(taken from introduction in Journey To Ixtlan, and, as I explain in the foreword , done in the style I've used throughout this compilation: put into the form of being as though it were delivered from don Juan to each of us.)
Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan's Teachings
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The basic premise of sorcery for a sorcerer is that the world of everyday life is not real, or out there, as we believe it is. For a sorcerer, reality, or the world we all know, is only a description.
For the sake of validating this premise I will concentrate the best of my efforts into leading you into a genuine conviction that what you hold in mind as the world at hand is merely a description of the world; a description that has been pounded into you from the moment you were born.
Everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of perceiving the world as it is described. We have no memory of that portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point of reference to compare it to anything else. From that moment on, however, the child is a member . He knows the description of the world; and his membership becomes full-fledged, perhaps, when he is capable of making all the proper perceptual interpretations which, by conforming to that description, validate it.
The reality of our day-to-day life, then, consists of an endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we, the individuals who share a specific membership, have learned to make in common.
The idea that the perceptual interpretations that make up the world have a flow is congruous with the fact that they run uninterruptedly and are rarely, if ever, open to question. In fact the reality of the world we know is so taken for granted that the basic premise of sorcery, that our reality is merely one of many descriptions, can hardly be taken as a serious proposition.
Fortunately for you, I'm not concerned at all with whether or not you can take my proposition seriously, and thus I will proceed to elucidate my points, in spite of your opposition, your disbelief, and your inability to understand what I am saying. Thus, as a teacher of sorcery, my endeavor is to describe the world to you. Your difficulty in grasping my concepts and methods will stem from the fact that the units of my description are alien and incompatible with those of your own.
I am teaching you how to see as opposed to merely looking , and stopping the world is the first step to seeing .
Stopping the world is not a cryptic metaphor that really doesn't mean anything. And its scope and importance as one of the main propositions of my knowledge should not be misjudged.
I am teaching you how to stop the world . Nothing will work, however, if you are very stubborn. Be less stubborn, and you will probably stop the world with any of the techniques I teach you. Everything I will tell you to do is a technique for stopping the world .
The sorcerer's description of the world is perceivable. But our insistence on holding on to our standard version of reality renders us almost deaf and blind to it. I'm going to give you what I call "techniques for stopping the world."
When you begin this teaching, there is another reality, that is to say, there is a sorcery description of the world, which you do not know. As a sorcerer and a teacher, I am teaching you that description. What I am doing with you consists, therefore, in setting up that unknown reality by unfolding its description, adding increasingly more complex parts as you go along.
In order to arrive at seeing one first has to stop the world . Stopping the world is indeed an appropriate rendition of certain states of awareness in which the reality of everyday life is altered because the flow of interpretation, which ordinarily runs uninterruptedly, has been stopped by a set of circumstances alien to that flow. In this case the set of circumstances alien to our normal flow of interpretations is the sorcery description of the world. The precondition for stopping the world is that one has to be convinced; in other words, one has to learn the new description in a total sense, for the purpose of pitting it against the old one, and in that way break the dogmatic certainty, which we all share, that the validity of our perceptions, or our reality of the world, is not to be questioned.
After stopping the world the next step is seeing . By that I mean what could be categorized as responding to the perceptual solicitations of a world outside the description we have learned to call reality.
All these steps can only be understood in terms of the description to which they belong; a description that I'm endeavoring to give you. Let, then, this teaching be the source of entrance into that description.
In his first book, The Teachings of Don Juan, published by the University of California Press and for which Carlos Castaneda received his doctorate in Anthropology, we are told: In 1960, as an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Carlos Castaneda began collecting information on the medicinal plants used by the Indians of the southwest. Subsequently he met, and became the apprentice of, don Juan, a Yaqui Indian.
From 1968 thru 1999, the following ten books were published. They recount his apprenticeship under don Juan and therewith provide us entrance to the knowledge don Juan passed on to him--knowledge of an ancient system for becoming a "man of knowledge."
1968--The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
1971--A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with don Juan
1972--Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of don Juan
1974--Tales Of Power
1977--The Second Ring of Power
1981--The Eagle's Gift
1984--The Fire From Within
1987--The Power of Silence: Further lessons of don Juan
1993--The Art of Dreaming
1999--The Active Side of Infinity.
This book is a compilation of most of the ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, and principles of the teachings of don Juan presented by Carlos Castaneda .
I have, where necessary, changed the original text in order for the teaching to be directed as though from don Juan to any new student. That being said, however, there are a number of places where the teaching is directed as though you have been a participant in something with don Juan; or are acting or thinking in a particular way. Presenting it that way, seemed to me, the easiest way to leave parts of the teaching intact . And on the point of my presenting everything as though from don Juan: a number of places, perhaps as much as 10% of the total, were actually Castaneda's insights, explanations, or additions to the teaching. Lastly, in at least two places, the teaching actually came from other of don Juan's associates.
In "The Fire From Within": chapter 3, paragraph 48, Carlos Castaneda tells us that don Juan said that "the old seers...actually saw the indescribable force which is the source of all sentient beings. They called it the Eagle..." I refer to this passage in order to justify my usage, in this book, of the term, "the Indescribable Force ," instead of the term don Juan used, "the Eagle." If you miss the use of the term "the Eagle," I apologize.
The chapter titles of this book and the material in those chapters, correspond to the above nine books. Within these chapters are two types of line breaks. The asterisked line breaks set apart points which, because of removed context, now appear as disjointed bits (or passages) of teaching. The plain line breaks (or two asterisks if between pages) correspond to books' chapter breaks.