The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Every person is a philosopher by nature; however, we are quickly dissuaded from this delightful activity by those who call philosophy impractical. But there is nothing more practical than knowing who you are and what you think. Try it sometime.

The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:27 am

by Carlos Castaneda
© 1969 by The Regents of the University of California
© 1996 Carlos Castaneda
Author commentary © 1998 Carlos Castaneda




Table of Contents:

• Part One: The Teachings
o The Author's Commentaries on the Occasion of the Thirtieth Year of Publication of The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
o Foreword
o Introduction
o Chapter 1
o Chapter 2
o Chapter 3
o Chapter 4
o Chapter 5
o Chapter 6
o Chapter 7
o Chapter 8
o Chapter 9
o Chapter 10
o Chapter 11
• Part Two: A Structural Analysis
o The Operative Order: The First Unit
o The Second Unit
o The Third Unit
o The Fourth Unit
o The Conceptual Order
o Summary
• Appendices
o Appendix A
o Appendix B

"The desire to learn is not ambition," he said. "It is our lot as men to want to know, but to seek the devil's weed is to bid for power, and that is ambition, because you are not bidding to know. Don't let the devil's weed blind you. She has hooked you already. She entices men and gives them a sense of power; she makes them feel they can do things that no ordinary man can. But that is her trap. And, the next thing, the path without a heart will turn against men and destroy them. It does not take much to die, and to seek death is to seek nothing."

-- The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:28 am

Para mi solo recorrer los caminos que tienen corazon, cualquier camino que tenga corazon. Por ahi yo recorro, y la unica prueba que vale es atravesar todo su largo. Y por ahi yo recorro mirando, mirando, sin aliento.

(For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.)


... nothing more can be attempted than to establish the beginning and the direction of an infinitely long road. The pretension of any systematic and definitive completeness would be, at least, a self-illusion. Perfection can here be obtained by the individual student only in the subjective sense that he communicates everything he has been able to see.


The Author's Commentaries on the Occasion of the Thirtieth Year of Publication of The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge was first published in 1968. On the occasion of its thirtieth year of publication, I would like to make a few clarifications about the work itself, and to state some general conclusions about the subject of the book at which I have arrived, after years of serious and consistent effort. The book came as a result of anthropological field work which I did in the state of Arizona and in the state of Sonora, Mexico. While doing graduate work in the Anthropology Department at the University of California at Los Angeles, I happened to meet an old shaman, a Yaqui Indian from the state of Sonora, Mexico. His name was Juan Matus.

I consulted with various professors of the Anthropology Department about the possibility of doing anthropological field work, using the old shaman as a key informant. Every one of those professors tried to dissuade me, on the basis of their conviction that before thinking about doing field work, I had to give priority to the required load of academic subjects, in general, and to the formalities of graduate work, such as written and oral examinations. The professors were absolutely right. It didn't take any persuasion on their part for me to see the logic of their advice.

There was, however, one professor, Dr. Clement Meighan, who openly spurred my interest in doing field work. He is the person to whom I must give full credit for inspiring me to carry out anthropological research. He was the only one who urged me to immerse myself as deeply as I could into the possibility that had opened up for me. His urging was based on his personal field experiences as an archaeologist. He told me that he had found out, through his work, that time was of the essence, and that there was very little of it left before enormous and complex areas of knowledge attained by cultures in decline would be lost forever under the impact of modern technology and philosophical drives. He put to me as an example the work of some established anthropologists of the turn of the century, and the early part of the twentieth century, who collected ethnographic data as hurriedly but as methodically as possible on the cultures of the American Indians of the plains, or of California. Their haste was justified, because in a matter of one generation, the sources of information about most of those native cultures were obliterated, especially among the Indian cultures of California.

At the same time all this was happening, I had the good fortune of attending classes with Professor Harold Garfinkel of the Sociology Department at UCLA. He supplied me with the most extraordinary ethnomethodological paradigm, in which the practical actions of everyday life were a bona fide subject for philosophical discourse; and any phenomenon being researched had to be examined in its own light and according to its own regulations and consistencies. If there were any laws or rules to be exacted, those laws and rules would have to be proper to the phenomenon itself. Therefore, the practical actions of shamans, viewed as a coherent system with its own regulations and configurations, were a solid subject for serious inquiry. Such an inquiry didn't have to be subject to theories built a priori, or to comparisons with material obtained under the auspices of a different philosophical rationale.

Under the influence of these two professors, I became deeply involved in my field work. My two driving forces, drawn from my contact with those two men, were: that there was very little time left for the thought processes of the Native American cultures to remain standing before everything was going to be obliterated into the mishmash of modern technology; and that the phenomenon under observation, whatever it may have been, was a bona fide subject for inquiry, and deserved my utmost care and seriousness.

I dove into my field work so deeply that I am sure that in the end, I disappointed the very people who were sponsoring me. I ended up in a field that was no man's land. It was not the subject of anthropology or sociology, or philosophy, or religion, for that matter. I had followed the phenomena's own regulations and configurations, but I didn't have the ability to emerge at a safe place. Therefore, I compromised my total effort by falling off the adequate academic scales for measuring its worth or its lack of it.

The irreducible description of what I did in the field would be to say that the Yaqui Indian sorcerer, don Juan Matus, introduced me into the cognition of the shamans of ancient Mexico. By cognition, it is meant the processes responsible for the awareness of everyday life, processes which include memory, experience, perception, and the expert use of any given syntax. The idea of cognition was, at that time, my most powerful stumbling block. It was inconceivable for me, as an educated Western man, that cognition, as it is defined in the philosophical discourse of our day, could be anything besides a homogeneous, all-engulfing affair for the totality of mankind. Western man is willing to consider cultural differences that would account for quaint ways of describing phenomena, but cultural differences could not possibly account for processes of memory, experience, perception, and the expert use of language to be anything other than the processes known to us. In other words, for Western man, there is only cognition as a group of general processes.

For the sorcerers of don Juan's lineage, however, there is the cognition of modern man, and there is the cognition of the shamans of ancient Mexico. Don Juan considered these two to be entire worlds of everyday life which were intrinsically different from one another. At a given moment, unbeknownst to me, my task mysteriously shifted from the mere gathering of anthropological data to the internalization of the new cognitive processes of the shamans' world.

A genuine internalization of such rationales entails a transformation, a different response to the world of everyday life. Shamans found out that the initial thrust of this transformation always occurs as an intellectual allegiance to something that appears to be merely a concept, but which has unsuspectedly powerful undercurrents. This was best described by don Juan when he said, "The world of everyday life cannot ever be taken as something personal that has power over us, something that could make us, or destroy us, because man's battlefield is not in his strife with the world around him. His battlefield is over the horizon, in an area which is unthinkable for an average man, the area where man ceases to be a man."

He explained those statements, saying that it was energetically imperative for human beings to realize that the only thing that matters is their encounter with infinity. Don Juan could not reduce the term infinity to a more manageable description. He said that it was energetically irreducible. It was something that could not be personified or even alluded to, except in such vague terms as infinity, `lo infinito.'

Little did I know at that time that don Juan was not giving me just an appealing intellectual description; he was describing something he called an energetic fact. Energetic facts, for him, were the conclusions that he and the other shamans of his lineage arrived at when they engaged in a function which they called seeing: the act of perceiving energy directly as it flows in the universe. The capacity to perceive energy in this manner is one of the culminating points of shamanism.

According to don Juan Matus, the task of ushering me into the cognition of the shamans of ancient Mexico was carried out in a traditional way, meaning that whatever he did to me was what was done to every shaman initiate throughout the ages. The internalization of the processes of a different cognitive system always began by drawing, the shaman initiates' total attention to the realization that we are beings on our way to dying. Don Juan and the other shamans of his lineage believed that the full realization of this energetic fact, this irreducible truth, would lead to the acceptance of the new cognition.

The end result which shamans like don Juan Matus sought for their disciples was a realization which, by its simplicity, is so difficult to attain: that we are indeed beings that are going to die. Therefore, the real struggle of man is not the strife with his fellowmen, but with infinity, and this is not even a struggle; it is, in essence, an acquiescence. We must voluntarily acquiesce to infinity. In the description of sorcerers, our lives originate in infinity, and they end up wherever they originated: infinity.

Most of the processes which I have described in my published work had to do with the natural give and take of my persona as a socialized being under the impact of new rationales. In my field situation, what was taking place was something more urgent than a mere invitation to internalize the processes of that new shamanistic cognition; it was a demand. After years of struggle to maintain the boundaries of my persona intact, those boundaries gave in. Struggling to keep them was a meaningless act if it is seen in the light of what don Juan and the shamans of his lineage wanted to do. It was, however, a very important act in light of my need, which was the need of every civilized person: to maintain the boundaries of the known world.

Don Juan said that the energetic fact which was the cornerstone of the cognition of the shamans of ancient Mexico was that every nuance of the cosmos is an expression of energy. From their plateau of seeing energy directly, those shamans arrived at the energetic fact that the entire cosmos is composed of twin forces which are opposite and complementary to each other at the same time. They called those two forces animate energy and inanimate energy.

They saw that inanimate energy has no awareness. Awareness, for shamans, is a vibratory condition of animate energy. Don Juan said that the shamans of ancient Mexico were the first ones to see that all the organisms on Earth are the possessors of vibratory energy. They called them organic beings, and saw that it is the organism itself which sets up the cohesiveness and the limits of such energy. They also saw that there are conglomerates of vibratory, animate energy which have a cohesion of their own, free from the bindings of an organism. They called them inorganic beings, and described them as clumps of cohesive energy that are invisible to the human eye, energy that is aware of itself, and possesses a unity determined by an agglutinating force other than the agglutinating force of an organism.

The shamans of don Juan's lineage saw that the essential condition of animate energy, organic or inorganic, is to turn energy in the universe at large into sensory data. In the case of organic beings, this sensory data is then turned into a system of interpretation in which energy at large is classified and a given response is allotted to each classification, whatever the classification may be. The assertion of sorcerers is that in the realm of inorganic beings, the sensory data into which energy at large is transformed by the inorganic beings, must be, by definition, interpreted by them in whatever incomprehensible form they may do it.

According to the shamans' logic, in the case of human beings, the system of interpreting sensorial data is their cognition. They maintain that human cognition can be temporarily interrupted, since it is merely a taxonomical system, in which responses have been classified along with the interpretation of sensory data. When this interruption occurs, sorcerers claim that energy can be perceived directly as it flows in the universe. Sorcerers describe perceiving energy directly as having the effect of seeing it with the eyes, although the eyes are only minimally involved.

To perceive energy directly allowed the sorcerers of don Juan's lineage to see human beings as conglomerates of energy fields that have the appearance of luminous balls. Observing human beings in such a fashion allowed those shamans to draw extraordinary energetic conclusions. They noticed that each of those luminous balls is individually connected to an energetic mass of inconceivable proportions that exists in the universe; a mass which they called the dark sea of awareness. They observed that each individual ball is attached to the dark sea of awareness at a point that is even more brilliant than the luminous ball itself. Those shamans called that point of juncture the assemblage point, because they observed that it is at that spot that perception takes place. The flux of energy at large is turned, on that point, into sensorial data, and those data are then interpreted as the world that surrounds us.

When I asked don Juan to explain to me how this process of turning the flux of energy into sensory data occurred, he replied that the only thing shamans know about this is that the immense mass of energy called the dark sea of awareness supplies human beings with whatever is necessary to elicit this transformation of energy into sensory data, and that such a process could not possibly ever be deciphered because of the vastness of that original source.

What the shamans of ancient Mexico found out when they focused their seeing on the dark sea of awareness was the revelation that the entire cosmos is made of luminous filaments that extend themselves infinitely. Shamans describe them as luminous filaments that go every which way without ever touching one another. They saw that they are individual filaments, and yet, they are grouped in inconceivably enormous masses.

Another of such masses of filaments, besides the dark sea of awareness which the shamans observed and liked because of its vibration, was something they called intent, and the act of individual shamans focusing their attention on such a mass, they called intending. They saw that the entire universe was a universe of intent, and intent, for them, was the equivalent of intelligence. The universe, therefore, was, for them, a universe of supreme intelligence. Their conclusion, which became part of their cognitive world, was that vibratory energy, aware of itself, was intelligent in the extreme. They saw that the mass of intent in the cosmos was responsible for all the possible mutations, all the possible variations which happened in the universe, not because of arbitrary, blind circumstances, but because of the intending done by the vibratory energy, at the level of the flux of energy itself.

Don Juan pointed out that in the world of everyday life, human beings make use of intent and intending in the manner in which they interpret the world. Don Juan, for instance, alerted me to the fact that my daily world was not ruled by my perception, but by the interpretation of my perception. He gave as an example the concept of university, which at that time was a concept of supreme importance to me. He said that university was not something I could perceive with my senses, because neither my sight nor my hearing, nor my sense of taste, nor my tactile or olfactory senses, gave me any clue about university. University happened only in my intending, and in order to construct it there, I had to make use of everything I knew as a civilized person, in a conscious or subliminal way.

The energetic fact of the universe being composed of luminous filaments gave rise to the shamans' conclusion that each of those filaments that extend themselves infinitely is a field of energy. They observed that luminous filaments, or rather fields of energy of such a nature converge on and go through the assemblage point. Since the size of the assemblage point was determined to be equivalent to that of a modern tennis ball, only a finite number of energy fields, numbering, nevertheless, in the zillions, converge on and go through that spot.

When the sorcerers of ancient Mexico saw the assemblage point, they discovered the energetic fact that the impact of the energy fields going through the assemblage point was transformed into sensory data; data which were then interpreted into the cognition of the world of everyday life. Those shamans accounted for the homogeneity of cognition among human beings by the fact that the assemblage point for the entire human race is located at the same place on the energetic luminous spheres that we are: at the height of the shoulder blades, an arm's length behind them, against the boundary of the luminous ball.

Their seeing-observations of the assemblage point led the sorcerers of ancient Mexico to discover that the assemblage point shifted position under conditions of normal sleep, or extreme fatigue, or disease, or the ingestion of psychotropic plants. Those sorcerers saw that when the assemblage point was at a new position, a different bundle of energy fields went through it, forcing the assemblage point to turn those energy fields into sensory data, and interpret them, giving as a result a veritable new world to perceive. Those shamans maintained that each new world that comes about in such a fashion is an all-inclusive world, different from the world of everyday life, but utterly similar to it in the fact that one could live and die in it.

For shamans like don Juan Matus, the most important exercise of intending entails the volitional movement of the assemblage point to reach predetermined spots in the total conglomerate of fields of energy that make up a human being, meaning that through thousands of years of probing, the sorcerers of don Juan's lineage found out that there are key positions within the total luminous ball that a human being is where the assemblage point can be located and where the resulting bombardment of energy fields on it can produce a totally veritable new world. Don Juan assured me that it was an energetic fact that the possibility of journeying to any of those worlds, or to all of them, is the heritage of every human being. He said that those worlds were there for the asking, as questions are sometimes begging to be asked, and that all that a sorcerer or a human being needed to reach them was to intend the movement of the assemblage point.

Another issue related to intent, but transposed to the level of universal intending, was, for the shamans of ancient Mexico the energetic fact that we are continually pushed and pulled and tested by the universe itself. It was for them an energetic fact that the universe in general is predatorial to the maximum, but not predatorial in the sense in which we understand the term: the act of plundering or stealing, or injuring or exploiting others for one's own gain. For the shamans of ancient Mexico, the predatory condition of the universe meant that the intending of the universe is to be continually testing awareness. They saw that the universe creates zillions of organic beings and zillions of inorganic beings. By exerting pressure on all of them, the universe forces them to enhance their awareness, and in this fashion, the universe attempts to become aware of itself. In the cognitive world of shamans, therefore, awareness is the final issue.

Don Juan Matus and the shamans of his lineage regarded awareness as the act of being deliberately conscious of all the perceptual possibilities of man, not merely the perceptual possibilities dictated by any given culture whose role seems to be that of restricting the perceptual capacity of its members. Don Juan maintained that to release, or set free, the total perceiving capacity of human beings would not in any way interfere with their functional behavior. In fact, functional behavior would become an extraordinary issue, for it would acquire a new value. Function in these circumstances becomes a most demanding necessity. Free from idealities and pseudo-goals, man has only function as his guiding force. Shamans call this impeccability. For them, to be impeccable means to do one's utmost best, and a bit more. They derived function from seeing energy directly as it flows in the universe. If energy flows in a certain way, to follow the flow of energy is, for them, being functional. Function is, therefore, the common denominator by means of which shamans face the energetic facts of their cognitive world.

The exercise of all the units of the sorcerers' cognition allowed don Juan and all the shamans of his lineage to arrive at odd energetic conclusions which at first sight appear to be pertinent only to them and their personal circumstances, but which, if they are examined with care, may be applicable to any one of us. According to don Juan, the culmination of the shamans' quest is something he considered to be the ultimate energetic fact, not only for sorcerers, but for every human being on Earth. He called it the definitive journey.

The definitive journey is the possibility that individual awareness, enhanced to the limit by the individual's adherence to the shamans' cognition, could be maintained beyond the point at which the organism is capable of functioning as a cohesive unit, that is to say, beyond death. This transcendental awareness was understood by the shamans of ancient Mexico as the possibility for the awareness of human beings to go beyond everything that is known, and arrive, in this manner, at the level of energy that flows in the universe. Shamans like don Juan Matus defined their quest as the quest of becoming, in the end, an inorganic being, meaning energy aware of itself, acting as a cohesive unit, but without an organism. They called this aspect of their cognition total freedom, a state in which awareness exists, free from the impositions of socialization and syntax.

These are the general conclusions that have been drawn from my immersion in the cognition of the shamans of ancient Mexico. Years after the publication of The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, I realized that what don Juan Matus had offered me was a total cognitive revolution. I have tried, in my subsequent works, to give an idea of the procedures to effectuate this cognitive revolution. In view of the fact that don Juan was acquainting me with a live world, the processes of change in such a live world a live world never cease. Conclusions, therefore, are only mnemonic devices, or operational structures, which serve the function of springboards into new horizons of cognition.
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:28 am


This book is both ethnography and allegory.

Carlos Castaneda, under the tutelage of don Juan, takes us through that moment of twilight, through that crack in the universe between daylight and dark into a world not merely other than our own, but of an entirely different order of reality. To reach it he had the aid of mescalito, yerba del diablo, and humito -- peyote, datura, and mushrooms. But this is no mere recounting of hallucinatory experiences, for don Juan's subtle manipulations have guided the traveler while his interpretations give meaning to the events that we, through the sorcerer's apprentice, have the opportunity to experience.

Anthropology has taught us that the world is differently defined in different places. It is not only that people have different customs; it is not only that people believe in different gods and expect different postmortem fates. It is, rather, that the worlds of different peoples have different shapes. The very metaphysical presuppositions differ: space does not conform to Euclidean geometry, time does not form a continuous unidirectional flow, causation does not conform to Aristotelian logic, man is not differentiated from non-man or life from death, as in our world. We know something of the shape of these other worlds from the logic of native languages and from myths and ceremonies, as recorded by anthropologists. Don Juan has shown us glimpses of the world of a Yaqui sorcerer, and because we see it under the influence of hallucinogenic substances, we apprehend it with a reality that is utterly different from those other sources. This is the special virtue of this work.

Castaneda rightly asserts that this world, for all its differences of perception, has its own inner logic. He has tried to explain it from inside, as it were -- from within his own rich and intensely personal experiences while under don Juan's tutelage -- rather than to examine it in terms of our logic. That he cannot entirely succeed in this is a limitation that our culture and our own language place on perception, rather than his personal limitation; yet in his efforts he bridges for us the world of a Yaqui sorcerer with our own, the world of nonordinary reality with the world of ordinary reality.

The central importance of entering into worlds other than our own -- and hence of anthropology itself -- lies in the fact that the experience leads us to understand that our own world is also a cultural construct. By experiencing other worlds, then, we see our own for what it is and are thereby enabled also to see fleetingly what the real world, the one between our own cultural construct and those other worlds, must in fact be like. Hence the allegory, as well as the ethnography. The wisdom and poetry of don Juan, and the skill and poetry of his scribe, give us a vision both of ourselves and of reality. As in all proper allegory, what one sees lies with the beholder, and needs no exegesis here.

Carlos Castaneda's interviews with don Juan were initiated while he was a student of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. We are indebted to him for his patience, his courage, and his perspicacity in seeking out and facing the challenge of his dual apprenticeship, and in reporting to us the details of his experiences. In this work he demonstrates the essential skill of good ethnography -- the capacity to enter into an alien world. I believe he has found a path with heart.

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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:29 am


In the summer of 1960, while I was an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles, I made several trips to the Southwest to collect information on the medicinal plants used by the Indians of the area. The events I describe here began during one of my trips. I was waiting in a border town for a Greyhound bus talking with a friend who had been my guide and helper in the survey. Suddenly he leaned toward me and whispered that the man, a white-haired old Indian, who was sitting in front of the window was very learned about plants, especially peyote. I asked my friend to introduce me to this man.

My friend greeted him, then went over and shook his hand. After they had talked for a while, my friend signaled me to join them, but immediately left me alone with the old man, not even bothering to introduce us. He was not in the least embarrassed. I told him my name and he said that he was called Juan and that he was at my service. He used the Spanish polite form of address. We shook hands at my initiative and then remained silent for some time. It was not a strained silence, but a quietness, natural and relaxed on both sides. Though his dark face and neck were wrinkled, showing his age, it struck me that his body was agile and muscular.

