The Dark Sea Of Awareness


The Dark Sea of Awareness

[For a brief biography, see: Glossary entry here ]


The Eagle and its Emanations

   [Don Juan] explained that one of the most dramatic legacies the old seers had left us was their discovery that the reason for the existence of all sentient beings is to enhance awareness. Don Juan called it a colossal discovery. He said that the old seers, risking untold dangers, actually saw the indescribable force, which is the source of all sentient beings. They called it the Eagle, because in the few glimpses that they could sustain, they saw it as something that resembled a black-and-white eagle of infinite size.

   "But what kind of a force would the Eagle be?"
"I wouldn't know how to answer that. The Eagle is as real for the seers as gravity and time are for you, and just as abstract and incomprehensible."
 "[Concerning the Eagle’s emanations] of course I have [seen them], and yet I can't tell you what they are. They are a presence, almost a mass of sorts, a pressure that creates a dazzling sensation. One can catch only a glimpse of them, as one can catch only a glimpse of the Eagle itself." The Eagle’s emanations, also called “the dark sea of awareness”, are in themselves unchangeable, and envelope everything in existence, from the known to the unfathomable. "Seers who see the Eagle's emanations often call them commands," Don Juan said. "I wouldn't mind calling them commands myself if I hadn't got used to calling them emanations.

   "There is nothing visual about the Eagle. The entire body of a seer senses the Eagle. There is something in all of us that can make us witness with our entire body. Seers explain the act of seeing the Eagle in very simple terms: because man is composed of the Eagle's emanations, man need only revert back to his components. The problem arises with man's awareness; it is his awareness that becomes entangled and confused. At the crucial moment when it should be a simple case of the emanations acknowledging themselves, man's awareness is compelled to interpret. The result is a vision of the Eagle and the Eagle's emanations. But there is no Eagle and no Eagle's emanations. What is out there is something that no living creature can grasp."

   Only a small portion of those emanations is within reach of human awareness, and that small portion is still further reduced, to a minute fraction, by the constraints of our daily lives. That minute fraction of the Eagle’s emanations is the known; the small portion within possible reach of human awareness is the unknown, and the incalculable rest is the unknowable.


The Luminous Beings and Awareness

   "For a seer, men are luminous beings. Our luminosity is made up of that portion of the Eagle's emanations which is encased in our egg-like cocoon. That particular portion, that handful of emanations that is encased, is what makes us men. To perceive is to match the emanations contained inside our cocoon with those that are outside. "Seers can see, for instance, the emanations inside any living creature and can tell which of the outside emanations would match them."

   "They [seers] say that perception is a condition of alignment; the emanations inside the cocoon become aligned with those outside that fit them.

   "The Eagle's emanations are more than filaments of light. Each one of them is a source of boundless energy. Think of it this way: since some of the emanations outside the cocoon are the same as the emanations inside, their energies are like a continuous pressure. But the cocoon isolates the emanations that are inside its web and thereby directs the pressure.” "I've mentioned to you that the old seers were masters of the art of handling awareness," he went on. "What I can add now is that they were the masters of that art because they learned to manipulate the structure of man's cocoon. I've said to you that they unraveled the mystery of being aware. By that I meant that they saw and realized that awareness is a glow in the cocoon of living beings. They rightly called it the glow of awareness." He explained that the old seers saw that man's awareness is a glow of amber luminosity more intense than the rest of the cocoon. That glow is on a narrow, vertical band on the extreme right side of the cocoon, running along its entire length. The mastery of the old seers was to move that glow, to make it spread from its original setting on the surface of the cocoon inward across its width.

   When the new seers arranged the order of the truths about awareness, they saw that the first [everyday] attention consumes all the glow of awareness that human beings have, and not an iota of energy is left free… "The unknown is forever present," he continued, "but it is outside the possibility of our normal awareness. The unknown is the superfluous part of the average man. And it is superfluous because the average man doesn't have enough free energy to grasp it.



Native American Petroglyph estimated to be well over 2000 years old.


