don't you see? In a world where death is the hunter there are no
small or big decisions. There are only decisions that we make in the face
of our inevitable death.
BECOMING A HUNTER
Don Juan then described
the technique, which he said took years to perfect, and which consisted
of gradually forcing the eyes to see separately the same image. The lack
of image conversion entailed a double perception of the world; this double
perception allowed one the opportunity of judging changes in the surroundings,
which the eyes were ordinarily incapable of perceiving... You must focus
your attention in the area between the two images. Amy change worthy of
notice would take place there, in that area.
To be a hunter means
that one knows a great deal. It means that one can see the world in different
ways. In order to be a hunter one must be in perfect balance with everything
else, otherwise hunting would become a meaningless chore. For instance,
today we took a little snake. I had to apologize to her for cutting her
life off so suddenly and so definitely; I did what I did knowing that my
own life will also be cut off someday in very much the same fashion, suddenly
and definitely. So , all in all, we and the snakes are on a par. One of
them fed us today.
The art of a hunter is to become inaccessible. In the case of that blond girl it would've meant that you have to become a hunter and meet her sparingly. Not the way you did. You stayed with her day after day until the only feeling that remained was boredom. True?
To be inaccessible means that you touch the world around you sparingly. You don't eat five quail; you eat one. You don't damage the plants just to make a barbecue pit. 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, like the poor bastard that feels he will never eat again and devours all the food he can, all five quail.
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.
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 animal, 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 word out of shape. He taps it lightly, stays for
as long as he needs to, and then swiftly moves away leaving hardly a mark.
DISRUPTING THE ROUTINES OF LIFE
In order to be a hunter you must disrupt the routines of your life. You have done well in hunting. You have learned quickly and now you can see that you are like your prey, easy to predict.
You have observed the habits of animals in the desert. They eat and drink at certain places, they nest in specific spots, they leave their tracks in specific ways; in fact, everything they do can be foreseen or reconstructed by a good hunter.
There are certain animals, however, that are impossible to track. There are certain types of deer, for instance, which a fortunate hunter might be able to come across, by sheer luck, once in his lifetime.
What do you think makes them so difficult to find and so unique?
They have no routines. That's what makes them magical.
A magical being is a
sight to behold.
THE LAST BATTLE ON EARTH
I had learned to respect
his mastery, which had always been expressed in terms of beauty and precision.
For you the world is
weird because if you're not bored with it you're at odds with it....For
me the world is weird because it is stupendous,
mysterious, unfathomable; my interest
has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being
here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous
time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count,
since you are going to be here for only a short while; in fact, too short
for witnessing all the marvels of it.
You always feel compelled
to explain your acts, as if you were the only man on earth who's wrong.
It's your old feeling of importance. You have too much of it; you also
have too much personal history.
There is one simple thing wrong with you - you think you have plenty of time...If you don't think your life is going to last forever, what are you waiting for ? Why the hesitation to change? You don't have time for this display, you fool. This, whatever you're doing now, may be your last act on earth. It may very well be your last battle. There is no power which could guarantee that you are going to live one more minute.
You have no time, my
friend, no time. None of us have time.
...That change comes suddenly and unexpectedly, and so does death. What do you think we can do about it?
-To live as happily as possible.
Right! But do you know anyone who lives happily?
I do. There are some
people who are very careful about the nature of their acts. Their happines
is to act with the full knowledge that they don't have time; therefore,
their acts have a peculiar power...
Focus your attention on the link between you and your death, without remorse or sadness or worryng. Focus your attention on the fact you don't have time and let your acts flow accordingly. Let each of your acts be your last battle on earth. Only under those conditions will your acts have their rigthful power. Otherwise they will be , for as long as you live, the acts of a timid man.
- Is it so terrible to be a timid man?
