I kept Castaneda's set of four books from college, feeling that there was something authentic in them. When the controversy hit (and never stopped) about him, his sources, etc., I still felt there was something real in them, although I had no idea how to learn what he talked about.
After knowing more about out-of-body experiences myself, I now recognize that this is what his "dreaming" was and is in this book.
However, I had not noticed before how fear-driven this guy is, and that has not been my experience. Everything, including experiencing "inorganics" (which include tress, which are organic, are they not?), I finally decided that this guy could never have trained anyone else in positive experiences because his own outlook was black and bent toward the dark.
So I stopped reading. For those who just want an introduction to the topic, I suppose this could be OK. Others feel it is a great primer, at least offering other ways to approach getting to the state. Finding the hands in dreams, for instance, is a valid way. I just finally said "No thanks" to his outlook. I don't need to cloud my mind with it.
P.S. I continued reading and take back some of the comments above. For those who are attempting out-of-body experiences, AP, projection (whatever you want to call it), this is not the book to start with. Compared to William Buhlman's Adventures Beyond the Body, this book (and all Castanada's books) are made intentionally mysterious and occult and difficult. For instance, Castaneda (and supposedly his master don Juan) use the term "assemblage point" for where one shifts one's attention. He could have called it attention, but everything is steeped in mumbo-jumbo. His apprenticeship and all he learned took years--too many for me to count as he describes them. Buhlman says that most people can have a projection in 30 days. No guarantees, but most. It took me 45 days, but I was aware of most everything that would happen because Buhlman lays it out in a straight-forward simple way. First you create a sort of visual place for yourself to go by visualizing each item in a familiar room to you, so that you can reconstruct the room from your memory and how it feels. When you manage to get in a mind-awake, body asleep state, you move away from your sleeping body --as for most people focusing on it will pop you out of the projection immediately and back into your bed! In this book, his mentor tells him to intentially look at his physical body, and the guy spends a full year just doing that. Duh. His Four states or four steps take him forever to complete whereas those things are almost automatically part of one's first projection if you know what to expect.
So, for someone who is a novice, this is not the book to read. For just curiosity or to compare with your own experiences, it is kind of interesting--in an archaeological way. Many of the experiences he describes others will recognize. But his intention is to obscure not to simplify. And he was a very fear-based guy who tended toward the darker sides of spirituality. Maybe it was all those mushrooms:) Although he is not the best guide, it is interesting to note how this field has moved from the darkness of sorcery and fear into the light (literally) since the 1970s when he was conducting these "experiments". For those who wish to experience for themselves the many dimensions out there besides this tiny sliver of physical denseness we experience, this is not the book. Much more is now understood and there are countless sources on the web and in books. We are now into a new era of exploration.
This book will open your mind to the reality of reality. It shows that reality is only a personal perception, not a concrete, absolute mold. If I could only take five books on a deserted island, this would be one of them.
Different cover art on my copy, but the same book in paperback.