   He then began his explanation. He briefly outlined the truths about awareness he had discussed: that there is no objective world, but only a universe of energy fields which seers call the Eagle's emanations. That human beings are made of the Eagle's emanations and are in essence bubbles of luminescent energy; each of us is wrapped in a cocoon that encloses a small portion of these emanations. That awareness is achieved by the constant pressure that the emanations outside our cocoons, which are called emanations at large, exert on those inside our cocoons. That awareness gives rise to perception, which happens when the emanations inside our cocoons align themselves with the corresponding emanations at large.


The Assemblage point

   "The next truth is that perception takes place," he went on, "because there is in each of us an agent called the assemblage point that selects internal and external emanations for alignment. The particular alignment that we perceive as the world is the product of the specific spot where our assemblage point is located on our cocoon."

   "The assemblage point of man appears around a definite area of the cocoon, because the Eagle commands it," he said. "But the precise spot is determined by habit, by repetitious acts. First we learn that it can be placed there and then we ourselves command it to be there. Our command becomes the Eagle's command and that point is fixated at that spot. Consider this very carefully; our command becomes the Eagle's command.

   "When we, as serious adult human beings, look at a tree," he said, "our assemblage points align an infinite number of emanations and achieve a miracle. Our assemblage points make us perceive a cluster of emanations that we call tree."

   He told me that, through their seeing, [the older sorcerers] realized that awareness took place when the energy fields inside our luminous cocoon were aligned with the same energy fields outside. And they believed they had discovered alignment as the source of awareness. Upon close examination, however, it became evident that what they had called alignment of the Eagle's emanations did not entirely explain what they were seeing. They had noticed that only a very small portion of the total number of luminous filaments inside the cocoon was energized while the rest remained unaltered. Seeing these few filaments energized had created a false discovery. The filaments did not need to be aligned to be lit up, because the ones inside our cocoon were the same as those outside. Whatever energized them was definitely an independent force. They felt they could not continue to call it awareness, as they had, because awareness was the glow of the energy fields being lit up. So, the force that lit up the fields was named will. Don Juan had said that when their seeing became still more sophisticated and effective, they realized that will was the force that kept the Eagle's emanations separated and was not only responsible for our awareness, but also for everything in the universe. They saw that this force had total consciousness and that it sprang from the very fields of energy that made the universe. They decided then that intent was a more appropriate name for it than will. In the long run, however, the name proved disadvantageous, because it does not describe its overwhelming importance nor the living connection it has with everything in the universe. Don Juan had asserted that our great collective flaw is that we live our lives completely disregarding that connection. The busyness of our lives, our relentless interests, concerns, hopes, frustrations, and fears take precedence, and on a day-to-day basis we are unaware of being linked to everything else.

   He said that man needs now, more so than ever, to be taught new ideas that have to do exclusively with his inner world - sorcerers' ideas, not social ideas, ideas pertaining to man facing the unknown, facing his personal death. Now, more than anything else, he needs to be taught the secrets of the assemblage point.


The Earth’s boost and the Rolling force

   The supreme awareness of the Earth is what makes it possible for us to change into other great bands of emanations. "We living beings are perceivers," he said. "And we perceive because some emanations inside man's cocoon become aligned with some emanations outside. Alignment, therefore, is the secret passageway, and the earth's boost is the key.”

   "The speed of [the Earth’s] boost will dissolve everything about you," don Juan said. "Under its impact we become nothing. Speed and the sense of individual existence don't go together.

   He repeated, as if he were trying to drill it into me, that alignment is a unique force because it either helps the assemblage point shift, or it keeps it glued to its customary position. The aspect of alignment that keeps the point stationary, he said, is will; and the aspect that makes it shift is intent. He remarked that one of the most haunting mysteries is how will, the impersonal force of alignment, changes into intent, the personalized force, which is at the service of each individual.

   Don Juan said that these new seers realized, after they had readopted their tradition, that the old seers' knowledge of the rolling force had been complete; at one point the old seers had concluded that there were, in effect, two different aspects of the same force. The tumbling aspect relates exclusively to destruction and death. The circular aspect, on the other hand, is what maintains life and awareness, fulfillment and purpose.

