Castaneda's tale is a key piece of personal enhancement mystical writing. The reader is invited back to an era when mental expansion/exploration was a significant and genuine part of U.S. culture, when Castaneda explores the notion of other culture's having more power and substance than that of materialism. Important reading for anyone interested in orienting themselves within the tumultuous 20th century and beyond.
I believe this could be a good tool for those first starting out on their journey of inner knowledge. In fact, I know several people who adore this and other books by Castaneda. I just couldn't get into his writing. While the author attempts to shroud the lessons in mystery, I felt I could clearly see through it. I think if I had encountered this book before reading so many others on journeying, I would have enjoyed it, but since it wasn't, I felt it was rather poor.
Carlos Casteneda tells the following story about himself: in 1960, as a student of anthropology at UCLA, he made trips to the Southwest in search of information about the ways American Indians used medicinal plants; there he made the acquaintance of Juan Matus, an elderly Indian shaman who, within a year, made Casteneda the first-ever non-native apprentice in the ways of the Yaqui "man of knowledge," a brujo, a sorcerer. In the form of anthropological narrative, Casteneda told the story of his apprenticeship to Matus in a book called The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. It became an international bestseller, and many other books followed, including A Separate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan, Tales of Power, and The Power of Silence. The first several books are vivid and entertaining, whimsical and inspiring. Their two central characters, Carlos and don Juan-a sort of hallucinogen-ingesting Boswell and Johnson-are charming companions and antagonists on a series of mystical adventures.
The TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN is the story of a remarkable spiritual journey; the first awesome steps on the road to becoming a 'man of knowledge.'
"For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel, looking, looking, breathlessly." Don Juan
This cover is not identical to the one pictured.
There is some who believe this is fiction and some who believe it is not. Was Don Juan a real man, was he a collection of teachers the Carlos Castaneda studied under, did it all really even happen? Who know. The story is also tainted by path Castaneda's live took later with is "cult of witches" and such. I did not let that taint my enjoyment of the book. Don Juan has such a simple calm voice in the book, full of wisdom. Carlos is the opposite, full of impatience and questions. We had a very good discussion at book club regarding our experiences about the book, from "life changing" from a member who read it in the 70 while in his teens to "eh" from a member who is a HS history teacher to all in between. Read it from your own point of view, an interesting story, a true path to knowledge or anything in between.