There is no need for us to say anything about others. There is no need for you or for me to regard other's actions in our thoughts one way or another. The worst thing we can do is to force people to agree with us. I mean that we shouldn't try to impose our will when people don't behave the way we want them to. The worst thing one can do is to confront human beings bluntly. A warrior proceeds strategically. If one wants to stop our fellow men one must always be outside the circle that presses them. That way one can always direct the pressure.
Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan's Teachings
Journey to Ixtlan
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June 11th, 2017
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Fright never injures anyone.
* * *
What injures the spirit is having someone always on your back, beating you, telling you what to do and what not to do.
People hardly ever realize that we can cut anything from our lives, any time, just like that. For example, smoking and drinking are nothing. Nothing at all if we want to drop them. Only one thing is indispensable for anything we do; the spirit. One can't do without the spirit.
I have no routines or personal history. One day I found out that they were no longer necessary for me and, like drinking, I dropped them. One must have the desire to drop them and then one must proceed harmoniously to chop them off, little by little. If you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts. It is best to erase all personal history because that makes us free from the encumbering thoughts of other people. I have, little by little, created a fog around me and my life. And now nobody knows for sure who I am or what I do. Not even I. How can I know who I am, when I am all this?
Little by little you must create a fog around yourself; you must erase everything around you until nothing can be taken for granted, until nothing is any longer for sure, or real. Your problem now is that you're too real. Your endeavors are too real; your moods are too real. Don't take things so for granted. You must begin to erase yourself.
You've said that you want to learn about plants. Let's put it this way then. If you want to learn about plants, since there is really nothing to say about them, you must, among other things, erase your personal history.
Begin with simple things, such as not revealing what you really do. What's wrong is that once people know you, you are an affair taken for granted and from that moment on you won't be able to break the tie of their thoughts. I personally like the ultimate freedom of being unknown. No one knows me with steadfast certainty, the way people know you, for instance.
From now on you must simply show people whatever you care to show them, but without ever telling exactly how you've done it. You see, we only have two alternatives; we either take everything for sure and real, or we don't. If we follow the first, we end up bored to death with ourselves and with the world. If we follow the second and erase personal history, we create a fog around us, a very exciting and mysterious state in which nobody knows where the rabbit will pop out, not even ourselves.
When nothing is for sure we remain alert, perennially on our toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind than to behave as though we know everything.
You have to curl your fingers gently as you walk in order to keep your attention on the trail and the surroundings. Your ordinary way of walking is debilitating and you should never carry anything in your hands. If things have to be carried one should use a knapsack or any sort of carrying net or shoulder bag. By forcing the hands into a specific position one is capable of greater stamina and greater awareness.
If you really want to learn, you have to remodel most of your behavior. You take yourself too seriously. You are too damn important in your own mind. That must be changed! You are so goddamn important that you feel justified to be annoyed with everything. You're so damn important that you can afford to leave if things don't go your way. I suppose you think that shows you have character. That's nonsense! You're weak, and conceited! In the course of your life you have not ever finished anything because of that sense of disproportionate importance that you attach to yourself.
Self-importance is another thing that must be dropped, just like personal history. The world around us is very mysterious. It doesn't yield its secrets easily. Now we are concerned with losing self-importance. As long as you feel that you are the most important thing in the world you cannot really appreciate the world around you. You are like a horse with blinders, all you see is yourself apart from everything else.
To help you lose self-importance talk to little plants. It doesn't matter what you say to a plant, what's important is the feeling of liking it, and treating it as an equal.
A man who gathers plants must apologize every time for taking them and must assure them that someday his own body will serve as food for them. So, all in all, the plants and ourselves are even. Neither we nor they are more or less important. From now on talk to the little plants, talk until you lose all sense of importance. Talk to them until you can do it in front of others. You must talk to them in a loud and clear voice if you want them to answer you.
The world around us is a mystery, and men are no better than anything else. If a little plant is generous with us we must thank her, or perhaps she will not let us go.
You have to be aware of the uselessness of your self-importance and of your personal history.
Your death can give you a little warning, it always comes as a chill. Death is our eternal companion, it is always to our left, at an arm's length.
How can anyone feel so important when we know that death is stalking us? The thing to do when you're impatient is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is there watching you.
The issue of our death is never pressed far enough. Death is the only wise adviser that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you're about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you're wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, "I haven't touched you yet."
One of us here has to change, and fast. One of us here has to learn again that death is the hunter, and that it is always to one's left. One of us here has to ask death's advice and drop the cursed pettiness that belongs to men that live their lives as if death will never tap them.
Think of your death now. It is at arm's length. It may tap you any moment, so really you have no time for crappy thoughts and moods. None of us have time for that. The only thing that counts is action, acting instead of talking.
* * *
When a man decides to do something he must go all the way, but he must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them.
