THE WARRIOR SAYINGS OF DON JUAN
The following quote collection has been culled from the Casteneda books and represents a distillation of Don Juan’s philosophy of the warrior. Regardless of what you may think of the literal veracity of these books(they have been pretty successfully debunked as truthful encounters), they were for many in our culture, including me, the first encounter with the philosophy of the warrior. Don Juan’s teachings about the Warrior stance have the perfection of a Samurai sword or arrows shot by a master Zen archer. Their concise, penetrating power is unequaled, and they pierce ego illusions like diamond bullets. Taken together they amount to a Toltec Warrior Manifesto. Someone once defined stories as “equipment for living.” Don Juan’s warrior teachings are also equipment for living, something never to leave behind, like a blade of impervious metal, a powerful ally to accompany you into any sort of wilderness.
I am already given to the power that rules my fate. And I cling to nothing, so I will have
nothing to defend.
I have no thoughts, so I will see.
I fear nothing, so I will remember myself.
Detached and at ease, I will dart past the Eagle to be free.
Warriors have an ulterior purpose for their acts which has
nothing to do with personal gain. The average man acts only if
there is a chance for profit. Warriors act not for profit, but for
For the average man, the world is weird because if he’s not
bored with it, he’s at odds with it. For a warrior, the world is
weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable.
A warrior must assume responsibility for being here, in this
marvelous world, in this marvelous time.
Impeccability begins with a single act that has to be
deliberate, precise and sustained. If that act is repeated long
enough, one acquires a sense of unbending intent which can be
applied to anything else. If that is accomplished the road is
clear. One thing will lead to another until the warrior realizes
his full potential.
Any movement of the assemblage point means a movement away
from an excessive concern with the individual self. Shamans believe
it is the position of the assemblage point which makes modern man a
homicidal egoist, a being totally involved with his self-image.
Having lost hope of ever returning to the source of everything, the
average man seeks solace in his selfishness.
A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything
needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts
for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient,
self-explanatory and complete.
Therefore, one may say without being presumptuous that the
experience of experiences is being alive.
A warrior must focus his attention on the link between
himself and his death. Without remorse or sadness or worrying, he
must focus his attention on the fact that he does not have time and
let his acts flow accordingly. He must let each of his acts be his
last battle on earth. Only under those conditions will his acts
have their rightful power. Otherwise they will be, for as long as
he lives, the acts of a fool.
Note—Although the quotes use the default masculine pronoun “he,” it is not assumed that warriors must be males. Many of the most powerful warriors in the Casteneda books are female.
Warriors compress time; this is the sixth principle of the
art of stalking. Even an instant counts. In a battle for your
life, a second is an eternity, an eternity that may decide the
outcome. Warriors aim at succeeding, therefore they compress time.
Warriors don’t waste an instant.
A warrior acknowledges his pain but he doesn’t indulge in it.
The mood of the warrior who enters into the unknown is not one of
sadness; on the contrary, he’s joyful because he feels humbled by
his great fortune, confident that his spirit is impeccable, and
above all, fully aware of his efficiency. A warrior’s joyfulness
comes from having accepted his fate, and from having truthfully
assessed what lies ahead of him.
The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is
that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary
man takes everything as a blessing or as a curse.
The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence
of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of
the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks
impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness. The
average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked
only to infinity.
It is much easier for warriors to fare well under conditions of
maximum stress than to be impeccable under normal circumstances.
What seems natural is to think that a warrior who can hold his
own in the face of the unknown can certainly face petty tyrants with
impunity. But that’s not necessarily so. What destroyed the superb
warriors of ancient times was to rely on that assumption. Nothing
can temper the spirit of a warrior as much as the challenge of
dealing with impossible people in positions of power. Only under
those conditions can warriors acquire the sobriety and serenity to
withstand the pressure of the unknowable.
Knowledge comes to a warrior, floating, like specks of gold
dust, the same dust that covers the wings of moths. So for a
warrior, knowledge is like taking a shower, or being rained on b
specks of dark gold dust.
A warrior is a hunter. He calculates everything. That’s
control. Once his calculations are over, he acts. He lets go.
That’s abandon. A warrior is not a leaf at the mercy of the wind.
No one can push him, no one can make him do things against himself
or against his better judgment. A warrior is tuned to survive and
he survives in the best of all possible fashions.
