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OfflineCosmic_Monkey
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Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone?
    #972461 - 10/18/02 04:08 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

I'm just curious if anyone on here has read much of his work and what thoughts you have about it.  I read a good few of his books years ago and thought it was pretty far-out shit.  I don't know if there's any truth to it but I found it to be a good fantasy anyway. 
I remember in one he was talking about being by a stream "smoking mushrooms" :smirk: and he said that the particals of water in the mist grew and grew until he climbed inside one and floated off downstream.  He also said that if Don Jaun hadn't revived him from that it could have been fatal.  I have to admit I was a little dissapointed when I tried muhsrooms and that didn't happen. 
Not to long ago I was talking to someone and they told me that he never even went to Mexico and that he made it all up sitting in his house in New York.... 


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Anonymous

Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #972469 - 10/18/02 04:10 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

I have read all of his books and own all but a few.

Basically he was a fraud.

Cheers,


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OfflineMarkostheGnostic
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #972511 - 10/18/02 04:25 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

I learned from a very reputable person back in 1974, who met with Casteneda, that there never was a Don Juan Matus. Fantasy with various occult sources ingeniously fitted together. A master story-teller.


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γνῶθι σαὐτόν - Gnothi Seauton - Know Thyself


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: MarkostheGnostic]
    #972590 - 10/18/02 05:01 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

And people tell me I should take McKenna seriously...


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Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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InvisibleRevelation

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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #972688 - 10/18/02 05:44 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

I read the first book and enjoyed it...then I came here and found out he basically made it up...kind of lost the incentive to read the rest of the series.


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #972731 - 10/18/02 06:03 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

Castenada's books are fascinating. His description of the worldview described by "Nagualism" is internally consistent, though not readily verifiable.

Virtually all the charges of "fraudulence" relate to Castaneda's original representation of this belief system as belonging to the Yaqui Indians, rather than to a line of sorcerers of no specific heritage. In other words, the beef of the critics is not that what Carlos is presenting is a load of crap, but that it is not the official religion of the Yaqui Indians or any other tribe. His later books make it clear that "Nagualism" was never the exclusive property of any given tribe, nor is it even known to all the members of any given tribe. It is instead a description of the universe passed from Nagual ("man of knowledge", "Brujo", "curandero", "shaman", "sorcerer"... whatever you feel most comfortable with) to Nagual, originating some time before the Spanish Conquest when the Toltec culture still existed.

Writers other than Castaneda have described parts of the same belief system. What's the name of that short book that was so popular last year? "The Four Affirmations", or "The Four Commitments" or "The Four something or other"? At any rate, that book is a subset of Castaneda's version of "Nagualism". There have been others who have written on nagualism as well... Florinda Donner-Grau is the only one I can think of offhand, but I know there are more.

One thing is clear after reading all the books through several times -- either the description of the world as laid out by Castaneda is accurate, or Castaneda is quite literally the most accomplished writer of fiction the world has ever seen, by a very wide margin.

Even if one dismisses his representation of the universe as false, the books themselves are of enormous value in the practical lessons they teach. His lessons on how to live life as a hunter, or as a warrior; the almost casual throwaway of countless gems of wisdom; the little vignettes of his past life and the past lives of others in his sorcerer's lineage, are well worth the read.

Though I have a very hard time accepting that the universe really is as Castaneda describes it, I cannot readily dismiss his books as pure fantasy. This is odd, because I am an Aristotelian who thinks Kant was the biggest loony of them all. Let me put it this way... Nagualism to me is a more likely scenario than that described by any other religious texts I have read so far.

I am conflicted, but the books are so incredibly beautifully written that every few years I dig them out and read them cover to cover in the order they were published. If Castaneda's description of the universe is true, they are the most important books ever written. If it is all just the outpouring of a fevered mind, then I stand in awe of his creative genius.

Either way, anyone with the slightest interest in spirituality and/or philosophy is doing themselves a huge disservice by not reading them.

pinky







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OfflineNeonBlack
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #972805 - 10/18/02 06:43 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

I haven't read any of his books as of yet. After reading what others have had to say about his work, I think I may pick one up in the near future. Didn't Castaneda die as a result of playing with datura?


