Book 2: A Separate Reality:
of a Warrior, Seer or Sorcerer
Second series of Concepts:
Alternate realities, Predilection, Seeing,
Will, Folly, Controlled Folly, Warrior, Trickery, Death
"You will see that our ordinary view of the world cannot be final because it is only an interpretation."
OVERVIEW and Introductory SUMMARY of Book 2:
In the second book some new concepts are introduced, and some earlier ones elaborated upon or articulated in much more detail.
These concepts are oriented towards three
main categories of types of talents, capabilities or practices
to be developed, and these are for the : 1) Sorcerer 2) Seer 3) Warrior, and any apprentice has to become
proficient with at least one such capability, preferably all three. DJ gives it his best for CC to learn all
three, and this book is focused on the efforts DJ is making, with only a limited success. CC has little
talent to be a seer, the only significant sorcery CC will be doing is the taking of notes and later on
writing the books, and whether CC learned to live like a warrior, only he can be the judge of that.
The main focus of this book is thus on
becoming a seer, sorcerer and warrior, and the key concept
that connect all three is 'Will' - a very personal force that emanates from within and development
of which is indispensable for both a warrior as well as a seer or sorcerer.
Once again, the reader should have
realized (after reading book 1) that these categories of seer, sorcerer and
are not clear cut 'packed in a box' categories that have clear cut boundaries, but tend to overlap or even merge in individuals
that have multiple talents. These should be understood as functional categories rather than titles that can be conferred to
or upon certain individuals.
Again these three types of talents
or developed abilities, that is, of a warrior, seer and sorcerer are explained
much better in the
conversations - there fore the reader of the book must go over the conversations carefully. This is not difficult because the
language is quite simple and without technicalities.
The main thing to keep in mind is that DJ sometimes uses words in different
often confuses CC and so also tends to confuse the reader, until the reader is able to discern
the main context of a concept and its variants in different contexts.
For example, sometimes DJ uses the
word 'sorcery' to imply 'witchcraft'. But since CC is preoccupied in taking
of the time, he often does not intuit the change in context.
Also unfortunately, the key concepts are not easily grasped unless the reader's
abilities and given nature or predilections can be correlated (at least to some minimal extent)
with these concepts.
Thus only a person who 'has a will' can grasp the concept of will. This is a catch22 situation in which a casual reader finds
Therefore the reader must have some a-priory inkling of or innate capacity (predilection) for grasping these concepts by
correlation to one's own predilections, so as to be able to develop these abilities or talents further. The emphasis continues
on not having a fixed viewpoint or interpretation of the world or reality, because with a fixed viewpoint, neither 'seeing' or
'sorcery' is likely to happen, nor is it possible to develop the will - which is a necessity in order to sustain as a warrior.
For a casual reader with no inclination towards these talents, all the books are
in any case
very good stories or 'tales of power', that have humor in them.
In order to develop these talents one has to therefore firstly 'unplug' from 'acquired reality'.
Unplugging The 'Acquired Reality': "you are a very strange plugged-up fool"
"I say one must be a seer,
make oneself seer. The poet makes himself a seer by an immense, long,
deliberate disordering of the senses. In every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches
himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, and keeps only their quintessence's"..
In the Western cultural way of
thinking, any 'reality' that does not conform to it's world view is an 'alien'
or 'separate' reality.
This is the usual misconception, since anything that cannot be understood and classified in a proper scientific method and
consensus, is considered insignificant, worthless, or even worse : alien. Especially so if it conflicts with the objective scientific
view of Reality. A 'separate reality' term is actually incorrect because Reality is "inseparable" insofar as it concerns all and
every beings in a particular world. An 'alternate reality' would perhaps been a better title.
The second book highlights this conflict of the "perceptions of
Reality " rather than the separateness of Reality. There are
numerous dialogues that bring forth this divergence of perceptions of reality, as Don Juan repeatedly tries to make CC aware that :
perceptions of reality are derived from descriptions that are taught by society
and culture. Thus a transcendent perception
is the mode in which the 'trained' description is suspended, and new modes of perception and interpretations become active.
The biological need for survival is invariably hooked to the socially acquired
interpretation of reality, without which
the survival of an individual
is itself threatened. Society demands a certain level of agreement and conformity with its accepted norms of behavior and interpretations of reality.
An individual with a radically differing view of reality means that the individual comes into conflict with society in which the individual lives.
And if the individual is forceful about it, the conflict becomes serious and even life threatening. But a radically differing view of reality can only
take place if the individual is able to defy or reject the conforming values that are imposed upon the individual by society.
It is very rare for an individual on his or her own initiation to be able to transcend the perceptual boundaries that defines a
particular culture or society. Some source of inspiration and initiation is required - usually from those who have made such
journeys into other realms of perception.
'Seeing' as distinct from looking is thus a
form of synthetic perception or vision in which the synthetic perception
the sensory perception in order to 'see' into the essence of something or some being, or to 'see' through the superficial
appearances of things or beings. or to 'see' beyond the ordinary and routine way of looking at things or beings.
EXPERIENCE vs INTERPRETATION of REALITY.
The crux of Don Juan's efforts are to make CC
realize that reality is first of
all experience, the rest is all only interpretation, conceptualization
and words about reality. And therefore what is experienced is the primary reality, the interpretations of experience, though no doubt significant,
are secondary. ( Again antithetical to both Science and Religion ). It is extremely important to make this distinction. Both science and religion
are based on agreed upon interpretations of reality. In science there is general consensus because the elements of the physical world are
interpreted through the senses that are common to all human beings. In religion, there is no consensus or limited consensus, since the
experiences of the mystical or ultimate reality are so varied that the consequent beliefs about ultimate reality are extremely diverse, and not that
which can be brought into the domain of agreement. However, in various organized religions, an artificial ( or fake ) consensus is made in
order to perpetuate or even expand that organization just for the purposes of its organizers, but in the name of ultimate reality or God or
whatever. There is an exchange where the difficulties of interpreting alien or strange experiences crop up, leaving Carlos in a quandary about
the validity of interpretation. Don Juan is not interested in supplying Carlos with an interpretation that can be scientifically
established as correct. For Don Juan experience is primary, and interpretation a useless activity, unless a situation demands
an appropriate interpretation. (Excerpts from Book 1 - repeated for emphasis)
There was a question I wanted to ask him. I knew he was going
to evade it, so I waited for him to mention the subject ; I waited all day
. Finally, before I left that evening, I had to ask him, 'Did I really fly, don Juan ?'
DJ : That is what you told me didn't you ?
CC : I know, don Juan. I mean, did my body fly ? Did I take off like a bird ?
DJ: You always ask me questions I cannot answer. You flew. That is what the second portion of the devil's weed is for. As you take more of it, you
will learn how to fly perfectly. It is not a simple matter. A man flies with the help of the second portion of the devil's weed. That is all I can tell
you. What you want to know makes no sense. Birds fly like birds and a man who has taken the devil's weed flies as such.
CC: As birds do ?
DJ: No, he flies as a man who has taken the devil's weed.
CC: Then I really didn't fly, don Juan. I flew in my imagination, in my mind alone. Where was my body ?
DJ : In the bushes,( he replied cuttingly, but immediately broke into laughter again). The trouble with you is that you understand everything
in only one way. You don't think a man flies ; and yet a brujo can move a thousand miles in one second to see what is going on. He can deliver
a blow to his enemies long distances away. So does he or doesn't he fly ?
CC: You see don Juan, you and I are differently oriented. Suppose, for the sake of argument, one of my fellow students had been here with me
when I took the devil's weed. Would he have been able to see me flying ?
DJ : There you go again with your questions about what would happen if ..... it is useless to talk that way. If your friend, or anybody else,
takes the second portion of the devil's weed all he can do is fly. Now, if he had simply watched you, he might have seen you flying, or he might not.
That depends on the man.
CC: But what I mean, don Juan, is that if you and I look at a bird and see it fly, we agree it is flying. But if two of my friends had seen me flying
as I did last night, would they have agreed that I was flying ?
DJ : Well, they might have. You agree that birds fly because you have seen them flying. Flying is a common thing with birds. But you will not agree on
other things birds do, because you have never seen birds doing them. If your friends knew about men flying with the devil's weed, then they would agree.
CC: Let's put it another way, don Juan. What I meant to say is that if I had tied myself to a rock with a heavy chain I would have flown just the same,
because my body had nothing to do with my flying.
DJ: If you tie yourself to a rock, I'm afraid you will have to fly holding the rock with its heavy chain.
AGREEMENT and INTERPRETATION
This conversation is illustrative of the
difference in emphasis on key elements
of interpretations of reality. Don Juan with his cultural background
has an high emphasis on experience itself, whereas Carlos is more concerned about its interpretation in scientific terms, that which can be verified
and tested for agreement and consistency. For don Juan agreement is of no consequence, whereas for Carlos, agreement and consistency is what
makes everything real or else it is just imaginary. This key difference does not appear to be so significant, but is such huge gap in emphasis and
key values that the entire structures of the concepts and interpretations of experiences hinges upon this difference of emphasis.
The reality of the world of a sorcerer therefore is mainly in the realm of
action and experience rather than the agreements about
interpretations, meanings and words describing these. This emphasis is important.
CC: I really felt I had lost my body, don
DJ: You did.
CC: You mean, I really didn't have a body ?
DJ: What do you think yourself ?
CC: Well, I don't know. All I can tell you is what I felt.
DJ: That is all there is in reality - what you felt.
CC: But how did you see me , don Juan ? How did I appear to you ?
DJ: How I saw you does not matter.
CC: But you saw me as I am now, didn't you ?
DJ: No ! You were NOT as you are now !
CC: True ! I admit that. But I had my body, didn't I, although I couldn't feel it ?
DJ : No ! Godammit ! You did not have a body like the body you have today !
CC: What happened to my body then ?
DJ: I thought you understood . The little smoke took your body.
CC: But where did it go ?
DJ: How the hell do you expect me to know that ?
The fact that agreement about any facet of reality itself imposes a
limitation on not only one's experiences but also on the
usefulness of the concepts and interpretations derived thereof, is something that men of both science and religion are ignorant
of, or hide it under some sophisticated philosophy. Agreements on any kind are invariably motivated by greed and
self - interest on the part of the parties involved in the agreement, at the cost of someone or something else. It is part of the
human defense mechanism to seek agreement in order to foster a sense of security. Unless one has been able to overcome
or bring under control, this tendency to secure oneself through agreements, knowledge and power remain elusive.
Systemic knowledge like science and
institutionalized religion are both based on agreed
upon ( formally or informally ) interpretations and
underlying assumptions about reality. And today every being is taught, educated and programmed to agree about these without giving any
room for doubts and questions about the fundamental assumptions inherent in these systems and institutions. Not surprising then, that when
a person like Carlos interacts with don Juan, a lot of questions and answers seem to
go around in circles. Over and over, Carlos looks for some ground where general agreement can be established about elements of whatever
don Juan is inducing Carlos to learn, so that he can put in into a systemic, scientific form. But don Juan cleverly denies Carlos such a luxury,
and besides that which has to be learnt only through concrete actions on the part of the learner relevant to the particular situation that the learner
is placed in, since is a unique process for an every individual, it cannot be put in a systemic and rigid structured form. The only general steps are
those of first unlearning all the junk one has already accumulated, that is, creating a space where genuine knowledge can manifest, and to acquire
a certain discipline and control over one's superfluous desires and fears. For most part, that is what don Juan is doing with Carlos, however Carlos
doesn't quite know this and persists with his scientific quest :
Again and again Carlos looks for generalizations, agreements and meanings, but since
just in the experience itself of "power plants", there are
none, don Juan can't help him there, and Carlos fails to grasp that there are at most only personal meanings in such experiences of any
encounters with real knowledge.
INTRODUCTION: Revisiting the Sorcerer
The second book starts with another take of the first meeting between DJ and CC .
DJ concocts his name for this occasion and person:
"And I am Juan Matus, at your service," he said.
'At your service' indeed! it's quite ironical! It is CC who is actually presenting himself as 'at your service'.
In this account
CC describes the encounter more intensely, implying the significance of this
meeting in terms of how
he was 'hooked' by DJ's eyes and looks.
listened patiently. Then he nodded slowly and peered at me. His eyes seemed to
shine with a light of their own.
I avoided his gaze. I felt embarrassed. I had the certainty that at that moment he knew I was talking nonsense.
In a latter
book DJ also recalls the significance of that meet for DJ himself in terms of
the striking 'omens' that DJ
perceived at that moment, especially about CC's friend and introducer named Bill.
The fact that DJ does
give CC the 'green light' for further contact seems to irritate Bill who was
earlier spurned by
DJ and Bill remarks:
told you, he's very eccentric. The Indians around here know him, yet they never
mention him. And that's
"He said I could come to his house, though."
"He was bullshitting you. Sure, you can go to his house, but what does it mean? He'll never tell you anything.
If you ever ask him anything he'll clam up as if you were an idiot talking nonsense."
Indeed, that is what
would have happened if DJ had not been given the omens about CC, rather, CC
have 'found' DJ's 'place' had DJ decided that CC was not the person he was looking for.
Bill, who has been spurned by DJ before, refuses to accept the significance of DJ's invitation to CC:
Bill went on talking but I was not listening. My mind kept on wondering about
the old Indian. He knew I had
been bluffing. I remembered his eyes. They had actually shone.
I went back to see him a couple of months later, not so much as a student of anthropology interested in
medicinal plants but as a person with an inexplicable curiosity. The way he had looked at me was an
unprecedented event in my life. I wanted to know what was involved in that look, it became almost an obsession
with me. I pondered it and the more I thought about it the more unusual it seemed to be.