Look at me, I have no doubts or remorse. Everything I do is my decision and my responsibility. The simplest thing I do, to take you for a walk in the desert for instance, may very well mean my death. Death is stalking me. Therefore, I have no room for doubts or remorse. If I have to die as a result of taking you for a walk, then I must die.
You on the other hand, feel that you are immortal, and the decisions of an immortal man can be cancelled or regretted or doubted. In a world where death is the hunter, my friend, there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions.
When you get angry you always feel righteous. You have been complaining all your life because you don't assume responsibility for your decisions. To assume the responsibility of one's decisions means that one is ready to die for them. It doesn't matter what the decision is. Nothing could be more or less serious than anything else. In a world where death is the hunter there are no small or big decisions. There are only decisions that we make in the face of our inevitable death.
In order to find the proper place to rest all one has to do is to cross the eyes. The technique takes years to perfect. It consists of gradually forcing your eyes to see separately the same image. The lack of image conversion entails a double perception of the world; this double perception allows one the opportunity of judging changes in the surroundings, which the eyes are ordinarily incapable of perceiving.
Looking in short glances allows the eyes to pick out unusual sights. They are not sights proper, they are more like feelings. If you look at a bush or a tree or a rock where you may like to rest, your eyes can make you feel whether or not that's the best resting place. I don't care what you see. How you feel is the important issue. It takes a long time to train the eyes properly. The trick is to feel with your eyes. Your problem now is that you don't know what to feel. It'll come to you, though, with practice.
No one can tell you what you are supposed to feel. It is not heat, or light, or glare, or color. It is something else. Once you learn to separate the images and see two of everything you must focus your attention in the area between the two images. Any change worthy of notice would take place there, in that area. The feeling that you get is what counts. I can't tell you how to feel. You must learn that yourself.
I hunt in order to live. I can live off the land, anywhere. To be a hunter means that one can see the world in different ways. In order to be a hunter one must be in perfect balance with everything else, otherwise hunting would become a meaningless chore.
Today we took a little snake. I had to apologize to her for cutting her life off so suddenly and so definitely; I did what I did knowing that my own life will also be cut off someday in very much the same fashion, suddenly and definitely. So, all in all, we and the snakes are on a par. One of them fed us today.
Hunters must be exceptionally tight individuals. A hunter leaves very little to chance. For your purposes it doesn't really matter whether you learn about plants or about hunting. I am a hunter. I leave very little to chance. Perhaps I should explain to you that I learned to be a hunter. I have not always lived the way I do now. At one point in my life I had to change. Now I'm pointing the direction to you. I'm guiding you. I know what I'm talking about; someone taught me all this. I didn't figure it out for myself.
I'm having a gesture with you. Other people have had a similar gesture with you; someday you yourself will have the same gesture with others. Let's say that it is my turn. One day I found out that if I wanted to be a hunter worthy of self-respect I had to change my way of life. I used to whine and complain a great deal. I had good reasons to feel shortchanged. I am an Indian and Indians are treated like dogs. There was nothing I could do to remedy that, so all I was left with was my sorrow. But then my good fortune spared me and someone taught me to hunt. And I realized that the way I lived was not worth living ... so I changed it.
I laugh a great deal because I like to laugh, yet everything I say is deadly serious.
* * *
It is getting dark. The world is very strange at this time of the day. We are very noticeable here and something is coming to us. It may seem to be wind to you, because wind is all you know. Here it comes. Look how it is searching for us. It's something that hides in the wind and looks like a whorl, a cloud, a mist, a face that twirls around. It moves in a specific direction. It either tumbles or it twirls. A hunter must know all that in order to move correctly.
To believe that the world is only as you think it is, is stupid. The world is a mysterious place. Especially in the twilight. This can follow us. It can make us tired or it might even kill us. At this time of the day, in the twilight, there is no wind. At this time there is only power.
If you would live out here in the wilderness you would know that during the twilight the wind becomes power. A hunter that is worth his salt knows that, and acts accordingly. He uses the twilight and that power hidden in the wind. If it is convenient to him, the hunter hides from the power by covering himself and remaining motionless until the twilight is gone and the power has sealed him into its protection.
The protection of the power seals you like in a cocoon. A hunter can stay out in the open and no puma or coyote or slimy bug could bother him. A mountain lion could come up to the hunters nose and sniff him, and if the hunter does not move, the lion would leave. I can guarantee you that.
If the hunter, on the other hand, wants to be noticed all he has to do is to stand on a hilltop at the time of the twilight and the power will nag him and seek him all night. Therefore, if a hunter wants to travel at night or if he wants to be kept awake he must make himself available to the wind.
Therein lies the secret of great hunters. To be available and unavailable at the precise turn of the road.
You must learn to become deliberately available and unavailable. As your life goes now, you are unwittingly available at all times. To be unavailable does not mean to hide or to be secretive but to be inaccessible. It makes no difference to hide if everyone knows that you are hiding.
