Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan's Teachings

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The Second Ring of Power



     

Anything is possible if one wants it with unbending intent and you don't let your thoughts interfere.
     
      Power comes only after we accept our fate without recriminations.
      * * *
      When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only when there is something we can still cling to.
     
      A warrior doesn't seek anything for his solace, nor can he possibly leave anything to chance. A warrior actually affects the outcome of events by the force of his awareness and his unbending intent .
      * * *
      You must lose your human form. You don't yet know about the human mold and the human form. The human form is a force and the human mold is ... well ... a mold.
      Everything has a particular mold. Plants have molds, animals have molds, worms have molds. Sorcerers have the avenue of their dreaming to lead them to the mold. The mold of men is definitely an entity, an entity which can be seen by some of us at certain times when we are imbued with power, and by all of us for sure at the moment of our death. The mold is the source, the origin of man, since, without the mold to group together the force of life, there is no way for that force to assemble itself into the shape of man.
      The human form is a sticky force that makes us the people we are. The human form has no form. It's anything, but in spite of not having form, it possesses us during our lives and doesn't leave us until we die.
      A warrior must drop the human form in order to change, to really change. Otherwise there is only talk about change. One cannot change one iota as long as one holds on to the human form. A warrior knows that he cannot change, and yet he makes it his business to try to change, even though he knows that he won't be able to. That's the only advantage a warrior has over the average man. The warrior is never disappointed when he fails to change.
      The only thing that makes you think you are yourself is the form. Once it leaves, you are nothing. A warrior without form begins to see an eye. The formless warrior uses that eye to start dreaming . If you don't have a form, you don't have to go to sleep to do dreaming . The eye in front of you pulls you every time you want to go.
      Everything has to be sifted through our human form. When we have no form, then nothing has form and yet everything is present.
      * * *
      The art of the dreamer is to hold the image of his dream . Our art as ordinary people is that we know how to hold the image of what we are looking at. We just do it; that is, our bodies do it. In dreaming we have to do the same thing, except that in dreaming we have to learn how to do it. We have to struggle not to look but merely to glance and yet hold the image.
     
      Everything we say is a reflection of the world of people. You talk and act the way you do because you're clinging to the human form.
      Everything in a warrior's world depends on personal power and personal power depends on impeccability. Part of being impeccable for a warrior is never to hinder others with his thoughts.
      You indulge in not trying to change. That's as wrong as feeling disappointed with our failures. Warriors, must be impeccable in their effort to change, in order to scare the human form and shake it away. After years of impeccability a moment will come when the form cannot stand it any longer and it leaves.
      * * *
      The art of a sorcerer is to be inconspicuous even in the midst of people. Concentrate totally on trying not to be obvious. To learn to become unnoticeable in the middle of all this is to know the art of stalking .
      * * *
      Be calm and self-controlled and give others your undivided attention.
      * * *
      The whole issue of sorcery is perception. A warrior must notice everything, that's his trick, and there lies his advantage. * * *
      It is an honor and a pleasure to be a warrior, and it is the warrior's fortune to do what he has to do.
     
      What is the art of stalking ? A hunter just hunts, a stalker stalks anything, including himself. An impeccable stalker can turn anything into prey. We can even stalk our own weaknesses. You do it in the same way you stalk prey. You figure out your routines until you know all the doing of your weaknesses and then you come upon them and pick them up like rabbits inside a cage.
      Any habit is, in essence, a doing , and a doing needs all its parts in order to function. If some parts are missing, a doing is disassembled.
      * * *
      A warrior eats quietly, and slowly, and very little at a time.
      * * *
      The only deterrent to our despair is the awareness of our death, the key to the sorcerer's scheme of things. The awareness of our death is the only thing that can give us the strength to withstand the duress and pain of our lives and our fears of the unknown. Volition alone is the deciding factor; in other words, one has to make up one's mind to bring that awareness to bear witness to one's acts.
      We are human creatures. Who knows what's waiting for us or what kind of power we may have.
      * * *
      It doesn't matter what anybody says or does. You must be an impeccable man yourself. The fight is right here in this chest. It takes all the time and all the energy we have to conquer the idiocy in us. And that's what matters. The rest is of no importance. To be an impeccable warrior will give you vigor and youth and power.
      I have taught you to be dispassionate. The world of people goes up and down and people go up and down with their world; as sorcerers we have no business following them in their ups and downs. The art of sorcerers is to be outside everything and be unnoticeable. And more than anything else, the art of sorcerers is never to waste their power.
      * * *
      We hold the images of the world with our attention. Let your attention go from the images of the world. If you don't focus your attention on the world, the world collapses. Instead of fighting to focus, let go of the images by gazing fixedly at distant hills, or by gazing at water, like a river, or by gazing at the clouds.
      If you gaze with your eyes open, you get dizzy and the eyes get tired, but if you half-close them and blink a lot and move them from mountain to mountain, or from cloud to cloud, you can look for hours.
      As I've told you, the tonal and the nagual are two different worlds. In one you talk, in the other you act. At first all of us secretly do not want the world of the nagual . We are afraid and have second thoughts. Our unbending intent and our impeccability gets us thru that.
      * * *
      Everyone can see , and yet we choose not to remember what we see .
      * * *
      With our attention we can hold the images of a dream in the same way we hold the images of the world. The art of the dreamer is the art of attention.
      * * *
      Your reason is the demon that keeps you chained. You have to vanquish it if you want to achieve the realization of my teachings. The issue, therefore, has been how to vanquish your reason . By reason I don't mean the capacity for comprehending, inferring or thinking, in an orderly, rational way. To me reason means attention.
      * * *
     

