The Eagle's Gift, 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 Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:01 pm

The Eagle's Gift
by Carlos Castaneda
© 1981

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Table of Contents

• Prologue
• Part one: The Other Self
o 1. The Fixation of the Second Attention
o 2. 'Seeing' Together
o 3. Quasi Memories of the Other Self
o 4. Crossing the Boundaries of Affection
o 5. A Horde of Angry Sorcerers
• Part two: The Art of 'Dreaming'
o 6. Losing the Human Form
o 7. 'Dreaming' Together
o 8. The Right and the Left Side Awareness
• Part three: The Eagle's Gift
o 9. The Rule of the Nagual
o 10. The Nagual's Party of Warriors
o 11. The Nagual Woman
o 12. The 'Not-Doings' of Silvio Manuel
o 13. The Intricacies of Dreaming
o 14. Florinda
o 15. The Plumed Serpent
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:02 pm

Prologue

Although I am an anthropologist, this is not strictly an anthropological work. Yet it has its roots in cultural anthropology for it began years ago as field research in that discipline. I was interested at that time in studying the uses of medicinal plants among the Indians of the Southwest and northern Mexico.

My research evolved into something else over the years as a consequence of its own momentum and of my own growth. The study of medicinal plants was superseded by the study of a belief system which seemed to cut across the boundaries of at least two different cultures.

The person responsible for this shift of emphasis in my work was a Yaqui Indian from northern Mexico, don Juan Matus, who later introduced me to don Genaro Flores, a Mazatec Indian from central Mexico. Both of them were practitioners of an ancient knowledge, which in our time is commonly known as sorcery, and which is thought to be a primitive form of medical or psychological science, but which in fact is a tradition of extremely self-disciplined practitioners and extremely sophisticated praxis. [* praxis -- translating an idea into action]

The two men became my teachers rather than my informants, but I still persisted, in a haphazard way, in regarding my task as a work in anthropology. I spent years trying to figure out the cultural matrix of that system, perfecting a taxonomy, a classificatory scheme, a hypothesis of its origin and dissemination. All were futile efforts in view of the fact that in the end, the compelling inner forces of that system derailed my intellectual pursuit and turned me into a participant.

Under the influence of these two powerful men my work has been transformed into an autobiography, in the sense that I have been forced from the moment I became a participant to report what happens to me. It is a peculiar autobiography because I am not reporting about what happens to me in my everyday life as an average man, nor am I reporting about my subjective states generated by daily living. I am reporting, rather, on the events that unfold in my life as a direct result of having adopted an alien set of interrelated ideas and procedures. In other words, the belief system I wanted to study swallowed me, and in order for me to proceed with my scrutiny I have to make an extraordinary daily payment; my life as a man in this world.

Due to these circumstances I am now faced with the special problem of having to explain what it is that I am doing. I am very far away from my point of origin as an average Western man or as an anthropologist, and I must first of all reiterate that this is not a work of fiction. What I am describing is alien to us, therefore, it seems unreal.

As I enter deeper into the intricacies of sorcery, what at first appeared to be a system of primitive beliefs and practices has now turned out to be an enormous and intricate world. In order to become familiar with that world and to report about it, I have to use myself in increasingly complex and more refined ways. Whatever happens to me is no longer something I can predict, nor anything congruous with what other anthropologists know about the belief systems of the Indians of Mexico. I find myself, consequently, in a difficult position. All I can do under the circumstances is present what happened to me as it happened. I cannot give any other assurance of my good faith, except to reassert that I do not live a dual life, and that I have committed myself to following the principles of don Juan's system in my everyday existence.

After don Juan Matus and don Genaro Flores, the two Mexican Indian sorcerers who tutored me, had explained their knowledge to me to their own satisfaction, they said goodbye and left. I understood that from then on my task was to assemble by myself what I had learned from them.

In the course of fulfilling this task I went back to Mexico and found out that don Juan and don Genaro had nine other apprentices of sorcery; five women and four men. The oldest woman was named Soledad; the next was Maria Elena, nicknamed "la Gorda," the other three women, Lydia, Rosa, and Josefina, were younger, and were called "the little sisters." The four men, in order of age, were Eligio, Benigno, Nestor, and Pablito: The latter three men were called "the Genaros" because they were very close to don Genaro.

I had already known that Nestor, Pablito, and Eligio, who was no longer around, were apprentices, but I had been led to believe that the four girls were Pablito's sisters, and that Soledad was their mother. I knew Soledad slightly over the years, and had always called her dona Soledad as a sign of respect since she was closer to don Juan in age. Lydia and Rosa had also been introduced to me but our relationship had been too brief and casual to afford me an understanding of who they really were. I knew la Gorda and Josefina only by name. I had met Benigno but had no idea that he was connected to don Juan and don Genaro.

For reasons that were incomprehensible to me, all of them seemed to have been waiting in one way or another for my return to Mexico. They informed me that I was supposed to take the place of don Juan as their leader, their Nagual. They told me that don Juan and don Genaro had disappeared from the face of the earth, and so had Eligio. The women and the men believed that the three of them had not died: They had entered another world, different from the world of our everyday life, yet equally real.

The women -- especially dona Soledad -- clashed violently with me from our first meeting. They were, nevertheless, instrumental in producing a catharsis [* catharsis -- purging of emotional tensions] in me. My contact with them resulted in a mysterious effervescence in my life. From the moment I met them, drastic changes took place in my thinking and my understanding. All this did not happen, however, on a conscious level. If anything, after my first visit to them, I found myself more confused than ever. Yet in the midst of the chaos, I encountered a surprisingly solid base. In the impact of our clash, I found in myself resources I had not imagined I possessed.

La Gorda and the three little sisters were consummate [* consummate -- having or revealing supreme mastery or skill] dreamers. They voluntarily gave me pointers, and showed me their accomplishments. Don Juan had described the art of dreaming as the capacity to utilize one's ordinary dreams and transform them into controlled awareness by virtue of a specialized form of attention which he and don Genaro called the second attention.

I expected that the three Genaros were going to teach me their accomplishments in another aspect of don Juan's and don Genaro's teachings, 'the art of stalking'. The art of stalking was introduced to me as a set of procedures and attitudes that enabled one to get the best out of any conceivable situation. But whatever the three Genaros told me about stalking did not have the cohesion or the force I had anticipated. I concluded that either the men were not really practitioners of that art, or they simply did not want to show it to me.

I stopped my inquiries in order to give everyone a chance to feel relaxed with me, but all of the men and women sat back and trusted that since I was no longer asking questions I was finally behaving like a Nagual. Each of them demanded my guidance and counsel.

In order to comply I was obliged to undertake a total review of everything don Juan and don Genaro had taught me; to go deeper still into the art of sorcery.
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:03 pm

Part One: The Other Self

1. The Fixation of the Second Attention


It was midafternoon when I got to where la Gorda and the little sisters lived. La Gorda was alone, sitting outside by the door, gazing into the distant mountains. She was shocked to see me. She explained that she had been completely absorbed in a memory, and for a moment she had been on the verge of remembering something very vague that had to do with me.

Later that night, after dinner, la Gorda, the three little sisters, the three Genaros, and I sat on the floor of la Gorda's room. The women sat together.

For some reason, although I had been with each one of them an equal length of time, I had isolated la Gorda as the recipient of all my concern. It was as if the others did not exist for me. I speculated that perhaps it was because la Gorda reminded me of don Juan while the others did not. There was something very easy about her. Yet that easiness was not so much in her actions as it was in my feelings for her.

They wanted to know what I had been doing. I told them that I had just been in the city of Tula, Hidalgo, where I had visited some archaeological ruins. I had been most impressed with a row of four colossal, columnlike figures of stone, called the Atlanteans, which stand on the flat top of a pyramid.

Each one of the almost cylindrical figures, measuring fifteen feet in height and three feet across, is made of four separate pieces of basalt carved to represent what archaeologists think are Toltec warriors carrying their war paraphernalia. Twenty feet behind each of the front figures on the top of the pyramid, there is another row of four rectangular columns of the same height and width as the first, also made of four separate pieces of stone.

The awe-inspiring setting of the Atlanteans was enhanced by what a friend, who had guided me through the site, had told me about them. He said that a custodian of the ruins had revealed to him that he had heard the Atlanteans walking at night; making the ground underneath them shake.

I asked the Genaros for comments on what my friend had said. They acted shy and giggled. I turned to la Gorda who was sitting beside me, and asked her directly for her opinions.

"I've never seen those figures," she said. "I've never been in Tula. Just the idea of going to that town scares me."

"Why does it scare you, Gorda?" I asked.

"Something happened to me in the ruins of Monte Alban in Oaxaca," she said. "I used to go to roam around those ruins even after the Nagual Juan Matus told me not to set foot in them. I don't know why but I loved that place. Every time I was in Oaxaca I would go there. Because women alone are always harassed, I would usually go with Pablito, who is very daring. But once I went there with Nestor. He saw a glitter on the ground. We dug a little and found a strange rock that fit in the palm of my hand. A hole had been neatly drilled into the rock. I wanted to put my finger through it, but Nestor stopped me. The rock was smooth and made my hand very hot. We didn't know what to do with it. Nestor put it inside his hat and we carried it as if it were a live animal."

All of them started to laugh. There seemed to be a concealed joke in what la Gorda was telling me.

"Where did you take it?" I asked her.

"We brought it here to this house," she replied, and that statement elicited uncontainable laughter from the others. They coughed and choked laughing,

"The joke is on la Gorda," Nestor said. "You've got to understand that she's muleheaded like no one else. The Nagual had already told her not to fool around with rocks, or bones, or any other thing she might find buried in the ground. But she used to sneak behind his back and get all kinds of crap.

"That day in Oaxaca she insisted on carrying that god-awful thing. We got on the bus with it and brought it all the way to this town, and then right into this room."

"The Nagual and Genaro had gone on a trip," la Gorda said. "I got daring and put my finger through the hole and realized that the rock had been cut to be held in the hand. Right away I could feel the feeling of whoever had held that rock. It was a power rock. My mood changed. I became frightened. Something awesome began to lurk in the dark; something that had no shape or color. I couldn't be alone. I would wake up screaming and after a couple of days I couldn't sleep any more. Everybody took turns keeping me company, day and night."

"When the Nagual and Genaro came back," Nestor said, "the Nagual sent me with Genaro to put the rock back in the exact place where it had been buried. Genaro worked for three days to pinpoint the spot. And he did it."

"What happened to you, Gorda, after that?" I asked her.

"The Nagual buried me," she said. "For nine days I was naked inside a dirt coffin."

There was another explosion of laughter among them.

"The Nagual told her that she couldn't get out of it," Nestor explained. "Poor Gorda had to piss and shit inside her coffin. The Nagual pushed her inside a box that he made with branches and mud. There was a little door on the side for her food and water. The rest of it was sealed."

"Why did he bury her?" I asked.

"That's the only way to protect anyone," Nestor said. "She had to be placed under the ground so the earth would heal her. There is no better healer than the earth. Besides, the Nagual had to fend off the feeling of that rock which was focused on la Gorda. The dirt is a screen. It doesn't allow anything to go through either way. The Nagual knew that she couldn't get worse by being buried for nine days. She could only get better. Which she did."

"How did it feel to be buried like that, Gorda?" I asked.

"I nearly went crazy," she said. "But that was just my indulging. If the Nagual hadn't put me in there, I would have died. The power of that rock was too great for me. Its owner had been a very large man. I could tell that his hand was twice the size of mine. He held on to that rock for dear life, and in the end someone killed him. His fear terrified me. I could feel something coming at me to eat my flesh. That was what the man felt. He was a man of power, but someone even more powerful got him.

"The Nagual said that once you have an object of that kind it brings disaster because its power enters into challenges with other objects of its kind; and the owner becomes either a pursuer or a victim. The Nagual said that it is the nature of such objects to be at war because the part of our attention which focuses on them to give them power is a very dangerous, belligerent part."

"La Gorda is very greedy," Pablito said. "She figured that if she could find something which already had a great deal of power in it, she'd be a winner because nowadays no one is interested in challenging power."

La Gorda assented with a movement of her head.

"I didn't know that one could pick up other things besides the power that the objects have," she said. "When I first put my finger through the hole and held the rock, my hand got hot and my arm began to vibrate. I felt truly strong and big. I'm sneaky so no one knew that I was holding the rock in my hand. After a few days of holding it the real horror began. I could feel that somebody had gone after the owner of the rock. I could feel his fright. He was doubtlessly a very powerful sorcerer and whoever was after him wanted not only to kill him but to eat his flesh. That really scared me. I should've dropped the rock then, but the feeling I was having was so new that I kept the rock clutched in my hand like a damn fool. When I finally dropped it, it was too late. Something in me was hooked. I had visions of men coming at me; men dressed in strange clothes. I felt they were biting me; tearing the flesh of my legs with sharp little knives and with their teeth. I went berserk!"

"How did don Juan explain those visions?" I asked her.

"He said that she no longer had defenses," Nestor said. "And because of that she could pick up that man's fixation; his second attention which had been poured into that rock. When he was being killed he held on to the rock in order to gather all his concentration. The Nagual said that the man's power went out of his body into his rock. He knew what he was doing. He didn't want his enemies to benefit by devouring his flesh. The Nagual also said that the ones who killed him knew this. That's why they were eating him alive; to get whatever power was left. They must have buried the rock to avoid trouble. And la Gorda and I, like two idiots, found it and dug it up."

La Gorda shook her head affirmatively three or four times. She had a very serious expression. "The Nagual told me that the second attention is the most fierce thing there is," she said. "If it is focused on objects, there is nothing more horrendous."

"What's horrible is that we cling," Nestor said. "The man who owned the rock was clinging to his life and to his power; that's why he was horrified at feeling his flesh eaten away. The Nagual said that if the man would've let go of his possessiveness and abandoned himself to his death, whatever it may have been, there wouldn't have been any fear in him."

The conversation faded. I asked the others if they had anything to say. The little sisters glared at me. Benigno giggled and hid his face with his hat.

"Pablito and I have been in the pyramids of Tula," he finally said. "We've been in all the pyramids there are in Mexico. We like them."

"Why did you go to all the pyramids?" I asked him.

"I really don't know why we went to them," he said. "Perhaps it was because the Nagual Juan Matus told us not to."

"How about you, Pablito?" I asked.

"I went there to learn," he replied huffily, and laughed. "I used to live in the city of Tula. I know those pyramids like the back of my hand. The Nagual told me that he also used to live there. He knew everything about the pyramids. He was a Toltec himself."

I realized then that it had been more than curiosity that made me go to the archaeological site in Tula. The main reason I had accepted my friend's invitation was because at the time of my first visit to la Gorda, and the others, they had told me something which don Juan had never even mentioned to me; that he considered himself a cultural descendant of the Toltecs. Tula had been the ancient epicenter of the Toltec empire.

"What do you think about the Atlanteans walking around at night?" I asked Pablito.

"Sure, they walk at night," he said. "Those things have been there for ages. No one knows who built the pyramids. The Nagual Juan Matus himself told me that the Spaniards were not the first to discover them. The Nagual said there were others before them. God knows how many."

"What do you think those four figures of stone represent?" I asked.

"They are not men, but women," he said. "That pyramid is the center of order and stability. Those figures are its four corners. They are the four winds, the four directions. They are the foundation, the basis of the pyramid. They have to be women, mannish women, if you want to call them that. As you yourself know, we men are not that hot. We are a good binding, a glue to hold things together, but that's all. The Nagual Juan Matus said that the mystery of the pyramid is its structure. The four corners have been elevated to the top. The pyramid itself is the man supported by his female warriors; a male who has elevated his supporters to the highest place. See what I mean?"

I must have had a look of perplexity on my face. Pablito laughed. It was a polite laughter.

"No. I don't see what you mean, Pablito," I said. "But that's because don Juan never told me anything about it. The topic is completely new to me. Please tell me everything you know."

"The Atlanteans are the nagual. They are dreamers. They represent the order of the second attention brought forward. That's why they're so fearsome and mysterious. They are creatures of war but not of destruction.

"The other row of columns, the rectangular ones, represent the order of the first attention; the tonal. They are stalkers. That's why they are covered with inscriptions. They are very peaceful and wise; the opposite of the front row."

Pablito stopped talking and looked at me almost defiantly, then he broke into a smile.

I thought he was going to go on to explain what he had said, but he remained silent as if waiting for my comments.

I told him how mystified I was and urged him to continue talking. He seemed undecided, stared at me for a moment, and took a deep breath. He had hardly begun to speak when the voices of the rest of them were raised in a clamor of protest.

"The Nagual already explained that to all of us," la Gorda said impatiently. "What's the point of making him repeat it?"

I tried to make them understand that I really had no conception of what Pablito was talking about. I prevailed on him to go on with his explanation. There was another wave of voices speaking at the same time. Judging by the way the little sisters glared at me, they were getting very angry; especially Lydia.

"We don't like to talk about those women," la Gorda said to me in a conciliatory tone. "Just the thought of the women of the pyramid makes us very nervous."

"What's the matter with you people?" I asked. "Why are you acting like this?"

"We don't know," la Gorda replied. "It's just a feeling that all of us have; a very disturbing feeling. We were fine until a moment ago when you started to ask questions about those women."

La Gorda's statements were like an alarm signal. All of them stood up and advanced menacingly toward me, talking in loud voices.

It took me a long time to calm them and make them sit down. The little sisters were very upset and their mood seemed to influence la Gorda's. The three men showed more restraint. I faced Nestor and asked him bluntly to explain to me why the women were so agitated. Obviously I was unwittingly doing something to aggravate them.

"I really don't know what it is," Nestor said. "I'm sure none of us here knows what is the matter with us, except that we all feel very sad and nervous."

"Is it because we're talking about the pyramids?" I asked him.

"It must be," Nestor replied somberly. "I myself didn't know that those figures were women."

"Of course you did, you idiot," Lydia snapped.

Nestor seemed to be intimidated by her outburst. He recoiled and smiled sheepishly at me.

"Maybe I did," he conceded. "We're going through a very strange period in our lives. None of us knows anything for sure any more. Since you came into our lives, we are unknown to ourselves."

A very oppressive mood set in. I insisted that the only way to dispel it was to talk about those mysterious columns on the pyramids.

The women protested heatedly. The men remained silent. I had the feeling that the men were affiliated in principle with the women, but secretly wanted to discuss the topic just as I did.

"Did don Juan tell you anything else about the pyramids, Pablito?" I asked.

My intention was to steer the conversation away from the specific topic of the Atlanteans, and yet stay near it.

"He said one specific pyramid there in Tula was a guide," Pablito replied eagerly.

From the tone of his voice I deduced that he really wanted to talk. And the attentiveness of the other apprentices convinced me that covertly all of them wanted to exchange opinions.

"The Nagual said that it was a guide to the second attention," Pablito went on, "but that it was ransacked and everything destroyed. He told me that some of the pyramids were gigantic not-doings. They were not lodgings but places for warriors to do their dreaming and exercise their second attention. Whatever they did was recorded in drawings and figures that were put on the walls.

"Then another kind of warrior must've come along; a kind who didn't approve of what the sorcerers of the pyramid had done with their second attention, and destroyed the pyramid and all that was in it.

"The Nagual believed that the new warriors must've been warriors of the third attention, just as he himself was. Warriors who were appalled by the evilness of the fixation of the second attention. The sorcerers of the pyramids were too busy with their fixation to realize what was going on. When they did, it was too late."

Pablito had an audience. Everyone in the room, myself included, was fascinated with what he was saying. I understood the ideas he was presenting because don Juan had explained them to me.

Don Juan had said that our total being consists of two perceivable segments. The first is the familiar physical body which all of us can perceive. The second is the luminous body which is a cocoon that only seers can perceive; a cocoon that gives us the appearance of giant luminous eggs.

He had also said that one of the most important goals of sorcery is to reach the luminous cocoon; a goal which is fulfilled through the sophisticated use of dreaming, and through a rigorous systematic exertion he called not-doing. He defined not-doing as an unfamiliar act which engages our total being by forcing us to become conscious of its luminous segment.

In order to explain these concepts, don Juan made a three-part, uneven division of our consciousness.

He called the smallest the first attention, and said that it is the consciousness that every normal person has developed in order to deal with the daily world. It encompasses the awareness of the physical body.

Another larger portion he called the second attention, and described it as the awareness we need in order to perceive our luminous cocoon and to act as luminous beings. He said that the second attention remains in the background for the duration of our lives unless it is brought forth through deliberate training or by an accidental trauma. He said the second attention encompasses the awareness of the luminous body.

He called the last portion, which was the largest, the third attention -- an immeasurable consciousness which engages undefinable aspects of the awareness of the physical and the luminous bodies.

I asked him if he himself had experienced the third attention. He said that he was on the periphery of it, and that if he ever entered it completely, I would know it instantly because all of him would become what he really was; an outburst of energy.

He added that the battlefield of warriors was the second attention, which was something like a training ground for reaching the third attention. The second attention was a state rather difficult to arrive at, but very fruitful once it was attained.

"The pyramids are harmful," Pablito went on. "Especially to unprotected sorcerers like ourselves. They are worse yet to formless warriors like la Gorda. The Nagual said that there is nothing more dangerous than the evil fixation of the second attention.

"When warriors learn to focus on the weak side of the second attention nothing can stand in their way. They become hunters of men; ghouls. Even if they are no longer alive, they can reach for their prey through time as if they were present here and now.

"And because prey is what we become if we walk into one of those pyramids, the Nagual called them traps of the second attention."

"What exactly did he say would happen?" la Gorda asked.

"The Nagual said that we could stand perhaps one visit to the pyramids," Pablito explained. "On the second visit we would feel a strange sadness. It would be like a cold breeze that would make us listless and fatigued; a fatigue that soon turns into bad luck. In no time at all we'll be jinxed. Everything will happen to us. In fact, the Nagual said that our own streaks of bad luck were due to our willfulness in visiting those ruins against his recommendations.

"Eligio, for instance, never disobeyed the Nagual. You wouldn't catch him dead in there. Neither did this Nagual here, and they were always lucky while the rest of us were jinxed, especially la Gorda and myself. Weren't we even bitten by the same dog? And didn't the same beams of the kitchen roof get rotten twice and fall on us?"

"The Nagual never explained this to me," la Gorda said.

"Of course he did," Pablito insisted,

"If I had known how bad it was, I wouldn't have set foot in those damned places," la Gorda protested.

"The Nagual told every one of us the same things," Nestor said. "The problem is that every one of us was not listening attentively, or rather every one of us listened to him in his own way, and heard what he wanted to hear.

"The Nagual said that the fixation of the second attention has two faces.

"The first and easier face is the evil one. It happens when dreamers use their dreaming to focus their second attention on the items of the world, like money and power over people.[~ the world of the 1st attention]

"The other face is the more difficult to reach and it happens when dreamers focus their second attention on items that are not in or from this world, such as the journey into the unknown. [~ the world of the third attention]

"Warriors need endless impeccability in order to reach this face."

I said to them that I was sure that don Juan had selectively revealed certain things to some of us, and other things to others. I could not, for instance, recall don Juan ever discussing the evil face of the second attention with me.

I told them then what don Juan said to me in reference to the fixation of attention in general.

He stressed to me that all archaeological ruins in Mexico, especially the pyramids, were harmful to modern man. He depicted the pyramids as foreign expressions of thought and action. He said that every item, every design in them, was a calculated effort to record aspects of attention which were thoroughly alien to us. For don Juan, it was not only ruins of past cultures that held a dangerous element in them. Anything which was the object of an obsessive concern had a harmful potential.

We had discussed this in detail once. It was a reaction he had to some comments I had made about my being at a loss as to where to store my field notes safely. I regarded them in a most possessive manner and was obsessed with their security.

"What should I do?" I asked him.

"Genaro once gave you the solution," he replied. "You thought, as you always do, that he was joking. He never jokes. He told you that you should write with the tip of your finger instead of a pencil. You didn't take him up on that because you can't imagine that this is the not-doing of taking notes."

I argued that what he was proposing had to be a joke. My self image was that of a social scientist who needed to 'record everything' that was said and done in order to 'draw verifiable conclusions'. For don Juan, the one thing had nothing to do with the other: To be a serious student had nothing to do with taking notes.

I personally could not see a solution. Don Genaro's suggestion seemed to me humorous; not a real possibility.

Don Juan argued his point further. He said that taking notes was a way of engaging the first attention in the task of remembering; that I took notes in order to remember what was said and done. Don Genaro's recommendation was not a joke because writing with the tip of my finger on a piece of paper, as the not-doing of taking notes, would force my second attention to focus on remembering; and I would not accumulate sheets of paper. Don Juan thought that the end result would be more accurate and more powerful than taking notes. It had never been done as far as he knew, but the principle was sound.

He pressed me to do it for a while. I became disturbed. Taking notes acted not only as a mnemonic [* mnemonic -- a device, such as a rhyme or acronym, used to aid recall] device, but soothed me as well. It was my most serviceable crutch. To accumulate sheets of paper gave me a sense of purpose and balance.

"When you worry about what to do with your sheets," don Juan explained, "you are focusing a very dangerous part of yourself on them. All of us have that dangerous side, that fixation. The stronger we become, the more deadly that side is.

"The recommendation for warriors is not to have any material things on which to focus their power, but to focus their power on the spirit; on the true flight into the unknown, not on trivial shields. In your case, your notes are your shield. They won't let you live in peace."

I seriously felt that I had no way on earth to disassociate myself from my notes. Don Juan then conceived of a task for me in lieu of a not-doing proper. He said that for someone who was as possessive as I was, the most appropriate way of freeing myself from my notebooks would be to disclose them; to throw them in the open; to write a book. I thought, at the time, that that was a bigger joke than taking notes with the tip of my finger.

"Your compulsion to possess and hold on to things is not unique," he said. "Everyone who wants to follow the warrior's path, the sorcerer's way, has to rid himself of this fixation.

"My benefactor told me that there was a time when warriors did have material objects on which they placed their obsession; and that gave rise to the question of whose object would be more powerful, or the most powerful of them all. Remnants of those objects still remain in the world; the leftovers of that race for power.

"No one can tell what kind of fixation those objects must have received. Men infinitely more powerful than you poured all the facets of their attention on them. You have merely begun to pour your puny worry on your notes. You haven't gotten yet to other levels of attention.

"Think how horrible it would be if you would find yourself at the end of your trail as a warrior, still carrying your bundles of notes on your back. By that time the notes will be alive, especially if you learn to write with your fingertip and still have to pile up sheets. Under those conditions it wouldn't surprise me in the least if someone found your bundles walking around."

"It is easy for me to understand why the Nagual Juan Matus didn't want us to have possessions," Nestor said after I had finished talking. "We are all dreamers. He didn't want us to focus our dreaming body on the weak face of the second attention.

"I didn't understand his maneuvers at the time. I resented the fact that he made me get rid of everything I had. I thought he was being unfair. My belief was that he was trying to keep Pablito and Benigno from envying me because they had nothing themselves. I was well-off in comparison. At the time, I had no idea that he was protecting my dreaming body."

Don Juan had described dreaming to me in various ways. The most obscure of them all now appears to me as being the one that defines it best. He said that dreaming is intrinsically the not-doing of sleep. And as such, dreaming affords practitioners the use of that portion of their lives spent in slumber.

It is as if the dreamers no longer sleep; yet no illness results from it. The dreamers do not lack sleep, and the effect of dreaming seems to be an increase of waking time owing to the use of an alleged extra body; the dreaming body.

Don Juan had explained to me that the dreaming body is sometimes called the "double" or the "other" because it is a perfect replica of the dreamer's body. It is inherently the energy of a luminous being, a whitish, phantomlike emanation which is projected by the fixation of the second attention into a three-dimensional image of the body.

Don Juan explained that the dreaming body is not a ghost, and is as real as anything we deal with in the world. He said that the second attention is unavoidably drawn to focus on our total being as a field of energy, and transforms that energy into anything suitable. The easiest thing is, of course, the image of the physical body with which we are already thoroughly familiar from our daily lives, and our use of our first attention.

And that which channels the energy of our total being to produce anything that might be within the boundaries of possibility is known as 'will'. Don Juan could not say what those boundaries were; except that at the level of luminous beings, the range is so broad that it is futile to try to establish limits.

Thus, the energy of a luminous being can be transformed through will into anything.

"The Nagual said that the dreaming body gets involved and attaches itself to anything," Benigno said. "It doesn't have sense. He told me that men are weaker than women because a man's dreaming body is more possessive."

The little sisters agreed in unison with a movement of their heads. La Gorda looked at me and smiled.

"The Nagual told me that you're the king of possessiveness," she said to me. "Genaro said that you even say goodbye to your turds before you flush them down."

The little sisters rolled down on their sides laughing. The Genaros made obvious efforts to contain themselves. Nestor, who was sitting by my side, patted my knee.

The Nagual and Genaro used to tell great stories about you," he said. "They entertained us for years with tales about a weird guy they knew. We know now that it was you."

