Rick Mace's articles on Castaneda are at http://www.panworld.net/~rmace/castaneda/djintro.html
Rick Mace: A Summary of Castaneda's Teachings [excerpt]
The Active Side of Infinity
I suggest that you gather a collection of the memorable events of
The shamans of ancient Mexico conceived of the collection of
memorable events as a bona-fide device to stir caches of energy that exist
within the self. They explained these caches as being composed of energy
that originates in the body itself and becomes displaced, pushed out of
reach by the circumstances of our daily lives. In this sense, the
collection of memorable events is the means for redeploying our unused
The prerequisite for this collection is the genuine and
all-consuming act of putting together the sum total of one's emotions and
realizations, without sparing anything. The shamans of our lineage were
convinced that the collection of memorable events was the vehicle for the
emotional and energetic adjustment necessary for venturing, in terms of
perception, into the unknown.
The total goal of the shamanistic knowledge that we are handling is
the preparation for facing the definitive journey: the journey that every
human being has to take at the end of his life. Through their discipline
and resolve, shamans are capable of retaining their individual awareness
and purpose after death. For them, the vague, idealistic state that modern
man calls "life after death" is a concrete region filled to capacity with
practical affairs of a different order than the practical affairs of daily
life, yet bearing a similar functional practicality. To collect the
memorable events in their lives is, for shamans, the preparation for their
entrance into that concrete region which they call the active side of
Every warrior, as a matter of duty, collects an album that reveals
the warrior's personality, an album that attests to the circumstances of
his life. Above all, it is like an album of pictures made out of memories,
the recollection of memorable events&endash;memorable because they have a
special significance in one's life. Put in it the complete account of
various events that have had profound significance for you.
Not every event has a profound significance for you. There are a
few, however, that I would consider likely to have changed things for you,
to have illuminated your path. Ordinarily, events that change our path are
impersonal affairs, and yet are extremely personal.
Don't think about this album in terms of banalities, or in terms of
a trivial rehashing of your life experiences.
Every one of us human beings has two minds. One is totally ours, and
it is like a faint voice that always brings us order, directness, purpose,
The other mind is a foreign installation. It brings us conflict,
self-assertion, doubts, hopelessness: it's ourselves as the me-me center
of the world.
Let's put the topic of our two minds aside and go back to the idea
of preparing your album of memorable events. Such an album is an exercise
in discipline and impartiality. Consider this album to be an act of war.
As such, it has all the meaning in the world.
We are not naturally petty and contradictory. Our pettiness and
contradictions are, rather, the result of a transcendental conflict that
afflicts every one of us, but of which only sorcerers are painfully and
hopelessly aware: the conflict of our two minds! One is our true mind, the
product of all our life experiences, the one that rarely speaks because it
has been defeated and relegated to obscurity. The other, the mind we use
daily for everything we do, is a foreign installation.
To resolve the conflict of the two minds is a matter of intending
it. Sorcerers beckon intent by voicing the word intent loud and clear.
Intent is a force that exists in the universe. When sorcerers beckon
intent, it comes to them and sets up the path for attainment, which means
that sorcerers always accomplish what they set out to do.
Intent can be called, of course, for anything, but sorcerers have
found out, the hard way, that intent comes to them only for something that
is abstract. That's the safety valve for sorcerers; otherwise they would
be unbearable. Beckoning intent to resolve the conflict of your two minds,
or to hear the voice of your true mind, is not a petty or arbitrary
matter. Quite the contrary; it is ethereal and abstract, and yet as vital
to you as anything can be.
Your album, being an act of war, demands a super-careful selection.
It is a precise collection of the unforgettable moments of your life, and
everything that led you to them. Concentrate in it what has been and will
be meaningful to you. A warrior's album is something most concrete,
something so to the point that it is shattering.
Sit down, alone, and let your thoughts, memories, and ideas come to
you freely. Make an effort to let the voice from the depths of you speak
out and tell you what to select.
The selection is not an easy matter. This is the reason I say that
making this album is an act of war. You have to remake yourself ten times
over in order to know what to select.
Don't include stories that relate exclusively to you as a person who
thinks, feels, cries, or doesn't feel anything at all. The memorable
events of a shaman's album are affairs that will stand the test of time
because they have nothing to do with him, and yet he is in the thick of
them. He'll always be in the thick of them, for the duration of his life,
and perhaps beyond, but not quite personally.
In my time, not only did I not know what to choose, I thought I had
no experiences to choose from. It seemed that nothing had ever happened to
me. Of course, everything had happened to me, but in my effort to defend
the idea of myself, I had no time or inclination to notice anything.
