The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Book Notes
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Para mi solo recorrer los caminos que tienen corazon, cualquier camino que tenga corazon. Por ahi yo recorro, y la unica prueba que vale es atravesar todo su largo.Y por ahi yo recorro mirando, mirando, sin aliento.

– Don Juan

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

– George Simmel

  • Three hallucinogenic plants: peyote, Jimson weed, psychedelic mushroom
  • Power rests on the kind of knowledge one holds. What is the sense of knowing things that are useless?
  • There is nothing wrong with being afraid. When you fear, you see things in a different way.
  • You dwell upon yourself too much. That is the trouble. And that produces a terrible fatigue.
  • A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war, wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it will live to regret his steps.
  • Every time a man sets himself to learn he has to labor hard…the limits of his learning are determined by his own nature.
  • I’m never angry at anybody! No human being can do anything important enough for that. You get angry at people when you feel that their acts are important. I don’t feel that way any longer.
  • A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning. A man who has, without rushing, or without faltering, gone as far as he can in unraveling the secrets of power and knowledge.
    • When a man start to learn, he is never clear about his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague. He hopes for rewards that will never materialize for he knows nothing of the hardships of learning.
  • Learning is never what one expects. Every step of learning is a new task, and the fear the man is experiencing begins to mount mercilessly, unyieldingly. His purpose becomes a battlefield.

The four natural enemies of a man of knowledge:

  1. Fear – It is not possible for a man to abandon himself to fear for years, then finally conquer it. If he gives in to fear he will never conquer it, because he will shy away from learning and never try again. But if he tries to learn for years in the midst of his fear, he will eventually conquer it because he will never have really abandoned himself to it. Therefore he must not run away. He must defy his fear, and in spite of it he must take the next step in learning, and the next, and the next. He must be fully afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule! [One had to be conscious of being afraid and duly to evaluate that sensation – one was capable of conquering fear only by facing it.]
  2. Clarity – That clarity of mind, which is so hard to obtain, dispels fear, but also blinds. It forces the man never to doubt himself. It gives him the assurance he can do anything he pleases, for he sees clearly into everything. And he is courageous because he is clear, and he stops at nothing because he is clear. But all that is a mistake; it is like something incomplete. If the man yields to this make-believe power, he has succumbed to his second enemy and will be patient when he should rush. And he will fumble with learning until he winds up incapable of learning anything more…He will be clear as long as he lives, but he will no longer learn, or yearn for, anything.
  3. Power – Power is the strongest of all enemies. And naturally the easiest thing to do is to give in; after all, the man is truly invincible. He commands; he begins by taking calculated risks, and ends in making rules, because he is a master…A man who is defeated by power dies without really knowing how to handle it. Power is only a burden upon his fate. Such a man has no command over himself, and cannot tell when or how to use his power.
  4. Old age – If he gives in totally to his desire to lie down and forget, if he soothes himself in tiredness, he will have lost his last round, and his enemy will cut him down into a feeble old creature. His desire to retreat will overrule all his clarity, his power, and his knowledge.
  • The twilight is the crack between the worlds.
  • Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.
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