The core of our being is the act of perceiving, and the magic of our being is the act of awareness. Perception and awareness can be a single, functional, inextricable unit with two domains. The first one is the attention of the tonal ; that is to say, the capacity of average people to perceive and place their awareness on the ordinary world of everyday life: our first ring of power; our awesome but taken-for-granted ability to impart order to our perception of our daily world.
      The second domain is the attention of the nagual ; the capacity to place our awareness on the nonordinary world. It's our second ring of power , or the altogether portentous ability all of us have, but only sorcerers use, to impart order to the nonordinary world.
      What I have struggled to vanquish, or rather suppress in you, is not your reason as the capacity for rational thought, but your attention of the tonal , or your awareness of the world of common sense. The daily world exists because we know how to hold its images; consequently, if one drops the attention needed to maintain those images, the world collapses.
      Practice is what counts. Once you get your attention on the images of your dream, your attention is hooked for good. In the end you can hold the images of any dream.
      Our first ring of power is engaged very early in our lives and we live under the impression that that is all there is to us. Our second ring of power , the attention of the nagual , remains hidden for the immense majority of us, and only at the moment of our death is it revealed to us. There is a pathway to reach it, however, which is available to every one of us, but which only sorcerers take, and that pathway is through dreaming . Dreaming is in essence the transformation of ordinary dreams into affairs involving volition. Dreamers , by engaging their attention of the nagual and focusing it on the items and events of their ordinary dreams, change those dreams into dreaming.
      There are no procedures to arrive at the attention of the nagual , only pointers. Finding your hands in your dreams is the first pointer; then the exercise of paying attention is elongated to finding objects, looking for specific features, such as buildings, streets and so on. From there the jump is to dream about specific places at specific times of the day. The final stage is drawing the attention of the nagual to focus on the total self.
      That final stage is usually ushered in by a dream that many of us have had at one time or another, in which one is looking at oneself sleeping in bed. By the time a sorcerer has had such a dream, his attention has been developed to such a degree that instead of waking himself up, as most of us would do in a similar situation, he turns on his heels and engages himself in activity, as if he were acting in the world of everyday life.
      From that moment on there is a breakage, a division of sorts in the otherwise unified personality. The result of engaging the attention of the nagual and developing it to the height and sophistication of our daily attention of the world is the other self, an identical being as oneself, but made in dreaming .
      There are no definite standard steps for reaching that double, as there are no definite steps for us to reach our daily awareness. We simply do it by practicing. In the act of engaging our attention of the nagual , we find the steps. Practice dreaming without letting your fears make it into an encumbering production.
      * * *
     


There is a crack between the worlds and it is more than a metaphor. It is rather the capacity to change levels of attention. Don't try to reason it out. Act like a warrior and follow what I've told you.
      * * *
      We choose only once. We choose either to be warriors or to be ordinary men. A second choice does not exist. Not on this earth.
     