I then told him that I was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants. Although in truth I was almost totally ignorant about peyote, I found myself pretending that I knew a great deal, and even suggesting that it might be to his advantage to talk with me. As I rattled on, he nodded slowly and looked at me, but said nothing. I avoided his eyes and we finished by standing, the two of us, in dead silence. Finally, after what seemed a very long time, don Juan got up and looked out of the window. His bus had come. He said good-bye and left the station.

I was annoyed at having talked nonsense to him, and at being seen through by those remarkable eyes. When my friend returned he tried to console me for my failure to learn anything from don Juan. He explained that the old man was often silent or noncommittal, but the disturbing effect of this first encounter was not so easily dispelled.

I made a point of finding out where don Juan lived, and later visited him several times. On each visit I tried to lead him to discuss peyote, but without success. We became, nonetheless, very good friends, and my scientific investigation was forgotten or was at least redirected into channels that were worlds apart from my original intention.

The friend who had introduced me to don Juan explained later that the old man was not a native of Arizona, where we met, but was a Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico.

At first I saw don Juan simply as a rather peculiar man who knew a great deal about peyote and who spoke Spanish remarkably well. But the people with whom he lived believed that he had some sort of "secret knowledge," that he was a "brujo." The Spanish word brujo means, in English, medicine man, curer, witch, sorcerer. It connotes essentially a person who has extraordinary, and usually evil, powers.

I had known don Juan for a whole year before he took me into his confidence. One day he explained that he possessed a certain knowledge that he had learned from a teacher, a "benefactor" as he called him, who had directed him in a kind of apprenticeship. Don Juan had, in turn, chosen me to serve as his apprentice, but he warned me that I would have to make a very deep commitment and that the training was long and arduous.

In describing his teacher, don Juan used the word "diablero." Later I learned that diablero is a term used only by the Sonoran Indians. It refers to an evil person who practices black sorcery and is capable of transforming himself into an animal -- a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature. On one of my visits to Sonora I had a peculiar experience that illustrated the Indians' feeling about diableros. I was driving at night in the company of two Indian friends when I saw an animal that seemed to be a dog crossing the highway. One of my companions said it was not a dog, but a huge coyote. I slowed down and pulled to the side of the road to get a good look at the animal. It stayed within range of the headlights a few seconds longer and then ran into the chaparral. It was unmistakably a coyote, but it was twice the ordinary size. Talking excitedly, my friends agreed that it was a very unusual animal, and one of them suggested that it might be a diablero. I decided to use an account of the experience to question the Indians of that area about their beliefs in the existence of diableros. I talked with many people, telling them the story and asking them questions. The three conversations that follow indicate what they felt.

"Do you think it was a coyote, Choy?" I asked a young man after he had heard the story.

"Who knows? A dog, no doubt. Too large for a coyote."

"Do you think it may have been a diablero?"

"That's a lot of bull. There are no such things."

"Why do you say that, Choy?"

"People imagine things. I bet if you had caught that animal you would have seen that it was a dog. Once I had some business in another town and got up before daybreak and saddled up a horse. As I was leaving I came upon a dark shadow on the road which looked like a huge animal. My horse reared, throwing me off the saddle. I was pretty scared too, but it turned out that the shadow was a woman who was walking to town."

"Do you mean, Choy, that you don't believe there are diableros?"

"Diableros! What's a diablero? Tell me what a diablero is!"

"I don't know, Choy. Manuel, who was riding with me that night, said the coyote could have been a diablero. Maybe you could tell me what a diablero is?"

"A diablero, they say, is a brujo who changes into any form he wants to adopt. But everybody knows that is pure bull. The old people here are full of stories about diableros. You won't find that among us younger people."


"What kind of animal do you think it was, dona Luz?" I asked a middle-aged woman.

"Only God knows that for sure, but I think it was not a coyote. There are things that appear to be coyotes, but are not. Was the coyote running, or was it eating?"

"It was standing most of the time, but when I first saw it, I think it was eating something."

"Are you sure it was not carrying something in its mouth?"

"Perhaps it was. But tell me, would that make any difference?"

"Yes, it would. If it was carrying something in its mouth it was not a coyote."

"What was it then?"

"It was a man or a woman."

"What do you call such people, dona Luz?"

She did not answer. I questioned her for a while longer, but without success. Finally she said she did not know. I asked her if such people were called diableros, and she answered that "diablero" was one of the names given to them.

"Do you know any diableros?" I asked.

"I knew one woman," she replied. "She was killed. It happened when I was a little girl. The woman, they said, used to turn into a female dog. And one night a dog went into the house of a white man to steal cheese. The white man killed the dog with a shotgun, and at the very moment the dog died in the house of the white man the woman died in her own hut. Her kin got together and went to the white man and demanded payment. The white man paid good money for having killed her."

"How could they demand payment if it was only a dog he killed?"

"They said that the white man knew it was not a dog, because other people were with him, and they all saw that the dog stood up on its legs like a man and reached for the cheese, which was on a tray hanging from the roof. The men were waiting for the thief because the white man's cheese was being stolen every night. So the man killed the thief knowing it was not a dog."

"Are there any diableros nowadays, dona Luz?"

"Such things are very secret. They say there are no more diableros, but I doubt it, because one member of a diablero's family has to learn what the diablero knows. Diableros have their own laws, and one of them is that a diablero has to teach his secrets to one of his kin."


"What do you think the animal was, Genaro?" I asked a very old man.

"A dog from one of the ranchos of that area. What else?"

"It could have been a diablero!"

"A diablero? You are crazy! There are no diableros."

"Do you mean that there are none today, or that there never were any?"

"At one time there were, yes. It is common knowledge. Everybody knows that. But the people were very afraid of them and had them all killed."

"Who killed them, Genaro?"

"All the people of the tribe. The last diablero I knew about was S____. He killed dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people with his sorcery. We couldn't put up with that and the people got together and took him by surprise one night and burned him alive."

"How long ago was that, Genaro?"

"In nineteen forty-two."

"Did you see it yourself?"

"No, but people still talk about it. They say that there were no ashes left, even though the stake was made of fresh wood. All that was left at the end was a huge pool of grease."


Although don Juan categorized his benefactor as a diablero, he never mentioned the place where he had acquired his knowledge, nor did he identify his teacher. In fact, don Juan disclosed very little about his personal life. All he said was that he had been born in the Southwest in 1891; that he had spent nearly all his life in Mexico; that in 1900 his family was exiled by the Mexican government to central Mexico along with thousands of other Sonoran Indians; and that he had lived in central and southern Mexico until 1940. Thus, as don Juan had traveled a great deal, his knowledge may have been the product of many influences. And although he regarded himself as an Indian from Sonora, I was not sure whether to place the context of his knowledge totally in the culture of the Sonoran Indians. But it is not my intention here to determine his precise cultural milieu.

I began to serve my apprenticeship to don Juan in June, 1961. Prior to that time I had seen him on various occasions, but always in the capacity of an anthropological observer. During these early conversations I took notes in a covert manner. Later, relying on my memory, I reconstructed the entire conversation. When I began to participate as an apprentice, however, that method of taking notes became very difficult, because our conversations touched on many different topics. Then don Juan allowed me -- under strong protest, however -- to record openly anything that was said. I would also have liked to take photographs and make tape recordings, but he would not permit me to do so.

I carried out the apprenticeship first in Arizona and then in Sonora, because don Juan moved to Mexico during the course of my training. The procedure I employed was to see him for a few days every so often. My visits became more frequent and lasted longer during the summer months of 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964. In retrospect, I believe this method of conducting the apprenticeship prevented the training from being successful, because it retarded the advent of the full commitment I needed to become a sorcerer. Yet the method was beneficial from my personal standpoint in that it allowed me a modicum of detachment, and that in turn fostered a sense of critical examination which would have been impossible to attain had I participated continuously, without interruption. In September, 1965, I voluntarily discontinued the apprenticeship.


Several months after my withdrawal, I considered for the first time the idea of arranging my field notes in a systematic way. As the data I had collected were quite voluminous, and included much miscellaneous information, I began by trying to establish a classification system. I divided the data into areas of related concepts and procedures and arranged the areas hierarchically according to subjective importance -- that is, in terms of the impact that each of them had had on me. In that way I arrived at the following classification: uses of hallucinogenic plants; procedures and formulas used in sorcery; acquisition and manipulation of power objects; uses of medicinal plants; songs and legends.

Reflecting upon the phenomena I had experienced, I realized that my attempt at classification had produced nothing more than an inventory of categories; any attempt to refine my scheme would therefore yield only a more complex inventory. That was not what I wanted. During the months following my withdrawal from the apprenticeship, I needed to understand what I had experienced, and what I had experienced was the teaching of a coherent system of beliefs by means of a pragmatic and experimental method. It had been evident to me from the very first session in which I had participated that don Juan's teachings possessed an internal cohesion. Once he had definitely decided to communicate his knowledge to me, he proceeded to present his explanations in orderly steps. To discover that order and to understand it proved to be a most difficult task for me.

My inability to arrive at an understanding seems to have been traceable to the fact that, after four years of apprenticeship, I was still a beginner. It was clear that don Juan's knowledge and his method of conveying it were those of his benefactor; thus my difficulties in understanding his teachings must have been analogous to those he himself had encountered. Don Juan alluded to our similarity as beginners through incidental comments about his incapacity to understand his teacher during his own apprenticeship. Such remarks led me to believe that to any beginner, Indian or non-Indian, the knowledge of sorcery was rendered incomprehensible by the outlandish characteristics of the phenomena he experienced. Personally, as a Western man, I found these characteristics so bizarre that it was virtually impossible to explain them in terms of my own everyday life, and I was forced to the conclusion that any attempt to classify my field data in my own terms would be futile.

Thus it became obvious to me that don Juan's knowledge had to be examined in terms of how he himself understood it; only in such terms could it be made evident and convincing. In trying to reconcile my own views with don Juan's, however, I realized that whenever he tried to explain his knowledge to me, he used concepts that would render it "intelligible" to him. As those concepts were alien to me, trying to understand his knowledge in the way he did placed me in another untenable position. Therefore, my first task was to determine his order of conceptualization. While working in that direction, I saw that don Juan himself had placed particular emphasis on a certain area of his teachings -- specifically, the uses of hallucinogenic plants. On the basis of this realization, I revised my own scheme of categories.

Don Juan used, separately and on different occasions, three hallucinogenic plants: peyote (Lophophora williamsii), Jimson weed (Datura inoxia syn. D. meteloides), and a mushroom (possibly Psilocybe mexicana). Since before their contact with Europeans, American Indians have known the hallucinogenic properties of these three plants. Because of their properties, the plants have been widely employed for pleasure, for curing, for witchcraft, and for attaining a state of ecstasy. In the specific context of his teachings, don Juan related the use of Datura inoxia and Psilocybe mexicana to the acquisition of power, a power he called an "ally." He related the use of Lophophora williamsii to the acquisition of wisdom, or the knowledge of the right way to live.

The importance of the plants was, for don Juan, their capacity to produce stages of peculiar perception in a human being. Thus he guided me into experiencing a sequence of these stages for the purpose of unfolding and validating his knowledge. I have called them "states of nonordinary reality," meaning unusual reality as opposed to the ordinary reality of everyday life. The distinction is based on the inherent meaning of the states of nonordinary reality. In the context of don Juan's knowledge they were considered as real, although their reality was differentiated from ordinary reality.

Don Juan believed the states of nonordinary reality to be the only form of pragmatic learning and the only means of acquiring power. He conveyed the impression that other parts of his teachings were incidental to the acquisition of power. This point of view permeated don Juan's attitude toward everything not directly connected with the states of nonordinary reality. Throughout my field notes there are scattered references to the way don Juan felt. For example, in one conversation he suggested that some objects have a certain amount of power in themselves. Although he himself had no respect for power objects, he said they were frequently used as aids by lesser brujos. I often asked him about such objects, but he seemed totally uninterested in discussing them. When the topic was raised again on another occasion, however, he reluctantly consented to talk about them.


"There are certain objects that are permeated with power," he said. "There are scores of such objects which are fostered by powerful men with the aid of friendly spirits. These objects are tools -- not ordinary tools, but tools of death. Yet they are only instruments; they have no power to teach. Properly speaking, they are in the realm of war objects designed for strife; they are made to kill, to be hurled."

"What kind of objects are they, don Juan?"

"They are not really objects; rather, they are types of power."

"How can one get those types of power, don Juan?"

"That depends on the kind of object you want."

"How many kinds are there?"

"As I have already said, there are scores of them. Anything can be a power object."

"Well, which are the most powerful, then?"

"The power of an object depends on its owner, on the kind of man he is. A power object fostered by a lesser brujo is almost a joke; on the other band, a strong, powerful brujo gives his strength to his tools."

"Which power objects are most common, then? Which ones do most brujos prefer?"

"There are no preferences. They are all power objects, all just the same.

"Do you have any yourself, don Juan?"

He did not answer; he just looked at me and laughed. He remained quiet for a long time, and I thought my questions were annoying him.

"There are limitations on those types of powers," he went on. "But such a point is, I am sure, incomprehensible to you. It has taken me nearly a lifetime to understand that, by itself, an ally can reveal all the secrets of these lesser powers, rendering them rather childish. I had tools like that at one time, when I was very young."

"What power objects did you have?"

"Maiz-pinto, crystals, and feathers."

"What is maiz-pinto, don Juan?"

"It is a small kernel of corn which has a streak of red color in its middle."

"Is it a single kernel?"

"No. A brujo owns forty-eight kernels."

"What do the kernels do, don Juan?"

"Each one of them can kill a man by entering into his body."

"How does a kernel enter into a human body?"

"It is a power object and its power consists, among other things, in entering into the body."

"What does it do when it enters into the body?"

"It immerses itself in the body; it settles on the chest, or on the intestines. The man becomes ill, and unless the brujo who is tending him is stronger than the bewitcher, he will die within three months from the moment the kernel entered into his body."

"Is there any way of curing him?"

"The only way is to suck the kernel out, but very few brujos would dare to do that. A brujo may succeed in sucking the kernel out, but unless he is powerful enough to repel it, it will get inside him and will kill him instead."

"But how does a kernel manage to enter into someone's body?"

"To explain that I must tell you about corn witchcraft, which is one of the most powerful witchcrafts I know. The witchcraft is done by two kernels. One of them is put inside a fresh bud of a yellow flower. The flower is then set on a spot where it will come into contact with the victim: the road on which he walks every day, or any place where he is habitually present. As soon as the victim steps on the kernel, or touches it in any way, the witchcraft is done. The kernel immerses itself in the body."

"What happens to the kernel after the man has touched it?"

"All its power goes inside the man, and the kernel is free. It becomes just another kernel. It may be left at the site of the witchcraft, or it may be swept away; it does not matter. It is better to sweep it away into the underbrush, where a bird will eat it."

"Can a bird eat it before the man touches it?"

"No. No bird is that stupid, I assure you. The birds stay away from it."

Don Juan then described a very complex procedure by which such power kernels can be obtained.

"You must bear in mind that maiz-pinto is merely an instrument, not an ally," he said. "Once you make that distinction you will have no problem. But if you consider such tools to be supreme, you will be a fool."

"Are the power objects as powerful as an ally?" I asked.

Don Juan laughed scornfully before answering. It seemed that he was trying hard to be patient with me.

"Maiz-pinto, crystals, and feathers are mere toys in comparison with an ally," he said. "These power objects are necessary only when a man does not have an ally. It is a waste of time to pursue them, especially for you. You should be trying to get an ally; when you succeed, you will understand what I am telling you now. Power objects are like a game for children."

"Don't get me wrong, don Juan," I protested. "I want to have an ally, but I also want to know everything I can. You yourself have said that knowledge is power."

"No!" he said emphatically. "Power rests on the kind of knowledge one holds. What is the sense of knowing things that are useless?"


In don Juan's system of beliefs, the acquisition of an ally meant exclusively the exploitation of the states of nonordinary reality he produced in me through the use of hallucinogenic plants. He believed that by focusing on these states and omitting other aspects of the knowledge he taught I would arrive at a coherent view of the phenomena I had experienced.

I have therefore divided this book into two parts. In the first part I present selections from my field notes dealing with the states of nonordinary reality I underwent during my apprenticeship. As I have arranged my notes to fit the continuity of the narrative, they are not always in proper chronological sequence. I never wrote my description of a state of nonordinary reality until several days after I had experienced it, waiting until I was able to treat it calmly and objectively. My conversations with don Juan, however, were taken down as they occurred, immediately after each state of nonordinary reality. My reports of these conversations, therefore, sometimes antedate the full description of an experience.

My field notes disclose the subjective version of what I perceived while undergoing the experience. That version is presented here just as I narrated it to don Juan, who demanded a complete and faithful recollection of every detail and a full recounting of each experience. At the time of recording these experiences, I added incidental details in an attempt to recapture the total setting of each state of nonordinary reality. I wanted to describe the emotional impact I had experienced as completely as possible.

My field notes also reveal the content of don Juan's system of beliefs. I have condensed long pages of questions and answers between don Juan and myself in order to avoid reproducing the repetitiveness of conversation. But as I also want to reflect accurately the overall mood of our exchanges, I have deleted only dialogue that contributed nothing to my understanding of his way of knowledge. The information don Juan gave me about his way of knowledge was always sporadic, and for every spurt on his part there were hours of probing on mine. Nevertheless, there were innumerable occasions on which he freely expounded his knowledge.

In the second part of this book I present a structural analysis drawn exclusively from the data reported in the first part. Through my analysis I seek to support the following contentions: (I) don Juan presented his teachings as a system of logical thought; (2) the system made sense only if examined in the light of its structural units; and (3) the system was devised to guide an apprentice to a level of conceptualization which explained the order of the phenomena he had experienced.
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:29 am

Chapter 1

My notes on my first session with don Juan are dated June 23, 1961. That was the occasion when the teachings began. I had seen him several times previously in the capacity of an observer only. At every opportunity I had asked him to teach me about peyote. He ignored my request every time, but he never completely dismissed the subject, and I interpreted his hesitancy as a possibility that he might be inclined to talk about his knowledge with more coaxing.

In this particular session he made it obvious to me that he might consider my request provided I possessed clarity of mind and purpose in reference to what I had asked him. It was impossible for me to fulfill such a condition, for I had asked him to teach me about peyote only as a means of establishing a link of communication with him. I thought his familiarity with the subject might predispose him to be more open and willing to talk, thus allowing me an entrance into his knowledge on the properties of plants. He had interpreted my request literally, however, and was concerned about my purpose in wishing to learn about peyote.

Friday, June 23, 1961

"Would you teach me about peyote, don Juan?"

"Why would you like to undertake such learning?"

"I really would like to know about it. Is not just to want to know a good reason?"

"No! You must search in your heart and find out why a young man like you wants to undertake such a task of learning."

"Why did you learn about it yourself, don Juan?"

"Why do you ask that?"

"Maybe we both have the same reasons."

"I doubt that. I am an Indian. We don't have the same paths."

"The only reason I have is that I want to learn about it, just to know. But I assure you, don Juan, my intentions are not bad."

"I believe you. I've smoked you."

"I beg your pardon!"

"It doesn't matter now. I know your intentions."

"Do you mean you saw through me?"

"You could put it that way."

"Will you teach me, then?"


"Is it because I'm not an Indian?"

"No, it is because you don't know your heart. What is important is that you know exactly why you want to involve yourself. Learning about 'Mescalito' is a most serious act. If you were an Indian your desire alone would be sufficient. Very few Indians have such a desire."

Sunday. June 25, 1961

I stayed with don Juan all afternoon on Friday. I was going to leave about 7 P.M. We were sitting on the porch in front of his house and I decided to ask him once more about the teaching. It was almost a routine question and I expected him to refuse again. I asked him if there was a way in which he could accept just my desire to learn, as if I were an Indian. He took a long time to answer. I was compelled to stay because he seemed to be trying to decide something.

Finally he told me that there was a way, and proceeded to create a problem. He pointed out that I was very tired sitting on the floor, and that the proper thing to do was to find a "spot" (sitto) on the floor where I could sit without fatigue. I had been sitting with my knees up against my chest and my arms locked around my calves. When he said I was tired, I realized that my back ached and that I was quite exhausted.

I waited for him to explain what he meant by a "spot," but he made no overt attempt to elucidate the point. I thought that perhaps he meant that I should change positions, so I got up and sat closer to him. He protested my movement and clearly emphasized that a spot meant a place where a man could feel naturally happy and strong. He patted the place where he sat and said it was his own spot, adding that he had posed a riddle I had to solve by myself without any further deliberation.

What he had posed as a problem to be solved was certainly a riddle. I had no idea how to begin, or even what he had in mind. Several times I asked for a clue, or at least a hint, as to how to proceed in locating a point where I felt happy and strong. I insisted and argued that I had no idea what he really meant because I couldn't conceive the problem. He suggested I walk around the porch until I found the spot.

I got up and began to pace the floor. I felt silly and sat down in front of him.

He became very annoyed with me and accused me of not listening, saying that perhaps I did not want to learn. After a while he calmed down and explained to me that not every place was good to sit on, and that within the confines of the porch there was one spot that was unique, a spot where I could be at my very best. It was my task to distinguish it from all the other places. The general pattern was that I had to "feel" all the possible spots that were accessible until I could determine without a doubt which was the right one.

I argued that although the porch was not too large (12 X 8 feet), the number of possible spots was overwhelming, and it would take me a very long time to check all of them, and that since he had not specified the size of the spot, the possibilities might be infinite. My arguments were futile. He got up and very sternly warned me that it might take me days to figure it out, but that if I did not solve the problem, I might as well leave because he would have nothing to say to me. He emphasized that he knew where my spot was, and that therefore I could not lie to him; he said this was the only way he could accept my desire to learn about Mescalito as a valid reason. He added that nothing in his world was a gift, that whatever there was to learn had to be learned the hard way.