No. It isn't if you are going to be immortal, but if you are going to die there is no time for timidity, simply because timidity makes you cling to something that exists only in your thoughts. It soothes you while everything is at a lull, but then the awesome, mysterious world will open its mouth for you, as it will open for every one of us, and then you will realize that your sure ways were not sure at all. Being timid prevents us from examining and exploiting our lot as men.
- It is not natural to live with the constant idea of our death, don Juan.
Our death is waiting
and this very act we're performing now may well be our last battle on earth.
I call it a battle because it is a struggle. Most people move from act
to act without any struggle or thought. A hunter , on the contrary, assesses
every act; and since he has an intimate knowlege of his death, he proceeds
judiciously, as if every act were his last battle. Only a fool would fail
to notice the advantage a hunter has over his fellow man. A hunter gives
his last battle its due respect. It's only natural that his last act on
earth should be the best of himself. It's pleasurable that way. It dulls
the edge of his fright.
BECOMING ACCESSIBLE TO POWER
...During the hight of my hallucinatory experience I played with a dog that lived in the house where the peyote session took place. Don Juan interpreted my interaction with a dog as a very special event ... the dog was not really a dog but the incarnation of Mescalito, the power of deity contained in peyote.
The post-effects of that
experience were a general sense of fatigue and melancholy, plus the incidence
of exceptionally vivid dreams and nightmares.
I am going to teach you how to become a warrior in the same manner I have taught you how to hunt. I must warn you , though, learning how to hunt has not made you into a hunter, nor would learning how to become a warrior make you one.
-I experienced a sense of frustration, a physical discomfort that bordered on anguish. I complained about the vivid dreams and nightmares I was having.
A warrior seeks power
and one of the avenues to power is dreaming .
What you call dreams are real for a warrior. You must understand that a warrior is not a fool. A warrior is an immaculate hunter who hunts power; he's not drunk, or crazed, and he has neither the time nor the disposition to bluff, or to lie to himself, or to make a wrong move. The stakes are too high for that. The stakes are his trimmed orderly life which he has taken so long to tighten and perfect. He is not going to throw that way by making some stupid miscalculation,by taking something for being something else.
Dreaming is real for a warrior because in it he can act deliberately, he can choose and reject, he can select from a variety of items those which lead to power, and then he can manipulate them and use them, while in an ordinary dream he cannot act deliberately.
- Do you mean then, don Juan, that dreaming is real ?
Of course it is real.
- As real as what we are doing now?
If you want to comparee
things, I can say that it is perhaps more real. In dreaming you
have power ;you can change things; you may find out countless concealed
facts you can control whatever you want.
Power is something a warrior deals with. At first it's an incredible , far-fetched affair; it is hard to even think about it. This is what's happening to you know. Then power becomes a serious matter; one may not have it, or one may not even fully realize that it exists, yet one knows that something is there, something which was not noticeable before. Next power is manifested as something uncontrollable that comes to oneself. It is not possible for me to say how it comes or what it really is. It is nothing and yet it makes marvels appear before your very eyes. And finally power is something in oneself, something that controls one's acts and yet obeys one's command.
I am going to teach you right here the first step to power. I am going to teach you how to set up dreaming.
I was hardly following him at all. He explained that to "set up dreaming" meant to have a concise and pragmatic control over the general situation of a dream, comparable to the control one has over any choice in the desert, such as climbing up a hill or remaining in the shade of a water canyon.
You must start by doing something very simple.Tonight in your dreams you must look at your hands...Every time you look at anything in your dreams it changes shape. The trick in lerning to set up dreaming is obviously not just to look at things but to sustain the sight of them. Dreaming is real when one has succeeded in bringing everything into focus. Then is no difference between what you do when you sleep and what you do when you are not sleeping...
When they begin to change
shape you must move your sight away from them and pick something else,
and then look at your hands again. It takes a long time to perfect this
...I glanced at him and glanced at the animal, and then something in me arranged the world and I knew at once what the animal was. I walked over to it and picked it up. It was a large branch of a bush...
