The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda
Publisher/Year: University of California Press, 2008
Summary (from Goodreads)
Forty years ago the University of California Press published an unusual manuscript by an anthropology student named Carlos Castaneda. The Teachings of Don Juan initiated a generation of seekers dissatisfied with the limitations of the Western worldview. Castaneda’s now classic book remains controversial for the alternative way of seeing that it presents and the revolution in cognition it demands. Whether read as ethnographic fact or creative fiction, it is the story of a remarkable journey that has left an indelible impression on the life of more than a million readers around the world.
What I thought
I’m just going to be honest here–I did not like this book. It was a struggle for me. There were a few quotes that I liked, but they were few & far between.
Since taking a class in college, I’ve been interested in learning about Native American spirituality. This book just wasn’t what I was expecting. The first section containing the teachings & dialogue of Don Juan was interesting. But the descriptions of “non-ordinary reality” were oftentimes so bizarre that they sounded fake to me. Granted, I’ve never used psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs, so I can’t really say. I tried to stay open-minded, but Castaneda’s experiences seemed to be a little too “convenient,” as far as how they lined up with what Don Juan was trying to teach.
The second section, the structural analysis of Castaneda’s anthropological study, was so full of technical jargon as to be nearly unreadable. The only reason I pushed through to the end was because I had made it through most of the book, I figured I’d just push through to the end.
I seem to be in the minority here. This book really didn’t do it for me, but apparently, it’s something of a cult classic. If this sounds up your alley, go for it, but I wouldn’t recommend it.