He went around the house to the chaparral to urinate. He returned directly into his house through the back.

I thought the assignment to find the alleged spot of happiness was his own way of dismissing me, but I got up and started to pace back and forth. The sky was clear. I could see everything on and near the porch. I must have paced for an hour or more, but nothing happened to reveal the location of the spot. I got tired of walking and sat down; after a few minutes I sat somewhere else, and then at another place, until I had covered the whole floor in a semi-systematic fashion. I deliberately tried to "feel" differences between places, but I lacked the criteria for differentiation. I felt I was wasting my time, but I stayed. My rationalization was that I had come a long way just to see don Juan, and I really had nothing else to do.

I lay down on my back and put my hands under my head like a pillow. Then I rolled over and lay on my stomach for a while. I repeated this rolling process over the entire floor. For the first time I thought I had stumbled upon a vague criterion. I felt warmer when l lay on my back.

I rolled again, this time in the opposite direction, and again covered the length of the floor, lying face down on all the places where I had lain face up during my first rolling tour. I experienced the same warm and cold sensations, depending on my position, but there was no difference between spots.

Then an idea occurred to me which I thought to be brilliant: don Juan's spot! I sat there, and then lay, face down at first, and later on my back, but the place was just like all the others. I stood up. I had had enough. I wanted to say good-bye to don Juan, but I was embarrassed to wake him up. I looked at my watch. It was two o'clock in the morning! I had been rolling for six hours.

At that moment don Juan came out and went around the house to the chaparral. He came back and stood at the door. I felt utterly rejected, and I wanted to say something nasty to him and leave. But I realized that it was not his fault; that it was my own choice to go through all that nonsense. I told him I had failed; I had been rolling on his floor like an idiot all night and still couldn't make any sense of his riddle.

He laughed and said that it did not surprise him because I had not proceeded correctly. I had not been using my eyes. That was true, yet I was very sure he had said to feel the difference. I brought that point up, but he argued that one can feel with the eyes, when the eyes are not looking right into things. As far as I was concerned, he said, I had no other means to solve this problem but to use all I had -- my eyes.

He went inside. I was certain that he had been watching me. I thought there was no other way for him to know that I had not been using my eyes.

I began to roll again, because that was the most comfortable procedure. This time, however, I rested my chin on my hands and looked at every detail.

After an interval the darkness around me changed. When I focused on the point directly in front of me, the whole peripheral area of my field of vision became brilliantly colored with a homogeneous greenish yellow. The effect was startling. I kept my eyes fixed on the point in front of me and began to crawl sideways on my stomach, one foot at a time.

Suddenly, at a point near the middle of the floor, I became aware of another change in hue. At a place to my right, still in the periphery of my field of vision, the greenish yellow became intensely purple. I concentrated my attention on it. The purple faded into a pale, but still brilliant, color which remained steady for the time I kept my attention on it.

I marked the place with my jacket, and called don Juan. He came out to the porch. I was truly excited; I had actually seen the change in hues. He seemed unimpressed, but told me to sit on the spot and report to him what kind of feeling I had.

I sat down and then lay on my back. He stood by me and asked me repeatedly how I felt; but I did not feel anything different. For about fifteen minutes I tried to feel or to see a difference, while don Juan stood by me patiently. I felt disgusted. I had a metallic taste in my mouth. Suddenly I had developed a headache. I was about to get sick. The thought of my nonsensical endeavors irritated me to a point of fury. I got up.

Don Juan must have noticed my profound frustration. He did not laugh, but very seriously stated that I had to be inflexible with myself if I wanted to learn. Only two choices were open to me, he said: either to quit and go home, in which case I would never learn, or to solve the riddle.

He went inside again. I wanted to leave immediately, but I was too tired to drive; besides, perceiving the hues had been so startling that I was sure it was a criterion of some sort, and perhaps there were other changes to be detected. Anyway, it was too late to leave. So I sat down, stretched my legs back, and began all over again.

During this round I moved rapidly through each place, passing don Juan's spot, to the end of the floor, and then turned around to cover the outer edge. When I reached the center. I realized that another change in coloration was taking place, again on the edge of my field of vision. The uniform chartreuse I was seeing all over the area turned, at one spot to my right, into a sharp verdigris. It remained for a moment and then abruptly metamorphosed into another steady hue, different from the other one I had detected earlier. I took off one of my shoes and marked the point, and kept on rolling until I had covered the floor in all possible directions. No other change of coloration took place.

I came back to the point marked with my shoe, and examined it. It was located five to six feet away from the spot marked by my jacket, in a southeasterly direction. There was a large rock next to it. I lay down there for quite some time trying to find clues, looking at every detail, but I did not feel anything different.

I decided to try the other spot. I quickly pivoted on my knees and was about to lie down on my jacket when I felt an unusual apprehension. It was more like physical sensation of something actually pushing on my stomach. I jumped up and retreated in one movement. The hair on my neck pricked up. My legs had arched slightly, my trunk was bent forward, and my arms stuck out in front of me rigidly with my fingers contracted like a claw. I took notice of my strange posture and my fright increased.

I walked back involuntarily and sat down on the rock next to my shoe. From the rock, I slumped to the floor. I tried to figure out what had happened to cause me such a fright. I thought it must have been the fatigue I was experiencing. It was nearly daytime. I felt silly and embarrassed. Yet I had no way to explain what had frightened me, nor had I figured out what don Juan wanted.

I decided to give it one last try. I got up and slowly approached the place marked by my jacket, and again I felt the same apprehension. This time I made a strong effort to control myself. I sat down, and then knelt in order to lie face down, but I could not lie in spite of my will. I put my hands on the floor in front of me. My breathing accelerated; my stomach was upset. I had a clear sensation of panic, and fought not to run away. I thought don Juan was perhaps watching me. Slowly I crawled back to the other spot and propped my back against the rock. I wanted to rest for a while to organize my thoughts, but I fell asleep.

I heard don Juan talking and laughing above my head. I woke up.

"You have found the spot," he said.

I did not understand him at first, but he assured me again that the place where I had fallen asleep was the spot in question. He again asked me how I felt lying there. I told him I really did not notice any difference.

He asked me to compare my feelings at that moment with what I had felt while lying on the other spot. For the first time it occurred to me that I could not possibly explain my apprehension of the preceding night. He urged me in a kind of challenging way to sit on the other spot. For some inexplicable reason I was actually afraid of the other place, and, did not sit on it. He asserted that only a fool could fail to see the difference.

I asked him if each of the two spots had a special name. He said that the good one was called the sitio and the bad one the enemy; he said these two places were the key to a man's well-being, especially for a man who was pursuing knowledge. The sheer act of sitting on one's spot created superior strength; on the other hand, the enemy weakened a man and could even cause his death. He said I had replenished my energy , which I had spent lavishly the night before, by taking a nap on my spot.

He also said that the colors I had seen in association with each specific spot had the same overall effect either of giving strength or of curtailing it. I asked him if there were other spots for me like the two I had found, and how I should go about finding them. He said that many places in this world would be comparable to those two, and that the best way to find them was by detecting their respective colors.

It was not clear to me whether or not I had solved the problem, and in fact I was not even convinced that there had been a problem; I could not avoid feeling that the whole experience was forced and arbitrary. I was certain that don Juan had watched me all night and then proceeded to humor me by saying that wherever I had fallen asleep was the place I was looking for. Yet I failed to see a logical reason for such an act, and when he challenged me to sit on the other spot I could not do it. There was a strange cleavage between my pragmatic experience of fearing the "other spot" and my rational deliberations about the total event.

Don Juan, on the other hard, was very sure I had succeeded, and, acting in accordance with my success, let me know he was going to teach me about peyote.

"You asked me to teach you about Mescalito," he said. "I wanted to find out if you had enough backbone to meet him face to face. Mescalito is not some thing to make fun of. You must have command over your resources. Now I know I can take your desire alone as a good reason to learn."

"You really are going to teach me about peyote?"

"I prefer to call him Mescalito. Do the same."

"When are you going to start?"

"It is not so simple as that. You must be ready first."

"I think I am ready."

"This is not a joke. You must wait until there is no doubt, and then you will meet him."

"Do I have to prepare myself?"

"No. You simply have to wait. You may give up the whole idea after a while. You get tired easily. Last night you were ready to quit as soon as it got difficult. Mescalito requires a very serious intent."
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:30 am

Chapter 2

Monday, August 7, 1961

I arrived at don Juan's house in Arizona about seven o'clock on Friday night. Five other Indians were sitting with him on the porch of his house. I greeted him and sat waiting for them to say something. After a formal silence one of the men got up, walked over to me, and said, "Buenas noches." I stood up and answered, "Buenas noches." Then all the other men got up and came to me and we all mumbled "buenas noches" and shook hands either by barely touching one another's fingertips or by holding the hand for an instant and then dropping it quite abruptly.

We all sat down again. They seemed to be rather shy -- at a loss for words, although they all spoke Spanish.

It must have been about half past seven when suddenly they all got up and walked toward the back of the house. Nobody had said a word for a long time. Don Juan signaled me to follow and we all got inside an old pickup truck parked there. I sat in the back with don Juan and two younger men. There were no cushions or benches and the metal floor was painfully hard, especially when we left the highway and got onto a dirt road. Don Juan whispered that we were going to the house of one of his friends who had seven mescalitos for me.

I asked him, "Don't you have any of them yourself, don Juan?"

"I do, but I couldn't offer them to you. You see, someone else has to do this."

"Can you tell me why?"

"Perhaps you are not agreeable to `him' and `he' won't like you, and then you will never be able to know `him' with affection, as one should; and our friendship will be broken."

"Why wouldn't he like me? I have never done anything to him."

"You don't have to do anything to be liked or disliked. He either takes you, or throws you away."

"But, if he doesn't take me, isn't there anything I can do to make him like me?"

The other two men seemed to have overheard my question and laughed.

"No! I can't think of anything one can do," don Juan said.

He turned half away from me and I could not talk to him anymore.

We must have driven for at least an hour before we stopped in front of a small house. It was quite dark, and after the driver had turned off the headlights I could make out only the vague contour of the building.

A young woman, a Mexican, judging by her speech inflection, was yelling at a dog to make him stop barking. We got out of the truck and walked into the house. The men mumbled "Buenas noches" as they went by her. She answered back and went on yelling at the dog.

The room was large and was stacked up with a multitude of objects. A dim light from a very small electric bulb rendered the scene quite gloomy. There were quite a few chairs with broken legs and sagging seats leaning against the walls. Three of the men sat down on a couch, which was the largest single piece of furniture in the room. It was very old and had sagged down all the way to the floor; in the dim light it seemed to be red and dirty. The rest of us sat in chairs. We sat in silence for a long time.

One of the men suddenly got up and went into another room. He was perhaps in his fifties, dark, tall, and husky. He came back a moment later with a coffee jar. He opened the lid and handed the jar to me; inside there were seven odd-looking items. They varied in size and consistency. Some of them were almost round, others were elongated. They felt to the touch like the pulp of walnuts, or the surface of cork. Their brownish color made them look like hard, dry nutshells. I handled them, rubbing their surfaces for quite some time.

"This is to be chewed [esto se masca]," don Juan said in a whisper.

I had not realized that he had sat next to me until he spoke. I looked at the other men, but no one was looking at me; they were talking among themselves in very low voices. This was a moment of acute indecision and fear. I felt almost unable to control myself.

"I have to go to the bathroom," I said to him. "I'll go outside and take a walk."

He handed me the coffee jar and I put the peyote buttons in it. I was leaving the room when the man who had given me the jar stood up, came to me, and said he had a toilet bowl in the other room.

The toilet was almost against the door. Next to it, nearly touching the toilet, was a large bed which occupied more than half of the room. The woman was sleeping there. I stood motionless at the door for a while, then I came back to the room where the other men were.

The man who owned the house spoke to me in English: "Don Juan says you're from South America. Is there any mescal there?" I told him that I had never even heard of it.

They seemed to be interested in South America and we talked about the Indians for a while. Then one of the men asked me why I wanted to eat peyote. I told him that I wanted to know what it was like. They all laughed shyly.

Don Juan urged me softly, "Chew it, chew it [Masca, masca]."

My hands were wet and my stomach contracted. The jar with the peyote buttons was on the floor by the chair. I bent over, took one at random, and put it in my mouth. It had a stale taste. I bit it in two and started to chew one of the pieces. I felt a strong, pungent bitterness; in a moment my whole mouth was numb. The bitterness increased as I kept on chewing, forcing an incredible flow of saliva. My gums and the inside of my mouth felt as if I had eaten salty, dry meat or fish, which seems to force one to chew more. After a while I chewed the other piece and my mouth was so numb I couldn't feel the bitterness anymore. The peyote button was a bunch of shreds, like the fibrous part of an orange or like sugarcane, and I didn't know whether to swallow it or spit it out. At that moment the owner of the house got up and invited everybody to go out to the porch.

We went out and sat in the darkness. It was quite comfortable outside, and the host brought out a bottle of tequila.

The men were seated in a row with their backs to the wall. I was at the extreme right of the line. Don Juan, who was next to me, placed the jar with the peyote buttons between my legs. Then he handed me the bottle, which was passed down the line, and told me to take some of the tequila to wash away the bitterness.

I spit out the shreds of the first button and took a sip. He told me not to swallow it, but to just rinse out my mouth with it to stop the saliva. It did not help much with the saliva, but it certainly helped to wash away some of the bitterness.

Don Juan gave me a piece of dried apricot, or perhaps it was a dried fig -- I couldn't see it in the dark, nor could I taste it -- and told me to chew it thoroughly and slowly, without rushing. I had difficulty swallowing it; it felt as if it would not go down.

After a short pause the bottle went around again. Don Juan handed me a piece of crispy dried meat. I told him I did not feel like eating.

"This is not eating," he said firmly.

The pattern was repeated six times. I remember having chewed six peyote buttons when the conversation became very lively; although I could not distinguish what language was spoken, the topic of the conversation, in which everybody participated, was very interesting, and I attempted to listen carefully so that I could take part. But when I tried to speak I realized I couldn't; the words shifted aimlessly about in my mind.

I sat with my back propped against the wall and listened to what the men were saying. They were talking in Italian, and repeated over and over one phrase about the stupidity of sharks. I thought it was a logical, coherent topic. I had told don Juan earlier that the Colorado River in Arizona was called by the early Spaniards "el rio de los tizones [the river of charred wood]"; and someone misspelled or misread "tizones," and the river was called "el rio de los tiburones [the river of the sharks]." I was sure they were discussing that story, yet it never occurred to me to think that none of them could speak Italian.

I had a very strong desire to throw up, but I don't recall the actual act. I asked if somebody would get me some water. I was experiencing an unbearable thirst.

Don Juan brought me a large saucepan. He placed it on the ground next to the wall. He also brought a little cup or can. He dipped it into the pan and handed it to me, and said I could not drink but should just freshen my mouth with it.

The water looked strangely shiny, glossy, like a thick varnish. I wanted to ask don Juan about it and laboriously I tried to voice my thoughts in English, but then I realized he did not speak English. I experienced a very confusing moment, and became aware of the fact that although there was a clear thought in my mind, I could not speak. I wanted to comment on the strange quality of the water, but what followed next was not speech; it was the feeling of my unvoiced thoughts coming out of my mouth in a sort of liquid form. It was an effortless sensation of vomiting without the contractions of the diaphragm. It was a pleasant flow of liquid words.

I drank. And the feeling that I was vomiting disappeared. By that time all noises had vanished and I found I had difficulty focusing my eyes. I looked for don Juan and as I turned my head I noticed that my field of vision had diminished to a circular area in front of my eyes. This feeling was neither frightening nor discomforting, but, quite to the contrary, it was a novelty; I could literally sweep the ground by focusing on one spot and then moving my head slowly in any direction. When I had first come out to the porch I had noticed it was all dark except for the distant glare of the city lights. Yet within the circular area of my vision everything was clear. I forgot about my concern with don Juan and the other men, and gave myself entirely to exploring the ground with my pinpoint vision.

I saw the juncture of the porch floor and the wall. I turned my head slowly to the right, following the wall, and saw don Juan sitting against it. I shifted my head to the left in order to focus on the water. I found the bottom of the pan; I raised my head slightly and saw a medium-size black dog approaching. I saw him coming toward the water. The dog began to drink. I raised my hand to push him away from my water; I focused my pinpoint vision on the dog to carry on the movement, and suddenly I saw him become transparent. The water was a shiny, viscous liquid. I saw it going down the dog's throat into his body. I saw it flowing evenly through his entire length and then shooting out through each one of the hairs. I saw the iridescent fluid traveling along the length of each individual hair and then projecting out of the hairs to form a long, white, silky mane.

At that moment I had the sensation of intense convulsions, and in a matter of instants a tunnel formed around me, very low and narrow, hard and strangely cold. It felt to the touch like a wall of solid tinfoil. I found I was sitting on the tunnel floor. I tried to stand up, but hit my head on the metal roof, and the tunnel compressed itself until it was suffocating me. I remember having to crawl toward a sort of round point where the tunnel ended; when I finally arrived, if I did, I had forgotten all about the dog, don Juan, and myself. I was exhausted. My clothes were soaked in a cold, sticky liquid. I rolled back and forth trying to find a position in which to rest, a position where my heart would not pound so hard. In one of those shifts I saw the dog again.

Every memory came back to me at once, and suddenly all was clear in my mind. I turned around to look for don Juan, but I could not distinguish anything or anyone. All I was capable of seeing was the dog becoming iridescent; an intense light radiated from his body. I saw again the water flowing through him, kindling him like a bonfire. I got to the water, sank my face in the pan, and drank with him. My hands were in front of me on the ground and, as I drank, I saw the fluid running through my veins setting up hues of red and yellow and green. I drank more and more. I drank until I was all afire; I was all aglow. I drank until the fluid went out of my body through each pore, and projected out like fibers of silk, and I too acquired a long, lustrous, iridescent mane. I looked at the dog and his mane was like mine. A supreme happiness filled my whole body, and we ran together toward a sort of yellow warmth that came from some indefinite place. And there we played. We played and wrestled until I knew his wishes and he knew mine. We took turns manipulating each other in the fashion of a puppet show. I could make him move his legs by twisting my toes, and every time he nodded his head I felt an irresistible impulse to jump. But his most impish act was to make me scratch my head with my foot while I sat; he did it by flapping his ears from side to side. This action was to me utterly, unbearable funny. Such a touch of grace and irony; such mastery, I thought. The euphoria that possessed me was indescribable. I laughed until it was almost impossible to breathe.

I had the clear sensation of not being able to open my eyes; I was looking through a tank of water. It was a long and very painful state filled with the anxiety of not being able to wake up and yet being awake. Then slowly the world became clear and in focus. My field of vision became again very round and ample, and with it came an ordinary conscious act, which was to turn around and look for that marvelous being. At this point I encountered the most difficult transition. The passage from my normal state had taken place almost without my realizing it: I was aware; my thoughts and feelings were a corollary of that awareness; and the passing was smooth and clear. But this second change, the awakening to serious, sober consciousness, was genuinely shocking. I had forgotten I was a man! The sadness of such an irreconcilable situation was so intense that I wept.

Saturday, August 5, 1961

Later that morning, after breakfast, the owner of the house, don Juan, and I drove back to don Juan's place. I was very tired, but I couldn't go to sleep in the truck. Only after the man had left did I fall asleep on the porch of don Juan's house.

When I woke up it was dark; don Juan had covered me up with a blanket. I looked for him, but he was not in the house. He came later with a pot of fried beans and a stack of tortillas. I was extremely hungry.

After we had finished eating and were resting he asked me to tell him all that had happened to me the night before. I related my experience in great detail and as accurately as possible.

When I finished he nodded his head and said, "I think you are fine. It is difficult for me to explain now how and why. But I think it went all right for you. You see, sometimes he is playful, like a child; at other times he is terrible, fearsome. He either frolics, or he is dead serious. It is impossible to know beforehand what he will be like with another person. Yet, when one knows him well --sometimes. You played with him tonight. You are the only person I know who has had such an encounter."

"In what way does my experience differ from that of others?"

"You're not an Indian; therefore it is hard for me to figure out what is what. Yet he either takes people or rejects them, regardless of whether they are Indians or not. That I know. I have seen numbers of them. I also know that he frolics, he makes some people laugh, but never have I seen him play with anyone."

"Can you tell me now, don Juan, how does peyote protect ..."

He did not let me finish. Vigorously he touched me on the shoulder.

"Don't you ever name him that way. You haven't seen enough of him yet to know him."

"How does Mescalito protect people?"

"He advises. He answers whatever questions you ask."

"Then Mescalito is real? I mean he is something you can see?"

He seemed to be baffled by my question. He looked at me with a sort of blank expression.

"What I meant to say, is that Mescalito ..."

"I heard what you said. Didn't you see him last night?"

I wanted to say that I. saw only a dog, but I noticed his bewildered look.

"Then you think what I saw last night was him?"

He looked at me with contempt. He chuckled, shook his head as though he couldn't believe it, and in a very belligerent tone he added, "A poco crees que era to -- mama [Don't tell me you believe it was your -- mama]?" He paused before saying "mama" because what he meant to say was "tu chingada madre," an idiom used as a disrespectful allusion to the other party's mother. The word "mama" was so incongruous that we both laughed for a long time.

Then I realized he had fallen asleep and had not answered my question.

Sunday, August 6, 1961

I drove don Juan to the house where I had taken peyote. On the way he told me that the name of the man who had "offered me to Mescalito" was John. When we got to the house we found John sitting on his porch with two young men. All of them were extremely jovial. They laughed and talked with great ease. The three of them spoke English perfectly. I told John that I had come to thank him for having helped me.