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InvisibleFick_Duck
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #972953 - 10/18/02 08:01 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

i am a huge fan. this series of books shaped how i view the world sober and especially shrooming. when i was a young stoner and my mom showed me the first book (Teachings of Don Juan) i thought it was gold. i agree that he is a genious if it were all made up and if it were it would truly break me as for many years ive taken the whole story to be quite true. i too bust these out about once a year and have told alot of people it is a must read.


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"To know life you must fuck it in the liver." -Dr. Frankenstein, Andy Warhols Frankenstein


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InvisibleBirdseye
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Fick_Duck]
    #973023 - 10/18/02 08:30 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

The book is a fraud. It's a joke about anthropology.


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Birdseye]
    #973145 - 10/18/02 09:19 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

There were several books, not just one. Ten or eleven in all, I think

As far as the books being a verifiable work of ANTHROPOLOGY, I will not try to refute the criticisms various anthropologists have aimed at them, since I lack the necessary background to be able to tell if their charges are accurate -- I just presume the criticisms are in fact justified.

But I repeat that the criticisms are levelled against the ANTHROPOLOGICAL aspects of Castaneda's account, not the METAPHYSICS of the worldview which he reports. Castaneda writes that Juan Matus maintained from the beginning that even though he was a Yaqui Indian, the knowledge he imparted to Castaneda neither originated with the Yaquis nor was it confined to Yaquis. From Juan Matus's perspective, the ethnic background of the practitioner had no relevance whatsoever. In his own "sorcerer's lineage" there were many non-Yaqui and even non-native American practitioners.

pinky


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OfflineTraveller
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #973359 - 10/18/02 11:07 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

read all of them except one called "the wheel of time". i too ended up buying them all to read and reread. definately everyone on this forum who hasn't read them should!! you'll love the read for sure.


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OfflineMarkostheGnostic
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Phred]
    #973401 - 10/18/02 11:34 PM (15 years, 2 months ago)

Personally, I enjoyed each book and looked forward to the next one with the same excitement I had with the next nearest Grateful Dead tour. However, the writings spanned a pretty long period, during which time I made some real discoveries of my own. In the Light of Unmitigated Reality, it became clear that it was deception, occult shape-shifting and essentially just genius-level literary skill.

One can find the' luminous egg' phenomenology in C. W. Leadbeater's 'The Astral Plane,' which was turn-of-the-century, and not well known til the occult revival of the 70's. The appearance of an 'ally', by 'seeing,' as a pointed witche's hat, hanging in the air is described in the 18 volume set of 'Man, Myth and Magic;' the 'gap', and it's attending sensations in the solar plexus, along with the emphasis on the meta-motive of 'power,' is none other than the Manipura Chakra of Hindu Yoga. Jimson weed for flight harkens back to the flying ointment of medieval witches; and the recovery of 'sparks' of awareness, to be devoured by 'The Eagle' [god] and restored to their rightful place - the result of being a 'man of knowledge,' which is to be read 'gnosis,' is pure Gnosticism, from any school. The 'sparks' of pure being returning to the Fullness could only be accomplished by the true Gnostic, or 'knowing one' or 'man of knowledge.'

If I thought about it, I would find more and more derivatives. There is even a Kabbalistic-like map of 'centers' and 'pathways' in one of the books (excuse my lack of specificity, I'm an intuitive who remembers ideas, not a 'historian' of details).
The person who told me in '74 that "there is no Don Juan,' is Dr. Robert Brier, philosophy chairperson at C.W. Post campus of Long Island University. He is a well known Egyptologist, often seen on TLC, and a co-publisher with J.B. Rhine - Father of Parapsychology. Bob was my professor in the 70's, and he used to meet with other well-known occultists and parapsychologists at the grave of Harry Houdini on Halloween. Casteneda was at the '74 gathering, and Bob reported this back to me.We corresponded recently, and I always held him in high regard, as he was perhaps my most influential teacher.


