The Power of Silence

The Power of Silence

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Further Lessons of don Juan

Carlos Castaneda

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Book Details
 204 p
 File Size 
 895 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 1987 by Carlos Castaneda

My books are a true account of a teaching method that don Juan Matus,
a Mexican Indian seer, used in order to help me understand the Total
Freedom Warriors' world. In a sense, my books are the account of an ongoing
process which becomes more clear to me as time goes by.
It took years of training to teach you and I to deal intelligently with the
world of everyday life. Our schooling-whether in plain reasoning or formal
topics-is rigorous because the knowledge imparted to us is very complex.
The same criteria apply to the seers' world. Their schooling which relies
on oral instruction and the manipulation of awareness, although different
from ours, is just as rigorous because their knowledge is as, or perhaps
more, complex.

At various times don Juan attempted to name his knowledge for my
benefit. He felt that the most appropriate name was 'nagualism', but that
the term was too obscure. Calling it simply 'knowledge' made it too vague,
and to call it 'witchcraft' was debasing. 'The mastery of intent' was too
abstract, and 'the search for total freedom' too long and metaphorical.
Finally, because he was unable to find a more appropriate name, he called it
'sorcery', although he admitted it was not nearly accurate.
Over the years, he had given me different definitions of sorcery, but he
had always maintained that definitions change as knowledge increases.
Toward the end of my apprenticeship, I felt I was in a position to appreciate
a clearer definition. So I asked him once more.
"From where the average man (or woman) stands," don Juan said,
"sorcery is nonsense; an ominous mystery beyond his reach. And he is right,
not because this is an absolute fact, but because the average man lacks the
energy to deal with sorcery."
He stopped for a moment before he continued. "Human beings are
born," don Juan said, "with a finite amount of energy; an energy that is
systematically deployed, beginning at the moment of birth, in order that it
may be used most advantageously by the modality of the time."
"What do you mean by the modality of the time?" I asked.
"The modality of the time is the precise bundle of energy fields being
perceived," he answered.
"I believe man's perception has changed through the ages. The actual
time decides the mode. The time decides which precise bundle of energy
fields are to be used; out of an incalculable number.
"Handling the modality of the time-those select few energy fields-takes all
our available energy; and thus leaves us no extra energy that would help us
use any of the other energy fields."
He urged me with a subtle movement of his eyebrows to consider all this.
"This is what I mean," he went on, "when I say that the average man
lacks the energy needed to deal with sorcery. If he uses only the energy he
has, he can't perceive the worlds sorcerers do.
"To perceive sorcery worlds, sorcerers need to use a cluster of energy
fields not ordinarily used.
"Naturally, if the average man is to perceive sorcery worlds and
understand sorcerers' perception, he must use the same energy cluster
sorcerers have used. And this is just not possible, because all of the average
man's energy is already deployed on the cluster of the times."
He paused as if searching for the appropriate words to make his point.
"Think of it this way," he proceeded. "It isn't that as time goes by you're
learning sorcery. Rather, what you're learning is to save energy. This energy
will enable you to handle some of the energy fields which are inaccessible to you now.
"Sorcery, properly speaking, is simply the ability to use energy fields that
are not employed in perceiving the ordinary world we know. Sorcery is a
state of awareness and the ability to perceive something which ordinary perception cannot.
"Everything I've put you through," don Juan went on, "and each of the
things I've shown you was only a device to convince you that there's more to
us than meets the eye.
We don't need anyone to teach us sorcery because there is really nothing
to learn. What we need is a teacher to convince us that there is incalculable
power at our fingertips. What a strange paradox!
"Every warrior on the path of knowledge thinks, at one time or another,
that he (or she) is learning sorcery. However, all he's really doing is allowing
himself to be convinced of the power hidden in his being, and that he can reach it."
"Is that what you're doing, don Juan-convincing me?"
"Exactly. I'm trying to convince you that you can reach that power.
"I went through the same thing, and I was as hard to convince as you are."
"Once we have reached it," I asked, "what exactly do we do with it, don Juan?"
"Nothing. Once we have reached that understanding, it will by itself
make use of energy fields which are available to us but were inaccessible.
"Access to formerly unavailable energy fields, as I have said, is sorcery in a nut shell.
"But then we begin to 'see', that is, to perceive something else; not as
imagination, but as real and concrete. And then we begin to know without
having to use words. And what any of us does with that increased
perception and with that silent knowledge depends on our own temperament."
On another occasion, he gave me another kind of explanation. We were
discussing an unrelated topic when he abruptly changed the subject and
began to tell me a joke. He laughed and very gently patted my back between
the shoulder blades; as if he were shy and it was too forward of him to touch
me. He chuckled at my nervous reaction.
"You're skittish," he said teasingly, and slapped my back with greater force.
My ears buzzed. For an instant I lost my breath. It felt as though he had