An intense curiosity
is what hooks CC, and in the supra-conscious domain, as we come to know later, DJ
have a fated link with each other, and at this point of time DJ is exploring the significance of the omens, whereas
CC's psyche, under the influence of DJ's personal power (or nagual), is being manifest as irresistible curiosity.
Don Juan and I became friends, and for a year I paid innumerable visits. I found
his manner very reassuring I
his sense of humor superb; but above all I felt there a silent consistency about his acts, a consistency which was
thoroughly baffling to me. I felt a strange delight in his presence and at the same time I experienced a strange
discomfort. His mere company forced me to make a tremendous reevaluation of my models of behavior. I had
been reared, perhaps like everyone else, to have a readiness to accept man as an essentially weak and fallible
creature. What impressed me about don Juan was the fact that he did not make a point of being weak and
helpless, and just being around him insured an unfavorable comparison between his way of behaving and mine.
Perhaps one of the most impressive statements he made to me at that time was concerned with our inherent
difference. Prior to one of my visits I had been feeling quite unhappy about the total course of my life and about a
number of pressing personal conflicts that I had. When I arrived at his house I felt moody and nervous.
Now we enter into a key conversation about the concept of knowledge: what is knowledge? what is it for?
We were talking about my interest in knowledge; but, as usual, we were on two
different tracks. I was
referring to academic knowledge that transcends experience, while he was talking about direct knowledge of the
"Do you know anything about the world around you?" he asked.
"I know all kinds of things," I said.
"I mean do you ever feel the world around you?"
"I feel as much of the world around me as I can."
"That's not enough. You must feel everything, otherwise the world loses its sense."
I voiced the classical argument that I did not have to taste the soup in order to know the recipe, nor did I have
to get an electric shock in order to know about electricity.
"You make it sound stupid," he said. "The way I see it, you want to cling to your arguments, despite the fact
that they bring nothing to you; you want to remain the same even at the cost of your well-being."
don't know what you're talking about."
"I am talking about the fact that you're not complete. You have no peace."
Here DJ is establishing two key elements
of knowledge: that knowledge must be closely related to one's
ability to 'feel the world', and that it must be able to improve one's well-being - an abstract indicator of
one's integrity or as DJ puts it: 'you're not complete'. CC considers knowledge as some kind of impersonal
'knowing' of things in which one may well not be personally involved or affected, whereas DJ considers
knowledge as inextricably linked and related to one's own self or person, and especially related to one's
integrity or 'completeness'.
The focus now shifts
back to the composition of the first book. CC makes a brief summary of the first
in which the focus was on psychedelic plants:
To classify these plants as hallucinogens and the states they produced as non-
ordinary reality is, of course, my
own device. Don Juan understood and explained the plants as being vehicles that would conduct or lead a man to
certain impersonal forces or "powers" and the states they produced as being the "meetings" that a sorcerer had to
have with those "powers" in order to gain control over them.
He called peyote "Mescalito" and he explained it as being a benevolent teacher and protector of men.
Mescalito taught the "right way to live." Peyote was usually ingested at gatherings of sorcerers called "mitotes,"
where the participants would gather specifically to seek a lesson on the right way to live.
Don Juan considered the jimson weed and the mushrooms to be powers of a different sort. He called them "allies"
and said that they were capable of being manipulated; a sorcerer, in fact, drew his strength from manipulating an
ally. Of the two, don Juan preferred the mushroom. He maintained that the power contained in the mushroom
was his personal ally and he called it "smoke" or "little smoke."
Don Juan's method of teaching required an extraordinary effort on the part of the apprentice. In fact, the degree
of participation and involvement needed was so strenuous that by the end of 1965 I had to withdraw from
the apprenticeship. I can say now, with the perspective of the five years that have elapsed, that at that time don
Juan's teachings had begun to pose a serious threat to my "idea of the world." I had begun to lose the certainty,
which all of us have, that the reality of everyday life is something we can take for granted
Unwinding and unplugging Carlos from socially acquired and learned notions of
reality was the initial
course of don Juan's efforts.
CC had decided to quit as apprentice after
some terrifying experiences that resulted as a setup by DJ to test
CC's ability to handle fear and terror. After several years, CC returns to show DJ the first book as well as ask some
questions on a thesis he was developing about 'mitotes'. DJ however assures CC that his quitting was to be psychoanalyzed
as a result of CC's 'self-importance', and this is another key concept has been elaborated upon in a later book.
His premise was that a light
and amenable disposition was needed in order to withstand the impact and the
strangeness of the knowledge he was teaching me.
"The reason you got scared and quit is because you felt too damn important," he said, explaining my previous
"Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy, and vain. To be a man of knowledge one
needs to be light and fluid."
When two contrasting views of reality clash, the clash is not only between the
very concepts and entities that make
up those constructs of reality, but also how they are used and also the meanings and purpose behind their usage.
"What I perceived in those states of altered consciousness was incomprehensible and impossible to interpret by means of our everyday
mode of understanding the world. In other words, the conditions of inapplicability entailed the cessation of the pertinence of my world
view. Don Juan used this condition of inapplicability of the states of non-ordinary reality in order to introduce a series of preconceived,
new units of meaning . Units of meaning were all the single elements pertinent to the knowledge don Juan was striving to teach me.
I have called them units of meaning because they were the basic conglomerate of sensory data and their interpretations on which
more complex meaning was constructed."
The old fox concentrates on dislodging the
deeply ingrained notions of reality of CC: that are the notions of a western
taught and trained by a straight jacket scientific based education and upbringing in a culture that overvalues its own scientific based
notions of reality and negates or refuses to even acknowledge any other notion of reality. It is these hard bound notions of reality that
Don Juan tries to demolish by attempting to make CC "unhook" or "unplug" by "stopping the world" and "seeing" Reality without
the scientific and cultural filters that block all but the physical - sensory determined reality.
The concept of "seeing" in contrast to
"looking" is next explained by DJ, although the explanations here are not so
Essentially, "looking" refers to ordinary sensory perception, whereas "seeing" is a synthetic perception - a state of active intuitive mind
that few people are capable of attaining.
Don Juan's task, as a practitioner making his system
( ?) accessible to me, was to disarrange a particular
certainty which I share with
everyone else, the certainty that our 'commonsense' views of the world are final.......he succeeded in pointing out to me that my view
of the world cannot be final because it is only an interpretation.
Apparently in his system of
knowledge there was the possibility of making a semantic difference between
'seeing' and 'looking' as two
distinct manners of perceiving. 'Looking' referred to the ordinary way in which we are accustomed to perceive the world, while 'seeing'
entailed a very complex process by virtue of which a man of knowledge allegedly perceives the 'essence' of the things of the world.
The concept of "seeing" in contrast to
"looking" is next explained by DJ, although the explanations here are not so
Essentially, "looking" refers to ordinary sensory perception, whereas "seeing" is a synthetic perception - a state of active
intuitive mind that few people are capable of attaining. However, some degree of capability to attain this
state is indispensable for a "man of knowledge".
Don Juan had once told me
that a man of knowledge had predilections. I asked him to explain his statement.
"My predilection is to see," he said.
"What do you mean by that?"
"I like to see" he said, "because only by seeing can a man of knowledge know."
Here follows the Sacateca episode
...which has been elucidated elsewhere but repeated here because it is simple
and brilliant and because of the key sentence about knowledge in the form of a question: "Is the predilection
of a man of knowledge something he does in order to know?". And this is affirmed by DJ, that yes,
in order to know, some action has to be performed according to or by the force of one's own predilections.
KEY CONCEPT: PREDILECTION
noun: predilection; plural noun: predilections
a preference or special liking for something; a bias in favor of something.
synonyms: liking, fondness, preference, partiality, taste, penchant, weakness, soft spot, fancy, inclination,
leaning, bias, propensity, bent, proclivity, proneness, predisposition, tendency, affinity, appetite, love;
antonyms: dislike, disinclination
This word and the corresponding
concept is slowly going down in usage perhaps because of so many
synonyms, but I feel also because this word corresponds to a persons unique talents and predispositions,
and these unique innate abilities of individual beings are being submerged and suppressed by the modern
educational systems and particularly science education which kind of forces everyone to perceive and focus
only the uniformly perceived physical reality, thereby almost obliterating any perceptions of non-physical
The words "innate talents" is what
I feel comes closest to describe 'predilections', and if we look at only the
positive manifestations of 'predilections', then this word can also be related to the word 'soul'.
"But I also see everything
and I'm not a man of knowledge."
"No. You don't see.
"I think I do."
"I tell you, you don't."
"What makes you say that, don Juan?"
"You only look at the surface of things."
"Do you mean that every man of knowledge actually sees through everything he looks at?"
"No. That's not what I mean. I said that a man of knowledge has his own predilections; mine is just to see and
to know; others do other things."
"What other things, for example?"
"Take Sacateca, he's a man of knowledge and his predilection is dancing. So he dances and knows."
"Is the predilection of a man of knowledge something he does in order to know?"
"Yes, that is correct."
"But how could dancing help Sacateca to know?"
"One can say that Sacateca dances with all he has."
"Does he dance like I dance? I mean like dancing?"Let's say that he dances like I see and not like you may dance."
"Does he also see the way you see?"
"Yes, but he also dances."
"How does Sacateca dance?"
"It's hard to explain that. It is a peculiar way of dancing he does when he wants to know. But all I can say
about it is that, unless you understand the ways of a man who knows, it is impossible to talk about dancing or
"Have you seen him doing his dancing?"
"Yes. However, it is not possible for everyone who looks at his dancing to see that it is his peculiar way of
Sacateca was standing in front of me. His body was lean and wiry. He was wearing khaki pants and shirt. His
eyes were half-closed; he seemed to be sleepy or perhaps drunk. His mouth was open a bit and his lower lip
hung. I noticed that he was breathing deeply and seemed to be almost snoring. The thought came to me that
Sacateca was undoubtedly plastered out of his mind. But that thought seemed to be very incongruous because
only a few minutes before, when he came out of his house, he had been very alert and aware of my presence.
"I said I came to be
"No, you didn't. There is something else about you this time."
Later on I felt compelled to
tell don Juan about my encounter with Sacateca. Don Juan roared with laughter.
"What really took place there?" I asked.
"Sacateca danced!" don Juan said. "He saw you, then he danced."
"What did he do to me? I felt very cold and dizzy."
"He apparently didn't like you and stopped you by tossing a word at you."
"How could he possibly do that?" I exclaimed incredulously."
Very simple; he stopped you
with his will."
"What did you say?"
"He stopped you with his will!"
The explanation did not suffice. His statements sounded like gibberish to me. I tried to probe him further, but
he could not explain the event to my satisfaction.
Sacateca "sees" through CC's motive
at that time as merely trying to collect data, and therefore snubs him
to make him leave. Clearly this episode demonstrates that "Will" and "seeing" are deeply related, and that
"Will" is both indispensable for "seeing" as well as acting upon that "seeing", as does Sacateca.
Obviously that event or any
event that occurred within this alien system of sensible interpretation could be
explained or understood only in terms of the units of meaning proper to that system. This work is, therefore, a
reportage and should be read as a reportage. The system I recorded was incomprehensible to me, thus the
pretense to anything other than reporting about it would be misleading and impertinent. In this respect I have
adopted the phenomenological method and have striven to deal with sorcery solely as phenomena that were
presented to me. I, as the perceiver, recorded what I perceived, and at the moment of recording I endeavored to
CC, however does understand that the event
and it's meaning were beyond his comprehension and understanding,
and so is reconciled to being a reporter - a witness who records the event. Still it can be said of CC that he passes the
Socratic first test of knowledge: to know that you do not know, to understand that you do not as yet understand.
Nor does CC as yet understand that in "seeing" the "units of meaning" are not fixed but have to be
synchronic, just as "seeing" itself is synchronic, synthetic and spontaneous and depends upon the
developed will of the person.
PART 1: The
Preliminaries of “Seeing”
Chapter 1: Who can become a Man of Knowledge?
Can a person change? Or is everyone's given nature unchangeable?
CC brings a copy of "The Teachings of Don
Juan", but DJ does not want to keep it, although strangely "He took it
and flipped through the pages as if they were a deck of cards. He liked the green color on the dust jacket and the
height of the book. He felt the cover with his palms, turned it around a couple of times, and then handed it back to me"
- apparently showed no sign of even wanting to know the contents of the book! Now that's weird, but that's a
sorcerer of action for you through and through - no paperwork needed.
Next CC relates a recent experience of his
relating to children who are poor and lead seemingly (to CC) desperate
lives in a day to day struggle for crumbs. A brilliant conversation follows in which DJ neatly analyzes the
assumption that CC is making (that only he who is well to do can become a man of knowledge) :
"Do you feel sorry for them?"
don Juan exclaimed in a questioning tone.
"I certainly do," I said.
"Because I'm concerned with the well-being of my fellow men. Those are children and their world is ugly
"Wait! Wait! How can you say that their world is ugly and cheap?" don Juan said, mocking my statement.
"You think that you're better off, don't you?"
I said I did; and he asked me why; and I told him that in comparison to those children's world mine was
infinitely more varied and rich in experiences and in opportunities for personal satisfaction and development.
Don Juan's laughter was friendly and genuine. He said that I was not careful with what I was saying, that I
had no way of knowing about the richness and the opportunities in the world of those children.
I thought don Juan was being stubborn. I really thought he was taking the opposite view just to annoy me. I
sincerely believed that those children did not have the slightest chance for any intellectual growth.
I argued my point for a while longer and then don Juan asked me bluntly, "Didn't you once tell me that in
your opinion man's greatest accomplishment was to become a man of knowledge?"
I had said that, and I repeated again that in my opinion to become a man of knowledge was one of the
greatest intellectual accomplishments.
"Do you think that your very rich world would ever help you to become a man of knowledge?" don Juan
asked with slight sarcasm.