I felt a wave of embarrassment. It was as if don Juan and don Genaro had betrayed me; laughing at me in front of the apprentices. Self-pity took over. I began to complain. I said out loud that they had been predisposed to be against me; to think that I was a fool.

"That's not true," Benigno said. "We are delighted that you are with us."

"Are we?" Lydia snapped.

All of them became involved in a heated argument. The men and the women were divided. La Gorda did not join either group. She stayed sitting by my side, while the others had stood up and were shouting.

"We're going through a difficult time," la Gorda said to me in a low voice. "We've done a lot of dreaming and yet it isn't enough for what we need."

"What do you need, Gorda?" I asked.

"We don't know," she said. "We were hoping that you would tell us that."

The little sisters and the Genaros sat down again in order to listen to what la Gorda was saying to me.

"We need a leader," she went on. "You are the Nagual, but you're not a leader."

"It takes time to make a perfect Nagual," Pablito said. "The Nagual Juan Matus told me that he himself was crappy in his youth, until something shook him out of his complacency."

"I don't believe it," Lydia shouted. "He never told me that."

"He said that he was very crummy," la Gorda added in a low voice.

"The Nagual told me that in his youth he was a jinx, just like me," Pablito said. "He was also told by his benefactor not to set foot in those pyramids and because of that he practically lived there until he was driven away by a horde of phantoms."

Apparently no one else knew the story. They perked up.

"I had completely forgotten about that," Pablito explained. "I've only just remembered it now. It was just like what happened to la Gorda. One day after the Nagual had finally become a formless warrior, the evil fixations of those warriors who had done their dreaming and other not-doings in the pyramids came after him.

"They found him while he was working in the field. He told me that he saw a hand coming out of the loose dirt in a fresh furrow to grab the leg of his pants. He thought that it was a fellow worker who had been accidentally buried. He tried to dig him out. Then he realized that he was digging into a dirt coffin: A man was buried there. The Nagual said that the man was very thin and dark and had no hair.

"The Nagual tried frantically to patch up the dirt coffin. He didn't want his fellow workers to see it and he didn't want to injure the man by digging him out against his will. He was working so hard that he didn't even notice that the other workers had gathered around him. By then the Nagual said that the dirt coffin had collapsed and the dark man was sprawled on the ground; naked.

"The Nagual tried to help him up and asked the men to give him a hand. They laughed at him. They thought he was drunk having the d.t.'s because there was no man, or dirt coffin, or anything like that in the field.

"The Nagual said that he was shaken but he didn't dare tell his benefactor about it. It didn't matter because at night a whole flock of phantoms came after him. He went to open the front door after someone knocked and a horde of naked men with glaring yellow eyes burst in.

"They threw him to the floor and piled on top of him. They would have crushed every bone in his body had it not been for the swift actions of his benefactor. He saw the phantoms and pulled the Nagual to safety to a hole in the ground which he always kept conveniently at the back of his house. He buried the Nagual there while the ghosts squatted around waiting for their chance.

The Nagual told me that he had become so frightened that he would voluntarily go back into his dirt coffin every night to sleep long after the phantoms had vanished."

Pablito stopped talking. Everyone seemed to be getting ready to leave. They fretted and changed position as if to show that they were tired of sitting.

I then told them that I had had a very disturbing reaction upon hearing my friend's statements about the Atlanteans walking at night in the pyramids of Tula. I had not recognized the depth at which I had accepted what don Juan and don Genaro had taught me until that day.

I realized that I had completely suspended judgment even though it was clear in my mind that the possibility those colossal figures of stone could walk did not enter into the realm of serious speculation. My reaction was a total surprise to me.

I explained to them at great length that the idea of the Atlanteans walking at night was a clear example of the fixation of the second attention. I had arrived at that conclusion using the following set of premises:

First, that we are not merely whatever our common sense requires us to believe we are. We are in actuality luminous beings capable of becoming aware of our luminosity.

Second, that as luminous beings aware of our luminosity we are capable of unraveling different facets of our awareness, or our attention, as don Juan called it.

Third, that the unraveling could be brought about by a deliberate effort as we were trying to do ourselves, or accidentally, through a bodily trauma.

Fourth, that there had been a time when sorcerers deliberately placed different facets of their attention on material objects.

Fifth, that the Atlanteans, judging by their awe-inspiring setting, must have been objects of fixation for sorcerers of another time.

I said that the custodian who had given my friend the information had undoubtedly unraveled another facet of his attention; he might have unwittingly become, if only for a moment, a receptor for the projections of ancient sorcerers' second attention. It was not so farfetched to me then that the man may have visualized the fixation of those sorcerers.

If those sorcerers were members of don Juan's and don Genaro's tradition, they must have been impeccable practitioners in which case there would have been no limit to what they could accomplish with the fixation of their second attention. If they intended that the Atlanteans should walk at night, then the Atlanteans would walk at night.

As I talked, the three little sisters became very angry and agitated with me. When I finished, Lydia accused me of doing nothing else but talking. Then they got up and left without even saying goodbye. The men followed them, but stopped at the door and shook hands with me. La Gorda and I remained in the room.

"There is something very wrong with those women," I said.

"No. They're just tired of talking," la Gorda said. "They expect some action from you."

"How come the Genaros are not tired of talking?" I asked.

"They are more stupid than the women," she replied dryly.

"How about you, Gorda?" I asked. "Are you also tired of talking?"

"I don't know what I am," she said solemnly. "When I am with you, I'm not tired; but when I am with the little sisters, I'm dead tired just like them."

During the following uneventful days that I stayed with them, it was obvious that the little sisters were thoroughly hostile to me. The Genaros tolerated me in an offhand way. Only la Gorda seemed to be aligned with me. I began to wonder why. I asked her about it before I left for Los Angeles.

"I don't know how it is possible, but I'm used to you," she said. "It's as if you and I are together, while the little sisters the Genaros are in a different world."
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:06 pm

2. 'Seeing' Together

For several weeks after my return to Los Angeles I had a sense of mild discomfort which I explained away as a dizziness or a sudden loss of breath due to physical exertion. It reached a climax one night when I woke up terrified; unable to breathe. The physician I went to see diagnosed my trouble as hyperventilation; most likely caused by tension. He prescribed a tranquilizer and suggested breathing into a paper bag if the attack should ever occur again.

I decided to return to Mexico to seek la Gorda's counsel. After I told her the doctor's diagnosis, she calmly assured me that no illness was involved; that I was finally losing my shields; and that what I was experiencing was the "loss of my human form" and the entrance into a new state of separation from human affairs.

"Don't fight it," she said. "Our natural reaction is to struggle against it. In doing so we dispel it. Let go of your fear and follow the loss of your human form step by step."

She added that in her case, the disintegration of her human form began in her womb with a severe pain and an inordinate pressure that shifted slowly in two directions; down her legs and up to her throat. She also said that the effects are felt immediately.

I wanted to record every nuance of my entrance into that new state. I prepared myself to write down a detailed account of whatever took place, but to my utter chagrin nothing more happened.

After a few days of fruitless expectation, I gave up on la Gorda's explanation and concluded that the doctor had correctly diagnosed my condition. It was perfectly understandable to me. I was carrying a responsibility that generated unbearable tension. I had accepted the leadership that the apprentices believed belonged to me, but I had no idea how to lead.

The pressure in my life also showed in a more serious way. My usual level of energy was dropping steadily. Don Juan would have said that I was losing my personal power and that eventually I would lose my life. Don Juan had set me up to live exclusively by means of 'personal power'; which I understood to be a state of being; a relationship of order between the subject and the universe; a relationship that cannot be disrupted without resulting in the subject's death.

Since there was no foreseeable way to change my situation, I had concluded that my life was coming to an end. My feeling of being doomed seemed to infuriate all the apprentices. I decided to get away from them for a couple of days to dispel my gloom and their tension.

When I came back, I found them standing outside the front door of the little sisters' house as if they had been waiting for me. Nestor ran to my car, and before I even turned the motor off he blurted out that Pablito had run away.

He had gone to die, Nestor said, in the city of Tula, the place of his ancestors. I was appalled. I felt guilty.

La Gorda did not share my concern. She was beaming, exuding contentment.

"That little pimp is better off dead," she said. "All of us are going to live together harmoniously now, as we should. The Nagual told us that you were going to bring change into our lives. Well, you did. Pablito is not bugging us any longer. You got rid of him. Look how happy we are. We are better off without him."

I was outraged by her callousness. I stated as forcefully as I could that don Juan had given all of us, in a most painstaking manner, the format of a warrior's life. I stressed that the warrior's impeccability demanded that I not let Pablito die just like that.

"And what do you think you're going to do?" la Gorda asked.

"I'm going to take one of you to live with him," I said, "until the day when all of you, including Pablito, can move out of here."

They laughed at me, even Nestor and Benigno, who I thought were closest to Pablito. La Gorda laughed longer than anyone else, obviously challenging me.

I turned to Nestor and Benigno for moral support. They looked away.

I appealed to la Gorda's superior understanding. I pleaded with her. I used all the arguments I could think of. She looked at me with utter contempt.

"Let's get going," she said to the others.

She gave me the most vacuous smile. She shrugged her shoulders, and made a vague puckering gesture with her lips.

"You're welcome to come with us," she said to me, "providing that you don't ask questions or talk about that little pimp."

"You are a formless warrior, Gorda," I said. "You told me that yourself. Why, then, do you judge Pablito?"

La Gorda did not answer. But she acknowledged the blow. She frowned and avoided my gaze.

"La Gorda is with us!" Josefina yelled in a high-pitched voice.

The three little sisters gathered around la Gorda and pulled her inside the house. I followed them. Nestor and Benigno also went inside.

"What are you going to do, take one of us by force?" la Gorda asked me.

I told all of them that I considered it my duty to help Pablito and that I would do the same for any one of them.

"You really think you can pull this off?" la Gorda asked me; her eyes flaring with anger.

I wanted to roar with rage as I had once done in their presence, but the circumstances were different. I could not do it.

"I'm going to take Josefina with me," I said. "I am the Nagual."

La Gorda gathered the three little sisters, and shielded them with her body. They were about to join hands. Something in me knew that if they did, their combined strength would have been awesome and my efforts to take Josefina would have been useless. My only chance was to strike before they had a chance to group.

I pushed Josefina with the palms of my hands and sent her reeling to the center of the room. Before they had time to regroup themselves, I hit Lydia and Rosa. They bent over with pain. La Gorda came at me with a fury I had never witnessed in her. It was like the attack of a savage beast. Her whole concentration was on a single thrust of her body. If she had struck me, I would have been killed. She missed my chest by inches. I grabbed her from behind in a bear hug and we tumbled down. We rolled over and over until we were utterly exhausted. Her body relaxed. She began to caress the back of my hands, which were tightly clasped around her stomach.

I noticed then that Nestor and Benigno were standing by the door. They both seemed to be on the verge of becoming physically ill.

La Gorda smiled shyly, and whispered in my ear that she was glad I had overcome her.

I took Josefina to Pablito. I had felt that she was the only one of the apprentices who genuinely needed someone to look after her, and Pablito resented her the least. I was sure that his sense of chivalry would force him to reach out to her since she would be in need of help.

A month later I returned once more to Mexico. Pablito and Josefina had returned. They were living together at don Genaro's house and shared it with Benigno and Rosa. Nestor and Lydia lived at Soledad's place, and la Gorda lived alone in the little sisters' house.

"Do our new living arrangements surprise you?" la Gorda asked.

My surprise was more than evident. I wanted to know all the implications of this new organization.

La Gorda let me know in a dry tone that there were no implications that she knew of. They had chosen to live in couples but not as couples. She added that, contrary to what I might think, they were impeccable warriors.

The new format was rather pleasant. Everybody seemed to be completely relaxed. There was no more bickering or outbursts of competitive behavior among them. They had also taken to dressing in the Indian apparel typical of that region. The women wore dresses with full gathered skirts that almost touched the ground. They wore dark shawls, and their hair in braids; except for Josefina who always wore a hat. The men wore thin white pajama-like pants and shirts, and straw hats. All of them wore homemade sandals.

I asked la Gorda the reason for their new way of dressing. She said that they were getting ready to leave. Sooner or later, with my help or by themselves, they were going to leave that valley. They would be going into a new world; a new life. When they did that, they would acknowledge the change; the longer they wore their Indian clothes, the more drastic the change would be when they put on city clothes.

She added that they had been taught to be fluid; at ease in whatever situation they found themselves; and that I had been taught the same. My challenge was to deal with them with ease regardless of what they did to me. Their challenge in turn was to leave their valley and settle down elsewhere to find out if they could be as fluid as warriors should be.

I asked for her honest opinion about our chances of succeeding. She said that failure was written all over our faces.

La Gorda changed the subject abruptly, and told me that in her dreaming she had found herself staring at a gigantic narrow gorge between two enormous round mountains. She thought that the two mountains were familiar to her, and wanted me to drive her to a nearby town. She believed, without knowing why, that the two mountains were located there and that the message from her dreaming was that both of us should go there.

We left at the crack of dawn. I had driven through that town before. It was very small and I had never noticed anything in its surroundings that even came close to la Gorda's vision. There were only eroded hills around it. It turned out that the two mountains were not there, or if they were, we could not find them.

During the two hours that we spent in that town, however, both of us had a feeling that we knew something undefined; a feeling which turned at times into a certainty, and then receded again into the darkness to become merely annoyance and frustration.

Visiting that town unsettled us in mysterious ways; or rather, for unknown reasons we became very agitated. I was in the throes of a most illogical conflict. I did not remember having ever stopped in that town, and yet I could have sworn that I had not only been there, but had lived there for a time.

It was not a clear memory. I did not remember the streets or the houses. What I felt was a vague but strong apprehension that something was going to become clear in my mind. I was not sure what; a memory perhaps. At moments that vague apprehension became paramount, especially when I saw a particular house. I parked in front of it. La Gorda and I looked at it from the car for perhaps an hour. Yet neither of us suggested leaving the car to go into it.

Both of us were very edgy. We began to talk about her vision of the two mountains. Our conversation soon turned into an argument. She thought I had not taken her dreaming seriously. Our tempers flared and we ended up yelling at each other; not so much out of anger, as out of nervousness. I caught myself and stopped.

On our way back, I parked the car on the side of the dirt road. We got out to stretch our legs. We walked for a while. It was too windy to enjoy it. La Gorda still seemed to be agitated. We went back to the car and sat inside.

"If you would only rally your knowledge," la Gorda said in a pleading tone. "You would know that losing the human form ..."

She stopped in midsentence, My frown must have brought her up short. She was cognizant of my struggle. If there was any knowledge in me that I could have consciously rallied, I would have done it already.

"But we are luminous beings," she said in the same pleading tone. "There is so much more to us. You are the Nagual. There is even more to you."

"What do you think I should do?" I asked.

"You must let go of your desire to cling," she said. "The very same thing happened to me. I held on to things, such as the food I liked, the mountains where I lived, the people I used to enjoy talking to, but most of all, I clung to the desire to be liked."

I told her that her advice was meaningless to me for I was not aware of holding on to anything. She insisted that somehow I knew that I was putting up barriers to losing my human form.

"Our attention is trained to focus doggedly," she went on. "That is the way we maintain the world. Your first attention has been taught to focus on something that's quite strange to me, but very familiar to you."

I told her that my mind dwells on abstractions -- not abstractions like mathematics, for instance, but rather propositions of reasonableness.

"Now is the time to let go of all that," she said. "In order to lose your human form you should let go of all that ballast. You counterbalance so hard that you paralyze yourself."

I was in no mood to argue. What she called losing the human form was a concept too vague for immediate consideration. I was concerned with what we had experienced in that town. La Gorda did not want to talk about it.

"The only thing that counts is that you rally your knowledge,", she said. "You can do it if you need to like that day when Pablito ran away and you and I came to blows."

La Gorda said that what had happened on that day was an example of "rallying one's knowledge." Without being thoroughly aware of what I was doing, I had performed complex maneuvers which required seeing.

"You did not just attack us," she said. "You saw."

She was right; in a manner of speaking. Something quite out of the ordinary had taken place on that occasion. I had considered it in great detail, confining it, however, to purely personal speculation. I had no adequate explanation for it, outside of saying that the emotional charge of the moment had affected me in inconceivable ways.

When I had stepped inside their house and faced the four women, I became aware in one split second that I was able to shift my ordinary way of perceiving. I saw four amorphous blobs of very intense amber light in front of me. One of them was more mellow; more pleasing. The other three were unfriendly, sharp, whitish-amber glows. The mellow glow was la Gorda. And at that moment the three unfriendly glows were looming menacingly over her.

The blob of whitish luminosity closest to me, which was Josefina, was a bit off-balance. It was leaning over, so I gave it a push. I kicked the other two in a depression they each had on their right side. I had no conscious idea that I should kick them there. I simply found the indentation convenient -- somehow it invited me to put my foot in it. The result was devastating. Lydia and Rosa fainted on the spot. I had kicked each of them on their right thigh. It was not a kick that could have broken any bones. I only pushed the blobs of light in front of me with my foot. Nonetheless, it was as if I had given them a ferocious blow in the most vulnerable part of their bodies.

La Gorda was right, I had rallied some knowledge I was not aware of. If that was called seeing, the logical conclusion for my intellect would be to say that seeing is a bodily knowledge. The predominance of the visual sense in us influences this bodily knowledge and makes it seem to be eye-related. What I experienced was not altogether visual.

I saw the blobs of light with something else besides my eyes, since I was conscious that the four women were in my field of vision during the entire time I dealt with them. The blobs of light were not even superimposed on them. The two sets of images were separate.

What complicated the issue for me was the matter of time. Everything was compressed into a few seconds. If I did shift from one scene to the other, the shift must have been so fast that it became meaningless. Thus I can only recall perceiving two separate scenes simultaneously.

After I had kicked the two blobs of light, the mellow one -- la Gorda -- came toward me. It did not come straight at me, but angled to my left from the moment it started to move; it obviously intended to miss me, so when the glow passed by I grabbed it. As I rolled over and over on the floor with it, I felt I was melting into it. That was the only time I really lost the sense of continuity. I again became aware of myself while la Gorda was caressing the backs of my hands.

"In our dreaming, the little sisters and I have learned to join hands," la Gorda said. "We know how to make a line. Our problem that day was that we had never made that line outside our room. That was why they dragged me inside. Your body knew what it meant for us to join hands. If we had done it, I would have been under their control. They are more fierce than I am. Their bodies are tightly sealed. They are not concerned with sex. I am. That makes me weaker. I'm sure that your concern with sex is what makes it very difficult for you to rally your knowledge."

She went on talking about the debilitating effects of having sex. I felt ill at ease. I tried to steer the conversation away from that topic, but she seemed determined to go back to it regardless of my discomfort.

"Let's you and I drive to Mexico City," I said in desperation.

I thought I would shock her. She did not answer. She puckered her lips; squinting her eyes. She contracted the muscles of her chin, pushing her upper lip until it bulged under her nose. Her face became so contorted that I was taken aback. She reacted to my surprise, and relaxed her facial muscles.

"Come on, Gorda," I said. "Let's go to Mexico City."

"Sure. Why not?" she said. "What do I need?"

I did not expect that reaction and ended up shocked myself.

"Nothing," I said. "We'll go as we are."

Without saying another word, she slumped on the seat and we drove off toward Mexico City. It was still early; not even midday. I asked her if she would dare to go to Los Angeles with me. She was pensive for a moment.

"I've just asked my luminous body that question," she said.

"What did it say?"

"It said only if power permits it."

There was such a wealth of feeling in her voice that I stopped the car and hugged her. My affection for her at that moment was so deep that I got frightened. It had nothing to do with sex or the need of psychological reinforcement. It was a feeling that transcended everything I knew.

Embracing la Gorda brought back the sense I had had earlier that something in me which was bottled up, pushed into recesses I could not consciously reach, was about to come out. I almost knew then what it was, but I lost it when I reached for it.

La Gorda and I arrived in the city of Oaxaca in the early evening. I parked my car on a side street and then we walked to the center of town to the plaza. We looked for the bench where don Juan and don Genaro used to sit. It was unoccupied. We sat there in reverent silence. Finally la Gorda said that she had been there with don Juan many times as well as with someone else she could not remember. She was not sure whether that was something she had merely dreamed.

"What did you do with don Juan on this bench?" I asked.

"Nothing. We just sat waiting for the bus, or for the lumber truck that would give us a ride up the mountains," she replied.

I told her that when I sat on that bench with don Juan, we would talk for hours.

I recounted for her the great predilection that he had for poetry, and how I used to read it to him when we had nothing else to do. He would listen to poems on the premise that only the first or sometimes the second stanza was worthwhile reading. The rest he found to be indulgence on the poet's part. There were very few poems, of the hundreds I must have read to him, that he listened to all the way through.

At first I read to him what I liked. My preference was for abstract, convoluted, cerebral poetry. Later he made me read over and over what he liked. In his opinion a poem had to be compact -- preferably short -- and it had to be made up of precise poignant images of great simplicity.

In the late afternoons, sitting on that bench in Oaxaca, a poem by Cesar Vallejo always seemed to sum up for him a special feeling of longing. I recited it to la Gorda from memory; not so much for her benefit as for mine.

I wonder what she is doing at this hour
my Andean and sweet Rita
of reeds and wild cherry trees.
Now that this weariness chokes me, and blood dozes off,
like lazy brandy inside me.
I wonder what she is doing with those hands
that in attitude of penitence
used to iron starchy whiteness,
in the afternoons.
Now that this rain is taking away my desire to go on.
I wonder what has become of her skirt with lace;
of her toils; of her walk;
of her scent of spring sugar cane from that place.
She must be at the door,
gazing at a fast moving cloud.
A wild bird on the tile roof will let out a call;
and shivering she will say at last, "Jesus, it's cold!"


The memory of don Juan was incredibly vivid. It was not a memory on the level of my thought, nor was it on the level of my conscious feelings. It was an unknown kind of memory that made me weep. Tears were streaming from my eyes, but they were not soothing at all.

The last hour of the afternoon had always had special significance for don Juan. I had accepted his regard for that hour, and his conviction that if something of importance were to come to me, it would have to be at that time.

La Gorda put her head on my shoulder. I rested my head on her head. We remained in that position for a while. I felt relaxed. The agitation had been driven away from me. It was strange that the single act of resting my head on la Gorda's would bring such peace.

I wanted to make a joke and tell her that we should tie our heads together. Then I knew that she would actually take me up on that. My body shook with laughter and I realized that I was asleep, yet my eyes were open. If I had really wanted to, I could have stood up. I did not want to move, so I remained there fully awake and yet asleep.

I saw people walking by and staring at us. I did not mind that in the least. Ordinarily I would have objected to being noticed. Then all at once the people in front of me changed into very large blobs of white light.

I was facing the luminous eggs in a sustained fashion for the first time in my life! Don Juan had told me that human beings appear to the seer as luminous eggs. I had experienced flashes of that perception, but never before had I focused my vision on them as I was doing that day.

The blobs of light were quite amorphous at first. It was as if my eyes were not properly focused. But then, at one moment, it was as if I had finally arranged my vision and the blobs of white light became oblong luminous eggs. They were big, in fact, they were enormous, perhaps seven feet high by four feet wide or even larger.

At one moment I noticed that the eggs were no longer moving. I saw a solid mass of luminosity in front of me. The eggs were watching me; looming dangerously over me. I moved deliberately and sat up straight. La Gorda was sound asleep on my shoulder. There was a group of adolescents around us. They must have thought that we were drunk. They were mimicking us. The most daring adolescent was feeling la Gorda's breasts. I shook her and woke her up.

We stood up in a hurry and left. They followed us, taunting us and yelling obscenities. The presence of a policeman on the corner dissuaded them from continuing with their harassment. We walked in complete silence from the plaza to where I had left my car. It was almost evening. Suddenly la Gorda grabbed my arm. Her eyes were wild; her mouth open. She pointed.

"Look! Look!" she yelled. "There's the Nagual and Genaro!"

I saw two men turning the corner a long block ahead of us. La Gorda took off in a fast run. Running after her, I asked her if she was sure. She was beside herself. She said that when she had looked up, both don Juan and don Genaro were staring at her. The moment her eyes met theirs they moved away.

When we reached the corner ourselves, the two men were still the same distance away from us. I could not distinguish their features. They were dressed like rural Mexican men. They were wearing straw hats. One was husky, like don Juan. The other was thin, like don Genaro.

The two men went around another corner and we again ran noisily after them. The street they had turned onto was deserted and led to the outskirts of town. It curved slightly to the left. The two men were just where the street curved.

Right then something happened that made me feel it was possible they might really be don Juan and don Genaro. It was a movement that the smaller man made. He turned three-quarter profile to us and tilted his head as if telling us to follow; something don Genaro used to do to me whenever we were out in the woods. He always walked ahead of me; daring, coaxing me with a movement of his head to catch up with him.

La Gorda began to yell at the top of her voice. "Nagual! Genaro! Wait!"

She ran ahead of me. They were walking very fast toward some shacks that were half-visible in the semi-darkness. They must have entered one of them or turned into any of a number of pathways; suddenly they were out of sight.

La Gorda stood there and bellowed their names without any bashfulness. People came out to see who was yelling. I held her until she calmed down.

"They were right in front of me," she said, crying. "Not even ten feet away. When I yelled and called your attention to them, they were a block away in one instant."

I tried to appease her. She was in a high state of nervousness. She clung to me shivering. For some indiscernible reason I was absolutely sure that the two men were not don Juan and don Genaro; therefore, I could not share la Gorda's agitation.

She said that we had to drive back home; that power would not permit her to go to Los Angeles or even to Mexico City with me. It was not time yet for her journey. She was convinced that seeing them had been an omen. They had disappeared pointing toward the east, toward her hometown.

I did not have any objections to starting back that very moment. After all the things that had happened to us that day, I should have been dead tired. Instead I was vibrating with a most extravagant vigor reminiscent of times with don Juan when I had felt like ramming walls with my shoulders.

On our way back to my car, I was again filled with the most passionate affection for la Gorda. I could never thank her enough for her help. I thought that whatever she had done to help me see the luminous eggs had worked. She had been so courageous; risking ridicule and even bodily harm by sitting on that bench. I expressed my thanks to her. She looked at me as if I were crazy and then broke into a belly laugh.

"I thought the same thing about you," she said. "I thought you had done it just for me. I too saw luminous eggs. This was the first time for me also. We have seen together! Like the Nagual and Genaro used to do."

As I opened the door of the car for la Gorda, the full impact of what we had done struck me. Up to that point I had been numb. Something in me had slowed down. Now my euphoria was as intense as la Gorda's agitation had been a short while before. I wanted to run in the street and shout.

It was la Gorda's turn to contain me. She squatted and rubbed my calves. Strangely enough, I calmed down immediately. I found that it was difficult for me to talk. My thoughts were running ahead of my ability to verbalize them. I did not want to drive back to her hometown right away. There seemed to be still so much more to do. Since I could not explain clearly what I wanted, I practically dragged a reluctant Gorda back to the plaza, but there were no empty benches at that hour.

I was famished so I pulled her into a restaurant. She thought she could not eat but when they brought the food she turned out to be as hungry as I was. Eating relaxed us completely.

We sat on the bench later that night. I had refrained from talking about what happened to us until we had a chance to sit there. La Gorda was at first unwilling to say anything. My mind was in a peculiar state of exhilaration. I had had similar moments with don Juan, but they were associated, as a rule, with the aftereffects of hallucinogenic plants.

I began by describing to la Gorda what I had seen. The feature of those luminous eggs that had impressed me the most was their movements. They did not walk. They moved in a floating manner, yet they were grounded. The way they moved was not pleasing. Their movements were stilted, wooden, and jerky.

When they were in motion the whole egg shape became smaller and rounder. They seemed to jump or jerk, or shake up and down with great speed. The result was a most annoying nervous shivering. Perhaps the closest I can get to describing the physical discomfort caused by their motion would be to say that I felt as if the images on a moving picture screen had been speeded up.

Another thing that had intrigued me was that I could not detect any legs. I had once seen a ballet production in which the dancers mimicked the movement of soldiers on ice skates. For that effect, they wore loose tunics that hung all the way to the floor. There was no way to see their feet, thus the illusion that they were gliding on ice.

The luminous eggs that paraded in front of me gave the impression that they were sliding on a rough surface. Their luminosity shook up and down almost imperceptibly, yet enough to make me nearly ill. When the eggs were in repose they became elongated. Some of them were so long and rigid that they brought to mind the idea of a wooden icon.

Another even more disturbing feature of the luminous eggs was the absence of eyes. I had never realized so acutely how we are drawn to the eyes of living beings. The luminous eggs were thoroughly alive. They were observing me with great curiosity. I could see them jerking up and down; leaning over to watch me, but without any eyes.