Acts have power. Especially when the warrior acting knows that
those acts are his last battle. There is a strange consuming
happiness in acting with the full knowledge that whatever he is
doing may very well be his last act on earth.
If a warrior is to succeed in anything, the success must come
gently, with a great deal of effort but with no stress or obsession.
Our fellow men are black magicians. And whoever is with them
is a black magician on the spot. Think for a moment, can you
deviate from the path that your fellow men have lined up for you?
And if you remain with them, your thoughts and your actions are
fixed forever in their terms. That is slavery. The warrior, on the
other hand, is free from all that. Freedom is expensive, but the
price is not impossible to pay. So, fear your captors, your
masters. Don’t waste your time and your power fearing freedom.
A warrior is never under siege. To be under siege implies that
one has personal possessions that could be blockaded. A warrior has
nothing in the world except his impeccability, and impeccability
cannot be threatened.
To discard everything that is unnecessary is the second
principle of the art of stalking. A warrior doesn’t complicate
things. He aims at being simple. He applies all the concentration
he has to decide whether or not to enter into battle, for any battle
is a battle for his life. This is the third principle of the art of
stalking. A warrior must be willing and ready to make his last
stand here and now. But not in a helter-skelter way.
The flaw with words is that they always make us feel
enlightened, but when we turn around to face the world they always
fail us and we end up facing the world as we always have, without
enlightenment. For this reason, a warrior seeks to act rather than
to talk, and to this effect, he gets a new description of the
world—a new description where talking is not that important, and
where new acts have new reflections.
Applying these principles brings about three results. The
first is that stalkers learn never to take themselves seriously;
they learn to laugh at themselves. If they are not afraid of being
a fool, they can fool anyone. The second is that stalkers learn to
have endless patience. Stalkers are never in a hurry; they never
fret. And the third is that stalkers learn to have an endless
capacity to improvise.
Only as a warrior can one withstand the path of knowledge. A
warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless
challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad.
Challenges are simple challenges.
The recommendation for warriors is not to have any material
things on which to focus their power, but to focus it on the spirit,
on the true flight into the unknown, not on trivialities.
Everyone who wants to follow the warrior’s path has to rid
himself of the compulsion to possess and hold onto things.
Self-importance is man’s greatest enemy. What weakens him is
feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of his fellow men.
Self-importance requires that one spend most of one’s life offended
by something or someone.
The hardest thing in the world is to assume the mood of a
warrior. It is of no use to be sad and complain and feel justified
in doing so, believing that someone is always doing something to us.
Nobody is doing anything to anybody, much less to a warrior.
A warrior takes his lot, whatever it amy be, and accepts it in
ultimate humbleness. He accepts in humbleness what he is, not as
grounds for regret but as a living challenge.
By the way, Casteneda, just before he died, published an entire book of Don Juan quotations entitled The Arrow of Time.
When nothing is for sure we remain alert, perennially on our
toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is
hiding behind than to behave as though we knew everything.
As long as a man feels that he is the most important thing in
the world, he cannot really appreciate the world around him. He is
like a horse with blinders; all he sees is himself, apart from
There is no completeness without sadness and longing, for
without them there is no sobriety, no kindness. Wisdom without
kindness and knowledge without sobriety are useless.
Everything that warriors do is done as a consequence of a
movement of their assemblage points, and such movements are ruled by
the amount of energy warriors have at their command.
Power always makes a cubic centimeter of chance available to a
warrior. The warrior’s art is to be perennially fluid in order to
The worst that could happen to us is that we have to die, and
since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free; those who
have lost everything no longer have anything to fear.
What we need to do to allow magic to get hold of us is to
banish doubts from our minds. Once doubts are banished anything is
A warrior must learn to make every act count, since he is going
to be here in this world for only a short while, in fact, too short
for witnessing all the marvels of it.
Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy and vain. To be a warrior one needs to be light and fluid.
Dwelling upon the self too much produces a terrible fatigue. A man in that position is deaf and blind to everything else. The fatigue itself makes him cease to see the marvels all around him.
When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only when there is something we can still cling to.
For a seer, the truth is that all living beings are struggling to die. What stops death is awareness.
The only freedom warriors have is to behave impeccably. Not only is impeccability freedom; it is the only way to straighten out
the human form.
I hope these quotes nourish you as they have me. Save them, print them out, keep them with you for they will never seem dated or irrelevant if you aim at impeccability and the warrior’s stance. — Jonathan