Carlos Castaneda


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A lot of people here will be aware of Carlos Castaneda and especially his major work "The Teachings od Don Juan" - and additionally the controversy surroudning the author and his works.

It seems that it is generally accepted that his books were fictional - but there is an argument that whether a book is fact or fiction is irrelevant so long as it contains important material for learning - and than the works of Carlos Castaneda may fall into this bracket...

I have to admit, I was quite young when I read Don Juan, and didn't find it particularly inspiring - did I miss something important, though?

General discussion topic. :)
I too was quite young when I read them and they were much more a 'must read' within the 'hippy' circles in which I moved than any search for enlightenment. To be honest I was quietly unimpressed.
As to the value of fiction as a whole I would apply the old Tao maxim "there is no such thing as untruth, There are only greater or lesser truths".
You can find insight in the most unexpected of places and when you least expect it. Truth or meaning reaches us when we are individually ready to recieve it. Much of what we find written in the most esteemed holy books of our day, IMHO, is fiction, parable or myth, half-truth or subjective interpretation and by admission handed down, amended ,translated, re-translated, edited and formatted. And yet so many think it the word of God in a literal word by word sense. Likewise our history books are written by the victors and are thus probably largely fictitious. So truth can jump out and grab you from a work of fiction and be entirely elusive in a work of 'non-fiction'. Maybe I am just a cynical sceptic but anytime I see 'truth' claimed I am imediately cautious.


I also haven't read any of his books since my high school years, but did immediately go out and find some substances experience...but I would like to speak to the undercurrent of this thread
You can find insight in the most unexpected of places and when you least expect it.
Yes, I hear quotes from Star Trek and Deep Space 9 all the time...And watching movies and kids cartoon movies sometimes the spirit contained in them is incredible...the kids are watching for entertainment, but getting subconsiously some great if they can only do that with video games.
but there is an argument that whether a book is fact or fiction is irrelevant so long as it contains important material for learning
There was another american tv show that ran in the late 80's early 90's.."MacGyver", the guy would get himself in a delima every show and have to get out of it, using a safety pin, a neckerchief and a toothbrush build a small bomb, pick a lock, create a diversion, or otherwise solve his troubles... While we know full well it is fiction, like any metaphor, parable or story in any book, we can take what we learn and use it in situations in our daily life. If you are stuck someplace in a treacherous predicament and want to use your material earthly knowledge, students of MacGyver would be well rewarded thinking like MacGyver and contemplating what would MacGyver do? WWMD. Much like those students that contemplate WWJD. Not only is the question how valid and useful is fiction, but also realizing that it doesn't matter if some things are found to be fiction or is the underlying principles that guide us, not the particulars of any one version or interpretation.

whether fiction or not, the books came along at a time when they were needed and people were looking for answers to "who are we" .... and "why are we here" .... a lot of people during that period tried drugs as a way to achieve a sense of higher self, but for the most part it did not produce what was needed .... the cycle continues to move and I do think we are moving to a higher frequency of thought and being .... the books of Carlos Casteneda, Lynn Andrews,etc all played a role in opening minds to other possibilities .... as hard as we try it is not possible to describe in words the inner spiritual path of knowledge about "who we are" and "why we are here" .... how does one describe your own dream to another .... the books were important, but only one-by-one can we access the "truth" .... he hawai'i au, pohaikawahine
Whether fiction or fact was not the real problem with the books. He did the first book as a doctoral thesis for social anthropology. They yanked his degree when the truth surfaced and because of THAT the work is pretty much discredited.

I read most of them when they came out originally, found the first one interesting - and lost interest as it became more and more fragmented and unfocused. As a testimony of the time, I prefer the "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" or the conspiracy novels of Robert Anton Wilson (The IlluminatiTrilogy) or the multi-penned name books of "Michael Kurland" The Butterfly Kid and The Unicorn Girl.