I wanted to get their views on my behavior during the hallucinogenic experience, and told them I had been trying to think of what I had done that night and that I couldn't remember. They laughed and were reluctant to talk about it. They seemed to be holding back on account of don Juan. They all glanced at him as though waiting for an affirmative cue to go on. Don Juan must have cued them, although I did not notice anything, because suddenly John began to tell me what I had done that night.

He said he knew I had been "taken' when he heard me puking. He estimated that I must have puked thirty times. Don Juan corrected him and said it was only ten times.

John continued: "Then we all moved next to you. You were stiff, and were having convulsions. For a very long time, while lying on your back, you moved your mouth as though talking. Then you began to bump your head on the floor, and don Juan put an old hat on your head and you stopped it. You shivered and whined for hours, lying on the floor. I think everybody fell asleep then; but I heard you puffing and groaning in my sleep. Then I heard you scream and I woke up. I saw you leaping up in the air, screaming. You made a dash for the water, knocked the pan over, and began to swim in the puddle.

"Don Juan brought you more water. You sat quietly in front of the pan. Then you jumped up and took off all your clothes. You were kneeling in front of the water, drinking in big gulps. Then you just sat there and stared into space. We thought you were going to be there forever. Nearly everybody was asleep, including don Juan, when suddenly you jumped up again, howling, and took after the dog. The dog got scared and howled too, and ran to the back of the house. Then everybody woke up.

"We all got up. You came back from the other side still chasing the dog. The dog was running ahead of you barking and howling. I think you must have gone twenty times around the house, running in circles, barking like a dog. I was afraid people were going to be curious. There are no neighbors close, but your howling was so loud it could have been heard for miles."

One of the young men added, "You caught up with the dog and brought it to the porch in your arms."

John continued: "Then you began to play with the dog. You wrestled with him, and the dog and you bit each other and played. That, I thought, was funny. My dog does not play usually. But this time you and the dog were rolling on each other."

"Then you ran to the water and the dog drank with you," the young man said. "You ran five or six times to the water with the dog."

"How long did this go on?" I asked.

"Hours," John said. "At one time we lost sight of you two. I think you must have run to the back. We just heard you barking and groaning. You sounded so much like a dog that we couldn't tell you two apart."

"Maybe it was just the dog alone," I said.

They laughed, and John said, "You were barking there, boy!"

"What happened next?"

The three men looked at one another and seemed to have a hard time deciding what happened next. Finally the young man who had not yet said anything spoke up.

"He choked," he said, looking at John.

"Yes, you certainly choked. You began to cry very strangely, and then you fell to the floor. We thought you were biting your tongue; don Juan opened your jaws and poured water on your face. Then you started shivering and having convulsions all over again. Then you stayed motionless for a long time. Don Juan said it was all over. By then it was morning, so we covered you with a blanket and left you to sleep on the porch."

He stopped there and looked at the other men who were obviously trying not to laugh. He turned to don Juan and asked him something. Don Juan smiled and answered the question. John turned to me and said, "We left you here on the porch because we were afraid you were going to piss all over the rooms."

They all laughed very loudly.

"What was the matter with me?" I asked. "Did I ..."

"Did you?" John sort of mimicked me. "We were not going to mention it, but don Juan says it is all right. You pissed all over my dog!"

"What did I do?"

"You don't think the dog was running because he was afraid of you, do you? The dog was running because you were pissing on him."

There was general laughter at this point. I tried to question one of the young men, but they were all laughing and he didn't hear me.

John went on: "My dog got even though; he pissed on you too!"

This statement was apparently utterly funny because they all roared with laughter, including don Juan. When they had quieted down, I asked in all earnestness, "Is it really true? This really happened?"

Still laughing, John replied: "I swear my dog really pissed on you."

Driving back to don Juan's place I asked him: "Did all that really happen, don Juan?"

"Yes," he said, "but they don't know what you saw. They don't realize you were playing with `him.' That is why I did not disturb you."

"But is this business of the dog and me pissing on each other true?"

"It was not a dog! How many times do I have to tell you that? This is the only way to understand it. It's the only way! It was `he' who played with you."

"Did you know all this was happening before I told you about it?"

He vacillated for an instant before answering.

"No, I remembered, after you told me about it, the strange way you looked. I just suspected you were doing fine because you didn't seem scared."

"Did the dog really play with me as they say?"

"Goddammit! It was not a dog!"

Thursday, August 17, 1961

I told don Juan how I felt about my experience. From the point of view of my intended work it had been a disastrous event. I said I did not care for another similar "encounter" with Mescalito. I agreed that everything that had happened to me had been more than interesting, but added that nothing in it could really move me toward seeking it again. I seriously believed that I was not constructed for that type of endeavor. Peyote had produced in me, as a postreaction, a strange kind of physical discomfort. It was an indefinite fear or unhappiness; a melancholy of some sort, which I could not define exactly. And I did not find that state noble in any way.

Don Juan laughed and said, "You are beginning to learn."

"This type of learning is not for me. I am not made for it, don Juan."

"You always exaggerate."

"This is not exaggeration."

"It is. The only trouble is that you exaggerate the bad points only."

"There are no good points so far as I am concerned. All I know is that it makes me afraid."

"There is nothing wrong with being afraid. When you fear, you see things in a different way."

"But I don't care about seeing things in a different way, don Juan. I think I am going to leave the learning about Mescalito alone. I can't handle it, don Juan. This is really a bad situation for me."

"Of course it is bad -- even for me. You are not the only one who is baffled."

"Why should you be baffled, don Juan?"

"I have been thinking about what I saw the other night. Mescalito actually played with you. That baffled me, because it was an indication [omen]."

"What kind of an indication, don Juan?"

"Mescalito was pointing you out to me."

"What for?"

"It wasn't clear to me then, but now it is. He meant you were the `chosen man' [escogido]. Mescalito pointed you out to me and by doing that he told me you were the chosen man."

"Do you mean I was chosen among others for some task, or something of the sort?"

"No. What I mean is, Mescalito told me you could be the man I am looking for."

"When did he tell you that, don Juan?"

"By playing with you, he told me that. This makes you the chosen man for me."

"What does it mean to be the chosen man?"

"There are some secrets I know [Tengo secretor]. I have secrets I won't be able to reveal to anyone unless I find my chosen man. The other night when I saw you playing with Mescalito it was clear to me you were that man. But you are not an Indian. How baffling!"

"But what does it mean to me, don Juan? What do I have to do?"

"I've made up my mind and I am going to teach you the secrets that make up the lot of a man of knowledge."

"Do you mean the secrets about Mescalito?"

"Yes, but those are not all the secrets I know. There are others, of a different kind, which I would like to give to someone. I had a teacher myself, my benefactor, and I also became his chosen man upon performing a certain feat. He taught me all I know."

I asked him again what this new role would require of me; he said learning was the only thing involved, learning in the sense of what I had experienced in the two sessions with him.

The way in which the situation had evolved was quite strange. I had made up my mind to tell him I was going to give up the idea of learning about peyote, and then before I could really make my point, he offered to teach me his "knowledge." I did not know what he meant by that, but I felt that this sudden turn was very serious. I argued I had no qualifications for such a task, as it required a rare kind of courage which I did not have. I told him that my bent of character was to talk about acts others performed. I wanted to hear his views and opinions about everything. I told him I could be happy if I could sit there and listen to him talk for days. To me, that would be learning.

He listened without interrupting me. I talked for a long time. Then he said:

"All this is very easy to understand. Fear is the first natural enemy a man must overcome on his path to knowledge. Besides, you are curious. That evens up the score. And you will learn in spite of yourself; that's the rule."

I protested for a while longer, trying to dissuade him. But he seemed to be convinced there was nothing else I could do but learn.

"You are not thinking in the proper order," he said. "Mescalito actually played with you. That's the point to think about. Why don't you dwell on that instead of on your fear?"

"Was it so unusual?"

"You are the only person I have ever seen playing with him. You are not used to this kind of life; therefore the indications [omens] bypass you. Yet you are a serious person, but your seriousness is attached to what you do, not to what goes on outside you. You dwell upon yourself too much. That's the trouble. And that produces a terrible fatigue."

"But what else can anyone do, don Juan?"

"Seek and see the marvels all around you. You will get tired of looking at yourself alone, and that fatigue will make you deaf and blind to everything else."

"You have a point, don Juan, but how can I change?"

"Think about the wonder of Mescalito playing with you. Think about nothing else: The rest will come to you of itself."

Sunday, August 20, 1961

Last night don Juan proceeded to usher me into the realm of his knowledge. We sat in front of his house in the dark. Suddenly, after a long silence, he began to talk. He said he was going to advise me with the same words his own benefactor had used the first day he took him as his apprentice. Don Juan had apparently memorized the words, for he repeated them several times, to make sure I did not miss any:

"A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war, wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it will live to regret his steps."

I asked him why was it so and he said that when a man has fulfilled those four requisites there are no mistakes for which he will have to account; under such conditions his acts lose the blundering quality of a fool's acts. If such a man fails, or suffers a defeat, he will have lost only a battle, and there will be no pitiful regrets over that.

Then he said he intended to teach me about an "ally" in the very same way his own benefactor had taught him. He put strong emphasis on the words "very same way," repeating the phrase several times.

An "ally," he said, is a power a man can bring into his life to help him, advise him, and give him the strength necessary to perform acts, whether big or small, right or wrong. This ally is necessary to enhance a man's life, guide his acts, and further his knowledge. In fact, an ally is the indispensable aid to knowing. Don Juan said this with great conviction and force. He seemed to choose his words carefully. He repeated the following sentence four times:

"An ally will make you see and understand things about which no human being could possibly enlighten you."

"Is an ally something like a guardian spirit?"

"It is neither a guardian nor a spirit. It is an aid."

"Is Mescalito your ally?"

"No! Mescalito is another kind of power. A unique power! A protector, a teacher."

"What makes Mescalito different from an ally?"

"He can't be tamed and used as an ally is tamed and used. Mescalito is outside oneself. He chooses to show himself in many forms to whoever stands in front of him, regardless of whether that person is a brujo or a farm boy."

Don Juan spoke with deep fervor about Mescalito's being the teacher of the proper way to live. I asked him how Mescalito taught the "proper way of life," and don Juan replied that Mescalito showed how to live.

"How does he show it?" I asked.

"He has many ways of showing it. Sometimes he shows it on his hand, or on the rocks, or the trees, or just in front of you."

"Is it like a picture in front of you?"

"No. It is a teaching in front of you."

"Does Mescalito talk to the person?"

"Yes. But not in words."

"How does he talk, then?"

"He talks differently to every man."

I felt my questions were annoying him. I did not ask any more. He went on explaining that there were no exact steps to knowing Mescalito; therefore no one could teach about him except Mescalito himself. This quality made him a unique power; he was not the same for every man.

On the other hand, the acquiring of an ally required, don Juan said, the most precise teaching and the following of stages or steps without a single deviation. There are many such ally powers in the world, he said, but he was familiar with only two of them. And he was going to lead me to them and their secrets, but it was up to me to choose one of them, for I could have only one. His benefactor's ally was in la yerba del diablo (devil's weed), he said, but he personally did not like it, even though his benefactor had taught him its secrets. His own ally was in the humito (the little smoke), he said, but he did not elaborate on the nature of the smoke.

I asked him about it. He remained quiet. After a 'long pause I asked him:

"What kind of a power is an ally?"

"It is an aid. I have already told you."

"How does it aid?"

"An ally is a power capable of carrying a man beyond the boundaries of himself. This is how an ally can reveal matters no human being could."

"But Mescalito also takes you out of the boundaries of yourself. Doesn't that make him an ally?"

"No. Mescalito takes you out of yourself to teach you. An ally takes you out to give you power."

I asked him to explain this point to me in more detail, or to describe the difference in effect between the two. He looked at me for a long time and laughed. He said that learning through conversation was not only a waste, but stupidity, because learning was the most difficult task a man could undertake. He asked me to remember the time I had tried to find my spot, and how I wanted to find it without doing any work because I had expected him to hand out all the information. If he had done so, he said, I would never have learned. But, knowing how difficult it was to find my spot, and, above all, knowing that it existed, would give me a unique sense of confidence. He said that while I remained rooted to my "good spot" nothing could cause me bodily harm, because I had the assurance that at that particular spot I was at my very best. I had the power to shove off anything that might be harmful to me. If, however, he had told me where it was, I would never have had the confidence needed to claim it as true knowledge. Thus, knowledge was indeed power.

Don Juan said then that every time a man sets himself to learn he has to labor as hard as I did to find that spot, and the limits of his learning are determined by his own nature. Thus he saw no point in talking about knowledge. He said that certain kinds of knowledge were too powerful for the strength I had, and to talk about them would only bring harm to me. He apparently felt there was nothing else he wanted to say. He got up and walked toward his house. I told him the situation overwhelmed me. It was not what I had conceived or wanted it to be.

He said that fears are natural; that all of us experience them and there is nothing we can do about it. But on the other hand, no matter how frightening learning is, it is more terrible to think of a man without an ally, or without knowledge.
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:30 am


Chapter 3

In the more than two years that elapsed between the time don Juan decided to teach me about the ally powers and the time he thought I was ready to learn about them in the pragmatic, participatory form he considered as learning, he gradually defined the general features of the two allies in question. He prepared me for the indispensable corollary of all the verbalizations, and the consolidation of all the teachings, the states of nonordinary reality.

At first he talked about the ally powers in a very casual manner. The first references I have in my notes are interjected between other topics of conversation.

Wednesday, August 23, 1961

"The devil's weed [Jimson weed] was my benefactor's ally. It could have been mine also, but I didn't like her."

"Why didn't you like the devil's weed, don Juan?"

"She has a serious drawback."

"Is she inferior to other ally powers?"

"No. Don't get me wrong. She is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something about her which I personally don't like."

"Can you tell me what it is?"

"She distorts men. She gives them a taste of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power."

"Isn't there any way to avoid that?"

"There is a way to overcome it, but not to avoid it. Whoever becomes the weed's ally must pay that price."

"How can one overcome that effect, don Juan?"

"The devil's weed has four heads: the root, the stem and leaves, the flowers, and the seeds. Each one of them is different, and whoever becomes her ally must learn about them in that order. The most important head is in the roots. The power of the devil's weed is conquered through the roots. The stem and leaves are the head that cures maladies; properly used, this head is a gift to mankind. The third head is in the flowers, and it is used to turn people crazy, or to make them obedient, or to kill them. The man whose ally is the weed never intakes the flowers, nor does he intake the stem and leaves, for that matter, except in cases of his own illness; but the roots and the seeds are always intaken; especially the seeds; they are the fourth head of the devil's weed and the most powerful of the four.

"My benefactor used to say the seeds are the `sober head' -- the only part that could fortify the heart of man. The devil's weed is hard with her proteges, he used to say, because she aims to kill them fast, a thing she ordinarily accomplishes before they can arrive at the secrets of the `sober head.' There are, however, tales about men who have unraveled the secrets of the sober head. What a challenge for a man of knowledge!"

"Did your benefactor unravel such secrets?"

"No, he didn't."

"Have you met anyone who has done it?"

"No. But they lived at a time when that knowledge was important."

"Do you know anyone who has met such men?"

"No, I don't."

"Did your benefactor know anyone?"

"He did."

"Why didn't he arrive at the secrets of the sober head?"

"To tame the devil's weed into an ally is one of the most difficult tasks I know. She never became one with me, for example, perhaps because I was never fond of her."

"Can you still use her as an ally in spite of not being fond of her?"

"I can; nevertheless, I prefer not to. Maybe it will be different for you.

"Why is it called the devil's weed?"

Don Juan made a gesture of indifference, shrugged his shoulders, and remained quiet for some time. Finally he said that "devil's weed" was her temporary name [Su nombre de leche]. He also said there were other names for the devil's weed, but they were not to be used, because the calling of a name was a serious matter, especially if one was learning to tame an ally power. I asked him why the calling of a name was so serious a matter. He said names were reserved to be used only when one was calling for help, in moments of great stress and need, and he assured me that such moments happen sooner or later in the life of whoever seeks knowledge.

Sunday, September 3, 1961

Today, during the afternoon, don Juan collected two Datura plants from the field.

Quite unexpectedly he brought the subject of the devil's weed into our conversation, and then asked me to go with him to the hills and look for one.

We drove to the nearby mountains. I got a shovel out of the trunk and walked into one of the canyons. We walked for quite a while, wading through the chaparral, which grew thick in the soft, sandy dirt. He stopped next to a small plant with dark-green leaves, and big, whitish, bell-shaped flowers.

"This one," he said.

Immediately he started to shovel. I tried to help him but he refused with a strong shake of the head, and went on to dig a circular hole around the plant: a hole shaped like a cone, deep toward the outer edge and sloping into a mound in the center of the circle. When he stopped digging he knelt close to the stem and with his fingers cleared the soft dirt around it, uncovering about four inches of a big, tuberous, forked root whose width contrasted markedly with the width of the stem, which was frail in comparison.

Don Juan looked at me and said the plant was a "male" because the root forked out from the exact point where it joined the stem. Then he stood up and started to walk away, looking for something.

"What are you looking for, don Juan?"

"I want to find a stick."

I began to look around, but he stopped me.

"Not you! You sit over there." He pointed to some rocks twenty feet away. "I will find it."

He came back after a while with a long, dry branch. Using it as a digging stick, he loosened the dirt carefully along the two diverging branches of the root. He cleaned around them to a depth of approximately two feet. As he dug deeper the dirt became so hard-packed that it was practically impossible to penetrate it with the stick.

He came to a halt and sat down to catch his breath. I sat next to him. We did not talk for a long time.

"Why don't you dig it out with the shovel?" I asked.

"It could cut and injure the plant. I had to get a stick that belonged to this area so that, if I had struck the root, the injury wouldn't have been as bad as one caused by a shovel or a foreign object."

"What kind of a stick did you get?"

"Any dry branch of the paloverde tree would do. If there are no dry branches you have to cut a fresh one.

"Can you use the branches of any other tree?"

"I told you, only paloverde and not any other."

"Why is that so, don Juan?"

"Because the devil's weed has very few friends, and paloverde is the only tree in this area which agrees with her -- the only thing that grabs or hooks onto it [lo unico que pende]. If you damage the root with a shovel she will not grow for you when you replant her, but if you injure her with such a stick, chances are the plant will not even feel it."

"What are you going to do with the root now?"

"I'm going to cut it. You must leave me. Go find another plant and wait until I call you."

"Don't you want me to help you?"

"You may help me only if I ask you!"

I walked away and started to look for another plant in order to fight the strong desire to sneak around and watch him. After some time he joined me.

"Let us look for the female now," he said.

"How do you tell them apart?"

"The female is taller and grows above the ground so it really looks like a small tree. The male is large and spreads out near the ground and looks more like a thick bush. Once we dig the female out you will see it has a single root going for quite a way before it becomes a fork. The male, on the other hand, has a forked root joined to the stem."

We looked together through the field of daturas. Then, pointing to a plant, he said, "That's a female." And he proceeded to dig it out as he had done the other. As soon as he had cleared the root I was able to see that the root conformed to his prediction. I left him again when he was about to cut it.

When we got to his house he opened the bundle in which he had put the Datura plants. He took the larger one, the male, first and washed it in a big metal tray. Very carefully he scrubbed all the dirt from the root, stem, and leaves. After that meticulous cleaning, he severed the stem from the root by making a superficial incision around the width of their juncture with a short, serrated knife and by cracking them apart. He took the stem and separated every part of it by making individual heaps with leaves, flowers, and the prickly seedpods. He threw away everything that was dry or had been spoiled by worms, and kept only those parts that were complete. He tied together the two branches of the root with two pieces of string, cracked them in half after making a superficial cut at the joint, and got two pieces of root of equal size.

He then took a piece of rough burlap cloth and placed in it first the two pieces of root tied together; on top of them he put the leaves in a neat bunch, then the flowers, the seedpods, and the stem. He folded the burlap and made a knot with the corners.

He repeated exactly the same steps with the other plant, the female, except that when he got to the root, instead of cutting it, he left the fork intact, like an upside-down letter Y. Then he placed all the parts in another cloth bundle. When he finished, it was already dark.

Wednesday, September 6, 1961

Today, late in the afternoon, we returned to the topic of the devil's weed.

"I think we should start with that weed again," don Juan said suddenly.

After a polite silence I asked him, "What are you going to do with the plants?"

"The plants I dug out and cut are mine," he said. "It is as though they were myself; with them I'm going to teach you the way to tame the devil's weed."

"How will you do that?"

"The devil's weed is divided into portions [partes]. Each one of these portions is different; each has its unique purpose and service."

He opened his left hand and measured on the floor from the tip of his thumb to the tip of his fourth finger.

"This is my portion. You will measure yours with your own hand. Now, to establish dominion over the devil's weed, you must begin by taking the first portion of the root. But since I have brought you to her, you must take the first portion of the root of my plant. I have measured it for you, so it is really my portion that you must take at the beginning."

He went inside the house and brought out one of the burlap bundles. He sat down and opened it. I noticed it was the male plant. I also noticed there was only one piece of root. He took the piece that was left from the original set of two and held it in front of my face.

"This is your first portion," he said. "I give it to you. I have cut it myself for you. I have measured it as my own; now I give it to you."

For an instant, the thought that I would have to chew it like a carrot crossed my mind, but he placed it inside a small, white, cotton bag.

He walked to the back of the house. He sat there on the floor with his legs crossed, and with a round mano began to mash the root inside the bag. He worked it over a flat slab which served as a mortar. From time to time he washed the two stones, and kept the water in a small, flat, wooden dugout basin.