Many of those luminous eggs had black spots on them, huge spots below the midsection. Others did not. La Gorda had told me that reproduction affects the bodies of both men and women by causing a hole to appear below the stomach, but the spots on those luminous eggs did not seem like holes to me. They were areas with no luminosity, but there was no depth to them.

Those that had the black spots seemed to be mellow, tired. The crest of their egg shape was wilted. It looked opaque in comparison to the rest of their glow. The ones without spots, on the other hand, were dazzlingly bright. I fancied them to be dangerous. They were vibrant; filled with energy and whiteness.

La Gorda said that the instant I rested my head on her she also entered into a state that resembled dreaming. She was awake, yet she could not move. She was conscious that people were milling around us. Then she saw them turning into luminous blobs and finally into eggshaped creatures.

She did not know that I was also seeing. She had thought at first that I was watching over her, but at one moment the pressure of my head was so heavy that she concluded quite consciously that I too must have been seeing. Only after I straightened up and caught the young man fondling her as she seemed to sleep, did I have an inkling of what might be happening to her.

Our visions differed in that she could distinguish men from women by the shape of some filaments that she called 'roots'. Women, she said, had thick bundles of filaments that resembled a lion's tail. They grew inward from the place of the genitalia. She explained that those roots were the givers of life. The embryo, in order to accomplish its growth, attaches itself to one of those nurturing roots and thoroughly consumes it, leaving only a hole.

Men, on the other hand, had short filaments that were alive and floating almost separately from the luminous mass of their bodies.

I asked her what in her opinion was the reason we had seen together. She declined to make any comment, but she coaxed me to go ahead with my speculations. I told her that the only thing that occurred to me was the obvious; emotions must have been a factor.

After la Gorda and I had sat down on don Juan's favorite bench in the late afternoon, and I had recited the poem that he liked, I was highly charged with emotion. My emotions must have prepared my body.

But I also had to consider the fact that from doing dreaming, I had learned to enter into a state of total quietness. I was able to turn off my internal dialogue and remain as if I were inside a cocoon, peeking out of a hole. In that state I could either let go of some control I had and enter into dreaming, or I could hold on to that control and remain passive, thoughtless, and without desires.

I did not think, however, that those were the significant factors. I believed the catalyst was la Gorda. I thought it was what I felt for her which had created the conditions for seeing.

La Gorda laughed shyly when I told her what I believed.

"I don't agree with you," she said. "I think what has happened is that your body has started to remember."

"What do you mean by that, Gorda?" I asked.

There was a long pause. She seemed to be either fighting to say something she did not want to say, or she was desperately trying to find the appropriate word.

"There are so many things that I know," she said, "and yet I don't know what I know. I remember so many things that I finally end up remembering nothing. I think you are in the same predicament yourself."

I assured her that I was not aware of it. She refused to believe me.

"At times I really believe you don't know," she said. "At other times I believe you are playing with us. The Nagual told me that he himself didn't know. A lot of things that he told me about you are coming back to me now."

"What does it mean that my body has begun to remember?" I insisted.

"Don't ask me that," she said with a smile. "I don't know what you are supposed to remember, or what that remembering is like. I've never done it myself. I know that much."

"Is there anybody among the apprentices who could tell me?" I asked.

"No one," she said. "I think I'm a courier to you; a courier who can bring you only half a message this time."

She stood up and begged me to drive her back to her hometown. I was too exhilarated to leave then. We walked around the plaza at my suggestion. Finally we sat down on another bench.

"Isn't it strange to you that we could see together with such ease?" la Gorda asked.

I did not know what she had in mind. I was hesitant in answering.

"What would you say if I told you that I think we've seen together before?" la Gorda asked, carefully voicing her words.

I could not understand what she meant. She repeated the question one more time and I still could not get her meaning.

"When could we have seen together before?" I asked. "Your question doesn't make sense."

"That's the point," she replied. "It doesn't make sense, and yet I have the feeling we have seen together before."

I felt a chill and stood up. I remembered again the sensation I had had in that town. La Gorda opened her mouth to say something but stopped herself in mid-sentence. She stared at me, bewildered, put her hand to my lips, and then practically dragged me to the car.

I drove all night. I wanted to talk, to analyze, but she fell asleep as if purposely avoiding any discussion. She was right, of course. Of the two of us, she was the one who was cognizant of the danger of dissipating a mood through over analysing it.

When we arrived at her house, as she got out of the car she said that we could not talk at all about what happened to us in Oaxaca.

"Why is that, Gorda?" I asked.

"I don't want to waste our power," she said. "That's the sorcerer's way. Never waste your gains."

"But if we don't talk about it, we'll never know what really happened to us," I protested.

"We have to keep quiet for at least nine days," she said.

"Can we talk about it just between the two of us?" I asked.

"A talk between the two of us is precisely what we must avoid," she said. "We're vulnerable. We must allow ourselves time to heal."
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:07 pm

3. Quasi Memories of the Other Self

"Can you tell us what's going on?" Nestor asked me when all of us were together at night. "Where did you two go yesterday?"

I had forgotten la Gorda's recommendation that we not talk about what had happened to us. I began to tell them that we had gone first to the nearby town and we had found a most intriguing house there.

All of them seemed to have been touched by a sudden tremor. They perked up, looked at one another, and then they stared at la Gorda as if waiting for her to tell them about it.

"What kind of a house was it?" Nestor asked.

Before I had time to answer, la Gorda interrupted me. She began to talk in a hurried almost incoherent manner. It was evident to me that she was improvising. She even used words and phrases in the Mazatec language. She gave me furtive glances that spelled out a silent plea not to say anything about it.

"How about your dreaming, Nagual?" she asked me with the relief of someone who has found the way out. "We'd like to know everything you do. I think it's very important that you tell us."

She leaned over and as casually as she could she whispered in my ear that because of what had happened to us in Oaxaca I had to tell them about my dreaming.

"Why would it be important to you?" I said loudly.

"I think we are very close to the end," la Gorda said solemnly. "Everything you say or do to us is of key importance now."

I related to them the events of what I considered my true dreaming. Don Juan had told me that there was no point in emphasizing the trials. He gave me a rule of thumb. If I should have the same vision three times, he said, I had to pay extraordinary attention to it. Otherwise, a neophyte's [* neophyte -- a new participant in some activity] attempts were merely a stepping stone to building the second attention.

I dreamed once that I woke up and jumped out of bed only to be confronted by myself still sleeping in bed. I watched myself asleep, and had the self-control to remember that I was dreaming. I followed then the directions don Juan had given me, which were to avoid sudden jolts or surprises, and to take everything with a grain of salt.

The dreamer has to get involved, don Juan had said, in dispassionate experimentations. Rather than examining his sleeping body, the dreamer walks out of the room. I suddenly found myself, without knowing how, outside my room. I had the absolutely clear sensation that I had been placed there instantaneously. When I first stood outside my door, the hall and the staircase were monumental. If anything really scared me that night, it was the size of those structures which in real life were thoroughly commonplace. The hall was about fifty feet long and the staircase had sixteen steps.

I could not conceive how to cover the enormous distances I was perceiving. I vacillated, [* vacillate -- be undecided about something; waver between conflicting positions or courses of action] then something made me move.

I did not walk, though. I did not feel my steps. Suddenly I was holding on the the railing. I could see my hands and forearms but I did not feel them. I was holding on by the force of something that had nothing to do with my musculature as I know it. The same thing happened when I tried to go down the stairs. I did not know how to walk. I just could not take a step. It was as if my legs were welded together. I could see my legs by leaning over, but I could not move them forward or laterally, nor could I lift them up toward my chest. I seemed to be stuck to the top step. I felt I was like those inflated plastic dolls that can lean in any direction until they are horizontal, only to be pulled upright again by the weight of their heavy rounded bases.

I made a supreme effort to walk and bounced from step to step like a clumsy ball. It took an incredible degree of attention to get to the ground floor. I could not describe it in any other way. Some form of attentiveness was required to maintain the bounds of my vision; to prevent it from disintegrating into the fleeting images of an ordinary dream.

When I finally got to the street door I could not open it. I tried desperately, but to no avail. Then I recalled that I had gotten out of my room by gliding out of it as if the door had been open. All I needed was to recall that feeling of gliding and suddenly I was out in the street.

It looked dark -- a peculiarly lead-gray darkness that did not permit me to perceive any colors. My interest was drawn immediately to an enormous lagoon of brightness right in front of me at my eye level. I deduced rather than perceived that it was the street light, since I knew there was one right on the corner twenty feet above the ground.

I knew then that I could not make the perceptual arrangements needed in order to judge up, or down, or here, or there. Everything seemed to be extraordinarily present. I had no mechanism, as in ordinary life, to arrange my perception. Everything was there in the foreground and I had no volition to construct an adequate screening procedure.

I stayed in the street, bewildered, until I began to have the sensation that I was levitating. I held on to the metal pole that supported the light and the street sign on the corner. A strong breeze was lifting me up. I was sliding up the pole until I could plainly see the name of the street; Ashton.

Months later, when I again found myself in a dream looking at my sleeping body, I already had a repertoire [* repertoire- the entire range of skills or devices used in a particular activity] of things to do. In the course of my regular dreaming I had learned that what matters in that state was volition. [* volition -- the capability of conscious choice and decision and intention] The corporeality [* corporeality -- the quality of being physical; consisting of matter] of the body has no significance: It is simply a memory that slows down the dreamer.

I glided out of the room without hesitation, since I did not have to act out the motions of opening a door or walking in order to move. The hall and staircase were not as enormous as they appeared to be the first time. I glided through with great ease and ended up in the street where I willed myself to move three blocks.

I became aware then that the lights were still very disturbing sights. If I focused my attention on them, they became pools of immeasurable size. The other elements of that dream were easy to control. The buildings were extraordinarily large, but their features were familiar. I pondered what to do.

And then, quite casually, I realized that if I did not stare at things, but only glanced at them just as we do in our daily world, I could arrange my perception. In other words, if I followed don Juan's suggestions to the letter, and took my dreaming for granted, I could use the perceptual biases of my everyday life. After a few moments the scenery became, if not completely familiar, controllable.

The next time I had a similar dream, I went to my favorite coffee shop on the corner. The reason I selected it was because I was used to going there all the time in the very early hours of the morning. In my dreaming, I saw the usual waitresses who worked the graveyard shift. I saw a row of people eating at the counter; and right at the very end of the counter I saw a peculiar character. A man I saw nearly every day walking aimlessly around the UCLA campus. He was the only person who actually looked at me. The instant I came in, he seemed to sense me. He turned around and stared at me.

I found the same man in my waking hours a few days later in the same coffee shop in the early hours of the morning. He took one look at me, and seemed to recognize me. He looked horrified, and ran away without giving me a chance to talk to him.

While dreaming, I came back once more to the same coffee shop and that was when the course of my dreaming changed. As I was watching the restaurant from across the street, the scene altered.

I could not see the familiar buildings any more. Instead I saw primeval scenery. It was no longer night. It was bright daylight and I was looking at a lush valley. Swampy, deep-green, reedlike plants grew all over. Next to me there was a rock ledge eight to ten feet high. A huge saber-toothed tiger was sitting there.

I was petrified. We looked at each other fixedly for a long time. The size of that beast was striking, yet it was not grotesque or out of proportion. It had a splendid head, big eyes the color of dark honey, massive paws, and an enormous rib cage.

What impressed me the most was the color of its fur. It was uniformly dark brown; almost chocolate. Its color reminded me of roasted coffee beans, only lustrous. It had strangely longish fur; not matted or ratty. It did not look like a puma's fur, or a wolf's, or a polar bear's either. It looked like something I had never seen before.

From that time on, it became routine for me to see the tiger. At times the scenery was cloudy and chilly. I could see rain in the valley, thick, copious rain. At other times the valley was bathed in sunlight. Quite often I would see other saber-toothed tigers in the valley. I could hear their unique squeaking roar -- a most nauseating sound to me.

The tiger never touched me. We stared at each other from ten to twelve feet away. Yet I could tell what he wanted. He was showing me how to breathe in a specific manner. It got to the point in my dreaming where I could imitate the tiger's breathing so well that I felt I was turning into one. I told the apprentices that a tangible result of my dreaming was that my body became more muscular.

After listening to my account, Nestor marveled at how different their dreaming was from mine. They had particular dreaming tasks. His was to find cures for anything that ailed the human body. Benigno's task was to predict, foresee, or find a solution for anything that was of human concern. Pablito's task was to find ways to build. Nestor said that those tasks were the reason why he dealt with medicinal plants, Benigno had an oracle, and Pablito was a carpenter. He added that, so far, they had only scratched the surface of their dreaming and that they had nothing of substance to report.

"You may think that we've done a great deal," he went on, "but we haven't. Genaro and the Nagual did everything for us and for these four women. We've done nothing on our own yet."

"It seems to me that the Nagual set you up differently," Benigno said, speaking very slowly and deliberately. "You must've been a tiger and you are definitely going to turn into one again. That's what happened to the Nagual. He had been a crow already, and while in this life he turned into one again."

"The problem is that that kind of tiger doesn't exist any more," Nestor said. "We never heard what happens in that case."

He swept his head around to include all of them with his gesture.

"I know what happens," la Gorda said. "I remember that the Nagual Juan Matus called that ghost dreaming. He said that none of us has ever done ghost dreaming because we are not violent or destructive. He never did it himself. And he said that whoever does it is marked by fate to have ghost helpers and allies."

"What does that mean, Gorda?" I asked.

"It means that you're not like us," she replied somberly.

La Gorda seemed to be very agitated. She stood up, and paced up and down the room four or five times before she sat down again by my side.

There was a gap of silence in the conversation. Josefina mumbled something unintelligible. She also seemed to be very nervous. La Gorda tried to calm her down; hugging her and patting her back.

"Josefina has something to tell you about Eligio," la Gorda said to me.

Everyone looked at Josefina without saying a word; a question in their eyes.

"In spite of the fact that Eligio has disappeared from the face of the earth," la Gorda went on, "he is still one of us. And Josefina talks to him all the time."

The rest of them suddenly became attentive. They looked at one another and then they looked at me.

"They meet in dreaming," la Gorda said dramatically.

Josefina took a deep breath, she seemed to be the epitome [* epitome -- a standard or typical example] of nervousness. Her body shook convulsively. Pablito lay on top of her on the floor, and began breathing hard with his diaphragm, pushing it in and out, forcing her to breathe in unison with him.

"What's he doing?" I asked la Gorda.

"What's he doing! Can't you see?" she replied sharply.

I whispered to her that I was aware that he was trying to make her relax, but that his procedure was novel to me. She said that Pablito was giving Josefina energy by placing his midsection, where men have a surplus of it, over Josefina's womb, where women store their energy.

Josefina sat up and smiled at me. She seemed to be perfectly relaxed.

"I do meet Eligio all the time," she said. "He waits for me every day."

"How come you've never told us that?" Pablito asked in a huffy tone.

"She told me," la Gorda interrupted, and then she went into a lengthy explanation of what it meant to all of us that Eligio was available. She added that she had been waiting for a sign from me to disclose Eligio's words.

"Don't beat around the bush, woman!" Pablito yelled. "Tell us his words."

"They are not for you!" la Gorda yelled back.

"Who are they for, then?" Pablito asked.

"They are for the Nagual," la Gorda yelled, pointing at me.

La Gorda apologized for raising her voice. She said that whatever Eligio had said was complex and mysterious, and she could not make heads or tails of it.

"I just listened to him. That's all I was able to do, listen to him," la Gorda continued.

"Do you mean you also meet Eligio?" Pablito asked in a tone that was a mixture of anger and expectation.

"I do," la Gorda replied in almost a whisper. "I couldn't talk about it because I had to wait for him."

She pointed to me, and then pushed me with both hands. I momentarily lost my balance and tumbled down on my side.

"What is this? What are you doing to him?" Pablito asked in a very angry voice. "Was that a display of Indian love?"

I turned to la Gorda. She made a gesture with her lips to tell me to be quiet.

"Eligio says that you are the Nagual, but you are not for us," Josefina said to me.

There was dead silence in the room. I did not know what to make of Josefina's statement. I had to wait until someone else talked.

"Do you feel relieved?" la Gorda prodded me.

I said to all of them that I did not have any opinions one way or the other. They looked like children -- bewildered children. La Gorda had the air of a mistress of ceremonies who is thoroughly embarrassed.

Nestor stood up and faced la Gorda. He spoke a phrase in Mazatec to her. It had the sound of a command or a reproach.

"Tell us everything you know, Gorda," he went on in Spanish. "You have no right to play with us, to hold back something so important, just for yourself."

La Gorda protested vehemently. She explained that she was holding on to what she knew because Eligio had asked her to do so. Josefina assented with a nod of her head.

"Did he tell all this to you or to Josefina?" Pablito asked.

"We were together," la Gorda said in a barely audible whisper.

"You mean you and Josefina dream together!" Pablito exclaimed breathlessly.

The surprise in his voice corresponded to the shock wave that seemed to go through the rest of them.

"What exactly has Eligio said to you two?" Nestor asked when the shock had subsided.

"He said that I should try to help the Nagual remember his left side," la Gorda said.

"Do you know what she's talking about?" Nestor asked me.

There was no possibility that I would have known. I told them that they should turn to themselves for answers. But none of them voiced any suggestions.

"He told Josefina other things which she can't remember," la Gorda said. "So we are in a real fix. Eligio said that you are definitely the Nagual and you have to help us, but that you are not for us. Only upon remembering your left side can you take us to where we have to go."

Nestor spoke to Josefina in a fatherly manner, and urged her to remember what Eligio had said. Nestor did that rather than insisting that I should remember something which must have been in some sort of code since none of us could make sense of it.

Josefina winced and frowned as if she were under a heavy weight that was pushing her down. She actually looked like a rag doll that was being compressed. I watched in true fascination.

"I can't," she finally said. "I know what he's talking about when he speaks to me, but I can't say now what it is. It doesn't come out."

"Do you remember any words?" Nestor asked. "Any single words?"

She stuck her tongue out, shook her head from side to side, and screamed at the same time.

"No. I can't," she said after a moment.

"What kind of dreaming do you do, Josefina?" I asked.

"The only kind I know," she snapped.

"I've told you how I do mine," I said. "Now tell me how you do yours."

"I close my eyes and I see this wall," she said. "It's like a wall of fog. Eligio waits for me there. He takes me through it and shows me things, I suppose. I don't know what we do, but we do things together. Then he brings me back to the wall and lets me go; and I come back and forget what I've seen."

"How did you happen to go with la Gorda?" I asked.

"Eligio told me to get her," she said. "The two of us waited for la Gorda, and when she went into her dreaming we snatched her and pulled her behind that wall. We've done that twice."

"How did you snatch her?" I asked.

"I don't know!" Josefina replied. "But I'll wait for you and when you do your dreaming, I'll snatch you and then you'll know."

"Can you snatch anyone?" I asked.

"Sure," she said, smiling. "But I don't do it because it's a waste. I snatched la Gorda because Eligio told me that he wanted to tell her something on account of her being more levelheaded than I am."

"Then Eligio must have told you the same things, Gorda," Nestor said with a firmness that was not familiar to me.

La Gorda made an unusual gesture of lowering her head, opening her mouth on the sides, shrugging her shoulders, and lifting her arms above her head.

"Josefina has just told you what happened," she said. "There is no way for me to remember. Eligio speaks with a different speed. He speaks but my body cannot understand him. No. No. My body cannot remember. That's what it is. I know he said that the Nagual here will remember, and will take us to where we have to go. He couldn't tell me more because there was so much to tell and so little time. He said that somebody, and I don't remember who, is waiting for me in particular."

"Is that all he said?" Nestor insisted.

"The second time I saw him, he told me that all of us will have to remember our left side, sooner or later, if we want to get to where we have to go. But he is the one who has to remember first."

She pointed to me and pushed me again as she had done earlier. The force of her shove sent me tumbling like a ball.

"What are you doing this for, Gorda?" I asked, a bit annoyed at her.

"I'm trying to help you remember," she said. "The Nagual Juan Matus told me that I should give you a push from time to time in order to jolt you."

La Gorda hugged me in a very abrupt movement.

"Help us, Nagual" she pleaded. "We are worse off than dead if you don't."

I was close to tears. Not because of their dilemma, but because I felt something stirring inside me. It was something that had been edging its way out ever since we visited that town.

La Gorda's pleading was heartbreaking. I then had another attack of what seemed to be hyperventilation. A cold sweat enveloped me and then I got sick to my stomach. La Gorda tended to me with absolute kindness.

True to her practice of waiting before revealing a finding, la Gorda would not consider discussing our seeing together in Oaxaca. For days she remained aloof and determinedly uninterested. She would not even discuss my getting ill. Neither would the other women.

Don Juan used to stress the need for waiting for the most appropriate time to let go of something that we hold. I understood the mechanics of la Gorda's actions, although I found her insistence on waiting rather annoying and not in accord with our needs. I could not stay with them too long, so I demanded that all of us should get together and share everything we knew. She was inflexible.

"We have to wait," she said. "We have to give our bodies a chance to come up with a solution. Our task is the task of remembering, not with our minds but with our bodies. Everybody understands it like that."

She looked at me inquisitively. She seemed to be looking for a clue that would tell her that I too had understood the task. I admitted to being thoroughly mystified. Since I was the outsider, I was alone while they had one another for support.

"This is the silence of warriors," she said, laughing, and then added in a conciliatory tone, "This silence doesn't mean that we can't talk about something else."

"Maybe we should go back to our old discussion of losing the human form," I said.

There was a look of annoyance in her eyes. I explained at length that, especially when foreign concepts were involved, meaning had to be continually clarified for me.

"What exactly do you want to know?" she asked.

"Anything that you may want to tell me," I said.

"The Nagual told me that losing the human form brings freedom," she said. "I believe it. But I haven't felt that freedom, not yet."

There was a moment of silence. She was obviously assessing my reaction.

"What kind of freedom is it, Gorda?" I asked.

"The freedom to remember your self," she said. "The Nagual said that losing the human form is like a spiral. It gives you the freedom to remember and this in turn makes you even freer."

"Why haven't you felt that freedom yet?" I asked.

She clicked her tongue, and shrugged her shoulders. She seemed confused or reluctant to go on with our conversation.

"I'm tied to you," she said. "Until you lose your human form in order to remember, I won't be able to know what that freedom is. But perhaps you won't be able to lose your human form unless you remember first. We shouldn't be talking about this anyway. Why don't you go and talk to the Genaros?"

She sounded like a mother sending her child out to play, but I did not mind it in the least. From someone else I could easily have taken the same attitude as arrogance or contempt. I liked being with her. That was the difference.

I found Pablito, Nestor, and Benigno in Genaro's house playing a strange game. Pablito was dangling about four feet above the ground inside something that seemed to be a dark leather harness strapped to his chest under his armpits. The harness resembled a thick leather vest.

As I focused my attention on it, I noticed that Pablito was actually standing on some thick straps that looped down from the harness like stirrups. He was suspended in the center of the room by two ropes strung over a thick round transverse beam that supported the roof. Each rope was attached to the harness itself, over Pablito's shoulders, by a metal ring.

Nestor and Benigno each held a rope. They were standing, facing each other, holding Pablito in midair by the strength of their pull. Pablito was holding on with all his strength to two long thin poles that were planted in the ground and fitted comfortably in his clasped hands. Nestor was to Pablito's left and Benigno to his right.

The game seemed to be a three-sided tug-of-war; a ferocious battle between the ones who were tugging and the one who was suspended.

When I walked into the room, all I could hear was the heavy breathing of Nestor and Benigno. The muscles of their arms and necks were bulging with the strain of pulling.

Pablito kept an eye on both of them, focusing on each one, one at a time with a split-second glance. All three were so absorbed in their game that they did not even notice my presence, or if they did, they could not afford to break their concentration to greet me.

Nestor and Benigno stared at each other for ten to fifteen minutes in total silence. Then Nestor faked letting his rope go. Benigno did not fall for it, but Pablito did. Pablito tightened the grip of his left hand, and braced his feet on the poles in order to strengthen his hold. Benigno used the moment to strike, and gave a mighty tug at the precise instant that Pablito eased his grip.

Benigno's pull caught Pablito and Nestor by surprise. Benigno hung from the rope with all his weight. Nestor was outmaneuvered. Pablito fought desperately to balance himself. It was useless. Benigno won the round.

Pablito got out of the harness, and came to where I was. I asked him about their extraordinary game. He seemed somehow reluctant to talk. Nestor and Benigno joined us after putting their gear away. Nestor said that their game had been designed by Pablito, who found the structure in dreaming, and then constructed it as a game.

At first it was a device for tensing the muscles of two of them at the same time. They used to take turns at being hoisted. But then Benigno's dreaming gave them the entry into a game where all three of them tensed their muscles and sharpened their visual prowess by remaining in a state of alertness; sometimes for hours.

"Benigno thinks now that it is helping our bodies to remember," Nestor went on. "La Gorda, for instance, plays it in a weird way. She wins every time, no matter what position she plays. Benigno thinks that's because her body remembers."

I asked them if they also had the silence rule. They laughed. Pablito said that la Gorda wanted more than anything else to be like the Nagual Juan Matus. She deliberately imitated him up to the most absurd detail.

"Do you mean we can talk about what happened the other night?" I asked, almost bewildered, since la Gorda had been so emphatically against it.

"We don't care," Pablito said. "You're the Nagual!"

"Benigno here remembered something real, real weird," Nestor said without looking at me.

"I think it was a mixed-up dream, myself," Benigno said, "but Nestor thinks it wasn't."

I waited impatiently. With a movement of my head, I urged them to go on.

"The other day he remembered you teaching him how to look for tracks in soft dirt," Nestor said.

"It must have been a dream," I said.

I wanted to laugh at the absurdity, but all three of them looked at me with pleading eyes.

"It's absurd," I said.

"Anyway, I better tell you now that I have a similar recollection," Nestor said. "You took me to some rocks and showed me how to hide. Mine was not a mixed-up dream. I was awake. I was walking with Benigno one day, looking for plants, and suddenly I remembered you teaching me. So I hid as you taught me, and scared Benigno out of his wits."

"I taught you! How could that be? When?" I asked.

I was beginning to get nervous. They did not seem to be joking.

"When? That's the point," Nestor said. "We can't figure out when. But Benigno and I know it was you."

I felt heavy; oppressed. My breathing became difficult. I feared I was going to get ill again. I decided right then to tell them about what la Gorda and I had 'seen' together. Talking about it relaxed me. At the end of my recounting I was again in control of myself.

"The Nagual Juan Matus left us a little bit open," Nestor said. "All of us can see a little. We see holes in people who have had children and also, from time to time, we see a little glow in people. Since you don't see at all, it looks like the Nagual left you completely closed so that you will open yourself from within. Now you've helped la Gorda and she either sees from within or she's merely riding on your back."

I told them that what had happened in Oaxaca may have been a fluke.

Pablito thought that we should go to Genaro's favorite rock and sit there with our heads together. The other two found his idea brilliant. I had no objections. Although we sat there for a long time, nothing happened. We did get very relaxed, however.

While we were still sitting on the rock I told them about the two men la Gorda had believed to be don Juan and don Genaro. They slid down, and practically dragged me back to la Gorda's house. Nestor was the most agitated. He was almost incoherent. All I got out of them was that they had been waiting for a sign of that nature.

La Gorda was waiting for us at the door. She knew what I had told them.

"I just wanted to give my body time," she said before we had said anything. "I have to be dead sure, which I am. It was the Nagual and Genaro."

"What's in those shacks?" Nestor asked.

"They didn't go inside them," la Gorda said. "They walked away toward the open fields; toward the east. In the direction of this town."

She seemed bent on appeasing them. She asked them to stay. They did not want to. They excused themselves and left. I was sure that they felt ill at ease in her presence.

She seemed to be very angry. I rather enjoyed her explosions of temper, and this was quite contrary to my normal reactions. I had always felt edgy in the presence of anyone who was upset, with the mysterious exception of la Gorda.

During the early hours of the evening all of us congregated in la Gorda's room. All of them seemed preoccupied. They sat in silence, staring at the floor. La Gorda tried to start a conversation. She said that she had not been idle, that she had put two and two together, and had come up with some solutions.

"This is not a matter of putting two and two together," Nestor said. "This is a task of remembering with the body."

It seemed that they had talked about it among themselves, judging by the nods of agreement Nestor had from the others. That left la Gorda and myself as the outsiders.

"Lydia also remembers something," Nestor went on. "She thought it was her stupidity, but upon hearing what I've remembered she told us that this Nagual here took her to a curer, and left her there to have her eyes cured."

La Gorda and I turned to Lydia. She lowered her head as if embarrassed. She mumbled. The memory seemed too painful for her. She said that when don Juan first found her, her eyes were infected and she could not see. Someone drove her in a car over a great distance to the curer who healed her.

She had always been convinced that don Juan had done that, but upon hearing my voice she realized that it was I who had taken her there. The incongruity of such a memory threw her into agony from the first day she met me.

