THE FIRE FROM WITHIN
Something was grabbing the edge of the mirror, as if from the inside of the glass, as if the glass surface were an open window and something or somebody were just climbing through it.
Don Juan and I fought desperately; the loud thrashing continued unremittingly like an enormous fish in our bare hands. A strange shape was actually trying to climb up through it. . .
I vacillated a second and the mirror flew out of my hands.
"Grab it! Grab it!" Don Juan yelled. . .
"A VISION OF THE SORCERER'S WORLD THAT IS FULL OF MIND-SPINNING IMPLICATIONS IN THE CASTANEDA TRADITION."
?United Press International
"HIS STORIES OF INITIATION INTO THE WORLD OF MAGIC AND SORCERY. . . CAN BE BOTH MOCKING AND TERRIFYING. . . . THE FIRE FROM WITHIN WILL FASCINATE YOU."
?The Nashville Tennessean
"ONE CAN'T EXAGGERATE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WHAT CASTANEDA HAS DONE."
?The New York Times
Each of Carlos Castaneda's books is a brilliant and tantalizing burst of illumination into the depths of our deepest mysteries, like a sudden flash of light, like a burst of lightning over the desert at night, which shows us a world that is both alien and totally familiar?the landscape of our dreams.
THE FIRE FROM WITHIN is the author's most brilliant, thought-provoking and unusual book, one in which Castaneda, under the tutelage of don Juan and his "disciples," at last constructs, from the teachings of don Juan and his own experiences, a stunning portrait of the "sorcerer's world" that is crystal-clear and dizzying in its implications.
"It's impossible to view the world in quite the same way after reading THE FIRE FROM WITHIN."
I WANT TO EXPRESS MY ADMIRATION AND GRATITUDE TO A MASTERFUL TEACHER, H. Y. L., FOR HELPING ME RESTORE MY ENERGY, AND FOR TEACHING ME AN ALTERNATE WAY TO PLENITUDE AND WELLBEING.
1. The New Seers
2. Petty Tyrants
3. The Eagle's Emanations
4. The Glow of Awareness
5. The First Attention
6. Inorganic Beings
7. The Assemblage Point
8. The Position of the Assemblage Point
9. The Shift Below
10. Great Bands of Emanations
11. Stalking, Intent, and the Dreaming Position
12. The Nagual Julian
13. The Earth's Boost
14. The Rolling Force
15. The Death Defiers
16. The Mold of Man
17. The Journey of the Dreaming Body
18. Breaking the Barrier of Perception EPILOGUE
I have written extensive descriptive accounts of my apprentice relationship with a Mexican Indian sorcerer, don Juan Matus. Due to the foreignness of the concepts and practices don Juan wanted me to understand and internalize, I have had no other choice but to render his teachings in the form of a narrative, a narrative of what happened, as it happened.
The organization of don Juan's instruction was predicated on the idea that man has two types of awareness. He labeled them the right side and the left side. He described the first as the state of normal awareness necessary for everyday life. The second, he said, was the mysterious side of man, the state of awareness needed to function as sorcerer and seer. Don Juan divided his instruction, accordingly, into teachings for the right side and teachings for the left side.
He conducted his teachings for the right side when I was in my state of normal awareness, and I have described those teachings in all my accounts. In my state of normal awareness don Juan told me that he was a sorcerer. He even introduced me to another sorcerer, don Genaro Flores, and because of the nature of our association, I logically concluded that they had taken me as their apprentice.
That apprenticeship ended with an incomprehensible act that both don Juan and don Genaro led me to perform. They made me jump from the top of a flat mountain into an abyss.
I have described in one of my accounts what took place on that mountaintop. The last drama of don Juan's teachings for the right side was played there by don Juan himself; don Genaro; two apprentices, Pablito and Nestor; and me. Pablito, Nestor, and I jumped from that mountaintop into an abyss.
For years afterward I thought that just my total trust in don Juan and don Genaro had been sufficient to obliterate all my rational fears on facing actual annihilation. I know now that it wasn't so; I know that the secret was in don Juan's teachings for the left side, and that it took tremendous discipline and perseverance for don Juan, don Genaro, and their companions to conduct those teachings.
It has taken me nearly ten years to recollect what exactly took place in his teachings for the left side that led me to be so willing to perform such an incomprehensible act: jumping into an abyss.
It was in his teachings for the left side that don Juan let on what he, don Genaro, and their companions were really doing to me. and who they were. They were not teaching me sorcery, but how to master three aspects of an ancient knowledge they possessed: awareness, stalking, and intent. And they were not sorcerers; they were seers. And don Juan was not only a seer, but also a nagual.
