In this compelling memoir, anthropologist and best-selling author Carlos Castaneda recounts his apprenticeship under don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian sorcerer from Sonora, Mexico. It was written in response to his teacher's orders to assemble an album of memorable events — ones that had an indelible impact on his character. Don Juan was convinced that this material would be of value as a preparation for the definitive journey at the end of life. Castaneda, who died in 1998, must have known in his heart that his teacher was right.

The shamanistic teachings in The Active Side of Infinity are in sync with the perennial wisdom of the ages. Don Juan tutors Castaneda about the two minds — the essential, intuitive one and "a foreign installation" which engenders conflict, doubts, and hopelessness. He salutes the spiritual practices of being present, equanimity, inner silence, and making sure that all debts are paid. Castaneda is also warned to steer clear of "the cult of me" and to respect "the art of dreaming."

Much more accessible than the author's 12 other volumes, this one also contains several surprises. For instance: " 'Walking is always something that precipitates memories,' don Juan went on. 'The sorcerers of ancient Mexico believed that everything we live we store as a sensation on the backs of the legs. They considered the backs of the legs to be the warehouse of man's personal history. So, let's go for a walk in the hills now.' "