To think about the question I had in my “heart” was a difficult problem. I told don Juan I had had many things in my mind. When I asked if I was on the right path, I meant: Do I have one foot in each of two worlds? Which world is the right one? What course should my life take?

Don Juan listened to my explanations and concluded that I did not have a clear view of the world, and that the protector had given me a beautifully clear lesson.

He said, “You think there are two worlds for you — two paths. But there is only one. The protector showed you this with unbelievable clarity. The only world available to you is the world of men, and that world you cannot choose to leave. You are a man! The protector showed you the world of happiness where there is no difference between things because there is no one there to ask about the difference. But that is not the world of men. The protector shook you out of it and showed you how a man thinks and fights. That is the world of man! And to be a man is to be condemned to that world. You have the vanity to believe you live in two worlds, but that is only your vanity. There is but one single world for us. We are men, and must follow the world of men contentedly.

“I believe that was the lesson.”

A conversation between don Juan Matus and Carlos Castaneda, from The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

The context of the above quote is a conversation between don Juan and Carlos about a particularly frightening experience that Carlos had had with Mescalito. The conversation touches on selves (both Carlos, and don Juan) that I myself have been at different points in my life: the sense of being lost, of wanting to choose the correct path, and on the other side of it, of seeing that we are meant to be here, that this is where our work it meant to be done.


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