   He said, he had given me a detailed account of the two forces that aid our assemblage points to move: the earth's boost and the rolling force. He had also explained the three techniques worked out by the new seers - stalking, intent, and dreaming - and their effects on the movement of the assemblage point.

   The mastery of awareness is the riddle of the mind; the perplexity sorcerers experience when they recognize the astounding mystery and scope of awareness and perception. The art of stalking is the riddle of the heart; the puzzlement sorcerers feel upon becoming aware of two things: first that the world appears to us to be unalterably objective and factual, because of peculiarities of our awareness and perception; second, that if different peculiarities of perception come into play, the very things about the world that seem so unalterably objective and factual change. The mastery of intent is the riddle of the spirit, or the paradox of the abstract - sorcerers' thoughts and actions projected beyond our human condition.

   "The mastery of awareness is what gives the assemblage point its boost. After all, there is really very little to us human beings; we are, in essence, an assemblage point fixed at a certain position. Our enemy and at the same time our friend is our internal dialogue, our inventory. Be a warrior; shut off your internal dialogue; make your inventory and then throw it away. The new seers make accurate inventories and then laugh at them. Without the inventory the assemblage point becomes free."

   "The old seers used to say that if warriors are going to have an internal dialogue, they should have the proper dialogue. For the old seers that meant a dialogue about sorcery and the enhancement of their self-reflection. For the new seers, it doesn't mean dialogue, but the detached manipulation of intent through sober commands." He said over and over again that the manipulation of intent begins with a command given to oneself; the command is then repeated until it becomes the Eagle's command, and then the assemblage point shifts, accordingly, the moment warriors reach inner silence.



“Know the power that is peace” – Black Elk. Artist: Charles Frizzel.


   He explained that the new seers discovered that if the assemblage point is made to shift constantly to the confines of the unknown, but is made to return to a position at the limit of the known, then when it is suddenly released it moves like lightning across the entire cocoon of man, aligning all the emanations inside the cocoon at once. "The new seers burn with the force of alignment," don Juan went on, "with the force of will, which they have turned into the force of intent through a life of impeccability. Intent is the alignment of all the amber emanations of awareness, so it is correct to say that total freedom means total awareness."


Intent / Infinity

   And that is sorcery: the ability to use energy fields that are not employed in perceiving the ordinary world we know. Sorcery is a state of awareness. Sorcery is the ability to perceive something which ordinary perception cannot. Sorcery could be defined as the procedure of cleaning one's connecting link to intent. Naguals are responsible for supplying what sorcerers call "the minimal chance": the awareness of one's connection with intent.

   "There is a force that is present throughout everything there is," he said. "The old seers never attempted to unravel the mystery of the force that made them create their secret practices; they simply accepted it as something sacred. But the new seers took a close look and called it will, the will of the Eagle's emanations, or intent."

   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.

   […] and then I understood not only why heightened awareness was the portal of intent, but I also understood what intent was. And, above all, I understood that that knowledge could not be turned into words. That knowledge was there for everyone. It was there to be felt, to be used, but not to be explained. One could come into it by changing levels of awareness, therefore, heightened awareness was an entrance. But even the entrance could not be explained. One could only make use of it. There was still another piece of knowledge that came to me that day without any coaching: that the natural knowledge of intent was available to anyone, but the command of it belonged to those who probed it.

   He emphasized that intent is not something one might use or command or move in any way - nevertheless, one could use it, command it, or move it as one desires. This contradiction, he said, is the essence of sorcery…[S]orcerers concerned themselves exclusively with the capacity that their individual connecting link with intent had to set them free to light the fire from within.

   A break in the continuity of time, that is what inner silence does. The interruption of that flow of continuity that makes the world understandable to us is sorcery. You journey through the dark sea of awareness, you see people as they are, engaged in people's business. And then you see the strand of energy that joins specific lines of human beings. You witness something specific and inexplicable. You understood what people are saying, without knowing their language, and you see the strand of energy that connects human beings to certain other beings, and you select those aspects through an act of intending it. This intending is not something conscious or volitional; this intending is done at a deep level, and is ruled by necessity. You need to become cognizant of some of the possibilities of journeying through the dark sea of awareness, and inner silence guides intent -- a perennial force in the universe -- to fulfill that need.