I did not answer and he then worded the same question in a different manner, a thing I always do to him
when I think he does not understand.
"In other words," he said, smiling broadly, obviously aware that I was cognizant of his ploy, "can your free-
dom and opportunities help you to become a man of knowledge?"
"No!" I said emphatically.
"Then how could you feel sorry for those children?" he said seriously. "Any of them could become a man of
knowledge. All the men of knowledge I know were kids like those you saw eating leftovers and licking the
DJ points out from his own experience that
those who have no privileges are more likely to become
men of knowledge, rather than those who have many privileges like education, security etc.
The conversation turns towards the question
of whether the condition of people in general can be made to change
(for the better). DJ denies this is possible, and reveals the "seeing' of human beings as an egg like shape of luminous
fibers - a "seers" synthetic vision of the non-physical aspect of human beings - upon which much will be elaborated
But here DJ has fudged the question and
seems to believe that almost nothing can be changed in a human being.
Although the core nature of a human being and the fate associated with it, doesn't substantially change in the life
of a human being, the possibility of a radical transformation cannot be denied. And since it is in 'our lot as men
to learn, for better or for worse' then whatever learning for the better takes place in a human being, does change
that human being, and the betterment should be transcendental, whereas learning for the worse also does change
the person, but the worse is not transcendental - only temporal.
Chapter 2: Castaneda's academic
thesis about mitotes. "you're
"I know why you have come", "Perhaps it's time to trick you again."
CC now comes to the actual point of his
having returned to DJ: he has spent a lot of time working on a thesis and
that he wants some affirmation or agreement from DJ about his thesis which he states as follows:
Rehashing my old notes I had
come to the conclusion that a skillful sorcerer could bring forth the most
range of perception in his apprentice by simply "manipulating social cues." My whole argument about the nature of
these manipulator procedures rested on the assumption that a leader was needed to bring forth the necessary range of
perception. I took as a specific test case the sorcerer's peyote meetings. I contended that in those meetings
sorcerers reached an agreement about the nature of reality without any overt exchange of words or signs, and my
conclusion was that a very sophisticated code was employed by the participants to arrive at such an agreement. I
had constructed a complex system to explain the code and procedures, so I went back to see don Juan to ask his
personal opinion and advice about my work.
He listened patiently while I
struggled to elucidate my schemata.
It took me close to two hours to read and explain to don Juan the scheme I had constructed. I ended my talk
by begging him to tell me in his own words what were the exact procedures for reaching agreement.
When I had finished he frowned. I thought he must have found my explanation challenging; he appeared to
be involved in deep deliberation. After a reasonable silence I asked him what he thought about my idea.
My question made him suddenly turn his frown into a smile and then into roaring laughter. I tried to laugh
too and asked nervously what was so funny.
"You're deranged!" he exclaimed. "Why should anyone be bothered with cueing at such an
important time as a mitote? Do you think one ever fools around with Mescalito?"
I thought for a moment that he was being evasive; he was not really answering my question.
"Why should anyone cue?" don Juan asked stubbornly. "You have been in mitotes. You should know that no
one told you how to feel, or what to do, no one except Mescalito himself."
I insisted that such an explanation was not possible and begged him again to tell me how the agreement was
"I know why you have come," don Juan said in a mysterious tone. "I can't help you in your endeavor because
there is no system of cueing."
"But how can all those persons agree about Mescalito's presence?"
''They agree because they see"
CC is in a bind - he has spent his time and energies in a worthless endeavor. But note that he is still an academic
guy - bent upon making theories and thesis about peyote. So it is quite a shock for him when DJ discards the
thesis with a burst of laughter - for he knows that CC is still trying desperately to build a theory or thesis.
DJ wants to break the logjam with more
encounters with power plants, but CC wants to keep away from them
and focus only on talking and making theories - that's his real job as an anthropologist - he feels. CC admits
that he wants to keep an observer-like status and not get 'involved', as also by nature he is lazy and is often
in a state of inertia.
'Unless affected by some
outside force,'" he repeated. "That's about the best word you've found. I've
you already, only a crackpot would undertake the task of becoming a man of knowledge of his own accord. A
sober-headed man has to be tricked into doing it."
KEY CONCEPT: TRICKERY
word trickery is in its normal usage in a negative context, closest associated
with deception, that is,
trickery is invariably meant to be a form of deception. But the thing about negatives is that a negative of
a negative can become a positive. Deception used for the sake of removing deception is not negative or
unethical, but positive and ethical, for it is the best way of enhancing awareness apart from being full
of humor - the best jokes involve trickery and deception.
" I had to trick you into
learning once, the same way my benefactor tricked me. Otherwise you wouldn't
learned as much as you did. Perhaps it's time to trick you again."
DJ knows that this time CC is not that
fearful, but just plain lazy, and CC terms it as "inertia" which DJ agrees
fits CC very well. Trickery is the solution for CC to carry on, and DJ knows it too well - it is an 'abstract core'
of the Spirit, as we shall see later in the stories DJ has to tell.
The tricking to which he was referring was one of the most crucial points of my apprenticeship. It had taken
place years before, yet in my mind it was as vivid as if it had just happened. Through very artful manipulations
don Juan had once forced me into a direct and terrifying confrontation with a woman reputed to be a sorceress.
The clash resulted in a profound animosity on her part Don Juan exploited my fear of the woman as motivation to
continue with the apprenticeship, claiming that I had to learn more about sorcery in order to protect myself
against her magical onslaughts. The end results of his "tricking" were so convincing that I sincerely felt I had no
other recourse than to learn as much as possible if I wanted to stay alive.
If you're planning to scare me again with that woman I simply won't come back any more," I said.
Don Juan's laughter was very joyous.
"Don't worry," he said reassuringly. "Tricks with fear won't work with you any more. You're no longer
afraid. But if it is needed, you can be tricked wherever you are; you don't have to be around here for that."
Now that's intriguing, but CC doesn't pick on it.
The incident with Vincente is also strange
and I could not discern its significance except this concluding
remark by DJ.
"He won't cause you any harm
by himself. But knowledge is power, and once a man embarks on the road
of knowledge he's no longer liable for what may happen to those who come in contact with him. You should
have paid him a visit when you knew enough to defend yourself; not from him, but from the power he has
harnessed, which, by the way, is not his or anybody else's. Upon hearing that you were my friend, Vicente
assumed that you knew how to protect yourself and then made you a gift. He apparently liked you and must
have made you a great gift, and you chucked it. What a pity!"
Another interesting thread on "seeing" follows:
"What's it like to see, don Juan?"
"You have to learn to see in order to know that. I can't tell you."
"Is it a secret I shouldn't know?"
"No. It's just that I can't describe it."
"It wouldn't make sense to you."
"Try me, don Juan. Maybe it'll make sense to me."
"No. You must do it yourself. Once you learn, you can see every single thing in the world in a different way."
"Then, don Juan, you don't see the world in the usual way any more."
"I see both ways. When I want to look at the world I see it the way you do. Then when I want to see it I look
at it the way I know and I perceive it in a different way."
"Do things look consistently the same every time you see them?"
"Things don't change. You change your way of looking, that's all"
"I mean, don Juan, that if you see, for instance, the same tree, does it remain the same every time you see it?"
"No. It changes and yet it's the same."
"But if the same tree changes every time you see it, your seeing may be a mere illusion."
He laughed and did not answer for some time, but seemed to be thinking. Finally he said, "Whenever you
look at things you don't see them. You just look at them, I suppose, to make sure that something is there. Since
you're not concerned with seeing, things look very much the same every time you look at them. When you learn
to see, on the other hand, a thing is never the same every time you see it, and yet it is the same. I told you, for in-
stance, that a man is like an egg. Every time I see the same man I see an egg, yet it is not the same egg."
CC fails to grasp that in normal
perception things appear consistently and are in the domain of
consensus because sensory perception is uniform in human beings, whereas in synthetic perception
or "seeing", there is no uniformity of perception even with the same person at different times or
"moods", because synthesis is synchronous or spontaneous and depends upon the experiential
perspective and operating paradigms or mental states of the perceiving person.
CC even gets stuck on linguistic
technicalities and has to be "taught" to think correctly. The following
conversation is illustrative of this point:
"You told me the allies were
in the plants," I said, "in the jimson weed and in the mushrooms."
"I've never told you that," he said with great conviction. "You always jump to your own conclusions."
"But I wrote it down in my notes, don Juan."
"You may write whatever you want, but don't tell me I said that."
I reminded him that he had at first told me his benefactor's ally was the jimson weed and his own ally was the
little smoke; and that he had later clarified it by saying that the ally was contained in each plant.
"No. That's not correct," he said, frowning. "My ally is the little smoke, but that doesn't mean that my
ally is in the smoking mixture, or in the mushrooms, or in my pipe. They all have to be put together
to get me to the ally, and that ally I call little smoke for reasons of my own.
This is a fairly coherent description of
what is an "ally" and what is its use or function for a sorcerer:
as an indispensable aid to synthetic perception or "seeing", even performing extraordinary actions.
"The ally is not in
the smoke," he said. "The smoke takes you to where the ally is, and when you
become one with the ally you don't ever have to smoke again. From then on you can summon your
ally at will and make him do anything you want.
"The allies are neither good nor evil, but are put to use by the sorcerers for whatever purpose they see fit. I
like the little smoke as an ally because it doesn't demand much of me. It's constant and fair."
"How does an ally look to you, don Juan? Those three people I saw, for instance, who looked like ordinary
people to me; how would they look to you?"
"They would look like ordinary people."
"Then how can you tell them apart from real people?"
"Real people look
like luminous eggs when you see them. Non-people always look like people. That's
meant when I said you cannot see an ally. The allies take different forms. They look like dogs, coyotes, birds,
even tumbleweeds, or anything else. The only difference is that when you see them they look just like what
they're pretending to be. Everything has its own way of being when you see. Just like men look like eggs, other
things look like something else, but the allies can be seen only in the form they are portraying. That form is
good enough to fool the eyes, our eyes, that is. A dog is never fooled, neither is a crow."
"How does an ally
look to a coyote?"
"I would have to be a coyote to know that. I can tell you, however, that to a crow it looks like a pointed hat.
Round and wide at the bottom, ending in a long point. Some of them shine, but the majority are dull and appear
to be very heavy. They resemble a dripping piece of cloth. They are foreboding shapes."
Anything they do is
significant. From their actions a brujo can sometimes draw his power. Even if a
does not have an ally of his own, as long as he knows how to see, he can handle power by watching the
acts of the allies. My benefactor taught me to do that, and for years before I had my own ally I watched for allies
among crowds of people and every time I saw one it taught me something. You found three together. What a
magnificent lesson you wasted."
"Then he explained
that the allies could not take the lead or act upon anything directly; they
act upon man in an indirect way. Don Juan said that coming in contact with an ally was dangerous because the
ally was capable of bringing out the worst in a person. The apprenticeship was long and arduous, he said, because
one had to reduce to a minimum all that was unnecessary in one's life, in order to withstand the impact of such an
encounter. Don Juan said that his benefactor, when he first came in contact with an ally, was driven to burn
himself and was scarred as if a mountain lion had mauled him. In his own case, he said, an ally pushed him into a
pile of burning wood, and he burned himself a little on the knee and shoulder blade, but the scars disappeared in
time, when he became one with the ally.
Chapter 3: Death and the Warrior: "The idea of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit."
A conversation about death opens
up and it's significance for a warrior:
"Once you decided to come to Mexico you should have put all your petty fears away," he said very sternly.
"Your decision to come should have vanquished them. You came because you wanted to come. That's the
warrior's way. I have told you time and time again, the most effective way to live is as a warrior. Worry and think
before you make any decision, but once you make it, be on your way free from worries or thoughts; there will be
a million other decisions still awaiting you. That's the warrior's way."
"I believe I do that, don Juan, at least some of the time. It's very hard to keep on reminding myself, though."
"A warrior thinks of his death when things become unclear."
"That's even harder, don Juan. For most people death is very vague and remote. We never think of it."
"Why should we?"
"Very simple," he said. "Because the idea of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit."
DJ organizes another mitote but assures CC that this time CC need not ingest peyote, and can be
an 'observer' of the event - so that CC can affirm or negate his thesis about cueing in mitotes. In spite
of not ingesting peyote, CC has a startling experience and vision of his mother near the end of the
mitote. But DJ on the other hand "sees" the "light of Mescalito" hovering over CC and interprets it
as an important omen. CC is not interested in omens, and instead wants DJ to interpret CC's vision
of his mother, but DJ says that is of no significance. CC is frustrated that he has not been able to
observe any signs of cueing or agreement during the mitote, and so his thesis becomes defunct.
Chapter 4: Don Juan finds a new
apprentice through 'controlled folly'
"a spirit that changes us, sometimes even against our will."
In the next episode, DJ wants to
lure his grandson into an encounter with Mescalito and uses CC as
bait. DJ keeps hinting to the group that Mescalito can be a beneficial encounter, but his grandson
is not interested, however another person in the group - Eligio is intrigued by the possibility of
coming across something that might uplift him from a mundane living like that of a mule.
Most of the group is skeptical and
they make jokes about peyote turning people insane.
"On the other hand," don Juan went on, "it's true that Mescalito drives people crazy, as you said, but that's
only when they come to him without knowing what they're doing."
Only Eligio is interested in finding out more about Mescalito.
"In what way would
peyote change all this?" he asked. "It seems to me that a man is born to work
his life like mules do."
"Mescalito changes everything," don Juan said, "yet we still have to work like everybody else, like mules. I
said there was a spirit inside Mescalito because it is something like a spirit which brings
about the change in men. A spirit we can see and can touch, a spirit that changes us,
sometimes even against our will."
