Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan's Teachings

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Carlos Castaneda - "My effort to make sense of don Juan's world is my own way of paying back to him for this grand opportunity. if I don't make the effort to render his world as a coherent phenomenon it'll go by the way it has for hundreds of years, as a nonsensical activity when it is not nonsensical; it's not fraudulent -- it's a very serious endeavor."

History of this compilation and my thoughts on Carlos Castaneda's work

      I was first introduced to Carlos Castaneda's books when there was just one: The Teachings of Don Juan. It was the fall of 1968. The book was assigned reading for an English class I was taking.

     Fortunately for me I was interested in them for what I considered their good advice and the glimpse they gave into human possibility with no judgement on my part regarding their truthfulness.

      In the fourth book, Tales of Power, Carlos Castaneda reported don Juan as saying that a man of knowledge did NOT believe but rather had to believe and that that meant believing according to one's innermost predilection. That was to say, knowing full well that what one had chosen to believe might well NOT be true but that one chose to believe (had to believe) as that choice matched their spirit (my phrasing).

      The skeptics soon came along with one of them becoming quite well known for his book purportedly exposing Carlos Castaneda as a fraud (I don't think the author quite put it so bluntly but he might as well have if he actually didn't). I find it unfortunate, not for myself or for others but for that author, that he could not see the forest for the trees.

      After reading Carlos Castaneda's third book, Journey to Ixtlan, I began setting myself the task each night of looking for my hands in my dreams. It was three years later that I had my first volitional dream, or, as most would call it, lucid dream. I thought that if that part of Carlos Castaneda's books was true as my own experience then knew it to be, that perhaps more if not all of the possibilities Carlos Castaneda explained were also a part of human potential.

      Back to the skeptics: I say that it is unfortunate for them that they have chosen to not take what Carlos Castaneda has reported as true or possible because by taking that point of view they have no impetus for even trying to follow don Juan's teachings. And to add to that point: There is nothing to do per se that is offensive in following the teachings, but rather ALL to be gained.

      But back to my compiling Carlos Castaneda's books into what became this website: I decided to record his books so that I could listen to them while at work. I actually read all of then onto cassette tapes but soon grew tired of listening to the story part in each one so began the task of marking in pencil the parts that I wanted to hear. Given the nature of the text, however, I found that I had to rewrite many parts to make it flow. As an example, this passage from Tales of Power where Carlos had told don Juan of his having taken his cats to be put to sleep and of how one of them, Max, had apparently sensed that all was not well and jumped out of the car and ran away when he had the chance. Following this passage in blue is my compiled version in purple.

      "What I've been trying to tell you is that as a warrior you cannot just believe this and let it go at that. With Max, having to believe means that you accept the fact that his escape might have been a useless outburst. He might have jumped into the sewer and died instantly. He might have drowned or starved to death, or he might have been eaten by rats. A warrior considers all those possibilities and then chooses to believe in accordance with his innermost predilection.
      "As a warrior you have to believe that Max made it, that he not only escaped but that he sustained his power. You have to believe it. Let's say that without that belief you have nothing."
      The distinction became very clear. I thought I really had chosen to believe that Max had survived, knowing that he was handicapped by a lifetime of soft and pampered living.
      "Believing is a cinch," don Juan went on. "Having to believe is something else. In this case, for instance, power gave you a splendid lesson, but you chose to use only part of it. If you have to believe, however, you must use all the event."
      "I see what you mean," I said.
      My mind was in a state of clarity and I thought I was grasping his concepts with no effort at all.
      "I'm afraid you still don't understand," he said, almost whispering.
      He stared at me. I held his look for a moment.
      "What about the other cat?" he asked.
      "Uh? The other cat?" I repeated involuntarily.
      I had forgotten about it. My symbol had rotated around Max. The other cat was of no consequence to me.
      "But he is!" don Juan exclaimed when I voiced my thoughts. ''Having to believe means that you have to also account for the other cat. The one that went playfully licking the hands that were carrying him to his doom. That was the cat that went to his death trustingly, filled with his cat's judgments.
      "You think you're like Max, therefore you have forgotten about the other cat. You don't even know his name. Having to believe means that you must consider everything, and before deciding that you are like Max you must consider that you may be like the other cat; instead of running for your life and taking your chances, you may be going to your doom happily, filled with your judgments."

