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The Art of Dreaming Paperback – August 26, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In bestsellers like A Separate Reality and Journey to Ixtlan , Castaneda recounted his purported adventures with Mexican Yaqui Indian sorcerer don Juan Matus. Here he tells how, under don Juan's tutelage, he gained control over his dreams and used dreaming as a launching pad to a pervasive but unseen realm of ancestral spiritual forces, good and evil. He goes through tunnels, enters into the consciousness of trees, meets scouts, emissaries and form-changing blobs of energy. Aided by don Juan's companions and fellow apprentices, Castaneda penetrates a realm of "inorganic beings" who set traps for him and attack him, as if to illustrate don Juan's teaching that consciousness is compelled to grow through life-or-death confrontations. For believers, Castaneda's quest offers a tantalizing glimpse of alternate worlds beyond the rational parameters of our mundane reality.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
The eighth--and one hopes the last--book about Castaneda's apprenticeship with the Yaqui Indian sorcerer Don Juan Matus. By now, Castaneda's bestselling engine is running on empty, at least to judge by this lackluster entry, which adds fuel to the argument that the Don Juan books are fiction and that their author has passed his creative prime. Gone is the vivid sense of wonder as Don Juan escorts Castaneda into a new world of mystery and magic; gone the crisp presentation of esoteric ideas; gone the crackling tension between teacher and student. What remains is a token representation of Don Juan, guffawing at Castaneda or smacking him on the back, and a cloud of confused teachings about the world of dreams. Taking control of one's dreams, says Don Juan, is the key to a sorcerer's power. But what kind of sorcerer? Don Juan makes a distinction between the ancients, who manipulated the world for personal power, and moderns--such as himself--who ``search for freedom.'' Castaneda must thread his way between these two opposing camps, balancing his thirst for truth and his personal ambition. In so doing, he passes through three ``gates of dreaming'': becoming aware of falling asleep; waking from one dream into another; seeing yourself asleep. Castaneda barges through these portals in his typically bumbling fashion, all the while communicating with--and being used by--``inorganic beings'' that look like thin tree trunks and give the sorcerers their secret knowledge. His journey ends with a perilous confrontation with a ``death defier,'' a Methuselah-like male sorcerer in the guise of a woman. Castaneda is rescued from this and other dangerous encounters by his fellow apprentice, the beautiful Carol Tiggs, who at book's close vanishes into the world of dreaming. Will Castaneda rescue her in the next volume, playing Orpheus to her Eurydice? Tune in, if you care. The Art of Dozing is more like it. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Besides being such a gripping reading experience, the dreaming practices are real and can be experienced. For the practical-minded, this is a huge improvement over jumping into abysses and some of the other not very practical sorts of things done in the other books.
Now as for the rest:
1. There is no don Juan in this book. When dJ left this world (in the book Tales of Power), Carlos was still piddling about trying to see his hands in dreams. The advanced dreaming practices outlined in this book could not have possibly been learned back in those years when dJ was here. Either there was another teacher (and he did confirm that he had at least one other teacher), or...
2. The book is stylistically inconsistent with all of his previous books. Was the author getting old? Did he stop employing the services of his usual editor? or did someone else write this book? At any rate, this book has virtually nothing in common with any of his other books, either in practice or stylistically.
As we depart from this book, we come to the Cleargreen years and the Magical Passes, which I won't even bother to review. It's clear from this book and everything after it that, despite the unifying presence of the name "don Juan," Castaneda's books are about at least four distinctly different sets of practices that have little to do with each other. Discerning readers should distinguish from among them and use what is useful for them.
To be more explicit about that claim, CC's first three books are more or less ethnography about practices associated with Indians, the fourth book goes way beyond that, the fifth through eighth books introduce us to nagual groups and the concept of the assemblage point, the ninth (this) book covers someone's dreaming practice, Magical Passes covers just that, Wheel of Time looks back at the other books, and, not quite finally (we might include the books by Armando Torres here), Active Side of Infinity is a kind of autobiography that seems to have been written earlier and then withheld until after his passing.
The Art of Dreaming is absolutely the best book of its kind, thus its rating. Anyone who can understand this book could not possibly have any use for any of the other more popular books about lucid dreaming, except perhaps to use the paper for, as don Juan said in one of the other books, well, "you know what we use paper for in Mexico..."
One point to make is that while books by psychologists about lucid dreaming put the dreaming self at the service of the rational waking mind, a truer practice would put the mind at the disposal of the self that dreams, by whatever name; in other words, by experiencing dreams with ones awareness (as we also experience waking life) instead of trying to control their content. The former treats them as real, while the latter treats them as a product of our mind, which is the flaw of all psychology including (or especially) Jungian. But I guess all that hinges on what "real" means.