What you've done is no triumph. You've wasted a beautiful power, a power that blew life into that dry twig.
He said that a real triumph would have been for me to let go and follow the power until the world had ceased to exist.
I felt embarrassed. I began to apologize for my tendency of always being so sure of my ways.
"It doesn't matter,"
he said."That branch was a real animal and it was alive at the moment
the power touched it.Since what kept it alive was power, the trick was,
like in dreaming, to sustain the sight of it."
He explained that the idea of making oneself accessible to power has serious overtones. Power was a devastating force that could easily lead to one's death and had to be treated with great care. Becoming available to power had to be done systematically, but always with great caution.
It involved making one's presence obvious by a contained display of loud talk or any other type of noisy activity, and then it was mandatory to observe a prolonged and total silence. A controlled outburst and a controlled quietness were the mark of a warrior. He said that properly I should have sustained the sight of the live monster for a while longer. In a controlled fashion, without losing my mind or becoming deranged with excitation or fear, I should have striven to "stop the world". He pointed out that after I had run up the hill for dear life i was in a perfect state for "stoppping the world". Combined in that state were fear, awe, power and death; he said that such a state would be pretty hard to repeat.
I whispered in his ear, "What do you mean by 'stopping the world' ? "
He gave me a ferocious
look before he answered that it was a technique practiced by those who
were hunting for power, a technique by virtue of wich the world as we know
it was made to collapse.
THE MOOD OF A WARRIOR
To seek the perfection
of the warrior'spirit is the only task worthy of our manhood...You feel
like a leaf at the mercyof the wind, don't you?
The hardest thing in the world is to assume the mood of a warrior. It is of no use to be sad and complain and feel justified in doing so,beleiving that someone is alwais doing something to us. Nobody is doing anything to anybody, much less to a warrior.
Self-pity doesn't jibe with power. The mood of a warrior calls for control over himself and at the same time it calls for abandoning himself.
-How can that be? How can he control and abandon himself at the same time?
It is a difficult technique.
I'm going to remind you of all the techniques you must practice.
First you must focus your gaze on your hands as the starting point. Then shift your gaze to other items and look at them in brief glances. Focus your gaze on as many things as you can. Remember that if you only glance briefly the images do not shift. Then go back to your hands
Every time you look at your hands you renew the power needed for dreaming, so in the beginning don't look at too many things. Four items will suffice every time. Later on, you may enlarge the scope untill you can cover all you want, but as soon as the images begin to shift, and you feel you are losing control go back to your hands.
When you feel you can gaze at things indefinitely you will be ready for a new technique. I'm going to teach you this new technique now but I expect you to put it to use only when you are ready.
The next step in setting up dreaming is to learn to travel. The same way you have learned to look at your hands you can will yourself to move, to go places. First you have to establish a place you want to go to. Pick a well-known spot- perhaps your school, or a park, a friend's house- then, will yourself to go there.
This technique is very
difficult. You must perform two tasks: You must will yourself to go to
the specific locale; and then, when you have mastered that technique, you
have to learn to control the exact time of your traveling.
One needs the mood of a warrior for every single act. Otherwise one becomes destorted and ugly. There is no power in a life that lacks this mood. Look at yourself. Everything offends and upsets you.You whine and complain and feel that everyone is making you dance to their tune. You are a leaf at the mercy of the wind. There is no power in your life. What an ugly feeling that must be!
A warrior, on the other
hand, is a hunter. He calculates everything. That's control. But once his
calculates are over, he acts. He lets go.That's abandon. A warrior is not
a leaf at the mercy of the wind. No one can push him; no one can make him
do things against himself or against his better judgment. A warrior is
tuned to survive, and he survives in the best of all possible fashions.
A warrior could be injured
but not offended.
The mood of a warrior
is not so far-fetched for yours or anybody's world. You need it in order
to cut through all the guff.
