The Fire From Within, 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.

Re: The Fire From Within, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:59 am

Breaking the Barrier of Perception

In the late afternoon, still in Oaxaca, don Juan and I strolled around the square leisurely. As we approached his favorite bench the people who were sitting there got up and left. We hurried over to it and sat down.

"We've come to the end of my explanation of awareness," he said. "And today, you are going to assemble another world by yourself and leave all doubts aside forever.

"There must be no mislake about what you are going to do. Today, from the vantage point of heightened awareness, you are going to make your assemblage point move and in one instant you are going to align the emanations of another world.

"In a few days, when Genaro and I meet you on a mountaintop, you are going to do the same from the disadvantage of normal awareness. You will have to align the emanations of another world on a moment's notice; if you don't you will die the death of an average man who falls from a precipice."

He was alluding to an act that he would have me perform as the last of his teachings for the right side: the act of jumping from a mountaintop into an abyss.

Don Juan stated that warriors ended their training when they were capable of breaking the barrier of perception, unaided, starting from a normal state of awareness. The nagual led warriors to that threshold, but success was up to the individual. The nagual merely tested them by continually pushing them to fend for themselves.

"The only force that can temporarily cancel out alignment is alignment," he continued. "You will have to cancel the alignment that keeps you perceiving the world of daily affairs. By inlending a new position for your assemblage point and by intending to keep it fixed there long enough, you will assemble another world and escape this one.

"The old seers are still defying death, to this day, by doing just that, intending their assemblage points to remain fixed on positions that place them in any of the seven worlds."

"What will happen if I succeed in aligning another world?" I asked.

"You will go to it," he replied. "As Genaro did, one night in this very place when he was showing you the mystery of alignment."

"Where will I be, don Juan?"

"In another world, of course. Where else?"

"What about the people around me, and the buildings, and the mountains, and everything else?"

"You'll be separated from all that by the very barrier that you have broken: the barrier of perception. And just like the seers who have buried themselves to defy death, you won't be in this world."

There was a battle raging inside me as I heard his statements. Some part of me clamored that don Juan's position was untenable, while another part knew beyond any question that he was right.

I asked him what would happen if I moved my assemblage point while I was in the street, in the middle of traffic in Los Angeles.

"Los Angeles will vanish, like a puff of air," he replied with a serious expression. "But you will remain.

"That is the mystery I've been trying to explain to you. You've experienced it, but you haven't understood it yet, and today you will."

He said that I could not as yet use the boost of the earth to shift into another great band of emanations, but that since I had an imperative need to shift, that need was going to serve me as a launcher.

Don Juan looked up at the sky. He stretched his arms above his head as if he had been sitting for too long and was pushing physical weariness out of his body. He commanded me to turn off my internal dialogue and enter into inner silence. Then he stood up and began to walk away from the square; he signaled me to follow him. He took a deserted side street. I recognized it as being the same street where Genaro had given me his demonstration of alignment. The moment I recollected that, I found myself walking with don Juan in a place that by then was very familiar to me: a deserted plain with yellow dunes of what seemed to be sulfur.

I recalled then that don Juan had made me perceive that world hundreds of times. I also recalled that beyond the desolate landscape of the dunes there was another world shining with an exquisite, uniform, pure white light.

When don Juan and I entered into it this time, I sensed that the light, which came from every direction, was not an invigorating light, but was so soothing that it gave me the feeling that it was sacred.

As that sacred light bathed me a rational thought exploded in my inner silence. I thought it was quite possible that mystics and saints had made this journey of the assemblage point. They had seen God in the mold of man. They had seen hell in the sulfur dunes. And then they had seen the glory of heaven in the diaphanous light.

My rational thought burned out almost immediately under the onslaughts of what I was perceiving. My awareness was taken by a multitude of shapes, figures of men, women, and children of all ages, and other incomprehensible apparitions gleaming with a blinding white light.

