"Ordinarily, events that change our path are impersonal affairs, and yet extremely personal." My teacher, don Juan Matus, said this in guiding me as his apprentice to collect what I considered to be the memorable events of my life. Don Juan Matus ...
was a Yaqui Indian shaman from Sonora, Mexico. . . who traced [his] lineage to the shamans who lived in Mexico in ancient times. Over the course of thirteen years, don Juan ushered me into the cognitive world of those shamans, a world which was. . . ruled by a different system of cognition than the one which rules our world of everyday life.
Writing The Active Side of Infinity was a response to don Juan's directive to collect such an album of memorable events. . . . As time went by, he revealed to me that gathering such a collection was a traditional task given by the shamans of his lineage to their apprentices. . . . Don Juan stated that to formulate an album of this nature demanded such discipline and impartiality that it was, in essence, an act of war.
"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. . . . Don Juan considered that to collect the memorable events in their lives was, for shamans, the preparation for their entrance into that concrete region, which they called the active side of infinity."
In The Active Side of Infinity, written in the final years of preparation for his definitive journey, 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.