The prerequisite for this collection was the genuine and all-consumingact of putting together the sum total of one's emotions and realizations,without sparing anything. According to don Juan, the shamans of his lineagewere 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.Don Juan described the total goal of the shamanistic knowledge that hehandled as the preparation for facing the
the journey thatevery human being has to take at the end of his life. He said that throughtheir discipline and resolve, shamans were capable of retaining their individual awareness and purpose after death. For them, the vague, idealisticstate that modem man calls "life after death" was a concrete region filled tocapacity with practical affairs of a different order than the practical affairs of daily life, yet bearing a similar functional practicality. Don Juan consideredthat 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 loosestructure made of thin poles of bamboo. It looked like a roofed porch that was partially shaded from the sun but that would not provide protection at all fromthe rain. There were some small, sturdy freight boxes there that served as benches. Their freight brands were faded, and appeared to be more ornamentthan identification. I was sitting on one of them. My back was against the frontwall of the house. Don Juan was sitting on another box, leaning against a polethat supported the ramada. I had just driven in a few minutes earlier. It had been a daylong ride in hot, humid weather. I was nervous, fidgety, and sweaty.