We are fools, all of us, and you cannot be different. At one time in my life I, like you, made myself available over and over again until there was nothing of me left for anything except perhaps crying. And that I did, just like yourself.
You must take yourself away. You must retrieve yourself from the middle of the road. Your whole being is there, thus it is of no use to hide; you would only imagine that you are hidden. Being in the middle of the road means that everyone passing by watches your comings and goings.
The art of a hunter is to become inaccessible. To be inaccessible means that you touch the world around you sparingly. You don't expose yourself to the power of the wind unless it is mandatory. You don't use and squeeze people until they have shriveled to nothing, especially the people you love.
To be unavailable means that you deliberately avoid exhausting yourself and others. It means that you are not hungry and desperate.
A hunter knows he will lure game into his traps over and over again, so he doesn't worry. To worry is to become accessible, unwittingly accessible. And once you worry you cling to anything out of desperation; and once you cling you are bound to get exhausted or to exhaust whoever or whatever you are clinging to.
I've told you already that to be inaccessible does not mean to hide or to be secretive. It doesn't mean that you cannot deal with people either. A hunter uses his world sparingly and with tenderness regardless of whether the world might be things, or plants, or animals, or people, or power. A hunter deals intimately with his world and yet he is inaccessible to that same world. He is inaccessible because he's not squeezing his world out of shape. He taps it lightly, stays for as long as he needs to, and then swiftly moves away leaving hardly a mark.
A good hunter knows one thing above all--he knows the routines of his prey. That's what makes him a good hunter. A hunter that is worth his salt does not catch game because he sets his traps, or because he knows the routines of his prey, but because he himself has no routines. He is free, fluid, unpredictable.
In order to be a hunter you must disrupt the routines of your life. I am concerned with the things animals do; the places they eat; the place, the manner, the time they sleep; where they nest; how they walk. These are the routines I am pointing out to you so you can become aware of them in your own being.
All of us behave like the prey we are after. That, of course, also makes us prey for something or someone else. Now, the concern of a hunter, who knows all this, is to stop being a prey himself. It takes time. You could begin by not eating lunch every single day at twelve o'clock.
A good hunter changes his ways as often as he needs. A hunter must not only know about the habits of his prey, he also must know that there are powers on this earth that guide men and animals and everything that is living. Powers that guide our lives and our deaths.
All of us are fools. You always feel compelled to explain your acts, as if you were the only man on earth who's wrong. It's your old feeling of importance. You have too much of it; you also have too much personal history. On the other hand, you don't assume responsibility for your acts; you're not using your death as an adviser, and above all you are too accessible.
One must assume responsibility for being in a weird world. For you the world is weird because if you're not bored with it you're at odds with it. For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I want to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.
Change! If you do not respond to that challenge you are as good as dead. You have never taken the responsibility for being in this unfathomable world. Therefore, you were never an artist, and perhaps you'll never be a hunter. There is one simple thing wrong with you--you think you have plenty of time. You think your life is going to last forever.
Now you're vehemently asserting some non-sense. You don't have time for this display. This, whatever you're doing now, may be your last act on earth. It may very well be your last battle. There is no power which could guarantee that you are going to live one more minute. If this were your last battle on earth, I would say that you are an idiot. You are wasting your last act on earth in some stupid mood.
You have no time, my friend, no time. None of us have time. Don't just agree with me. Act upon it. What I recommend you to do is to notice that we do not have any assurance that our lives will go on indefinitely. Change comes suddenly and unexpectedly, and so does death. There are some people who are very careful about the nature of their acts. Their happiness is to act with the full knowledge that they don't have time; therefore, their acts have a peculiar power.
Acts have power. Especially when the person acting knows that those acts are his last battle. There is a strange consuming happiness in acting with the full knowledge that whatever one is doing may very well be one's last act on earth. I recommend that you reconsider your life and bring your acts into that light.
You don't have time, my friend. That is the misfortune of human beings. None of us have sufficient time. Your acts cannot possibly have the flair, the power, the compelling force of the acts performed by a man who knows that he is fighting his last battle on earth.
We are all going to die. There is something out there waiting for me, for sure; and I will join it, also for sure. Use it. Focus your attention on the link between you and your death, without remorse or sadness or worrying. Focus your attention on the fact you don't have time and let your acts flow accordingly. Let each of your acts be your last battle on earth. Only under those conditions will your acts have their rightful power. Otherwise they will be, for as long as you live, the acts of a timid man. There is no time for timidity, simply because timidity makes you cling to something that exists only in your thoughts. It soothes you while everything is at a lull, but then the awesome, mysterious world will open its mouth for you, as it will open for every one of us, and then you will realize that your sure ways were not sure at all. Being timid prevents us from examining and exploiting our lot as men.