"My ears don't lie to me," Lydia added after a long silence. "It was you who took me there."

"Impossible! Impossible!" I yelled.

My body began to shake, out of control. I had a sense of duality. Perhaps what I call my rational self, incapable of controlling the rest of me, took the seat of a spectator. Some part of me was watching as another part of me shook.
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:09 pm

4. Crossing the Boundaries of Affection

"What's happening to us, Gorda?" I asked after the others had gone home.

"Our bodies are remembering, but I just can't figure out what," she said.

"Do you believe the memories of Lydia, Nestor, and Benigno?"

"Sure. They're very serious people. They don't just say things like that for the hell of it."

"But what they say is impossible. You believe me, don't you, Gorda?"

"I believe that you don't remember, but then..."

She did not finish. She came to my side and began to whisper in my ear. She said that there was something that the Nagual Juan Matus had made her promise to keep to herself until the time was right; a trump card to be used only when there was no other way out.

She added in a dramatic whisper that the Nagual had foreseen their new living arrangement, which was the result of my taking Josefina to Tula to be with Pablito. She said that there was a faint chance that we might succeed as a group if we followed the natural order of that organization. La Gorda explained that since we were divided into couples, we formed a living organism. We were a snake; a rattlesnake.

The snake had four sections and was divided, into two longitudinal halves, male and female. She said that she and I made up the first section of the snake, the head. It was a cold, calculating, poisonous head. The second section, formed by Nestor and Lydia, was the firm and fair heart of the snake. The third was the belly -- a shifty, moody, untrustworthy belly made up by Pablito and Josefina. And the fourth section, the tail, where the rattle was located, was formed by the couple who in real life could rattle on in their Tzotzil language for hours on end, Benigno and Rosa.

La Gorda straightened herself up from the position she had adopted to whisper in my ear. She smiled at me, and patted me on the back.

"Eligio said one word that finally came back to me," she went on. "Josefina agrees with me that he said the word "trail" over and over. We are going to go on a trail!"

Without giving me a chance to ask her any questions, she said that she was going to sleep for a while, and then assemble everyone to go on a trip.

We started out before midnight, hiking in bright moonlight. Everyone of the others had been reluctant to go at first, but la Gorda very skillfully sketched out for them don Juan's alleged description of the snake.

Before we started, Lydia suggested that we provide ourselves with supplies in case the trip turned out to be a long one. La Gorda dismissed her suggestion on the grounds that we had no idea about the nature of the trip. She said that the Nagual Juan Matus had once pointed out to her the beginning of a pathway, and said that at the right opportunity we should place ourselves on that spot and let the power of the trail reveal itself to us. La Gorda added that it was not an ordinary goats' path but a natural line on the earth which the Nagual had said would give us strength and knowledge if we could follow it and become one with it.

We moved under mixed leadership. La Gorda supplied the impetus and Nestor knew the actual terrain. She led us to a place in the mountains. Nestor took over then and located a pathway. Our formation was evident, the head taking the lead and the others arranging themselves according to the anatomical model of a snake: heart, intestines, and tail. The men were to the right of the women. Each couple was five feet behind the one in front of them.

We hiked as quickly and as quietly as we could. There were dogs barking for a time. As we got higher into the mountains there was only the sound of crickets. We walked for a long while.

All of a sudden la Gorda stopped and grabbed my arm. She pointed ahead of us. Twenty or thirty yards away, right in the middle of the trail, there was the bulky silhouette of an enormous man over seven feet tall. He was blocking our way. We grouped together in a tight bunch. Our eyes were fixed on the dark shape. He did not move. After a while, Nestor alone advanced a few steps toward him. Only then did the figure move. He came toward us. Gigantic as he was, he moved nimbly.

Nestor came back running. The moment he joined us, the man stopped. Boldly, la Gorda took a step toward him. The man took a step toward us. It was evident that if we kept on moving forward, we were going to clash with the giant. We were no match for whatever it was. Without waiting to prove it, I took the initiative and pulled everyone back and quickly steered them away from that place.

We walked back to la Gorda's house in total silence. It took us hours to get there. We were utterly exhausted. When we were safely sitting in her room, la Gorda spoke.

"We are doomed," she said to me. "You didn't want us to move on. That thing we saw on the trail was one of your allies, wasn't it? They come out of their hiding place when you pull them out."

I did not answer. There was no point in protesting. I remembered the countless times I had believed that don Juan and don Genaro were in cahoots with each other. I thought that while don Juan talked to me in the darkness, don Genaro would put on a disguise in order to scare me. Don Juan would insist that it was an ally.

The idea that there were allies or entities at large that escape our everyday attention had been too farfetched for me. But then I had lived to find out that the allies of don Juan's description existed in fact. There were, as he had said, entities at large in the world.

In an authoritarian outburst, rare to me in my everyday life, I stood up and told la Gorda and the rest of them that I had a proposition for them and they could take it or leave it. If they were ready to move out of there, I was willing to take the responsibility of taking them somewhere else. If they were not ready, I would feel exonerated [* exonerated -- freed from any question of guilt] from any further commitment to them.

I felt a surge of optimism and certainty. None of them said anything. They looked at me silently, as if they were internally assessing my statements.

"How long would it take you to get your gear?" I asked.

"We have no gear," la Gorda said. "We'll go as we are. And we can go right this minute if it is necessary. But if we can wait three more days, everything will be better for us."

"What about the houses that you have?" I asked.

"Soledad will take care of that," she said.

That was the first time dona Soledad's name had been mentioned since I last saw her. I was so intrigued that I momentarily forgot the drama of the moment. I sat down.

La Gorda was hesitant to answer my questions about dona Soledad. Nestor took over and said that dona Soledad was around but that none of them knew much about her activities. She came and went without giving anyone notice; the agreement between them being that they would look after her house and vice versa. Dona Soledad knew that they had to leave sooner or later, and she would assume the responsibility of doing whatever was necessary to dispose of their property.

"How will you let her know?" I asked.

"That's la Gorda's department," Nestor said. "We don't know where she is."

"Where is dona Soledad, Gorda?" I asked.

"How in the hell would I know?" la Gorda snapped at me.

"But you're the one who calls her," Nestor said.

La Gorda looked at me. It was a casual look, yet it gave me a shiver. I recognized that look, but from where? The depths of my body stirred. My solar plexus had a solidity I had never felt before. My diaphragm seemed to be pushing up on its own. I was pondering whether I should lie down when suddenly I found myself standing.

"La Gorda doesn't know," I said. "Only I know where she is."

Everyone was shocked -- I perhaps more than anyone else. I had made the statement with no rational foundation whatsoever. At the moment I was voicing it, nevertheless, I had had the perfect conviction that I knew where she was. It was like a flash that crossed my consciousness. I saw a mountainous area with very rugged, arid peaks; a scraggy terrain, desolate and cold.

As soon as I had spoken, my next conscious thought was that I must have seen that landscape in a movie and that the pressure of being with these people was causing me to have a breakdown.

I apologized to them for mystifying them in such a blatant although unintentional manner. I sat down again.

"You mean you don't know why you said that?" Nestor asked me.

He had chosen his words carefully. The natural thing to say, at least for me, would have been, "So you really don't know where she is." I told them that something unknown had come upon me. I described the terrain I had seen, and the certainty I had had that dona Soledad was there.

"That happens to us quite often," Nestor said.

I turned to la Gorda and she nodded her head. I asked for an explanation.

"These crazy mixed-up things keep coming to our minds," la Gorda said. "Ask Lydia, or Rosa, or Josefina."

Since they had entered into their new living arrangement Lydia, Rosa, and Josefina had not said much to me. They had confined themselves to greetings and casual comments about food or the weather.

Lydia avoided my eyes. She mumbled that she thought at times that she remembered other things.

"Sometimes I can really hate you," she said to me. "I think you are pretending to be stupid. Then I remember that you were very ill because of us. Was it you?"

"Of course it was him," Rosa said. "I too remember things. I remember a lady who was kind to me. She taught me how to keep myself clean, and this Nagual cut my hair for the first time while the lady held me because I was scared. That lady loved me. She hugged me all the time. She was very tall. I remember my face was on her bosom when she used to hug me. She was the only person who ever cared for me. I would've gladly gone to my death for her."

"Who was that lady, Rosa?" la Gorda asked with bated breath.

Rosa pointed to me with a movement of her chin, a gesture heavy with dejection and contempt.

"He knows," she said.

All of them stared at me, waiting for an answer. I became angry and yelled at Rosa that she had no business making statements that were really accusations. I was not in any way lying to them.

Rosa was not flustered by my outburst. She calmly explained that she remembered the lady telling her that I would come back some day, after I had recovered from my illness. Rosa understood that the lady was taking care of me; nursing me back to health. Therefore, I had to know who she was and where she was since I seemed to have recovered.

"What kind of illness did I have, Rosa?" I asked.

"You got ill because you couldn't hold your world," she said with utter conviction. "Someone told me, I think a very long time ago, that you were not made for us, just like Eligio told la Gorda in dreaming. You left us because of it and Lydia never forgave you. She'll hate you beyond this world."

Lydia protested that her feelings for me had nothing to do with what Rosa was saying. She was merely short-tempered and easily got angry at my stupidities.

I asked Josefina if she also remembered me.

"I sure do," she said with a grin. "But you know me, I'm crazy. You can't trust me. I'm not dependable."

La Gorda insisted on hearing what Josefina remembered. Josefina was set not to say anything and they argued back and forth. Finally Josefina spoke to me.

"What's the use of all this talk about remembering? It's just talk," she said. "And it isn't worth a fig."

Josefina seemed to have scored a point with all of us. There was no more to be said. They were getting up to leave after having sat in polite silence for a few minutes.

"I remember you bought me beautiful clothes," Josefina suddenly said to me. "Don't you remember when I fell down the stairs in one store? I nearly broke my leg and you had to carry me out."

Everybody sat down again and kept their eyes fixed on Josefina.

"I also remember a crazy woman," she went on. "She wanted to beat me and used to chase me all over the place until you got angry and stopped her."

I felt exasperated. Everyone seemed to be hanging on Josefina's words when she herself had told us not to trust her because she was crazy. She was right. Her remembering was sheer aberration [* aberration -- condition markedly different from the norm] to me.

"I know why you got ill, too," she went on. "I was there. But I can't remember where. They took you beyond that wall of fog to find this stupid Gorda. I suppose she must have gotten lost. You couldn't make it back. When they brought you out you were almost dead."

The silence that followed her revelations was oppressive. I was afraid to ask anything.

"I can't remember why on earth she went in there, or who brought you back," Josefina continued. "I do remember that you were ill, and didn't recognize me any more. This stupid Gorda swears that she didn't know you when you first came to this house a few months ago. I knew you right away. I remembered you were the Nagual that got ill. You want to know something? I think these women are just indulging. And so are the men, especially that stupid Pablito. They've got to remember, they were there, too."

"Can you remember where we were?" I asked.

"No. I can't," Josefina said. "I'll know it if you take me there, though. When we all were there, they used to call us the drunkards because we were groggy. I was the least dizzy of all, so I remember pretty well."

"Who called us drunkards?" I asked.

"Not you, just us," Josefina replied. "I don't know who. The Nagual Juan Matus, I suppose."

I looked at them and each one of them avoided my eyes.

"We are coming to the end," Nestor muttered, as if talking to himself. "Our ending is staring us in the eye."

He seemed to be on the verge of tears.

"I should be glad and proud that we have arrived at the end," he went on. "Yet I'm sad. Can you explain that, Nagual?"

Suddenly all of them were sad. Even defiant Lydia was sad.

"What's wrong with all of you?" I asked in a convivial tone. "What ending are you talking about?"

"I think everyone knows what ending it is," Nestor said. "Lately, I've been having strange feelings. Something is calling us. And we don't let go as we should. We cling."

Pablito had a true moment of gallantry and said that la Gorda was the only one among them who did not cling to anything. The rest of them, he assured me, were nearly hopeless egotists.

"The Nagual Juan Matus said that when it's time to go, we will have a sign," Nestor said. "Something we truly like will come forth and take us."

"He said it doesn't have to be something great," Benigno added. "Anything we like will do."

"For me the sign will come in the form of the lead soldiers I never had," Nestor said to me. "A row of Hussars on horseback will come to take me. What will it be for you?"

I remembered don Juan telling me once that death might be behind anything imaginable, even behind a dot on my writing pad. He gave me then the definitive metaphor of my death.

I had told him that once while walking on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles I had heard the sound of a trumpet playing an old, idiotic popular tune. The music was coming from a record shop across the street.

Never had I heard a more beautiful sound. I became enraptured by it. I had to sit down on the curb. The limpid brass sound of that trumpet was going directly to my brain. I felt it just above my right temple. It soothed me until I was drunk with it.

When it concluded, I knew that there would be no way of ever repeating that experience, and I had enough detachment not to rush into the store and buy the record and a stereo set to play it on.

Don Juan said that it had been a sign given to me by the powers that rule the destiny of men. When the time comes for me to leave the world, in whatever form, I will hear the same sound of that trumpet, the same idiotic tune, the same peerless trumpeter.

The next day was a frantic day for them. They seemed to have endless things to do. La Gorda said that all their chores were personal and had to be performed by each one of them without any help.

I welcomed being alone. I too had things to work out. I drove to the nearby town that had disturbed me so thoroughly. I went directly to the house that had held such fascination for la Gorda and me.

I knocked on the door. A lady answered. I made up a story that I had lived in that house as a child, and wanted to look at it again. She was a very gracious woman. She let me go through the house, apologizing profusely for a nonexistent disorder.

There was a wealth of hidden memories in that house. They were there, and I could feel them, but I could not remember anything.

The following day la Gorda left at dawn. I expected her to be gone all day but she came back at noon. She seemed very upset.

"Soledad has come back and wants to see you," she said flatly.

Without any word of explanation, she took me to dona Soledad's house. Dona Soledad was standing by the door. She looked younger and stronger than the last time I had seen her. She bore only the slightest resemblance to the lady I had known years before.

La Gorda seemed to be on the verge of crying. The tension we were going through made her mood perfectly understandable to me. She left without saying a word.

Dona Soledad said that she had only a little time to talk to me and that she was going to use every minute of it. She was strangely deferential. [* deferential -- showing courteous regard for people's feelings] There was a tone of politeness in every word she said.

I made a gesture to interrupt her to ask a question. I wanted to know where she had been. She rebuffed me in a most delicate manner. She said that she had chosen her words carefully and that the lack of time would permit her only to say what was essential.

She peered into my eyes for a moment that seemed unnaturally long. That annoyed me. She could have talked to me and answered some questions in the same length of time. She broke her silence and spoke what I thought were absurdities. She said that she had attacked me as I had requested her to, the day we crossed the parallel lines for the first time, and that she only hoped her attack had been effective and served its purpose.

I wanted to shout that I had never asked her to do anything of the sort. I did not know about parallel lines and what she was saying was nonsense. She pressed my lips with her hand. I recoiled automatically. She seemed sad. She said that there was no way for us to talk because at that moment we were on two parallel lines and neither of us had the energy to cross over. Only her eyes could tell me her mood.

For no reason, I began to feel relaxed. Something inside me felt at ease. I noticed that tears were rolling down my cheeks. And then a most incredible sensation took possession of me for a moment; a short moment, but long enough to jolt the foundations of my consciousness, or of my person, or of what I think and feel is myself.

During that brief moment I knew that we were very close to each other in purpose and temperament. Our circumstances were alike. I wanted to acknowledge to her that it had been an arduous struggle, but the struggle was not over yet. It would never be over. She was saying goodbye because being the impeccable warrior she was, she knew that our paths would never cross again. We had come to the end of a trail.

A lost wave of affiliation, of kinship, burst out from some unimaginable dark corner of myself. That flash was like an electric charge in my body. I embraced her. My mouth was moving, saying things that had no meaning to me. Her eyes lit up. She was also saying something I could not understand. The only sensation that was clear to me, that I had crossed the parallel lines, had no pragmatic significance. There was a welled-up anguish inside me pushing outward. Some inexplicable force was splitting me apart. I could not breathe and everything went black.

I felt someone moving me, shaking me gently. La Gorda's face came into focus. I was lying in dona Soledad's bed and la Gorda was sitting by my side. We were alone.

"Where is she?" I asked.

"She's gone," la Gorda replied.

I wanted to tell la Gorda everything. She stopped me. She opened the door. All the apprentices were outside waiting for me. They had put on their raunchiest clothes. La Gorda explained that they had torn up everything they had. It was late afternoon. I had been asleep for hours. Without talking, we walked to la Gorda's house, where I had my car parked. They crammed inside like children going on a Sunday drive.

Before I got into the car, I stood gazing at the valley. My body rotated slowly and made a complete circle, as if it had a volition and purpose of its own. I felt I was capturing the essence of that place. I wanted to keep it with me because I knew unequivocally that never in this life would I see it again.

The others must have done that already. They were free of melancholy. They were laughing; teasing one another.

I started the car and drove away. When we reached the last bend in the road the sun was setting, and la Gorda yelled at me to stop. She got out and ran to a small hill at the side of the road. She climbed it and took a last look at her valley. She extended her arms toward it and breathed it in.

The ride down those mountains was strangely short and thoroughly uneventful. Everybody was quiet. I tried to get la Gorda into a conversation, but she flatly refused. She said that the mountains, being possessive, claimed ownership of them, and that if they did not save their energy, the mountains would never let them go.

Once we got to the lowlands they became more animated, especially la Gorda. She seemed to be bubbling with energy. She even volunteered information without any coaxing on my part. One of her statements was that the Nagual Juan Matus had told her, and Soledad had confirmed, that there was another side to us. Upon hearing it, the rest of them joined in with questions and comments. They were baffled by their strange memories of events that could not logically have taken place. Since some of them had first met me only months before, remembering me in the remote past was something beyond the bounds of their reason.

I told them then about my meeting with dona Soledad. I described my feeling of having known her intimately before, and my sense of having unmistakably crossed what she called the parallel lines. They reacted with confusion to my statement. It seemed that they had heard the term before but I was not sure they all understood what it meant. For me it was a metaphor. I could not vouch that it was the same for them.

When we were coming into the city of Oaxaca, they expressed the desire to visit the place where la Gorda had said don Juan and don Genaro disappeared. I drove directly to the spot. They rushed out of the car and seemed to be orienting themselves, sniffing at something, looking for clues. La Gorda pointed in the direction she thought they had gone.

"You've made a terrible mistake, Gorda," Nestor said loudly. "That's not the east, that's the north."

La Gorda protested and defended her opinion. The women backed her, and so did Pablito. Benigno was noncommittal. He kept on looking at me as if I were going to furnish the answer, which I did. I referred to a map of the city of Oaxaca that I had in the car. The direction la Gorda was pointing was indeed north.

Nestor remarked that he had felt all along that their departure from their town was not premature or forced in any way. The timing was right. The others had not, and their hesitation arose from la Gorda's misjudgment. They had believed, as she herself had, that the Nagual had pointed toward their hometown, meaning that they had to stay put. I admitted, as an afterthought, that in the final analysis I was the one to blame because, although I had had the map, I had failed to use it at the time.

I then mentioned that I had forgotten to tell them that one of the men, the one I had thought for a moment was don Genaro, had beckoned us with a movement of his head. La Gorda's eyes widened with genuine surprise, or even alarm. She had not detected the gesture, she said. The beckoning had been only for me.

"That's it!" Nestor exclaimed. "Our fates are sealed!"

He turned to address the others. All of them were talking at once. He made frantic gestures with his hands to calm them.

"I only hope that all of you did whatever you had to do as if you were never coming back," he said. "Because we are never going back."

"Are you telling us the truth?" Lydia asked me with a fierce look in her eyes, as the others peered expectantly at me.

I assured them that I had no reason to make it up. The fact that I saw that man gesturing to me with his head had no significance whatsoever for me. Besides, I was not even convinced that those men were don Juan and don Genaro.

"You're very crafty," Lydia said. "You may just be telling us this so that we will follow you meekly."

"Now, wait a minute," la Gorda said. "This Nagual may be as crafty as you like, but he'd never do anything like that."

They all began talking at once. I tried to mediate and had to shout over their voices that what I had seen did not make any difference anyway.

Nestor very politely explained that Genaro had told them that when the time came for them to leave their valley he would somehow let them know with a movement of his head. They quieted down when I said that if their fates were sealed by that event, so was mine. All of us were going north.

Nestor then led us to a place of lodging, a boardinghouse where he stayed when doing business in the city. Their spirits were high, in fact too high for my comfort. Even Lydia embraced me, apologizing for being so difficult. She explained that she had believed la Gorda and therefore had not bothered to cut her ties effectively. Josefina and Rosa were ebullient [* ebullient -- joyously unrestrained] and patted me on the back over and over. I wanted to talk with la Gorda. I needed to discuss our course of action. But there was no way to be alone with her that night.

Nestor, Pablito, and Benigno left in the early morning to do some errands. Lydia, Rosa, and Josefina also went out to go shopping. La Gorda requested that I help her buy her new clothes. She wanted me to pick out one dress for her, the perfect one to give her the self-confidence she needed to be a fluid warrior. I not only found a dress but an entire outfit, shoes, nylons, and lingerie.

I took her for a stroll. We meandered in the center of town like two tourists, staring at the Indians in their regional garments. Being a formless warrior, she was already perfectly at ease in her elegant outfit. She looked ravishing. It was as if she had never dressed any other way. It was I who could not get used to it.

The questions that I wanted to ask la Gorda, which should have poured out of me, were impossible to formulate. I had no idea what to ask her. I told her in true seriousness that her new appearance was affecting me. Very soberly, she said that the crossing of boundaries was what had affected me.

"We crossed some boundaries last night," she said. "Soledad told me what to expect, so I was prepared. But you were not."

She began to explain softly and slowly that we had crossed some boundaries of affection the night before. She was enunciating every syllable as if she were talking to a child or a foreigner. But I could not concentrate. We went back to our lodgings. I needed to rest, yet I ended up going out again. Lydia, Rosa, and Josefina had not been able to find anything and wanted something like la Gorda's outfit.

By midafternoon I was back in the boardinghouse admiring the little sisters. Rosa had difficulty walking with high-heeled shoes. We were joking about her feet when the door opened slowly and Nestor made a dramatic entrance. He was wearing a tailored dark-blue suit, light-pink shirt, and blue necktie. His hair was neatly combed and a bit fluffy, as if it had been blown dry. He looked at the women and the women looked at him. Pablito came in, followed by Benigno. Both were dashing. Their shoes were brand new and their suits looked custom made.

I could not get over everyone's adaptation to city clothes. They reminded me so much of don Juan. I was perhaps as shocked seeing the three Genaros in city clothes as I had been when I saw don Juan wearing a suit, yet I accepted their change instantly. On the other hand, while I was not surprised at the women's transformation, for some reason I could not get accustomed to it.

I thought that the Genaros must have had a streak of sorcerers' luck in order to find such perfect fits. They laughed when they heard me raving about their luck. Nestor said that a tailor had made their suits months before.

"We each have another suit," he said to me. "We even have leather suitcases. We knew our time in these mountains was up. We are ready to go! Of course, you first have to tell us where. And also how long we are going to stay here."

He explained that he had old business accounts he had to close and needed time. La Gorda stepped in and with great certainty and authority stated that that night we were going to go as far away as power permitted. Consequently they had until the end of the day to settle their business. Nestor and Pablito hesitated by the door. They looked at me, waiting for confirmation. I thought the least I could do was to be honest with them, but la Gorda interrupted me just as I was about to say that I was in limbo as to what exactly we were going to do.

"We will meet at the Nagual's bench at dusk," she said. "We'll leave from there. We should do whatever we have to or want to until then, knowing that never again in this life will we be back."

La Gorda and I were alone after everybody left. In an abrupt and clumsy movement, she sat on my lap. She was so light I could make her thin body shake by contracting the muscles of my calves. Her hair had a peculiar perfume. I joked that the smell was unbearable.

She was laughing and shaking when out of nowhere a feeling came to me -- a memory? All of a sudden I had another Gorda on my lap, fat, twice the size of the Gorda I knew. Her face was round and I was teasing her about the perfume in her hair. I had the sensation that I was taking care of her.

The impact of that spurious [* spurious -- plausible but false] memory made me stand up. La Gorda fell noisily to the floor. I described what I had 'remembered'. I told her that I had seen her as a fat woman only once, and so briefly that I had no idea of her features, and yet I had just had a vision of her face when she was fat.

She did not make any comments. She took off her clothes and put on her old dress again.

"I am not yet ready for it," she said, pointing at her new outfit. "We still have one more thing to do before we are free. According to the Nagual Juan Matus' instructions, all of us must sit together on a power spot of his choice."

"Where's that spot?"

"Somewhere in the mountains around here. It's like a door. The Nagual told me that there was a natural crack on that spot. He said that certain power spots are holes in this world. If you are formless you can go through one of those holes into the unknown; into another world. That world and this world we live in are on two parallel lines.

Chances are that all of us have been taken across those lines at one time or another, but we don't remember. Eligio is in that other world. Sometimes we reach it through dreaming. Josefina, of course, is the best dreamer among us. She crosses those lines every day, but being crazy makes her indifferent, even dumb, so Eligio helped me to cross those lines thinking I was more intelligent, and I turned out to be just as dumb.

Eligio wants us to remember our left side. Soledad told me that the left side is the parallel line to the one we are living in now. So if he wants us to remember it, we must have been there. And not in dreaming, either. That's why all of us remember weird things now and then."

Her conclusions were logical given the premises she was working with. I knew what she was talking about. Those occasional unsolicited memories reeked of the reality of everyday life and yet we could find no time sequence for them; no opening in the continuum of our lives where we could fit them.

La Gorda reclined on the bed. There was a worried look in her eyes.

"What bothers me is what to do to find that power spot," she said. "Without it there is no possible journey for us."

"What worries me is where I'm going to take all of you and what I'm going to do with you," I said.

"Soledad told me that we will go as far north as the border," la Gorda said. "Some of us even further north perhaps. But you won't go all the way through with us. You have another fate."

La Gorda was pensive [* pensive -- persistently or morbidly thoughtful] for a moment. She frowned with the apparent effort of arranging her thoughts.

"Soledad said that you will take me to fulfill my destiny," la Gorda said. "I am the only one of us who is in your charge."

Alarm must have been written all over my face. She smiled.

"Soledad also told me that you are plugged up," la Gorda went on. "You have moments, though, when you are a Nagual. The rest of the time, Soledad says, you are like a crazy man who is lucid [* lucid -- transparently clear in language] only for a few moments, and then reverts back to his madness."

Dona Soledad had used an appropriate image to describe me; one I could understand. I must have had a moment of lucidity for her when I knew I had crossed the parallel lines. That same moment, by my standards, was the most incongruous of all. Dona Soledad and I were certainly on two different lines of thought.

"What else did she tell you?" I asked.

"She told me I should force myself to remember," la Gorda said. "She exhausted herself trying to bring out my memory. That was why she couldn't deal with you."

La Gorda got up. She was ready to leave. I took her for a walk around the city. She seemed very happy. She went from place to place watching everything; feasting her eyes on the world.

Don Juan had given me that image. He had said that a warrior knows that he is waiting, and knows also what he is waiting for; and while he waits, he feasts his eyes on the world. For him the ultimate accomplishment of a warrior was joy. That day in Oaxaca la Gorda was following don Juan's teachings to the letter.

In the late afternoon before dusk, we sat down on don Juan's bench. Benigno, Pablito, and Josefina showed up first. After a few minutes the other three joined us. Pablito sat down between Josefina and Lydia and put his arms around them. They had changed back into their old clothes. La Gorda stood up and began to tell them about the power spot.

Nestor laughed at her and the rest of them joined him.

"Never again will you get us to fall for your bossiness," Nestor said. "We are free of you. We crossed the boundaries last night."

La Gorda was unruffled but the others were angry. I had to intervene. I said loudly that I wanted to know more about the boundaries we had crossed the night before. Nestor explained that that pertained only to them. La Gorda disagreed. They seemed to be on the verge of fighting. I pulled Nestor to the side and ordered him to tell me about the boundaries.

"Our feelings make boundaries around anything," he said. "The more we love, the stronger the boundary is. In this case we loved our home. Before we left it, we had to lift up our feelings. Our feelings for our home went up to the top of the mountains to the west from our valley. That was the boundary and when we crossed the top of those mountains, knowing that we'll never be back, we broke it."

"But I also knew that I'd never be back," I said.

"You didn't love those mountains the way we did," Nestor replied.

"That remains to be seen," la Gorda said cryptically.

"We were under her influence," Pablito said, standing up and pointing to la Gorda. "She had us by the napes of our necks. Now I see how stupid we've been on account of her. We can't cry over spilled milk, but we'll never fall for it again."

Lydia and Josefina joined Nestor and Pablito. Benigno and Rosa looked on as if the struggle did not concern them any more.