As he pounded he sang an unintelligible chant, very softly and monotonously. When he had mashed the root into a soft pulp inside the bag, he placed it in the wooden basin. He again placed the slab mortar and the pestle into the basin, filled it with water, and then carried it to a sort of rectangular pig's trough set against the back fence.

He said the root had to soak all night, and had to be left outside the house so it would catch the night air (el sereno). "If tomorrow is a sunny, hot day, it will be an excellent omen," he said.

Sunday, September 10, 1961

Thursday, September 7, was a very clear and hot day. Don Juan seemed very pleased with the good omen and repeated several times that the devil's weed had probably liked me. The root had soaked all night, and about 10:00 A.M. we walked to the back of the house. He took the basin out of the trough, placed it on the ground, and sat next to it. He took the bag and rubbed it on the bottom of the basin. He held it a few inches above the water and squeezed its contents, then dropped the bag into the water. He repeated the same sequence three more times, then discarded the bag, tossing it into the trough, and left the basin in the hot sun.

We came back to it two hours later. He brought with him a medium-size kettle with boiling, yellowish water. He tipped the basin very carefully and emptied the top water, preserving the thick silt that had accumulated on the bottom. He poured the boiling water on the silt and left the basin in the sun again.

This sequence was repeated three times at intervals of more than an hour. Finally he poured out most of the water from the basin, tipped it to an angle to catch the late afternoon sun, and left it.

When we returned hours later, it was dark. On the bottom of the basin there was a layer of gummy substance. It resembled a batch of half-cooked starch, whitish or light gray. There was perhaps a full teaspoon of it. He took the basin inside the house, and while he put some water on to boil, I picked out pieces of dirt the wind had blown into the silt. He laughed at me.

"That little dirt won't hurt anybody."

When the water was boiling he poured about a cup of it into the basin. It was the same yellowish water he had used before. It dissolved the silt, making a sort of milky substance.

"What kind of water is that, don Juan?"

"Water of fruits and flowers from the canyon."

He emptied the contents of the basin into an old clay mug that looked like a flowerpot. It was still very hot, so he blew on it to cool it. He took a sip and handed me the mug.

"Drink now!" he said.

I took it automatically, and without deliberation drank all the water. It tasted somewhat bitter, although the bitterness was hardly noticeable. What was very outstanding was the pungent odor of the water. It smelled like cockroaches.

Almost immediately I began to sweat. I got very warm, and blood rushed to my ears. I saw a red spot in front of my eyes, and the muscles of my stomach began to contract in painful cramps. After a while, even though I felt no more pain, I began to get cold and perspiration literally soaked me.

Don Juan asked me if I saw blackness or black spots in front of my eyes. I told him I was seeing everything in red.

My teeth were chattering because of an uncontrollable nervousness that came to me in waves, as if radiating out from the middle of my chest.

Then he asked me if I was afraid. His questions seemed meaningless to me. I told him that I was obviously afraid, but he asked me again if I was afraid of her. I did not understand what he meant and I said yes.

He laughed and said that I was not really afraid. He asked if I still saw red. All I was seeing was a huge red spot in front of my eyes.

I felt better after a while. Gradually the nervous spasms disappeared, leaving only an aching, pleasant tiredness and an intense desire to sleep. I couldn't keep my eyes open, although I could still hear don Juan's voice. I fell asleep. But the sensation of my being submerged in a deep red persisted all night. I even had dreams in red.

I woke up on Saturday about 3:00 P.M. I had slept almost two days. I had a mild headache and an upset stomach, and very sharp, intermittent pains in my intestines. Except for that, everything else was like an ordinary waking. I found don Juan sitting in front of his house dozing. He smiled at me.

"Everything went fine the other night," he said. "You saw red and that's all that is important."

"What would have happened if I had not seen red?"

"You would have seen black, and that is a bad sign."

"Why is it bad?"

"When a man sees black it means he is not made for the devil's weed, and he vomits his entrails out, all green and black."

"Would he die?"

"I don't think anyone would die, but he would be sick for a long time."

"What happens to those who see red?"

"They do not vomit, and the root gives them an effect of pleasure, which means they are strong and of violent nature -- something that the weed likes. That is the way she entices. The only bad point is that men end up as slaves to the devil's weed in return for the power she gives them. But those are matters over which we have no control. Man lives only to learn. And if he learns it is because that is the nature of his lot, for good or bad."

"What shall I do next, don Juan?"

"Next you must plant a shoot [brote] that I have cut from the other half of the first portion of root. You took half of it the other night, and now the other half must be put into the ground. It has to grow and seed before you can undertake the real task of taming the plant."

"How will I tame her?"

"The devil's weed is tamed through the root. Step by step, you must learn the secrets of each portion of the root. You must intake them in order to learn the secrets and conquer the power."

"Are the different portions prepared in the same way you did the first one?"

"No, each portion is different."

"What are the specific effects of each portion?"

"I already said, each teaches a different form of power. What you took the other night is nothing yet. Anyone can do that. But only the brujo can take the deeper portions. I can't tell you what they do because I don't know yet whether she will take you. We must wait."

"When will you tell me, then?"

"Whenever your plant has grown and seeded."

"If the first portion can be taken by anyone, what is it used for?"

"In a diluted form it is good for all the matters of manhood, old people who have lost their vigor, or young men who are seeking adventures, or even women who want passion.

"You said the root is used for power only, but I see it's used for other matters besides power. Am I correct?"

He looked at me for a very long time, with a steadfast gaze that embarrassed me. I felt my question had made him angry, but I couldn't understand why.

"The weed is used only for power," he finally said in a dry, stern tone. "The man who wants his vigor back, the young people who seek to endure fatigue and hunger, the man who wants to kill another man, a woman who wants to be in heat -- they all desire power. And the weed will give it to them! Do you feel you like her?" he asked after a pause.

"I feel a strange vigor," I said, and it was true. I had noticed it on awakening and I felt it then. It was a very peculiar sensation of discomfort, or frustration; my whole body moved and stretched with unusual lightness and strength. My arms and legs itched. My shoulders seemed to swell; the muscles of my back and neck made me feel like pushing, or rubbing, against trees. I felt I could demolish a wall by ramming it.

We did not speak anymore. We sat on the porch for a while. I noticed that don Juan was falling asleep; he nodded a couple of times, then he simply stretched his legs, lay on the floor with his hands behind his head, and went to sleep. I got up and went to the back of the house where I burned up my extra physical energy by clearing away the debris; I remembered his mentioning that he would like me to help him clean up at the back of his house.

Later, when he woke up and came to the back, I was more relaxed.

We sat down to eat, and in the course of the meal he asked me three times how I felt. Since this was a rarity I finally asked, "Why do you worry about how I feel, don Juan? Do you expect me to have a bad reaction from drinking the juice?"

He laughed. I thought he was acting like a mischievous boy who has set up a prank and checks from time to time for the results. Still laughing, he said:

"You don't look sick. A while ago you even talked rough to me."

"I did not, don Juan," I protested. "I don't ever recall talking to you like that." I was very serious on that point because I did not remember that I had ever felt annoyed with him.

"You came out in her defense," he said.

"In whose defense?"

"You were defending the devil's weed. You sounded like a lover already."

I was going to protest even more vigorously about it, but I stopped myself.

"I really did not realize I was defending her."

"Of course you did not. You don't even remember what you said, do you?"

"No, I don't. I must admit it."

"You see. The devil's weed is like that. She sneaks up on you like a woman. You are not even aware of it. All you care about is that she makes you feel good and powerful: the muscles swelling with vigor, the fists itching, the soles of the feet burning to run somebody down. When a man knows her he really becomes full of cravings. My benefactor used to say that the devil's weed keeps men who want power, and gets rid of those who can't handle it. But power was more common then; it was sought more avidly. My benefactor was a powerful man, and according to what he told me, his benefactor, in turn, was even more given to the pursuit of power. But in those days there was good reason to be powerful.

"Do you think there is no reason for power nowadays?"

"Power is alright for you now. You are young. You are not an Indian. Perhaps the devil's weed would be good in your hands. You seem to have liked it. It made you feel strong. I felt all that myself. And yet I didn't like it."

"Can you tell me why, don Juan?"

"I don't like its power! There is no use for it anymore. In other times, like those my benefactor told me about, there was reason to seek power. Men performed phenomenal deeds, were admired for their strength and feared and respected for their knowledge. My benefactor told me stories of truly phenomenal deeds that were performed long, long ago. But now we, the Indians, do not seek that power anymore. Nowadays, the Indians use the weed to rub themselves. They use the leaves and flowers for other matters; they even say it cures their boils. But they do not seek its power, a power that acts like a magnet, more potent and more dangerous to handle as the root goes deeper into the ground. When one arrives to a depth of four yards-and they say some people have-one finds the seat of permanent power, power without end. Very few humans have done this in the past, and nobody has done it today. I'm telling you, the power of the devil's weed is no longer needed by us, the Indians. Little by little, I think we have lost interest, and now power does not matter anymore. I myself do not seek it, and yet at one time, when I was your age, I too felt its swelling inside me. I felt the way you did today, only five hundred times more strongly. I killed a man with a single blow of my arm. I could toss boulders, huge boulders not even twenty men could budge. Once I jumped so high I chopped the top leaves off the highest trees. But it was all for nothing! All I did was frighten the Indians-only the Indians. The rest who knew nothing about it did not believe it. They saw either a crazy Indian, or something moving at the top of the trees."

We were silent for a long time. I needed to say something.

"It was different when there were people in the world," he proceeded, "people who knew a man could become a mountain lion, or a bird, or that a man could simply fly. So I don't use the devil's weed anymore. For what? To frighten the Indians? [Para que? Para asustar a los indios?]"

And I saw him sad, and a deep empathy filled me. I wanted to say something to him, even if it was a platitude.

"Perhaps, don Juan, that is the fate of all men who want to know."

"Perhaps," he said quietly.

Thursday, November 23, 1961

I didn't see don Juan sitting on his porch as I drove in. I thought it was strange. I called to him out loud and his daughter-in-law came out of the house.

"He's inside," she said.

I found he had dislocated his ankle several weeks before. He had made his own cast by soaking strips of cloth in a mush made with cactus and powdered bone. The strips, wrapped tightly around his ankle, had dried into a light, streamlined cast. It had the hardness of plaster, but not its bulkiness.

"How did it happen?" I asked.

His daughter-in-law, a Mexican woman from Yucatan, who was tending him, answered me.

"It was an accident! He fell and nearly broke his foot!"

Don Juan laughed and waited until the woman had left the house before answering.

"Accident, my eye! I have an enemy nearby. A woman. `La Catalina!' She pushed me during a moment of weakness and I fell."

"Why did she do that?"

"She wanted to kill me, that's why."

"Was she here with you?"


"Why did you let her in?"

"I didn't. She flew in."

"I beg your pardon!"

"She is a blackbird [chanate]. And so effective at that. I was caught by surprise. She has been trying to finish me off for a long while. This time she got real close."

"Did you say she is a blackbird? I mean, is she a bird?"

"There you go again with your questions. She is a blackbird! The same way I'm a crow. Am I a man or a bird? I'm a man who knows how to become a bird. But going back to `la Catalina,' she is a fiendish witch! Her intent to kill me is so strong that I can hardly fight her off. The blackbird came all the way into my house and I couldn't stop it."

"Can you become a bird, don Juan?"

"Yes! But that's something we'll take up later."

"Why does she want to kill you?"

"Oh, there's an old problem between us. It got out of hand and now it looks as if I will have to finish her off before she finishes me."

"Are you going to use witchcraft?" I asked with great expectations.

"Don't be silly. No witchcraft would ever work on her. I have other plans! I'll tell you about them someday."

"Can your ally protect you from her?"

"No! The little smoke only tells me what to do. Then I must protect myself."

"How about Mescalito? Can he protect you from her?"

"No! Mescalito is a teacher, not a power to be used for personal reasons."

"How about the devil's weed?"

"I've already said that I must protect myself, following the directions of my ally the smoke. And as far as I know, the smoke can do anything. If you want to know about any point in question, the smoke will tell you. And it will give you not only knowledge, but also the means to proceed. It's the most marvelous ally a man could have."

"Is the smoke the best possible ally for everybody?"

"It's not the same for everybody. Many fear it and won't touch it, or even get close to it. The smoke is like everything else; it wasn't made for all of us."

"What kind of smoke is it, don Juan?"

"The smoke of diviners!"

There was a noticeable reverence in his voice -- a mood I had never detected before.
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:31 am


"I will begin by telling you exactly what my benefactor said to me when he began to teach me about it. Although at that time, like yourself now, I couldn't possibly have understood. `The devil's weed is for those who bid for power. The smoke is for those who want to watch and see.' And in my opinion, the smoke is peerless. Once a man enters into its field, every other power is at his command. It's magnificent! Of course, it takes a lifetime. It takes years alone to become acquainted with its two vital parts: the pipe and the smoke mixture. The pipe was given to me by my benefactor, and after so many years of fondling it, it has become mine. It has grown into my hands. To turn it over to your hands, for instance, will be a real task for me, and a great accomplishment for you -- if we succeed! The pipe will feel the strain of being handled by someone else; and if one of us makes a mistake there won't be any way to prevent the pipe from busting open by its own force, or escaping from our hands to shatter, even if it falls on a pile of straw. If that ever happens, it would mean the end of us both. Particularly of me. The smoke would turn against me in unbelievable ways."

"How could it turn against you if it's your ally?"

My question seemed to have altered his flow of thoughts. He didn't speak for a long time.

"The difficulty of the ingredients," he proceeded suddenly, "makes the smoke mixture one of the most dangerous substances I know. No one can prepare it without being coached. It is deadly poisonous to anyone except the smoke's protege! Pipe and mixture ought to be treated with intimate care. And the man attempting to learn must prepare himself by leading a hard, quiet life. Its effects are so dreadful that only a very strong man can stand the smallest puff. Everything is terrifying and confusing at the outset, but every new puff makes things more precise. And suddenly the world opens up anew! Unimaginable! When this happens the smoke has become one's ally and will resolve any question by allowing one to enter into inconceivable worlds.

"This is the smoke's greatest property, its greatest gift. And it performs its function without hurting in the least. I call the smoke a true ally!"

As usual, we were sitting in front of his house, where the dirt floor is always clean and packed hard; he suddenly got up and went inside the house. After a few moments he returned with a narrow bundle and sat down again.

"This is my pipe," he said.

He leaned over toward me and showed me a pipe he drew out of a sheath made of green canvas. It was perhaps nine or ten inches long. The stem was made of reddish wood; it was plain, without ornamentation. The bowl also seemed to be made of wood, but it was rather bulky in comparison with the thin stem. It had a sleek finish and was dark gray, almost charcoal.

He held the pipe in front of my face. I thought he was handing it over to me. I stretched out my hand to take it, but he quickly drew it back.

"This pipe was given to me by my benefactor," he said. "In turn I will pass it on to you. But first you must get to know it. Every time you come here I will give it to you. Begin by touching it. Hold it very briefly, at first, until you and the pipe get used to each other. Then put it in your pocket, or perhaps inside your shirt. And finally put it to your mouth. All this should be done little by little in a slow, careful way. When the bond has been established [la amistad esta hecha] you will smoke from it. If you follow my advice and don't rush, the smoke may become your preferred ally too."

He handed me the pipe, but without letting go of it. I stretched my right arm toward it.

"With both hands," he said.

I touched the pipe with both hands for a very brief moment. He did not extend it to me all the way so that I could grasp it, but only far enough for me to touch it. Then he pulled it back.

"The first step is to like the pipe. That takes time!"

"Can the pipe dislike me?"

"No. The pipe cannot dislike you, but you must learn to like it so that when the time of smoking comes for you, the pipe will help you to be unafraid."

"What do you smoke, don Juan?"


He opened his collar and exposed to view a small bag he kept under his shirt, which hung from his neck like a medallion. He brought it out, untied it, and very carefully poured some of its contents into the palm of his hand.

As far as I could tell, the mixture looked like finely shredded tea leaves, varying in color from dark brown to light green, with a few specks of bright yellow.

He returned the mixture to the bag, closed the bag, tied it with a leather string, and put it under his shirt again.

"What kind of mixture is it?"

"There are lots of things in it. To get all the ingredients is a very difficult undertaking. One must travel afar. The little mushrooms [los honguitos] needed to prepare the mixture grow only at certain times of the year, and only in certain places."

"Do you have a different mixture for each type of aid you need?"

"No! There is only one smoke, and there is no other like it."

He pointed to the bag hanging against his chest, and lifted the pipe which was resting between his legs.

"These two are one! One cannot go without the other. This pipe and the secret of this mixture belonged to my benefactor. They were handed down to him in the same way my benefactor gave them to me. The mixture, although difficult to prepare, is replenishable. Its secret lies in its ingredients, and in the way they are treated and mixed. The pipe, on the other hand, is a lifetime affair. It must be looked after with infinite care. It is hardy and strong, but it should never be struck or knocked about. It should be handled with dry hands, never when the hands are sweaty, and should be used only when one is alone. And no one, absolutely no one, should ever see it, unless you mean to give it to somebody. That is what my benefactor taught me, and that is the way I have dealt with the pipe all my life."

"What would happen if you should lose or break the pipe?"

He shook his head, very slowly, and looked at me.

"I would die!"

"Are all the sorcerers' pipes like yours?"

"Not all of them have pipes like mine. But I know some men who do."

"Can you yourself make a pipe like this one, don Juan?" I insisted. "Suppose you did not have it, how could you give me one if you wanted to do so?"

"If I didn't have the pipe, I could not, nor would I, want to give one. I would give you something else instead."

He seemed to be somehow cross at me. He placed his pipe very carefully inside the sheath, which must have been lined with a soft material because the pipe, which fitted tightly, slid in very smoothly. He went inside the house to put his pipe away.

"Are you angry at me, don Juan?" I asked when he returned. He seemed surprised at my question.

"No! I'm never angry at anybody! No human being can do anything important enough for that. You get angry at people when you feel that their acts are important. I don't feel that way any longer."

Tuesday, December 26, 1961

The specific time to replant the "shoot," as don Juan called the root, was not set, although it was supposed to be the next step in taming the plant-power.

I arrived at don Juan's house on Saturday, December 23, early in the afternoon. We sat in silence for some time, as usual. The day was warm and cloudy. It had been months since he had given me the first portion.

"It is time to return the weed to the earth," he said suddenly. "But first I am going to fix a protection for you. You will keep it and guard it, and it is for you alone to see. Since I am going to fix it I will also see it. That is not good, because, as I told you, I am not fond of the devil's weed. We are not one. But my memory will not live long; I am too old. You must keep it from the eyes of others, however, for so long as their memory of having seen it lasts, the power of the protection is harmed."

He went into his room and pulled three burlap bundles out from under an old straw mat. He came back to the porch and sat down.

After a long silence he opened one bundle. It was the female Datura he had collected with me; all the leaves, flowers, and seedpods that he had stacked up before were dry. He took the long piece of root shaped like the letter Y and tied the bundle again.

The root had dried and shriveled and the bars of the fork had become more widely separated and more contorted. He put the root on his lap, opened his leather pouch, and pulled out his knife. He held the dry root in front of me.

"This part is for the head," he said, and made the first incision on the tail of the Y, which in an upside-down position resembled the shape of a man with his legs spread out.

"This is for the heart," he said, and cut close to the joint of the Y. Next he chopped the tips of the root, leaving about three inches of wood on each bar of the Y. Then, slowly and patiently he carved the shape of a man.

The root was dry and fibrous. In order to carve it, don Juan made two incisions and peeled the fibers between them to the depth of the cuts. Nevertheless, when he came to details, he chiseled the wood, as when he shaped the arms and the hands. The final product was a wiry figurine of a man, arms folded over the chest and hands in a clasping position.

Don Juan got up and walked to a blue agave growing in front of the house, next to the porch. He took the hard thorn of one of the center, pulpy leaves, bent it, and rotated it three or four times. The circular motion almost detached it from the leaf; it hung loose. He bit on it, or rather, he held it between his teeth, and yanked it out. The thorn came out from the pulp, bringing with it a bunch of long threadlike fibers, attached to the woody part like a white tail, two feet long. Still holding the thorn between his teeth, don Juan twisted the fibers together between the palms of his hands and made a string, which he wrapped around the figurine's legs to bring them together. He encircled the lower part of the body until the string was all used up; then very skillfully he worked the thorn like an awl inside the front part of the body under the folded arms, until the sharp tip emerged as though popping out of the figurine's hands. He used his teeth again and, by pulling gently, brought the thorn nearly all the way out. It looked like a long spear protruding from the figure's chest. Without looking at the figure anymore, don Juan placed it inside his leather pouch. He seemed exhausted from the effort. He lay down on the floor and fell asleep.

It was already dark when he woke up. We ate the groceries I had brought him and sat on the porch for a while longer. Then don Juan walked to the back of the house, carrying the three burlap bundles. He cut twigs and dry branches and started a fire. We sat in front of it comfortably, and he opened all three bundles. Besides the one containing the dry pieces of the female plant, there was another with all that was left of the male plant, and a third, bulky one containing green, freshly cut pieces of Datura.

Don Juan went to the pig's trough and came back with a stone mortar, a very deep one that looked more like a pot whose bottom ended in a soft curve. He made a shallow hole and set the mortar firmly on the ground. He put more dry twigs on the fire, then took the two bundles with the dry pieces of male and female plants and emptied them into the mortar all at once. He shook the burlap to make sure that all the debris had fallen into the mortar. From the third bundle he extracted two fresh pieces of Datura root.

"I am going to prepare them just for you," he said.

"What kind of a preparation is it, don Juan?"

"One of these pieces comes from a male plant, the other from a female plant. This is the only time the two plants should be put together. The pieces come from a depth of one yard."