Our death is waiting and this very act we're performing now may well be our last battle on earth. I call it a battle because it is a struggle. Most people move from act to act without any struggle or thought. A hunter, on the contrary, assesses every act; and since he has an intimate knowledge of his death, he proceeds judiciously, as if every act were his last battle. Only a fool would fail to notice the advantage a hunter has over his fellow men. A hunter gives his last battle its due respect. It's only natural that his last act on earth should be the best of himself. It's pleasurable that way. It dulls the edge of his fright.
I've told you, this is a weird world. The forces that guide men are unpredictable, awesome, yet their splendor is something to witness. Call them forces, spirits, airs, winds, or anything like that.
At moments of power, the world of ordinary affairs does not exist and nothing can be taken for granted.
* * *
I've told you never to carry anything in your hands when you walk. Get a knapsack.
* * *
Now it's time for you to become accessible to power, and you are going to begin by tackling dreaming.
A warrior seeks power, and one of the avenues to power is dreaming. What you call dreams are real for a warrior. You must understand that a warrior is not a fool. A warrior is an immaculate hunter who hunts power; he's not drunk, or crazed, and he has neither the time nor the disposition to bluff, or to lie to himself, or to make a wrong move. The stakes are too high for that. The stakes are his trimmed orderly life which he has taken so long to tighten and perfect. He is not going to throw that away by making some stupid miscalculation, by taking something for being something else.
Dreaming is real for a warrior because in it he can act deliberately, he can choose and reject, he can select from a variety of items those which lead to power, and then he can manipulate them and use them, while in an ordinary dream he cannot act deliberately.
In dreaming you have power; you can change things; you may find out countless concealed facts; you can control whatever you want. You're going to learn how to make yourself accessible to power.
Power is something a warrior deals with. At first it's an incredible, far-fetched affair; it is hard to even think about it. Then power becomes a serious matter; one may not have it, or one may not even fully realize that it exists, yet one knows that something is there, something which was not noticeable before. Next power is manifested as something uncontrollable that comes to oneself. It is not possible for me to say how it comes or what it really is. It is nothing and yet it makes marvels appear before your very eyes. And finally power is something in oneself, something that controls one's acts and yet obeys one's command.
I am going to teach you right here the first step to power. I am going to teach you how to set up dreaming. To set up dreaming means to have a concise and pragmatic control over the general situation of a dream, comparable to the control one has over any choice in the desert for instance, such as climbing up a hill or remaining in the shade of a water canyon. You must start by doing something very simple. Tonight in your dreams you must look at your hands.
Don't think it's a joke. Dreaming is as serious as seeing or dying or any other thing in this awesome, mysterious world. Think of it as something entertaining and don't get discouraged or stop trying if you don't succeed right away. Imagine all the inconceivable things you could accomplish. A man hunting for power has almost no limits in his dreaming. The trick in learning to set up dreaming is obviously not just to look at things but to sustain the sight of them. Dreaming is real when one has succeeded in bringing everything into focus. Then there is no difference between what you do when you sleep and what you do when you are not sleeping.
A warrior has to be perfect in order to deal with the powers he hunts. Look at your hands. When they begin to change shape you must move your sight away from them and pick something else, and then look at your hands again. It takes a long time to perfect this technique.
Any warrior could become a man of knowledge. As I told you, a warrior is an impeccable hunter that hunts power. If he succeeds in his hunting he can be a man of knowledge.
You are a man and like any man you deserve everything that is a man's lot--joy, pain, sadness and struggle. The nature of one's acts is unimportant as long as one acts as a warrior. If you really feel that your spirit is distorted you should simply fix it--purge it, make it perfect--because there is no other task in our entire lives which is more worthwhile. Not to fix the spirit is to seek death, and that is the same as to seek nothing, since death is going to overtake us regardless of anything. To seek the perfection of the warrior's spirit is the only task worthy of our manhood.
No matter how much you like to feel sorry for yourself, you have to change that. It doesn't jibe with the life of a warrior.
The hardest thing in the world is to assume the mood of a warrior. It is of no use to be sad and complain and feel justified in doing so, believing that someone is always doing something to us. Nobody is doing anything to anybody, much less to a warrior.
You are here, with me, because you want to be here. You should have assumed full responsibility by now, so the idea that you are at the mercy of the wind would be inadmissible.
Self-pity doesn't jibe with power. The mood of a warrior calls for control over himself and at the same time it calls for abandoning himself.
* * *
Ordinary dreams get very vivid as soon as you begin to set up dreaming. That vividness and clarity is a formidable barrier. Don't be distracted from the purpose of dreaming, which is control and power.
I'm going to remind you of all the techniques you must practice. First you must focus your gaze on your hands as the starting point. Then shift your gaze to other items and look at them in brief glances. Focus your gaze on as many things as you can. Remember that if you only glance briefly the images do not shift. Then go back to your hands.