      And my compiling of that passage, which, reading the original again now after over 20 years, I see that I didn't really capture the whole power of the original passage -- a good reason for you to read the actual books and not just this compilation. In my defense, however, I will tell you that this is one of only about three places where I sort of gave my own interpretation. The vast majority is very very accurately compiled to match the teachings presented in the books:

      Having to believe means that you accept the facts of something, consider all possibilities and possible outcomes, and then choose to believe in accordance with your innermost predilection. Believing is a cinch. Having to believe is something else. If you have to believe, you must use all of an event, account for all possibilities, and consider everything. Before deciding that you believe one way you must consider that it may well be another way.

      After a few years I'd marked the books as I wanted and then typed it onto my computer. That was around 1992. I then printed and proofread it about, literally, 18 times to get it right. Then I read it onto 45 minute cassette tapes (thus the length of the audio parts here).

      So that's the basic history of how this came to be and I trust that you will find it of value.

      As Carlos Castaneda has said, how far each of us goes on the path of knowledge is up to us and our level of impeccability. I encourage you to find and listen to Carlos Castaneda's interview with Theodor Roszak in 1969 where he explains in his own words his motive for writing about his experiences, which, again, I personally, have to believe are true.
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Carlos Castaneda is quoted as having said, "I don't promise anything. I am not a guru. Freedom is an individual choice, and each one of us must assume the responsibility of fighting for it."

May this compilation of Carlos Castaneda's books support you in that fight.

Listen to this compilation of Carlos Castaneda's don Juan's Teachings on sixteen, 45 minute MP3s.
You will also find one of them beginning the section that one covers.

MP3 #1 , MP3 #2 , MP3 #3 , MP3 #4 , MP3 #5

MP3 #6 , MP3 #7 , MP3 #8 , MP3 #9 , MP3 #10

MP3 #11 , MP3 #12 , MP3 #13 , MP3 #14 , MP3 #15 , MP3 #16

This Section's Contents

Introduction by Carlos Castaneda

The rest of this compilation is reached through the links here and at the end of each section.

1. The Teachings of don Juan
2. A Separate Reality
3. Journey to Ixtlan
4. Tales Of Power
5. The Second Ring of Power
6. The Eagle's Gift
7. The Fire From Within
8. The Power of Silence
9. The Art of Dreaming
12. The Active Side of Infinity
13. Appendix A thru E

...this is not a work of fiction. What I am describing is alien to us; therefore, it seems unreal.
      (From The Eagle's Gift; prologue)

      Nothing in the world is a gift. Whatever there is to learn has to be learned the hard way.
      Turn my concepts into a viable way of life by a process of repetition. Everything new in our lives, such as the sorcerers' concepts I am teaching you, must be repeated to us to the point of exhaustion before we open ourselves to it.
      DON JUAN


(This introduction was taken from Castaneda's introduction to Journey To Ixtlan, and, as I explain in the foreword , done in the style I've used throughout this compilation: put into the form of being as though it were delivered from don Juan to each of us.)

      The basic premise of sorcery for a sorcerer is that the world of everyday life is not real, or out there, as we believe it is. For a sorcerer, reality, or the world we all know, is only a description.
      For the sake of validating this premise I will concentrate the best of my efforts into leading you into a genuine conviction that what you hold in mind as the world at hand is merely a description of the world; a description that has been pounded into you from the moment you were born.
      Everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of perceiving the world as it is described. We have no memory of that portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point of reference to compare it to anything else. From that moment on, however, the child is a member. He knows the description of the world; and his membership becomes full-fledged, perhaps, when he is capable of making all the proper perceptual interpretations which, by conforming to that description, validate it.
      The reality of our day-to-day life, then, consists of an endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we, the individuals who share a specific membership, have learned to make in common.
      The idea that the perceptual interpretations that make up the world have a flow is congruous with the fact that they run uninterruptedly and are rarely, if ever, open to question. In fact the reality of the world we know is so taken for granted that the basic premise of sorcery, that our reality is merely one of many descriptions, can hardly be taken as a serious proposition.