He mashed them inside the mortar with even strokes of the pestle. As he did so, he chanted in a low voice, which sounded like a rhythmless, monotonous hum. The words were unintelligible to me. He was absorbed in his task.

When the roots were completely mashed he took some Datura leaves from the bundle. They were clean and freshly cut, and all were intact and free of wormholes and cuts. He dropped them into the mortar one at a time. He took a handful of Datura flowers and dropped them also into the mortar in the same deliberate manner. I counted fourteen of each. Then he got a bunch of fresh, green seedpods which had all their spikes and were not open. I could not count them because he dropped them into the mortar all at once, but I assumed that there were also fourteen of them. He added three stems of Datura without any leaves. They were dark red and clean and seemed to have belonged to large plants, judging by their multiple ramifications.

After all these items had been put into the mortar, he mashed them to a pulp with the same even strokes. At a certain moment he tipped the mortar over, and with his hand scooped the mixture into an old pot. He stretched out his hand to me, and I thought he wanted me to dry it. Instead, he took my left hand and with a very fast motion separated the middle and fourth fingers as far as he could. Then, with the point of his knife, he stabbed me right in between the two fingers and ripped downward on the skin of the fourth finger. He acted with so much skill and speed that when I jerked my hand away it was deeply cut, and the blood was flowing abundantly. He grabbed my hand again, placed it over the pot, and squeezed it to force more blood out.

My arm got numb. I was in a state of shock-strangely cold and rigid, with an oppressive sensation in my chest and ears. I felt I was sliding down on my seat. I was fainting! He let go my hand and stirred the contents of the pot. When I recovered from the shock I was really angry with him. It took me quite some time to regain my composure.

He set up three stones around the fire and placed the pot on top of them. To all the ingredients he added something that I took to be a big chunk of carpenter's glue and a pot of water, and let all that boil. Datura plants have, by themselves, a very peculiar odor. Combined with the carpenter's glue, which gave off a strong odor when the mixture began to boil, they created so pungent a vapor that I had to fight not to vomit.

The mix boiled for a long time as we sat there motionless in front of it. At times, when the wind blew the vapor in my direction, the stench enveloped me, and I held my breath in an effort to avoid it.

Don Juan opened his leather pouch and took the figurine out; he handed it to me carefully and told me to place it inside the pot without burning my hands. I let it slip gently into the boiling mush. He got out his knife, and for a second I thought he was going to slash me again; instead, he pushed the figurine with the tip of the knife and sank it.

He watched the mush boil for a while longer, and then began to clean the mortar. I helped him. When we had finished he set the mortar and pestle against the fence. We went inside the house, and the pot was left on the stones all night.

The next morning at dawn don Juan instructed me to pull the figurine out of the glue and hang it from the roof facing the east, to dry in the sun. At noon it was stiff as a wire. The heat had sealed the glue, and the green color of the leaves had mixed with it. The figurine had a glossy, eerie finish.

Don Juan asked me to get the figurine down. Then he handed me a leather pouch he had made out of an old suede jacket I had brought for him some time before. The pouch looked like the one he owned himself. The only difference was that his was made of soft, brown leather.

"Put your `image' inside the pouch and close it," he said.

He did not look at me, and deliberately kept his head turned away. Once I had the figurine inside the pouch he gave me a carrying net, and told me to put the clay pot inside the net.

He walked to my car, took the net from my hands, and fastened it onto the open lid of the glove compartment.

"Come with me," he said.

I followed him. He walked around the house, making a complete clockwise circle. He stopped at the porch and circled the house again, this time going counterclockwise and again returning to the porch. He stood motionless for some time, and then sat down.

I was conditioned to believe that everything he did had some meaning. I was wondering about the significance of circling the house when he said, "Hey! I have forgotten where I put it."

I asked him what he was looking for. He said he had forgotten where he had placed the shoot I was to replant. We walked around the house once more before he remembered where it was.

He showed me a small glass jar on a piece of board nailed to the wall below the roof. The jar contained the other half of the first portion of the Datura root. The shoot had an incipient growth of leaves at its top end. The jar contained a small amount of water, but no soil.

"Why doesn't it have any soil?" I asked.

"All soils are not the same, and the devil's weed must know only the soil on which she will live and grow. And now it is time to return her to the ground before the worms damage her."

"Can we plant her here near the house?" I asked.

"No! No! Not around here. She must be returned to a place of your liking."

"But where can I find a place of my liking?"

"I don't know that. You can replant her wherever you want. But she must be cared for and looked after, because she must live so that you will have the power you need. If she dies, it means that she does not want you, and you must not disturb her further. It means you won't have power over her. Therefore, you must care for her, and look after her, so that she will grow. You must not pamper her, though."

"Why not?"

"Because if it is not her will to grow, it is of no use to entice her. But, on the other hand, you must prove that you care. Keep the worms away and give her water when you visit her. This must be done regularly until she seeds. After the first seeds bud out, we will be sure that she wants you."

"But, don Juan, it is not possible for me to look after the root the way you wish."

"If you want her power, you must do it! There is no other way!"

"Can you take care of her for me when I am not here, don Juan?"

"No! Not I! I can't do that! Each one must nourish his own shoot. I had my own. Now you must have yours. And not until she has seeded, as I told you, can you consider yourself ready for learning."

"Where do you think I should replant her?"

"That is for you alone to decide! And nobody must know the place, not even I! That is the way the replanting must be done. Nobody, but nobody, can know where your plant is. If a stranger follows you, or sees you, take the shoot and run away to another place. He could cause you unimaginable harm through manipulating the shoot. He could cripple or kill you. That's why not even I must know where your plant is."

He handed me the little jar with the shoot.

"Take it now."

I took it. Then he almost dragged me to my car.

"Now you must leave. Go and pick the spot where you will replant the shoot. Dig a deep hole, in soft dirt, next to a watery place. Remember, she must be near water in order to grow. Dig the hole with your hands only, even if they bleed. Place the shoot in the center of the hole and make a mound [pilbn] around it. Then soak it with water. When the water sinks, fill the hole with soft dirt. Next, pick a spot two paces away from the shoot, in that direction [pointing to the southeast]. Dig another deep hole there, also with your hands, and dump into it what is in the pot. Then smash the pot and bury it deep in another place, far from the spot where your shoot is. When you have buried the pot go back to your shoot and water it once more. Then take out your image, hold it between the fingers where the flesh wound is, and, standing on the spot where you have buried the glue, touch the shoot lightly with the sharp needle. Circle the shoot four times, stopping each time in the same spot to touch it."

"Do I have to follow a specific direction when I go around the root?"

"Any direction will do. But you must always remember in what direction you buried the glue, and what direction you took when you circled the shoot. Touch the shoot lightly with the point every time except the last, when you must thrust it deep. But do it carefully; kneel for a more steady hand because you must not break the point inside the shoot. If you break it, you are finished. The root will be of no use to you.

"Do I have to say any words while I go around the shoot?"

"No, I will do that for you."

Saturday, January 27, 1962

As soon as I got to his house this morning don Juan told me he was going to show me how to prepare the smoke mixture. We walked to the hills and went quite a way into one of the canyons. He stopped next to a tall, slender bush whose color contrasted markedly with that of the surrounding vegetation. The chaparral around the bush was yellowish, but the bush was bright green.

"From this little tree you must take the leaves and the flowers," he said. "The right time to pick them is All Souls' Day [el dia de las animas]."

He took out his knife and chopped off the end of a thin branch. He chose another similar branch and also chopped off its tip. He repeated this operation until he had a handful of branch tips. Then he sat down on the ground.

"Look here," he said. "I have cut all the branches above the fork made by two or more leaves and the stem. Do you see? They are all the same. I have used only the tip of each branch, where the leaves are fresh and tender. Now we must look for a shaded place."

We walked until he seemed to have found what he was looking for. He took a long string from his pocket and tied it to the trunk and the lower branches of two bushes, making a kind of clothesline on which he hung the branch tips upside down. He arranged them along the string in a neat fashion; hooked by the fork between the leaves and the stem, they resembled a long row of green horsemen.

"One must see that the leaves dry in the shade," he said. "The place must be secluded and difficult to get to. That way the leaves are protected. They must be left to dry in a place where it would be almost impossible to find them. After they have dried, they must be put in a bundle and sealed."

He picked up the leaves from the string and threw them into the nearby shrubs. Apparently he had intended only to show me the procedure.

We continued walking and he picked three different flowers, saying they were part of the ingredients and were supposed to be gathered at the same time. But the flowers had to be put in separate clay pots and dried in darkness; a lid had to be placed on each pot so the flowers would turn moldy inside the container. He said the function of the leaves and the flowers was to sweeten the smoke mixture.

We came out of the canyon and walked toward the riverbed. After a long detour we returned to his house. Late in the evening we sat in his own room, a thing he rarely allowed me to do, and he told me about the final ingredient of the mixture, the mushrooms.

"The real secret of the mixture lies in the mushrooms," he said. "They are the most difficult ingredient to collect. The trip to the place where they grow is long and dangerous, and to select the right variety is even more perilous. There are other kinds of mushrooms growing along-side which are of no use; they would spoil the good ones if they were dried together. It takes time to know the mushrooms well in order not to make a mistake. Serious harm will result from using the wrong kind -- harm to the man and to the pipe. I know of men who have dropped dead from using the foul smoke.

"As soon as the mushrooms are picked they are put inside a gourd, so there is no way to recheck them. You see, they have to be torn to shreds in order to make them go through the narrow neck of the gourd."

"How can one prevent a mistake?"

"By being careful and knowing how to choose. I told you it is difficult. Not everybody can tame the smoke; most people do not even make the attempt."

"How long do you keep the mushrooms inside the gourd?"

"For a year. All the other ingredients are also sealed for a year. Then equal parts of them are measured and ground separately into a very fine powder. The little mushrooms don't have to be ground because they become a very fine dust by themselves; all one needs to do is to mash the chunks. Four parts of mushrooms are added to one part of all the other ingredients together. Then they are all mixed and put into a bag like mine." He pointed to the little sack hanging under his shirt.

"Then all the ingredients are gathered again, and after they have been put to dry you are ready to smoke the mixture you have just prepared. In your own case, you will smoke next year. And the year after that, the mixture will be all yours because you will have gathered it by yourself. The first time you smoke I will light the pipe for you. You will smoke all the mixture in the bowl and wait. The smoke will come. You will feel it. It will set you free to see anything you want to see. Properly speaking, it is a matchless ally. But whoever seeks it must have an intent and a will beyond reproach. He needs them because he has to intend and will his return, or the smoke will not let him come back. Second, he must intend and will to remember whatever the smoke allowed him to see, otherwise it will be nothing more than a piece of fog in his mind."

Saturday, April 8, 1962

In our conversations, don Juan consistently used or referred to the phrase "man of knowledge," but never explained what he meant by it. I asked him about it.

"A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning," he said. "A man who has, without rushing or without faltering, gone as far as he can in unraveling the secrets of power and knowledge."

"Can anyone be a man of knowledge?"

"No, not anyone."

"Then what must a man do to become a man of knowledge?"

"He must challenge and defeat his four natural enemies."

"Will he be a man of knowledge after defeating these four enemies?"

"Yes. A man can call himself a man of knowledge only if he is capable of defeating all four of them."

"Then, can anybody who defeats these enemies be a man of knowledge?"

"Anybody who defeats them becomes a man of knowledge."

"But are there any special requirements a man must fulfill before fighting with these enemies?"

"No. Anyone can try to become a man of knowledge; very few men actually succeed, but that is only natural. The enemies a man encounters on the path of learning to become a man of knowledge are truly formidable; most men succumb to them."

"What kind of enemies are they, don Juan?"

He refused to talk about the enemies. He said it would be a long time before the subject would make any sense to me. I tried to keep the topic alive and asked him if he thought I could become a man of knowledge. He said no man could possibly tell that for sure. But I insisted on knowing if there were any clues he could use to determine whether or not I had a chance of becoming a man of knowledge. He said it would depend on my battle against the four enemies -- whether I could defeat them or would be defeated by them -- but it was impossible to foretell the outcome of that fight.

I asked him if he could use witchcraft or divination to see the outcome of the battle. He flatly stated that the results of the struggle could not be foreseen by any means, because becoming a man of knowledge was a temporary thing. When I asked him to explain this point, he replied:

"To be a man of knowledge has no permanence. One is never a man of knowledge, not really. Rather, one becomes a man of knowledge for a very brief instant, after defeating the four natural enemies."

"You must tell me, don Juan, what kind of enemies they are."

He did not answer. I insisted again, but he dropped the subject and started to talk about something else.

Sunday, April 15, 1962

As I was getting ready to leave, I decided to ask him once more about the enemies of a man of knowledge. I argued that I could not return for some time, and it would be a good idea to write down what he had to say and then think about it while I was away.

He hesitated for a while, but then began to talk.

"When a man starts to learn, he is never clear about his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague. He hopes for rewards that will never materialize, for he knows nothing of the hardships of learning.

"He slowly begins to learn -- bit by bit at first, then in big chunks. And his thoughts soon clash. What he learns is never what he pictured, or imagined, and so he begins to be afraid. Learning is never what one expects. Every step of learning is a new task, and the fear the man is experiencing begins to mount mercilessly, unyieldingly. His purpose becomes a battlefield.

"And thus he has stumbled upon the first of his natural enemies: Fear! 'A terrible enemy -- treacherous, and difficult to overcome. It remains concealed at every turn of the way, prowling, waiting. And if the man, terrified in its presence, runs away, his enemy will have put an end to his quest."

"What will happen to the man if he runs away in fear?"

"Nothing happens to him except that he will never learn. He will never become a man of knowledge. He will perhaps be a bully, or a harmless, scared man; at any rate, he will be a defeated man. His first enemy will have put an end to his cravings."

"And what can he do to overcome fear?"

"The answer is very simple. He must not run away. He must defy his fear, and in spite of it he must take the next step in learning, and the next, and the next. He must be fully afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule! And a moment will come when his first enemy retreats. The man begins to feel sure of himself. His intent becomes stronger. Learning is no longer a terrifying task.

"When this joyful moment comes, the man can say without hesitation that he has defeated his first natural enemy."

"Does it happen at once, don Juan, or little by little?"

"It happens little by little, and yet the fear is vanquished suddenly and fast."

"But won't the man be afraid again if something new happens to him?"

"No. Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity -- a clarity of mind which erases fear. By then a man knows his desires; he knows how to satisfy those desires. He can anticipate the new steps of learning, and a sharp clarity surrounds everything. The man feels that nothing is concealed.

"And thus he has encountered his second enemy: Clarity! That clarity of mind, which is so hard to obtain, dispels fear, but also blinds.

"It forces the man never to doubt himself. It gives him the assurance he can do anything he pleases, for he sees clearly into everything. And he is courageous because he is clear, and he stops at nothing because he is clear. But all that is a mistake; it is like something incomplete. If the man yields to this make-believe power, he has succumbed to his second enemy and will fumble with learning. He will rush when he should be patient, or he will be patient when he should rush. And he will fumble with learning until he winds up incapable of learning anything more."

"What becomes of a man who is defeated in that way, don Juan? Does he die as a result?"

"No, he doesn't die. His second enemy has just stopped him cold from trying to become a man of knowledge; instead, the man may turn into a buoyant warrior, or a clown. Yet the clarity for which he has paid so dearly will never change to darkness and fear again. He will be clear as long as he lives, but he will no longer learn, or yearn for, anything."

"But what does he have to do to avoid being defeated?"

"He must do what he did with fear: be must defy his clarity and use it only to see, and wait patiently and measure carefully before taking new steps; he must think, above all, that his clarity is almost a mistake. And a moment will come when he will understand that his clarity was only a point before his eyes. And thus he will have overcome his second enemy, and will arrive at a position where nothing can harm him anymore. This will not be a mistake. It will not be only a point before his eyes. It will be true power.

"He will know at this point that the power he has been pursuing for so long is finally his. He can do with it whatever he pleases. His ally is at his command. His wish is the rule. He sees all that is around him. But he has also come across his third enemy: Power!

"Power is the strongest of all enemies. And naturally the easiest thing to do is to give in; after all, the man is truly invincible. He commands; he begins by taking calculated risks, and ends in making rules, because he is a master.

"A man at this stage hardly notices his third enemy closing in on him. And suddenly, without knowing, he will certainly have lost the battle. His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man."

"Will he lose his power?"

"No, he will never lose his clarity or his power."

"What then will distinguish him from a man of knowledge?"

"A man who is defeated by power dies without really knowing how to handle it. Power is only a burden upon his fate. Such a man has no command over himself, and cannot tell when or how to use his power."

"Is the defeat by any of these enemies a final defeat?"

"Of course it is final. Once one of these enemies overpowers a man there is nothing he can do."

"Is it possible, for instance, that the man who is defeated by power may see his error and mend his ways?"

"No. Once a man gives in he is through."

"But what if he is temporarily blinded by power, and then refuses it?"

"That means his battle is still on. That means he is still trying to become a man of knowledge. A man is defeated only when he no longer tries, and abandons himself."

"But then, don Juan, it is possible that a man may abandon himself to fear for years, but finally conquer it."

"No, that is not true. If he gives in to fear he will never conquer it, because he will shy away from learning and never try again. But if he tries to learn for years in the midst of his fear, he will eventually conquer it because he will never have really abandoned himself to it."

"How can he defeat his third enemy, don Juan?"

"He has to defy it, deliberately. He has to come to realize the power he has seemingly conquered is in reality never his. He must keep himself in line at all times, handling carefully and faithfully all that he has learned. If he can see that clarity and power, without his control over himself, are worse than mistakes, he will reach a point where everything is held in check. He will know then when and how to use his power. And thus he will have defeated his third enemy.

"The man will be, by then, at the end of his journey of learning, and almost without warning he will come upon the last of his enemies: Old age! This enemy is the cruelest of all, the one he won't be able to defeat completely, but only fight away.

"This is the time when a man has no more fears, no more impatient clarity of mind -- a time when all his power is in check, but also the time when he has an unyielding desire to rest. If he gives in totally to his desire to lie down and forget, if he soothes himself in tiredness, he will have lost his last round, and his enemy will cut him down into a feeble old creature. His desire to retreat will overrule all his clarity, his power, and his knowledge.

"But if the man sloughs off his tiredness, and lives his fate through, he can then be called a man of knowledge, if only for the brief moment when he succeeds in fighting off his last, invincible enemy. That moment of clarity, power, and knowledge is enough."
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:32 am

Chapter 4

Don Juan seldom spoke openly about Mescalito. Every time I questioned him on the subject he refused to talk, but he always said enough to create an impression of Mescalito, an impression that was always anthropomorphic. Mescalito was a male, not only because of the mandatory grammatical rule that gives the word a masculine gender, but also because of his constant qualities of being a protector and a teacher. Don Juan reaffirmed these characteristics in various forms every time we talked.

Sunday, December 24, 1961

"The devil's weed has never protected anyone. She serves only to give power. Mescalito, on the other hand, is gentle, like a baby."

"But you said Mescalito is terrifying at times."

"Of course he is terrifying, but once you get to know him, he is gentle and kind."

"How does he show his kindness?"

"He is a protector and a teacher."

"How does he protect?"

"You can keep him with you at all times and he will see that nothing bad happens to you."

"How can you keep him with you at all times?"

"In a little bag, fastened under your arm or around your neck with a string."

"Do you have him with you?"

"No, because I have an ally. But other people do."

"What does he teach?"

"He teaches you to live properly."

"How does he teach?"

"He shows things and tells what is what [enzena las cosas y to dice lo que son]."


"You will have to see for yourself."

Tuesday, January 30, 1962

"What do you see when Mescalito takes you with him, don Juan?"

"Such things are not for ordinary conversation. I can't tell you that."

"Would something bad happen to you if you told?"

"Mescalito is a protector, a kind, gentle protector; but that does not mean you can make fun of him. Because he is a kind protector he can also be horror itself with those he does not like."

"I do not intend to make fun of him. I just want to know what he makes other people do or see. I described to you all that Mescalito made me see, don Juan."

"With you it is different, perhaps because you don't know his ways. You have to be taught his ways as a child is taught how to walk."

"How long do I still have to be taught?"

"Until he himself begins to make sense to you."

"And then?"

"Then you will understand by yourself. You won't have to tell me anything anymore."

"Can you just tell me where Mescalito takes you?"

"I can't talk about it."

"All I want to know is if there is another world to which he takes people."

"There is."

"Is it heaven?" (The Spanish word for heaven is cielo, but that also means "sky.")

"He takes you through the sky [cielo]."

"I mean, is it heaven [cielo] where God is?"

"You are being stupid now. I don't know where God is."

"Is Mescalito God -- the only God? Or is he one of the gods?"

"He is just a protector and a teacher. He is a power."

"Is he a power within ourselves?"

"No. Mescalito has nothing to do with ourselves. He is outside us."

"Then everyone who takes Mescalito must see him in the same form."

"No, not at all. He is not the same for everybody."

Thursday, April 12, 1962

"Why don't you tell me more about Mescalito, don Juan?"

"There is nothing to tell."

"There must be thousands of things I should know before I encounter him again."

"No. Perhaps for you there is nothing you have to know. As I have already told you, he is not the same for everyone."

"I know, but still I'd like to know how others feel about him."

"The opinion of those who care to talk about him is not worth much. You will see. You will probably talk about him up to a certain point, and from then on you will never discuss him."

"Can you tell me about your own first experiences?"

"What for?"

"Then I'll know how to behave with Mescalito."

"You already know more than I do. You actually played with him. Someday you will see how kind the protector was with you. That first time I am sure he told you many, many things, but you were deaf and blind."