"Peyote drives you out of your mind," Genaro said, "and then of course you believe you've changed. True?"
"How can it change us?" Eligio insisted.
"He teaches us the right way to live," don Juan said. "He helps and protects those
who know him. The life you fellows are leading is no life at all. You don't know the
happiness that comes from doing things deliberately. You don't have a protector!"
"What do you mean?" Genaro said indignantly. "We certainly have. Our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Mother
the Virgin, and the little Virgin of Guadalupe. Aren't they our protectors?"
"Fine bunch of protectors!" don Juan said mockingly. "Have they taught you a better way to live?"
"That's because people don't listen to them," Genaro protested, "and they only pay attention to the devil."
"If they were real protectors they would force you to listen," don Juan said. "If Mescalito becomes your
protector you will have to listen whether you Iike it or not, because you can see him and you must take
heed of what he says. He will make you approach him with respect. Not the way you fellows are
accustomed to approach your protectors."
"Of course it makes
sense," Genaro said with conviction. "Peyote makes you crazy and naturally you
you're having a great time with your life, no matter what you do."
"It does make sense," don Juan proceeded, undisturbed, "if you think how little we know and
how much there is to see. Booze is what makes people crazy. It blurs the images.
Mescalito, on the other hand, sharpens everything. It makes you see so very well.
So very well!"
Don Juan reaffirmed that my intentions
had been faultless and said that because
of it Mescalito had had a beneficial effect on me.
Once again DJ explains that
Mescalito is a deeply personal experience and relationship, and
it is a relationship that is possible because of the person's intentions - depending upon whether
they are serious or they are frivolous.
"It is impossible to explain that
knowing," don Juan said to Eligio, "because it is
different for every man. The only thing which is common to all of us is that
Mescalito reveals his secrets privately to each man. Being aware of how Genaro
feels, I don't recommend that he meet Mescalito. Yet in spite of my words or his
feelings, Mescalito could have a totally beneficial effect on him. But only he could
find out, and that is the knowing I have been talking about."
"My setup was for Lucio," he said, "and I found Eligio instead. I knew it was useless, but when we
like someone we should properly insist, as though it were possible to remake men. Lucio had courage
when he was a little boy and then he lost it along the way."
"Can you bewitch him, don Juan?"
"Bewitch him? For what?"
"So he will change and regain his courage."
"You don't bewitch for courage. Courage is something personal. Bewitching
is for rendering people harmless or sick or dumb. You don't bewitch to make
warriors. To be a warrior you have to be crystal clear, like Eligio.
There you have a man of courage!"
"I would give anything in this world," I said, "to know about Eligio's journey. Would you mind if I
asked him to tell me?"
"You should not under any circumstances ask him to do that!"
"Why not? I tell you about my experiences."
"That's different. It is not your inclination to keep things to yourself. Eligio is an Indian. His journey
is all he has. I wish it had been Lucio."
"Isn't there anything you can do, don Juan?"
there is no way to make bones for a jellyfish. It was only my folly."
The sun came out. Its light blurred my tired eyes.
"You've told me time and time again, don Juan, that a sorcerer cannot have follies. I've never thought you
could have any."
"It's possible to insist, to properly insist, even though we know that what we're
doing is useless," he said, smiling, "But we must know first that our acts are
useless and yet we must proceed as if we didn't know it. That's a sorcerer's
Chapter 5: Will and Controlled Folly "My Will controls the folly of my life"
KEY CONCEPT Controlled Folly:
In the process of learning, for a sorcerer to "see" is to perceive in a non-ordinary manner, which is
personal, and not subject to general consensus (as in sensory perception), and therefore is essentially
disconnected from what has been taught by society and culture, and therefore "seeing" which is for
the purpose of performing certain acts, is as such disconnected from what society has taught is of
importance. Thus a person, when he/she learns to "see" finds that what society has taught as of
supreme importance appears foolish, because what every society considers most important is
it's own survival without consideration as to it's ends. And since mere survival is as such foolish,
a seer finds that all acts of his fellow men appear foolish. Since "seeing" is an altogether different
process than thinking, in a contemplative man like Kierkegaard, the corresponding term would be
"absurdity" rather than "folly".
Thus, just as a "seer" realizes and confronts "folly", the thinker realizes
and confronts "absurdity".
"I am happy that you finally asked me about my controlled folly after so many years, and yet it wouldn't have
mattered to me in the least if you had never asked. Yet I have chosen to feel happy, as if I cared, that you asked,
as if it would matter that I care. That is controlled folly!"
"With whom do you exercise controlled folly, don Juan?" I asked after a long silence.
"With everybody!" he exclaimed, smiling.
"When do you choose to exercise it, then?"
"Every single time I act."
I felt I needed to recapitulate at that point and I asked him if controlled folly meant that his acts were never
sincere but were only the acts of an actor.
"My acts are sincere," he said, "but they are only the acts of an actor."
"Then everything you do must be controlled folly!" I said truly surprised.
"Yes, everything," he said.
"That would mean that nothing matters to you and you don't really care about anything or anybody. Take me,
for example. Do you mean that you don't care whether or not I become a man of knowledge, or whether I live, or
die, or do anything?"
"True! I don't. You are like Lucio, or everybody else in my life, my controlled folly."
I experienced a peculiar feeling of emptiness. Obviously there was no reason in the world why don Juan had
to care about me, but on the other hand I had almost the certainty that he cared about me personally; I thought it
could not be otherwise, since he had always given me his undivided attention during every moment I had spent
with him. It occurred to me that perhaps don Juan was just saying that because he was annoyed with me. After
all, I had quit his teachings.
"I have the feeling we are not talking about the same thing," I said. "I shouldn't have used myself as an ex-
ample. What I meant to say was that there must be something in the world you care about in a way that is not
controlled folly. I don't think it is possible to go on living if nothing really matters to us."
"That applies to you" he said. "Things matter to you. You asked me about my controlled folly and I told you
that everything I do in regard to myself and my fellow men is folly, because nothing matters."
"My point is, don Juan, that if nothing matters to you, how can you go on living?"
"Perhaps it's not possible to explain," he said. "Certain things in your life matter to you because they're
important; your acts are certainly important to you, but for me, not a single thing is important any longer, neither
my acts nor the acts of any of my fellow men. I go on living, though, because I have my will.
Because I have tempered my will throughout my life until it's neat and wholesome
and now it doesn't matter to me that nothing matters. My will controls the folly
of my life."
In both cases of the seer and the thinker,
folly and absurdity are confronted
and resolved by his/her Will.
I was bewildered. Never would I have anticipated the direction that my query had taken. After a long pause I
thought of a good point. I told him that in my opinion some of the acts of my fellow men were of supreme im-
portance. I pointed out that a nuclear war was definitely the most dramatic example of such an act. I said that for
me destroying life on the face of the earth was an act of staggering enormity.
"You believe that because you're thinking. You're thinking about life," don Juan said with a glint in his eyes.
"You're not seeing."
"Would I feel differently if I could see?" I asked.
"Once a man learns to see he finds himself alone in the world with nothing
but folly," don Juan said cryptically.
Because Will is very personal and individual,
there is no one else who can
provide an iota of assistance, and the person who realizes this perennial
existential condition, finds himself all alone in the world in resolving
through his/her own Will the folly and absurdity of his/her human condition.
He paused for a moment and looked at me as if he wanted to judge the effect of his words.
"Your acts, as well as the acts of your fellow men in general, appear to be important to you because
you have learned to think they are important."
He used the word "learned" with such a peculiar inflection that it forced me to ask what he meant by it.
He stopped handling his plants and looked at me.
"We learn to think about everything," he said, "and then we train our eyes to look as we think about the
things we look at. We look at ourselves already thinking that we are important. And therefore we've got to feel
important! But then when a man learns to see, he realizes that he can no longer think about the things he looks at,
and if he cannot think about what he looks at everything becomes unimportant."
"What you told me this afternoon about controlled folly has disturbed me very much," I said. "I really cannot
understand what you meant."
"Of course you cannot understand it," he said. "You are trying to think about it, and what I said does not fit
with your thoughts."
"I'm trying to think about it," I said, "because that's the only way I personally can understand anything. For
example, don Juan, do you mean that once a man learns to see, everything in the whole world is worthless?"
"I didn't say worthless. I said unimportant. Everything is equal and therefore unimportant. For example, there
is no way for me to say that my acts are more important than yours, or that one thing is more essential than an-
other, therefore all things are equal and by being equal they are unimportant."
I asked him if his statements were a pronouncement that what he had called "seeing" was in effect a "better
way" than merely "looking at things." He said that the eyes of man could perform both functions, but neither of
them was better than the other; however, to train the eyes only to look was, in his opinion, an unnecessary loss.
"For instance, we need to look with our eyes to laugh," he said, "because only when we look at things can we
catch the funny edge of the world. On the other hand, when our eyes see, everything is so equal that nothing is
"Do you mean, don Juan, that a man who sees cannot ever laugh?'
He remained silent for some time.
"Perhaps there are men of knowledge who never laugh," he said. "I don't know any of them, though. Those I
know see and also look, so they laugh."
"Would a man of knowledge cry as well?"
"I suppose so. Our eyes look so we may laugh, or cry, or rejoice, or be sad, or be happy. I personally don't
like to be sad, so whenever I witness something that would ordinarily make me sad, I simply shift my eyes and
see it instead of looking at it. But when I encounter something funny I look and I laugh."
"But then, don Juan, your laughter is real and not controlled folly."
"I talk to you because you make me laugh," he said. "You remind me of some bushy-tailed rats of the desert
that get caught when they stick their tails in holes trying to scare other rats away in order to steal their food. You
get caught in your own questions. Watch out! Sometimes those rats yank their tails off trying to pull themselves
"My laughter, as well as everything I do, is real," he said, "but it also is controlled folly because it is useless;
it changes nothing and yet I still do it."
"But as I understand it, don Juan, your laughter is not useless. It makes you happy."
"No! I am happy because I choose to look at things that make me happy and then my eyes catch their funny
edge and I laugh. I have said this to you countless times. One must always choose the path with heart in order to
be at one's best, perhaps so one can always laugh."
I interpreted what he had said as meaning that crying was inferior to laughter, or at least perhaps an act that
weakened us. He asserted that there was no intrinsic difference and that both were unimportant; he said, however,
that his preference was laughter, because laughter made his body feel better than crying.
At that point I suggested that if one has a preference there is no equality; if he preferred laughing to crying,
the former was indeed more important.
He stubbornly maintained that his preference did not mean they were not equal; and I insisted that our argu-
ment could be logically stretched to saying that if things were supposed to be so equal why not also choose
"Many men of knowledge do that," he said. "One day they may simply disappear. People may think that they
have been ambushed and killed because of their doings. They choose to die because it doesn't matter to them. On
the other hand, I choose to live, and to laugh, not because it matters, but because that choice is the bent of my na-
ture. The reason I say I choose is because I see, but it isn't that I choose to live; my will makes me go on living in
spite of anything I may see.
"You don't understand me now because of your habit of thinking as you look and thinking as you think."
saying that by "thinking" he meant the constant idea that we have of everything in the world.
Here DJ is at his best in explaining his terms without technicalities......
the important point to keep in mind here is
that when DJ uses the word "thinking", it is in the context
of "learned from society" or "habitual thinking", and not genuinely creative thinking. DJ has not come
across genuine thinkers like Jung and Kierkegaard. Besides, sorcerers like DJ don't rely on thinking,
only on intuitions.
He said that
"seeing" dispelled that habit and until I learned to "see" I could not really
understand what he meant.
"But if nothing matters, don Juan, why should it matter that I learn to see?"
"I told you once that our lot as men is to learn, for good or bad," he said. "I have learned to see and I tell you
that nothing really matters; now it is your turn; perhaps some day you will see and you will know then whether
things matter or not. For me nothing matters, but perhaps for you everything will. You should know by now that
a man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when
he has finished acting. A man of knowledge chooses a path with heart and follows it; and then he looks and
rejoices and laughs; and then he sees and knows. He knows that his life will be over altogether too soon; he
knows that he, as well as everybody else, is not going anywhere; he knows, because he sees, that nothing is more
important than anything else. In other words, a man of knowledge has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name,
no country, but only life to be lived, and under these circumstances his only tie to his fellow men is his controlled
folly. Thus a man of knowledge endeavors, and sweats, and puffs, and if one looks at him he is just like any
ordinary man, except that the folly of has life is under control. Nothing being more important than anything else,
a man of knowledge chooses any act, and acts it out as if it matters to him. His controlled folly makes him say
that what he does matters and makes him act as if it did, and yet he knows that it doesn't; so when he fulfills
his acts he retreats in peace, and whether his acts were good or bad, or worked or didn't,
is in no way part of his concern.
"A man of knowledge may choose, on the other hand, to remain totally impassive and never act, and behave
as if to be impassive really matters to him; he will be rightfully true at that too, because that would also be his
"He feels he threw
away forty years because he was after victories and found only defeats.
He'll never know
that to be victorious and to be defeated are equal. So now you're afraid of me because I've told
you that you're equal to everything else. You're being childish.
Our lot as men is to learn and one goes to knowledge as one goes to war; I have told
you this countless times.
One goes to knowledge or to war with fear, with respect, aware that one is going
to war, and with absolute confidence in oneself. Put your trust in yourself, not in me.
"And so you're afraid of the emptiness of your friend's life. But there's no emptiness in the life of a
man of knowledge, I tell you. Everything is filled to the brim."
Don Juan stood up and extended his arms as if feeling things in the air.
"Everything is filled to the brim," he repeated, "and everything is equal. I'm not like your friend who just
grew old. When I tell you that nothing matters I don' t mean it the way he does. For him,
his struggle was not worth his while, because he was defeated; for me there is no
victory, or defeat, or emptiness. Everything is filled to the brim and everything is
equal and my struggle was worth my while.