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γνῶθι σαὐτόν - Gnothi Seauton - Know Thyself


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Invisiblemr crisper
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: MarkostheGnostic]
    #973512 - 10/19/02 12:36 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

excuse my lack of specificity, I'm an intuitive who remembers ideas, not a 'historian' of details




i like that, mind if i borrow it sometimes?

ive read up to and including the eagles gift, tried to read the newer ones but couldn't get into them. enjoyed the earlier books very much at the time. they introduced me to whole new sphere of thought.
as for their authenticity....i'm not too concerned, it can go 2 ways - many people view the bible as the word of god, others see it as a compilation of writings from hebrew and christian scholars, story-tellers and priests. whoever wrote it is unimportant, it still contains a lot of information that is of value to many people.
i don't try to put castaneda's works on the same podium as the bible,  the line -as above, so below..., would suffice.
the other way, i like to think that everyone has a message for others, a lesson to teach if you like. it maybe something simple like - 'don't drink and drive or you will fuck yourself up' or don't consume strange pills or don't drink a bottle of spirits in one gulp (saw a guy do that in high school, he was dead in 20 minutes).
so judging by the fact his books have touched so many minds, they are his lesson, but what is the lesson?
probably it is your own individual interpretation that is the only one with any real relevance............for me,  :confused:how about - don't trust spaced out hippy books from the 60's and 70's?  :grin: 


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Cosmic_Monkey]
    #973651 - 10/19/02 01:44 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

I remember in one he was talking about being by a stream "smoking mushrooms"

This came about because he didn't know anything about mushrooms and just assumed that you would smoke them like marijuana. Someone told him you couldn't smoke mushrooms after he'd published Teachings of Don Juan so in the second book he changed it to eating them.


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Don't worry, B. Caapi


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Phred]
    #973656 - 10/19/02 01:46 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

Virtually all the charges of "fraudulence" relate to Castaneda's original representation of this belief system as belonging to the Yaqui Indians, rather than to a line of sorcerers of no specific heritage. In other words, the beef of the critics is not that what Carlos is presenting is a load of crap

The problem isn't that he made it all up, it's that he lied through his teeth for years insisting that Don Juan existed and it was all real. That's the thing that irritates the critics.


--------------------
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OfflinePhred
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: MarkostheGnostic]
    #974333 - 10/19/02 09:50 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

One can find the' luminous egg' phenomenology in C. W. Leadbeater's 'The Astral Plane,' which was turn-of-the-century, and not well known til the occult revival of the 70's. The appearance of an 'ally', by 'seeing,' as a pointed witche's hat, hanging in the air is described in the 18 volume set of 'Man, Myth and Magic;' the 'gap', and it's attending sensations in the solar plexus, along with the emphasis on the meta-motive of 'power,' is none other than the Manipura Chakra of Hindu Yoga. Jimson weed for flight harkens back to the flying ointment of medieval witches; and the recovery of 'sparks' of awareness, to be devoured by 'The Eagle' [god] and restored to their rightful place - the result of being a 'man of knowledge,' which is to be read 'gnosis,' is pure Gnosticism, from any school. The 'sparks' of pure being returning to the Fullness could only be accomplished by the true Gnostic, or 'knowing one' or 'man of knowledge.'

I don't dispute any of what you say. Those seeking to validate Nagualism as a factual worldview claim that each of these examples represents independent corroboration of that worldview. Those who seek to discredit Castaneda claim that he stole the ideas from those who previously reported them. Those who are skeptics of anything supernatural claim that ALL of it is bullshit, whether described by Castaneda or Leadbeater or the Hindu Yogas.

Casteneda was at the '74 gathering, and Bob reported this back to me.

Let me make sure I understand this -- Dr. Brier told you Castaneda informed him (and presumably others at the same gathering?) that Juan Matus was a fictional character? Did Dr. Brier report this widely, or merely mention it in passing to close associates?

An apologist of Nagualism would counter that if Castaneda did in fact repudiate Don Juan, he did so in order to stop wannabes from tailing him and trying to pester his "guru". It is a matter of public record that for years people tried to follow Castaneda on his journeys in the hopes of meeting Don Juan. Hordes of seekers descended on sections of Mexico, virtually wiping out the population of peyote cactus in many areas. There are more people who claim to have met Juan Matus and other members of Castaneda's sorcerer's party than claim to have heard Castaneda deny Juan Matus's existence.