I had right then another moment of certainty and authoritarian behavior. I stood up, and without any conscious volition announced that I was taking charge, and that I relieved la Gorda of any further obligation to make comments or to present her ideas as the only solution.

When I finished talking, I was shocked at my boldness. Everyone including la Gorda was delighted.

The force behind my explosion had been first a physical sensation that my sinuses were opening, and second the certainty that I knew what don Juan had meant, and exactly where the place was that we had to visit before we could be free. As my sinuses opened, I had had a vision of the house that had intrigued me.

I told them where we had to go. They accepted my directions without any arguments or even comments. We checked out of the boardinghouse and went to eat dinner. Afterward we strolled around the plaza until about eleven o'clock. I brought the car around, they piled noisily inside, and we were off. La Gorda remained awake to keep me company while the rest of them went to sleep, and then Nestor drove while la Gorda and I slept.
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:10 pm

5. A Horde of Angry Sorcerers

We were in the town at the crack of dawn. At that point I took the wheel and drove toward the house. A couple of blocks before we got there, la Gorda asked me to stop. She got out of the car and began to walk on the high sidewalk. One by one, all of them got out. They followed la Gorda. Pablito came to my side and said that I should park on the plaza which was a block away. I did that.

The moment I saw la Gorda turning the corner I knew that something was wrong with her. She was extraordinarily pale. She came to me and said in a whisper that she was going to go to hear early mass. Lydia also wanted to do that. Both of them walked across the plaza and went inside the church.

Pablito, Nestor, and Benigno were as somber as I had ever seen them. Rosa was frightened; her mouth open; her eyes fixed, unblinking, looking in the direction of the house. Only Josefina was beaming. She gave me a buddy-buddy slap on the back.

"You've done it, you son of a gun!" she exclaimed. "You've knocked the tar out of these sons of bitches."

She laughed until she was nearly out of breath.

"Is this the place, Josefina?" I asked.

"It surely is," she said. "La Gorda used to go to church all the time. She was a real churchgoer at that time."

"Do you remember that house over there?" I asked, pointing to it.

"That's Silvio Manuel's house," she said.

All of us jumped upon hearing the name. I felt something similar to a mild shock of electric current going through my knees. The name was definitely not familiar to me, yet my body jumped upon hearing it. Silvio Manuel was such a rare name; so liquid a sound.

The three Genaros and Rosa were as perturbed as I was. I noticed that they were pale. Judging by what I felt, I must have been just as pale as they were.

"Who is Silvio Manuel?" I finally managed to ask Josefina.

"Now you got me," she said. "I don't know."

She reiterated that she was crazy and nothing that she said should be taken seriously. Nestor begged her to tell us whatever she remembered.

Josefina tried to think but she was not the person to perform well under pressure. I knew that she would do better if no one asked her. I proposed that we look for a bakery or a place to eat.

"They didn't let me do much in that house, that's what I remember," Josefina said all of a sudden.

She turned around as if looking for something, or as if she were orienting herself.

"Something is missing here!" she exclaimed. "This is not quite the way it used to be."

I attempted to help her by asking questions that I deemed appropriate, such as whether houses were missing or had been painted, or new ones built. But Josefina could not figure out how it was different.

We walked to the bakery and bought sweet rolls. As we were heading back to the plaza to wait for la Gorda and Lydia, Josefina suddenly hit her forehead as if an idea had just struck her.

"I know what's missing!" she shouted. "That stupid wall of fog! It used to be here then. It's gone now."

All of us spoke at once, asking her about the wall, but Josefina went on talking undisturbed, as if we were not there.

"It was a wall of fog that went all the way up to the sky," she said. "It was right here. Every time I turned my head, there it was. It drove me crazy. That's right, darn it. I wasn't nuts until I was driven crazy by that wall. I saw it with my eyes closed or with my eyes open. I thought that wall was after me."

For a moment Josefina lost her natural vivaciousness. A desperate look appeared in her eyes. I had seen that look in people who were going through a psychotic episode. I hurriedly suggested that she eat her sweet roll. She calmed down immediately and began to eat it.

"What do you think of all this, Nestor?" I asked.

"I'm scared," he said softly.

"Do you remember anything?" I asked him.

He shook his head negatively. I questioned Pablito and Benigno with a movement of my brows. They also shook their heads to say no.

"How about you, Rosa?" I asked.

Rosa jumped when she heard me addressing her. She seemed to have lost her speech. She held a sweet roll in her hand and stared at it, seemingly undecided as to what to do with it.

"Of course she remembers," Josefina said, laughing, "but she's frightened to death. Can't you see that piss is even coming out her ears?"

Josefina seemed to think her statement was the ultimate joke. She doubled up laughing and dropped her roll on the ground. She picked it up, dusted it off, and ate it.

"Crazy people eat anything," she said, slapping me on the back.

Nestor and Benigno seemed uncomfortable with Josefina's antics. Pablito was delighted. There was a look of admiration in his eyes. He shook his head and clicked his tongue as if he could not believe such grace.

"Let's go to the house," Josefina urged us. "I'll tell you all kinds of things there."

I said that we should wait for la Gorda and Lydia. Besides, it was still too early to bother the charming lady who lived there. Pablito said that in the course of his carpentry business he had been in the town and knew a house where a family prepared food for transient [* transientone who stays for only a short time] people. Josefina did not want to wait. For her, it was either going to the house or going to eat. I opted for having breakfast, and told Rosa to go into the church to get la Gorda and Lydia; but Benigno gallantly volunteered to wait for them and take them to the breakfast place. Apparently he too knew where the place was.

Pablito did not take us directly there. Instead, at my request, we made a long detour. There was an old bridge at the edge of town that I wanted to examine. I had seen it from my car the day I had come with la Gorda. Its structure seemed to be colonial. We went out on the bridge and then stopped abruptly in the middle of it. I asked a man who was standing there if the bridge was very old. He said that he had seen it all his life and he was over fifty.

I thought that the bridge held a unique fascination for me alone, but watching the others, I had to conclude that they too had been affected by it. Nestor and Rosa were panting; out of breath. Pablito was holding on to Josefina; she in turn was holding on to me.

"Do you remember anything, Josefina?" I asked.

"That devil Silvio Manuel is on the other side of this bridge," she said, pointing to the other end, some thirty feet away.

I looked Rosa in the eyes. She nodded her head affirmatively and whispered that she had once crossed that bridge in great fear and that something had been waiting to devour her at the other end.

The two men were no help. They looked at me, bewildered. Each said that he was afraid for no reason. I had to agree with them. I felt I would not dare cross that bridge at night for all the money in the world. I did not know why.

"What else do you remember, Josefina?" I asked.

"My body is very frightened now," she said. "I can't remember anything else. That devil Silvio Manuel is always in the darkness. Ask Rosa."

With a movement of my head, I invited Rosa to talk. She nodded affirmatively three or four times but could not vocalize her words. The tension I myself was experiencing was uncalled for, yet real. All of us were standing on that bridge, midway across, incapable of taking one more step in the direction Josefina had pointed.

At last Josefina took the initiative and turned around. We walked back to the center of town. Pablito guided us then to a large house. La Gorda, Lydia, and Benigno were already eating. They had even ordered food for us. I was not hungry. Pablito, Nestor, and Rosa were in a daze. Josefina ate heartily. There was an ominous silence at the table. Everybody avoided my eyes when I tried to start a conversation.

After breakfast we walked to the house. No one said a word. I knocked and when the lady came out I explained to her that I wanted to show her house to my friends. She hesitated for a moment. La Gorda gave her some money and apologized for inconveniencing her.

Josefina led us directly to the back. I had not seen that part of the house when I was there before. There was a cobbled courtyard with rooms arranged around it. Bulky farming equipment was stored away in the roofed corridors.

I had the feeling I had seen that courtyard when there was no clutter in it. There were eight rooms, two on each of the four sides of the courtyard. Nestor, Pablito, and Benigno seemed to be on the brink of getting physically ill. La Gorda was perspiring profusely. She sat down with Josefina in an alcove in one of the walls, while Lydia and Rosa went inside one of the rooms. Suddenly Nestor seemed to have an urge to find something and disappeared into another of those rooms. So did Pablito and Benigno.

I was left alone with the lady. I wanted to talk to her, ask her questions, see if she knew Silvio Manuel, but I could not muster the energy to talk. My stomach was in knots. My hands were dripping perspiration. What oppressed me was an intangible sadness, a longing for something not present, unformulated.

I could not stand it. I was about to say goodbye to the lady and walk out of the house when la Gorda came to my side. She whispered that we should sit down in a large room off a hall separate from the courtyard. The room was visible from where we were standing. We went there and stepped inside. It was a very large, empty room with a high beamed ceiling; dark but airy.

La Gorda called everyone to the room. The lady just looked at us, but did not come in herself. Everyone seemed to know precisely where to sit. The Genaros sat to the right of the door, on one side of the room, and la Gorda and the three little sisters sat to the left, on the other side. They sat close to the walls. Although I would have liked to sit next to la Gorda, I sat near the center of the room. The place seemed right to me. I did not know why, but an ulterior order seemed to have determined our places.

While I sat there, a wave of strange feelings rolled over me. I was passive and relaxed. I fancied myself to be like a moving picture screen on which alien feelings of sadness and longing were being projected. But there was nothing I could recognize as a precise memory. We stayed in that room for over an hour. Toward the end I felt I was about to uncover the source of the unearthly sadness that was making me weep almost without control. But then, as involuntarily as we had sat there, we stood up and left the house. We did not even thank the lady or say goodbye to her.

We congregated in the plaza. La Gorda stated right away that because she was formless she was still in charge. She said that she was taking this stand because of conclusions she had reached in Silvio Manuel's house. La Gorda seemed to be waiting for comments. The silence of the others was unbearable to me. I finally had to say something.

"What are the conclusions you reached in that house, Gorda?" I asked.

"I think we all know what they are," she replied in a haughty tone.

"We don't know that," I said. "Nobody has said anything yet."

"We don't have to talk, we know," la Gorda said.

I insisted that I could not take such an important event for granted. We needed to talk about our feelings. As far as I was concerned, all I had gotten out of it was a devastating sense of sadness and despair.

"The Nagual Juan Matus was right," la Gorda said. "We had to sit on that place of power to be free. I am free now. I don't know how it happened, but something was lifted off me as I sat there."

The three women agreed with her. The three men did not. Nestor said that he had been about to remember actual faces, but that no matter how hard he had tried to clear his view, something thwarted him. All he had experienced was a sense of longing and sadness at finding himself still in the world. Pablito and Benigno said more or less the same thing.

"See what I mean, Gorda?" I said.

She seemed displeased. She puffed up as I had never seen her. Or had I seen her all puffed-up before, somewhere? She harangued the group. I could not pay attention to what she was saying. I was immersed in a memory that was formless, but almost within my grasp.

To keep it going it seemed I needed a continuous flow from la Gorda. I was fixed on the sound of her voice; her anger. At a certain moment, when she was becoming more subdued, I yelled at her that she was bossy. She got truly upset. I watched her for a while. I was remembering another Gorda; another time; an angry, fat Gorda, pounding her fists on my chest. I remembered laughing at seeing her angry; humoring her like a child. The memory ended the moment la Gorda's voice stopped. She seemed to have realized what I was doing.

I addressed all of them and told them that we were in a precarious [* precarious -- affording no ease or reassurance: fraught with danger] position -- something unknown was looming over us.

"It's not looming over us," la Gorda said dryly. "It's hit us already. And I think you know what it is."

"I don't, and I think I'm also speaking for the rest of the men," I said.

The three Genaros assented with a nod.

"We have lived in that house while we were on the left side," la Gorda explained. "I used to sit in that alcove to cry because I couldn't figure out what to do. I think if I could have stayed in that room a bit longer today, I would've remembered it all. But something pushed me out of there.

"I also used to sit in that room when there were more people in there. I couldn't remember their faces, though. Yet other things became clear as I sat there today. I'm formless. Things come to me, good and bad. I, for instance, picked up my old arrogance and my desire to brood. But I also picked up other things; good things."

"Me too," Lydia said in a raspy voice.

"What are the good things?" I asked.

"I think I'm wrong in hating you," Lydia said. "My hatred will keep me from flying away. They told me that in that room, the men there and the women."

"What men and what women?" Nestor asked in a tone of fright.

"I was there when they were there, that's all I know," Lydia said. "You also were there. All of us were there."

"Who were those men and women, Lydia?" I asked.

"I was there when they were there, that's all I know," she repeated.

"How about you, Gorda?" I asked.

"I've told you already that I can't remember any faces or anything specific," she said. "But I know one thing: whatever we did in that house was on the left side. We crossed, or somebody made us cross, over the parallel lines. The weird memories we have come from that time, from that world."

Without any verbal agreement, we left the plaza and headed for the bridge. La Gorda and Lydia ran ahead of us. When we got there we found both of them standing exactly where we ourselves had stopped earlier.

"Silvio Manuel is the darkness," la Gorda whispered to me, her eyes fixed on the other end of the bridge.

Lydia was shaking. She also tried to talk to me. I could not understand what she was mouthing.

I pulled everyone back away from the bridge. I thought that perhaps if we could piece together what we knew about that place, we might have a composite that would help us understand our dilemma.

We sat on the ground a few yards away from the bridge. There were lots of people milling around, but no one paid any attention to us.

"Who's Silvio Manuel, Gorda?" I asked.

"I never heard the name until now," she said. "I don't know the man, yet I know him. Something like waves came upon me when I heard that name. Josefina told me the name when we were in the house. From that moment on, things have started to come to my mind and to my mouth, just like Josefina. I never thought I would live to find myself being like Josefina."

"Why did you say that Silvio Manuel is the darkness?" I asked.

"I have no idea," she said. "Yet all of us here know that that is the truth."

She urged the women to speak up. No one uttered a word. I picked on Rosa. She had been about to say something three or four times. I accused her of holding out on us. Her little body convulsed.

"We crossed this bridge and Silvio Manuel waited for us at the other end," she said in a voice barely audible. "I went last. When he devoured the others I heard their screams. I wanted to run away but the devil Silvio Manuel was at both ends of the bridge. There was no way to escape."

La Gorda, Lydia, and Josefina agreed. I asked whether it was just a feeling that they had had or an actual 'moment to moment' memory of something. La Gorda said that for her it had been exactly as Rosa had described it, a moment to moment memory. The other two agreed with her.

I wondered aloud what had happened with the people who lived around the bridge. If the women were screaming as Rosa said they were, the passersby must have heard them. Screaming would have caused a commotion. For a moment I felt that the whole town must have collaborated in some plot. A chill ran through me. I turned to Nestor and bluntly expressed the full scope of my fear.

Nestor said that the Nagual Juan Matus and Genaro were indeed warriors of supreme accomplishment, and as such they were solitary beings. Their contacts with people were one-to-one. There was no possibility that the entire town, or even the people who lived around the bridge were in collusion with them. For that to happen, Nestor said, all those people would have to be warriors, a most unlikely possibility. Josefina began to circle me, looking me up and down with a sneer.

"You certainly have gall," she said. "Pretending that you don't know anything, when you were here yourself. You brought us here! You pushed us onto this bridge!"

The eyes of the women became menacing. I turned to Nestor for assistance.

"I don't remember a thing," he said. "This place scares me, that's all I know."

Turning to Nestor was an excellent maneuver on my part. The women lashed out at him.

"Of course you remember!" Josefina yelled. "All of us were here. What kind of stupid ass are you?"

My inquiry required a sense of order. I moved them away from the bridge. I thought that, being the active persons they were, they would find it more relaxing to stroll and talk things out; rather than sitting, as I would have preferred.

As we walked, the women's anger vanished as quickly as it had come. Lydia and Josefina became even more talkative. They stated over and over the sense they had had that Silvio Manuel was awesome. Nevertheless, neither of them could remember being physically hurt. They only remembered being paralyzed by fear. Rosa did not say a word, but gestured her agreement with everything the others said.

I asked them if it had been night when they tried to cross the bridge. Both Lydia and Josefina said that it was daytime. Rosa cleared her throat and whispered that it was at night. La Gorda clarified the discrepancy, explaining that it had been the morning twilight, or just before.

We reached the end of a short street and automatically turned back toward the bridge.

"It's simplicity itself," la Gorda said suddenly, as if she had just thought it through. "We were crossing, or rather Silvio Manuel was making us cross, the parallel lines. That bridge is a power spot; a hole in this world; a door to the other. We went through it. It must have hurt us to go through, because my body is scared. Silvio Manuel was waiting for us on the other side. None of us remembers his face because Silvio Manuel is the darkness, and never would he show his face. We could see only his eyes."

"One eye," Rosa said quietly, and looked away.

"Everyone here, including you," la Gorda said to me, "knows that Silvio Manuel's face is in darkness. One could only hear his voice -- soft, like muffled coughing."

La Gorda stopped talking and began scrutinizing me in a way that made me feel self-conscious. Her eyes were cagey. She gave me the impression that she was holding back something she knew. I asked her. She denied it, but she admitted having scores of feelings with no foundation that she did not care to explain. I urged and then demanded that the women make an effort to recollect what had happened to them on the other side of that bridge. Each of them could remember only hearing the screams of the others.

The three Genaros remained outside our discussion. I asked Nestor if he had any idea of what had happened. His somber answer was that all of it was beyond his understanding.

I came then to a quick decision. It seemed to me that the only avenue open for us was to cross that bridge. I rallied them to walk back to the bridge and go over it as a group. The men agreed instantaneously, the women did not. After exhausting all my reasonings I finally had to push and drag Lydia, Rosa, and Josefina.

La Gorda was reluctant to go but seemed intrigued by the prospect. She moved along without helping me with the women, and so did the Genaros. They giggled nervously at my efforts to herd the little sisters, but they did not move a finger to help. We walked up to the point where we had stopped earlier.

I felt there that I was suddenly too weak to hold the three women. I yelled at la Gorda to help. She made a halfhearted attempt to catch Lydia as the group lost its cohesion and everyone of them except la Gorda scrambled, stumping and puffing, to the safety of the street. La Gorda and I stayed as if we were glued to that bridge, incapable of going forward and begrudging having to retreat.

La Gorda whispered in my ear that I should not be afraid at all because it had actually been I who had been waiting for them on the other side. She added that she was convinced I knew I was Silvio Manuel's helper, but that I did not dare to reveal it to anyone.

Right then a fury beyond my control shook my body. I felt that la Gorda had no business making those remarks or having those feelings. I grabbed her by the hair and twirled her around. I caught myself at the apex of my wrath and stopped. I apologized and hugged her.

A sober thought came to my rescue. I said to her that being a leader was getting on my nerves. The tension was becoming more and more acute as we proceeded. She did not agree with me. She held on steadfastly to her interpretation that Silvio Manuel and I were utterly close, and that upon being reminded of my master, I had reacted with anger. It was lucky that she had been entrusted to my care, she said, otherwise I probably would have thrown her off the bridge.

We turned back. The rest of them were safely off the bridge, staring at us with unmistakable fear. A very peculiar state of timelessness seemed to prevail. There were no people around. We must have been on that bridge for at least five minutes and not a single person had crossed it or even come in sight. Then all of a sudden people were moving around as on any thoroughfare during the busy hours.

Without a word, we walked back to the plaza. We were dangerously weak. I had a vague desire to remain in the town a bit longer, but we got in the car and drove east, toward the Atlantic coast. Nestor and I took turns driving, stopping only for gasoline and to eat, until we reached Veracruz.

That city was neutral ground for us. I had been there only once. None of the others had ever been there. La Gorda believed that such an unknown city was the proper place to shed their old wrappings. We checked into a hotel, and there they proceeded to rip their old clothes to shreds. The excitation of a new city did wonders for their morale and their feeling of well-being.

Our next stop was Mexico City. We stayed at a hotel by the Alameda Park where don Juan and I had once stayed. For two days we were perfect tourists. We shopped and visited as many tourist spots as possible. The women looked simply stunning. Benigno bought a camera in a pawn shop. He took four hundred and twenty-five shots without any film.

At one place, while we were admiring the stupendous mosaics on the walls, a security guard asked me where those gorgeous foreign women were from. He assumed I was a tourist guide. I told him that they were from Sri Lanka. He believed me and marveled at the fact that they almost looked Mexican.

The following day at ten o'clock in the morning we were at the airline office into which don Juan had once pushed me. When he shoved me I had gone in through one door and come out through another; not to the street, as I should have, but to a market at least a mile away, where I had watched the activities of the people there.

La Gorda speculated that the airline office was also, like that bridge, a power spot, a door to cross from one parallel line to the other. She said that evidently the Nagual had pushed me through that opening but I got caught midway between the two worlds, in between the lines. Thus I had watched the activity in the market without being part of it. She said that the Nagual, of course, had intended to push me all the way through, but my willfulness thwarted him and I ended back on the line I came from; this world.

We walked from the airline office to the market and from there to the Alameda Park where don Juan and I had sat after our experience at the office. I had been in that park with don Juan many times. I felt it was the most appropriate place to talk about the course of our future actions.

It was my intention to summarize everything we had done in order to let the power of that place decide what our next step would be. After our deliberate attempt at crossing the bridge, I had tried unsuccessfully to think out a way to handle my companions as a group. We sat on some stone steps and I started off with the idea that for me knowledge was fused with words. I told them that it was my earnest belief that if an event or experience was not formulated into a concept, it was condemned to dissipate. I asked them therefore to give me their individual assessments of our situation.

Pablito was the first one to talk. I found that odd, since he had been extraordinarily quiet up until now. He apologized because what he was going to say was not something he had remembered or felt, but a conclusion based on everything he knew.

He said that he saw no problem in understanding what the women said had happened on that bridge. It had been, Pablito maintained, a matter of being compelled to cross from the right side, the tonal, to the left side, the nagual. What had scared everyone was the fact that someone else was in control, forcing the crossing.

He saw no problem either in accepting that I had been the one who had then helped Silvio Manuel. He backed up his conclusion with the statement that only two days earlier he had seen me doing the same thing; pushing everyone onto the bridge. That time I had had no one to help me on the other side; no Silvio Manuel to pull them.

I tried to change the topic and began to explain to them that to forget the way we had forgotten was called amnesia. The little I knew about amnesia was not enough to shed any light on our case, but enough to make me believe that we could not forget as if on command. I told them that someone, possibly don Juan, must have done something unfathomable to us. I wanted to find out exactly what that had been.

Pablito insisted that it was important for me to understand that it was I who had been in cahoots with Silvio Manuel. He intimated then that Lydia and Josefina had talked to him about the role I had played in forcing them to cross the parallel lines.

I did not feel comfortable discussing that subject. I commented that I had never heard about the parallel lines until the day I spoke with dona Soledad; yet I had had no qualms about immediately adopting the idea. I told them that I knew in a flash what she meant. I even became convinced I had crossed them myself when I thought I remembered her. Every one of the others, with the exception of la Gorda, said that the first time they had heard about parallel lines was when I spoke of them. La Gorda said that she had first learned about them from dona Soledad, just before I did.

Pablito made an attempt to talk about my relationship with Silvio Manuel. I interrupted him. I said that while all of us were at the bridge trying to cross it, I had failed to recognize that I and presumably all of them -- had entered into a state of non-ordinary reality.

I only became aware of the change when I realized that there were no other people on the bridge. Only the eight of us had stood there. It had been a clear day, but suddenly the skies became cloudy and the light of the midmorning turned to dusk. I had been so busy with my fears and personalistic interpretations then that I had failed to notice the awesome change.

When we retreated from the bridge I perceived that other people were again walking around. But what had happened to them when we were attempting our crossing?

La Gorda and the rest of them had not noticed anything -- in fact they had not been aware of any changes until the very moment I described them. All of them stared at me with a mixture of annoyance and fear. Pablito again took the lead and accused me of trying to railroad them into something they did not want. He was not specific about what that might be, but his eloquence was enough to rally the others behind him.

Suddenly I had a horde of angry sorcerers on me. It took me a long time to explain my need to examine from every possible point of view something so strange and engulfing as our experience on the bridge. They finally calmed down, not so much because they were convinced, but from emotional fatigue. All of them, la Gorda included, had vehemently supported Pablito's stand.

Nestor advanced another line of reasoning. He suggested that I was possibly an unwilling envoy who did not fully realize the scope of my actions. He added that he could not bring himself to believe, as the others did, that I was aware that I had been left with the task of misleading them. He felt that I did not really know that I was leading them to their destruction, yet I was doing just that.

He thought that there were two ways of crossing the parallel lines; one by means of someone else's power, and the other by one's own power. His final conclusion was that Silvio Manuel had made them cross by frightening them so intensely that some of them did not even remember having done it. The task left for them to accomplish was to cross on their own power; mine was to thwart them.

Benigno spoke then. He said that in his opinion the last thing don Juan did to the male apprentices was to help us cross the parallel lines by making us jump into an abyss. Benigno believed that we already had a great deal of knowledge about the crossing, but that it was not yet time to accomplish it again. At the bridge they were incapable of taking one more step because the time was not right.

They were correct, therefore, in believing that I had tried to destroy them by forcing them to cross. He thought that going over the parallel lines in full awareness meant a final step for all of them, a step to be taken only when they were ready to disappear from this earth.

Lydia faced me next. She did not make any assessments, but challenged me to remember how I had first lured her to the bridge. She blatantly stated that I was not the Nagual Juan Matus's apprentice but Silvio Manuel's; that Silvio Manuel and I had devoured each other's bodies.

I had another attack of rage, as with la Gorda on the bridge. I caught myself in time. A logical thought calmed me. I said to myself over and over that I was interested in analyses. [* analyses -- an investigation of the component parts of a whole]

I explained to Lydia that it was useless to taunt me like that. She did not want to stop. She yelled that Silvio Manuel was my master and that this was the reason I was not part of them at all. Rosa added that Silvio Manuel gave me everything I was.

I questioned Rosa's choice of words. I told her that she should have said that Silvio Manuel gave me everything I had. She defended her wording. Silvio Manuel had given me what I was. Even la Gorda backed her up and said that she remembered a time when I had gotten so ill that I had no resources left; everything in me was exhausted. It was then that Silvio Manuel had taken over and pumped new life into my body.

La Gorda said that I was indeed better off knowing my true origins than proceeding, as I had done so far, on the assumption that it was the Nagual Juan Matus who had helped me. She insisted that I was fixed on the Nagual because of his predilection for words. Silvio Manuel, on the other hand, was the silent darkness. She explained that in order to follow him I would need to cross the parallel lines. But to follow the Nagual Juan Matus, all I needed to do was to talk about him.

What they were saying was nothing but nonsense to me. I was about to make what I thought was a very good point about it when my line of reasoning became literally scrambled. I could not think what my point had been, although only a second before, it was clarity itself.

Instead, a most curious memory beset me. It was not a feeling of something, but the actual hard memory of an event. I remembered that once I was with don Juan and another man whose face I could not remember. The three of us were talking about something I was perceiving as a feature of the world. It was three or four yards to my right and it was an inconceivable bank of yellowish fog that, as far as I could tell, divided the world in two.

It went from the ground up to the sky, to infinity. While I talked to the two men, the half of the world to my left was intact and the half to my right was veiled in fog. I remembered that I had oriented myself with the aid of landmarks and realized that the axis of the bank of fog went from east to west. Everything to the north of that line was the world as I knew it. I remembered asking don Juan what had happened to the world south of the line. Don Juan made me turn a few degrees to my right, and I saw that the wall of fog moved as I turned my head. The world was divided in two at a level my intellect could not comprehend. The division seemed real, but the boundary was not on a physical plane. It had to be somehow in myself. Or was it?

There was still one more facet to this memory. The other man said that it was a great accomplishment to divide the world in two, but it was an even greater accomplishment when a warrior had the serenity and control to stop the rotation of that wall. He said that the wall was not inside us. It was certainly out in the world, dividing it in two, and rotating when we moved our heads as if it were stuck to our right temples. The great accomplishment of keeping the wall from turning enabled the warrior to face the wall and gave him the power to go through it anytime he so desired.

When I told the apprentices what I had just remembered, the women were convinced that the other man was Silvio Manuel. Josefina, as a connoisseur of the wall of fog, explained that the advantage Eligio had over everyone else was his capacity to make the wall stand still so he could go through it at will. She added that it is easier to pierce the wall of fog in dreaming because then it does not move.

La Gorda seemed to be touched by a series of perhaps painful memories. Her body jumped involuntarily until finally she exploded into words. She said that it was no longer possible for her to deny the fact that I was Silvio Manuel's helper.

The Nagual himself had warned her that I would enslave her if she was not careful. Even Soledad had told her to watch me because my spirit took prisoners and kept them as servants; a thing only Silvio Manuel would do. He had enslaved me and I in turn would enslave anyone who came close to me. She asserted that she had lived under my spell up to the moment she sat in that room in Silvio Manuel's house when something was suddenly lifted off her shoulders.

