by Carlos Castaneda

Don’t explain yourself so much,” don Juan said with a stern look in his eyes. “Sorcerers say that in every explanation there is a hidden apology. So, when you are explaining why you cannot do this or that, you’re really apologizing for your shortcomings, hoping that whoever is listening to you will have the kindness to understand them.

. . .

To be alert doesn’t mean to be watchful,” don Juan said. “For sorcerers, to be alert means to be aware of the fabric of the everyday world that seems extraneous to the interaction of the moment.

. . .

Sorcerers never say things idly,” he said. “I am most careful about what I say to you or to anybody else. The difference between you and me is that I don’t have any time at all, and I act accordingly. You, on the other hand, believe that you have all the time in the world, and you act accordingly. The end result of our individual behaviors is that I measure everything I do and say, and you don’t.

Sorcerers face things in a different way,” don Juan continued. “Since they don’t have any time to spare, they give themselves fully to what’s in front of them. Your turmoil is the result of your lack of sobriety. You didn’t have the sobriety to thank your friend properly. That happens to every one of us. We never express what we feel, and when we want to, it’s too late, because we have run out of time.

. . .

Don Juan assured me that inner silence is the avenue that leads to a true suspension of judgement–to a moment when sensory data emanating from the universe at large ceases to be interpreted by the senses; a moment when cognition ceases to be the force which, through usage and repetition, decides the nature of the world.

. . .

No,” he said, “I don’t want your body to die physically. I want your person to die. The two are very different affairs. In essence, your person has very little to do with your body. Your person is your mind, and believe me, your mind is not yours.

“The criteria that indicates that a sorcerer is dead,” he went on, “is when it makes no difference to him whether he has company or whether he is alone. The day you don’t covet the company of your friends, whom you use as shields, that’s the day that your person has died. What do you say? Are you game?”

. . .

Your self-importance nearly destroyed you. If you don’t have self-importance, you have only feelings.

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