Don Juan had already explained to me, in his teachings for the right side, a great deal about the nagual and about seeing. I had understood seeing to be the capacity of human beings to enlarge their perceptual field until they are capable of assessing not only the outer appearances but the essence of everything. He had also explained that seers see man as a field of energy, which looks like a luminous egg. The majority of people, he said, have their fields of energy divided into two parts. A few men and women have four or sometimes three parts. Because these people are more resilient than the average man, they can become naguals after learning to see.
In his teachings for the left side, don Juan explained to me the intricacies of seeing and of being a nagual. To be a nagual, he said, is something more complex and far-reaching than being merely a more resilient man who has learned to see. To be a nagual entails being a leader, being a teacher and a guide.
As a nagual, don Juan was the leader of a group of seers known as the nagual's party, which was composed of eight female seers, Cecilia, Delia, Hermelinda, Carmela. Nelida, Florinda, Zuleica, and Zoila; three male seers, Vicente, Silvio Manuel, and Genaro; and four couriers or messengers, Emilito, John Tuma, Marta, and Teresa.
In addition to leading the nagual's party, don Juan also taught and guided a group of apprentice seers known as the new nagual's party. It consisted of four young men, Pablito, Nestor, Eligio, and Benigno, along with five women, Soledad, la Gorda, Lidia, Josefina, and Rosa. I was the nominal leader of the new nagual's party together with the nagual woman Carol.
In order for don Juan to impart to me his teachings for the left side it was necessary for me to enter into a unique state of perceptual clarity known as heightened awareness. Throughout the years of my association with him, he had me repeatedly shift into such a state by means of a blow that he delivered with the palm of his hand on my upper back.
Don Juan explained that in a state of heightened awareness apprentices can behave almost as naturally as in everyday life, but can bring their minds to focus on anything with uncommon force and clarity. Yet, an inherent quality of heightened awareness is that it is not susceptible to normal recall. What transpires in such a state becomes part of the apprentice's everyday awareness only through a staggering effort of recovery.
My interaction with the nagual's party was an example of this difficulty of recall. With the exception of don Genaro, I had contact with them only when I was in a state of heightened awareness; hence in my normal everyday life I could not remember them, not even as vague characters in dreams. The manner in which I met with them every time was almost a ritual. I would drive to don Genaro's house in a small town in the southern part of Mexico. Don Juan would join us immediately and the three of us would then get busy with don Juan's teachings for the right side. After that, don Juan would make me change levels of awareness and then we would drive to a larger, nearby town where he and the other fifteen seers were living.
Every time I entered into heightened awareness I could not cease marveling at the difference between my two sides. I always felt as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, as if I had been partially blind before and now I could see. The freedom, the sheer joy that used to possess me on those occasions cannot be compared with anything else I have ever experienced. Yet at the same time, there was a frightening feeling of sadness and longing that went hand in hand with that freedom and joy. Don Juan had told me that there is no completeness without sadness and longing, for without them there is no sobriety, no kindness. Wisdom without kindness, he said, and knowledge without sobriety are useless.
The organization of his teachings for the left side also required that don Juan, together with some of his fellow seers, explain to me the three facets of their knowledge: the mastery of awareness, the mastery of stalking, and the mastery of intent.
This work deals with the mastery of awareness, which is part of his total set of teachings for the left side; the set he used in order to prepare me for performing the astonishing act of jumping into an abyss.
Due to the fact that the experiences I narrate here took place in heightened awareness, they cannot have the texture of daily life. They are lacking in worldly context, although I have tried my best to supply it without fictionalizing it. In heightened awareness one is minimally conscious of the surroundings, because one's total concentration is taken by the details of the action at hand.
In this case the action at hand was, naturally, the elucidation of the mastery of awareness. Don Juan understood the mastery of awareness as being the modern-day version of an extremely old tradition, which he called the tradition of the ancient Toltec seers.
Although he felt that he was inextricably linked to that old tradition, he considered himself to be one of the seers of a new cycle. When I asked him once what was the essential character of the seers of the new cycle, he said that they are the warriors of total freedom, that they are such masters of awareness, stalking, and intent that they are not caught by death, like the rest of mortal men, but choose the moment and the way of their departure from this world. At that moment they are consumed by a fire from within and vanish from the face of the earth, free, as if they had never existed.
