The basic premise of sorcery for a sorcerer is that the
world of everyday life is not real, or out there, as we believe it is. For a
sorcerer, reality, or the world we all know, is only a description.
For the sake of validating this premise I will concentrate
the best of my efforts into leading you into a genuine conviction that what you
hold in mind as the world at hand is merely a description of the world; a description
that has been pounded into you from the moment you were born.
Everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher
who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is
capable of perceiving the world as it is described. We have no memory of that
portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point
of reference to compare it to anything else. From that moment on, however, the
child is a member . He knows the description of the world; and his membership becomes
full-fledged, perhaps, when he is capable of making all the proper perceptual
interpretations which, by conforming to that description, validate it.
The reality of our day-to-day life, then, consists of an
endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we, the individuals who share
a specific membership, have learned to make in common.
The idea that the perceptual interpretations that make up
the world have a flow is congruous with the fact that they run uninterruptedly
and are rarely, if ever, open to question. In fact the reality of the world we
know is so taken for granted that the basic premise of sorcery, that our reality
is merely one of many descriptions, can hardly be taken as a serious proposition.
Fortunately for you, I'm not concerned at all with whether
or not you can take my proposition seriously, and thus I will proceed to elucidate
my points, in spite of your opposition, your disbelief, and your inability to
understand what I am saying. Thus, as a teacher of sorcery, my endeavor is to
describe the world to you. Your difficulty in grasping my concepts and methods
will stem from the fact that the units of my description are alien and incompatible
with those of your own.
I am teaching you how to see as opposed to
merely looking , and stopping the world is the first
step to seeing .
Stopping the world is not a cryptic metaphor
that really doesn't mean anything. And its scope and importance as one of the
main propositions of my knowledge should not be misjudged.
I am teaching you how to stop the world . Nothing
will work, however, if you are very stubborn. Be less stubborn, and you will
probably stop the world with any of the techniques I teach you.
Everything I will tell you to do is a technique for stopping the world .
The sorcerer's description of the world is perceivable.
But our insistence on holding on to our standard version of reality renders us
almost deaf and blind to it. I'm going to give you what I call "techniques for
stopping the world."
When you begin this teaching, there is another reality,
that is to say, there is a sorcery description of the world, which you do not
know. As a sorcerer and a teacher, I am teaching you that description. What I
am doing with you consists, therefore, in setting up that unknown reality by
unfolding its description, adding increasingly more complex parts as you go along.
In order to arrive at seeing one first has
to stop the world . Stopping the world is indeed an
appropriate rendition of certain states of awareness in which the reality of
everyday life is altered because the flow of interpretation, which ordinarily
runs uninterruptedly, has been stopped by a set of circumstances alien to that
flow. In this case the set of circumstances alien to our normal flow of interpretations
is the sorcery description of the world. The precondition for stopping
the world is that one has to be convinced; in other words, one has to
learn the new description in a total sense, for the purpose of pitting it against
the old one, and in that way break the dogmatic certainty, which we all share,
that the validity of our perceptions, or our reality of the world, is not to
After stopping the world the next step is seeing .
By that I mean what could be categorized as responding to the perceptual solicitations
of a world outside the description we have learned to call reality.
All these steps can only be understood in terms of the description
to which they belong; a description that I'm endeavoring to give you. Let, then,
this teaching be the source of entrance into that description.
In his first book, The Teachings of Don Juan, published
by the University of California Press and for which Carlos Castaneda received
his doctorate in Anthropology, we are told: In 1960, as an anthropology student
at the University of California, Los Angeles, Carlos Castaneda began collecting
information on the medicinal plants used by the Indians of the southwest. Subsequently
he met, and became the apprentice of, don Juan, a Yaqui Indian.
From 1968 thru 1999, the following ten books were published.
They recount his apprenticeship under don Juan and therewith provide us entrance
to the knowledge don Juan passed on to him--knowledge of an ancient system for
becoming a "man of knowledge."
1968 -- The Teachings of
Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
1971 -- A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with
1972 -- Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan
1974 -- Tales Of Power
1977 -- The Second Ring of Power
1981 -- The Eagle's Gift
1984 -- The Fire From Within
1987 -- The Power of Silence: Further lessons of don Juan
1993 -- The Art of Dreaming
1999 -- The Active Side of Infinity.
This book is a compilation of most of the ideas, procedures,
methods, systems, processes, concepts, and principles of the teachings of don
Juan presented by Carlos Castaneda .
I have, where necessary, changed the original text in order
for the teaching to be directed as though from don Juan to any new student. That
being said, however, there are a number of places where the teaching is directed
as though you have been a participant in something with don Juan; or are acting
or thinking in a particular way. Presenting it that way, seemed to me, the easiest
way to leave parts of the teaching intact . And on the point of my presenting
everything as though from don Juan: a number of places, perhaps as much as 10%
of the total, were actually Castaneda's insights, explanations, or additions
to the teaching. Lastly, in at least two places, the teaching actually came from
other of don Juan's associates.
In "The Fire From Within": chapter 3, paragraph 48, Carlos
Castaneda tells us that don Juan said that "the old seers...actually saw the
indescribable force which is the source of all sentient beings. They called it
the Eagle..." I refer to this passage in order to justify my usage, in this book,
of the term, "the Indescribable Force ," instead of the term don
Juan used, "the Eagle." If you miss the use of the term "the Eagle," I apologize.
The chapter titles of this book and the material in those
chapters, correspond to the above nine books. Within these chapters are two types
of line breaks. The asterisked line breaks set apart points which, because of
removed context, now appear as disjointed bits (or passages) of teaching. The
plain line breaks (or two asterisks if between pages) correspond to books' chapter