I saw don Juan, walking by my side, staring at me and not at the apparitions, but the next instant I saw him as a ball of luminosity, bobbing up and down a few feet away from me. The ball made an abrupt and frightening movement and came closer to me and I saw inside it.

Don Juan was working his glow of awareness for my benefit. The glow suddenly shone on four or five threadlike filaments on his left side. It remained fixed there. All my concentration was on it; something pulled me slowly as if through a tube and I saw the allies -- three dark, long, rigid figures agitated by a tremor, like leaves in a breeze. They were against an almost fluorescent pink background. The moment I focused my eyes on them, they came to where I was, not walking or gliding or flying, but by pulling themselves along some fibers of whiteness that came out of me. The whiteness was not a light or a glow but lines that seemed to be drawn with heavy powder chalk. They disintegrated quickly, yet not quickly enough. The allies were on me before the lines faded away.

They crowded me. I became annoyed, and the allies immediately moved away as if I had chastised them. I felt sorry for them, and my feeling pulled them back instantly. And they again came and rubbed themselves against me. I saw then something I had seen in the mirror at the stream. The allies had no inner glow. They had no inner mobility. There was no life in them. And yet they were obviously alive. They were strange grotesque shapes that resembled zippered-up sleeping bags. The thin line in the middle of their elongated shapes made them look as if they had been sewed up.

They were not pleasing figures. The sensation that they were totally alien to me made me feel uncomfortable, impatient. I saw that the three allies were moving as if they were jumping up and down; there was a faint glow inside them. The glow grew in intensity until, in at least one of the allies, it was quite brilliant.

The instant I saw that, I was facing a black world. I do not mean that it was dark as night is dark. It was rather that everything around me was pitch-black. I looked up at the sky and I could not find light anywhere. The sky was also black and literally covered with lines and irregular circles of various degrees of blackness. The sky looked like a black piece of wood where the grain showed in relief.

I looked down at the ground. It was fluffy. It seemed to be made of flakes of agar-agar; they were not dull flakes, but they were not shiny either. It was something in between, which I had never seen in my life: black agar-agar.

I heard then the voice of seeing. It said that my assemblage point had assembled a total world with other great bands of emanations: a black world.

I wanted to absorb every word I was hearing; in order to do that I had to split my concentration. The voice stopped; my eyes became focused again. I was standing with don Juan just a few blocks away from the square.

I instantly felt that I had no time to rest, that it would be useless to indulge in being shocked. I rallied all my strength and asked don Juan if I had done what he had expected.

"You did exactly what you were expected to do," he said reassuringly. "Let's go back to the square and stroll around it one more time, for the last time in this world."

I refused to think about don Juan's leaving, so I asked him about the black world. I had vague recollections of having seen it before.

"It's the easiest world to assemble," he said. "And of all you've experienced, only the black world is worth considering. It is the only true alignment of another great band you have ever made. Everything else has been a lateral shift along man's band, but still within the same great band. The wall of fog, the plain with yellow dunes, the world of the apparitions -- all are lateral alignments that our assemblage points make as they approach a crucial position."

He explained as we walked back to the square that one of the strange qualities of the black world is that it does not have the same emanations that account for time in our world. They are different emanations that produce a different result. Seers that journey into the black world feel that they have been in it for an eternity, but in our world that turns out to be an instant.

"The black world is a dreadful world because it ages the body," he said emphatically.

I asked him to clarify his statements. He slowed down his pace and looked at me. He reminded me that Genaro, in his direct way, had tried to point that out to me once, when he told me that we had plodded in hell for an eternity while not even a minute had passed in the world we know.

Don Juan remarked that in his youth he had become obsessed with the black world. He had wondered, in front of his benefactor, about what would happen to him if he went into it and stayed there for a while. But as his benefactor was not given to explanations, he had simply plunged don Juan into the black world to let him find out for himself.

