Why did you leave?


Why did I leave? I got too frightened. There is this assumption in all of us, that uh, we could give ourselves agreement that this is real. I'm sure that many humans have taken psychedelic substance like LSD, or something like that, the distortion that you suffer, under this psychedelic, is accountable, by saying I'm seeing such and such, and that and that, or this this and that because I have taken something, that's in the back of our mind - always. 

So, anything could be, let's say, accounted for in a strange way. But, whenever you begin to lose that security, I think that's time to quit. That's my fear.

JH: Could you tell me more about the Yaquis? 

CC: The Yaquis? The Yaquis are Christians, Catholics, nominal Catholics. They allowed the Catholic missionaries to come in 1773, voluntarily. And after 80 years of colonization, they killed all the missionaries. And no missionaries has ever come. They involved themselves in this war against the Mexicans. After the independence of Mexico. The Yaquis have been in war with the Mexican army for 100 years, of solid war. Solid. They raided the Mexican towns, they killed them. And finally, in 1908, at the beginning of the century, Mexico decided to put an end to this nonsense. They rounded them up, sending huge troops, armies, round up the Indians put them in trains in boats and ship them to the south, to Oaxaca, Veracruz and Yucatan, dispersed them completely and that was only the way to stop them. And then in 1940, after the war, he says, masses of people in Mexico being the avant garde of democracy of Latin America, they couldn't stand the things that they did to the Yaquis. So they rounded the Yaquis again, brought them back, they are again in Sonora now. They are seasoned warriors, they are very, very, very aggressive people. It is inconceivable that don Juan could enter into that society. It's a closed circuit. It's very aggressive. They wouldn't trust me, because I'm an Mexican. They see me as a Mexican. They would trust an American, much much better, much easier. They hate Mexicans, they call them the Yoris. Which means pigs, something like that. Because they have been so oppressed... 

JH: Do you know about don Juan as brujo or don Juan as diablero? 

CC: It's the same thing. A brujo is a diablero, those are two Spanish words, to denominate to design, they signify the same thing. Don Juan does not want to use that because it connotes a sense of evilness. So he uses the word man-of-knowledge, it's a Mazatec term. I concluded that whatever he learned from a Mazatec, because man-of-knowledge is one who knows. And one who knows is a Mazatec term. A brujo, a sorcerer, is one who knows. I hope that I arrive to that. I doubt very much that my makeup is one that is required to make a man-of-knowledge. I don't think I have the backbone. 

JH: Well, Does don Juan agree with that? 

CC: No, he never told me that, you know. He thinks that I have a very bad probably frank. I do think because I get get bored, which is pretty bad, terrible, suicidal nearly. Presented me the example of a man who was courageous. He found a woodcarver, who was very interested to in the idea of taking peyote. Don Juan took me to Sonora as a show, so he could convince his grandson that is was very desirable to take peyote. That it would change his life. His grandson is very handsome chap, terribly handsome. He wants to be a movie star. He wants me to bring him to Hollywood. And he always asks me, his name is Fernando, he always asks me, do you think I'm handsome Carlos? You're really handsome. And then he says, do you think I could work in the movies as a chief in a cowboy movie or something? He would, he would be a magnificent chief. He wants me to take him to Hollywood. He says just take me to the door, and leave me there. I never had the opportunity of bringing him to the door. But uh, however don Juan has the intention to turn his grandson to the use of peyote. And he failed everytime. And he took me one day as a show, and I told them my experiences, there were eight Indians and their listening. They said it, peyote, causes madness, causes insanity. Don Juan says, "but that's not true, if that would be so, look at Carlos, he isn't mad." They said, maybe he should be. 

JH: Do you think you could have found the level of understanding that you found now, by intaking the drugs without don Juan? 

CC: No, I am very emphatic about that. I would be lost. I just talked to Timothy Leary. And he flipped. I'm sorry, that's my personal feeling. He cannot concentrate, and that's absurd. 

JH: Is that the difference between he and Don Juan? 

CC: Don Juan can concentrate. That's it. He could pinpoint things. He could exhaustively laugh at things, and kick one subject until its death. I don't know why, its very amenable to do that. He has a sense of humor. What he lacks is the tragedy of a western man. We're tragic figures. We're sublime beings ... grovelling in mud. Don Juan is not. He's a sublime being. He told me himself. I had a great discussion with him once about dignity. And I said I that I have dignity and if I'm going to live without dignity, I'll blow my head off. I mean it. I don't how I mean it, but I do mean it. He said, that's nonsense, I don't understand about dignity, I have no dignity, I am an Indian, I have only life. But that's his stand. And I argue with him, I said listen, please I want so desperately, to understand, what I mean by dignity, what happened to the Indians when the Spaniards came? They actually forced them to live a life that had no dignity. They forced them to take the path that had no heart. And then he said, that's not true. The Spaniards rounded up the Indians who had dignity. Only the Indians that had already dignity. Maybe he's right. They never rounded him up. I told don Juan when I met him, his guy who introduced me, said my name is so and so. In Spanish my name is spider, Charley Spider. If I told him my name is Charley Spider. He'd crack up. We kidded around. After that, I found that was my golden opportunity to make my entry. And I said, "listen, I understand that you know a great deal about peyote. I do too, I know a great deal about peyote, maybe to our mutual benefit we could get together and talk about." That was my presentation, I mean, my formal presentation, I used it over and over. And he looked at me, in a very funny way, I cannot portray. But I knew at that moment, that he knew I didn't know anything. I was just throwing the bull, you know, completely bluffing him. That's what bothered me very much, I never been looked at in that way, ever. That was enough for me to be very interested to go and see him. Nobody ever looked at me that way. 

JH: The guidance of a teacher. What about people that don't have a person like don Juan? 

CC: That's the real problem. I think, it's an untenable position. I placed myself in that position, by myself, an untenable position. I wouldn't know. It's like uh... when I went to see him, um for instance, when the book came out, I took it to him. I got a book, and pretended that it was the first book that ever came out of the presses, you know, and I wanted to take it to don Juan. Maybe it was the first book, I don't know, perhaps it was. I wanted to believe that it was, anyway, and I took it to him, I gave it it was very difficult to reach him in the first place, because he was way up in the central part of Mexico I had to wait for a couple of days. And then finally he came down to town and I gave him the book. I said, "don Juan look I finished a book," and he looked said, "very nice," he said, "a nice book", and in a state of passion I said , "I want you to have it want you to keep, I want you to have it." He said, "what can I do with a book.? You know what we do with paper in Mexico."

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