Every time you look at your hands you renew the power needed for dreaming, so in the beginning don't look at too many things. Four items will suffice every time. Later on you may enlarge the scope until you can cover all you want, but as soon as the images begin to shift and you feel you are losing control go back to your hands.
When you feel you can gaze at things indefinitely you will be ready for a new technique. I'm going to teach you this new technique now, but I expect you to put it to use only when you are ready.
The next step in setting up dreaming is to learn to travel. The same way you have learned to look at your hands you can will yourself to move, to go places. First you have to establish a place you want to go to. Pick a well-known spot--perhaps your school, or a park, a friend's house--then, will yourself to go there.
This technique is very difficult. You must perform two tasks: you must will yourself to go to the specific locale; and then, when you have mastered that technique, you have to learn to control the exact time of your traveling. You are making yourself accessible to power; you're hunting it and I'm just guiding you.
* * *
Last night when the lion let out a scream, you moved very well. Everything you did then was done within a proper mood. You were controlled and at the same time abandoned. You were not paralyzed with fear. To climb that bluff as you did, in darkness, required that you hold on to yourself and let go of yourself at the same time, that's what I call the mood of a warrior.
I wanted to show you that you can spur yourself beyond your limits if you are in the proper mood. A warrior makes his own mood. You didn't know that. Fear got you into the mood of a warrior, but now that you know about it, anything can serve to get you into it.
It's convenient to always act in such a mood, it cuts through the crap and leaves one purified. One needs the mood of a warrior for every single act, otherwise one becomes distorted and ugly. There is no power in a life that lacks this mood.
A warrior is a hunter. He calculates everything. That's control. But once his calculations are over, he acts. He lets go. That's abandon. A warrior is not a leaf at the mercy of the wind. No one can push him; no one can make him do things against himself or against his better judgment. A warrior is tuned to survive, and he survives in the best of all possible fashions.
A warrior could be injured but not offended. For a warrior there is nothing offensive about the acts of his fellow men as long as he himself is acting within the proper mood.
The mood of a warrior is not so far-fetched for yours or anybody's world. You need it in order to cut through all the guff. To achieve the mood of a warrior is not a simple matter. It is a revolution. To regard the lion and the water rats and our fellow men as equals is a magnificent act of the warrior's spirit. It takes power to do that.
There's no plan when it comes to hunting power. Hunting power or hunting game is the same. A hunter hunts whatever presents itself to him. Thus he must always be in a state of readiness. You know about the wind, and now you may hunt power in the wind by yourself. But there are other things you don't know about which are, like the wind, the center of power at certain times and at certain places.
Power is a very peculiar affair. It is impossible to pin it down and say what it really is. It is a feeling that one has about certain things. Power is personal. It belongs to oneself alone. A hunter of power entraps it and then stores it away as his personal finding. Thus, personal power grows, and you may have the case of a warrior who has so much personal power that he becomes a man of knowledge.
If you store power your body can perform unbelievable feats. On the other hand, if you dissipate power you'll be a fat old man in no time at all. A hunter of power watches everything and everything tells him some secret. How can one be sure that things are telling secrets? you ask. The only way to be sure is by following all the instructions I have been giving you, starting from the first day you came to see me. In order to have power one must live with power.
There are worlds upon worlds, right here in front of us. And they are nothing to laugh at. Power commands you and yet it is at your command.
Power is a very weird affair. In order to have it and command it one must have power to begin with. It's possible, however, to store it, little by little, until one has enough to sustain oneself in a battle of power.
The world is a mystery. This, what you're looking at, is not all there is to it. There is much more to the world, so much more, in fact, that it is endless. So when you're trying to figure it out, all you're really doing is trying to make the world familiar. You and I are right here, in the world that you call real, simply because we both know it. You don't know the world of power, therefore you cannot make it into a familiar scene.
Once you know what it is like to stop the world you realize there is a reason for it. You see, one of the arts of the warrior is to collapse the world for a specific reason and then restore it again in order to keep on living.
Someday you will live like a warrior, in spite of yourself. I have taught you nearly everything a warrior needs to know in order to start off in the world, storing power by himself. It takes a lifelong struggle to be by oneself in the world of power.
* * *
A warrior never turns his back to power without atoning for the favors received. When in places of power, you have to act as if nothing is out of the ordinary, because they have the potential of draining people who are disturbed.
You should try willing yourself to go to a specific place in dreaming while you take a nap during the daytime and find out if you can actually visualize the chosen place as it is at the time you are dreaming. Otherwise the visions you might have are not dreaming but ordinary dreams.
In order to help yourself you should pick a specific object that belongs to the place you want to go and focus your attention on it. It is easier to travel in dreaming when you can focus on a place of power. Perhaps the school where you go is a place of power for you. Use it. Focus your attention on any object there and then find it in dreaming. From the specific object you recall, you must go back to your hands and then to another object and so on.