"The nagual Julian's power was so extraordinary," don Juan continued, "that it took me days to come back from that black world."

"You mean it took you days to return your assemblage point to its normal position, don't you?" I asked.

"Yes. I mean that," he said.

He explained that in the few days that he was lost in the black world he aged at least ten years, if not more. The emanations inside his cocoon felt the strain of years of solitary struggle.

Silvio Manuel was a totally different case. The nagual Julian also plunged him into the unknown, but Silvio Manuel assembled another world with another set of bands, a world also without the emanations of time but one which has the opposite effect on seers. He disappeared for seven years and yet he felt he had been gone only a moment.

"To assemble other worlds is not only a matter of practice, but a matter of intent," he continued. "And it isn't merely an exercise of bouncing out of those worlds, like being pulled by a rubber band. You see, a seer has to be daring. Once you break the barrier of perception, you don't have to come back to the same place in the world. See what I mean?"

It slowly dawned on me what he was saying. I had an almost invincible desire to laugh at such a preposterous idea, but before the idea coalesced into a certainty, don Juan spoke to me and disrupted what I was about to remember.

He said that for warriors the danger of assembling other worlds is that those worlds are as possessive as our world. The force of alignment is such that once the assemblage point breaks away from its normal position, it becomes fixed at other positions, by other alignments. And warriors run the risk of getting stranded in inconceivable aloneness.

The inquisitive, rational part of me commented that I had seen him in the black world as a ball of luminosity. It was possible, therefore, to be in that world with people.

"Only if people follow you around by moving their own assemblage points when you move yours," he replied. "I shifted mine in order to be with you; otherwise you would have been there alone with the allies."

We stopped walking, and don Juan said that it was time for me to go.

"I want you to bypass all lateral shifts," he said, "and go directly to the next total world: the black world. In a couple of days you'll have to do the same thing by yourself. You won't have time to piddle around. You'll have to do it in order to escape death."

He said that breaking the barrier of perception is the culmination of everything seers do. From the moment that barrier is broken, man and his fate take on a different meaning for warriors. Because of the transcendental importance of breaking that barrier, the new seers use the act of breaking it as a final test. The test consists of jumping from a mountaintop into an abyss while in a state of normal awareness. If the warrior jumping into the abyss does not erase the daily world and assemble another one before he reaches bottom, he dies.

"What you are going to do is to make this world vanish," he went on, "but you are going to remain somewhat yourself. This is the ultimate bastion of awareness, the one the new seers count on. They know that after they burn with consciousness, they somewhat retain the sense of being themselves."

He smiled and pointed to a street that we could see from where we were standing -- the street where Genaro had shown me the mysteries of alignment.

"That street, like any other, leads to eternity," he said. "All you have to do is follow it in total silence. It's time. Go now! Go!"

He turned around and walked away from me. Genaro was waiting for him at the corner. Genaro waved at me and then made a gesture of urging me to come on. Don Juan kept on walking without turning to look. Genaro joined him. I started to follow them, but I knew that it was wrong. Instead, I went in the opposite direction. The street was dark, lonely, and bleak. I did not indulge in feelings of failure or inadequacy. I walked in inner silence. My assemblage point was moving at great speed. I saw the three allies. The line of their middle made them look as if they were smiling sideways. I felt that I was being frivolous. And then a windlike force blew the world away.
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Re: The Fire From Within, by Carlos Castaneda

Postby admin » Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:59 am

Epilogue

A couple of days later, all the nagual's party and all the apprentices got together on the flat mountaintop don Juan had told me about.

Don Juan said that each of the apprentices had already said goodbye to everybody, and that all of us were in a state of awareness that admitted no sentimentalism. For us, he said, there was only action. We were warriors in a state of total war.

Everyone, with the exception of don Juan, Genaro, Pablito, Nestor, and me, moved a short distance away from the flat mountaintop, in order to allow Pablito, Nestor, and me privacy to enter into a state of normal awareness.

