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The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge Mass Market Paperback – March 3, 1985

232 customer reviews
Book 1 of 8 in the Don Juan Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Original publisher University of California Press here offers a 30th-anniversary edition of Castenada's Teachings. Along with the original text, this sports a new introduction by the author, who, it was revealed recently, died earlier this year. Though this is reasonably priced for a hardcover, libraries needing multiples copies may opt for the paperback.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise for the groundbreaking work of bestselling author Carlos Castaneda

"Extraordinary in every sense of the word." (The New York Times)

"An unparalleled breakthrough... Remarkable (Los Angeles Times)

"Hypnotic reading." (Chigago tribune)

"It is impossible to view the world in quite the same way." (Chicago Tribune)

"Excquisite... Stunning... Fresh, unexpected visions with the logic of dreams." (Detroit Free Press)

"Taken together [Castaneda's books] form a work among the best that the science of anthropology has produced." (The New York Times Book Review)

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reissue edition (March 3, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671600419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671600419
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in 1925 in Peru, anthropologist Carlos Castaneda wrote a total of 15 books, which sold 8 million copies worldwide and were published in 17 different languages. In his writing, Castaneda describes the teaching of Don Juan, a Yaqui sorcerer and shaman. His works helped define the 1960's and usher in the New Age movement. Even after his mysterious death in California in1998, his books continue to inspire and influence his many devoted fans.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

273 of 304 people found the following review helpful By Chris Peters on October 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Teachings of Don Juan" is the first in a series of about 15 books by Carlos Casaneda describing the author's experiences with Yaqui Indian shamanism in Northern Mexico. As a studier of religion for many years (although not as knowledgeable as some scholars) I find these books to be utterly unique in their scope and subject matter. They are not like other New Age books. The journey that Castaneda takes his readers is mind-boggling, and his experiences are simply beyond what most people have even remotely encountered.
Castaneda first met Don Juan in the early 60's, before the hippy movement, before psychodelic drugs became popular. He was studying anthropology in Los Angeles, and Don Juan served as a field source for some fading knowledge of tribal and shamanistic rituals in Northern Mexico. Castaneda was specifically interested in peyote, a plant that gives its users hallicinations and mixes the senses in strange ways, and which LSD was meant to be a chemical reproduction of. Castaneda's first book presents a very detailed scholastic interpretation of his experiences. All books after the first simply focus on Castaneda's experiences with Don Juan.
Castaneda's drug experiences are different from other accounts I have read, because they are intimately tied with the Yaqui philosophy and mythology. The drugs only serve as a means to an end, not as the end in themselves. The first 2 books in the series describe Castaneda's drugs experiences with Don Juan, but from the 3rd book on, the drugs disappear forever and Carlos' experiences are actually more fantastic, more amazing, more unbelieveable as he slowly becomes a practicing sorceror, traveling to alternate dimensions and battling other sorcerors.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful By D. W. Casey on April 4, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoy Carlos Castaneda's books because they always offer an escape from reality -- in this case, I mean that quite literally.
Castaneda's books involve an age-old technique of storytelling, the teaching of a body of knowledge from a master to a pupil. In this case, the master, a Yaqui Indian known as Don Juan, teaches the ancient Toltec art of sorcery to a young, first-person narrator, Carlos Castaneda. This narrator is dubious and incredulous as Don Juan shows him things about the nature of reality and our perceptions of it, but increasingly he has to conclude that the world of Don Juan is an accurate description of the may facets of reality, and our modern world is merely one narrow view.
There is controversy over whether Castaneda's books are "real" --Castaneda was granted a PhD for his "field" work; but other scholars have found a lot of Castaneda's research to have no anthropological authenticity. Supporters of Castaneda dispute this.
That there is even an argument over whether the books are "real" or not indicates how good the stories are -- like the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, people really, desperately want to visit Castaneda's world. His books are riveting, fascinating, beautiful, and also very scary.
Although later books in the series (Tales of Power, for instance) are better than this introductory work; I think it is important to read the books in their order of writing, in order to get the "lessons" that Castaneda learns in the correct order.
I am a great fan of the books, even if they are 100% fiction. But one is really just never sure if they are. . .
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Drifter Smith on April 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
I thought it was an obvious fraud from the start, when it was first published and became a best seller.

A couple clues - the nonsense about using prepared Jimson weed, a well-known toxic plant that kills cattle from time to time. And smoking the 'shrooms (!!!) - when psilocybin is not heat stable, i.e. you burn it, it doesn't get you high.

I found it a bit amazing that anyone took this seriously when it first appeared, and although I really didn't know all that much about drugs at the time, I did know a little bit. As in "a very little bit."

Years later I spent some time with a guy who went to school with Carlos; he said Carlos imagined Don Juan somewhere in the UCLA library stacks...which was probably as close as Carlos ever got to a real shamanistic experience.

And then (I learned later) nothing he wrote about the Yaquis corresponded to what any other anthropologist had discovered...
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael on June 3, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
That might not come from reading this book alone, as it is the most believable of the series. When I was a student, I like many others I know who will confess to having read a Castaneda book or two when pressed, went through a couple of years of Castanedism, reading the 8 classics 2 - 3 times each, and even the later four, quite different books a couple of times. Being someone who likes to give the benefit of the doubt until conclusive evidence proves otherwise, I must admit to only getting suspicious by Journey To Ixtlan, the third book. The second book, A Separate Reality, picks up on the supernormal happenings, but these are still within the realms of possibility when one considers Spiritualist literature. By Tales of Power, when at the end Carlos throws himself off a cliff and only survives by becoming pure perception, bouncing elastically back and forth 17 times between the two inherent realms of all creation, the tonal and the nagual, the game was up. In Carlos' terms, my assemblage point had just experienced a considerable shift into the realms of disbelief. The cocoon had burst. I read the remaining books still interested, but with the growing realization that I'd been had. Bizarre ideas not found in any other spiritual traditions, such as the necessity for people on the path of knowledge to kill their children to reclaim the power they'd lost to them, plus fill in the holes in their cocoons the children had caused, made me wary. This was surely not a philosophy the whole world should turn to, or else we'd be living in a fearful, lonely world with every man for himself.

However, this would be fine if the books weren't made out to be non-fiction.
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