In the Fire from Within written by Carlos Castaneda he shares with us his experience of twenty years following a medicine man named don Juan. Consequently, Carlos shares with us his philosophy, or in other words his reality. Through the teachings of don Juan Carlos is able to get to the third attention, the fire from within and gain true knowledge as he becomes a Nagual. This is the reality of Carlos Castaneda and how he reached it.
Don Juan taught Carlos many lessons in preparing Carlos for the final test in two different settings: the first attention which was everyday awareness and the second attention which was in heightened awareness, a sort of dream-like reality which was accomplished by shifting of assemblage points for the majority of the novel reached with the help of mentors. Carlos was taught that human beings are a combination of energy waves that are in an egg shaped cocoon. There are energy waves within the cocoon and there are energy waves that travel through the cocoon.
When these two energy waves align is when you are in a state of awareness, or to put it in another way you come to know. Human beings are able to shape the cocoon in order to get the aligned energy waves brought together; these are known as assemblage points. If you are able to shift the assemblage points you enter a new reality although it requires a great deal of energy in order to shift the assemblage points to enter a new reality and it also involves a lot of energy to shift it back to human position.
Precisely why don Juan continuously nags Carlos to stop spending time and energy on trivial things. ‘Petty Tyrants’ is an example of an everyday event that take up too much energy but at the same time are useful for warriors as they drive apprentices to put aside their self importance. Don Juan states, “What weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow man” (p. 12) and congratulates Carlos for having a petty tyrant presently in his life as he will be able to practise putting aside his selfimportance in hopes to one day abolish the concept entirely.
So as to shift the assemblage point Carlos is told numerous times to “stop the internal dialogue” due to the fact that internal dialogue uses up energy that is needed for the transition. Don Juan also attempts to get Carlos to think aculturally, eliminating any bias he might have. Don Juan mentions Old Seers and their destruction due to the belief of being invulnerable as a result of having inorganic allies. Another mistake that the old seers had was the majority of their people knew this knowledge and they began to underappreciate it and misuse it.
By doing so they became lazy and ignorant, detrimental as the Spanish to appear and the Old Seers did not react until they were literally hit over the head and was too late to gain their senses. The new seers saw the destruction of the old seers and evidently went a different route. They began to look at the unknowable and separate the unknown from it through the act of seeing. Through seeing they discovered the nature of man and the world with undeniable facts which is where the “truths about awareness” come from in don Juan’s teachings (p. 5).
At one point while in heightened awareness Carlos sees ‘the rolling force’ or ‘the tumblr’ as they state in the novel. Rolling forces are balls of fire that are present at all times though human beings are not aware of them unless they can see. The rolling forces are constantly colliding against the cocoon yet we have the energy to resist it, until the point where energy levels weaken to the point you can no longer resist and it over takes you resulting in death.
Don Juan explains the Old Seers never wanted to death and tried and some succeeded in overcoming it. The new seers saw the rolling force in a different manner which was to embrace it for what it is and when they are ready for death they will “open their cocoons” to the rolling balls and accepting death rather than being trampled by it (p. 227). As mentioned briefly above, some old seers did not want to be steam-rolled by the rolling force and rather choose to bury themselves alive.
As the novel describes their love for life was so great that they made sure that their assemblage points would not be accessible to the rolling force, and the only manner that was possible is if their body was underground. These individuals were known as ‘Death Defiers’ as they are buried not because they are running away from death but because they are trying to defy it. Carlos’ final test that don Juan presented was the challenge of being able to shift the assemblage points to a different reality (the dark world to be specific) from normal state of awareness without any outside help although he was able to use the energy from the earth.
In addition to this task he had to complete it while jumping off a mountain cliff into an abyss and complete the ask before he reached the bottom or he would perish. Carlos in fact did complete the task and in doing so become the Nagual, making the job of don Juan complete and he therefore disappears as the cycle continues. With the completion of the task, Carlos was able to reach the third attention, the fire from within, meaning he was able to make use of all the waves in the cocoon. When all the waves are aligned they become so powerful that they will glow from within.
This is when you have obtained true knowledge and this knowledge that Carlos has maintained well be passed down to another apprentice warrior just like don Juan did for Carlos. Therefore Carlos’s philosophy through his years with don Juan is that mind over matter is the only way to reach a new reality and become aware. This is accomplished by quieting the internal dialogue and placing aside ones self-importance. Once that is complete you have the discipline and energy to shift your assemblage point and make use of that power, in this case, to the extent of the Fire from within.