In The Power of Silence, Castaneda relates a story that don Juan told him about becoming impeccable. Don Juan said he was an angry young man. He’d 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. Julian said that impeccability is simply the best use of our energy. Anger was getting in the way of don Juan’s energy, which kept him from being impeccable.
So, the nagual Julian threw a party for don Juan to celebrate the lesson he wanted to teach him. The ceremony occurred at the edge of a raging river, one that was at flood-stage due to the recent heavy rains. Many friends were invited.
After a lot 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 to him. 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.
Castaneda continues: “The current dragged him for a long distance. And while he was being dragged and trying his best 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 and fight with everyone around. But he could not hate or fight the river, or be impatient with it, or fret, which were the ways he normally behaved with everything and everybody in his life. All he could do with the river was follow its flow.”
This simple awareness that he couldn’t fight the river, and his acceptance of it, shifted his attention. It shifted his attention from fighting the reality of 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, which allowed don Juan to use his energy more effectively. The river helped him become impeccable in how he used his attention and energy.
Castaneda relates that Julian had awakened don Juan’s intent. Intention is attention focused in the direction of a 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. Instead of blaming others, or being angry about challenges we have, we can choose to focus our attention on actions to deal with the given situation. We can be intentional with how we choose to focus our attention. Doing that helps us live impeccable lives.