   I've recommended to you that warrior-travelers should have a romance with knowledge, in whatever form knowledge is presented. Warrior-travelers are sorcerers who, by being warriors, travel in the dark sea of awareness. Human beings are travelers of the dark sea of awareness, and this Earth is but a station on their journey; for extraneous reasons, the travelers have interrupted their voyage. Human beings are caught in a sort of eddy, a current that goes in circles, giving them the impression of moving while they are, in essence, stationary. Sorcerers are the only opponents of whatever force keeps human beings prisoners, and by means of their discipline sorcerers brake loose from its grip and continue their journey of awareness.

   Infinity is everything that surrounds us: the spirit, the dark sea of awareness. It is something that exists out there and rules our lives.


Sorcerers have only one point of reference: Infinity.

   There's nothing gentle about sorcerers or sorcery. The first time that infinity descends on you it may be a total takeover of your faculties. Insofar as the speed of your visions is concerned, you yourself will have to learn to adjust it. Let your true mind adjust the speed. Be silent, and don't fret, no matter what happens. Anyway, infinity chooses. The warrior-traveler simply acquiesces to that choice. But above all, don't be overwhelmed by the event because you cannot describe it. It is an event beyond the syntax of our language.

   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. "Sorcerers believe that until the very moment of the spirit's descent, any of us could walk away from the spirit; but not afterwards."

   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 reflects the infinity. 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 quiet, 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.

   "The idea of the abstract, the spirit, is the only residue that is important. The idea of the personal self has no value whatsoever. You still put yourself and your own feelings first. Every time I've had the chance, I have made you aware of the need to abstract. You have always believed that I meant to think abstractly. No. To abstract means to make yourself available to the spirit by being aware of it."

   “[…] the eyes beckon intent," he said cuttingly. "I don't know how, but they do it. They summon intent with something indefinable that they have, something in their shine. Sorcerers say that intent is experienced with the eyes, not with the reason."

   […]stalkers called intent loudly. Usually intent was called from within a small, dark, isolated room. A candle was placed on a black table with the flame just a few inches before the eyes; then the word intent was voiced slowly, enunciated clearly and deliberately as many times as one felt was needed. The pitch of the voice rose or fell without any thought.


Inner Silence / Silent Knowledge

   Inner silence is a peculiar state of being in which thoughts are canceled out and one can function from a level other than that of daily awareness. Inner silence means the suspension of the internal dialogue -- the perennial companion of thought -- and is therefore a state of profound quietude. The old sorcerers called it inner silence because it is a state in which perception doesn't depend on the senses. What is at work during inner silence is another faculty that man has, the faculty that makes him a magical being, the very faculty that has been curtailed, not by man himself but by some extraneous influence.

   Inner silence is the stand from which everything stems in sorcerer. In other words, everything we do leads to that stand, which, like everything else in the world of sorcerers, doesn't reveal itself unless something gigantic shakes us.

   Inner silence is accrued, accumulated. I've guided you to construct a core of inner silence in yourself, and then add to it, second by second, on every occasion you practice it. Inner silence works from the moment you begin to accrue it. Each individual has a different threshold of inner silence in terms of time, meaning that inner silence must be kept by each one of us for the length of time of our specific threshold before it can work.

   "What did those sorcerers consider the sign that inner silence is working, don Juan?" I asked.

   "Inner silence works from the moment you begin to accrue it," he replied.

   “What the old sorcerers were after was the final, dramatic, end result of reaching that individual threshold of silence. Some very talented practitioners need only a few minutes of silence to reach that coveted goal. Others, less talented, need long periods of silence, perhaps more than one hour of complete quietude, before they reach the desired result. The desired result is what the old sorcerers called stopping the world, the moment when everything around us ceases to be what it's always been.”

   This is the moment when sorcerers return to the true nature of man. The old sorcerers also called it total freedom. It is the moment when man the slave becomes man the free being, capable of feats of perception that defy our linear imagination.