I repeat that I am not personally convinced Castaneda was always factual in his reportage. I am also far from convinced that any of Castaneda's critics have proven his worldview to be invalid. As in all things involving supernatural phenomena, his reports can be neither proven nor disproven. There is literally no way to prove "Juan Matus" (and the name itself is most likely an alias), as described by Castaneda, was a fictional character.

Those who haven't seen this webpage before -- http://www.castaneda.org/english/interviews/index.htm -- may find it interesting. If you haven't read most of his books, some of the concepts he discusses will be meaningless, but I found it to be an interesting interview, as is the interview with Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar, and Carol Tiggs.

pinky


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Offlinecomario2
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Phred]
    #974342 - 10/19/02 10:02 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

pinky, i very much agree with your views on castaneda


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OfflineMarkostheGnostic
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Phred]
    #974394 - 10/19/02 10:44 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

Obviously, this communication was not one to be publicized, and it is unlikely that Casteneda would ever have stated explicitly that Don Juan was fictional, but this was the implication that Bob passed to me with his statement.

As to Nagualism, like other non-written and uncodified 'religions' such as Voudun and Santeria (and, BTW, I have been to Yoruba Land in Nigeria, near Efe - the Yoruba 'world axis'); or like the forms of the Old Religion in Europe; it seems to be more clearly defined in the writings of Casteneda, with far greater precision of occult theory, than one might expect from an orally transmitted Toltec 'system' in modern times. It is 'as if' our favorite 'man of knowledge' embodied an encyclopedic amount of doctrinal material, with systematic and clearly identified 'initiations' that led the two of them to the chaparral on so many occasions. This always struck me with incredulity. It is an archetype - the unassuming little old crotchety Yaqui, like Yoda of Starwars, who is a being of great knowledge, skill and power. We who are sekers all desire to meet such a mentor. Archetypes do not manifest in the outer world with such clarity. We must embody aspects of an archetype without having it take over our consciousness, inflate us, and crash us in psychic flames.

I believe that many young seekers, including myself, believed that we could learn enough from these books to pursue a Path With Heart, become Men of Knowledge in some ancient Toltec tradition, or Sorcerers from reading and tripping. My first mushroom experience - shipped up to Long Island in a glass half gallon jug of tropicana Orange Juice from Florida - had me exclaiming that I understood Carlos' experiences of not being able to move, or of shrinking (as when he encountered a giant drooling mosquito). 'Quick, throw me in an irrigation ditch!' These readings expanded our powers of imagination, and left us with hope - perhaps for the first time in our lives - that there was meaning, and direction and metaphysical/spiritual reality to explore. THIS was the value for me. I took those things and ran with them through my own Path into academia where I could learn more, and take that Knowledge into life in order to keep the Mystery alive - just as Don Juan would have it.


--------------------
γνῶθι σαὐτόν - Gnothi Seauton - Know Thyself


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: Xlea321]
    #974397 - 10/19/02 10:51 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

Alex123 writes:

This came about because he didn't know anything about mushrooms and just assumed that you would smoke them like marijuana.

Actually, Don Juan's smoking mixture was composed of various dried and shredded flowers and herbs as well as dried and finely powdered mushrooms. Mushrooms were just one of several ingredients.

Someone told him you couldn't smoke mushrooms after he'd published Teachings of Don Juan so in the second book he changed it to eating them.

I have seen on this board many people deriding Castaneda for reporting that mushrooms are psychoactive when smoked. Obviously these people haven't read what Castaneda actually wrote. This passage (from the FIRST book, Alex, not the second) indicates that the procedure wasn't precisely "smoking" --

"It required quite an effort to suck through the mixture; it seemed to be very compact. After the first try it seemed I had sucked the fine powder into my mouth. It numbed my mouth immediately. I saw the glow in the bowl, but I never felt the smoke as the smoke of a cigarette is felt."

and:

"During this attempt another fact became obvious to me: my entire body had become numb soon after I began to swallow the fine powder, which got into my mouth every time I sucked the pipe. Thus I not only inhaled the smoke, but also ingested the mixture."