THE FIRE FROM WITHIN
1 The New Seers
I had arrived in the city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico on my way to the mountains to look for don Juan. On my way out of town in the early morning, I had the good sense to drive by the main square, and there I found him sitting on his favorite bench, as if waiting for me to go by.
I joined him. He told me that he was in the city on business, that he was staying at a local boardinghouse, and that I was welcome to stay with him because he had to remain in town for two more days. We talked for a while about my activities and problems in the academic world.
As was customary with him, he suddenly hit me on my back when I least expected it, and the blow shifted me into a state of heightened awareness.
We sat in silence for a very long time. I anxiously waited for him to begin talking, yet when he did, he caught me by surprise.
"Ages before the Spaniards came to Mexico," he said, "there were extraordinary Toltec seers, men capable of inconceivable deeds. They were the last link in a chain of knowledge that extended over thousands of years.
"The Toltec seers were extraordinary men, powerful sorcerers, somber, driven men who unraveled mysteries and possessed secret knowledge that they used to influence and victimize people by fixating the awareness of their victims on whatever they chose."
He stopped talking and looked at me intently. I felt that he was waiting for me to ask a question, but I did not know what to ask.
"I have to emphasize an important fact," he continued, "the fact that those sorcerers knew how to fixate the awareness of their victims. You didn't pick up on that. When I mentioned it, it didn't mean anything to you. That's not surprising. One of the hardest things to acknowledge is that awareness can be manipulated."
I felt confused. I knew that he was leading me toward something. I felt a familiar apprehension, the same feeling I had whenever he began a new round of his teachings.
I told him how I felt. He smiled vaguely. Usually when he smiled he exuded happiness; this time he was definitely preoccupied. He seemed to consider for a moment whether or not to go on talking. He stared at me intently again, slowly moving his gaze over the entire length of my body. Then, apparently satisfied, he nodded and said that I was ready for my final exercise, something that all warriors go through before considering themselves fit to be on their own. I was more mystified than ever.
"We are going to be talking about awareness," he continued. "The Toltec seers knew the art of handling awareness. As a matter of fact, they were the supreme masters of that art. When I say that they knew how to fixate the awareness of their victims, I mean that their secret knowledge and secret practices allowed them to pry open the mystery of being aware. Enough of their practices have survived to this day, but fortunately in a modified form. I say fortunately because those activities, as I will explain, did not lead the ancient Toltec seers to freedom, but to their doom." "Do you know those practices yourself?" I asked. "Why, certainly," he replied. "There is no way for us not to know those techniques, but that doesn't mean that we practice them ourselves. We have other views. We belong to a new cycle."
"But you don't consider yourself a sorcerer, don Juan, do you?" I asked.
"No, I don't," he said. "I am a warrior who sees. In fact, all of us are los nuevos videntes, the new seers. The old seers were the sorcerers.
"For the average man," he continued, "sorcery is a negative business, but it is fascinating all the same. That's why I encouraged you, in your normal awareness, to think of us as sorcerers. It's advisable to do so. It serves to attract interest. But for us to be sorcerers would be like entering a dead-end street."
I wanted to know what he meant by that, but he refused to talk about it. He said that he would elaborate on the subject as he proceeded with his explanation of awareness.
I asked him then about the origin of the Toltecs' knowledge.
"The way the Toltecs first started on the path of knowledge was by eating power plants," he replied. "Whether prompted by curiosity, or hunger, or error, they ate them. Once the power plants had produced their effects on them, it was only a matter of time before some of them began to analyze their experiences. In my opinion, the first men on the path of knowledge were very daring, but very mistaken."
"Isn't all this a conjecture on your part, don Juan?"
"No, this is no conjecture of mine. I am a seer, and when I focus my seeing on that time I know everything that took place."
"Can you see the details of things of the past?" I asked.
"Seeing is a peculiar feeling of knowing," he replied, "of knowing something without a shadow of doubt. In this case, I know what those men did, not only because of my seeing, but because we are so closely bound together."
Don Juan explained then that his use of the term "Toltec" did not correspond to what I understood it to mean. To me it meant a culture, the Toltec Empire. To him, the term "Toltec" meant "man of knowledge."
He said that in the time he was referring to, centuries or perhaps even millennia before the Spanish Conquest, all such men of knowledge lived within a vast geographical area, north and south of the valley of Mexico, and were employed in specific lines of work: curing, bewitching, storytelling, dancing, being an oracle, preparing food and drink. Those lines of work fostered specific wisdom, wisdom that distinguished them from average men. These Toltecs, moreover, were also people who fitted into the structure of everyday life, very much as doctors, artists, teachers, priests, and merchants in our own time do. They practiced their professions under the strict control of organized brotherhoods and became proficient and influential, to such an extent that they even dominated groups of people who lived outside the Toltecs' geographical regions.