"In order to become a man of knowledge one must be a warrior, not a whimpering child. One must strive
without giving up, without a complaint, without flinching, until one sees, only to realize then that nothing
I asked don Juan if controlled folly meant that a man of knowledge could not like anybody any more.
"You're too concerned with liking people or with being liked yourself," he said. "A man of knowledge likes,
that's all. He likes whatever or whoever he wants, but he uses his controlled folly to be unconcerned about it.
The opposite of what you are doing now. To like people or to be liked by people is not all one can do as a man."
Finally CC is beginning to get
some sense of it...that those acts are not folly that are deliberate and with a
beyond that of mere survival or social approval . Once again, what is folly and what is not is a matter of individual
perception and realization - essentially folly refers to acts that have no transcendental significance - like playing
a game - winning or losing it is not of transcendental significance.
"If I have understood you correctly then, don Juan," I said, "the only acts in the life of a man of knowledge
which are not controlled folly are those he performs with his ally or with Mescalito. Isn't that right?"
"That's right," he said, chuckling. "My ally and Mescalito are not on a par with us human beings. My con-
trolled folly applies only to myself and to the acts I perform while in the company of my fellow men."
"However, it is a logical possibility," I said, "to think that a man of knowledge may also regard his acts with
his ally or with Mescalito as controlled folly, true?"
He stared at me for a moment.
"You're thinking again," he said. "A man of knowledge doesn't think, therefore he cannot encounter that
possibility. Take me, for example. I say that my controlled folly applies to the acts I performed while in the com-
pany of my fellow men; I say that because I can see my fellow men. However, I cannot see through my ally and
that makes it incomprehensible to me, so how could I control my folly if I don't see through it? With my ally or
with Mescalito I am only a man who knows how to see and finds that he's baffled by what he sees; a man who
knows that he'll never understand all that is around him.
"Take your case, for instance. It doesn't matter to me whether you become a man of knowledge or not;
however, it matters to Mescalito. Obviously it matters to him or he wouldn't take so many steps to show his
concern about you. I can notice his concern and I act toward it, yet his reasons are incomprehensible to me."
Chapter 6: The demonstrations of Don Genaro: (DG)
After meeting DG, a lot of plant
picking takes place and DJ advises CC to communicate with the plants
before picking them, just like the ancients/medicine men used to do. Here CC says that he feels stupid
talking to plants - now why should anyone, when alone, feel stupid talking to plants? Are the plants
going to broadcast to the world that CC is talking to us - see how stupid he is. CC is feeling stupid
because in his culture it would be considered stupid to do such a thing, and that pattern of behavior
is affecting him even when alone - now that's stupid.
"You must talk to the plants before you pick them," don Juan said. He dropped his words casually and
repeated his statement three times, as if to catch my attention. Nobody had said a word until he spoke.
"In order to see the plants you must talk to them personally," he went on. "You must get to know them
individually; then the plants can tell you anything you care to know about them."
I told him that the reason I had not followed his instructions was because I felt a little stupid talking to
"You fail to understand that a sorcerer is not joking," he said severely. "When a sorcerer attempts to see,
he attempts to gain power."
For CC, talking to plants seems to
be folly. DG on the other hand finds CC's
notepad and his writing
silly if not stupid, and makes bodily gestures of implausible positions to demonstrate his joke, which
"Perhaps you don't think it's funny," don Juan said, "but only Genaro can work his way up to sitting on
his head, and only you can think of learning to be a sorcerer by writing your way up."
DJ and DG next setup a
demonstration for the benefit of the apprentices CC, Nestor and Pablito.
It is an elaborate set of maneuvers on a waterfall which are otherwise physical impossible, but
demonstrated by DG through his sorcerer's ability to make use of energetic fields/lines. The
purpose of this demonstration is for the apprentices to "see" the non-physical energy involved.
But CC is unable to make the shift from mere looking into "seeing".
"Let me tell you
something," don Juan said. "It was a waste of time for you. His lesson was for
who can see. Pablito and Nestro got the gist of it, although they don't see very well. But you, you went
there to look. I told Genaro that you are a very strange plugged-up fool and that perhaps you'd get
unplugged with his lesson, but you didn't. It doesn't matter, though. Seeing is very difficult.
DJ elaborates upon all the details
and gives a very lucid "sorcerer's explanation " of all the events
and movements of DG that were done so that CC could make the shift into the "seeing" mode
He said that don Genaro, being a master of balance, could perform very complex and difficult movements.
Sitting on his head was one of such movements and with it he had attempted to show me that it was impossible to
"see" while I took notes. The action of sitting on his head without the aid of his hands was, at best, a freakish
stunt that lasted only an instant. In don Genaro's opinion, writing about "seeing" was the same; that is, it was a
precarious maneuver, as odd and as unnecessary as sitting on one's head.
Don Juan peered at me in the dark and in a very dramatic tone said that while don Genaro was horsing
around, sitting on his head, I was on the very verge of "seeing." Don Genaro noticed it and repeated his ma-
neuvers over and over, to no avail, because I had lost the thread right away.
Don Juan said that afterwards don Genaro, moved by his personal liking for me, attempted in a very dramatic
way to bring me back to that verge of "seeing." After very careful deliberation he decided to show me a feat of
equilibrium by crossing the waterfall. He felt that the waterfall was like the edge on which I was standing and
was confident I could also make it across. Don Juan then explained don Genaro's feat. He said that he had already
told me that human beings were, for those who "saw," luminous beings composed of something like fibers of
light, which rotated from the front to the back and maintained the appearance of an egg. He said that he had also
told me that the most astonishing part of the egg-like creatures was a set of long fibers that came out of the area
around the navel; don Juan said that those fibers were of the uttermost importance in the life of a man. Those
fibers were the secret of don Genaio's balance and his lesson had nothing to do with acrobatic jumps across the
waterfall. His feat of equilibrium was in the way he used those "tentacle-like" fibers.
"They are the
tentacles that come out of a man's body which are apparent to any sorcerer who
act toward people in accordance to the way they see their tentacles. Weak persons have very short, almost
invisible fibers; strong persons have bright, long ones. Genaro's, for instance, are so bright that they resemble
thickness. You can tell from the fibers if a person is healthy, or if he is sick, or if he is mean, or kind, or
treaoherous. You can also tell from the fibers if a person can see. Here is a baffling problem. When Genaro saw
you he knew, just like my friend Vicente did, that you could see; when I see you I see that you can see and yet I
know myself that you can't. How baffling! Genaro couldn't get over that. I told him that you were a strange fool. I
think he wanted to see that for himself and took you to the waterfall."
"Why do you think I give the impression I can see?"
Finally he spoke to me and said that he knew why but did not know how to explain it.
"You think everything in the world is
simple to understand," he said, "because everything you do is a routine
that is simple to understand. At the waterfall, when you looked at Genaro moving across the water, you believed
that he was a master of somersaults, because somersaults was all you could think about. And that is all you will
ever believe he did. Yet Genaro never jumped across that water. If he had jumped he would have died. Genaro
balanced himself on his superb, bright fibers. He made them long, long enough so that he could, let's say, roll on
them across the waterfall. He demonstrated the proper way to make those tentacles long, and how to move them
PART 2 The Task of Seeing
Seeing becomes a bit of an obsession now for CC, but is reluctant to use hallucinogens. CC wants to know
what looks like as if he is seeing, but does not actually see.
"I meant that
something in you was glowing as though you were really aware of Genaro's doings,
were just looking. Obviously there is something in you that resembles seeing, but isn't; you're plugged up and
only the smoke can help you."
"All right!" I said dramatically. "I don't want to beat around the bush any longer. I'll smoke."
He laughed at my display of histrionics.
"Cut it out," he said. "You always hook onto the wrong thing. Now you think that just deciding to let the
smoke guide you is going to make you see. There's much more to it. There is always much more to anything."
He became serious for a moment.
DJ tells CC how seriously he takes
the omens shown by Mescalito about CC, but has his doubts as to
how much of his knowledge he can impart to CC before time runs out, because CC is not quite cut
out to be a sorcerer, and as we come to know later, CC's task was quite different, and added to the
problems of DJ are that CC is lazy, passive, over-cautious and resistant to new kinds of learning that
are in contrast to the cut-and-dried learning of the academic, scientific kind.
"I have been very careful with you, and
my acts have been deliberate," he said, "because it is Mescalito's
desire that you understand my knowledge. But I know that I won't have time to teach you all I want. I will only
have time to put you on the road and trust that you will seek in the same fashion I did. I must admit that you are
more indolent and more stubborn than I. You have other views, though, and the direction that your life will take
is something I cannot foresee."
EXPERIMENTS WITH THE SMOKE
DJ now sets up an instructed trip
for CC in the mushroom induced state - that is to find the 'guardian
of the other world'. This is a subterfuge to find out if CC is capable of navigating a trip on the basis of
guided instructions before the trip. Compare here Dr John C. Lilly's experiments in LSD whereby
the participants were given instructions before the trip. A serious participant was able to navigate
correctly according to the instructions, and although the experiences varied greatly, the results did
have considerable consistency.
the keeper of the other world will come. You will do nothing but observe it.
Observe how it moves;
observe everything it does. Your life may depend on how well you watch.
"Who's this guardian?"
Don Juan flatly refused to involve himself in conversation, but I was too nervous to stop talking and I
insisted desperately that he tell me about this guardian.
"You'll see it," he said casually. "It guards the other world."
"What world? The world of the dead?"
"It's not the world of the dead or the world of anything. It's just another world. There's no use telling
you about it. See it for yourself.
CC does 'see' the guardian and
thus his instructed trip is successful to the point that the normally
skeptical CC even tells DJ that it was 'real' as you and I.
"I told him that the
guardian had been such a shock to me that I really had not yet been able to
think about it.
Don Juan laughed and made fun of what he called an overdramatic bent of my nature.
"That thing, whatever it was, hurt me," I said. "It was as real as you and I."
"Of course it was real. It caused you pain, didn't it?"
I expected DJ would have had a hearty laugh at this, although CC does not mention it. But DJ's laughter
"What was the point
of making me see that monstrosity, don Juan?"
He became serious and gazed at me.
"That was the guardian," he said. "If you want to see you must overcome the guardian."
"But how am I to overcome it, don Juan? It is perhaps a hundred feet tall."
Don Juan laughed so hard that tears rolled down his cheeks.
Perhaps some day you
will have the courage to overcome it. Not now, though; now it is a
drooling beast. But there is no point in talking about it. It's no feat to stand in front of it, so if you want to
know more about it, find the guardian again.
No Other Way to Live than that of a Warrior
The next trip however takes a
different direction, and so DJ has to soak CC in a ditch in order to cool off.
another interesting conversation ensues:
"It was you, of
course," he said.
"How come I couldn't recognize myself?"
"That's what the little smoke does. One can talk and not notice it; or one can move thousands of miles and
not notice that either. That's also how one can go through things. The little smoke removes the body and one is
free, like the wind; better than the wind, the wind can be stopped by a rock or a wall or a mountain. The little
smoke makes one as free as the air; perhaps even freer, the air can be locked in a tomb and become stale, but with
the aid of the little smoke one cannot be stopped or locked in."
Don Juan's words unleashed a mixture of euphoria and doubt. I felt an overwhelming uneasiness, a sensation
of undefined guilt.
"Then one can really do all those things, don Juan?"
"What do you think? You would rather think you're crazy, wouldn't you?" he said cuttingly.
"Well, it's easy for you to accept all those things. For me it's impossible."
"It's not easy for me. I don't have any more privileges than you. Those things are equally
hard for you or for me or for anyone else to accept."
DJ expresses his bafflement at how
CC is still able to manage the strange experiences, CC's luck at how
easily things seem to work for him, as if CC had some kind og guardian angel to look after him.
"But you are at home
with all this, don Juan."
"Yes, but it cost me plenty. I had to struggle, perhaps more than you ever will. You have a baffling way of
getting everything to work for you. You have no idea how hard I had to toil to do what you did yesterday. You
have something that helps you every inch of the way. There is no other possible explanation for the manner in
which you learn about the powers. You did it before with Mescalito, now you have done it with the little smoke.
You should concentrate on the fact that you have a great gift, and leave other considerations on the side."
CC however does not handle pain
and fright very well, and complains at the drop of a hat. But DJ relates
his own experience of quitting for more than five years because of the rigorous conditions, and yet comes
back to it, because as he put it so simply "there was no other way to live".
"You make it sound
so easy, but it isn't. I'm torn inside."
"You'll be in one piece again soon enough. You have not taken care of your body, for one thing. You're too
fat. I didn't want to say anything to you before. One must always let others do what they have to do. You were
away for years. I told you that you would come back, though, and you did. The same thing happened to me. I quit
for five and a half years."
"Why did you stay away, don Juan?"
"For the same reason you did. I didn't like it."
"Why did you come back?"
"For the same reason you have come back yourself, because there is no other way to live."
That statement had a great impact on me, for I had found myself thinking that perhaps there was no other
way to live. I had never voiced this thought to anyone, yet don Juan had surmised it correctly
DJ hints that CC has to use his will to overcome the guardian, with practice.
"If I believe that
whatever I have experienced is actually real," I said, "then the guardian is a
that can cause unbelievable physical pain; and if I believe that one can actually travel enormous distances by an
act of will, then it's logical to conclude that I could also will the monster to disappear. Is that correct?"
"Not exactly," he said. "You cannot will the guardian to disappear. Your will can stop it from harming you,
though. Of course if you ever accomplish that, the road is open to you. You can actually go by the guardian and
there's nothing that it can do, not even whirl around madly."
"How can I accomplish that?"