A BATTLE OF POWER
Power is a very peculiar affair.It is impossible to pin it down and say what it really is. It is a feeling that one has about certain things. Power is personal. It belongs to oneself alone. My benefactor, for instance, could make aperson mortally ill by merely looking at him.Women would wane away after he had set eyes on them. Yet he didn't make people sick all the time but only when his personal power was involved.
-"How did he choose who to make sick?"
I don't know that. He didn't know it himself. Power is like that. It commands you and yet it obeys you.
A hunter of power entraps it and then stores it away as his personal finding.Thus, personal power grows, and you may have the case of a warrior who has so much personal power that he becomes a man of knowlege.
-"How does one store apower, don Juan?"
That again is another
feeling. It depends on what kind of a person the warrior is. My benefactor
was a man of violent nature. He stored power through that feeling. Everything
he did was strong and direct. He left me a memory of something crushing
through things. And everything that happened to him took place in that
What happened to you last night was neither a joke nor a prank. You had an encounter with power. The fog, the darkness, the lighting, the thunder and the rain were all part of a great battle of power. You had the luck of a fool. A warrior would give anything to have such a buttle.
- My argument was that the whole event could not be a buttle of power because it had not been real...
- And what is real?
- This, what we're looking at is real,-I said, pointing to the surroundings.
- But so was the bridge you saw last night, and so was the forest and everything else.
- But if they were real where are they now?
They are here. If you had enough power you could call them back. Right now you cannot do that because you think it is very helpful to keep on doubting and nagging. It isn't, my friend. It isn't. There are worlds upon worlds, right here in front of us. And they are nothing to laugh at. Last night if I hadn't grabbed your arm you would have walked on that bridge whether you wanted to or not.
... That is the nature of power. As I told you before, it commands you and yet it is at your command. Last night ,for instance, the power would have forced you to walk across the bridge and then it would have been at your command to sustain you while you were walking. I stopped you because I know you don't have the means to use power, without power the bridge would have collapsed.
- Did you see the bridge yourself, don Juan?
- No, I just saw
...But what happened last night was only the beginnig, a skirmish. The real battle will take place when you cross that bridge. What's on the other side? Only you will know that.And only you will know what's at the end of that trail through the forest. But all that is something that may or may not happen to you. In order to journey through those unknown trails and bridges one must have enough power of one's own.
- What happens if one doesn't have enough power?
-Death is alwais waiting,
and when the warrior's power wanes death simply taps him. Thus, to venture
into the unknown without any power is stupid. One will only find death.
Don't tax yourself trying
to figure it out. The world is a mystery. This, what you're looking at,
is not all there is to it.There is much more to the world, so much more,
in fact, that it is endless. So when you're trying to figure it out, all
you're really doing is trying to make the world familiar. You and I are
right here, in the world that you call real, simply because we both know
it. You don't know the world of power, therefore you cannot make it into
a familiar scene.
- But why should I want power, don Juan?
- You can't think of a reason now. However, if you would store enough power, the power itself will find you a good reason. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
-Why did you want power yourself, don Juan?
-I'm like you. I didn't want it. I couldn't find a reason to have it. I have all the doubts that you have and never followed the instructions I was given, or I never thought I did ; yet in spite of my stupidity I stored enough power, and one day my personal power made the world collapse.
- But why would anyone wish to stop the world?
-Nobody does, that's
the point. It just happens. And 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.
A WARRIOR'S LAST STAND
...This is the place where you will die.
This is the site of your last stand. You will die here no matter where you are. Every warrior has a place to die. A place of his predilection which is soaked with unforgettable memories, where powerful events left their mark, a place where he has witnessed marvels, where secrets have been revealed to him, a place where he has stored his personal power.
A warrior has the obligation to go back to that place of his predilection every time he taps power in order to store it there. He either goes there by means of walking or by means of dreaming.
