"Ordinarily, events that change our path are impersonal affairs, and yet extremely personal. My teacher, don Juan Matsus, said this is guiding me as his apprentice to collect what I considered to be the memorable events of my life…. Don Juan described the total goal of the shamanistic knowledge that he handled as the preparation for facing the definitive journey: the journey that every human being has to take at the end of his life. He said that what modern man referred to vaguely as life after death was, for those shamans, a concrete region filled to capacity with practical affairs 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 in their lives was, for shamans, the preparation for their entrance into that concrete region, which they called the active side of infinity."
In this book written immediately before his death, anthropologist and shaman Carlos Castaneda gives us his most autobiographical and intimately revealing work ever, the fruit of a lifetime of experience and perhaps the most moving volume in his oeuvre.
Although he died last April, Castaneda, dubbed "the Godfather of the New Age" by some, speaks, as seems only fitting for a man who called himself a sorcerer, from beyond the beyond. Castaneda undertook this somewhat autobiographical record of memories and experiences during his famous apprenticeship to don Juan, the Yaqui Indian who tutored him in the ways of shamanism. According to Castaneda, don Juan asked him to remember the most significant events of his life and to describe them in great detail as a means to recoup psychic energy and to understand the forces of "infinity" that had led him to the path of the "warrior-traveler." Castaneda uses those personal events to illustrate aspects of Yaqui mysticism, restating the fundamental themes of his work in a more accessible manner than some of his other writings. Gone are the tales, typical of his earlier books (A Journey to Ixtlan; The Teachings of Don Juan; etc.), of humans who transformed themselves into eagles and wolves, hallucinogenic adventures on peyote and superhuman physical challenges. Instead, readers get accounts of the visionary's lonely but privileged childhood on a hacienda in an unnamed Latin American country, as well as endearing memories of his life as a bumbling and rather neurotic anthropology graduate student at UCLA. "The active side of infinity" is an intelligent energy that intentionally guides the warrior-traveler. Reading Castaneda's account of don Juan's preparation for the "definitive journey" of death will likely be a poignant experience for Castaneda's fans, who may see the writing of the book as the author's preparation for his own departure.