THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A YAQUI WAY OF KNOWLEDGE
The apprentice was the last unit of the operative order. The apprentice was in his own right the unit that brought don Juan's teachings into focus, for he had to accept the totality of the special consensus given on the component elements of all the states of nonordinary reality and all the special states of ordinary reality, before special consensus could become a meaningful concept. But special consensus, by force of being concerned with the actions and elements perceived in nonordinary reality, entailed a peculiar order of conceptualization, an order that brought such perceived actions and elements into accordance with corroboration of the rule. Therefore the acceptance of special consensus meant for me, as the apprentice, the adoption of a certain point of view validated by the totality of don Juan's teachings; that is, it meant my entrance into a conceptual level, a level comprising an order of conceptualization that would render the teachings understandable in their own terms. I have called it the "conceptual order" because it was the order that gave meaning to the unordinary phenomena that formed don Juan's knowledge; it was the matrix of meaning in which all individual concepts brought out in his teachings were embedded.
Taking into account, then, that the apprentice's goal consisted of adopting that order of conceptualization, he had two alternatives: he could either fail in his efforts or he could succeed.
The first alternative, failure to adopt the conceptual order, meant also that the apprentice had failed to achieve the operational goal of the teachings. The idea of failure was explained in the theme of the four symbolic enemies of a man of knowledge; it was implicit that failure was not merely the act of discontinuing pursuit of the goal, but the act of abandoning the quest completely under the pressure created by any one of the four symbolic enemies. The same theme also made it clear that the first two enemies -- fear and clarity -- were the cause of a man's defeat at the apprentice's level, that defeat at that level signified failure to learn how to command an ally, and that as a consequence of such failure the apprentice had adopted the conceptual order in a shallow, fallacious manner. That is, his adoption of the conceptual order was fallacious in the sense of being a fraudulent affiliation with or commitment to the meaning propounded by the teachings. The idea was that upon being defeated an apprentice, besides being incapable of commanding an ally, would be left with only the knowledge of certain manipulatory techniques, plus the memory of the perceived component elements of nonordinary reality, but he would not identify with the rationale that might have made them meaningful in their own terms. Under these circumstances any man might be forced to develop his own explanations for idiosyncratically chosen areas of the phenomena he had experienced, and that process would entail the fallacious adoption of the point of view propounded by don Juan's teachings. Fallacious adoption of the conceptual order, however, was apparently not restricted to the apprentice alone. In the theme of the enemies of a man of knowledge, it was also implicit that a man, after having achieved the goal of learning to command an ally, could still succumb to the onslaughts of his other two enemies -- power and old age. In don Juan's categorization scheme, such a defeat implied that a man had fallen into a shallow or fallacious adoption of the conceptual order, as had the defeated apprentice.
The successful adoption of the conceptual order, on the other hand, meant that the apprentice had achieved the operational goal -- a bona fide adoption of the point of view propounded in the teachings. That is, his adoption of the conceptual order was bona fide in that it was a complete affiliation with, a complete commitment to, the meaning expressed in that order of conceptualization.
Don Juan never clarified the exact point at which, or the exact way in which, an apprentice ceased to be an apprentice, although the allusion was clear that once he had achieved the operational goal of the system -- that is, once he knew how to command an ally -- he would no longer need the teacher for guidance. The idea that the time would come when a teacher's directions would be superfluous implied that the apprentice would succeed in adopting the conceptual order, and in so doing he would acquire the capacity to draw meaningful inferences without the teacher's aid.
Insofar as don Juan's teachings were concerned, and until I discontinued my apprenticeship, the acceptance of special consensus seemed to entail the adoption of two units of the conceptual order: (1) the idea of a reality of special consensus; (2) the idea that the reality of ordinary, everyday-life consensus, and the reality of special consensus, had an equally pragmatic value.
Reality of Special Consensus
The main body of don Juan's teachings, as he himself stated, concerned the use of the three hallucinogenic plants with which he induced states of nonordinary reality. The use of these three plants seems to have been a matter of deliberate intent on his part. He seems to have employed them because each of them possessed different hallucinogenic properties, which he interpreted as the different inherent natures of the powers contained in them. By directing the extrinsic and intrinsic levels of nonordinary reality, don Juan exploited the different hallucinogenic properties until they created in me, as the apprentice, the perception that nonordinary reality was a perfectly defined area, a realm separate from ordinary, everyday life whose inherent properties were revealed as I went along.