      Fortunately for you, I'm not concerned at all with whether or not you can take my proposition seriously, and thus I will proceed to elucidate my points, in spite of your opposition, your disbelief, and your inability to understand what I am saying. Thus, as a teacher of sorcery, my endeavor is to describe the world to you. Your difficulty in grasping my concepts and methods will stem from the fact that the units of my description are alien and incompatible with those of your own.
      I am teaching you how to see as opposed to merely looking, and stopping the world is the first step to seeing.
      Stopping the world is not a cryptic metaphor that really doesn't mean anything. And its scope and importance as one of the main propositions of my knowledge should not be misjudged.
      I am teaching you how to stop the world. Nothing will work, however, if you are very stubborn. Be less stubborn, and you will probably stop the world with any of the techniques I teach you. Everything I will tell you to do is a technique for stopping the world.
      The sorcerer's description of the world is perceivable. But our insistence on holding on to our standard version of reality renders us almost deaf and blind to it. I'm going to give you what I call "techniques for stopping the world."
      When you begin this teaching, there is another reality, that is to say, there is a sorcery description of the world, which you do not know. As a sorcerer and a teacher, I am teaching you that description. What I am doing with you consists, therefore, in setting up that unknown reality by unfolding its description, adding increasingly more complex parts as you go along.
      In order to arrive at seeing one first has to stop the world. Stopping the world is indeed an appropriate rendition of certain states of awareness in which the reality of everyday life is altered because the flow of interpretation, which ordinarily runs uninterruptedly, has been stopped by a set of circumstances alien to that flow. In this case the set of circumstances alien to our normal flow of interpretations is the sorcery description of the world. The precondition for stopping the world is that one has to be convinced; in other words, one has to learn the new description in a total sense, for the purpose of pitting it against the old one, and in that way break the dogmatic certainty, which we all share, that the validity of our perceptions, or our reality of the world, is not to be questioned.
      After stopping the world the next step is seeing. By that I mean what could be categorized as responding to the perceptual solicitations of a world outside the description we have learned to call reality.
      All these steps can only be understood in terms of the description to which they belong; a description that I'm endeavoring to give you. Let, then, this teaching be the source of entrance into that description.



In his first book, The Teachings of Don Juan, published by the University of California Press, we are told: In 1960, as an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Carlos Castaneda began collecting information on the medicinal plants used by the Indians of the southwest. Subsequently he met, and became the apprentice of, don Juan, a Yaqui Indian.
      From 1968 thru 1999, the following ten books were published. They recount his apprenticeship under don Juan and therewith provide us entrance to the knowledge don Juan passed on to him--knowledge of an ancient system for becoming a "man of knowledge."

1968--The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
1971--A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with don Juan
1972--Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of don Juan.
1974--Tales Of Power
1977--The Second Ring of Power
1981--The Eagle's Gift
1984--The Fire From Within
1987--The Power of Silence: Further lessons of don Juan
1993--The Art of Dreaming
1999--The Active Side of Infinity.
      This book is a compilation of most of the ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, and principles of the teachings of don Juan presented by Carlos Castaneda .
      I have, where necessary, changed the original text in order for the teaching to be directed as though from don Juan to any new student. That being said, however, there are a number of places where the teaching is directed as though you have been a participant in something with don Juan; or are acting or thinking in a particular way. Presenting it that way, seemed to me, the easiest way to leave parts of the teaching intact . And on the point of my presenting everything as though from don Juan: a number of places, perhaps as much as 10% of the total, were actually Castaneda's insights, explanations, or additions to the teaching. Lastly, in at least two places, the teaching actually came from other of don Juan's associates.

In "The Fire From Within": chapter 3, paragraph 48, Carlos Castaneda tells us that don Juan said that "the old seers...actually saw the indescribable force which is the source of all sentient beings. They called it the Eagle..." I refer to this passage in order to justify my usage, in this book, of the term, "the Indescribable Force," instead of the term don Juan used, "the Eagle." If you miss the use of the term "the Eagle," I apologize.
      The chapter titles of this book and the material in those chapters, correspond to the above nine books. Within these chapters are two types of line breaks. The asterisked line breaks set apart points which, because of removed context, now appear as disjointed passages. The plain line breaks correspond to Carlos Castaneda's books' chapter breaks.

1. The Teachings of don Juan
2. A Separate Reality
3. Journey to Ixtlan
4. Tales Of Power
5. The Second Ring of Power
6. The Eagle's Gift
7. The Fire From Within
8. The Power of Silence
9. The Art of Dreaming
12. The Active Side of Infinity
13. Appendix A thru E