hurt my lungs. Every breath brought me great discomfort. Yet, after I had
coughed and choked a few times, my nasal passages opened and I found
myself taking deep, soothing breaths.
I had such a feeling of well-being that I was not even annoyed at him for
his blow; which had been as hard as it was unexpected.
Then don Juan began a most remarkable explanation. Clearly and
concisely, he gave me a different and more precise definition of sorcery.
I had entered into a wondrous state of awareness! I had such clarity of
mind that I was able to comprehend and assimilate everything don Juan was saying.
He said that in the universe there is an unmeasurable, indescribable force
which sorcerers call intent, and that absolutely everything that exists in the
entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link. Sorcerers, or
warriors, as he called them, were concerned with discussing, understanding,
and employing that connecting link.
They were especially concerned with cleaning it of the numbing effects
brought about by the ordinary concerns of their everyday lives. Sorcery at
this level could be defined as the procedure of cleaning one's connecting link
to intent. Don Juan stressed that this 'cleaning procedure' was extremely
difficult to understand, or to learn to perform.
Sorcerers, therefore, divided their instruction into two categories.
One was instruction for the everyday-life state of awareness, in which the
cleaning process was presented in a disguised fashion.
The other was instruction for the states of heightened awareness, such as
the one I was presently experiencing, in which sorcerers obtained
knowledge directly from intent, without the distracting intervention of
spoken language.
Don Juan explained that by using heightened awareness over thousands
of years of painful struggle, sorcerers had gained specific insights into
intent. They passed these nuggets of direct knowledge on from generation to
generation to the present. He said that the task of sorcery is to take this
seemingly incomprehensible knowledge and make it understandable by the
standards of awareness of everyday life.
Then he explained the role of the guide in the lives of sorcerers. He said
that a guide is called 'the nagual', and is a man or a woman with
extraordinary energy; a teacher who has sobriety, endurance, and stability;
someone seers see as a luminous sphere having four compartments as if four
luminous balls have been compressed together.
Because of their extraordinary energy, naguals are intermediaries. Their
energy allows them to channel peace, harmony, laughter, and knowledge
directly from the source-from intent-and transmit intent to their companions.
Naguals are responsible for supplying what sorcerers call 'the minimal
chance'; the awareness of one's connection with intent.
I could understand everything on Juan was saying about his world easily,
and yet he had described the process of understanding as very difficult.
I told him that my mind was grasping everything he was telling me, but
that the only part of his explanation still unclear to me was why two sets of
teachings were needed.
"You will need a lifetime to remember the insights you've had today," he
said, "because most of them were silent knowledge. A few moments from
now you will have forgotten them. That's one of the unfathomable mysteries
of awareness."
Don Juan then made me shift levels of consciousness by striking me on
my left side, at the edge of my ribcage.
Instantly I lost my extraordinary clarity of mind and could not remember
having ever had it...
Don Juan himself set me the task of writing about the premises of
sorcery. Once, very casually in the early stages of my apprenticeship, he
suggested that I write a book in order to make use of the notes I had always taken.
I had accumulated reams of notes and never considered what to do with
them. I argued that the suggestion was absurd because I was not a writer.
"Of course, you're not a writer," he said, "so you will have to use sorcery.
First, you must visualize your experiences as if you were reliving them, and
then you must see the text in your dreaming. For you, writing should not be
a literary exercise, but rather an exercise in sorcery."
I have written in that manner about the premises of sorcery just as don
Juan explained them to me within the context of his teaching.
In his teaching scheme, which was developed by sorcerers of ancient
times, there were two categories of instruction.
One was called "teachings for the right side," and was carried out in the
apprentice's ordinary state of awareness.
The other was called "teachings for the left side", and was put into
practice solely while the apprentice was in states of heightened awareness.
These two categories allowed teachers to school their apprentices toward
three areas of expertise: the mastery of awareness, the art of stalking, and
the mastery of intent.
These three areas of expertise are the three riddles sorcerers encounter in
their search for knowledge.
The mastery of awareness is the riddle of the mind; the perplexity
sorcerers experience when they recognize the astounding mystery and scope
of awareness and perception.
The art of stalking is the riddle of the heart; the puzzlement sorcerers feel
upon becoming aware of two things: first that the world appears to us to be
unalterably objective and factual because of the peculiarities of our
awareness and perception; and second, that if different peculiarities of
perception come into play, the very things about the world that seem so
unalterably objective and factual change.
The mastery of intent is the riddle of the spirit; the paradox of the
abstract; sorcerers' thoughts and actions projected beyond our human
Don Juan's instructions on both the art of stalking and the mastery of
intent depended upon his instruction on the mastery of awareness.