And finally, one day when his time on earth is up and he feels the tap of his death on his shoulder, his spirit , which is always ready, flies to the place of his predilection and there the warrior dances to his death.
Every warrior has a specific form, a specific posture of power, which he develops throughout his life. It is a sort of dance. A movement that he does under the influence of his personal power.
If a dying warrior has limited power, his dance is short; if his power is grandiose, his dance is magnificent. But regardless of whether his power is small or magnificent, death must stop to witness his last stand on earth. Death cannot overtake the warrior who is recounting the toil of his life for the last time untill he has finished his dance.
So, properly speaking, the posture, the form of warrior, is the story of his life, a dance that grows as he grows in personal power.
-Does death really stop to see a warrior dance?
A warrior is only a man. A humble man. He cannot change the designs of his death. But his impeccable spirit, which has stored power after stupendous hardships, can certainly hold his death for a moment, a moment long enough to let him rejoice for the last time in recalling his power. We may say that that is a gesture which death has with those who have an impeccable spirit.
...Dying is a monumental affair. It is more than kicking your legs and becoming stiff.
-Will I too dance to my death, don Juan?
Certainly. You are hunting personal power even though you don't live like a warrior jet. Today the sun gave you an omen.Your best production in your life's work will be done towards the end of the day. Obviously you don't like the youthful brilliancy of early light. Journeying in the morning doesn't appeal to you. But your cup of tea is the dying sun, old yellowish, and mellow. You don't like the heat, you like the glow.
And thus you will dance to your death here, on this hilltop, at the end of the day. And in your last dance you will tell of your struggle, of the battles you have won and of those you have lost; you will tell of your joys and bewilderments upon encountering personal power.Your dance will tell about the secrets and about the marvels you have stored. And your death will sit here and watch you.
The dying sun will glow
on you without burning, as it has done today. The wind will be soft and
mellow and your hilltop will tremble. As you reach the end of your dance
you will look at the sun, for you will never see it again in waking or
in dreaming, and then your death will point to the south. To the
THE GATE OF POWER
- My own idea was that culture determined the way in wich one would envision death.
- It doesn't matter how one was brought up,- he said.-What determines the way one does anything is personal power. A man is only the sum of his personal power, and that sum determineshow he lives and how he dies.
- What is personal power?
- Personal power is a
feeling. Something like being lucky. Or one may call it a mood. Personal
power is something that one acquires regardless of one's origin.
Power does not belong
to anyone. Some of us may gather it and then it could be given directly
to someone else. You see, the key to stored power is that it can be used
only to help someone else store power.
Trust your personal power.
That's all one has in this whole mysterious world.
A warrior acted as if
he knew what he was douing, when in effect he knew nothing. A warrior is
impeccable when he trusts his personal power regardless of whether it is
small or enormous.
Power has the peculiarity
of being unnoticeable when it is being stored.
The reason you keep on
coming to see me is very simple; every time you have seen me your body
has learned certain things, even against your desire. And finally your
body now needs to come back to me to learn more. Let's say that your body
knows that it is going to die, even though you never think about it...For
example, your body needs fright. It likes it. Your body needs the darkness
and the wind. Your body now knows the gait of power and can't wait to try
it. So let's say then that your body returns to see me because I am its
...Well-being was a condition one had to groom, a condition one had to become acquainted with in order to seek it.
You don't know what well-being is, because you have never experienced it. ...He said that the only thing I knew how to seek was a sense of disorientation, ill-being, and confusion.
The trick is in what
one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves
strong. The amount of work is the same.
Doing is what makes that rock a rock and that bush a bush. Doing is what makes you yourself and me myself.
The world is the world because you know the doing involved in making it so. If you didn't know its doing, the world would be different.
Then he pointed again to the small rock he was holding in front of my eyes.
I say that you are making
this into a pebble because you know the doing involved in it. Now,
in order to stop the world you must stop doing. In the case
of this little rock the first thing which doing does to it is to
shrink it to this size. So the proper thing to do, which a warrior does
if he wants to stop the world, is to enlarge a little rock, or any other
thing, by not-doing.