The stories of a warrior's album are not personal, not assertions
about you as the center of everything. You feel, you don't feel; you
realize, you don't realize. All of that type of story is just you.
The memorable events we are after have the dark touch of the
impersonal. That touch permeates them. I don't know how else to explain
Don't explain yourself to much. Sorcerers say that in every
explanation there is a hidden apology. So, when you are explaining why you
cannot do this or that, you're really apologizing for your shortcomings,
hoping that whoever is listening to you will have the kindness to
Every one of us, young and old alike, is making figures in front of
a mirror in one way or another. Tally what you know about people. Think of
any human being on this earth, and you will know, without a shadow of a
doubt, that no matter who they are, or what they think of themselves, or
what they do, the result of their actions is always the same: senseless
figures in front of a mirror.
Listen to your inner voice. Don't listen to the superficial voice
that makes you angry. Listen to that deeper voice that is going to guide
you from now on, the voice that is laughing. Listen to it! And laugh with
it. Laugh! Laugh!
It is the nature of infinity, once we cross a certain threshold, to
put a blueprint in front of us.
Don't waste your energy worrying about things. Everyone is locked in
a vicious cycle. We all have our magic cure which we trust will cure
everything, and resolve every one of our problems. At the moment, perhaps
we can't afford it, but we have great hopes that we eventually will be
Sorcerers' aspirations are to reach infinity, and to be conscious of
it. The task of sorcerers is to face infinity. They plunge into it daily,
as a fisherman plunges into the sea. It is such an overwhelming task that
sorcerers have to state their names before venturing into it. In this
manner, they assert their individuality in front of the infinite.
What makes human beings into sorcerers is their capacity to perceive
energy directly as it flows in the universe. Human beings are not only
capable of seeing energy directly as it flows in the universe, but they
actually do see it, although they are not deliberately conscious of seeing
"Awareness" is energy and "energy" is constant flux, a luminous
vibration that is never stationary, but always moving of its own accord.
The nagual Elias and The nagual Julian were astoundingly alike in
that there was nothing inside them. They were empty. The nagual Elias was
a collection of astounding, haunting stories of regions unknown. The
nagual Julian was a collection of stories that would have anybody in
stitches, sprawled on the ground laughing. Whenever I tried to pin down
the man in them, the real man, the way I could pinpoint the man in my
father, the man in everybody I know, I found nothing. Instead of a real
person inside them, there was a bunch of stories about persons unknown.
Each of the two men had his own flair, but the end result was just the
same: emptiness, an emptiness that reflected not the world, but infinity.
The moment one crossed a peculiar threshold in infinity, either
deliberately or, unwittingly, everything that happens to one from then on
is no longer exclusively in one's own domain, but enters into the realm of
Infinity is everything that surrounds us: the spirit, the dark sea
of awareness. It is something that exists out there and rules our lives.
My steps and yours are guided by infinity. The circumstances that
seem to be ruled by chance are in essence ruled by the active side of
infinity: intent. What put you and me together was the intent of infinity.
It is impossible to determine what this intent of infinity is, yet it is
there, as palpable as you and I are. Sorcerers say that it is a tremor in
the air. The advantage of sorcerers is to know that the tremor in the air
exists, and to acquiesce to it without any further ado. For sorcerers,
there's no pondering, wondering, or speculating. They know that all they
have is the possibility of merging with the intent of infinity, and they
just do it.
A nagual is empty. That emptiness doesn't reflect the world, it
A nagual has no boisterousness on his part, or assertions about the
self. There is not a speck of a need to have either grievances or remorse.
His is the emptiness of a warrior-traveler, seasoned to the point where he
doesn't take anything for granted. A warrior-traveler who doesn't
underestimate or overestimate anything. A quite, disciplined fighter whose
elegance is so extreme that no one, no matter how hard they try to look,
will ever find the seam where all that complexity has come together.
What's happening to you is the workings of infinity. Your sensation
of nervousness is due to the subliminal realization that your time is up.
You are aware of it, but not deliberately conscious of it. You feel the
absence of time, and that makes you impatient. I know this, for it
happened to me and to all the sorcerers of my lineage. At a given time, a
whole era in my life, or their lives, ended. Now it's your turn. You have
simply run out of time.
Your malady is a very simple one: your world is coming to an end. It
is the end of an era for you. Do you think that the world you have known
all your life is going to leave you peacefully, without any fuss or muss?
No! It will wriggle underneath you, and hit you with its tail.
But an era doesn't really come to an end until the king dies. You
are the king.
[end of excerpt]