I stood up and literally staggered under the impact of la Gorda's words. There was a vacuum in my stomach. I had been convinced that I could count on her for support under any conditions. I felt betrayed. I thought it would be appropriate to let them know my feelings, but a sense of sobriety came to my rescue. I told them instead that it had been my dispassionate conclusion, as a warrior, that don Juan had changed the course of my life for the better. I had assessed over and over what he had done to me, and the conclusion had always been the same. He had brought me freedom. Freedom was all I knew, all I could bring to anyone who might come to me.

Nestor made a gesture of solidarity with me. He exhorted the women to abandon their animosity toward me. He looked at me with the eyes of one who does not understand but wants to. He said that I did not belong with them; that I was indeed a solitary bird. They had needed me for a moment in order to break their boundaries of affection and routine. Now that they were free, the sky was their limit. To remain with me would doubtlessly be pleasant but deadly for them.

He seemed to be deeply moved. He came to my side and put his hand on my shoulder. He said that he had the feeling we were not going to see each other ever again on this earth. He regretted that we were going to part like petty people; bickering, complaining, accusing.

He told me that speaking on behalf of the others, but not for himself, he was going to ask me to leave, for we had no more possibilities in being together. He added that he had laughed at la Gorda for telling us about the snake we had formed. He had changed his mind and no longer found the idea ridiculous. It had been our last opportunity to succeed as a group.

Don Juan had taught me to accept my fate in humbleness.

"The course of a warrior's destiny is unalterable," he once said to me. "The challenge is how far he can go within those rigid bounds; how impeccable he can be within those rigid bounds. If there are obstacles in his path, the warrior strives impeccably to overcome them. If he finds unbearable hardship and pain on his path, he weeps. But all his tears put together could not move the line of his destiny the breadth of one hair."

My original decision to let the power of that place point out our next step had been correct. I stood up. The others turned their heads away. La Gorda came to my side and said, as if nothing had happened, that I should leave and that she would catch up with me and join me at a later time. I wanted to retort that I saw no reason for her to join me. She had chosen to join the others.

She seemed to read my feeling of having been betrayed. She calmly assured me that we had to fulfill our fate together as warriors and not as the petty people we were.
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:29 am

Part Two: The Art of 'Dreaming'

6. Losing the Human Form


A few months later, after helping everyone to resettle in different parts of Mexico, la Gorda took up residence in Arizona. We began then to unravel the strangest and most engulfing part of our apprenticeship.

At first our relationship was rather strained. It was very difficult for me to overcome my feelings about the way we had parted in the Alameda Park. Although la Gorda knew the whereabouts of the others, she never said anything to me. She felt that it would have been superfluous [* superfluous -- serving no useful purpose] for me to know about their activities.

On the surface, everything seemed to be all right between la Gorda and me. Nevertheless, I held a bitter resentment toward her for siding with the others against me. I did not express it, but it was always there. I helped her, and did everything for her as if nothing had happened; but that entered under the heading of impeccability. It was my duty. To fulfill that duty, I would have gladly gone to my death. I purposely absorbed myself in guiding and coaching her in the intricacies of modern city living. She was even learning English. Her progress was phenomenal. [* phenomenal -- exceedingly or unbelievably great]

Three months went by almost unnoticed. But one day while I was in Los Angeles, I woke up in the early morning hours with an unbearable pressure in my head. It was not a headache: It was rather a very intense weight in my ears. I felt it also on my eyelids and the roof of my mouth. I knew I was feverish, but the heat was only in my head. I made a feeble attempt to sit up. The thought crossed my mind that I was having a stroke. My first reaction was to call for help, but somehow I calmed down and tried to let go of my fear.

After a while, the pressure in my head began to diminish, but it also began to shift to my throat. I gasped for air -- gagging and coughing for some time. The pressure moved slowly to my chest, then to my stomach, to my groin, to my legs, and to my feet before it finally left my body.

Whatever had happened to me had taken about two hours to unfold. During the course of those two grueling hours, it was as if something inside my body was actually moving downward; moving out of me. I fancied it to be rolling up like a carpet. Another image that occurred to me was of a blob moving inside the cavity of my body.

I discarded that image in favor of the first because the feeling was of something being coiled within itself. Just like a carpet being rolled up, it became heavier and thus more painful as it went down. The two areas where the pain became excruciating were my knees and my feet, especially my right foot which remained hot for thirty-five minutes after all the pain and pressure had vanished.

La Gorda, upon hearing my report, said that this time for certain I had lost my human form; that I had dropped all my shields, or most of them. She was right. Without knowing how or even realizing what had happened, I found myself in a most unfamiliar state. I felt detached; unbiased.

It did not matter what la Gorda had done to me. It was not that I had forgiven her for her reproachable behavior with me. It was as if there had never been any betrayal. There was no overt or covert rancor left in me for la Gorda, or for anyone else.

What I felt was not a willed indifference, nor negligence to act. Neither was it alienation, nor even the desire to be alone. Rather, it was an alien feeling of aloofness; a capability of immersing myself in the moment, and of having no thoughts whatever about anything else.

People's actions no longer affected me because I had no more expectations of any kind. A strange peace became the ruling force in my life. I felt I had somehow adopted one of the concepts of a warrior's life: detachment.

La Gorda said that I had done more than adopt it: I had actually embodied it.

Don Juan and I had had long discussions on the possibility that someday I would do just that. He had said that detachment did not automatically mean wisdom, but that it was, nonetheless, an advantage because it allowed the warrior to pause momentarily to reassess situations; to reconsider positions. In order to use that extra moment consistently and correctly, however, he said that a warrior had to struggle unyieldingly for a lifetime.

I had despaired that I would never experience that feeling. As far as I could determine, there was no way to improvise it. It had been useless for me to think about its benefits, or to reason out the possibilities of its advent. [* advent -- an arrival that has been awaited; especially of something momentous]

During the years I had known don Juan, I certainly experienced a steady lessening of personal ties with the world; but that had taken place on an intellectual plane. In my everyday life, I was unchanged until the moment I lost my human form.

I speculated with la Gorda that the concept of losing the human form refers to a bodily condition that besets the apprentice upon his reaching a certain threshold in the course of training.

Be that as it may, the end result of losing the human form for la Gorda and myself, oddly enough, was not only the sought-after and coveted sense of detachment, but also the fulfillment of our elusive task of remembering.

And again in this case, the intellect played a minimal part.

One night la Gorda and I were discussing a movie. She had gone to see an X-rated movie, and I was eager to hear her description of it. She had not liked it at all. She maintained that it was a weakening experience because being a warrior entailed leading an austere [* austereseverely simple, stern, or strict in bearing or demeanour] life in total celibacy, [* celibacyabstaining from sexual relations] like the Nagual Juan Matus.

I told her that I knew for a fact that don Juan liked women, and was not celibate; and that I found that delightful.

"You're insane!" she exclaimed with a tinge of amusement in her voice. "The Nagual was a perfect warrior. He was not caught up in any webs of sensuality."

She wanted to know why I thought don Juan was not celibate. I told her about an incident that had taken place in Arizona at the beginning of my apprenticeship.

I had been resting at don Juan's house one day after an exhausting hike. Don Juan appeared to be strangely nervous. He kept getting up to look out the door. He seemed to be waiting for someone.

Then, quite abruptly, he told me that a car had just come around the bend in the road, and was heading for the house. He said that it was a girl -- a friend of his who was bringing him some blankets. I had never seen don Juan embarrassed, and I felt terribly sad to see him so upset that he did not know what to do.

I thought that he did not want me to meet the girl. I suggested that I might hide, but there was no place to conceal myself in the room. So he made me lie down on the floor, and covered me with a straw mat. I heard the sound of a car motor being turned off, and then through the slits in the mat I saw a girl standing at the door. She was tall, slender, and very young. I thought she was beautiful. Don Juan was saying something to her in a low, intimate voice. Then he turned and pointed at me.

"Carlos is hiding under the mat," he said to the girl in a loud clear voice. "Say hello to him."

The girl waved at me, and said hello with the friendliest smile. I felt stupid and angry at don Juan for putting me in that embarrassing position. It seemed obvious to me that he was trying to alleviate his nervousness; or even worse, that he was showing off in front of me.

When the girl left, I angrily asked for an explanation. He candidly said that he had gotten carried away because my feet were showing, and he did not know what else to do. When I heard this, his whole maneuver became clear. He had been showing off his young friend to me. I could not possibly have had my feet uncovered because they were tucked under my thighs. I laughed knowingly, and don Juan seemed obligated to explain that he liked women, especially that girl.

I never forgot the incident. Don Juan never discussed it, and whenever I brought it up, he always made me stop. I wondered almost obsessively about that young woman. I had hopes that someday she might look me up after reading my books.

La Gorda had become very agitated. She was pacing back and forth in the room while I talked. She was about to weep. I imagined all sorts of intricate networks of relationships that might be at stake. I thought la Gorda was possessive, and was reacting like a woman threatened by another woman.

"Are you jealous, Gorda:" I asked.

"Don't be stupid," she said angrily. "I'm a formless warrior. I've no envy or jealousy left in me."

I brought up something that the Genaros had told me; that la Gorda was the Nagual's woman. Her voice became barely audible.

"I think I was," she said, and with a vague look she sat on her bed. "I have a feeling that I was. I don't know how though. In this life, the Nagual Juan Matus was to me what he was to you. He was not a man. He was the Nagual. He had no interest in sex."

I assured her that I had heard don Juan express his liking for that girl.

"Did he say that he had sex with her?" la Gorda asked.

"No, he didn't, but it was obvious from the way he talked," I said.

"You would like the Nagual to be like you, wouldn't you?" she asked with a sneer. "The Nagual was an impeccable warrior."

I thought I was right, and did not need to review my opinion. Just to humor la Gorda, I said that perhaps the young woman was, if not his mistress, don Juan's apprentice.

There was a long pause. What I had said had a disturbing effect on me. Until that moment I had never thought about such a possibility. I had been locked into a prejudgment allowing myself no room for revision.

La Gorda asked me to describe the young woman. I could not do it. I had not really looked at her features. I had been too annoyed; too embarrassed to examine her in detail. The young woman also seemed to have been struck by the awkwardness of the situation, and she had hurried out of the house.

La Gorda said that, without any logical reason, she felt that the young woman was a key figure in the Nagual's life. Her statement led us to talking about don Juan's known friends. We struggled for hours trying to piece together all the information we had about his associates. I told her about the different times don Juan had taken me to participate in peyote ceremonies. I described everyone who was there. She recognized none of them. I realized then that I might know more people associated with don Juan than she did.

But something I had said triggered her recollection of a time when she had seen a young woman driving the Nagual and Genaro in a small white car. The woman let the two men off at the door of la Gorda's house, and she stared at la Gorda before she drove away. La Gorda thought that the young woman was someone who had given the Nagual and Genaro a lift. I remembered then that I had gotten up from under the straw mat at don Juan's house just in time to see a white Volkswagen driving away.

I mentioned one more incident involving another of don Juan's friends; a man who had given me some peyote plants once in the market of a city in northern Mexico. He had also obsessed me for years. His name was Vicente.

Upon hearing that name, la Gorda's body reacted as if a nerve had been touched. Her voice became shrill. She asked me to repeat the name, and describe the man. Again I could not come up with any description. I had seen the man only once for a few minutes more than ten years before.

La Gorda and I went through a period of almost being angry; not at one another, but at whatever was keeping us imprisoned.

The final incident that precipitated our full-fledged remembering came one day when I had a cold, and was running a high fever. I had stayed in bed, dozing off and on, with thoughts rambling aimlessly in my mind. The melody of an old Mexican song had been running through my head all day.

At one moment, I was dreaming that someone was playing it on a guitar. I complained about the monotony of it, and whoever I was protesting to, thrust the guitar toward my stomach. I jumped back to avoid being hit, and bumped my head on the wall: I woke up then.

It had not been a vivid dream. Only the tune had been haunting. I could not dispel the sound of the guitar. It kept running through my mind. I remained half awake listening to the tune. It seemed as if I were entering into a state of dreaming.

Then, a complete and detailed dreaming scene appeared in front of my eyes. In the scene there was a young woman sitting next to me. I could distinguish every detail of her features. I did not know who she was, but seeing her shocked me.

I was fully awake in one instant. The anxiety that her face created in me was so intense that I got up, and quite automatically I began to pace back and forth. I was perspiring profusely and I dreaded to leave my room. I could not call la Gorda for help either. She had gone back to Mexico for a few days to see Josefina. I tied a sheet around my waist to brace my midsection. It helped to subdue some ripples of nervous energy that went through me.

As I paced back and forth, the image in my mind began to dissolve; not into peaceful oblivion as I would have liked, but into an intricate full-fledged memory.

I remembered that one time I had been sitting on some sacks of wheat or barley stacked up in a grain bin. The young woman was singing the old Mexican song that had been running in my mind while she played a guitar. When I joked about her playing, she nudged me in the ribs with the butt of the guitar. There had been other people sitting with me; la Gorda and two men. I knew those men very well, but I still could not remember who the young woman was. I tried but it seemed hopeless.

I lay down again drenched in a cold sweat. I wanted to rest for a moment before I got out of my soaked pajamas. As I rested my head on a high pillow, my memory seemed to clear up further, and then I knew who the guitar player was. She was the Nagual woman; the most important being on earth for la Gorda and myself. She was the feminine analogue [* analogue -- somrthing equivalent in some respects, though otherwise dissimilar] of the Nagual man; not his wife or his woman, but his counterpart. She had the serenity and command of a true leader. Being a woman, she nurtured us.

I did not dare to push my memory too far. I knew intuitively that I did not have the strength to withstand the full recollection. I stopped on the level of abstract feelings. I knew that she was the embodiment of the purest, most unbiased, and profound affection. It would be most appropriate to say that la Gorda and I loved the Nagual woman more than life itself. What on earth had happened to us to have forgotten her?

That night lying on my bed I became so agitated that I feared for my very life. I began to chant some words which became a guiding force to me. Only when I had calmed down did I remember that the words I had said to myself over and over were also a memory that had come back to me that night; the memory of a formula; an incantation to pull me through an upheaval such as the one I had experienced.

I am already given to the power that rules my fate.

And I cling to nothing, so I will have nothing to defend.

I have no thoughts, so I will see.

I fear nothing, so I will remember myself.

The formula had one more line, which at the time was incomprehensible to me.

Detached and at ease, I will dart past the Eagle to be free.

Being sick and feverish may have served as a cushion of sorts. It may have been enough to deviate the main impact of what I had done; or rather, of what had come upon me since I had not intentionally done anything.

Up to that night, if my inventory of experience had been examined, I could have accounted for the continuity of my existence. The nebulous [* nebulous -- lacking definite form or limits] memories I had of la Gorda, or the presentiment [* presentiment -- a feeling of evil to come] of having lived in that house in the mountains of central Mexico were in a way real threats to the idea of my continuity.

But those memories were nothing in comparison to remembering the Nagual woman; not so much because of the emotions that the memory itself brought back, but because I had forgotten her; and not as one forgets a name or a tune.

There had been nothing about her in my mind prior to that moment of revelation. Nothing! And then something had come upon me, or something had fallen off me, and I found myself remembering her; a most important being, who from the point of view of my experiential self prior to that moment, I had never met.

I had to wait two more days for la Gorda's return before I could tell her about my recollection. The moment I described the Nagual woman, la Gorda remembered her. La Gorda's awareness was somehow dependent on mine.

"The girl I saw in the white car was the Nagual woman!" la Gorda exclaimed. "She came back to me and I couldn't remember her."

I heard the words and understood their meaning, but it took a long time for my mind to focus on what she had said. My attention wavered. It was as if a light was actually placed in front of my eyes, and was being dimmed. I had the notion that if I did not stop the dimming, I would die. Suddenly I felt a convulsion and I knew that I had put together two pieces of myself that had become separated. I realized that the young woman I had seen at don Juan's house was the Nagual woman.

In that moment of emotional upheaval, la Gorda was no help to me. Her mood was contagious. She was weeping without restraint. The emotional shock of remembering the Nagual woman had been traumatic to her.

"How could I have forgotten her?" la Gorda sighed.

I caught a glint of suspicion in her eyes as she faced me.

"You had no idea that she existed, did you?" she asked.

Under any other conditions, I would have thought that her question was impertinent and insulting; but I was wondering the same about her. It had occurred to me that she might have known more than she was revealing.

"No. I didn't," I said. "But how about you, Gorda? Did you know that she existed?"

Her face had such a look of innocence and perplexity that my doubts were dispelled.

"No," she replied. "Not until today. I know now for a fact that I used to sit with her and the Nagual Juan Matus on that bench in the plaza in Oaxaca. I always remembered having done that, and I remembered her features; but I thought I had dreamed it all. I knew everything, and yet I didn't. But why did I think it was a dream?"

I had a moment of panic. Then I had the perfect physical certainty that as she spoke a channel opened somewhere in my body. Suddenly I knew that I also used to sit on that bench with don Juan and the Nagual woman.

I remembered then a sensation I had experienced on every one of those occasions. It was a sense of physical contentment, happiness, and plenitude that would be impossible to imagine. I thought that don Juan and the Nagual woman were perfect beings, and that to be in their company was indeed my great fortune.

Sitting on that bench, flanked by the most exquisite beings on earth, I experienced perhaps the epitome of my human sentiments. One time I told don Juan, and I meant it, that I wanted to die then so as to keep that feeling pure, intact, and free from disruption.

I told la Gorda about my memory. She said that she understood what I meant. We were quiet for a moment and then the thrust of our remembering swayed us dangerously toward sadness; even despair. I had to exert the most extraordinary control over my emotions not to weep. La Gorda was sobbing, covering her face with her forearm.

After a while we became more calm. La Gorda stared into my eyes. I knew what she was thinking. It was as if I could read her questions in her eyes. They were the same questions that had obsessed me for days. Who was the Nagual woman? Where had we met her? Where did she fit? Did the others know her too?

I was just about to voice my questions when la Gorda interrupted me.

"I really don't know," she said quickly, beating me to the question. "I was counting on you to tell me. I don't know why, but I feel that you can tell me what's what."

She was counting on me, and I was counting on her. We laughed at the irony of our situation. I asked her to tell me everything she remembered about the Nagual woman. La Gorda made efforts to say something two or three times, but seemed to be unable to organize her thoughts.

"I really don't know where to start," she said. "I only know that I loved her."

I told her that I had the same feeling. An unearthly sadness gripped me every time I thought of the Nagual woman. As I was talking, my body began to shake.

"You and I loved her," la Gorda said. "I don't know why I'm saying this, but I know that she owned us."

I prodded her to explain that statement. She could not determine why she had said it. She was talking nervously; elaborating on her feelings. I could no longer pay attention to her. I felt a fluttering in my solar plexus. A vague memory of the Nagual woman started to form. I urged la Gorda to keep on talking; to repeat herself if she had nothing else to say, but not to stop. The sound of her voice seemed to act for me as a conduit into another dimension; another kind of time.

It was as if blood was rushing through my body with an unusual pressure. I felt a prickling all over, and then I had an odd bodily memory. I knew in my body that the Nagual woman was the being who made the Nagual complete. She brought to the Nagual peace, plenitude, and a sense of being protected and delivered.

I told la Gorda that I had the insight that the Nagual woman was don Juan's partner. La Gorda looked at me aghast. She slowly shook her head from side to side.

"She had nothing to do with the Nagual Juan Matus, you idiot," she said with a tone of ultimate authority. "She was for you. That's why you and I belonged to her."

La Gorda and I stared into each other's eyes. I was certain that she was involuntarily voicing thoughts which rationally did not mean anything to her.

"What do you mean, she was for me, Gorda?" I asked after a long silence.

"She was your partner," she said. "You two were a team; and I was her ward; and she entrusted you to deliver me to her someday."

I begged la Gorda to tell me all she knew, but she did not seem to know anything else. I felt exhausted.

"Where did she go?" la Gorda said suddenly. "I just can't figure that out. She was with you, not with the Nagual. She should be here with us now."

She had then another attack of disbelief and fear. She accused me of hiding the Nagual woman in Los Angeles. I tried to ease her apprehensions. I surprised myself by talking to la Gorda as if she were a child.

She listened to me with all the outward signs of complete attention. Her eyes, however, were vacant; out of focus. It occurred to me then that she was using the sound of my voice just as I had used hers; as a conduit. I knew that she was also aware of it.

I kept on talking until I had run out of things to say within the bounds of our topic. Something else took place then, and I found myself half listening to the sound of my own voice. I was talking to la Gorda without any volition on my part. Words that seemed to have been bottled up inside me, now free, reached indescribable levels of absurdity. I talked and talked until something made me stop.

I had remembered that don Juan told the Nagual woman and me while we were on that bench in Oaxaca about a particular human being whose presence had synthesized for him all that he could aspire or expect from human companionship. It was a woman who had been for him what the Nagual woman was for me; a partner; a counterpart. She left him, just as the Nagual woman left me. His feelings for her were unchanged, and were rekindled by the melancholy that certain poems evoked in him.

I also remembered that it was the Nagual woman who used to supply me with books of poetry. She kept stacks of them in the trunk of her car. It was at her instigation [* instigationthe verbal act of urging on] that I read poems to don Juan.

Suddenly the physical memory of the Nagual woman sitting with me on that bench was so clear that I took an involuntary gasp of air. My chest swelled. An oppressive sense of lossgreater than any feeling I had ever had -- took possession of me. I bent over with a ripping pain in my right shoulder blade. There was something else I knew; a memory which part of me did not want to release.

I became involved with whatever was left of my shield of intellectuality as the only means to recover my equanimity. I said to myself over and over that la Gorda and I had been operating all along on two absolutely different planes. She remembered a great deal more than I did, but she was not inquisitive. She had not been trained to ask questions of others or of herself.

But then the thought struck me that I was no better off. I was still as sloppy as don Juan had once said I was. I had never forgotten reading poetry to don Juan, and yet it had never occurred to me to examine the fact that I had never owned a book of Spanish poetry, nor did I ever carry one in my car.

La Gorda brought me out of my ruminations. [* ruminations -- calm, lengthy, and intense mental considerations] She was almost hysterical. She shouted that she had just figured out that the Nagual woman had to be somewhere very near us. Just as we had been left to find one another, the Nagual woman had been left to find us.

The force of her reasoning almost convinced me. Something in me knew, nevertheless, that it was not so. In fact, that was the memory that was inside me which I did not dare to bring out.

I wanted to start a debate with la Gorda, but there was no reason. My shield of intellect and words was insufficient to absorb the impact of remembering the Nagual woman. Its effect was staggering to me; more devastating than even the fear of dying.

"The Nagual woman is shipwrecked somewhere," la Gorda said meekly. "She's probably marooned, and we're doing nothing to help her."

"No! No!" I yelled. "She's not here any more." I did not exactly know why I had said that, yet I knew that it was true. We sank for a moment into depths of melancholy that would be impossible to fathom rationally. For the first time in the memory of the me I know, I felt a true, boundless sadness; a dreadful incompleteness. There was a wound somewhere in me that had been opened again.

This time I could not take refuge -- as I had done so many times in the past -- behind a veil of mystery and not knowing. Not to know had been bliss to me. For a moment, I was dangerously sliding into despondency. La Gorda stopped me.

"A warrior is someone who seeks freedom," she said in my ear. "Sadness is not freedom. We must snap out of it."

Having a sense of detachment, as don Juan had said, entails having a moment's pause to reassess situations. At the depth of my sadness, I understood what he meant. I had the detachment. It was up to me to strive to use that pause correctly.

I could not be sure whether or not my volition [* volition -- he capability of conscious choice and intention] played a role, but all of a sudden my sadness vanished. It was as if it had never existed. The speed of my change of mood, and its thoroughness, alarmed me.

"Now you are where I am!" la Gorda exclaimed when I described what had happened. "After all these years, I still haven't learned how to handle formlessness. I shift helplessly from one feeling to another in one instant. Because of my formlessness, I could help the little sisters, but I was also at their mercy. Any one of them was strong enough to make me sway from one extreme to the other.

"The problem was that I lost my human form before you did. If you and I had lost it together, we could have helped each other. As it was, I went up and down faster than I care to remember."

I had to admit that her claim of being formless had always seemed spurious [* spuriousplausible but false; intended to deceive] to me. In my understanding, losing the human form included a necessary concomitant; [* concomitant -- an event or situation that happens at the same time as, or in connection with another] namely, a consistency of character which was, in light of her emotional ups and downs, beyond her reach.

On account of that, I had judged her harshly and unjustly. Having lost my human form, I was now in a position to understand that formlessness is, if anything, a detriment to sobriety and levelheadedness. There is no automatic emotional strength involved in it. An aspect of being detached, the capacity to become immersed in whatever one is doing, naturally extends to everything one does, including being inconsistent, and outright petty. The advantage of being formless is that it allows us a moment's pause, providing that we have the self-discipline and courage to utilize it.

At last la Gorda's past behavior became comprehensible to me. She had been formless for years, but without the self-discipline required. Thus she had been at the mercy of drastic shifts of mood; and incredible discrepancies between her actions and her purposes.

After our initial recollection of the Nagual woman, la Gorda and I summoned all our forces and tried for days to elicit more memories, but there seemed to be none. I myself was back where I had been before I had begun to remember. I intuited that there should be a great deal more somehow buried in me, but I could not get to it. My mind was void of even the vaguest inkling of any other memories.

La Gorda and I went through a period of tremendous confusion and doubt. In our case, being formless meant to be ravaged by the worst distrust imaginable. We felt that we were guinea pigs in the hands of don Juan; a being supposedly familiar to us, but about whom in reality we knew nothing.

We fueled each other with doubts and fears. The most serious issue was of course the Nagual woman. When we would focus our attention on her, our memory of her became so keen that it was past comprehension that we could have forgotten her.

This would give rise over and over to speculations of what don Juan had really done to us. These conjectures led very easily to the feeling that we had been used. We became enraged by the unavoidable conclusion that he had manipulated us, and had rendered us helpless and unknown to ourselves.

When our rage was exhausted, fear began to loom over us -- for we were faced with the awesome possibility that don Juan might have done still more deleterious [* deleteriousharmful to living things] things to us.
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:31 am

7. 'Dreaming' Together

One day, in order to alleviate our distress momentarily, I suggested that we immerse ourselves in dreaming. As soon as I voiced my suggestion, I became aware that a gloom which had been haunting me for days could be drastically altered by willing the change. I clearly understood then that the problem with la Gorda and myself had been that we had unwittingly focused on fear and distrust, as if those were the only possible options available to us, while all along we had had, without consciously knowing it, the alternative of deliberately centering our attention on the opposite; the mystery, the wonder of what had happened to us.

I told la Gorda my realization. She agreed immediately. She became instantly animated, the pall of her gloom dispelled in a matter of seconds.

"What kind of dreaming do you propose we should do?" she asked.

"How many kinds are there?" I asked.

"We could do dreaming together," she replied. "My body tells me that we have done this already. We have gone into dreaming as a team. It'll be a cinch for us -- as it was for us to see together."

"But we don't know what the procedure is to do dreaming together," I said.

"We didn't know how to see together and yet we saw," she said. "I'm sure that if we try we can do it, because there are no steps to anything a warrior does. There is only personal power. And right now we have it.

"We should start out dreaming from two different places as far away as possible from each other. The one who goes into dreaming first waits for the other. Once we find each other, we interlock our arms and go deeper in together."

I told her that I had no idea how to wait for her if I went into dreaming ahead of her. She herself could not explain what was involved, but she said that to wait for the other dreamer was what Josefina had described as 'snatching' them. La Gorda had been snatched by Josefina twice.

"The reason Josefina called it snatching was because one of us had to grab the other by the arm," she explained.

She demonstrated then a procedure of interlocking her left forearm with my right forearm by each of us grabbing hold of the area below each other's elbows.

"How can we do that in dreaming?" I asked.

I personally considered dreaming one of the most private states imaginable.

"I don't know how, but I'll grab you," la Gorda said. "I think my body knows how. The more we talk about it, though, the more difficult it seems to be."

We started off our dreaming from two distant locations. We could agree only on the time to lie down since the entrance into dreaming was something impossible to prearrange. The foreseeable possibility that I might have to wait for la Gorda gave me a great deal of anxiety, and I could not enter into dreaming with my customary ease.

After some ten to fifteen minutes of restlessness I finally succeeded in going into a state I call restful vigil.

Years before, when I had acquired a degree of experience in dreaming, I had asked don Juan if there were any known steps which were common to all of us. He had told me that in the final analysis every dreamer was different.

But in talking with la Gorda I discovered such similarities in our experiences of dreaming that I ventured a possible classificatory scheme of the different stages.

Restful vigil is the preliminary state; a state in which the senses become dormant and yet one is aware. In my case, I had always perceived in this state a flood of reddish light; a light exactly like what one sees facing the sun with the eyelids tightly closed.

The second state of dreaming I called dynamic vigil. In this state the reddish light dissipates, as fog dissipates, and one is left looking at a scene, a tableau of sorts, which is static. One sees a three-dimensional picture, a frozen bit of something, a landscape, a street, a house, a person, a face, or anything.