I urged him to clarify his point. I argued that it was possible for him to explain anything he wanted to if he made an effort.
" Sure I can explain anything," he said, laughing."But could you understand it ?"
Doing makes you separate
the pebble from the larger boulder. If you want to learn not- doing, let's
say that you have to join them.
The most difficult part
about the warrior's way is to realize that the world is a feeling. When
one is not-doing, one is feeling the world, and one feels the world through
Not-doing is very simple
but very difficult. It is not a matter of understanding but of mastering
it. Seeng, of course, is the final accomplishment of a man of knowledge,
and seeing is attained only when one has stopped the world through the
technique of not-doing
...The only thing that
is real is the being in you that is going to die. To arrive at that being
is the not-doing of the self.
THE RING OF POWER
-Let's say that when every one of us is born we bring with us a little ring of power. That little ring is almost immediately put to use. So every one of us is alredy hookedfrom birth and our rings of power are joined to everyone else's. In other words, our rings of power are hooked to the doing of the world in order to make the world.
For instance, our rings of power, yours and mine, are hooked right now to the doing in this room. We are making this room. Our rings of power are spinning this room into being at this very moment.
- Wait, wait. This room is here by itself. I am not creating it. I have nothing to do with it.
- You see, every one
of us knows the doing of rooms because, in one way or another, we
have spent much of our lives in rooms. A man of knowlege, on the other
hand, develops another ring of power. I would call it the ring of not-doing,
because it is hooked to not-doing. With that ring, therefore, he
can spin another world.
There is no way to escape
the doing of our world, so what a warrior does is to turn his world
into his hunting ground. As a hunter, a warrior knows that the world is
made to be used. So he uses every bit of it. A warrior is like a pirate
that has no qualms in taking and using anything he wants, except that the
warrior doesn't mind or he doesn't feel insulted when he is used and taken
A WORTHY OPPONENT
You're rational, all
right. And that means you believe that you know a lot about the world,
but do you? Do you really? You have only seen the acts of people. Your
experiences are limited only to what people have done to you or to others.
You know nothing about this mysterious unknown world.
..you know that from now on you must be on the lookout. She will try to tap you on your left shoulder during a moment when you are unaware and weak.
- What should I do?
-It is meaningless to
complain. What's important from this point on is the strategy of your life.
Your opponent is on your trail and for the first time in your life you cannot afford to act helter-skelter. This time you will have to learn a totally different doing, the doing of strategy. Think of it this way. If you survive the onslaughts of 'la Catalina' you will have to thank her someday for having forced you to change your doing.
- What a terrible way of putting it! What if I don't survive?
-A warrior never indulges in thoughts like that. When he has to act with his fellow men, a warrior follows the doing of strategy, and in that doing there are no victories or defeats. In that doing there are only actions.
(I asked him what the doing of strategy entailed.)
It entails that one is
not at the mercy of people. At that party, for instance, you were a clown,
not because it served your purposes to be a clown, but because you placed
yourself at the mercy of those people. You never had any control and thus
you had to run away from them.
THE SORCERER'S RING OF POWER
There is something you ought to be aware of by now. I call it the cubic centimeter of chance. All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess to pick it up.
Chance, good luck, personal power, or whatever you may call it, is a peculiar state of affairs. It is like a very small stick that comes out in front of us and invites us to pluck it. Usually we are too busy, or too preoccupied, or just too stupid and lazy to realize that that is our cubic centimeter of luck. A warrior, on the other hand, is always alert and tight and has the spring, the gumption necessary to grab it.