It doesn't matter how one was brought up; what determines the way one does anything is personal power. A man is only the sum of his personal power, and that sum determines how he lives and how he dies.
Personal power is a feeling, something like being lucky. Or one may call it a mood. Personal power is something that one acquires regardless of one's origin. A warrior is a hunter of power. I am teaching you how to hunt and store it. The difficulty with you, which is the difficulty with all of us, is to be convinced. You need to believe that personal power can be used and that it is possible to store it. To be convinced means that you can act by yourself.
A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning; a man who has, without rushing or faltering, gone as far as he can in unraveling the secrets of personal power. Only be concerned with the idea of storing personal power.
Hunting power is a peculiar event. It first has to be an idea, then it has to be set up, step by step, and then, bingo! It happens. Hunting power is a very strange affair. There is no way to plan it ahead of time. That's what's exciting about it. A warrior proceeds as if he had a plan though, because he trusts his personal power. He knows for a fact that it will make him act in the most appropriate fashion.
* * *
I treat myself very well, therefore, I have no reason to feel tired or ill at ease. The secret is not in what you do to yourself but rather in what you don't do.
* * *
This is a place of power. Find a place for us to camp here on this hilltop. This time just act for a change. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to find a suitable place to rest. It might take you all night. It is not important that you find the spot either; the important issue is that you try to find it. You have to look without focusing on any particular spot, squinting your eyes until your view is blurred, and don't let your preference for routines take over.
I screamed because abrupt noises scare away unpleasant spirits. Power does not belong to anyone. Some of us may gather it and then it could be given directly to someone else. You see, the key to stored power is that it can be used only to help someone else store power.
Everything a man does hinges on his personal power. Therefore, for one who doesn't have any, the deeds of a powerful man are incredible. It takes power to even conceive what power is. This is what I have been trying to tell you all along.
The world is a mystery and it is not at all as you picture it. Well, it is also as you picture it, but that's not all there is to the world; there is much more to it. You have been finding that out all along, and perhaps tonight you will add one more piece.
I don't plan anything. All is decided by the same power that allowed you to find this spot.
I'm checking your carrying net to see if the food gourds and your writing pads are secured. A warrior always makes sure that everything is in proper order, not because he believes that he is going to survive the ordeal he is about to undertake, but because that is part of his impeccable behavior.
Trust your personal power. That's all one has in this whole mysterious world. Get hold of yourself, because the darkness is like the wind, an unknown entity at large that could trick you if you are not careful, and you have to be perfectly calm in order to deal with it. You must let yourself go so your personal power will merge with the power of the night.
A warrior acts as if he knows what he is doing, when in effect he knows nothing. A warrior is acting impeccably when he trusts his personal power regardless of whether it is small or enormous.
* * *
I'm going to demonstrate a special way of walking in the darkness; the gait of power. My trunk is slightly bent forward, but my spine is straight. My knees are also slightly bent. Raise your knees almost to your chest every time you take a step.
The gait of power is for running at night, and it is completely safe. This is the night! And it is power!
At night the world is different. My ability to run in the darkness had nothing to do with my knowledge of these hills. The key to it is to let one's personal power flow out freely, so it could merge with the power of the night. Once that power takes over there is no chance for a slip-up.
You have to abandon yourself to the power of the night and trust the little bit of personal power that you have or you will never be able to move with freedom. The darkness is encumbering only because you rely on your sight for everything you do, not knowing that another way to move is to let power be the guide.
Keep on moving on the same spot and try to feel as if you are actually using the gait of power. First curl your fingers against your palms, stretching out the thumb and index of each hand.
You can always see fairly well, no matter how dark the night is, if you don't focus on anything but keep scanning the ground right in front of you. The gait of power is similar to finding a place to rest. Both entail a sense of abandon, and a sense of trust. The gait of power requires that one keep the eyes on the ground directly in front, because even a glance to either side will produce an alteration in the flow of movement. Bending the trunk forward is necessary in order to lower the eyes. The reason for lifting the knees up to the chest is because the steps have to be very short and safe. You are going to stumble a great deal at first but with practice you will be able to run as swiftly and as safely as you can in the daytime.
* * *
There are entities which are in the world, and which act on people. They are here, around us at all times. In daylight, however, it is more difficult to perceive them, simply because the world is familiar to us, and that which is familiar takes precedence. In the darkness, on the other hand, everything is equally strange and very few things take precedence, so we are more susceptible to those entities at night.
There is only one way to learn, and that way is to get down to business. To only talk about power is useless. If you want to know what power is, and if you want to store it, you must tackle everything yourself.