But before we did, don Juan took us by the arms and walked us around the flat top.

"In a moment, you're going to infend the movement of your assemblage points," he said. "And no one will help you. You are now alone. You must remember then that intent begins with a command.

"The old seers used to say that if warriors are going to have an internal dialogue, they should have the proper dialogue. For the old seers that meant a dialogue about sorcery and the enhancement of their selfreflection. For the new seers, it doesn't mean dialogue, but the detached manipulation of intent through sober commands."

He said over and over again that the manipulation of intent begins with a command given to oneself; the command is then repeated until it becomes the Eagle's command, and then the assemblage point shifts, accordingly, the moment warriors reach inner silence.

The fact that such a maneuver is possible, he said, is something of the most singular importance to seers, old and new alike, but for reasons diametrically opposed. Knowing about it allowed the old seers to move their assemblage point to inconceivable dreaming positions in the incommensurable unknown; for the new seers it means refusing to be food, it means escaping the Eagle by moving their assemblage points to a particular dreaming position called total freedom.

He explained that the old seers discovered that it is possible to move the assemblage point to the limit of the known and keep it fixed there in a state of prime heightened awareness. From that position, they saw the feasibility of slowly shifting their assemblage points permanently to other positions beyond that limit -- a stupendous feat fraught with daring but lacking sobriety, for they could never retract the movement of their assemblage points, or perhaps they never wanted to.

Don Juan said that adventurous men, faced with the choice of dying in the world of ordinary affairs or dying in unknown worlds, will unavoidably choose the latter, and that the new seers, realizing that their predecessors had chosen merely to change the locale of their death, came to understand the futility of it all; the futility of struggling to control their fellow men, the futility of assembling other worlds, and, above all, the futility of self-importance.

One of the most fortunate decisions that the new seers made, he said, was never to allow their assemblage points to move permanently to any position other than heightened awareness. From that position, they actually resolved their dilemma of futility and found out that the solution is not simply to choose an alternate world in which to die, but to choose total consciousness, total freedom.

Don Juan commented that by choosing total freedom, the new seers unwittingly continued in the tradition of their predecessors and became the quintessence of the death defiers.

He explained that the new seers discovered that if the assemblage point is made to shift constantly to the confines of the unknown, but is made to return to a position at the limit of the known, then when it is suddenly released it moves like lightning across the entire cocoon of man, aligning all the emanations inside the cocoon at once.

"The new seers burn with the force of alignment," don Juan went on, "with the force of will, which they have turned into the force of intent through a life of impeccability. Intent is the alignment of all the amber emanations of awareness, so it is correct to say that total freedom means total awareness."

"Is that what all of you are going to do, don Juan?" I asked.

"We most certainly will, if we have sufficient energy," he replied. "Freedom is the Eagle's gift to man. Unfortunately, very few men understand that all we need, in order to accept such a magnificent gift, is to have sufficient energy.

"If that's all we need, then, by all means, we must become misers of energy."

After that, don Juan made us enter into a state of normal awareness. At dusk, Pablito, Nestor, and I jumped into the abyss. And don Juan and the nagual's party burned with the fire from within. They entered into total awareness, for they had sufficient energy to accept the mind-boggling gift of freedom.

Pablito, Nestor, and I didn't die at the bottom of that gorge -- and neither did the other apprentices who had jumped at an earlier time -- because we never reached it; all of us, under the impact of such a tremendous and incomprehensible act as jumping to our deaths, moved our assemblage points and assembled other worlds.

We know now that we were left to remember heightened awareness and to regain the totality of ourselves. And we also know that the more we remember, the more intense our elation, our wondering, but also the greater our doubts, our turmoil.

So far, it is as if we were left only to be tantalized by the most far-reaching questions about the nature and the fate of man, until the time when we may have sufficient energy not only to verify everything don Juan taught us, but also to accept the Eagle's gift ourselves.
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