STOPPING THE WORLD
Suddenly I felt that my body had been struck and then it became enveloped by something that kindled me. I became aware then that the sun was shining on me. I could vaguely distinguish a distant range of mountains towards the west. The sun was almost over the horizon. I was looking directly into it and then I saw the "lines of the world." I actually perceived the most extraordinary profusion of fluorescent white lines which crisscrossed everything around me. For a moment I thought that I was perhaps experiencing sunlight as it was being refracted by my eyelashes. I blinked and looked again. The lines were constant and were superimposed on or were coming through everything in the surroundings. I turned around and examined an extraordinarily new world. The lines were visible and steady even if I looked away from the sun.
I stayed on the hilltop
in a state of ecstasy for what appeared to be an endless time, yet the
whole event may have lasted only a few minutes, perhaps only as long as
the sun shone before it reached the horizon, but to me it seemed an endless
time. I felt something warm and soothing oozing out of the world and out
of my own body. I knew I had discovered a secret. It was so simple. I experienced
an unknown flood of feelings. Never in my life had I had such a divine
euphoria, such peace, such an encompassing grasp, and yet I could not put
the discovered secret into words, or even into thoughts, but my body knew
"What was the thing that stopped in me?"
What stopped inside you yesterday was what people have been telling you the world is like . You see, people tell us from the time we are born that the world is such and such and so and so, and naturally we have no choice but to see the world the way people have been telling us it is.
Yesterday the world became
as sorcerers tell you it is. In that world coyotes talk and so do deer,
as I once told you, and so do rattlesnakes and trees and all other living
beings. But what I want you to learn is seeing. Perhaps you know
now that seeing happens only when one sneaks between the worlds, the world
of ordinary people and the world of sorcerers. You are now smack in the
middle point between the two.
-Power plants are only an aid. The real thing is when the body realizes that it can see. Only then is one capable of knowing that the world we look at every day is only a description. My intent has been to show you that. Unfortunately you have very little time left before the alley tackles you.
-Does the ally have to tackle me?
-There is no way to avoid it. In order to see one must learn the way sorcerers look at the world and thus the ally has to be summoned, and once that is done it comes.
- Couldn't you have taught me to see without summoning the ally?
- No. In order to see
one must learn to look at the world in some other fashion, and the only
other fashion I know is the way of a sorcerer.
JOURNEY TO IXTLAN
-Were those phantoms allies, don Genaro?
-No. They were people.
-People? But you said they were phantoms.
-I said that they were
no longer real. After my encounter with the ally nothing was real any more.
"I will never reach Ixtlan," he said.
"Yet in my feelings... in my feelings sometimes I think I'm just one step from reaching it. Yet I never will. In my journey I don't even find the familiar landmarks I used to know. Nothing is any longer the same."
finds on his way to Ixtlan is only an ephemeral being," don Juan explained.
"Take you, for instance. You are a phantom. Your feelings and your
eagerness are those of people. That's why he says that he encounters only
phantom travelers on his journey to Ixtlan."
At any rate, in your next meeting with the ally, if there is a next time for you, you will have to wrestle with it and tame it. If you survive the shock, which I'm sure you will, since you're strong and have been living like a warrior, you will find yourself alive in an unknown land. Then, as is natural to all of us, the first thing you will want to do is to start on your way back to Los Angeles. But there is no way to go back to Los Angeles. What you left there is lost forever. By then, of course, you will be a sorcerer, but that's no help; at a time like that what's important to all of us is the fact that everything we love or hate or wish for has been left behind. Yet the feelings in a man do not die or change, and the sorcerer starts on his way back home knowing that he will never reach it, knowing that no power on earth, not even his death, will deliver him to the place, the things, the people he loved. That's what Genaro told you.
- What about the people I love? What would happen to them?
-They would all be left behind.
- But is there no way I could retrieve them? Could I rescue them and take with me?
- No. Your ally will
spin you, alone, into unknown worlds.
...Spinning with your
ally will change your idea of the world. That idea is everything; and when
that changes, the world itself changes.
Only as a warrior can
one survive the path of knowledge. Because the art of a warrior is to balance
the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man.