The Active Side of Infinity
"The sorcerers' revolution," he continued, "is that they refuse to honor agreements in whichthey did not participate. Nobody ever asked me if I would consent to be eaten by beings of adifferent kind of awareness. My parents just brought me into this world to be food, likethemselves, and that's the end of the story."
1. The Active Side of Infinity
This book is a a collection of the memorable events in my life. Don Juan revealed to me astime went by that the shamans of ancient Mexico had conceived of this collection of memorableevents as a bona-fide device to stir caches of energy that exist within the self. They explainedthese caches as being composed of energy that originates in the body itself and becomesdisplaced, pushed out of reach by the circumstances of our daily lives. In this sense, thecollection of memorable events was, for don Juan and the shamans of his lineage, the means for
their unused energy.I gathered them following the recommendation of don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian shamanfrom Mexico who, as a teacher, endeavored for thirteen years to make available to me the
of the shamans who lived in Mexico in ancient times. Don Juan Matus'ssuggestion that I gather this collection of memorable events was made as if it were somethingcasual, something that occurred to him on the spur of the moment. That was don Juan's style of teaching. He veiled the importance of certain maneuvers behind the mundane. He hid, in thisfashion, the sting of finality, presenting it as something no different from any of the concerns of everyday life.Don Juan revealed to me as time went by that the shamans of ancient Mexico had conceivedof this collection of memorable events as a bona-fide device to stir caches of energy that existwithin 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. Inthis sense, the collection of memorable events was, for don Juan and the shamans of his lineage,the means for
their unused energy.The prerequisite for this collection was the genuine and all-consuming act of putting together the sum total of one's emotions and realizations, without sparing anything. According to donJuan, the shamans of his lineage were convinced that the collection of memorable events was thevehicle for the emotional and energetic adjustment necessary for venturing, in terms of perception, into the unknown.Don Juan described the total goal of the shamanistic knowledge that he handled as the preparation for facing the
the journey that every human being has to take at theend of his life. He said that through their discipline and resolve, shamans were capable of retaining their individual awareness and purpose after death. For them, the vague, idealistic statethat modem man calls "life after death" was a concrete region filled to capacity with practicalaffairs of a different order than the practical affairs of daily life, yet bearing a similar functional practicality. Don Juan considered that to collect the memorable events in their lives was, for shamans, the preparation for their entrance into that concrete region which they called the
active side of infinity.
Don Juan and I were talking one afternoon under his ramada, a loose structuremade of thin poles of bamboo. It looked like a roofed porch that was partially shaded from the