...he changed it to eating them.

Castaneda NEVER described EATING mushrooms in the sense of popping them directly into his mouth. The mixture was ALWAYS smoked/ingested with the use of a pipe, rather than "eaten".

The problem isn't that he made it all up, it's that he lied through his teeth for years insisting that Don Juan existed and it was all real. That's the thing that irritates the critics.

Then the critics must be truly irritated with Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar, and Carol Tiggs, all of whom maintain that Don Juan was a real individual and their instructor, and that Castaneda's description of the world is real.

I state once again that I would feel a LOT more comfortable if someone could provide me with convincing evidence that the books were nothing more than an example of staggering literary genius, since the worldview presented in them bears little relationship to my own. But I must report that for almost thirty years I have been reading everything I can get my hands on that will debunk Castaneda's claims, and have yet to come across anything even halfway convincing. At the same time, my own experiences with various psychoactive substances (mostly BEFORE I discovered Castaneda's books) bear some pretty startling resemblances to Castaneda's reports.

I admit that despite thinking of myself as an individual willing to change his beliefs if convincing enough evidence is presented, I really WANT to believe that Castaneda's works were sheer fiction, because if they are not, I have a lot of philosophical re-arranging to do.

pinky


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Carlos Castaneda, thoughts anyone? [Re: MarkostheGnostic]
    #974456 - 10/19/02 11:30 AM (15 years, 2 months ago)

MarkostheGnostic writes:

It is an archetype - the unassuming little old crotchety Yaqui, like Yoda of Starwars, who is a being of great knowledge, skill and power.

I get your point, but have you never met someone who was both extremely knowledgeable AND truly exceptional at explaining things? Doctor Brier, perhaps? I had the great good fortune of having two teachers who were amazingly articulate and exceptionally astute at knowing precisely how best to impart their knowledge to a wide variety of students -- one was a physics teacher, the other a history teacher. Both were head and shoulders above the crowd. Neither were fictional movie characters.

I had less resistance than you to accepting that practitioners proficient in Nagualism could exist and that such practitioners could be articulate and interested in passing their knowledge on to others as their own lives drew to a close.

Here's something to chew on -- if there never was a Don Juan, if all of this is really directly from Castaneda rather than from Juan Matus, all it does is present you with the same "archetype" problem one step removed. Carlos himself then becomes the "unassuming little old crotchety Yaqui" to whom you refer.

By the way, I often wondered if Lucas used Don Juan as a template for Yoda.

I took those things and ran with them through my own Path into academia where I could learn more, and take that Knowledge into life in order to keep the Mystery alive - just as Don Juan would have it.

My own experience was similar. Even though I can't quite bring myself to accept Nagualism at face value, several of Don Juan's lessons to Carlos have stuck with me. The concepts of "reckless abandon", "controlled folly", "choosing to believe", "erasing personal history", "using death as an advisor", "being impeccable", and several others all have value in everyday life.

I find those who dismiss Castaneda's books with an offhand comment such as "It was all a fraud," do an enormous disservice by dissuading others from reading what is in my opinion the most fascinating, beautifully written and compelling series of books in the field of spirituality that I have ever come across. Even a completely hardened skeptic who is determined not to admit the slightest possibility of Castaneda's report being anything other than a sort of science fiction novel will still be blown away by the amazing lyricism and incredible beauty of the narrative. I say again that the worldview of Nagualism is diametrically opposed to my own, yet I cannot shake it. It haunts me. If the books have such an effect on a hardened realist such as myself, how much more enjoyable would they be for the more mystically inclined contributors to this forum?

I have read literally thousands of books in my half century on this wonderful planet of ours, but Castaneda's works are in a class of their own. Nothing -- I repeat, NOTHING -- I have come across so far even comes close to their power. Anyone who deprives himself of the experience of reading them because some doofus on an internet board (usually one who has never even read the books) claims they are "fraudulent" because "Carlos says you can get high by smoking mushrooms" is missing one of the most extraordinary reading experiences available.

Bottom line -- READ THE BOOKS!

pinky



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Edited by pinksharkmark (10/19/02 11:43 AM)


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