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

4.0 out of 5 stars 257 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.

Review

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 (257 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A good 15 years ago, like many people I guess, I started reading this book after seeing it mentioned by many different sources. And, like many people, I got to the end of it wondering what the hell was all the fuss about. I basically got the feeling that Carlos was high like a kite all the time and was being made fun of by the "shaman" Don Juan.

BUT, more than a decade later I have met a friend and after discussing various spirituality-oriented subjects he asked me if I have already tried The Teachings Of Don Juan. I said yes, but that I found it was more a waste of time than anything else, and then he insisted that I read ALL the series, that only at the end will everything be revealed. So, rather reluctantly (and having a lot of free time on my hands) I took his advice and started reading the sequels. Indeed, only around the 3rd book (Journey to Ixtlan) does it all start coming into place. And it does not stop there, these initial events are constantly revisited and reinterpreted to a much clearer meaning in the following books. Sure, not everything should be taken at face value (Castaneda himself only started to understand what was really going on with him more than a decade after writing this book), but there are teachings that will change the way you see reality for the rest of your life, making it a definate must read.

As for the whole "real vs imaginary Don Juan" I think everyone involved in the debate are missing the essence and I invite them to remember what Don Juan said about the "art of stalking" (in later books). It is all pretty evident to me :)
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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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