LEARNING to LEARN :
RELATIONSHIP of TEACHER
I had made up my mind to tell him
I was going to give up the idea of learning about peyote,
and then before I could really make my point, he offered to teach me his 'knowledge'. I told
him that I had no qualifications or courage for such a task, that my bent of character was
to talk about acts others performed. I wanted to hear his views and opinions about every-
thing. To me, that would be learning. He listened without interrupting. I talked for a long
time. Then he said:
" All this is very easy to understand. Fear is the first natural enemy a man must overcome
on his path to knowledge. Besides, you are curious. That evens up the score. And you will
learn in spite of yourself ; that's the rule"
I protested for a while longer, trying to dissuade him. But he seemed to be convinced there
was nothing else I could do but learn. " You are not thinking in the proper order" he said,
"Mescalito actually played with you. That's the point to think about. Why don't you
dwell on that instead of your fear ? You are not used to this kind of life ; therefore the
indications ( omens) bypass you. You are a serious person, but your seriousness is attached
to what you do, not to what goes on outside you. You dwell upon yourself too much. That's
the trouble. And that produces a terrible fatigue."
"But what else can anyone do, Don Juan ? "
"Seek and see the marvels all around you, ( or else) You will get tired of looking at yourself
alone, and that fatigue will make you deaf and blind to everything else."
The relationship between Don Juan and Carlos was one of the
most unusual ones of a teacher
and apprentice or learner. Carlos thought he had an excellent informant for his anthropological
data gathering, whereas Don Juan had already initiated Carlos as an apprentice. Curiosity killed
the cat, and Carlos was hooked. Ultimately Carlos had to become the leader of the next generation
in the lineage, but since the lineage itself then ended with Carlos or rather Don Juan as the last
leader or naguak, so the books are, properly speaking, now what is left of the lineage.
What was Don Juan teaching Carlos, and what was being learnt
? This was not obvious even to
Carlos, and certainly not the reader in the first five books, but when one looks at the totality of
the books the following are obvious conclusions about what was being taught :
1. Firstly to unlearn all that has been already been force
learned in school, and from family,
society, university, culture etc..( Emptying oneself of all redundant acquisitions )
2. Thereby become open to new kinds of learning by "interactive" learning ( rather than acquiring
data ) in which a personal involvement and commitment is indispensable.
3. The development of a personal commitment by various techniques, mainly by living like a
"warrior" which implies controlled and disciplined living.
4. This commitment leading to the acquisition of knowledge that has to be claimed and developed
into personal power under testing conditions that even demand one's life to be at stake in which
the warrior finds what he 'has to believe'.
5. To learn the vital arts of stalking and dreaming, the key arts of sorcery.
6. To be able to shift one's perceptual abilities by the controlled shifting of the assemblage point at
7. To be able to master 'Intent' after the above six have been attained, to establish an active link with
Intent or Spirit.
8. To be able to perpetuate this complete learning into another set of people by finding and training
an appropriate successor or apprentice.
( In the above set, it is seems that the last two
could not be attained by Castaneda, hence the
termination of the lineage. )
So what can a person learn from the books alone ?
It is clear that mere reading would be insufficient
unless one can also learn to develop the abilities required to act with control, discipline and
impeccability - in other words to develop personal power by living like a warrior. The other stages
seem too far fetched today for anyone. Even living like a warrior requires a great deal of effort and
struggle these days, where most of our time and energy is spent in acquiring the 'necessary things
for a decent living'. And besides what use is sorcery these days ?
And what is the end result of all this struggle and effort
? What can one expect ? What can one do
with personal power ? Of what use is it ?
Nothing tangible, and YET a lot in unquantifiable terms.
Even the instructions on the practical
use of dreaming have a lot to teach a person living in civilization, as Don Juan makes Carlos
a 'Dreamer' :
Leave your civilized world alone.
Let it be ! Nobody is asking you to behave like a madman.
I've already told you, a warrior has to be perfect in order to deal with the powers he hunts ;
how can you conceive that a warrior would not be able to tell things apart ?
On the other hand, you, my friend, who know what the real world is, would fumble and die
in no time at all if you would have to depend upon your ability for telling what is real and
what is not.
I am not trying to make you into
a sick, crazy man. You can do that yourself without my help.
But the forces that guide us brought you to me, and I have been endeavoring to teach you to
change your stupid ways and live the strong clean life of a hunter. Then the forces guided you
again and told me that you should learn to live the impeccable life of a warrior. Apparently you
can't. But who can tell ? We are as mysterious and as awesome as this unfathomable world, so
who can tell what you're capable of ?"
Both the art of stalking and dreaming
are powerful arts that are applicable under
any conditions, not just sorcery. And as any powerful art, these can be said to be
the art of learning to learn.
But the comes the question central to any
learning : what is it for ?
And the answer to that will only become clearer and clearer as this process of
learning to learn unfolds : the task appropriate to that learning will be provided
by the Spirit, or Intent : The Active Side of Infinity. And to anyone who has the
perseverance on the path to learning, not just sorcerers.
A Task From Infinity
The end result of this learning was to find the appropriate task from the Spirit or "Infinity" :
"I don't invent anything. I got this task
from "infinity" itself. It is not easy for me to say all this to you.
If you think that I'm enjoying myself pink with your tribulations, you are wrong. The success of your
mission means more to me than it does to you. If you fail, you have very little to lose. What ? Your
visits to me. Big deal. But I would lose you, and that means to me losing either the continuity of my
lineage or the possibility of your closing it with a golden key." .......Active Side of Infinity
Apparently the "task" that Carlos got from
"Infinity" was the dissemination of the knowledge of the
lineage of Don Juan in the form of the books.........
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