Don Juan said that after some of these men had finally learned to see, after centuries of dealing with power plants, the most enterprising of them then began to teach other men of knowledge how to see. And that was the beginning of their end. As time passed, the number of seers increased, but their obsession with what they saw, which filled them with reverence and fear, became so intense that they ceased to be men of knowledge. They became extraordinarily proficient in seeing and could exert great control over the strange worlds they were witnessing. But it was to no avail. Seeing had undermined their strength and forced them to be obsessed with what they saw.
"There were seers, however, who escaped that fate," don Juan continued, "great men who, in spite of their seeing, never ceased to be men of knowledge. Some of them endeavored to use seeing positively and to teach it to their fellow men. I'm convinced that under their direction, the populations of entire cities went into other worlds and never came back.
"But the seers who could only see were fiascos, and when the land where they lived was invaded by a conquering people they were as defenseless as everyone else.
"Those conquerors," he went on, "took over the Toltec world, they appropriated everything, but they never learned to see."'
"Why do you think they never learned to see?" I asked.
"Because they copied the procedures of the Toltec seers without having the Toltecs' inner knowledge. To this day there are scores of sorcerers all over Mexico, descendants of those conquerors, who follow the Toltec ways but don't know what they're doing, or what they're talking about, because they're not seers."
"Who were those conquerors, don Juan?"
"Other Indians," he said. "When the Spaniards came, the old seers had been gone for centuries, but there was a new breed of seers who were starting to secure their place in a new cycle."
"What do you mean. a new breed of seers?"
"After the world of the first Toltecs was destroyed, the surviving seers retreated and began a serious examination of their practices. The first thing they did was to establish stalking, dreaming, and intent as the key procedures and to deemphasize the use of power plants; perhaps that gives us a hint as to what really happened to them with power plants.
"The new cycle was just beginning to take hold when the Spanish conquerors swept the land. Fortunately, by that time the new seers were thoroughly prepared to face that danger. They were already consummate practitioners of the art of stalking."
Don Juan said that the subsequent centuries of subjugation provided for these new seers the ideal circumstances in which to perfect their skills. Oddly enough, it was the extreme rigor and coercion of that period that gave them the impetus to refine their new principles. And, owing to the fact that they never divulged their activities, they were left alone to map their findings.
"Were there a great many new seers during the Conquest?" I asked.
"At the beginning there were. Near the end there were only a handful. The rest had been exterminated."
"What about in our day, don Juan?" I asked.
"There are a few. They are scattered all over, you understand."
"Do you know them?" I asked.
"Such a simple question is the hardest one to answer," he replied. "There are some we know very well. But they are not exactly like us because they have concentrated on other specific aspects of knowledge, such as dancing, curing, bewitching, talking, instead of what the new seers recommend, stalking, dreaming, and intent. Those who are exactly like us would not cross our path. The seers who lived during the Conquest set it up that way so as to avoid being exterminated in the confrontation with the Spaniards. Each of those seers founded a lineage. And not all of them had descendants, so the lines are few."
"Do you know any who are exactly like us?" I asked.
"A few," he replied laconically.
I asked him then to give me all the information he could, for I was vitally interested in the topic; to me it was of crucial importance to know names and addresses for purposes of validation and corroboration.
Don Juan did not seem inclined to oblige me. "The new seers went through that bit of corroboration," he said. "Half of them left their bones in the corroborating room. So now they are solitary birds. Let's leave it that way. All we can talk about is our line. About that, you and I can say as much as we please."
He explained that all the lines of seers were started at the same time and in the same fashion. Around the end of the sixteenth century every nagual deliberately isolated himself and his group of seers from any overt contact with other seers. The consequence of that drastic segregation, he said, was the formation of the individual lineages. Our lineage consisted of fourteen naguals and one hundred and twenty-six seers, he said. Some of those fourteen naguals had as few as seven seers with them. others had eleven, and some up to fifteen.
1. /Carlos Castaneda - EL FUEGO INTERNO.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - The Power Of Silence.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - EL CONOCIMIENTO SILENCIOSO.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - The Second Ring of Power.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - VIAJE A IXTLAN.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - Journey to Ixtlan.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - The Art of Dreaming.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - EL ARTE DE ENSOеAR.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - The Weel of Time.doc
1. /Carlos Castaneda - RELATOS DE PODER.doc