The road to knowledge and power is very difficult and very long. Little by little you are plugging up all your points of drainage. You don't have to be deliberate about it, because power always finds a way. Take me as an example. I didn't know I was storing power when I first began to learn the ways of a warrior. Just like you, I thought I wasn't doing anything in particular, but that was not so. Power has the peculiarity of being unnoticeable when it is being stored.
* * *
You must stretch your body many times during the day. The more times the better, but only after a long period of work or a long period of rest.
* * *
Your body needs fright. It likes it. Your body needs the darkness and the wind. Your body now knows the gait of power and can't wait to try it.
I've told you that the secret of a strong body is not in what you do to it but what you don't do. Now it is time for you not to do what you always do.
Practice not-doing by looking at a tree or bush; fix your attention not on the leaves but on the shadows of the leaves. Running in the darkness does not have to be spurred by fear but can be a very natural reaction of a jubilant body that knows how to not-do.
To not-do what you know how to do is the key to power. In the case of looking at a tree or bush, what you know how to do is to focus immediately on the foliage. The shadows of the leaves or the spaces in between the leaves are never your concern. Start focusing on the shadows of the leaves on one single branch and then eventually work your way to the whole tree, and don't let your eyes go back to the leaves, because the first deliberate step to storing personal power is to allow the body to not-do. The body likes things like this. You can stop the world using this technique. Once you have succeeded, you must work as if nothing has happened to you and don't mention or even be concerned with any of the events you have experienced.
* * *
You should not have remorse for anything you have done, because to isolate one's acts as being mean, or ugly, or evil is to place an unwarranted importance on the self. Well-being is a condition one has to groom, a condition one has to become acquainted with in order to seek it. You don't know what well-being is, because you have never experienced it. Well-being is an achievement one has to deliberately seek.
In order to accomplish the feat of making yourself miserable you have to work in a most intense fashion. It is absurd you have never realized you could work just the same in making yourself complete and strong. The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
* * *
Today you must be perfectly calm and restored, because you are going to learn not-doing in spite of the fact that there is no way to talk about it, because it is the body that does it.
That rock over there is a rock because of doing. You say that you don't understand what I mean. Your saying that is doing. Doing is what makes that rock a rock and that bush a bush. Doing is what makes you yourself and me myself. Take that rock for instance. To look at it is doing, but to see it is not-doing. You say my words are not making sense to you. Oh yes they do. But you are convinced that they don't because that is your doing. That is the way you act towards me and the world.
That rock is a rock because of all the things you know how to do to it. I call that doing. A man of knowledge, for instance, knows that the rock is a rock only because of doing, so if he doesn't want the rock to be a rock all he has to do is not-doing.
The world is the world because you know the doing involved in making it so. If you didn't know its doing, the world would be different. Without that certain doing there would be nothing familiar in the surroundings. This is a pebble because you know the doing involved in making it into a pebble. Now, in order to stop the world you must stop doing. In the case of this little rock, the first thing which doing does to it is to shrink it to this size. So the proper thing to do, which a warrior does if he wants to stop the world, is to enlarge a little rock, or any other thing, by not-doing.
Look at the holes and depressions in the pebble and try to pick out the minute detail in them. If you can pick out the detail, the holes and depressions will disappear and you will understand what not-doing means.
Doing makes you separate the pebble from the larger boulder. If you want to learn not-doing, let's say that you have to join them. See the small shadow that the pebble cast on the boulder. It is not a shadow but a glue which binds them together. A warrior can tell all kinds of things from the shadows.
A warrior always tries to affect the force of doing by changing it into not-doing. Doing would be to leave the pebble lying around because it is merely a small rock. Not-doing would be to proceed with that pebble as if it were something far beyond a mere rock.
Is all this true? To say yes or no to that question is doing. But since you are learning not-doing I have to tell you that it really doesn't matter whether or not all this is true. It is here that a warrior has a point of advantage over the average man.
The reading of my compilation of Carlos Castaneda's books continues from here on this MP3
An average man cares that things are either true or false, but a warrior doesn't. An average man proceeds in a specific way with things that he knows are true, and in a different way with things that he knows are not true. If things are said to be true, he acts and believes in what he does. But if things are said to be untrue, he doesn't care to act, or he doesn't believe in what he does. A warrior, on the other hand, acts in both instances. If things are said to be true, he would act in order to do doing . If things are said to be untrue, he still would act in order to do not-doing . Not-doing is only for very strong warriors.
* * *
There are infinite numbers of lines that join us to things. They are real lines. You can feel them. The most difficult part about the warrior's way is to realize that the world is a feeling. When one is not-doing , one is feeling the world, and one feels the world through its lines.
Not-doing is very simple but very difficult. It is not a matter of understanding but of mastering it. Seeing , of course, is the final accomplishment of a man of knowledge, and seeing is attained only when one has stopped the world through the technique of not-doing .