Nevertheless, it was also possible that the allegedly different properties might have been merely the product of don Juan's own process of directing the intrinsic order of nonordinary reality, although in his teachings he exploited the idea that the power contained in each plant induced states of nonordinary reality which differed from one another. If the latter was true, their differences in terms of the units of this analysis seem to have been in the range of appraisal which one could perceive in the states elicited by each of the three. Owing to the peculiarities of their range of appraisal, all three contributed to producing the perception of a perfectly defined area or realm, consisting of two compartments: the independent range, called the realm of the lizards, or of Mescalito's lessons; and the dependent range, referred to as the area where one could move by one's own means.
I use the term "nonordinary reality," as already noted, in the sense of extraordinary, uncommon reality. For a beginner apprentice such a reality was by all means unordinary, but the apprenticeship of don Juan's knowledge demanded my compulsory participation and my commitment to pragmatic and experimental practice of whatever I had learned. That meant that I, as the apprentice, had to experience a number of states of nonordinary reality, and that firsthand knowledge would, sooner or later, make the classifications "ordinary" and "nonordinary" meaningless for me. The bona fide adoption of the first unit of the conceptual order would have entailed, then, the idea that there was another separate, but no longer unordinary, realm of reality, the "reality of special consensus."
Accepting as a major premise that the reality of special consensus was a separate realm would have explained meaningfully the idea that the meetings with the allies or with Mescalito took place in a realm that was not illusory.
The Reality of Special Consensus Had Pragmatic Value
The same process of directing the extrinsic and intrinsic levels of nonordinary reality, which seemed to have created the recognition of the reality of special consensus as a separate realm, appeared also to have been responsible for my perception that the reality of special consensus was practical and usable. The acceptance of special consensus on all the states of nonordinary reality, and on all the special states of ordinary reality, was designed to consolidate the awareness that it was equal to the reality of ordinary, everyday-life consensus. This equality was based on the impression that the reality of special consensus was not a realm that could be equated with dreams. On the contrary, it had stable component elements that were subject to special agreement. It was actually a realm where one could perceive the surroundings in a deliberate manner. Its component elements were not idiosyncratic or whimsical, but concise items or events whose existence was attested to by the whole body of teachings.
The implication of the equality was clear in the treatment don Juan accorded to the reality of special consensus, a treatment that was utilitarian and matter of course; not at any time did he refer to it, nor was I required to behave toward it in any but a utilitarian, matter-of-course way. The fact that the two areas were considered equal, however, did not mean that at any moment one could have behaved in exactly the same way in either area. On the contrary, a sorcerer's behavior had to be different since each area of reality had qualities that rendered it utilizable in its own way. The defining factor in terms of meaning seems to have been the idea that such an equality could be measured on the grounds of practical utility. Thus, a sorcerer had to believe that it was possible to shift back and forth from one area to the other, that both were inherently utilizable, and that the only dissimilarity between the two was their different capacity for being used, that is, the different purposes they served.
Yet their separateness seemed to be only an appropriate arrangement that was pertinent to my particular level of apprenticeship, which don Juan used for making me aware that another realm of reality could exist. But from his acts, more than from his statements, I was led to believe that for a sorcerer there was but one single continuum of reality which had two, or perhaps more than two, parts from which he drew inferences of pragmatic value. The bona fide adoption of the idea that the reality of special consensus had pragmatic value would have given a meaningful perspective to movement.
If I had accepted the idea that the reality of special consensus was usable because it possessed inherently utilizable properties which were as pragmatic as those of the reality of everyday consensus, then it would have been logical for me to understand why don Juan exploited the notion of movement in the reality of special consensus at such great length. After accepting the pragmatic existence of another reality, the only thing a sorcerer had to do would be to learn the mechanics of movement. Naturally, movement in that instance had to be specialized because it was concerned with the inherent, pragmatic properties of the reality of special consensus.