Regardless of the events that tarnished Castaneda's personal reputation during the 1990s, regardless of the stylistic deficiencies and the anachronistic use of don Juan as a character, regardless of whether we believe all the stuff that happened in Tula, as a book about dreaming, this book is the real deal.
1- IF YOU ARE A NOVICE
If you have never heard of Castaneda or never read any books from him, I'd suggest you DO NOT start here. While most people would suggest you start at his first book, I'd say that The Art of Dreaming and The Teachings of Don Juan are the worst books to start reading CC's works. Why? His first ever book is confusing as hell because he himself was confused about everything that happened to him. To add insult to injury, his 'guru' or benefactor/teacher, decides to give him a lot of chemical based experiences (natural/plant based but a chemical experience nonetheless) so a lot of his experiences are not clear if they were hallucinations or something else. Choose ANY OTHER BOOKS but the two I just named.
2- If you are looking for an 'out of body' 'astral' 'lucid dreaming' instruction or experience first I'd suggest you take some Yoga Nidra classes and I'd also suggest you jump into Robert Monroe's Out of Body Experience trilogy or Tenzin Rinpoche Tibetan Yoga Dreaming (I have not read this one by the way but I read its reviews). This is one of Castaneda's darkest books because it gives you a pretty good warning that IF, that is a BIG IF, you are able to master waking up within your dreams by overcoming the barriers or gates THE POWERS OF THIS WORLD have set up for the common human being those who are successful at it will INEVITABLY encounter other intelligence and the sheer job of such non-human intelligence is NOT to help you but rather to trap your awareness because you'd be some type of sustenance to them. The reality is that if you made it that far, you are almost guaranteed to FAIL because unlike the Naguals and Dreamers of Castaneda/Don Juan's teams who underwent YEARS OF TRAINING to rid of the self and managed to do so, STILL FAILED AT THE TESTS devised by the non human intelligencies out there called inorganic beings, actual emissaries of their masters, some type of non-mobile entities from another universe whose job is guess what? CAPTURE MOBILE awareness such as ours. It is like a mix of a spider and a tree, it traps things but it is immobile. IT IS A TEST TO THOSE WHO WOKE UP INTO ANOTHER REALITY, the universe's way to make sure lower level consciousness don't make it to the top, it is a weeding system. As Don Juan said to Carlos in the book: "... they set traps at the beginning and in this manner UNDESIRABLE (to whom?) DREAMERS are effectively and PERMANENTLY SCREENED OUT. They have outstanding means, their awareness is superb. In comparison, those of us who are just learning to dream at will, WE ARE LIKE CHILDREN TO THEM. Children with a lot of energy, energy they don't possess but covet greatly." Even the emissary warns Carlos: "Dreaming is the mean to come to our world, it is the only vehicle available. Our world is connected to yours by the door called dreaming. We know how to go through it, BUT MEN DON'T. They have to learn it."
3- FOR THE EXPERIENCED CASTANEDA READER
This is Carlos' account on his experiences on THE SECOND ATTENTION and the pitfalls sorcerers meet there. If you have read The Eagle's Gift you want to recall this part:
"The battlefield of warriors is the second attention, which is something like a TRAINING GROUND for reaching the THIRD attention."
This book is a sober reminder of the following facts:
a- the 'worlds' out there are not much different from ours in the sense that they are PREDATORY BASED SYSTEMS. Never take anything for granted, don't attach to anything, on this side or the other and chances are you will pass the countless tests you will be faced with.
b- It gives the proper warnings and exercises to those brave enough wanting to push the envelope. He himself pushed the envelope, failed at it but managed, unlike ancient sorcerers, to somewhat comeback to our natural world 'unscathed' (not really, he fell for a trap, divided his energy among other two beings, one inorganic 'the blue scout' and an ex-human 'the death defier' one).
c- unless you truly have developed IMPECCABILITY as well as you have mastered to TURN OFF YOUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE I'd suggest you read this book, take the adventures as what they truly are, adventures of another being experiencing them and leave it at that. The chance of getting burned outweighs the chance of having fun because out there is what Bible describes as the 'second death' and it is not a physical one.
FOR THE NON BELIEVER OF CASTANEDA'S BOOKS
You are not ready but you don't want to hear this, on the contrary, you want to hear that Castaneda was a fake, a lier who said overcame physical death but died of cancer nonetheless, a man who spoke of impeccability but had three female companions with him. It is ok, your level of consciousness or awareness is EXACTLY where it needs to be but remember, ALWAYS leave a door open because everything you think is based on assumptions and assumptions are a 50/50 deal.