The mastery of awareness was the cornerstone of his teachings, and
consists of the following basic premises:
1. The universe is an infinite mass of energy fields resembling threads of light.
2. These energy fields, called the Eagle's emanations, radiate from a
source of inconceivable proportions metaphorically called The Eagle.
3. Human beings are composed of an incalculable number of the Eagle's
emanations in an encased mass. Seers perceive this mass as a ball of light,
like a giant luminous egg, the size of the person's body with the arms extended laterally.
4. Only a very small group of the emanations inside this luminous egg are
lit up by a point of intense brilliance located near the egg's surface. This
point is where perception is assembled; 'the assemblage point'.
5. Perception occurs when the emanations lit by the assemblage point
extend their light to illuminate identical matching emanations outside the
egg. Only the emanations lit by the assemblage point are perceived.
6. The assemblage point can move from its usual position to another on
the surface or into the interior. It then lights up a new group of emanations
making them perceivable and cancelling the former perceptions.
7. When the assemblage point shifts far enough, it makes possible the
perception of an entirely different world as objective and factual as the one
we normally perceive. Sorcerers go into those other worlds to get energy,
power, solutions to general and particular problems, or to face the unimaginable.
8. Intent is the pervasive force that causes us to perceive. We do not
become aware because we perceive; rather, we perceive as a result of the
pressure and intrusion of intent.
9. The aim of the new seers is to reach a state of total awareness in order
to experience all the possibilities of perception available to man. This state
of awareness even implies an alternative way of dying.
A level of practical knowledge was included as part of teaching the
mastery of awareness. On that practical level don Juan taught the
procedures necessary to move the assemblage point. The two great systems
devised by the sorcerer seers of ancient times to accomplish this were:
dreaming, the control and utilization of dreams; and stalking, the control of behavior.
Moving one's own assemblage point was an essential maneuver that every
sorcerer had to learn.
The naguals, also learned to move it for others. The naguals dislodge
others' assemblage point from its customary position by pushing it. This
push is experienced as a smack on the right shoulder blade-although the
body is never touched-and results in a state of heightened awareness.
In compliance with his tradition, it was exclusively in these states of
heightened awareness that don Juan carried out the most important and
dramatic part of his teachings: the instructions for the left side.
Because of the extraordinary quality of these states, don Juan demanded
that I not discuss them with others until we had concluded everything in the
sorcerers' teaching scheme. That demand was not difficult for me to accept.
In those unique states of awareness my capabilities for understanding the
instruction were unbelievably enhanced, but at the same time my
capabilities for describing or even remembering them were impaired.
I could function in those states with proficiency and assuredness, but I
could not recollect anything about them once I returned to my normal consciousness.
It took me years to be able to make the crucial conversion of my
enhanced awareness into plain memory. My reason and common sense
delayed this moment because they were colliding head-on with the
preposterous, unthinkable reality of heightened awareness and direct
knowledge. For years the resulting cognitive disarrangement forced me to
avoid the issue by not thinking about it.
Whatever I have published about my sorcery apprenticeship, up to now,
has been a recounting of how don Juan taught me the mastery of awareness.
I have not yet described the art of stalking or the mastery of intent.
Don Juan taught me their principles and applications with the help of two
of his sorcerer companions, Vicente Medrano, and Silvio Manuel. But
whatever I learned from them still remains clouded in what Don Juan called
the intricacies of heightened awareness.
Until now it had been impossible for me to write or even to think
coherently about the art of stalking and the mastery of intent. My mistake
has been to regard them as subjects for normal memory and recollection.
They are, but at the same time they are not. In order to resolve this
contradiction, I have not pursued the subjects directly-a virtual
impossibility-but have dealt with them indirectly through the concluding
topic of don Juan's instruction: the stories of the sorcerers of the past.
He recounted these stories to make evident what he called the abstract
cores of his lessons.
His way of talking made me believe for many years that his explanations
of the abstract cores were like academic dissertations. I was, however,
intellectually incapable of grasping the nature of the abstract cores despite
his comprehensive explanations. All I was able to do under these
circumstances was to take his explanations as given.
And even without a thorough rational assessment which I believed was
essential to understanding them, the abstract cores became part of my tacit
acceptance and understanding of his teachings.
I know now that the stories of the sorcerers of the past, were intended
more to open my mind than to explain anything in a rational manner.
Don Juan presented three sets of six abstract cores each, arranged in an
increasing level of complexity.
I have dealt here with the first set, which is composed of the following:
the manifestations of the spirit, the knock of the spirit, the trickery of the
spirit, the descent of the spirit, the requirements of intent, and handling intent.

The Power of Silence- Further Lessons of don Juan