Archives for posts with tag: don Juan

Don Juan maintained, from the start of our association, that the world of the sorcerers of ancient Mexico was different from ours, not in a shallow way, but different in the way in which the process of cognition was arranged. He maintained that in our world our cognition requires the interpretation of sensory data.

He said that the universe is composed of an infinite number of energy fields that exist in the universe at large as luminous filaments. Those luminous filaments act on man as an organism. The response of the organism is to turn those energy fields into sensory data. Sensory data is then interpreted, and that interpretation becomes our cognitive system.

My understanding of cognition forced me to believe that it is a universal process, as language is a universal process. There is a different syntax for every language, as there must be a slightly different arrangement for every system of interpretation in the world.

Don Juan’s assertion, however, that the shamans had a different cognitive system was, for me, equivalent to saying that they had a different way of communicating that had nothing to do with language.

. . .

What is wrong with us human beings, and has been wrong since time immemorial, is that without ever stating it in so many words, we believe that we have entered the realm of immortality. We behave as if we were never going to die–an infantile arrogance. But even more injurious than this sense of immortality is what comes with it: the sense that we can engulf this inconceivable universe with our minds.

. . .

I understood how right don Juan was when he said to me once that the practicalities that scientists were interested in were conducive to building more and more complex machines. T hey were not the practicalities that changed an individual’s life from within. They were not geared to reaching the vastness of the universe as a personal, experiential affair. The stupendous machines in existence, or those in the making, were cultural affairs, the attainment of which had to be enjoyed vicariously, even by the creators of those machines themselves. The only reward for them was monetary.

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.

Don Juan was right in saying that, by inducing a systematic displacement of the assemblage point, dreaming liberates perception, enlarging the scope of what can be perceived. For the sorcerers of his party, dreaming had not only opened the doors of other perceivable worlds but prepared them for entering into those realms in full awareness. Dreaming, for them, had become ineffable, unprecedented, something whose nature and scope could only be alluded to, as when don Juan said that it is the gateway to the light and to the darkness of the universe.