"You already know how. All you need now is practice.
CC is full of doubts about what he
has experienced and his capability to comprehend it and wants
a satisfactory explanation for everything.
"You really know how
to talk and say nothing, don't you?" he said laughing. "I have told you, you
have an unbending intent in order to become a man of knowledge. But you seem to have an unbending intent to
confuse yourself with riddles. You insist on explaining everything as if the whole world were composed of things
that can be explained. Now you are confronted with the guardian and with the problem of moving by using your
will. Has it ever occurred to you that only a few things in this world can be explained your way? When I say that
the guardian is really blocking your passing and could actually knock the devil out of you, I know what I mean.
When I say that one can move by one's will, I also know what I mean. I wanted to teach you, little by little, how
to move, but then I realized that you know how to do it even though you say you don't."
Chapter 8: More Experiments
with the Smoke:
In the third episode with the smoke, CC again encounters the world of the guardian and barely manages
to jump out of the way , and DJ interprets the experiences of CC as an indication of not going on that path
again for CC.
"That's one way a brujo gets to see" he said. "But that will not be your domain, so there is no point in talking
You jumped up by yourself, which was even better; however, I would rather not run a risk like that; the
guardian is not something you can fool around with."
Chapter 9: Shift in Emphasis from seeing towards living a warrior's life
CC is now too eager to smoke
again, but DJ is stalling until CC has regained some balance.
For DJ it is
more important that CC lives like a warrior first and then seeks to see, since DJ has
come to know by now that CC is not a natural 'seer'. DJ is also encountering the problem
of CC not able to see, although appearing to see.
"Live like a warrior! I've told you
already, a warrior takes responsibility for his
acts; for the most trivial of his acts."
I wanted to interject something in my defense, but he gestured with his hand to be quiet.
"Your life is fairly tight," he continued. "In fact, your life is tighter than Pablito's or Nestor's, Genaro's
apprentices, and yet they see and you don't. Your life is tighter than Eligio's and he'll probably see before you do.
This baffles me. Even Genaro cannot get over that. You've faithfully carried out everything I have told you to do.
Everything that my benefactor taught me, in the first stage of learning, I have passed on to you. The rule is right,
the steps cannot be changed. You have done everything one has to do and yet you don't see; but to those who
see, like Genaro, you appear as though you see. I rely on that and I am fooled. You always turn around and
behave like an idiot who doesn't see, which of course is right for you.
CC is distressed by all this, and
self-pity takes over. DJ is able to stop it with his will and his seeing, and
goes further by taking the conversation to the painful experiences - rather the traumas of his childhood. DJ
is probing into CC's childhood to find out what kind of commitments he has made back then. DJ's childhood
horror story triggers mixed feelings - which DJ senses.
"He said he was "seeing" a light of violence around me and wondered whether I was going to start beating him.
His laughter was a delightful break. He said that I was given to outbursts of violent behavior but that I was not
really mean and that most of the time the violence was against myself.
"You haven't been defeated yet," he said. He repeated the statement four or five times so I felt obliged to ask
him what he meant by that. He explained that to be defeated was a condition of life which was unavoidable. Men
were either victorious or defeated and, depending on that, they became persecutors or victims. These two
conditions were prevalent as long as one did not "see"; "seeing" dispelled the illusion of victory, or defeat, or
suffering. He added that I should learn to "see" while I was victorious to avoid ever having the memory of being
DJ sees a vision of CC in his childhood and probes further. That leads CC to recall a terrible act that he had
done in his childhood. DJ advises him to lead the life of a warrior>
"You must wait patiently, knowing that you're waiting, and knowing what you're waiting for. That is the
warrior's way. And if it is a matter of fulfilling your promise then you must be aware that you are fulfilling it.
Then a time will come when your waiting will be over and you will no longer have to honor your promise. There
is nothing you can do for that little boy's life. Only he could cancel that act."
"But how can he?"
"By learning to reduce his wants to nothing. As long as he thinks that he was a victim, his life will be hell.
And as long as you think the same your promise will be valid. What makes us unhappy is to want. Yet if we
would learn to cut our wants to nothing, the smallest thing we'd get would be a true gift. Be in peace, you made a
good gift to Joaquin. To be poor or wanting is only a thought; and so is to hate, or to be hungry, or to be in pain."
"I cannot truly believe that, don Juan. How could hunger and pain be only thoughts?"
"They are only thoughts for me now. That's all I know. I have accomplished that feat. The power to do that is
all we have, mind you, to oppose the forces of our lives; without that power we are dregs, dust in the wind."
"I have no doubt that you have done it, don Juan, but how can a simple man like myself or little Joaquin
"It is up to us as single individuals to oppose the forces of our lives. I have said this to you countless times:
Only a warrior can survive. A warrior knows that he is waiting and what he is waiting for; and while he waits he
wants nothing and thus whatever little thing he gets is more than he can take. If he needs to eat he finds a way,
because he is not hungry; if something hurts his body he finds a way to stop it, because he is not in pain. To be
hungry or to be in pain means that the man has abandoned himself and is no longer a warrior; and the forces of
his hunger and pain will destroy him."
"I also made a vow once," don Juan said suddenly. The sound of his voice made me jump. "I promised my father
that I would live to destroy his assassins. I carried that promise with me for years. Now the promise is changed.
I'm no longer interested in destroying anybody. I don't hate the Mexicans. I don't hate anyone. I have
learned that the countless paths one traverses in one's life are all equal. Oppressors and oppressed meet at the end,
and the only thing that prevails is that life was altogether too short for both. Today I feel sad not because my
mother and father died the way they did; I feel sad because they were Indians. They lived like Indians and died
like Indians and never knew that they were, before anything else, men."
Chapter 10: The Will of a Warrior : Best explanations of the concept of Will
CC is ready to take any risks in order to see, but now DJ has changed his strategy by insisting
upon CC to 'live like a warrior', because as DJ now realizes that although CC appears
to 'see', he actually has not been able to achieve that capability so far, and must instead
learn to live like a warrior.
"What can I do to live like a warrior?" I asked.
He took off his hat and scratched his temples. He looked at me fixedly and smiled.
"You like everything spelled out, don't you?"
"My mind works that way."
"It doesn't have to."
"I don't know how to change. That is why I ask you to tell me exactly what to do to live like a warrior;
if I knew that, I could find a way to adapt myself to it.
A warrior waits for his Will : some of the best conversations about 'will' follow
here and related to the life of a warrior, the difference between a sorcerer and
warrior, the difference between seeing and will, and how death is deeply related
to knowledge and power.
"A warrior has to use his will and his
patience to forget. In fact, a warrior has only his will and his patience
and with them he builds anything he wants."
"But I'm not a warrior."
"You have started learning the ways of sorcerers. You have no more time for retreats or for regrets. You only
have time to live like a warrior and work for patience and will, whether you like it or not."
"How does a warrior work for them?"
Don Juan thought for a long time before answering.
"I think there is no way of talking about it," he finally said. "Especially about will. Will is something very
special. It happens mysteriously. There is no real way of telling how one uses it, except that the results of using
the will are astounding. Perhaps the first thing that one should do is to know that one can develop the will.
A warrior knows that and proceeds to wait for it. Your mistake is not to know that you are waiting for your will.
"My benefactor told me that a warrior knows that he is waiting and knows what he is waiting for. In your
case, you know that you're waiting. You've been here with me for years, yet you don't know what you are waiting
for. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the average man to know what he is
waiting for. A warrior, however, has no problems; he knows that he is waiting for
"What exactly is the will? Is it determination, like the determination of your grandson Lucio to have a motor-
"No," don Juan said softly and giggled. "That's not will. Lucio only indulges. Will is something else, some-thing
very clear and powerful which can direct our acts. Will is something a man uses,
for instance, to win a battle which he, by all calculations, should lose."
"Then will must be what we call courage," I said.
"No. Courage is something else. Men of courage are dependable men, noble men perennially surrounded by
people who flock around them and admire them; yet very few men of courage have will. Usually they are fearless
men who are given to performing daring common-sense acts; most of the time a courageous man is also fearsome
and feared. Will, on the other hand, has to do with astonishing feats that defy our common sense.
"Is will the control we may have over ourselves?" I asked.
"You may say that it is a kind of control."
"Do you think I can exercise my will, for instance, by denying myself certain things?"
"Such as asking questions?" he interjected.
He said it in such a mischievous tone that I had to stop writing to look at him. We both laughed.
"No," he said. "Denying yourself is an indulgence and I don't recommend anything of the kind. That is the
reason why I let you ask all the questions you want. If I told you to stop asking questions, you might warp your
will trying to do that. The indulgence of denying is by far the worst; it forces us to believe we are doing great
things, when in effect we are only fixed within ourselves. To stop asking questions is not the will I'm talking
about. Will is a power. And since it is a power it has to be controlled and tuned and
that takes time. I know that and I'm patient with you. When I was your age I was as impulsive as you.
Yet I have changed. Our will operates in spite of our indulgence. For example, your will is already opening
your gap, little by little."
What a sorcerer calls will is a power within ourselves. It is not a thought, or an object, or a wish. To stop
asking questions is not will because it needs thinking and wishing. Will is what can make you succeed
when your thoughts tell you that you're defeated. Will is what makes you invulnerable. Will is
what sends a sorcerer through a wall; through space; to the moon, if he wants."
He described will as a force which was the true link between men and the world. He was very careful to
establish that the world was whatever we perceive, in any manner we may choose to perceive. Don Juan
maintained that "perceiving the world" entails a process of apprehending whatever presents itself to us. This
particular "perceiving" is done with our senses and with our will.
I asked him if will was a sixth sense. He said it was rather a relation between ourselves and the perceived
world. I suggested that we halt so I could take notes. He laughed and kept on walking.
He did not make me leave that night, and the next day after eating breakfast he himself brought up the
subject of will.
"What you yourself call will is character and strong disposition," he said. "What a sorcerer calls will is a
force that comes from within and attaches itself to the world out there. It comes out through the belly, right here,
where the luminous fibers are."
A sorcerer uses his will to perceive the world. That perceiving, however, is not like hearing. When we look
at the world or when we hear it, we have the impression that it is out there and that it is real. When we
perceive the world with our will we know that it is not as 'out there' or 'as real' as we think."
" Is will the same as seeing?"
"No. Will is a force, a power. Seeing is not a force, but rather a way of getting through things. A sorcerer
may have a very strong will and yet he may not see; which means that only a man of knowledge perceives the
world with his senses and with his will and also with his seeing."
I told him that I was more confused than ever about how to use my will to forget the guardian. That statement
and my mood of perplexity seemed to delight him.
"I've told you that when you talk you only get confused," he said and laughed. "But at least now you know
you are waiting for your will. You still don't know what it is, or how it could happen to you. So watch
carefully everything you do. The very thing that could help you develop your will is
amidst all the little things you do."
"We are different,
you and I. Our characters are not alike. Your nature is more violent than mine.
When I was
your age I was not violent but mean; you are the opposite. My benefactor was like that; he would have been
perfectly suited to be your teacher. He was a great sorcerer but he did not see; not the way I see or the way
Genaro sees. I understand the world and live guided by my seeing. My benefactor, on the other hand, had to live
as a warrior. If a man sees he doesn't have to live like a warrior, or like anything else, for he can see things as
they really are and direct his life accordingly. But, considering your character, I would say that you may never
learn to see, in which case you will have to live your entire life like a warrior.
My benefactor said that when a man embarks on the paths of sorcery he becomes aware, in a gradual manner,
that ordinary life has been forever left behind; that knowledge is indeed a frightening affair; that the means of the
ordinary world are no longer a buffer for him; and that he must adopt a new way of life if he is going to survive.
The first thing he ought to do, at that point, is to want to become a warrior, a very important step and decision.
The frightening nature of knowledge leaves one no alternative but to become a warrior.
By the time knowledge becomes a frightening affair the man also realizes that death is the irreplaceable
partner that sits next to him on the mat. Every bit of knowledge that becomes power has death
as its central force. Death lends the ultimate touch, and whatever is touched by death
indeed becomes power.
"A man who follows the paths of sorcery is confronted with imminent annihilation every turn of the way, and
unavoidably he becomes keenly aware of his death. Without the awareness of death he would be only an ordinary
man involved in ordinary acts. He would lack the necessary potency, the necessary concentration that transforms
one's ordinary time on earth into magical power.
"Thus to be a warrior a man has to be, first of all, and rightfully so, keenly aware of his own death. But to be
concerned with death would force any one of us to focus on the self and that would be debilitating. So the next
thing one needs to be a warrior is detachment. The idea of imminent death, instead of becoming an obsession, be-
comes an indifference."
"Do you understand?" he asked.
I understood what he had said but I personally could not see how anyone could arrive at a sense of
detachment. I said that from the point of view of my own apprenticeship I had already experienced the moment
when knowledge became such a frightening affair. I could also truthfully say that I no longer found support in the
ordinary premises of my daily life. And I wanted, or perhaps even more than wanted, I needed, to live like a
"Now you must detach yourself," he said.
"Detach yourself from everything."
"That's impossible. I don't want to be a hermit."
"To be a hermit is an indulgence and I never meant that. A hermit is not detached, for he willfully abandons
himself to being a hermit.
"Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he is incapable of abandoning himself to any-
thing. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he can't deny himself anything. A man of that
sort, however, does not crave, for he has acquired a silent lust for life and for all things of life. He knows his
death is stalking him and won't give him time to cling to anything, so he tries, without craving, all of everything.
"A detached man, who knows he has no possibility of fencing off his death, has only one thing to back
himself with: the power of his decisions. He has to be, so to speak, the master of his choices. He must fully
understand that his choice is his responsibility and once he makes it there is no longer time for regrets or
recriminations. His decisions are final, simply because his death does not permit him time to cling to anything.