Shadows are peculiar affairs. Look at the shadow of that boulder. The shadow is the boulder, and yet it isn't. To observe the boulder in order to know what the boulder is, is doing, but to observe its shadow is not-doing.
Shadows are like doors, the doors of not-doing. A man of knowledge, for example, can tell the innermost feelings of men by watching their shadows. You may say that there is movement in them, or you may say that the lines of the world are shown in them, or you may say that feelings come from them. To believe that shadows are just shadows is doing. That belief is somehow stupid. Think about it this way: there is so much more to everything in the world that obviously there must be more to shadows too. After all, what makes them shadows is merely our doing.
When searching for a resting place one has to look without focusing but in observing shadows one has to cross the eyes and yet keep a sharp image in focus. The idea is to let one shadow be superimposed on the other by crossing the eyes. Through this process one can ascertain a certain feeling which emanates from shadows.
Dreaming is the not-doing of dreams, and as you progress in your not-doing you will also progress in dreaming. The trick is not to stop looking for your hands, even if you don't believe that what you are doing has any meaning. In fact, as I have told you before, a warrior doesn't need to believe, because as long as he keeps on acting without believing he is not-doing.
If you tackle not-doing directly, you yourself will know what to do in dreaming .
During the day shadows are the doors of not-doing , but at night, since very little doing prevails in the dark, everything is a shadow. I've already told you about this when I taught you the gait of power.
Everything I have taught you so far has been an aspect of not-doing . A warrior applies not-doing to everything in the world, and yet I can't tell you more about it than what I have said today. You must let your own body discover the power and the feeling of not-doing .
* * *
It is stupid for you to scorn the mysteries of the world simply because you know the doing of scorn.
* * *
The only thing that is real is the being in you that is going to die. To arrive at that being is the not-doing of the self.
When every one of us is born we bring with us a little ring of power. That little ring is almost immediately put to use. So every one of us is already hooked from birth and our rings of power are joined to everyone else's. In other words, our rings of power are hooked to the doing of the world in order to make the world.
For instance, our rings of power, yours and mine, are hooked right now to the doing in this room. We are making this room. Our rings of power are spinning this room into being at this very moment.
A man of knowledge develops another ring of power. I would call it the ring of not-doing , because it is hooked to not-doing . With that ring, therefore, he can spin another world.
Your difficulty is that you haven't yet developed your extra ring of power and your body doesn't know not-doing . We all have been taught to agree about doing . You don't have any idea of the power that that agreement brings with it. But, fortunately, not-doing is equally miraculous, and powerful.
There is no way to escape the doing of our world, so what a warrior does is to turn his world into his hunting ground. As a hunter, a warrior knows that the world is made to be used. So he uses every bit of it. A warrior is like a pirate that has no qualms in taking and using anything he wants, except that the warrior doesn't mind or he doesn't feel insulted when he is used and taken himself.
The instant one begins to live like a warrior, one is no longer ordinary. It is meaningless to complain. What's important from this point on is the strategy of your life.
You may go any place you wish, but if you do, you must assume the full responsibility for that act. A warrior lives his life strategically. When he has to act with his fellow men, a warrior follows the doing of strategy, and in that doing there are no victories or defeats. In that doing there are only actions. The doing of strategy entails that one is not at the mercy of people.
There is something you ought to be aware of by now. I call it the cubic centimeter of chance. All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess to pick it up.
Chance, good luck, personal power, or whatever you may call it, is a peculiar state of affairs. It is like a very small stick that comes out in front of us and invites us to pluck it. Usually we are too busy, or too preoccupied, or just too stupid and lazy to realize that that is our cubic centimeter of luck. A warrior, on the other hand, is always alert and tight and has the spring, the gumption necessary to grab it.
You maintain that your insistence on finding explanations for everything is something so deeply ingrained in you that it overrules every other consideration, that it's like a disease. There are no diseases, there is only indulging. And you indulge yourself in trying to explain everything.
We both are beings who are going to die. There is no more time for what we used to do. Now you must employ all the not-doing I have taught you and stop the world.
* * *
People tell us from the time we are born that the world is such and such and so and so, and naturally we have no choice but to see the world the way people have been telling us it is. Seeing happens only when one sneaks between the worlds; the world of ordinary people and the world of sorcerers.
The real thing is when the body realizes that it can see. Only then is one capable of knowing that the world we look at every day is only a description. My intent has been to show you that.
Only as a warrior can one survive the path of knowledge, because the art of a warrior is to balance the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man.
* * *
Nothing is gained by forcing an issue. If you want to survive you must be crystal clear and deadly sure of yourself.
1. The Teachings of don Juan
2. A Separate Reality
3. Journey to Ixtlan
4. Tales Of Power
5. The Second Ring of Power
6. The Eagle's Gift
7. The Fire From Within
8. The Power of Silence
9. The Art of Dreaming
12. The Active Side of Infinity
13. Appendix A thru E