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A Note on Carlos Castaneda
The alpha and omega of modern shamanic theory and practice are the oeuvres of Carlos Castaneda. Castaneda was a Peruvian anthropologist who, while working on his doctoral dissertation for UCLA in 1961, stumbled upon a Yaqui Indian magician named Don Juan Matus.
Don Juan took Carlos as his apprentice and introduced him to an ancient Toltec praxis which has far-reaching implications for the future of the human race. This praxis consists of training in an alternate form of cognition than that which we learn from our society.
Castaneda's work has sparked a firestorm of controversy. It has been thoroughly rejected by the academic community, which is not surprising considering the bigotry, disinformation, and intellectual persecution which characterize present-day academia.
However, Castaneda has also split the shamanic community into pro- and anti- factions. The things he says are so off-the-wall, and so alien to most people's everyday experience of the world, that unless you yourself have had similar experiences (as I have had) it's difficult to understand – much less accept – the premises of Castaneda's teachings.
Moreover, there are internal inconsistencies in the books which critics point out in the effort to discredit him, even though Castaneda himself said that part of becoming a magician is erasing one's personal history and covering one's tracks. Also the fact that Castaneda was a womanizer is cited by his critics to deflect attention away from his message, although Castaneda himself certainly took no pains to hide that facet of his personality.
Everyone has to decide for themselves what they will believe and take as truth. I pretty much take Castaneda at face value because everything in his books which I have been able to verify from my own experience has proven correct.
My own spiritual path came out of discoveries I made while tripping on psychedelic drugs and plants. These experiences affected me profoundly and left me with lots of questions which I needed to resolve, and the only place I've found useful information on this subject is in Castaneda's books.
Moreover, my one meeting with Castaneda in person did more than impress me. It utterly floored me. I know for a fact, from my own experience with him, that this man was, at the very least, a most powerful magician; whereas all I've seen amongst his detractors and critics are phonies and liars.
Wholly apart from the ooga-booga stuff, Castaneda's books contain the most cogent analysis and critique of everyday life that I've ever seen. Most of the information about the nature of the self, reality, time and space, and the body given in my writings originates in Castaneda.
The corpus of Castaneda's works actually constitute a map – an indispensable map for the spiritual traveler. This map describes the way stations (in Castaneda's nomenclature, positions of the assemblage point) along the spiritual path. These are all places – or better said, peak moments in every true spiritual seeker's life – when large parts of the lower self are shed and new facets of the higher self are revealed. At these moments the seeker permanently reaches new levels of wisdom and power.
Some of these places, such as Stopping the World and Seeing the Human Mold, are well-known and are described elsewhere in spiritual literature under different names. For example, Stopping the World is known elsewhere as Samadhi, Satori, or kensho. However other places, such as the Place of No Pity, Losing the Human Form, and Silent Knowledge, are described nowhere else except in Castaneda's books. I can aver the existence of some of these places from my own personal experience; others I am still shooting for.
If you are going on a journey, it is helpful to have a clear map devised by those who have passed that way before. Castaneda's books are the best map I have found. I trust the spiritual information they contain unreservedly. You would do well to do the same.
My spirit advisors use Castaneda's system as the basis for the training they have given me. They employ his concepts and nomenclature, but with their own slant on the subject and their own techniques. Castaneda's training depended heavily upon the nagual teacher Don Juan's presence. What my spirits are trying to do is to present a heuristic system which will enable people to work on their own, under the direction of spirit guides and nature spirits rather than a nagual teacher.
Somebody, somewhere, some time, somehow has to stand up for the truth, no matter how unfashionable the truth may be vis a vis society's standards; or how unpopular it makes the person. Castaneda was smeared and vilified for the precise same reason that Freud was smeared and vilified: what he says cuts too close to the truth. Freud and Castaneda pointed out certain vistas that society doesn't want you to see. They realized certain facts which society doesn't want you to realize.
If the human race is to survive, it had better get to work fast on finding some new intent, because the intent it's following now is the intent of self-destruction. What Castaneda has brought us is the most important new information which our civilization has received in the past several millennia. It will take the human race several centuries more to reconstruct the edifice which Don Juan described to Castaneda. It's about time we stopped the endless, mindless babbling and posturing, and rolled up our sleeves and get to work; and Castaneda is the obvious place to begin.
(Copyright © 2008 by Bob Makransky.
Excerpted from Magical Almanac ezine, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac. To subscribe, send an e-mail to: MagicalAlmanacfirstname.lastname@example.org)
About the author:
Bob Makransky lives on a farm in highland Guatemala where he studies the shamanic traditions of the Mayan people. His free downloadable Mayan Horoscope software is available from his website http://www.dearbrutus.com. His articles on Mayan shamanism are available at: http://www.whatismagic.com/mayan-shamanism/mayan-shamanism-mayan-ceremonies-i.html