"And thus with an awareness of his death, with his detachment, and with the power of his decisions a warrior
sets his life in a strategical manner. The knowledge of his death guides him and makes him detached and silently
lusty; the power of his final decisions makes him able to choose without regrets and what he chooses is always
strategically the best; and so he performs everything he has to with gusto and lusty efficiency.
"When a man behaves in such a manner one may rightfully say that he is a warrior and has acquired
Don Juan asked me if I had anything to say, and I remarked that the task he had described would take a life-
time. He said I protested too much in front of him and that he knew I behaved, or at least tried to behave, in terms
of a warrior in my day-to-day life.
"You have pretty good claws," he said, laughing. "Show them to me from time to time. It's good practice."
I made a gesture of claws and growled, and he laughed. Then he cleared his throat and went on talking.
"When a warrior has acquired patience he is on his way to will. He knows how to wait. His death sits with
him on his mat, they are friends. His death advises him, in mysterious ways, how to choose, how to live
strategically. And the warrior waits! I would say that the warrior learns without any hurry because he knows he is
waiting for his will; and one day he succeeds in performing something ordinarily quite impossible to accomplish.
He may not even notice his extraordinary deed. But as he keeps on performing impossible acts, or as impossible
things keep on happening to him, he becomes aware that a sort of power is emerging. A power that conies out of
his body as he progresses on the path of knowledge. At first it is like an itching on the belly, or a warm spot that
cannot be soothed; then it becomes a pain, a great discomfort. Sometimes the pain and discomfort are so great
that the warrior has convulsions for months, the more severe the convulsions the better for him. A fine power is
always heralded by great pain.
"When the convulsions cease the warrior notices he has strange feelings about things. He notices that he can
actually touch anything he wants with a feeling that comes out of his body from a spot right below or right above
his navel. That feeling is the will, and when he is capable of grabbing with it, one can rightfully say that the
warrior is a sorcerer, and that he has acquired will.
"My benefactor was a sorcerer of great powers," he went on. "He was a warrior through and through. His will
was indeed his most magnificent accomplishment. But a man can go still further than that; a man can learn to
see. Upon learning to see he no longer needs to live like a warrior, nor be a sorcerer. Upon learning to see a man
becomes everything by becoming nothing. He, so to speak, vanishes and yet he's there. I would say that this is the
time when a man can be or can get anything he desires. But he desires nothing, and instead of playing with his
fellow men like they were toys, he meets them in the midst of their folly. The only difference between them is
that a man who sees controls his folly, while his fellow men can't. A man who sees has no longer an active
interest in his fellow men. Seeing has already detached him from absolutely everything he knew before."
"The sole idea of being detached from everything I know gives me the chills," I said.
"You must be joking! The thing which should give you the chills is not to have anything
to look forward to but a lifetime of doing that which you have always done. Think of the
man who plants corn year after year until he's too old and tired to get up, so he lies around like an old dog. His
thoughts and feelings, the best of him, ramble aimlessly to the only things he has ever done, to plant corn. For me
that is the most frightening waste there is."
"We are men and our lot is to learn and to be hurled into inconceivable new worlds."
"Are there any new worlds for us really?" I asked half in jest.
"We have exhausted nothing, you fool," he said imperatively.
"Seeing is for impeccable men. Temper your spirit now, become a warrior, learn to see, and then you'll know
that there is no end to the new worlds for our vision.
Chapter 11: Seeing and Sorcery
Once again CC is given
the smoke, but the instructions now are specifically not to look for the
to go further in his out-of-body (OOB) experiences so as to get better control over the perceptions in a OOB
state induced by the smoke.
The next episode is that of DJ
taking CC to a water-hole and demonstrates the use of a spirit-catcher for
Again another experiment is
undertaken by CC with the smoke - this time the instructions are to gaze upon
the water in an irrigation ditch.
More conversations on 'seeing':
"He spoke about "seeing" as a process independent of the allies and the techniques of sorcery. A sorcerer was
a person who could command an ally and could thus manipulate an ally's power to his advantage, but the fact
that he commanded an ally did not mean that he could "see." I reminded him that he had told me before that it was
impossible to "see" unless one had an ally. Don Juan very calmly replied that he had come to the conclusion it
was possible to "see" and yet not command an ally. He felt there was no reason why not, since "seeing" had
nothing to do with the manipulatory techniques of sorcery, which served only to act upon our fellow men. The
techniques of "seeing," on the other hand, had no effect on men.
"How is it," I said, "that the techniques of seeing have no effect on our fellow men?"
"I've told you already," he said. "Seeing is not sorcery. Yet one may easily confuse them, because a man who
sees can learn, in no time at all, to manipulate an ally and may become a sorcerer. On the other hand, a man may
learn certain techniques in order to command an ally and thus become a sorcerer, and yet he may never learn to see.
"Besides, seeing is contrary to sorcery. Seeing makes one realize the unimportance of it all."
"The unimportance of what, don Juan?"
"The unimportance of everything."
Chapter 12: The Warrior's Strategy
"Life for a warrior is an exercise in strategy."
"How can I overcome the green fog?"
"The same way you should have overcome the guardian, by letting it turn into nothing."
"What should I do?"
"Nothing. For you, the green fog is something much easier than the guardian. The spirit of the water hole
likes you, while it certainly was not your temperament to deal with the guardian. You never really saw the
"Maybe that was because I didn't like it. What if I were to meet a guardian I liked? There must be some
people who would regard the guardian I saw as being beautiful. Would they overcome it because they liked it?"
"No! You still don't understand. It doesn't matter whether you like or dislike the guardian. As long as you
have a feeling toward it, the guardian will remain the same, monstrous, beautiful, or whatever. If you have no
feeling toward it, on the other hand, the guardian will become nothing and will still be there in front of you."
The idea that something as colossal as the guardian could become nothing and still be in front of my eyes
made absolutely no sense. I felt it was one of the alogical premises of don Juan's knowledge. However, I also felt
that if he wanted to he could explain it to me. I insisted on asking him what he meant by that.
"You thought the guardian was something you knew, that's what I mean."
"But I didn't think it was something I knew."
"You thought it was ugly. Its size was awesome. It was a monster. You know what all those things are. So
the guardian was always something you knew, and as long as it was something you knew you did not see it. I
have told you already, the guardian had to become nothing and yet it had to stand in front of you. It had to be
there and it had, at the same time, to be nothing."
"How could that be, don Juan? What you say is absurd."
"It is. But that is seeing. There is really no way to talk about it. Seeing, as I said before, is learned by seeing.
"Apparently you have no problem with water. You nearly saw it the other day. Water is your 'hinge.' All you
need now is to perfect your technique of seeing. You have a powerful helper in the spirit of the water hole."
"That's another burning question I have, don Juan."
"You may have all the burning questions you want, but we cannot talk about the spirit of the water hole in
this vicinity. In fact, it is better not to think about it at all. Not at all. Otherwise the spirit will trap you and
if that happens there is nothing a living man can do to help you. So keep your mouth shut and keep your
thoughts on something else."
Don Juan's voice ordered me to focus all my attention on the fog but not abandon myself to it.
He said repeatedly that a warrior did not abandon himself to anything,
not even to his death.
I begged him to explain what had happened to me from the beginning. He laughed, shaking his head slowly
as though in disbelief.
"You always insist on knowing things from the beginning," he said. "But there's no beginning; the beginning
is only in your thought."
"I think the beginning was when I sat on the bank and smoked," I said.
"But before you smoked I had to figure out what to do with you," he said. "I would have to tell you what I
did and I can't do that, because it would take me to still another point. So perhaps things would be clearer to you
if you didn't think about beginnings."
"Think about the wall you saw. Sit down here on your mat and remember every detail of it. Then perhaps you
yourself may discover how far you went. All I know now is that you traveled very far. I know that because I had
a terrible time pulling you back. If I had not been around, you might have wandered off and never returned, in
which case all that would be left of you now would be your dead body on the side of the stream. Or perhaps you
might have returned by yourself. With you I'm not sure. So judging by the effort it took me to bring you back, I'd
say you were clearly in ..."
"I think you must be aware by now," he said in a tone that was suddenly very severe, "that everything is
mortally dangerous. The water is as deadly as the guardian. If you don't watch out the water will trap you. It
nearly did that yesterday. But in order to be trapped a man has to be willing. There's your trouble. You're willing
to abandon yourself.
"You abandoned yourself. You willed to abandon yourself. That was wrong. I have told you this already and
I will repeat it again. You can survive in the world of a brujo only if you are a warrior. A warrior treats
every-thing with respect and does not trample on anything unless he has to. You did not
treat the water with respect yesterday. Usually you behave very well. However, yesterday you abandoned yourself
to your death, like a god-damned fool. A warrior does not abandon himself to anything, not even to his death.
A warrior is not a willing partner; a warrior is not available, and if he involves him-self with something, you
can be sure that he is aware of what he is doing."
"Life for a warrior is an exercise in strategy," don Juan went on. "But you want to find the meaning of life. A
warrior doesn't care about meanings. If Lucas lived like a warrior—and he had a chance to, as we all have a
chance to—he would set his life strategically. Thus if he couldn't avoid an accident that crushed his ribs, he
would have found means to offset that handicap, or avoid its consequences, or battle against them. If Lucas were
a warrior he wouldn't be sitting in his dingy house dying of starvation. He would be battling to the end."
I posed an alternative to don Juan, using him as an example, and asked him what would be the outcome if he
himself were to be involved in an accident that severed his legs.
"If I cannot help it, and lose my legs," he said, "I won't be able to be a man any more, so I will join that
which is waiting for me out there."
He made a sweeping gesture with his hand to point all around him. I argued that he had misunderstood me. I
had meant to point out that it was impossible for any single individual to foresee all the variables involved in his
"All I can say to you," don Juan said, "is that a warrior is never available; never is he standing on the road
waiting to be clobbered. Thus he cuts to a minimum his chances of the unforeseen. What you call accidents are,
most of the time, very easy to avoid, except for fools who are living helter-skelter."
"It is not possible to live strategically all the time," I said. "Imagine that someone is waiting for you with a
powerful rifle with a telescopic sight; he could spot you accurately five hundred yards away. What would you
Don Juan looked at me with an air of disbelief and then broke into laughter.
"What would you do?" I urged him.
"If someone is waiting for me with a rifle with a telescopic sight?" he said, obviously mocking me.
"If someone is hiding out of sight, waiting for you. You won't have a chance. You can't stop a bullet."
"No. I can't. But I still don't understand your point."
"My point is that all your strategy cannot be of any help in a situation like that."
"Oh, but it can. If someone is waiting for me with a powerful rifle with a telescopic sight I simply will not
Castaneda encounters an ally.
"That ally was beckoning you," he said "I made you move your head when he came to you not because he
was endangering you but because it is better to wait. You are not in a hurry. A warrior is never idle and
never in a hurry. To meet an ally without being prepared is like attacking a lion with your farts."
I liked the metaphor. We had a delightful moment of laughter.
"What would've happened if you hadn't moved my head?"
"You would've had to move your head yourself."
An interesting, but inconclusive
discussion about the Tibetan Book of the Dead takes place. DJ can't
make much sense of it, but asks a very relevant question: "I don't understand why those people talk
about death as if death were like life."
Apparently CC has been making attempts to correlate DJ's imparted knowledge so far, with those
of other cultures. It becomes clear that the correlation is hardly possible because these is no
common ground of conceptual space that is available through the literature. Ideas and concepts
of the basic kind (like life and death, the world, samsara etc.), are very different, even divergent,
let alone the teleology. Correlation is possible only when there is an overarching metaphysics
with teleology that can incorporate the different, even seemingly divergent world-views.
"I don't understand
why those people talk about death as if death were like life," he said softly.
"Maybe that's the way they understand it. Do you think the Tibetans see?"
"Hardly. When a man learns to see, not a single thing he knows prevails. Not a single one. If the Tibetans
could see they could tell right away that not a single thing is any longer the same. Once we see, nothing is
known; nothing remains as we used to know it when we didn't see."
"Perhaps, don Juan, seeing is not the same for everyone."
"True. It's not the same. Still, that does not mean that the meanings of life prevail. When one learns to see,
not a single thing is the same."
"Tibetans obviously think that death is like life. What do you think death is like, yourself?" I asked.
"I don't think death is like anything and I think the Tibetans must be talking about something else. At any
rate, what they're talking about is not death."
"What do you think they're talking about?"
"Maybe you can tell me that. You're the one who reads."
"I can't talk about
death except in personal terms," he said.
"How can you be sure that you are talking about death?"
"I have my ally. The little smoke has shown me my unmistakable death with great clarity. This is why I can
only talk about personal death."
"To be a sorcerer is a terrible burden," he said in a reassuring tone. "I've told you that it is much better to
learn to see. A man who sees is everything; in comparison, the sorcerer is a sad fellow."
"What is sorcery, don Juan?"
He looked at me for a long time as he shook his head almost imperceptibly.
"Sorcery is to apply one's will to a key joint," he said. "Sorcery is interference. A sorcerer searches and finds
the key joint of anything he wants to affect and then he applies his will to it. A sorcerer doesn't have to see to be a
sorcerer, all he has to know is how to use his will."
Chapter 14: La Catalina - an
adversary to test CC
"A warrior lives strategically," he said, smiling. "A warrior never carries loads he cannot handle."
Once again DJ sets up an encounter for CC with a sorceress so that he is made to confront an
adversary that will test CC's commitment as well as learning so far.
An oppressive anguish enveloped me again. I had a profound affection for don Juan. I admired him. At the
time of this startling request, I had already learned to regard his way of life and his knowledge as a paramount
accomplishment. How could anyone let a man like that die? And yet how could anyone deliberately risk his life?