I called the third state passive witnessing. In it the dreamer is no longer viewing a frozen bit of the world but is observing; eyewitnessing an event as it occurs. It is as if the primacy of the visual and auditory senses makes this state of dreaming mainly an affair of the eyes and ears.

The fourth state was the one in which I was drawn to act. In it one is compelled to enterprise; to take steps; to make the most of one's time. I called this state dynamic initiative.

La Gorda's proposition of waiting for me had to do with affecting the second and third states of our dreaming together. When I entered into the second state, dynamic vigil, I saw a dreaming scene of don Juan and various other persons, including a fat Gorda.

Before I even had time to consider what I was viewing, I felt a tremendous pull on my arm and I realized that the 'real' Gorda was by my side. She was to my left and had gripped my right forearm with her left hand. I clearly felt her lifting my hand to her forearm so that we were gripping each other's forearms.

Next, I found myself in the third state of dreaming, passive witnessing. Don Juan was telling me that I had to look after la Gorda and take care of her in a most selfish fashion -- that is, as if she were my own self.

His play on words delighted me. I felt an unearthly happiness in being there with him and the others. Don Juan went on explaining that my selfishness could be put to a grand use, and that to harness it was not impossible.

There was a general feeling of comradeship [* -- the quality of easy familiarity and sociability] among all the people gathered there. They were laughing at what don Juan was saying to me, but without making fun.

Don Juan said that the surest way to harness selfishness was through the daily activities of our lives; that I was efficient in whatever I did because I had no one to bug the devil out of me, and that it was no challenge to me to soar like an arrow by myself. If I were given the task of taking care of la Gorda, however, my independent effectiveness would go to pieces, and in order to survive I would have to extend my selfish concern for myself to include la Gorda. Only through helping her, don Juan was saying in the most emphatic tone, would I find the clues for the fulfillment of my true task.

La Gorda put her fat arms around my neck. Don Juan had to stop talking. He was laughing so hard he could not go on. All of them were roaring.

I felt embarrassed and annoyed with la Gorda. I tried to get out of her embrace but her arms were tightly fastened around my neck. Don Juan made a sign with his hands to make me stop. He said that the minimal embarrassment I was experiencing then was nothing in comparison with what was in store for me.

The sound of laughter was deafening. I felt very happy, although I was worried about having to deal with la Gorda, for I did not know what it would entail.

At that moment in my dreaming I changed my point of view -- or rather, something pulled me out of the scene and I began to look around as a spectator. We were in a house in northern Mexico. I could tell by the surroundings which were partially visible from where I stood. I could see the mountains in the distance. I also remembered the paraphernalia of the house.

We were at the back, under a roofed, open porch. Some of the people were sitting on some bulky chairs. Most of them, however, were either standing or sitting on the floor. I recognized every one of them. There were sixteen people. La Gorda was standing by my side facing don Juan.

I became aware that I could have two different feelings at the same time. I could either go into the dreaming scene and feel that I was recovering a long-lost sentiment, or I could witness the scene with the mood that was current in my life. When I plunged into the dreaming scene I felt secure and protected. When I witnessed it with my current mood I felt lost, insecure, and anguished. I did not like my current mood, so I plunged into my dreaming scene.

A fat Gorda asked don Juan, in a voice which could be heard above everyone's laughter, if I was going to be her husband. There was a moment's silence. Don Juan seemed to be calculating what to say.

He patted her on the head and said that he could speak for me, and said that I would be delighted to be her husband. People were laughing riotously. I laughed with them. My body convulsed with a most genuine enjoyment, yet I did not feel I was laughing at la Gorda. I did not regard her as a clown, or as stupid. She was a child.

Don Juan turned to me and said that I had to honor la Gorda regardless of what she did to me, and that I had to train my body, through my interaction with her, to feel at ease in the face of the most trying situations. Don Juan addressed the whole group and said that it was much easier to fare well under conditions of maximum stress, such as in the interplay with someone like la Gorda, than to be impeccable under normal circumstances. Don Juan added that I could not under any circumstances get angry with la Gorda, because she was indeed my benefactress. Only through her would I be capable of harnessing my selfishness.

I had become so thoroughly immersed in the dreaming scene that I had forgotten I was a dreamer. A sudden pressure on my arm reminded me that I was dreaming. I felt la Gorda's presence next to me, but without seeing her.

She was there only as a touch; a tactile sensation on my forearm. I focused my attention on it. It felt like a solid grip on me, and then la Gorda as a whole person materialized; as if she were made of superimposed frames of photographic film. It was like trick photography in a movie. The dreaming scene dissolved. Instead, la Gorda and I were looking at each other with our forearms interlocked.

In unison, we again focused our attention on the dreaming scene we had been witnessing. At that moment I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that both of us had been viewing the same thing.

Now don Juan was saying something to la Gorda, but I could not hear him. My attention was being pulled back and forth between the third state of dreaming, passive witnessing, and the second, dynamic vigil. I was for a moment with don Juan, a fat Gorda, and sixteen other people, and the next moment I was with the current Gorda watching a frozen scene.

Then a drastic jolt in my body brought me to still another level of attention. I felt something like the cracking of a dry piece of wood. It was a minor explosion, yet it sounded more like an extraordinarily loud cracking of knuckles. I found myself in the first state of dreaming, restful vigil. I was asleep and yet thoroughly aware. I wanted to stay for as long as I could in that peaceful stage, but another jolt made me wake up instantly. I had suddenly realized that la Gorda and I had dreamed together.

I was more than eager to speak with her. She felt the same. We rushed to talk to each other. When we had calmed down, I asked her to describe to me everything that had happened to her in our dreaming together.

"I waited for you for a long time," she said. "Some part of me thought I had missed you, but another part thought that you were nervous and were having problems, so I waited."

"Where did you wait, Gorda?" I asked.

"I don't know," she replied. "I know that I was out of the reddish light, but I couldn't see anything. Come to think of it, I had no sight. I was feeling my way around. Perhaps I was still in the reddish light. It wasn't red, though. The place where I was, was tinted with a light peach color.

Then I opened my eyes and there you were. You seemed to be ready to leave, so I grabbed you by the arm. Then I looked and saw the Nagual Juan Matus, you, me, and other people in Vicente's house. You were younger and I was fat."

The mention of Vicente's house brought a sudden realization to me. I told la Gorda that once while driving through Zacatecas, in northern Mexico, I had had a strange urge and gone to visit one of don Juan's friends, Vicente, not understanding that in doing so I had unwittingly crossed into an excluded domain, for don Juan had never introduced me to him.

Vicente, like the Nagual woman, belonged to another area, another world. It was no wonder that la Gorda was so shaken when I told her about the visit. We knew him so very well. He was as close to us as don Genaro, perhaps even closer. Yet we had forgotten him, just as we had forgotten the Nagual woman.

At that point la Gorda and I made a huge digression. [* digression -- a turning aside from the main course or concern)] We remembered together that Vicente, Genaro, and Silvio Manuel were don Juan's friends; his cohorts.

They were bound together by a vow of sorts. La Gorda and I could not remember what it was that had united them. Vicente was not an Indian. He had been a pharmacist as a young man. He was the scholar of the group, and the real healer who kept all of them healthy. He had a passion for botany. I was convinced beyond any doubt that he knew more about plants than any human being alive. La Gorda and I remembered that it was Vicente who had taught everyone, including don Juan, about medicinal plants. He took special interest in Nestor, and all of us thought that Nestor was going to be like him.

"Remembering Vicente makes me think about myself," la Gorda said. "It makes me think what an unbearable woman I've been. The worst thing that can happen to a woman is to have children, to have holes in her body, and still act like a little girl. That was my problem. I wanted to be cute and I was empty. And they let me make a fool out of myself. They encouraged me to be a jackass."

"Who are they, Gorda?" I asked.

"The Nagual and Vicente and all those people who were in Vicente's house when I acted like such an ass with you."

La Gorda and I had a realization in unison. They had allowed her to be unbearable only with me. No one else put up with her nonsense, although she tried it on everyone.

"Vicente did put up with me," la Gorda said. "He played along with me. I even called him uncle. When I tried to call Silvio Manuel uncle he nearly ripped the skin off my armpits with his clawlike hands."

We tried to focus our attention on Silvio Manuel but we could not remember what he looked like. We could feel his presence in our memories but he was not a person. He was only a feeling.

As far as the dreaming scene was concerned, we remembered that it had been a faithful replica of what really did occur in our lives at a certain place and time. It still was not possible for us to recall when. I knew, however, that I took care of la Gorda as a means of training myself for the hardship of interacting with people. It was imperative that I internalize a mood of ease in the face of difficult social situations, and no one could have been a better coach than la Gorda. The flashes of faint memories I had had of a fat Gorda stemmed from those circumstances; for I had followed don Juan's orders to the letter.

La Gorda said that she had not liked the mood of the dreaming scene. She would have preferred just to watch it, but I pulled her in to feel her old feelings which were abhorrent to her. Her discomfort was so acute that she deliberately squeezed my arm to force me to end our participation in something so odious to her.

The next day we arranged a time for another session of dreaming together. She started from her bedroom and I from my study, but nothing happened. We became exhausted merely trying to enter into dreaming. For weeks after that we tried to achieve again the effectiveness of our first performance, but without any success. With every failure we became more desperate and greedy.

In the face of our impasse, I decided that we should postpone our dreaming together for the time being and take a closer look at the process of dreaming and analyze its concepts and procedures.

La Gorda did not agree with me at first. For her, the idea of reviewing what we knew about dreaming was another way of succumbing to despair and greed. She preferred to keep on trying even if we did not succeed. I persisted and she finally accepted my point of view out of the sheer sense of being lost.

One night we sat down and, as casually as we could, we began to discuss what we knew about dreaming. It quickly became obvious that there were some core topics which don Juan had given special emphasis.

First was the act itself. It seemed to begin as a unique state of awareness arrived at by focusing the residue of consciousness, which one still has when asleep, on the elements, or the features of one's dreams.

The residue of consciousness, which don Juan called the second attention, was brought into action, or was harnessed, through exercises of not-doing. We thought that the essential aid to dreaming was a state of mental quietness which don Juan had called 'stopping the internal dialogue', or the 'not doing of talking to oneself'.

To teach me how to master it, he used to make me walk for miles with my eyes held fixed and out of focus at a level just above the horizon so as to emphasize the peripheral view. His method was effective on two counts. It allowed me to stop my internal dialogue after years of trying, and it trained my attention. By forcing me to concentrate on the peripheral view, don Juan reinforced my capacity to concentrate for long periods of time on one single activity.

Later on, when I had succeeded in controlling my attention and could work for hours at a chore without distraction -- a thing I had never before been able to do -- he told me that the best way to enter into dreaming was to concentrate on the area just at the tip of the sternum; at the top of the belly. He said that the attention needed for dreaming stems from that area.

The energy needed in order to move and to seek in dreaming stems from the area an inch or two below the belly button. He called that energy the will, or the power to select; to assemble.

In a woman both the attention and the energy for dreaming originate from the womb.

"A woman's dreaming has to come from her womb because that's her center," la Gorda said. "In order for me to start dreaming or to stop it, all I have to do is place my attention on my womb. I've learned to feel the inside of it. I see a reddish glow for an instant and then I'm off."

"How long does it take you to get to see that reddish glow?" I asked.

"A few seconds. The moment my attention is on my womb I'm already into dreaming" she continued. "I never toil; not ever. Women are like that. The most difficult part for a woman is to learn how to begin. It took me a couple of years to stop my internal dialogue by concentrating my attention on my womb. Perhaps that's why a woman always needs someone else to prod her.

"The Nagual Juan Matus used to put cold, wet river pebbles on my belly to get me to feel that area. Or he would place a weight on it. I had a chunk of lead that he got for me. He would make me close my eyes and focus my attention on the spot where the weight was. I used to fall asleep every time. But that didn't bother him.

It doesn't really matter what one does as long as the attention is on the womb. Finally I learned to concentrate on that spot without anything being placed on it. I went into dreaming one day all by myself.

I was feeling my belly, at the spot where the Nagual had placed the weight so many times, when all of a sudden I fell asleep as usual, except that something pulled me right into my womb. I saw the reddish glow and I then had a most beautiful dream. But as soon as I tried to tell it to the Nagual, I knew that it had not been an ordinary dream. There was no way of telling him what the dream was. I had just felt very happy and strong. He said it had been dreaming.

"From then on he never put a weight on me. He let me do dreaming without interfering. He asked me from time to time to tell him about it. Then he would give me pointers. That's the way the instruction in dreaming should be conducted."

La Gorda said that don Juan told her that anything may suffice as a not-doing to help dreaming, providing that it forces the attention to remain fixed. For instance, he made her and all the other apprentices gaze at leaves and rocks, and encouraged Pablito to construct his own not-doing device.

Pablito started off with the not-doing of walking backwards. He would move by taking short glances to his sides in order to direct his path and to avoid obstacles on the way. I gave him the idea of using a rearview mirror and he expanded it into the construction of a wooden helmet with an attachment that held two small mirrors, about six inches away from his face and two inches below his eye level. The two mirrors did not interfere with his frontal view, and due to the lateral angle at which they were set, they covered the whole range behind him. Pablito boasted that he had a 360-degree peripheral view of the world. Aided by this artifact, Pablito could walk backwards for any distance, or any length of time.

The position one assumes to do dreaming was also a very important topic.

"I don't know why the Nagual didn't tell me from the very beginning," la Gorda said, "that the best position for a woman to start from is to sit with her legs crossed and then let the body fall, as it may do once the attention is on dreaming. The Nagual told me about this perhaps a year after I had begun. Now I sit in that position for a moment, I feel my womb, and right away I'm dreaming."

In the beginning, just like la Gorda, I had done it while lying on my back, until one day when don Juan told me that for the best results I should sit up on a soft, thin mat, with the soles of my feet placed together and my thighs touching the mat. He pointed out that, since I had elastic hip joints, I should exercise them to the fullest, aiming at having my thighs completely flat against the mat. He added that if I were to enter into dreaming in that sitting position, my body would not slide or fall to either side, but my trunk would bend forward and my forehead would rest on my feet.

Another topic of great significance was the time to do dreaming. Don Juan had told us that the late night or early morning hours were by far the best. His reason for favoring those hours was what he called a practical application of the sorcerers' knowledge.

He said that since one has to do dreaming within a social milieu, [* milieu -- the environmental condition] one has to seek the best possible conditions of solitude and lack of interference. The interference he was referring to had to do with the attention of people, and not their physical presence.

For don Juan it was meaningless to retreat from the world and hide, for even if one were alone in an isolated, deserted place, the interference of our fellow men is prevalent because the fixation of their first attention cannot be shut off. Only locally, at the hours when most people are asleep, can one avert part of that fixation for a short period of time. It is at those times that the first attention of those around us is dormant.

This led to his description of the second attention. Don Juan explained to us that the attention one needs in the beginning of dreaming has to be forcibly made to stay on any given item in a dream. Only through immobilizing our attention can one turn an ordinary dream into dreaming.

He explained, furthermore, that in dreaming one has to use the same mechanisms of attention as in everyday life; that our first attention had been taught to focus on the items of the world with great force in order to turn the amorphous [* amorphous -- having no definite form or distinct shape] and chaotic realm of perception into the orderly world of awareness.

Don Juan also told us that the second attention served the function of a beckoner; a caller of chances. The more it is exercised, the greater the possibility of getting the desired result. But that was also the function of attention in general; a function so taken for granted in our daily life that it has become unnoticeable. If we encounter a fortuitous [* fortuitous -- occurring by happy chance] occurrence, we talk about it in terms of accident or coincidence, rather than in terms of our attention having beckoned the event.

Don Juan's discussion of the second attention prepared the ground for another key topic; the dreaming body. As a means of guiding la Gorda to it, don Juan gave her the task of immobilizing her second attention as steadily as she could on the components of the feeling of flying in dreaming.

"How did you learn to fly in dreaming?" I asked her. "Did someone teach you?"

"The Nagual Juan Matus taught me on this earth," she replied. "And in dreaming, someone I could never see taught me. It was only a voice telling me what to do. The Nagual gave me the task of learning to fly in dreaming, and the voice taught me how to do it. Then it took me years to teach myself to shift from my regular body, the one you can touch, to my dreaming body."

"You have to explain this to me, Gorda" I said.

"You were learning to get to your dreaming body when you dreamed that you got out of your body," she continued. "But, the way I see it, the Nagual did not give you any specific task, so you went any old way you could.

"I, on the other hand, was given the task of using my dreaming body. The little sisters had the same task. In my case, I once had a dream where I flew like a kite. I told the Nagual about it because I had liked the feeling of gliding. He took it very seriously and turned it into a task. He said that as soon as one learns to do dreaming, any dream that one can remember is no longer a dream. It's dreaming.

"I began then to seek flying in dreaming. But I couldn't set it up. The more I tried to influence my dreaming, the more difficult it got. The Nagual finally told me to stop trying and let it come of its own accord. Little by little I started to fly in dreaming. That was when some voice began to tell me what to do. I've always felt it was a woman's voice.

"When I had learned to fly perfectly, the Nagual told me that every movement of flying which I did in dreaming I had to repeat while I was awake. You had the same chance when the saber-toothed tiger was showing you how to breathe. But you never changed into a tiger in dreaming, so you couldn't properly try to do it while you were awake.

"But I did learn to fly in dreaming. By shifting my attention to my dreaming body, I could fly like a kite while I was awake. I showed you my flying once because I wanted you to see that I had learned to use my dreaming body, but you didn't know what was going on."

She was referring to a time she had scared me with the incomprehensible act of actually bobbing up and down in the air like a kite. The event was so farfetched for me that I could not begin to understand it in any logical way. As usual when things of that nature confronted me, I would lump them into an amorphous category of "perceptions under conditions of severe stress." I had argued that in cases of severe stress, perception could be greatly distorted by the senses. My explanation did not explain anything, but seemed to keep my reason pacified.

I told la Gorda that there must have been more to what she had called her shift into her dreaming body than merely repeating the action of flying.

She thought for a while before answering.

"I think the Nagual must have told you, too," she said, "that the only thing that really counts in making that shift is anchoring the second attention. The Nagual said that attention is what makes the world. He was of course absolutely right. He had reasons to say that. He was the master of attention.

I suppose he left it up to me to find out that all I needed to shift into my dreaming body was to focus my attention on flying. What was important was to store attention in dreaming; to observe everything I did in flying. That was the only way of grooming my second attention. Once it was solid, just to focus it lightly on the details and feeling of flying brought more dreaming of flying until it was routine for me to dream I was soaring through the air.

"In the matter of flying, then, my second attention was keen. When the Nagual gave me the task of shifting to my dreaming body he meant for me to turn on my second attention while I was awake. This is the way I understand it.

"The first attention, the attention that makes the world, can never be completely overcome. It can only be turned off for a moment and replaced with the second attention -- providing that the body has stored enough of the second attention. Dreaming is naturally a way of storing the second attention. So, I would say that in order to shift into your dreaming body when awake you have to practice dreaming until it comes out your ears."

"Can you get to your dreaming body any time you want?" I asked.

"No. It's not that easy," she replied. "I've learned to repeat the movements and feelings of flying while I'm awake, and yet I can't fly every time I want to. There is always a barrier to my dreaming body. Sometimes I feel that the barrier is down. My body is free at those times and I can fly as if I were dreaming."

I told la Gorda that in my case don Juan gave me three tasks to train my second attention.

The first was to find my hands in dreaming.

Next he recommended that I should choose a locale, focus my attention on it, and then do daytime dreaming and find out if I could really go there. He suggested that I should place someone I knew at the site, preferably a woman, in order to do two things; first to check subtle changes that might indicate that I was there in dreaming, and second, to isolate unobtrusive detail, which would be precisely what my second attention would zero in on.

The most serious problem the dreamer has in this respect is the unbending fixation of the second attention on detail that would be thoroughly undetected by the attention of everyday life, creating in this manner a nearly insurmountable obstacle to validation. What one seeks in dreaming is not what one would pay attention to in everyday life.

Don Juan said that one strives to immobilize the second attention only in the learning period. After that, one has to fight the almost invincible pull of the second attention and give only cursory glances at everything. In dreaming one has to be satisfied with the briefest possible views of everything. As soon as one focuses on anything, one loses control.

The last generalized task he gave me was to get out of my body. I had partially succeeded, and all along I had considered it my only real accomplishment in dreaming. Don Juan left before I had perfected the feeling in dreaming that I could handle the world of ordinary affairs while I was dreaming. His departure interrupted what I thought was going to be an unavoidable overlapping of my dreaming time into my world of everyday life.

To elucidate [* elucidate -- make clear; free from confusion or ambiguity] the control of the second attention, don Juan presented the idea of will. He said that will can be described as the maximum control of the luminosity of the body as a field of energy; or it can be described as a level of proficiency, or a state of being that comes abruptly into the daily life of a warrior at any given time.

It is experienced as a force that radiates out of the middle part of the body following a moment of the most absolute silence, or a moment of sheer terror, or profound sadness; but not after a moment of happiness, because happiness is too disruptive to afford the warrior the concentration needed to use the luminosity of the body and turn it into silence.

"The Nagual told me that for a human being, sadness is as powerful as terror," la Gorda said. "Sadness makes a warrior shed tears of blood. Both can bring the moment of silence. Or the silence comes of itself, because the warrior tries for it throughout his life."

"Have you ever felt that moment of silence yourself?" I asked.

"I have, by all means, but I can't remember what it is like," she said. "You and I have both felt it before and neither of us can remember anything about it. The Nagual said that it is a moment of blackness; a moment still more silent than the moment of shutting off the internal dialogue. That blackness, that silence, gives rise to the intent to direct the second attention; to command it; to make it do things.

"This is why it's called will. The intent and the effect are will. The Nagual said that they are tied together. He told me all this when I was trying to learn flying in dreaming. The intent of flying produces the effect of flying."

I told her that I had nearly written off the possibility of ever experiencing will.

"You'll experience it," la Gorda said. "The trouble is that you and I are not keen enough to know what's happening to us. We don't feel our will because we think that it should be something we know for sure that we are doing or feeling, like getting angry, for instance. Will is very quiet, unnoticeable. Will belongs to the other self."

"What other self, Gorda?" I asked.

"You know what I'm talking about," she replied briskly. "We are in our other selves when we do dreaming. We have entered into our other selves countless times by now, but we are not complete yet."

There was a long silence. I conceded to myself that she was right in saying that we were not complete yet. I understood that as meaning that we were merely apprentices of an inexhaustible art. But then the thought crossed my mind that perhaps she was referring to something else. It was not a rational thought. I felt first something like a prickling sensation in my solar plexus and then I had the thought that perhaps she was talking about something else. Next I felt the answer. It came to me in a block, a clump of sorts. I knew that all of it was there, first at the tip of my sternum and then in my mind. My problem was that I could not disentangle what I knew fast enough to verbalize it.

La Gorda did not interrupt my thought processes with further comments or gestures. She was perfectly quiet; waiting. She seemed to be internally connected to me to such a degree that there was no need for us to say anything.

We sustained the feeling of communality with each other for a moment longer and then it overwhelmed us both. La Gorda and I calmed down by degrees. I finally began to speak. Not that I needed to reiterate what we had felt and known in common, but just to reestablish our grounds for discussion I told her that I knew in what way we were incomplete, but that I could not put my knowledge into words.

"There are lots and lots of things we know," she said. "And yet we can't get them to work for us because we really don't know how to bring them out of us. You've just begun to feel that pressure. I've had it for years. I know and yet I don't know. Most of the time I trip over myself and sound like an imbecile when I try to say what I know."

I understood what she meant and I understood her at a physical level. I knew something thoroughly practical and self-evident about will and what la Gorda had called the other self, and yet I could not utter a single word about what I knew; not because I was reticent or bashful, but because I did not know where to begin, or how to organize my knowledge.

"Will is such a complete control of the second attention that it is called the other self," la Gorda said after a long pause. "In spite of all we've done, we know only a tiny bit of the other self. The Nagual left it up to us to complete our knowledge. That's our task of remembering."

She smacked her forehead with the palm of her hand, as if something had just come to her mind.

"Holy Jesus! We are remembering the other self!" she exclaimed, her voice almost bordering on hysteria. Then she calmed down and went on talking in a subdued tone. "Evidently we've already been there and the only way of remembering it is the way we're doing it, by shooting off our dreaming bodies while dreaming together."

"What do you mean, shooting off our dreaming bodies?" I asked.

"You yourself have witnessed when Genaro used to shoot off his dreaming body," she said. "It pops off like a slow bullet. It actually glues and unglues itself from the physical body with a loud crack.

"The Nagual told me that Genaro's dreaming body could do most of the things we normally do. He used to come to you that way in order to jolt you. I know now what the Nagual and Genaro were after. They wanted you to remember, and for that effect Genaro used to perform incredible feats in front of your very eyes by shooting off his dreaming body. But to no avail."

"I never knew that he was in his dreaming body," I said.

"You never knew because you weren't watching," she said. "Genaro tried to let you know by attempting to do things that the dreaming body cannot do, like eating, drinking, and so forth. The Nagual told me that Genaro used to joke with you that he was going to shit and make the mountains tremble."

"Why can't the dreaming body do those things?" I asked.

"Because the dreaming body cannot handle the intent of eating, or drinking," she replied.

"What do you mean by that, Gordar" I asked.

"Genaro's great accomplishment was that in his dreaming he learned the intent of the body," she explained. "He finished what you had started to do. He could dream his whole body as perfectly as it could be.

"But the dreaming body has a different intent from the intent of the physical body. For instance, the dreaming body can go through a wall, because it knows the intent of disappearing into thin air. The physical body knows the intent of eating, but not the one of disappearing. For Genaro's physical body to go through a wall would be as impossible as for his dreaming body to eat."

La Gorda was silent for a while as if measuring what she had just said. I wanted to wait before asking her any questions.

"Genaro had mastered only the intent of the dreaming body" she said in a soft voice. "Silvio Manuel, on the other hand, was the ultimate master of intent, I know now that the reason we can't remember his face is because he was not like everybody else."

"What makes you say that, Gorda?" I asked.

She started to explain what she meant, but she was incapable of speaking coherently.

Suddenly she smiled. Her eyes lit up.

"I've got it!" she exclaimed. "The Nagual told me that Silvio Manuel was the master of intent because he was permanently in his other self. He was the real chief. He was behind everything the Nagual did. In fact, he's the one who made the Nagual take care of you."

I experienced a great physical discomfort upon hearing la Gorda say that. I nearly became sick to my stomach and made extraordinary efforts to hide it from her. I turned my back to her and began to gag.

She stopped talking for an instant and then proceeded as if she had made up her mind not to acknowledge my state. Instead, she began to yell at me. She said that it was time that we air our grievances. She confronted me with my feelings of resentment after what happened in Mexico City. She added that my rancor was not because she had sided with the other apprentices against me, but because she had taken part in unmasking me.

I explained to her that all of those feelings had vanished from me. She was adamant. She maintained that unless I faced them they would come back to me in some way. She insisted that my affiliation with Silvio Manuel was at the crux of the matter.

I could not believe the changes of mood I went through upon hearing that statement. I became two people -- one raving, foaming at the mouth -- the other calm, observing. I had a final painful spasm in my stomach and got ill. But it was not a feeling of nausea that had caused the spasm. It was rather an uncontainable wrath.

When I finally calmed down I was embarrassed at my behavior, and worried that an incident of that nature might happen to me again at another time.

"As soon as you accept your true nature, you'll be free from rage," la Gorda said in a nonchalant tone.

I wanted to argue with her, but I saw the futility of it. Besides, my attack of anger had drained me of energy. I laughed at the fact that I did not know what I would do if she were right.

The thought occurred to me then that if I could forget about the Nagual woman, anything was possible. I had a strange sensation of heat or irritation in my throat, as if I had eaten hot spicy food. I felt a jolt of bodily alarm, just as though I had seen someone sneaking behind my back, and I knew at that moment something I had had no idea I knew a moment before. La Gorda was right. Silvio Manuel had been in charge of me.

La Gorda laughed loudly when I told her that. She said that she had also remembered something about Silvio Manuel.

"I don't remember him as a person, as I remember the Nagual woman," she went on, "but I remember what the Nagual told me about him."

"What did he tell you?" I asked.

"He said that while Silvio Manuel was on this earth he was like Eligio. He disappeared once without leaving a trace and went into the other world. He was gone for years. Then one day he returned. The Nagual said that Silvio Manuel did not remember where he'd been or what he'd done, but his body had been changed. He had come back to the world, but he had come back in his other self."

"What else did he say, Gorda?" I asked.

"I can't remember any more," she replied. "It is as if I were looking through a fog."

I knew that if we pushed ourselves hard enough, we were going to find out right then who Silvio Manuel was. I told her so.