Saturday, April 14, 1962

"Does Mescalito take any form when he shows himself?"

"Yes, any form."

"Then, which are the most common forms you know?"

"There are no common forms."

"Do you mean, don Juan, that he appears in any form, even to men who know him well?"

"No. He appears in any form to those who know him only a little, but to those who know him well, he is always constant."

"How is he constant?"

"He appears to them sometimes as a man, like us, or as a light. Just a light."

"Does Mescalito ever change his permanent form with those who know him well?"

"Not to my knowledge."

Friday, July 6, 1962

Don Juan and I started on a trip late in the afternoon of Saturday, June 23. He said we were going to look for honguitos (mushrooms) in the state of Chihuahua. He said it was going to be a long, hard trip. He was right. We arrived in a little mining town in northern Chihuahua at 10:00 P.M. on Wednesday, June 27. We walked from the place I had parked the car at the outskirts of town, to the house of his friends, a Tarahumara Indian and his wife. We slept there.

The next morning the man woke us up around five. He brought us gruel and beans. He sat and talked to don Juan while we ate, but he said nothing concerning our trip.

After breakfast the man put water into my canteen, and two sweetrolls into my knapsack. Don Juan handed me the canteen, fixed the knapsack with a cord over his shoulders, thanked the man for his courtesies, and, turning to me, said, "It is time to go."

We walked on the dirt road for about a mile. From there we cut through the fields and in two hours we were at the foot of the hills south of town. We climbed the gentle slopes in a southwesterly direction. When we reached the steeper inclines, don Juan changed directions and we followed a high valley to the east. Despite his advanced age, don Juan kept up a pace so incredibly fast that by midday I was completely exhausted. We sat down and he opened the bread sack.

"You can eat all of it, if you want," he said.

"How about you?"

"I am not hungry, and we won't need this food later on."

I was very tired and hungry and took him up on his offer. I felt this was a good time to talk about the purpose of our trip, and quite casually I asked, "Do you think we are going to stay here for a long time?"

"We are here to gather some Mescalito. We will stay until tomorrow.

"Where is Mescalito?"

"All around us."

Cacti of many species were growing in profusion all through the area, but I could not distinguish peyote among them.

We started to hike again and by three o'clock we came to a long, narrow valley with steep side hills. I felt strangely excited at the idea of finding peyote, which I had never seen in its natural environment. We entered the valley and must have walked about four hundred feet when suddenly I spotted three unmistakable peyote plants. They were in a cluster a few inches above the ground in front of me, to the left of the path. They looked like round, pulpy, green roses. I ran toward them, pointing them out to don Juan.

He ignored me and deliberately kept his back turned as he walked away. I knew I had done the wrong thing, and for the rest of the afternoon we walked in silence, moving slowly on the flat valley floor, which was covered with small, sharp-edged rocks. We moved among the cacti, disturbing crowds of lizards and at times a solitary bird. And I passed scores of peyote plants without saying a word.

At six o'clock we were at the bottom of the mountains that marked the end of the valley. We climbed to a ledge. Don Juan dropped his sack and sat down.

I was hungry again, but we had no food left; I suggested that we pick up the Mescalito and head back for town. He looked annoyed and made a smacking sound with his lips. He said we were going to spend the night there.

We sat quietly. There was a rock wall to the left, and to the right was the valley we had just crossed. It extended for quite a distance and seemed to be wider than, and not so flat as, I had thought. Viewed from the spot where I sat, it was full of small hills and protuberances.

"Tomorrow we will start walking back," don Juan said without looking at me, and pointing to the valley. "We will work our way back and pick him as we cross the field. That is, we will pick him only when he is in our way. He will find us and not the other way around. He will find us -- if he wants to."

Don Juan rested his back against the rock wall and, with his head turned to his side, continued talking as though another person were there besides myself. "One more thing. Only I can pick him. You will perhaps carry the bag, or walk ahead of me -- I don t know yet. But tomorrow you will not point at him as you did today!"

"I am sorry, don Juan."

"It is alright. You didn't know."

"Did your benefactor teach you all this about Mescalito?"

"No! Nobody has taught me about him. It was the protector himself who was my teacher."

"Then Mescalito is like a person to whom you can talk?"

"No, he isn't."

"How does he teach, then?"

He remained silent for a while.

"Remember the time when you played with him? You understood what he meant, didn't you?"

"I did!"

"That is the way he teaches. You did not know it then, but if you had paid attention to him, he would have talked to you."


"When you saw him for the first time."

He seemed to be very annoyed by my questioning. I told him I had to ask all these questions because I wanted to find out all I could.

"Don't ask me!" He smiled maliciously. "Ask him. The next time you see him, ask him everything you want to know."

"Then Mescalito is like a person you can talk ..."

He did not let me finish. He turned away, picked up the canteen, stepped down from the ledge, and disappeared around the rock. I did not want to be alone there, and even though he had not asked me to go along, I followed him. We walked for about five hundred feet to a small creek. He washed his hands and face and filled up the canteen. He swished water around in his mouth, but did not drink it. I scooped up some water in my hands and drank, but he stopped me and said it was unnecessary to drink.

He handed me the canteen and started to walk back to the ledge. When we got there we sat again facing the valley with our backs to the rock wall. I asked if we could build a fire. He reacted as if it was inconceivable to ask such a thing. He said that for that night we were Mescalito's guests and he was going to keep us warm.

It was already dusk. Don Juan pulled two thin, cotton blankets from his sack, threw one into my lap, and sat cross-legged with the other one over his shoulders. Below us the valley was dark, with its edges already diffused in the evening mist.

Don Juan sat motionless facing the peyote field. A steady wind blew on my face.

"The twilight is the crack between the worlds," he said softly, without turning to me.

I didn't ask what he meant. My eyes became tired. Suddenly I felt elated; I had a strange, overpowering desire to weep!

I lay on my stomach; the rock floor was hard and uncomfortable, and I had to change my position every few minutes. Finally I sat up and crossed my legs, putting the blanket over my shoulders. To my amazement this position was supremely comfortable, and I fell asleep.

When I woke up, I heard don Juan talking to me. It was very dark. I could not see him well. I did not understand what he said, but I followed him when he started to go down from the ledge. We moved carefully, or at least I did, because of the darkness. We stopped at the bottom of the rock wall. Don Juan sat down and signaled me to sit at his left. He opened up his shirt and took out a leather sack, which he opened and placed on the ground in front of him. It contained a number of dried peyote buttons.

After a long pause he picked up one of the buttons. He held it in his right hand, rubbing it several times between the thumb and the first finger as he chanted softly. Suddenly he let out a tremendous cry.


It was weird, unexpected. It terrified me. Vaguely I saw him place the peyote button in his mouth and begin to chew it. After a moment he picked up the whole sack, leaned toward me, and told me in a whisper to take the sack, pick out one mescalito, put the sack in front of us again, and then do exactly as he did.

I picked a peyote button and rubbed it as he had done. Meanwhile he chanted, swaying back and forth. I tried to put the button into my mouth several times, but I felt embarrassed to cry out. Then, as in a dream, an unbelievable shriek came out of me: Ahuji! For a moment I thought it was someone else. Again I felt the effects of nervous shock in my stomach. I was falling backward. I was fainting. I put the peyote button into my mouth and chewed it. After a while don Juan picked up another from the sack. I was relieved to see that he put it into his mouth after a short chant. He passed the sack to me, and I placed it in front of us again after taking one button. This cycle went on five times before I noticed any thirst. I picked up the canteen to drink, but don Juan told me just to wash my mouth, and not to drink or I would vomit.

I swished the water around in my mouth repeatedly. At a certain moment drinking was a formidable temptation, and I swallowed a bit of water. Immediately my stomach began to convulse. I expected to have a painless and effortless flowing of liquid from my mouth, as had happened during my first experience with peyote, but to my surprise I had only the ordinary sensation of vomiting. It did not last long, however.

Don Juan picked up another button and handed me the sack, and the cycle was renewed and repeated until I had chewed fourteen buttons. By this time all my early sensations of thirst, cold, and discomfort had disappeared. In their place I felt an unfamiliar sense of warmth and excitation. I took the canteen to freshen my mouth, but it was empty.

"Can we go to the creek, don Juan?"

The sound of my voice did not project out, but hit the roof of my palate, bounced back into my throat, and echoed to and fro between them. The echo was soft and musical, and seemed to have wings that flapped inside my throat. Its touch soothed me. I followed its back-and-forth movements until it had vanished.

I repeated the question. My voice sounded as though I was talking inside a vault.

Don Juan did not answer. I got up and turned in the direction of the creek. I looked at him to see if he was coming, but he seemed to be listening attentively to something.

He made an imperative sign with his hand to be quiet. "Abuhtol[?] is already here!" he said.

I had never heard that word before, and I was wondering whether to ask him about it when I detected a noise that seemed to be a buzzing inside my ears. The sound became louder by degrees until it was like the vibration caused by an enormous bull-roarer. It lasted for a brief moment and subsided gradually until everything was quiet again. The violence and the intensity of the noise terrified me. I was shaking so much that I could hardly remain standing, yet I was perfectly rational. If I had been drowsy a few minutes before, this feeling had totally vanished, giving way to a state of extreme lucidity. The noise reminded me of a science fiction movie in which a gigantic bee buzzed its wings coming out of an atomic radiation area. I laughed at the thought. I saw don Juan slumping back into his relaxed position. And suddenly the image of a gigantic bee accosted me again. It was more real than ordinary thoughts. It stood alone surrounded by an extraordinary clarity. Everything else was driven from my mind. This state of mental clearness, which had no precedents in my life, produced another moment of terror.

I began to perspire. I leaned toward don Juan to tell him I was afraid. His face was a few inches from mine. He was looking at me, but his eyes were the eyes of a bee. They looked like round glasses that had a light of their own in the darkness. His lips were pushed out, and from them came a pattering noise: "Pehtuh-peh-tuh-pet-tuh." I jumped backward, nearly crashing into the rock wall. For a seemingly endless time I experienced an unbearable fear. I was panting and whining. The perspiration had frozen on my skin, giving me an awkward rigidity. Then I heard don Juan's voice saying, "Get up! Move around! Get up!"

The image vanished and again I could see his familiar face.

"I'll get some water," I said after another endless moment. My voice cracked. I could hardly articulate the words. Don Juan nodded yes. As I walked away I realized that my fear had gone as fast and as mysteriously as it had come.

Upon approaching the creek I noticed that I could see every object in the way. I remembered I had just seen don Juan clearly, whereas earlier I could hardly distinguish the outlines of his figure. I stopped and looked into the distance, and I could even see across the valley. Some boulders on the other side became perfectly visible. I thought it must be early morning, but it occurred to me that I might have lost track of time. I looked at my watch. It was ten of twelve! I checked the watch to see if it was working. It couldn't be midday; it had to be midnight! I intended to make a dash for the water and come back to the rocks, but I saw don Juan coming down and I waited for him. I told him I could see in the dark.

He stared at me for a long time without saying a word; if he did speak, perhaps I did not hear him, for I was concentrating on my new, unique ability to see in the dark. I could distinguish the very minute pebbles in the sand. At moments everything was so clear it seemed to be early morning, or dusk. Then it would get dark; then it would clear again. Soon I realized that the brightness corresponded to my heart's diastole, and the darkness to its systole. The world changed from bright to dark to bright again with every beat of my heart.

I was absorbed in this discovery when the same strange sound that I had heard before became audible again. My muscles stiffened.

"Anuhctal [as I heard the word this time] is here," don Juan said. I fancied the roar so thunderous, so overwhelming, that nothing else mattered. When it had subsided, I perceived a sudden increase in the volume of water. The creek, which a minute before had been less than a foot wide, expanded until it was an enormous lake. Light that seemed to come from above it touched the surface as though shining through thick foliage. From time to time the water would glitter for a second -- gold and black. Then it would remain dark, lightless, almost out of sight, and yet strangely present.

I don't recall how long I stayed there just watching, squatting on the shore of the black lake. The roar must have subsided in the meantime, because what jolted me back (to reality?) was again a terrifying buzzing. I turned around to look for don Juan. I saw him climbing up and disappearing behind the rock ledge. Yet the feeling of being alone did not bother me at all; I squatted there in a state of absolute confidence and abandonment. The roar again became audible; it was very intense, like the noise made by a high wind. Listening to it as carefully as I could, I was able to detect a definite melody. It was a composite of high-pitched sounds, like human voices, accompanied by a deep bass drum. I focused all my attention on the melody, and again noticed that the systole and diastole of my heart coincided with the sound of the bass drum, and with the pattern of the music.

I stood up and the melody stopped. I tried to listen to my heartbeat, but it was not detectable. I squatted again, thinking that perhaps the position of my body had caused or induced the sounds! But nothing happened! Not a sound! Not even my heart! I thought I had had enough, but as I stood up to leave, I felt a tremor of the earth. The ground under my feet was shaking. I was losing my balance. I fell backward and remained on my back while the earth shook violently. I tried to grab a rock or a plant, but something was sliding under me. I jumped up, stood for a moment, and fell down again. The ground on which I sat was moving, sliding into the water like a raft. I remained motionless, stunned by a terror that was, like everything else, unique, uninterrupted, and absolute.

I moved through the water of the black lake perched on a piece of soil that looked like an earthen log. I had the feeling I was going in a southerly direction, transported by the current. I could see the water moving and swirling around. It felt cold, and oddly heavy, to the touch. I fancied it alive.

There were no distinguishable shores or landmarks, and I cant recall the thoughts or the feelings that must have come to me during this trip. After what seemed like hours of drifting, my raft made a right-angle turn to the left, the east. It continued to slide on the water for a very short distance, and unexpectedly rammed against something. The impact threw me forward. I closed my eyes and felt a sharp pain as my knees and my outstretched arms hit the ground. After a moment I looked up. I was lying on the dirt. It was as though my earthen log had merged with the land. I sat up and turned around. The water was receding! It moved backward, like a wave in reverse, until it disappeared.

I sat there for a long time, trying to collect my thoughts and resolve all that had happened into a coherent unit. My entire body ached. My throat felt like an open sore; I had bitten my lips when I "landed." I stood up. The wind made me realize I was cold. My clothes were wet. My hands and jaws and knees shook so violently that I had to lie down again. Drops of perspiration slid into my eyes and burned them until I yelled with pain.

After a while I regained a measure of stability and stood up. In the dark twilight, the scene was very clear. I took a couple of steps. A distinct sound of many human voices came to me. They seemed to be talking loudly. I followed the sound; I walked for about fifty yards and came to a sudden stop. I had reached a dead end. The place where I stood was a corral formed by enormous boulders. I could distinguish another row, and then another, and another, until they merged into the sheer mountain. From among them came the most exquisite music. It was a fluid, uninterrupted, eerie flow of sounds.

At the foot of one boulder I saw a man sitting on the ground, his face turned almost in profile. I approached him until I was perhaps ten feet away; then he turned his head and looked at me. I stopped -- his eyes were the water I had just seen! They had the same enormous volume, the sparkling of gold and black. His head was pointed like a strawberry; his skin was green, dotted with innumerable warts. Except for the pointed shape, his head was exactly like the surface of the peyote plant. I stood in front of him, staring; I couldn't take my eyes away from him. I felt he was deliberately pressing on my chest with the weight of his eyes. I was choking. I lost my balance and fell to the ground. His eyes turned away. I heard him talking to me. At first his voice was like the soft rustle of a light breeze. Then I heard it as music -- as a melody of voices -- and I "knew" it was saying, "What do you want?"

I knelt before him and talked about my life, then wept. He looked at me again. I felt his eyes pulling me away, and I thought that moment would be the moment of my death. He signaled me to come closer. I vacillated for an instant before I took a step forward. As I came closer he turned his eyes away from me and showed me the back of his hand. The melody said, "Look!" There was a round hole in the middle of his hand. "Look!" said the melody again. I looked into the hole and I saw myself. I was very old and feeble and was running stooped over, with bright sparks flying all around me. Then three of the sparks hit me, two in the head and one in the left shoulder. My figure, in the hole, stood up for a moment until it was fully vertical, and then disappeared together with the hole.

Mescalito turned his eyes to me again. They were so close to me that I "heard" them rumble softly with that peculiar sound I had heard many times that night. They became peaceful by degrees until they were like a quiet pond rippled by gold and black flashes.

He turned his eyes away once more and hopped like a cricket for perhaps fifty yards. He hopped again and again, and was gone.

The next thing I remember is that I began to walk. Very rationally I tried to recognize landmarks, such as mountains in the distance, in order to orient myself. I had been obsessed by cardinal points throughout the whole experience, and I believed that north had to be to my left. I walked in that direction for quite a while before I realized that it was daytime, and that I was no longer using my "night vision." I remembered I had a watch and looked at the time. It was eight o'clock.

It was about ten o'clock when I got to the ledge where I had been the night before. Don Juan was lying on the ground asleep.

"Where have you been?" he asked.

I sat down to catch my breath.

After a long silence he asked, "Did you see him?"

I began to narrate to him the sequence of my experiences from the beginning, but he interrupted me saying that all that mattered was whether I had seen him or not. He asked how close to me Mescalito was. I told him I had nearly touched him.

That part of my story interested him. He listened attentively to every detail without comment, interrupting only to ask questions about the form of the entity I had seen, its disposition, and other details about it. It was about noon when don Juan seemed to have had enough of my story. He stood up and strapped a canvas bag to my chest; he told me to walk behind him and said he was going to cut Mescalito loose and I had to receive him in my hands and place him inside the bag gently.

We drank some water and started to walk. When we reached the edge of the valley he seemed to hesitate for a moment before deciding which direction to take. Once he had made his choice we walked in a straight line.

Every time we came to a peyote plant, he squatted in front of it and very gently cut off the top with his short, serrated knife. He made an incision level with the ground, and sprinkled the "wound," as he called it, with pure sulphur powder which he carried in a leather sack. He held the fresh button in his left hand and spread the powder with his right hand. Then he stood up and handed me the button, which I received with both hands, as he had prescribed, and placed inside the bag. "Stand erect and don't let the bag touch the ground or the bushes or anything else," he said repeatedly, as though he thought I would forget.

We collected sixty-five buttons. When the bag was completely filled, he put it on my back and strapped a new one to my chest. By the time we had crossed the plateau we had two full sacks, containing one hundred and ten peyote buttons. The bags were so heavy and bulky that I could hardly walk under their weight and volume.

Don Juan whispered to me that the bags were heavy because Mescalito wanted to return to the ground. He said it was the sadness of leaving his abode which made Mescalito heavy; my real chore was not to let the bags touch the ground, because if I did Mescalito would never allow me to take him again.

At one particular moment the pressure of the straps on my shoulders became unbearable. Something was exerting tremendous force in order to pull me down. I felt very apprehensive. I noticed that I had started to walk faster, almost at a run; I was in a way trotting behind don Juan.

Suddenly the weight on my back and chest diminished. The load became spongy and light. I ran freely to catch up with don Juan, who was ahead of me. I told him I did not feel the weight any longer. He explained that we had already left Mescalito's abode.

Tuesday July 3, 1962

"I think Mescalito has almost accepted you," don Juan said.

"Why do you say he has almost accepted me, don Juan?"

"He did not kill you, or even harm you. He gave you a good fright, but not a really bad one. If he had not accepted you at all, he would have appeared to you as monstrous and full of wrath. Some people have learned the meaning of horror upon encountering him and not being accepted by him."

"If he is so terrible, why didn't you tell me about it before you took me to the field?"

"You do not have the courage to seek him deliberately. I thought it would be better if you did not know."

"But I might have died, don Juan!"

"Yes, you might have. But I was certain it was going to be alright for you. He played with you once. He did not harm you. I thought he would also have compassion for you this time."

I asked him if he really thought Mescalito had had compassion for me. The experience had been terrifying; I felt that I had nearly died of fright.

He said Mescalito had been most kind to me; he had showed me a scene that was an answer to a question. Don Juan said Mescalito had given me a lesson. I asked him what the lesson was and what it meant. He said it would be impossible to answer that question because I had been too afraid to know exactly what I asked Mescalito.

Don Juan probed my memory as to what I had said to Mescalito before he showed me the scene on his hand. But I could not remember. All I remembered was my falling on my knees and "confessing my sins" to him.

Don Juan seemed uninterested in talking about it anymore. I asked him, "Can you teach me the words to the songs you chanted?"

"No, I can't. Those words are my own, the words the protector himself taught me. The songs are my songs. I can't tell you what they are."

"Why can't you tell me, don Juan?"

"Because these songs are a link between the protector and myself. I am sure someday he will teach you your own songs. Wait until then; and never, absolutely never, copy or ask about the songs that belong to another man."

"What was the name you called out? Can you tell me that, don Juan?"

"No. His name can never be voiced, except to call him."

"What if I want to call him myself?"

"If someday he accepts you, he will tell you his name. That name will be for you alone to use, either to call him loudly or to say quietly to yourself. Perhaps he will tell you his name is Jose. Who knows?"

"Why is it wrong to use his name when talking about him?"

"You have seen his eyes, haven't you? You can't fool around with the protector. That is why I can't get over the fact that he chose to play with you!"

"How can he be a protector when he hurts some people?"

"The answer is very simple. Mescalito is a protector because he is available to anyone who seeks him."

"But isn't it true that everything in the world is available to anyone who seeks it?"

"No, that is not true. The ally powers are available only to the brujos, but anyone can partake of Mescalito."

"But why then does he hurt some people?"

"Not everybody likes Mescalito; yet they all seek him with the idea of profiting without doing any work. Naturally their encounter with him is always horrifying."

"What happens when he accepts a man completely?"