      The only freedom warriors have is to behave impeccably. Not only is impeccability freedom but it is the only way to scare away the human form.
      The second attention, or the attention of the nagual , is reached only after warriors have swept the top of their tables, their islands of the tonal , clean. Reaching the second attention makes the two attentions into a single unit, and that unit is the totality of oneself.
      Diligence in an impeccable life is the only way to lose the human form. Losing the human form is the essential requirement for unifying the two attentions.
      The attention under the table is the key to everything sorcerers do. In order to reach that attention I have taught you dreaming .
      Another way to learn how to do dreaming is by learning gazing. If you gaze at a pile of leaves for hours your thoughts get quiet. Without thoughts the attention of the tonal wanes and suddenly your second attention hooks onto the leaves and the leaves become something else. The moment when the second attention hooks onto something is called stopping the world .
      The difficulty in gazing is to learn to quiet down the thoughts. Once you can stop the world you are a gazer. And the only way of stopping the world is by trying. Combine gazing at dry leaves and looking for our hands in dreaming . Once you have trapped your second attention with dry leaves, you do gazing and dreaming to enlarge it. And that's all there is to gazing. All we need to do in order to trap our second attention is to try and try.
      Once dreamers know how to stop the world by gazing at leaves, they can gaze at other things; and finally when the dreamers lose their form altogether, they can gaze at anything.
      First after leaves, gaze at small plants. Small plants are very dangerous. Their power is concentrated; they have a very intense light and they feel when dreamers are gazing at them; they immediately move their light and shoot it at the gazer. Dreamers have to choose one kind of plant to gaze at.
      Next gaze at trees. Dreamers also have a particular kind of tree to gaze at. Next gaze at moving, living creatures. Small insects are by far the best subject. Their mobility makes them innocuous to the gazer, the opposite of plants which draw their light directly from the earth.
      The next step is to gaze at rocks. Rocks are very old and powerful and have a specific light which is rather greenish in contrast with the white light of plants and the yellowish light of mobile, living beings. Rocks do not open up easily to gazers, but it is worthwhile for gazers to persist because rocks have special secrets concealed in their core, secrets that can aid sorcerers in their dreaming .
      A second series in the order of gazing is to gaze at cyclic phenomena: rain and fog. Gazers can focus their second attention on the rain itself and move with it, or focus it on the background and use the rain as a magnifying glass of sorts to reveal hidden features. Places of power or places to be avoided are found by gazing through rain. Places of power are yellowish and places to be avoided are intensely green.
     

The position of the body is of great importance while one is gazing. One has to sit on the ground on a soft mat of leaves, or on a cushion made out of natural fibers. The back has to be propped against a tree, or a stump, or a flat rock. The body has to be thoroughly relaxed. The eyes are never fixed on the object, in order to avoid tiring them. The gaze consists in scanning very slowly the object gazed at, going counterclockwise but without moving the head. The idea is to let your perception play without analyzing it.
      The effect you are after in gazing is to learn to stop the internal dialogue. To do that you can focus your view as gazers do or, as I've already told you, flood your awareness while walking by not focusing your sight on anything. That is, sort of feel with your eyes everything in the 180-degree range in front of you, while you keep your fixed and unfocused eyes just above the line of the horizon.
      The essential feature of sorcery is shutting off the internal dialogue. Stopping the internal dialogue is an operational way of describing the act of disengaging the attention of the tonal .
      Once we stop our internal dialogue we also stop the world . That is an operational description of the inconceivable process of focusing our second attention. Part of us is always kept under lock and key because we are afraid of it. And to our reason, that part of us is like an insane relative that we keep locked in a dungeon. That part is our second attention, and when it finally can focus on something the world stops. Since we, as average man, know only the attention of the tonal , it is not too farfetched to say that once that attention is canceled, the world indeed has to stop. The focusing of our wild, untrained second attention is, perforce, terrifying. The only way to keep that insane relative from bursting in on us is by shielding ourselves with our endless internal dialogue.
      * * *
      Dreamers can gaze in order to do dreaming and then they can look for their dreams in their gazing. For example you can gaze at the shadows of rocks and then, in your dreaming , you might find out that those shadows have light. You can then, while gazing, look for the light in the shadows until you find it. Gazing and dreaming go together.
      * * *
     


A warrior has no compassion for anyone. To have compassion means that you wish the other person to be like you, to be in your shoes, and you lend a hand just for that purpose. The hardest thing in the world is for a warrior to let others be. The impeccability of a warrior is to let them be and to support them in what they are. That means, of course, that you trust them to be impeccable warriors themselves. If they are not then it's your duty to be impeccable yourself and not say a word. Only a sorcerer who sees and is formless can afford to help anyone. Every effort to help on our part is an arbitrary act guided by our own self-interest alone.
      * * *
      The problem for you as a challenge is whether or not you will be capable of developing your will , or the power of your second attention to focus indefinitely on anything you want.

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Introduction
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