"The Nagual said that intent is present everywhere," la Gorda said all of a sudden.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "I'm just voicing things that come to my mind. The Nagual also said that intent is what makes the world."

I knew that I had heard those words before. I thought that don Juan must have also told me the same thing and I had forgotten it.

"When did don Juan tell you that?" I asked.

"I can't remember when," she said. "But he told me that people, and all other living creatures for that matter, are the slaves of intent. We are in its clutches. It makes us do whatever it wants. It makes us act in the world. It even makes us die.

"He said that when we become warriors, though, intent becomes our friend. It lets us be free for a moment. At times it even comes to us as if it had been waiting around for us. He told me that he himself was only a friend of intent -- unlike Silvio Manuel, who was the master of it."

There were barrages [* barrage -- the rapid and continuous delivery of communication: the heavy fire of artillery to saturate an area rather than hit a specific target] of hidden memories in me that fought to get out. They seemed about to surface. I experienced a tremendous frustration for a moment and then something in me gave up. I became calm. I was no longer interested in finding out about Silvio Manuel.

La Gorda interpreted my change of mood as a sign that we were not ready to face our memories of Silvio Manuel.

"The Nagual showed all of us what he could do with his intent," she said abruptly. "He could make things appear by calling intent.

"He told me that if I wanted to fly, I had to summon the intent of flying. He showed me then how he himself could summon it, and jumped in the air and soared in a circle, like a huge kite. Or he would make things appear in his hand. He said that he knew the intent of many things and could call those things by intending them. The difference between him and Silvio Manuel was that Silvio Manuel, by being the master of intent, knew the intent of everything."

I told her that her explanation needed more explaining. She seemed to struggle arranging words in her mind.

"I learned the intent of flying," she said, "by repeating all the feelings I had while flying in dreaming. This was only one thing. The Nagual had learned in his life the intent of hundreds of things.

"But Silvio Manuel went to the source itself. He tapped it. He didn't have to learn the intent of anything. He was one with intent. The problem was that he had no more desires because intent has no desire of its own, so he had to rely on the Nagual for volition. [* volition -- the capability of conscious choice and intention] In other words, Silvio Manuel could do anything the Nagual wanted. The Nagual directed Silvio Manuel's intent. But since the Nagual had no desires either, most of the time they didn't do anything."
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Re: The Eagle's Gift, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:32 am

8. The Right and the Left Side Awareness

Our discussion of dreaming was most helpful to us, not only because it solved our impasse in dreaming together, but because it brought its concepts to an intellectual level. Talking about it kept us busy. It allowed us to have a moment's pause in order to ease our agitation.

One night while I was out running an errand I called la Gorda from a telephone booth. She told me that she had been in a department store and had had the sensation that I was hiding there behind some mannequins on display. She was certain I was teasing her and became furious with me. She rushed through the store trying to catch me, to show me how angry she was. Then she realized that she was actually remembering something she had done quite often around me; having a tantrum. [* tantrum -- a display of bad temper]

In unison, we arrived then at the conclusion that it was time to try again our dreaming together. As we talked, we felt a renewed optimism. I went home immediately.

I very easily entered into the first state, restful vigil. I had a sensation of bodily pleasure; a tingling radiating from my solar plexus, which was transformed into the thought that we were going to have great results. That thought turned into a nervous anticipation. I became aware that my thoughts were emanating from the tingling in the middle of my chest. The instant I turned my attention to it, however, the tingling stopped. It was like an electric current that I could switch on and off.

The tingling began again, even more pronounced than before, and suddenly I found myself face to face with la Gorda. It was as if I had turned a corner and bumped into her. I became immersed in watching her. She was so absolutely real, so herself, that I had the urge to touch her. The most pure, unearthly affection for her burst out of me at that moment. I began to sob uncontrollably.

La Gorda quickly tried to interlock our arms to stop my indulging, but she could not move at all. We looked around. There was no fixed tableau in front of our eyes; no static picture of any sort. I had a sudden insight and told la Gorda that it was because we had been watching each other that we had missed the appearance of the dreaming scene. Only after I had spoken did I realize that we were in a new situation. The sound of my voice scared me. It was a strange voice; harsh; unappealing. It gave me a feeling of physical revulsion.

La Gorda replied that we had not missed anything, that our second attention had been caught by something else. She smiled and made a puckering gesture with her mouth; a mixture of surprise and annoyance at the sound of her own voice.

I found the novelty of talking in dreaming spellbinding, for we were not dreaming of a scene in which we talked, we were actually conversing. It required a unique effort quite similar to my initial effort of walking down a stairway in dreaming.

I asked her whether she thought my voice sounded funny. She nodded and laughed out loud. The sound of her laughter was shocking. I remembered that don Genaro used to make the strangest and most frightening noises. La Gorda's laughter was in the same category. The realization struck me then that la Gorda and I had quite spontaneously entered into our dreaming bodies.

I wanted to hold her hand. I tried but I could not move my arm. Because I had some experience with moving in that state, I willed myself to go to la Gorda's side. My desire was to embrace her, but instead I moved in on her so close that we merged. I was aware of myself as an individual being, but at the same time I felt I was part of la Gorda. I liked that feeling immensely.

We stayed merged until something broke our hold. I felt a command to examine the environment. As I looked, I clearly remembered having seen it before. We were surrounded by small round mounds that looked exactly like sand dunes. They were all around us in every direction as far as we could see. They seemed to be made of something that looked like pale yellow sandstone, or rough granules of sulphur. The sky was the same color, and was very low and oppressive. There were banks of yellowish fog or some sort of yellow vapor that hung from certain spots in the sky.

I noticed then that la Gorda and I seemed to be breathing normally. I could not feel my chest with my hands, but I was able to feel it expanding as I inhaled. The yellow vapors were obviously not harmful to us.

We began to move in unison; slowly; cautiously; almost as if we were walking. After a short distance I got very fatigued and so did la Gorda. We were gliding just over the ground, and apparently moving that way was very tiring to our second attention; it required an inordinate degree of concentration. We were not deliberately mimicking our ordinary walk, but the effect was much the same as if we had been. To move required outbursts of energy, something like tiny explosions, with pauses in between. We had no objective in our movement except moving itself, so finally we had to stop.

La Gorda spoke to me, her voice so faint that it was barely audible. She said that we were mindlessly going toward the heavier regions, and that if we kept on moving in that direction, the pressure would get so great that we would die.

We automatically turned around and headed back in the direction we had come from, but the feeling of fatigue did not let up. Both of us were so exhausted that we could no longer maintain our upright posture. We collapsed and quite spontaneously adopted the dreaming position.

I woke up instantly in my study. La Gorda woke up in her bedroom.

The first thing I told her upon awakening, was that I had been in that barren landscape several times before. I had seen at least two aspects of it; one perfectly flat; the other covered with small mounds like sand dunes.

As I was talking, I realized that I had not even bothered to confirm that we had had the same vision. I stopped and told her that I had gotten carried away by my own excitement. I had proceeded as if I were comparing notes with her about a vacation trip.

"It's too late for that kind of talk between us," she said with a sigh, "but if it makes you happy, I'll tell you what we saw."

She patiently described everything we had seen, said, and done. She added that she too had been in that deserted place before, and that she knew for a fact that it was a no-man's land; the space between the world we know and the other world.

"It is the area between the parallel lines," she went on. "We can go to it in dreaming. But in order to leave this world and reach the other, the one beyond the parallel lines, we have to go through that area with our whole bodies."

I felt a chill at the thought of entering that barren place with our whole bodies.

"You and I have been there together with our bodies," la Gorda went on. "Don't you remember?"

I told her that all I could remember was seeing that landscape twice under don Juan's guidance. Both times I had written off the experience because it had been brought about by the ingestion of hallucinogenic plants. Following the dictums of my intellect, I had regarded them as private visions and not as consensual [* consensual -- existing with agreement by multiple individuals] experiences. I did not remember viewing that scene under any other circumstances.

"When did you and I get there with our bodies?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "The vague memory of it just popped into my mind when you mentioned being there before. I think that now it is your turn to help me finish what I have started to remember. I can't focus on it yet, but I do recall that Silvio Manuel took the Nagual woman, you, and me into that desolate place. I don't know why he took us in there, though. We were not in dreaming."

I did not hear what else she was saying. My mind had begun to zero in on something still inarticulate. [* inarticulate -- without, or deprived of the use of speech or words] I struggled to set my thoughts in order. They rambled aimlessly. For a moment I felt as if I had reverted back years, to a time when I could not stop my internal dialogue.

Then the fog began to clear. My thoughts arranged themselves without my conscious direction, and the result was the full memory of an event which I had already partially recalled in one of those unstructured flashes of recollection that I used to have.

La Gorda was right. We had been taken once to a region that don Juan had called 'limbo' apparently drawing the term from religious dogma. I knew that la Gorda was also right in saying that we had not been in dreaming.

On that occasion, at the request of Silvio Manuel, don Juan had rounded up the Nagual woman, la Gorda, and myself. Don Juan told me that the reason for our meeting was the fact that, by my own means, but without knowing how, I had entered into a special recess of awareness which was the site of the keenest form of attention.

I had previously reached that state, which don Juan had called the 'left side', but all too briefly and always aided by him. One of its main features, the one that had the greatest value for all of us involved with don Juan, was that in that state we were able to perceive a colossal bank of yellowish vapor; something which don Juan called the 'wall of fog'.

Whenever I was capable of perceiving it, it was always to my right; extending forward to the horizon and up to infinity, thus dividing the world in two. The wall of fog would turn either to the right or to the left as I turned my head, so there was never a way for me to face it.

On the day in question, both don Juan and Silvio Manuel had talked to me about the wall of fog. I remembered that after Silvio Manuel had finished talking, he grabbed la Gorda by the nape of her neck as if she were a kitten, and disappeared with her into the bank of fog.

I had had a split second to observe their disappearance, because don Juan had somehow succeeded in making me face the wall myself. He did not pick me up by the nape of the neck but pushed me into the fog; and the next thing I knew, I was looking at the desolate plain. Don Juan, Silvio Manuel, the Nagual woman, and la Gorda were also there. I did not care what they were doing.

I was concerned with a most unpleasant and threatening feeling of oppression; a fatigue; a maddening difficulty in breathing. I perceived that I was standing inside a suffocating, yellow, low ceilinged cave. The physical sensation of pressure became so overwhelming that I could no longer breathe.

It seemed that all my physical functions had stopped. I could not feel any part of my body, yet I still could: move, walk, extend my arms, rotate my head. I put my hands on my thighs. There was no feeling in my thighs, nor in the palms of my hands. My legs and arms were visibly there, but not palpably [* palpably -- as to be capable of being perceived by the senses or the mind: being capable of being handled, or touched, or felt] there.

Moved by the boundless fear I was feeling, I grabbed the Nagual woman by the arm and yanked her off balance. But it was not my muscle strength that had pulled her. It was a force that was stored, not in my muscles or skeletal frame, but in the very center of my body.

Wanting to play that force once more, I grabbed la Gorda. She was rocked by the strength of my pull. Then I realized that the energy to move them had come from a sticklike protuberance that acted upon them as a tentacle. It was balanced at the midpoint of my body.

All that had taken only an instant. The next moment I was back again at the same point of physical anguish and fear.

I looked at Silvio Manuel in a silent plea for help. The way he returned my look convinced me that I was lost. His eyes were cold and indifferent.

Don Juan turned his back to me and I shook from the inside out with a physical terror beyond comprehension. I thought that the blood in my body was boiling, not because I felt heat, but because an internal pressure was mounting to the point of bursting.

Don Juan commanded me to relax and abandon myself to my death. He said that I had to remain in there until I died.

He said that I had a chance to either die peacefully -- if I would make a supreme effort and let my terror possess me; or I could die in agony if I chose to fight it.

Silvio Manuel spoke to me, a thing he rarely did. He said that the energy I needed to accept my terror was in my middle point, and that the only way to succeed was to acquiesce; [* acquiesce -- to agree or express agreement] to surrender without surrendering.

The Nagual woman and la Gorda were perfectly calm. I was the only one who was dying there. Silvio Manuel said that the way I was wasting energy, my end was only moments away, and that I should consider myself already dead. Don Juan signaled the Nagual woman and la Gorda to follow him. They turned their backs to me. I did not see what else they did.

I felt a powerful vibration go through me. I figured that it was my death rattle. My struggle was over. I did not care any more. I gave in to the unsurpassable terror that was killing me. My body, or the configuration I regarded as my body, relaxed, abandoned itself to its death. As I let the terror come in, or perhaps go out of me, I felt and saw a tenuous vapor -- a whitish smear against the sulphur-yellow surroundings -- leaving my body.

Don Juan came back to my side and examined me with curiosity. Silvio Manuel moved away and grabbed la Gorda again by the nape of her neck. I clearly saw him hurling her, like a giant rag doll, into the fog bank. Then he stepped in himself and disappeared.

The Nagual woman made a gesture to invite me to come into the fog. I moved toward her, but before I reached her, don Juan gave me a forceful shove that propelled me through the thick yellow fog. I did not stagger but glided through, and ended up falling headlong onto the ground in the everyday world.

La Gorda remembered the whole affair as I narrated it to her. Then she added more details.

"The Nagual woman and I were not afraid for your life," she said. "The Nagual had told us that you had to be forced to give up your holdings, but that was nothing new. Every male warrior has to be forced by fear.

"Silvio Manuel had already taken me behind that wall three times so that I would learn to relax. He said that if you saw me at ease, you would be affected by it, and you were. You gave up and relaxed."

"Did you also have a hard time learning to relax?" I asked. "No. It's a cinch for a woman," she said. "That's our advantage. The only problem is that we have to be transported through the fog. We can't do it on our own."

"Why not, Gorda?" I asked.

"One needs to be very heavy to go through and a woman is light," she said. "Too light, in fact."

"What about the Nagual woman? I didn't see anyone transporting her," I said.

"The Nagual woman was special," la Gorda said. "She could do everything by herself. She could take me in there, or take you. She could even pass through that deserted plain; a thing which the Nagual said was mandatory for all travelers who journey into the unknown."

"Why did the Nagual woman go in there with me?" I asked.

"Silvio Manuel took us along to buttress [* buttress -- make stronger or defensible with supports] you," she said. "He thought that you needed the protection of two females and two males flanking you. Silvio Manuel thought that you needed to be protected from the entities that roam and lurk in there. Allies come from that deserted plain. And other things even more fierce."

"Were you also protected?" I asked.

"I don't need protection," she said. "I'm a woman. I'm free from all that. But we all thought that you were in a terrible fix. You were the Nagual, and a very stupid one. We thought that any of those fierce allies -- or if you wish, call them demons -- could have blasted you, or dismembered you. That was what Silvio Manuel said. He took us to flank your four corners.

"But the funny part was that neither the Nagual nor Silvio Manuel knew that you didn't need us. We were supposed to walk for quite a while until you lost your energy. Then Silvio Manuel was going to frighten you by pointing out the allies to you and beckoning them to come after you. He and the Nagual planned to help you little by little. That is the rule.

"But something went wrong. The minute you got in there, you went crazy. You hadn't moved an inch and you were already dying. You were frightened to death and you hadn't even seen the allies yet.

"Silvio Manuel told me that he didn't know what to do, so he said in your ear the last thing he was supposed to say to you, to give in, to surrender without surrendering. You became calm at once all by yourself and they didn't have to do any of the things that they had planned. There was nothing for the Nagual and Silvio Manuel to do except to take us out of there."

I told la Gorda that when I found myself back in the world there was someone standing by me who helped me to stand up. That was all I could recollect.

"We were in Silvio Manuel's house," she said. "I can now remember a lot about that house. Someone told me, I don't know who, that Silvio Manuel found that house and bought it because it was built on a power spot.

"But someone else said that Silvio Manuel found the house, liked it, bought it, and then brought the power spot to it. I personally feel that Silvio Manuel brought the power. I feel that his impeccability held the power spot on that house for as long as he and his companions lived there.

"When it was time for them to move away, the power of that spot vanished with them, and the house became what it had been before Silvio Manuel found it, an ordinary house."

As la Gorda talked, my mind seemed to clear up further, but not enough to reveal what had happened to us in that house that filled me with such sadness. Without knowing why, I was sure it had to do with the Nagual woman. Where was she?

La Gorda did not answer when I asked her that. There was a long silence. She excused herself, saying that she had to make breakfast. It was already morning. She left me by myself with a most painful, heavy heart. I called her back. She got angry and threw her pots on the floor. I understood why.

In another session of dreaming together we went still deeper into the intricacies of the second attention. This took place a few days later. La Gorda and I, with no such expectation or effort, found ourselves standing together. She tried three or four times in vain to interlock her arm with mine. She spoke to me, but her speech was incomprehensible. I knew, however, that she was saying that we were again in our dreaming bodies. She was cautioning me that all movement should stem from our midsections.

As in our last attempt, no dreaming scene presented itself for our examination, but I seemed to recognize a physical locale which I had seen in dreaming nearly every day for over a year: It was the valley of the saber-toothed tiger.

We walked a few yards. This time our movements were not jerky or explosive. We actually walked from the belly with no muscular action involved. The trying part was my lack of practice. It was like the first time I had ridden a bicycle. I easily got tired and lost my rhythm. I became hesitant and unsure of myself. We stopped. La Gorda was out of synchronization, too.

We began then to examine what was around us. Everything had an indisputable reality, at least to the eye. We were in a rugged area with a weird vegetation. I could not identify the strange shrubs I saw. They seemed like small trees, five to six feet high. They had a few leaves, which were flat and thick, chartreuse in color; and huge, gorgeous, deep-brown flowers striped with gold. The stems were not woody, but seemed to be light and pliable, like reeds; they were covered with long, formidable looking needlelike thorns. Some old dead plants that had dried up and fallen to the ground gave me the impression that the stems were hollow.

The ground was very dark and seemed moist. I tried to bend over to touch it, but I failed to move. La Gorda signaled me to use my midsection. When I did that I did not have to bend over to touch the ground. There was something in me like a tentacle which could feel.

But I could not tell what I was feeling. There were no particular tactile qualities on which to base distinctions. The ground that I touched appeared to be soil, not to my sense of touch but to what seemed to be a visual core in me.

I was plunged then into an intellectual dilemma. Why would dreaming seem to be the product of my visual faculty? Was it because of the predominance of the visual in daily life? The questions were meaningless. I was in no position to answer them, and all my queries did was to debilitate my second attention.

La Gorda jolted me out of my deliberations by ramming me. I experienced a sensation like a blow. A tremor ran through me. She pointed ahead of us. As usual, the saber-toothed tiger was lying on the ledge where I had always seen it. We approached until we were a mere six feet from the ledge and we had to lift our heads to see the tiger. We stopped. It stood up. Its size was stupendous, especially its breadth.

I knew that la Gorda wanted us to sneak around the tiger to the other side of the hill. I wanted to tell her that that might be dangerous, but I could not find a way to convey the message to her. The tiger seemed angry; aroused. It crouched back on its hind legs, as if it were preparing to jump on us. I was terrified.

La Gorda turned to me, smiling. I understood that she was telling me not to succumb to my panic because the tiger was only a ghostlike image. With a movement of her head, she coaxed me to go on. Yet at an unfathomable level, I knew that the tiger was an entity, perhaps not in the factual sense of our daily world, but real nonetheless. And because la Gorda and I were dreaming, we had lost our own 'factuality in the world'. At that moment we were on a par with the tiger; our existence also was ghostlike.

We took one more step at the nagging insistence of la Gorda. The tiger jumped from the ledge. I saw its enormous body hurtling through the air coming directly at me. I lost the sense that I was dreaming. To me, the tiger was real and I was going to be ripped apart. A barrage of lights, images, and the most intense primary colors I had ever seen flashed all around me. I woke up in my study.

After we became extremely proficient in our dreaming together, I had the certainty that we had managed to secure our detachment; and we were no longer in a hurry. The outcome of our efforts was not what moved us to act.

It was rather an ulterior compulsion that gave us the impetus to act impeccably without thought of reward. Our subsequent sessions were like the first except for the speed and ease with which we entered into the second state of dreaming, dynamic vigil.

Our proficiency in dreaming together was such that we successfully repeated it every night. Without any such intention on our part, our dreaming together focused itself randomly on three areas: on the sand dunes, on the habitat of the saber-toothed tiger, and most important, on forgotten past events.

When the scenes that confronted us had to do with forgotten events in which la Gorda and I had played an important role, she had no difficulty in interlocking her arm with mine. That act gave me an irrational sense of security. La Gorda explained that it fulfilled a need to dispel the utter aloneness that the second attention produces. She said that to interlock the arms promoted a mood of objectivity, and as a result, we could watch the activity that took place in every scene. At times we were compelled to be part of the activity. At other times we were thoroughly objective and watched the scene as if we were in a movie theater.

When we visited the sand dunes or the habitat of the tiger, we were unable to interlock arms. In those instances our activity was never the same twice. Our actions were never premeditated, but seemed to be spontaneous reactions to novel situations.

According to la Gorda, most of our dreaming together grouped itself into three categories. The first and by far the largest was a reenactment of events we had lived together. The second was a review that both of us did of events I alone had "lived" -- the land of the saber-toothed tiger was in this category. The third was an actual visit to a realm that existed as we saw it at the moment of our visit. She contended that those yellow mounds are present here and now, and that that is the way they look and stand always to the warrior who journeys into them.

I wanted to argue a point with her. She and I had had mysterious interactions with people we had forgotten for reasons inconceivable to us; but whom we had nonetheless known in fact. The saber-toothed tiger, on the other hand, was a creature of my dreaming. I could not conceive both of them to be in the same category.

Before I had time to voice my thoughts, I got her answer. It was as if she were actually inside my mind reading it like a text.

"They are in the same class," she said, and laughed nervously. "We can't explain why we have forgotten, or how it is that we are remembering now. We can't explain anything. The sabertoothed tiger is there, somewhere. We'll never know where. But why should we worry about a made-up inconsistency? To say that one is a fact and the other a dream has no meaning whatever to the other self."

La Gorda and I used dreaming together as a means of reaching an unimagined world of hidden memories. Dreaming together enabled us to recollect events that we were incapable of retrieving with our 'everyday life' memory. When we rehashed those events in our waking hours, it triggered yet more detailed recollections. In this fashion we disinterred, [* disinterred -- dig up dead bodies for reburial or for medical investigation] so to speak, masses of memories that had been buried in us. It took us almost two years of prodigious [* prodigious -- so great in size, force, or extent as to elicit awe] effort and concentration to arrive at a modicum [* modicum -- a small or moderate or token amount] of understanding of what had happened to us.

Don Juan had told us that human beings are divided in two. The right side, which he called the tonal, encompasses everything the intellect can conceive of. The left side, called the nagual, is a realm of indescribable features; a realm impossible to contain in words. The left side is perhaps comprehended, if comprehension is what takes place, with the total body; thus its resistance to conceptualization. [* conceptualization -- inventing or contriving an idea or explanation and formulating it mentally]

Don Juan had also told us that all the faculties, possibilities, and accomplishments of sorcery, from the simplest to the most astounding, are in the human body itself.

Taking as a base the concepts that we are divided in two and that everything is in the body itself, la Gorda proposed an explanation of our memories.

She believed that during the years of our association with the Nagual Juan Matus, our time was divided between: states of normal awareness, on the right side, the tonal, where the first attention prevails; and states of heightened awareness, on the left side, the nagual, or the site of the second attention.

La Gorda thought that the Nagual Juan Matus's efforts were to lead us to the other self by means of our self-control of the second attention through dreaming.

However, he put us in direct touch with the second attention through bodily manipulation. La Gorda remembered that he used to force her to go from one side to the other by pushing or massaging her back. She said that sometimes he would even give her a sound blow over or around her right shoulder blade.

The result was her entrance into an extraordinary state of clarity. To la Gorda, it seemed that everything in that state went faster, yet nothing in the world had been changed.

It was weeks after la Gorda told me this that I remembered the same had been the case with me. At any given time, don Juan might give me a blow on my back. I always felt the blow on my spine, high between my shoulder blades. An extraordinary clarity would follow. The world was the same but sharper. Everything stood by itself. It may have been that my reasoning faculties were numbed by don Juan's blow, thus allowing me to perceive without their intervention.

I would stay clear indefinitely or until don Juan would give me another blow on the same spot to make me revert back to a normal state of awareness. He never pushed or massaged me. It was always a direct sound blow -- not like the blow of a fist, but rather a smack that took my breath away for an instant. I would have to gasp and take long, fast gulps of air until I could breathe normally again.

La Gorda reported the same effect:. All the air would be forced out of her lungs by the Nagual's blow and she would have to breathe extra hard to fill them up again. La Gorda believed that breath was the all-important factor. In her opinion, the gulps of air that she had to take after being struck were what made the difference, yet she could not explain in what way breathing would affect her perception and awareness. She also said that she was never hit back into normal awareness. She reverted back to it by her own means, although without knowing how.

Her remarks seemed relevant to me. As a child, and even as an adult, I had occasionally had the wind knocked out of me when I took a fall on my back. But the effect of don Juan's blow, though it left me breathless, was not like that at all. There was no pain involved. Instead it brought on a sensation impossible to describe.

The closest I can come is to say that it created a feeling like dryness in me. The blows to my back seemed to dry out my lungs and fog up everything else. Then, as la Gorda had observed, everything that had become hazy after the Nagual's blow became crystal clear as I breathed, as if breath were the catalyst; [* catalyst -- something that causes an important event to happen] the all-important factor.

The same thing would happen to me on the way back to the awareness of everyday life. The air would be knocked out of me, the world I was watching would become foggy, and then it would clear as I filled up my lungs.

Another feature of those states of heightened awareness was the incomparable richness of personal interaction; a richness that our bodies understood as a sensation of speeding. Our back and forth movement between the right and the left sides made it easier for us to realize that on the right side too much energy and time is consumed in the actions and interactions of our daily life. On the left side, on the other hand, there is an inherent need for economy and speed.

La Gorda could not describe what this speed really was, and neither could I. The best I could do would be to say that on the left side I could grasp the meaning of things with precision and directness. Every facet of activity was free of preliminaries or introductions.

I acted and rested. I went forth and retreated without any of the thought processes that are usual to me. This was what la Gorda and I understood as speeding.

La Gorda and I discerned at one moment that the richness of our perception on the left side was a post-facto realization. Our interaction appeared to be rich in the light of our capacity to remember it. We became cognizant then that in these states of heightened awareness we had perceived everything in one clump; one bulky mass of inextricable detail. We called this ability to perceive everything at once intensity.

For years we had found it impossible to examine the separate constituent parts of those chunks of experience. We had been unable to synthesize those parts into a sequence that would make sense to the intellect. Since we were incapable of those syntheses, we could not remember.

Our incapacity to remember was in reality an incapacity to put the memory of our perception on a linear basis. We could not lay our experiences flat, so to speak, and arrange them in a sequential order. The experiences were available to us, but at the same time they were impossible to retrieve because they were blocked by a wall of intensity.

The task of remembering, then, was properly the task of joining our left and right sides; of reconciling those two distinct forms of perception into a unified whole. It was the task of consolidating the totality of oneself by rearranging intensity into a linear sequence.

It occurred to us that the activities we remembered taking part in might not have taken long to perform in terms of time measured by the clock. By reason of our capacity to perceive in terms of intensity, we may have had only a subliminal sensation of lengthy passages of time. La Gorda felt that if we could rearrange intensity into a linear sequence, we would honestly believe that we had lived a thousand years.

The pragmatic [* pragmatic -- guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory] step that don Juan took to aid our task of remembering was to make us interact with certain people while we were in a state of heightened awareness. He was very careful not to let us see those people when we were in a state of normal awareness. In this way he created the appropriate conditions for remembering.

Upon completing our remembering, la Gorda and I entered into a bizarre state. We had detailed knowledge of social interactions which we had shared with don Juan and his companions.

These were not memories in the sense that I would remember an episode from my childhood. They were more than vivid moment to moment recollections of events. We reconstructed conversations that seemed to be reverberating in our ears, as if we were listening to them.

Both of us felt that it was superfluous [* superfluous -- serving no useful purpose] to try to speculate about what was happening to us. What we remembered, from the point of view of our experiential selves, was taking place now. Such was the character of our remembering.

At last la Gorda and I were able to answer the questions that had driven us so hard. We remembered who the Nagual woman was, where she fit among us, what her role had been. We deduced, more than remembered, that we had spent equal amounts of time with don Juan and don Genaro in normal states of awareness, and with don Juan and his other companions in states of heightened awareness. We recaptured every nuance of those interactions which had been veiled by intensity.

Upon a thoughtful review of what we had found, we realized that we had bridged the two sides of ourselves in a minimal fashion. We turned then to other topics; new questions that had come to take precedence over the old ones.

There were three subjects, three questions, that summarized all of our concerns. Who was don Juan and who were his companions? What had they really done to us? And where had all of them gone?
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