I became so immersed in my deliberations I did not notice that don Juan had stood up and was standing by me
until he patted me on the shoulder. I looked up; he was smiling benevolently.
"Whenever you feel that you really want to help me, you should return," he said, "but not until then. If you
come back I know what we will have to do. Go now! If you don't want to return I'll understand that too.
"I automatically stood up, got into my car, and drove away. Don Juan had actually let me off the hook. I could
have left and never returned, but somehow the thought of being free to leave did not soothe me. I drove a while
longer and then impulsively turned around and drove back to don Juan's house.
"I still have so many things pending in my life," I said. "So many things unresolved."
Don Juan chuckled softly.
"Nothing is pending in the world," he said. "Nothing is finished, yet nothing is unresolved. Go to sleep."
"Whatever I have done to you today was a trick," he said bluntly. "The rule is that a man of knowledge has
to trap his apprentice. Today I have trapped you and I have tricked you into learning."
He commended my resolution and called it an act of power which demonstrated to the woman that I was
capable of great exertion.
Don Juan said that even though I was not aware of it, all I did was to show off in front of her.
"You could never touch her," he said, "but you showed your claws to her. She knows now that you're not
afraid. You have challenged her. I used her to trick you because she's powerful and relentless and never forgets.
Men are usually too busy to be relentless enemies."
I was dumfounded. I could not arrange my thoughts. Don Juan explained that the whole involvement with the
woman was a trap; that she had never been a threat to him; and that his job was to put me in touch with her,
under specific conditions of abandon and power I had experienced when I tried to pierce her
I felt a terrible anger. I told him that one should not play with a person's innermost feelings and loyalties.
Don Juan laughed until tears rolled down his cheeks, and I hated him. I had an overwhelming desire to punch
him and leave; there was, however, such a strange rhythm in his laughter that it kept me almost paralyzed.
Now she knows that I
was playing with her," he said, laughing, "and she'll hate you for it. She can't
anything to me, but she will take it out on you. She doesn't know yet how much power you have, so she will
come to test you, little by little. Now you have no choice but to learn in order to defend yourself, or you will fall
prey to that lady. She is no trick."
Don Juan reminded me of the way she had flown away.
"Don't be angry," he said. "It was not an ordinary trick. It was the rule."
You forget too
easily," he said. "The path of knowledge is a forced one. In order to learn we
spurred. In the path of knowledge we are always fighting something, avoiding something, prepared for
something; and that something is always inexplicable, greater, more powerful than us. The inexplicable forces
will come to you. Now it is the spirit of the water hole, later on it'll be your own ally, so there is nothing you can
do now but to prepare yourself for the struggle. Years ago la Catalina spurred you, she was only a sorceress,
though, and that was a beginner's trick.
"The world is indeed full of frightening things and we are helpless creatures surrounded by forces that are
inexplicable and unbending. The average man, in ignorance, believes that those forces can be explained or
changed; he doesn't really know how to do that, but he expects that the actions of mankind will explain them or
change them sooner or later. The sorcerer, on the other hand, does not think of explaining or changing them;
instead, he learns to use such forces by redirecting himself and adapting to their direction. That's his trick. There
is very little to sorcery once you find out its trick. A sorcerer is only slightly better off than the average man.
Sorcery does not help him to live a better life; in fact I should say that sorcery hinders him; it makes his life
cumbersome, precarious. By opening himself to knowledge a sorcerer becomes more vulnerable than the average
man. On the one hand his fellow men hate him and fear him and will strive to end his life; on the other hand the
inexplicable and unbending forces that surround every one of us, by right of our being alive, are for a sorcerer a
source of even greater danger. To be pierced by a fellow man is indeed painful, but nothing in comparison to
being touched by an ally. A sorcerer, by opening himself to knowledge, falls prey to such forces and has only one
means of balancing himself, his will; thus he must feel and act like a warrior. I will repeat this once more: Only
as a warrior can one survive the path of knowledge. What helps a sorcerer live a better life is the strength of
being a warrior."
"It is my commitment to teach you to see. Not because I personally want to do so but because you were
chosen; you were pointed out to me by Mescalito. I am compelled by my personal desire, however, to teach you
to feel and act like a warrior. I personally believe that to be a warrior is more suitable than anything else.
Therefore I have endeavored to show you those forces as a sorcerer perceives them, because only under their
terrifying impact can one become a warrior. To see without first being a warrior would make you weak; it would
give you a false meekness, a desire to retreat; your body would decay because you would become indifferent. It
is my personal commitment to make you a warrior so you won't crumble.
"The spirit of a warrior is not geared to indulging and complaining, nor is it geared to winning or losing. The
spirit of a warrior is geared only to struggle, and every struggle is a warrior's last battle on earth. Thus the out-
come matters very little to him. In his last battle on earth a warrior lets his spirit flow free and clear. And as he
wages his battle, knowing that his will is impeccable, a warrior laughs and laughs."
I finished writing and looked up. Don Juan was staring at me. He shook his head from side to side and
"You really write everything?" he asked in an incredulous tone. "Genaro says that he can never be serious
with you because you're always writing. He's right; how can anyone be serious if you're always writing?"
He chuckled and I tried to defend my position.
"It doesn't matter," he said, "If you ever learn to see, I suppose you must do it your own weird way."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Act like a warrior and select the items of your world. You cannot surround yourself with things helter-
skelter any longer. I tell you this in a most serious vein. Now for the first time you are not safe in your old way of
"What do you mean by selecting the items of my world?"
"A warrior encounters those inexplicable and unbending forces because he is deliberately seeking them, thus
he is always prepared for the encounter. You, on the other hand, are never prepared for it. In fact if those forces
come to you they will take you by surprise; the fright will open your gap and your life will irresistibly escape
through it. The first thing you must do, then, is be prepared. Think that the ally is going to pop in front of your
eyes any minute and you must be ready for him. To meet an ally is no party or Sunday picnic and a warrior takes
the responsibility of protecting his life. Then if any of those forces tap you and open your gap, you must
deliberately strive to close it by yourself. For that purpose you must have a selected number of things that give
you great peace and pleasure, things which you can deliberately use to take your thoughts from your fright and
close your gap and make you solid."
What kind of things?"
"Years ago I told you that in his day-to-day life a warrior chooses to follow the path with heart. It is the con-
sistent choice of the path with heart which makes a warrior different from the average man. He knows that a path
has heart when he is one with it, when he experiences a great peace and pleasure traversing its length. The things
a warrior selects to make his shields are the items of a path with heart."
"But you said I'm not a warrior, so how can I choose a path with heart?"
"This is your turning point. Let's say that before you did not really need to live like a warrior. Now it is
different, now you must surround yourself with the items of a path with heart and you must refuse the rest, or you
will perish in the next encounter. I may add that you don't need to ask for the encounter any longer. An ally can
now come to you in your sleep; while you are talking to your friends; while you are writing."
"For years I have truly tried to live in accordance with your teachings," I said. "Obviously I have not done
well. How can I do better now?"
"You think and talk too much. You must stop talking to yourself."
"What do you mean?"
"You talk to yourself too much. You're not unique at that. Every one of us does that. We carry on an internal
talk. Think about it. Whenever you are alone, what do you do?"
"I talk to myself."
"What do you talk to yourself about?"
"I don't know; anything, I suppose."
"I'll tell you what we talk to ourselves about. We talk about our world. In fact we maintain our world with
our internal talk."
"How do we do that?"
"Whenever we finish talking to ourselves the world is always as it should be. We renew it, we kindle it with
life, we uphold it with our internal talk. Not only that, but we also choose our paths as we talk to ourselves. Thus
we repeat the same choices over and over until the day we die, because we keep on repeating the same internal
talk over and over until the day we die.
"A warrior is aware of this and strives to stop his talking. This is the last point you have to know if you want
to live like a warrior."
"How can I stop talking to myself?"
"First of all you must use your ears to take some of the burden from your eyes. We have been using our eyes
to judge the world since the time we were born. We talk to others and to ourselves mainly about what we see. A
warrior is aware of that and listens to the world; he listens to the sounds of the world."
I put my notes away. Don Juan laughed and said that he did not mean I should force the issue, that listening
to the sounds of the world had to be done harmoniously and with great patience.
"A warrior is aware that the world will change as soon as he stops talking to himself," he said, "and he must
be prepared for that monumental jolt."
"What do you mean, don Juan?"
"The world is such-and-such or so-and-so only because we tell ourselves that that is the way it is. If we stop
telling ourselves that the world is so-and-so, the world will stop being so-and-so. At this moment I don't think
you're ready for such a momentous blow, therefore you must start slowly to undo the world."
"I really do not understand you!"
"Your problem is that you confuse the world with what people do. Again you're not unique
at that. Every one of us does that. The things people do are the shields against the forces that surround us; what
we do as people gives us comfort and makes us feel safe; what people do is rightfully very important, but only
as a shield. We never learn that the things we do as people are only shields and we let them dominate and topple
our lives. In fact I could say that for mankind, what people do is greater and more important than the world itself."
"What do you call the world?"
"The world is all that is encased here," he said, and stomped the ground. "Life, death, people, the allies, and
everything else that surrounds us. The world is incomprehensible. We won't ever understand it; we won't ever
unravel its secrets. Thus we must treat it as it is, a sheer mystery!
"An average man doesn't do this, though. The world is never a mystery for him, and when he arrives at old
age he is convinced he has nothing more to live for. An old man has not exhausted the world. He has exhausted
only what people do. But in his stupid confusion he believes that the world has no more mysteries for him. What
a wretched price to pay for our shields!
"A warrior is aware of this confusion and learns to treat things properly. The things that people do cannot
under any conditions be more important than the world. And thus a warrior treats the world as
an endless mystery and what people do as an endless folly."
"Everything is meaningful for a sorcerer," he said. "The sounds have holes in them and so does everything
around you. Ordinarily a man does not have the speed to catch the holes, and thus he goes through life without
protection. The worms, the birds, the trees, all of them can tell us unimaginable things if only one could have the
speed to grasp their message. The smoke can give us that grasping speed. But we must be on good terms with all
the living things of this world. This is the reason why we must talk to plants we are about to kill and apologize
for hurting them; the same thing must be done with the animals we are going to hunt. We should take only
enough for our needs, otherwise the plants and the animals and the worms we have killed would turn against us
and cause us disease and misfortune. A warrior is aware of this and strives to appease them, so when he peers
through the holes, the trees and birds and the worms give him truthful messages.
I asked him if these forces had substance, if one could really touch them. I said that the very idea of a "spirit"
connoted something ethereal to me. "Don't call them spirits," he said. "Call them allies; call them inexplicable forces."
I insisted on knowing if those beings had substance.
"You're damn right they have substance," he said after another moment of silence. "When one struggles with them
they are solid, but that feeling lasts only a moment. Those beings rely on a man's fear; therefore if the man
struggling with one of them is a warrior, the being loses its tension very quickly while the man becomes more
vigorous. One can actually absorb the spirit's tension."
"What kind of tension is that?" I asked.
"Power. When one touches them, they vibrate as if they were ready to rip one apart. But that is only a show.
The tension ends when the man maintains his grip."
I told him that it
had never occurred to me to associate "seeing" with the strange noises I had
heard at that
"And why not?" he asked flatly.
"Seeing means the eyes to me," I said.
He scrutinized me for a moment as if there were something wrong with me.
"I never said that seeing is a matter of the eyes alone," he said and shook his head in disbelief
Your problem is that
you want to understand everything, and that is not possible. If you insist on
understanding you're not considering your entire lot as a human being. Your stumbling block is intact. Therefore,
you have done almost nothing in all these years. You have been shaken out of your total slumber, true, but that
could have been accomplished anyway by other circumstances."
"Isn't that so?" he asked.
Don Genaro did not answer. His eyes were fixed on me.
"It is impossible!" I said.
"You're chained!" don Juan exclaimed. "You're chained to your reason."
He explained that the leaf had fallen over and over from that same tree so I would stop trying to understand.
My mind refused to
intake that sort of stimuli as being "real," and yet, after ten years of
apprenticeship with don Juan my mind could no longer uphold my old ordinary criteria of what is real. However,
all the speculations I had thus far engendered about the nature of reality had been mere intellectual
manipulations; the proof was that under the pressure of don Juan and don Genaro's acts my mind had entered into
Don Juan looked at me and there was such sadness in his eyes that I began to weep. Tears fell freely. For the
first time in my life I felt the encumbering weight of my reason. An indescribable anguish overtook me.
I wailed involuntarily and embraced him. He gave me a quick blow with his knuckles on the top of my head.
I felt it like a ripple down my spine. It had a sobering effect. "You indulge too much," he said softly.
"Whether or not you
return is thoroughly unimportant," he finally said. "However, you now have the
live like a warrior. You have always known that, now you're simply in the position of having to make use of
something you disregarded before. But you had to struggle for this knowledge; it wasn't just given to you; it
wasn't just handed down to you. You had to beat it out of yourself. Yet you're still a luminous being. You're still
going to die like everyone else. I once told you that there's nothing to change in a luminous egg."
He was quiet for a moment. I knew he was looking at me, but I avoided his eyes.
"Nothing has really changed in you," he said.
This ends the reader's guide for Book 2, additional comments may be added/inserted later.
INDEX PAGE: The Last of the Shamans
ROOT LINK http://www.personalvalidity.webs.com/
epistemology, philosophy, metaphysics, religion, belief, system, social, cultural, paradigm, knowledge,
ontology, power, moral, fundamental, force, Will, Spirit, Intent, knowing, Heart, Mind, reason, intuition,
autonomous, unique, being, existence, space, time, meaning, purpose
GrossRyder Gross Ryder grossryder G RYDER GROSS RYDER