   From the beginning of our association I have drilled into you the value, the necessity, of inner silence. You must do your best to follow my suggestions by accumulating inner silence second by second. You have no means to measure the effect of this accumulation, nor do you have any means to judge whether or not you have reached any threshold. Simply aim doggedly at accruing it. The act of accumulating it is a challenge in itself.

   Every sorcerer I know, male or female, sooner or later arrives at a breaking point in their lives. Not a mental breakdown or anything like that. Mental breakdowns are for persons who indulge in themselves. What I mean is that at a given moment the continuity of their lives has to break in order for inner silence to set in and become an active part of their structures. It's very, very important that you yourself deliberately arrive at that breaking point, or that you create it artificially, and intelligently. 

   Sorcerers need a breaking point for the workings of inner silence to set in. The breaking point is like the mortar that a mason puts between bricks. It's only when the mortar hardens that the loose bricks become a structure.

   "A sorcerer uses a place like [this hotel’s room] to die. I don't want your body to die physically. I want your person to die. The two are very different affairs. In essence, your person has very little to do with your body. Your person is your mind, and believe you me, your mind is not yours."

   Inner silence is the avenue that leads to a true suspension of judgment -- ­to a moment when sensory data emanation from the universe at large ceases to be interpreted by the senses; a moment when cognition ceases to be the force, which, through usage and repetition, decides the nature of the world.

   Don Juan restated, as if on second thought, that one of the most mysterious aspects of the seers' knowledge is the incredible effects of inner silence. He said that once inner silence is attained, the bonds that tie the assemblage point to the particular spot where it is placed begin to break and the assemblage point is free to move.

   I abruptly pulled over to the side of the road. And right there I had, for the first time in my life, a clear knowledge of a dualism in me. Two obviously separate parts were within my being. One was extremely old, at ease, indifferent. It was heavy, dark, and connected to everything else. It was the part of me that did not care, because it was equal to anything. It enjoyed things with no expectation. The other part was light, new, fluffy, agitated. It was nervous, fast. It cared about itself because it was insecure and did not enjoy anything, simply because it lacked the capacity to connect itself to anything. It was alone, on the surface, vulnerable. That was the part with which I looked at the world.

    “[W]hat the older side of man knows is called silent knowledge. It's a knowledge that you cannot yet voice." "Why not?" I asked. "Because in order to voice it, it is necessary for you to have and use an inordinate amount of energy," he replied. "You don't at this time have that kind of energy to spare. "Silent knowledge is something that all of us have," he went on. "Something that has complete mastery, complete knowledge of everything. But it cannot think, therefore, it cannot speak of what it knows. "Sorcerers believe that when man became aware that he knew, and wanted to be conscious of what he knew, he lost sight of what he knew. This silent knowledge, which you cannot describe, is, of course, intent - the spirit, the abstract. Man's error was to want to know it directly, the way he knew everyday life. The more he wanted, the more ephemeral it became."

   Then he talked about ancient man. He said that ancient man knew, in the most direct fashion, what to do and how best to do it. But, because he performed so well, he started to develop a sense of selfness, which gave him the feeling that he could predict and plan the actions he was used to performing. And thus the idea of an individual self appeared; an individual self which began to dictate the nature and scope of man's actions. As the feeling of the individual self became stronger, man lost his natural connection to silent knowledge. Modern man, being heir to that development, therefore finds himself so hopelessly removed from the source of everything that all he can do is express his despair in violent and cynical acts of self-destruction. Don Juan asserted that the reason for man's cynicism and despair is the bit of silent knowledge left in him, which does two things: one, it gives man an inkling of his ancient connection to the source of everything; and two, it makes man feel that without this connection, he has no hope of peace, of satisfaction, of attainment.

   The nagual Elias assured don Juan that only a human being who was a paragon of reason could move his assemblage point easily and be a paragon of silent knowledge. He said that only those who were squarely in either position could see the other position clearly, and that that had been the way the age of reason came to being. The position of reason was clearly seen from the position of silent knowledge. The old nagual told don Juan that the one-way bridge from silent knowledge to reason was called "concern." That is, the concern that true men of silent knowledge had about the source of what they knew. And the other one-way bridge, from reason to silent knowledge, was called "pure understanding."