A couple of years ago a friend/client sent me an updated interpretation of the don Juan story from The Power of Silence.
Recently, I rediscovered it and wanted to share it as it includes some excellent learnings which are easily relatable to our experiences today. I am sharing this interpretation with additional remarks at the end:
In The Power of Silence, Castaneda relates a story that don Juan told him about becoming impeccable. Don Juan was an angry young man. He survived many struggles but blamed the world and others for his plight. His teacher, the nagual Julian, felt the need to teach don Juan a lesson so he could become impeccable regarding his use of energy. Specifically, he wanted him to stop squandering his precious energy on anger which has no benefit for him or others. Instead the nagual Julian wanted to teach him to use his energy in the best possible way. Julian said that impeccability is simply the best use of our energy and anger was in the way of don Juan becoming impeccable.
So the nahual Julian threw a party for don Juan to celebrate the lesson he wanted to teach him. The location was at the edge of a raging river, one that was at flood stage due to recent heavy rains. Many friends were invited.
After a bit of dancing and celebrating, Julian guided don Juan to the edge of the raging river and made him kneel. Julian asked the powers of the river to advise don Juan and help him learn. Then he told don Juan to stand up and close his eyes. He grabbed don Juan and threw him into the rushing waters below, shouting, “Don’t hate the river, for heaven’s sake!”
Don Juan couldn’t believe he’d let this happen. He was angry that Julian had tricked him. He was resolved that he wasn’t going to die in that river by the antics of Julian.
The current dragged him for a long distance. And while he was being dragged and trying not to succumb, he entered into a strange frame of mind. He knew his flaw. He was a very angry man and his pent-up anger made him hate, fight, and be impatient with everyone and everything in his life. He realized that hating and fighting the river would deplete his energy and get him nowhere. All he could do with the river was follow its flow.
This simple awareness that he couldn’t fight, and his acceptance of it, shifted his attention. It shifted from fighting the situation to focusing on dealing with it as well as he could. Instead of being distracted by hating Julian, the river, or himself - he focused his attention totally on swimming. This allowed don Juan to use his energy more effectively. The river helped him become impeccable in how he used his attention and energy.
Julian’s action had awakened don Juan’s intent. Intention is attention focused in the direction of choice. In this instance, the river made the choice for don Juan. The river forced don Juan to focus his attention on swimming to deal with the survival situation. We can apply that lesson to the rest of our lives. We can stop blaming others. We can stop being angry about the challenges we have or the state of our world. Instead, we can choose to focus our attention on actions to deal with or help the situation. We can be intentional with how we choose to focus our attention. Doing that helps us live impeccable lives.
How do you use your precious energy and focus? Do you use it by pointing blame on others, or by seeing something good in the situations you face? Do you use your energy in a way that uplifts others, making them smile, laugh, or spreading hope? Or do you use your energy to make them more angry or afraid? Our energy is precious and is not limitless. It is important to use what energy we have to benefit our health, peace, balance, and happiness. When we don’t live this way, our health and clarity of thought suffers. When our energy is not focused in a positive way, our mood also suffers, and that’s what we share with those around us.
Just what does impeccable mean and why is it such an important goal? It is ‘behavior that is in accordance with the highest standards.’ Isn’t that what we are spiritually striving to become? How one thinks and behaves in each moment and with each person, either uplifts our consciousness or takes it down.
Think of being impeccable in all you do and say. Shift your attention from disliking or resisting a situation to improving it. This way of living is a gift that you, like don Juan, can choose to embody. When you do, you will be making the best use of your precious energy for yourself and others.