"He appears to him as a man, or as a light. When a man has won this kind of acceptance, Mescalito is constant. He never changes after that. Perhaps when you meet him again he will be a light, and someday he may even take you flying and reveal all his secrets to you."

"What do I have to do to arrive at that point, don Juan?"

"You have to be a strong man, and your life has to be truthful."

"What is a truthful life?"

"A life lived with deliberateness, a good, strong life."
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Re: The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:32 am

Chapter 5

Don Juan inquired periodically, in a casual way, about the state of my Datura plant. In the year that had elapsed from the time I replanted the root, the plant had grown into a large bush. It had seeded and the seedpods had dried. And don Juan judged it was time for me to learn more about the devil's weed.

Sunday, January 27, 1963

Today don Juan gave me the preliminary information on the "second portion" of the Datura root, the second step in learning the tradition. He said the second portion of the root was the real beginning of learning; in comparison with it, the first portion was like child's play. The second portion had to be mastered; it had to be intaken at least twenty times, he said, before one could go on to the third step.

I asked, "What does the second portion do?"

"The second portion of the devil's weed is used for seeing. With it, a man can soar through the air to see what is going on at any place he chooses."

"Can a man actually fly through the air, don Juan?"

"Why not? As I have already told you, the devil's weed is for those who seek power. The man who masters the second portion can use the devil's weed to do unimaginable things to gain more power."

"What kind of things, don Juan?"

"I can't tell you that. Every man is different."

Monday, January 28, 1963

Don Juan said: "If you complete the second step successfully, I can show you only one more step. In the course of learning about the devil's weed, I realized she was not for me, and I did not pursue her path any further."

"What made you decide against it, don Juan?"

"The devil's weed nearly killed me every time I tried to use her. Once it was so bad I thought I was finished. And yet, I could have avoided all that pain."

"How? Is there a special way to avoid pain?"

"Yes, there is a way."

"Is it a formula, a procedure, or what?"

"It is a way of grabbing onto things. For instance, when I was learning about the devil's weed I was too eager. I grabbed onto things the way kids grab onto candy. The devil's weed is only one of a million paths. Anything is one of a million paths [un camino entre cantidades de caminos]. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor's question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you."

Sunday, April 21, 1963

On Tuesday afternoon, April 16, don Juan and I went to the hills where his Datura plants are. He asked me to leave him alone there, and wait for him in the car. He returned nearly three hours later carrying a package wrapped in a red cloth. As we started to drive back to his house he pointed to the bundle and said it was his last gift for me.

I asked if he meant he was not going to teach me anymore. He explained that he was referring to the fact that I had a plant fully mature and would no longer need his plants.

Late in the afternoon we sat in his room; he brought out a smoothly finished mortar and pestle. The bowl of the mortar was about six inches in diameter. He untied a large package full of small bundles, selected two of them, and placed them on a straw mat by my side; then he added four more bundles of the same size from the pack he had carried home. He said they were seeds, and I had to grind them into a fine powder. He opened the first bundle and poured some of its contents into the mortar. The seeds were dried, round and caramel yellow in color.

I began working with the pestle; after a while he corrected me. He told me to push the pestle against one side of the mortar first, and then slide it across the bottom and up against the other side. I asked what he was going to do with the powder. He did not want to talk about it.

The first batch of seeds was extremely hard to grind. It took me four hours to finish the job. My back ached because of the position in which I had been sitting. I lay down and wanted to go to sleep right there, but don Juan opened the next bag and poured some of the contents into the mortar. The seeds this time were slightly darker than the first ones, and were lumped together. The rest of the bag's contents was a sort of powder, made of very small, round, dark granules.

I wanted something to eat, but don Juan said that if I wished to learn I had to follow the rule, and the rule was that I could only drink a little water while learning the secrets of the second portion.

The third bag contained a handful of live, black, grain weevils. And in the last bag were some fresh white seeds, almost mushy soft, but fibrous and difficult to grind into a fine paste, as he expected me to do. After I had finished grinding the contents of the four bags, don Juan measured two cups of a greenish water, poured it into a clay pot, and put the pot on the fire. When the water was boiling he added the first batch of powdered seeds. He stirred it with a long, pointed piece of wood or bone which he carried in his leather pouch. As soon as the water boiled again he added the other substances one by one, following the same procedure. Then he added one more cup of the same water, and let the mixture simmer over a low fire.

Then he told me it was time to mash the root. He carefully extracted a long piece of Datura root from the bundle he had carried home. The root was about sixteen inches long. It was thick, perhaps an inch and a half in diameter. He said it was the second portion, and again he had measured the second portion himself, because it was still his root. He said the next time I tried the devil's weed I would have to measure my own root.

He pushed the big mortar toward me, and I proceeded to pound the root in exactly the same way he had mashed the first portion. He directed me through the same steps, and again we left the mashed root soaking in water, exposed to the night air. By that time the boiling mixture had solidified in the clay pot. Don Juan took the pot from the fire, placed it inside a hanging net, and hooked it to a beam in the middle of the room.

About eight o'clock in the morning of April 17, don Juan and I began to leach the root extract with water. It was a clear, sunny day, and don Juan interpreted the fine weather as an omen that the devil's weed liked me; he said that with me around he could remember only how bad she had been with him.

The procedure we followed in leaching the root extract was the same I had observed for the first portion. By late afternoon, after pouring out the top water for the eighth time, there was a spoonful of a yellowish substance in the bottom of the bowl.

We returned to his room where there were still two little sacks he had not touched. He opened one, slid his hand inside, and wrinkled the open end around his wrist with the other hand. He seemed to be holding something, judging by the way his hand moved inside the bag. Suddenly, with a swift movement, he peeled the bag off his hand like a glove, turning it inside out, and shoved his hand close to my face. He was holding a lizard. Its head was a few inches from my eyes. There was something strange about the lizard's mouth. I gazed at it for a moment, and then recoiled involuntarily. The lizard's mouth was sewed up with rude stitches. Don Juan ordered me to hold the lizard in my left hand. I clutched it; it wriggled against my palm. I felt nauseated. My hands began to perspire.

He took the last bag, and, repeating the same motions, he extracted another lizard. He also held it close to my face. I saw that its eyelids were sewed together. He ordered me to hold this lizard in my right hand.

By the time I had both lizards in my hands I was almost sick. I had an overpowering desire to drop them and get out of there.

"Don't squeeze them!" he said, and his voice brought me a sense of relief and direction. He asked what was wrong with me. He tried to be serious, but couldn't keep a straight face and laughed. I tried to ease my grip, but my hands were sweating so profusely that the lizards began to wriggle out of them. Their sharp little claws scratched my hands, producing an incredible feeling of disgust and nausea. I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth. One of the lizards was already sliding onto my wrist; all it needed was to yank its head from between my fingers to be free. I had a peculiar sensation of physical despair, of supreme discomfort. I growled at don Juan, between my teeth, to take the damn things off me. My head shook involuntarily. He looked at me curiously. I growled like a bear, shaking my body. He dropped the lizards into their bags and began to laugh. I wanted to laugh also, but my stomach was upset. I lay down.

I explained to him that what had affected me was the sensation of their claws on my palms; he said there were lots of things that could drive a man mad, especially if he did not have the resolution, the purpose, required for learning; but when a man had a clear, unbending intent, feelings were in no way a hindrance, for he was capable of controlling them.

Don Juan waited awhile and then, going through the same motions, handed me the lizards again. He told me to hold their heads up and rub them softly against my temples, as I asked them anything I wanted to know.

I did not understand at first what he wanted me to do. He told me again to ask the lizards about anything I could not find out for myself. He gave me a whole series of examples: I could find out about persons I did not see ordinarily, or about objects that were lost, or about places I had not seen. Then I realized he was talking about divination. I got very excited. My heart began to pound. I felt that I was losing my breath.

He warned me not to ask about personal matters this first time; he said I should think rather of something that had nothing to do with me. I had to think fast and clearly because there would be no way of reversing my thoughts.

I tried frantically to think of something I wanted to know. Don Juan urged me on imperiously, and I was astonished to realize I could think of nothing I wanted to "ask" the lizards.

After a painfully long wait I thought of something. Some time earlier a large number of books had been stolen from a reading room. It was not a personal matter, and yet I was interested in it. I had no preconceived ideas about the identity of the person, or persons, who had taken the books. I rubbed the lizards against my temples, asking them who the thief was.

After a while don Juan put the lizards inside their bags, and said that there were no deep secrets about the root and the paste. The paste was made to give direction; the root made things clear. But the real mystery was the lizards. They were the secret of the whole sorcery of the second portion, he said. I asked whether they were a special kind of lizard. He said they were. They had to come from the area of one's own plant; they had to be one's friends. And to have lizards as friends, he said, required a long period of grooming. One had to develop a strong friendship with them by giving them food and speaking kind words to them.

I asked why their friendship was so important. He said the lizards would allow themselves to be caught only if they knew the man, and whoever took the devil's weed seriously had to treat the lizards seriously. He said that, as a rule, the lizards should be caught after the paste and the root had been prepared. They should be caught in the late afternoon. If one was not on intimate terms with the lizards, he said, days could be spent trying to catch them without success; and the paste lasts only one day. He then gave me a long series of instructions concerning the procedure to follow after the lizards had been caught.

"Once you have caught the lizards, put them in separate bags. Then take the first one and talk to her. Apologize for hurting her, and beg her to help you. And with a wooden needle sew up her mouth. Use the fibers of agave and one of the thorns of a choya to do the sewing. Draw the stitches tight. Then tell the other lizard the same things and sew her eyelids together. By the time night begins to fall you will be ready. Take the lizard with the sewed-up mouth and explain to her the matter you want to know about. Ask her to go and see for you; tell her you had to sew up her mouth so she would hurry back to you and not talk to anyone else. Let her scramble in the paste after you have rubbed it on her head; then put her on the ground. If she goes in the direction of your good fortune, the sorcery will be successful and easy. If she goes in the opposite direction, it will be unsuccessful. If the lizard moves toward you (south), you can expect more than ordinary good luck; but if she moves away from you (north), the sorcery will be terribly difficult. You may even die! So if she moves away from you, that is a good time to quit. At this point you can make the decision to quit. If you do, you will lose your capacity to command the lizards, but that is better than losing your life. On the other hand, you may decide to go ahead with the sorcery in spite of my warning. If you do, the next step is to take the other lizard and tell her to listen to her sister's story, and then describe it to you."

"But how can the lizard with the sewed-up mouth tell me what she sees? Wasn't her mouth closed to prevent her from talking?"

"Sewing up her mouth prevents her from telling her story to strangers. People say lizards are talkative; they will stop anywhere to talk. Anyway, the next step is to smear the paste on the back of her head, and then rub her head against your right temple, keeping the paste away from the center of your forehead. At the beginning of your learning it is a good idea to tie the lizard by its middle to your right shoulder with a string. Then you won't lose her or injure her. But as you progress and become more familiar with the power of the devil's weed, the lizards learn to obey your commands and will stay perched on your shoulder. After you have smeared the paste on your right temple with the lizard, dip the fingers of both hands into the gruel; first rub it on both temples and then spread it all over both sides of your head. The paste dries very fast, and can be applied as many times as necessary. Begin every time by using the lizard's head first and then your fingers. Sooner or later the lizard that went to see comes back and tells her sister all about her journey, and the blind lizard describes it to you as though you were her kind. When the sorcery is finished, put the lizard down and let her go, but don't watch where she goes. Dig a deep hole with your bare hands and bury everything you used in it."

About 6:00 P.M. don Juan scooped the root extract out of the bowl onto a flat piece of shale; there was less than a teaspoon of a yellowish starch. He put half of it into a cup and added some yellowish water. He rotated the cup in his hand to dissolve the substance. He handed me the cup and told me to drink the mixture. It was tasteless, but it left a slightly bitter flavor in my mouth. The water was too hot and that annoyed me. My heart began pounding fast, but soon I was relaxed again.

Don Juan got the other bowl with the paste. The paste looked solid, and had a glossy surface. I tried to poke the crust with my finger, but don Juan jumped toward me and pushed my hand away from the bowl. He became very annoyed; he said it was very thoughtless of me to try that, and if I really wanted to learn there was no need to be careless. This was power, he said, pointing to the paste, and nobody could tell what kind of power it really was. It was bad enough that we had to tamper with it for our own purposes -- a thing we cannot help doing because we are men, he said -- but we should at least treat it with the proper respect. The mixture looked like oatmeal. Apparently it had enough starch to give it that consistency. He asked me to get the bags with the lizards. He took the lizard with the sewed-up mouth and carefully handed it over to me. He made me take it with my left hand and told me to get some of the paste with my finger and rub it on the lizard's head and then put the lizard into the pot and hold it there until the paste covered its entire body.

Then he told me to remove the lizard from the pot. He picked up the pot and led me to a rocky area not too far from his house. He pointed to a large rock and told me to sit in front of it, as if it were my Datura plant, and, holding the lizard in front of my face, to explain to her again what I wanted to know, and beg her to go and find the answer for me. He advised me to tell the lizard I was sorry I had to cause her discomfort, and to promise her I would be kind to all lizards in return. And then he told me to hold her between the third and fourth fingers of my left hand, where he had once made a cut, and to dance around the rock doing exactly what I had done when I replanted the root of the devil's weed; he asked me if I remembered all I had done at that time. I said I did. He emphasized that everything had to be just the same, and if I did not remember I had to wait until everything was clear in my mind. He warned me with great urgency that if I acted too quickly, without deliberation, I was going to get hurt. His last instruction was that I was to place the lizard with the sewed-up mouth on the ground and watch where she went, so that I could determine the outcome of the experience. He said I was not to take my eyes away from the lizard, even for an instant, because it was a common trick of lizards to distract one and then dash away.

It was not quite dark yet. Don Juan looked at the sky. "I will leave you alone," he said, and walked away.

I followed all his instructions and then placed the lizard on the ground. The lizard stood motionless where I had put it. Then it looked at me, and ran to the rocks toward the east and disappeared among them.

I sat on the ground in front of the rock, as though I were facing my plant. A profound sadness overtook me. I wondered about the lizard with its sewed-up mouth. I thought of its strange journey and of how it looked at me before it ran away. It was a weird thought, an annoying projection. In my own way I too was a lizard, undergoing another strange journey. My fate was, perhaps, only to see; at that moment I felt that I would never be able to tell what I had seen. It was very dark by then. I could hardly see the rocks in front of me. I thought of don Juan's words: "The twilight -- there's the crack between the worlds!"

After long hesitation I began to follow the steps prescribed. The paste, though it looked like oatmeal, did not feel like oatmeal. It was very smooth and cold. It had a peculiar, pungent smell. It produced a sensation of coolness on the skin and dried quickly. I rubbed my temples eleven times, without noticing any effect. I tried very carefully to take account of any change in perception or mood, for I did not even know what to anticipate. As a matter of fact, I could not conceive the nature of the experience, and kept on searching for clues.

The paste had dried up and scaled off my temples. I was about to rub some more of it on when I realized I was sitting on my heels in Japanese fashion. I had been sitting cross-legged and did not recall changing positions. It took some time to realize fully that I was sitting on the floor in a sort of cloister with high arches. I thought they were brick arches, but upon examining them I saw they were stone.

This transition was very difficult. It came so suddenly that I was not ready to follow. My perception of the elements of the vision was diffused, as if I were dreaming. Yet the components did not change. They remained steady, and I could stop alongside any one of them and actually examine it. The vision was not so clear or so real as one induced by peyote. It had a misty character, an intensely pleasing pastel quality.

I wondered whether I could get up or not, and the next thing I noticed was that I had moved. I was at the top of a stairway and H., a friend of mine, was standing at the bottom. Her eyes were feverish. There was a mad glare in them. She laughed aloud and with such intensity that she was terrifying. She began coming up the stairs. I wanted to run away or take cover, because "she'd been off her rocker once." That was the thought that came to my mind. I hid behind a column and she went by me without looking. "She's going on a long trip now," was another thought that occurred to me then; and finally the last thought I remembered was, "She laughs every time she's ready to crack up.

Suddenly the scene became very clear; it was no longer like a dream. It was like an ordinary scene, but I seemed to be looking at it through window glass. I tried to touch a column but all I sensed was that I couldn't move; yet I knew I could stay as long as I wanted, viewing the scene. I was in it and yet I was not part of it.

I experienced a barrage of rational thoughts and arguments. I was, so far as I could judge, in an ordinary state of sober consciousness. Every element belonged in the realm of my normal processes. And yet I knew it was not an ordinary state.

The scene changed abruptly. It was nighttime. I was in the hall of a building. The darkness inside the building made me aware that in the earlier scene the sunlight had been beautifully clear. Yet it had been so commonplace that I did not notice it at the time. As I looked further into the new vision I saw a young man coming out of a room carrying a large knapsack on his shoulders. I didn't know who he was, although I had seen him once or twice. He walked by me and went down the stairs. By then I had forgotten my apprehension, my rational dilemmas. "Who's that guy?" I thought. "Why did I see him?"

The scene changed again and I was watching the young man deface books; be glued some of the pages together, erased markings, and so on. Then I saw him arranging the books neatly in a wooden crate. There was a pile of crates. They were not in his room, but in a storage place. Other images came to my mind, but they were not clear. The scene became foggy. I had a sensation of spinning.

Don Juan shook me by the shoulders and I woke up. He helped me to stand and we walked back to his house. It had been three and a half hours from the moment I began rubbing the paste on my temples to the time I woke up, but the visionary state could not have lasted more than ten minutes. I had no ill effects whatsoever. I was just hungry and sleepy.

Thursday, April 18, 1963

Don Juan asked me last night to describe my recent experience, but I was too sleepy to talk about it. I could not concentrate. Today, as soon as I woke up, he asked me again.

"Who told you this girl H. had been off her rocker?" he asked when I finished my story.

"Nobody. It was just one of the thoughts I had."

"Do you think they were your thoughts?"

I told him they were my thoughts, although I had no reason to think that H. had been sick. They were strange thoughts. They seemed to pop up in my mind from nowhere. He looked at me inquisitively. I asked him if he did not believe me; he laughed and said that it was my routine to be careless with my acts.

"What did I do wrong, don Juan?"

"You should have listened to the lizards."

"How should I have listened?"

"The little lizard on your shoulder was describing to you everything her sister was seeing. She was talking to you. She was telling you everything, and you paid no attention. Instead, you believed the lizard's words were your own thoughts."

"But they were my own thoughts, don Juan."

"They were not. That is the nature of this sorcery. Actually, the vision is to be listened to, rather than looked at. The same thing happened to me. I was about to warn you when I remembered my benefactor had not warned me."

"Was your experience like mine, don Juan?"

"No. Mine was a hellish journey. I nearly died."

"Why was it hellish?"

"Maybe because the devil's weed did not like me, or because I was not clear about what I wanted to ask. Like you yesterday. You must have had that girl in mind when you asked the question about the books."

"I can't remember it."

"The lizards are never wrong; they take every thought as a question. The lizard came back and told you things about H. no one will ever be able to understand, because not even you know what your thoughts were."

"How about the other vision I had?"

"Your thoughts must have been steady when you asked that question. And that is the way this sorcery should be conducted, with clarity."

"Do you mean the vision of the girl is not to be taken seriously?"

"How can it be taken seriously if you don't know what questions the little lizards were answering?"

"Would it be more clear to the lizard if one asked only one question?"

"Yes, that would be clearer. If you could hold one thought steadily."

"But what would happen, don Juan, if the one question was not a simple one?"

"As long as your thought is steady, and does not go into other things, it is clear to the little lizards, and then their answer is clear to you."

"Can one ask more questions of the lizards as one goes along in the vision?"

"No. The vision is to look at whatever the lizards are telling you. That is why I said it is a vision to hear more than a vision to see. That is why I asked you to deal with impersonal matters. Usually, when the question is about people, your longing to touch them or talk to them is too strong, and the lizard will stop talking and the sorcery will be dispelled. You should know much more than you do now before trying to see things that concern you personally. Next time you must listen carefully. I am sure the lizards told you many, many things, but you were not listening."

Friday, April 19, 1963

"What were all the things I ground for the paste, don Juan?"

"Seeds of devil's weed and the weevils that live off the seeds. The measure is one handful of each." He cupped his right hand to show me how much.

I asked him what would happen if one element was used by itself, without the others. He said that such a procedure would only antagonize the devil's weed and the lizards. "You must not antagonize the lizards," he said, "for the next day, during the late afternoon, you must return to the site of your plant. Speak to all lizards and ask the two that helped you in the sorcery to come out again. Search all over until it is quite dark. If you can't find them, you must try it once more the next day. If you are strong you will find both of them, and then you have to eat them, right there. And you will be endowed forever with the capacity to see the unknown. You will never need to catch lizards again to practice this sorcery. They will live inside you from then on."

"What do I do if I find only one of them?"

"If you find only one of them you must let her go at the end of your search. If you find her the first day, don't keep her, hoping you will catch the other one the next day. That will only spoil your friendship with them."

"What happens if I can't find them at all?"

"I think that would be the best thing for you. It implies that you must catch two lizards every time you want their help, but it also implies that you are free."

"What do you mean, free?"

"Free from being the slave of the devil's weed. If the lizards are to live inside you, the devil's weed will never let you go."

"Is that bad?"

"Of course it is bad. She will cut you off from everything else. You will have to spend your life grooming her as an ally. She is possessive. Once she dominates you, there is only one way to go -- her way."

"What if I find that the lizards are dead?"

"If you find one or both of them dead, you must not attempt to do this sorcery for some time. Lay off for a while.

"I think this is all I need to tell you; what I have told you is the rule. Whenever you practice this sorcery by yourself, you must follow all the steps I have described while you sit in front of your plant. One more thing. You must not eat or drink until the sorcery is finished."
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