THE EAGLES GIFT first published 1981

11. The Nagual Woman

Don Juan said that one day he realised that he and his group were getting old, and there seemed no hope of ever accomplishing their task. That was the first time they felt the sting of despair and impotence.

Silvio Manuel insisted that they should resign themselves and live impeccably without hope of ever finding their freedom. It seemed plausible to don Juan that this might indeed be the key to everything. In this respect he found himself following his benefactor's footsteps. He came to accept that an unconquerable pessimism overtakes a warrior at a certain point his path. A sense of defeat, or perhaps more accurately a sense of unworthiness, comes upon him almost unawares. Don Juan said that before, he used to laugh at his benefactor's doubts and could not bring himself to believe that he worried in earnest. In spite of the protests and warnings of Silvo Manuel, don Juan had thought that it was all a giant ploy designed to teach them something.

Since he could not believe that his benefactors doubts were real, neither could he believe that his benefactor's resolution to live impeccably without hope of freedom was genuine. When he finally grasped that his benefactor, in all seriousness, had resigned himself to fail, it also dawned on him that a warrior's resolution to live impeccably in spite of everything cannot be approached as a strategy to ensure success. Don Juan and his party proved this for themselves when they realised for a fact that the odds against them were astonishing. Don Juan said that at such moments a lifelong training takes over, and the warrior enters into a state of unsurpassed humility . When the true poverty of his human resources becomes undeniable, the warrior has no recourse but to step back and lower his head.