Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Separate Reality” as Want to Read:
A Separate Reality
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Separate Reality

(The Teachings of Don Juan #2)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  16,588 ratings  ·  271 reviews
"A man of knowledge is free...he has no honor, no dignity, no family, no home, no country, but only life to be lived." --don Juan

In 1961 a young anthropologist subjected himself to an extraordinary apprenticeship to bring back a fascinating glimpse of a Yaqui Indian's world of "non-ordinary reality" and the difficult and dangerous road a man must travel to become "a man of
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 1st 1991 by Washington Square Press (first published 1968)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Separate Reality, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Separate Reality

Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerThe Perfect Storm by Sebastian JungerA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonIn the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
Vicarious Thrills
357 books — 614 voters
The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Power of Now by Eckhart TolleA New Earth by Eckhart TolleSiddhartha by Hermann HesseThe Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Best Spiritual Books
1,208 books — 1,186 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,588 ratings  ·  271 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Separate Reality
Sԋҽʅʅყ ƚԋҽ Wҽιɾԃ αɳԃ Wαɳԃҽɾιɳɠ Wαɾɾισɾ
"Our lot as men is to learn and one goes to knowledge as one goes to war; I have told you this countless times. One goes to knowledge or to war with fear, with respect, aware that one is going to war, and with absolute confidence in oneself."

"In order to become a man of knowledge one must be a warrior, not a whimpering child. One must strive without giving up, without a complaint, without flinching, until one sees, only to realize then that nothing matters."

In this book, Castaneda returns to his
Sherry (sethurner)
Castaneda books were very popular when I was an undergraduate, and when I first started teaching in the 1970s. I remember reading all three and being amused and confused. I suspect I was mostly interested in the author's descriptions of his experiences with peyote. Years have passed, and I revisited A Separate Reality after a friend's adult son passed away. I saw imagery and a quote from Castaneda in his artwork, and thought this might be a time to see what I could learn from the book. What a di ...more
Syl Sabastian
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We read and we read, and then, we encounter, well, A Separate Reality. Much depends on how we read. If we're too immersed in story, we miss the More, if we're to concerned with artificial criteria of evaluation, we miss the Value, if we're too bubbled in our cocoon-of-self we miss the Usefulness. Within the distinct realism of A Separate Reality we find an overwhelm of potency, which, if we're not prepared to actually change our world, will pass us by.

To read this powerful and transformative wor
Steven Fogel
I recommend Carlos Castaneda's body of work, which had a great impact on my worldview. A Separate Reality (the second in the series) describes his studies with Don Juan, the Yaqui shaman that he first wrote about in Teachings of Don Juan, a Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Like Teachings, A Separate Reality explores the multiple realities that we experience in our lives, such as our dreams, which while we're dreaming are our true universe, and our waking reality, in which our dreams are just a fantasy. A ...more
When I was an undergraduate in the mid-70's, Castaneda's "Don Juan" trilogy (with maybe a little Hermann Hesse thrown in) was what one read to be considered deep and interesting. Thirty years on, Hesse still holds up (for the most part). For Castaneda one can only ask "What was I thinking?".

But presumably that's what undergraduate time should be used for - to read broadly and indiscriminately. So not everything you read in college is going to be good.
Diana Silaghi
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Don Juan had once told me that a man of knowledge had predilections. I asked him to explain his statement.
"My predilection is to see," he said.
"What do you mean by that?"
"I like to see" he said, "because only by seeing can a man of knowledge know."
"What kind of things do you see?"
"But I also see everything and I'm not a man of knowledge."
"No. You don't see.
"I think I do."
"I tell you, you don't."
"What makes you say that, don Juan?"
"You only look at the surface of things."
"Do you mean
Daniel Parks
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You can either view Castaneda's work as extremely well written psychedelic fiction prose or you can view it as a collection of vital truths that will help you live a better life. Either way you would be right in my opinion, and the fact that it is all most likely completely made up only makes the fiction that much more magical to me, and more true.

"It was as if the point of departure had always been myself. It was as if Don Juan had never really been there, and when I looked for him he became w
Rob Poole
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, reviewed, fiction
There is another world just beyond our reach and we only need to seek it to find it.

In the 1960s Carlos Castaneda made his way to Mexico to learn more about Yaqui Indians and to do a little soul searching. What he found was a man named don Juan, a very powerful sorcerer and a force to be reckoned with. Don Juan turns Castaneda's whole world upside down by teaching him the ways of a sorcerer and the results are some of the most beautiful and touching pieces of nonfiction.

In "A Separate Reality" C
Leo Walsh
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Second Don Juan book. A little weaker than the first. Plus, there are hints of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy re-packaged as native American wisdom. Old wine in new [age] skins...

But instead of reading these as the non-fiction they are marketed as, I am reading them as fantasies.

That said, I love the new character Castaneda introduces here, don Genaro. A true trickster, he makes me laugh. But the "wisdom" revealed here is less interesting than the "wisdom" revealed in the first volume. Instead
Erik Graff
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychonauts
Recommended to Erik by: Michael Miley
Shelves: religion
This is the volume following Castaneda's revised doctoral dissertation, The Teachings of Don Juan (1968), and preceding Journey to Ixtlan (1972). The three were eventually issued as a cloth trilogy. I started the series in paperback, but found the trilogy soon after and purchased it, probably at Stuart Brent Bookstore in Chicago near where I worked during the summer months between college and seminary.
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book would probably seem strange to most and only interesting to a few. For me I can only say that this book chose me, it came to me at a time in my life in which I was approaching a major spiritual awakening, though I didn't know it. This book helped push me over the edge. I feel if I would have read it any time sooner than when I did it would have been lost on me.
Love of Hopeless Causes
The first half-hour did not compel me to finish the audiobook.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
silly, pretentious, outdated
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pagans
Shelves: witchynonfiction
I am going to give the same review to all the Carlos Castaneda books I read in that series, simply because they are all outstanding. I was lucky to come across Castaneda very early on my magickal path. My spells and rituals have always relied on the power of intent, and I have found no better education on how to focus your intent than in this series of books. Back then (1994) they were classifed as nonfiction. Lately, they say they are fiction. All I know is much of what is in these books works. ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Read this mostly in one sitting at the DMV. A world-altering read for me. The book starts slow but careens into mystical extremes by the second half. Castaneda plays the role of the modern person: rational, verbal, objective. Castaneda is amazingly, remarkably bad at succumbing to metaphysical experience. This is hilarious and endearing. Castaneda might have been resisting the non-linear because he was ostensibly doing anthropological research. In any case this makes Castaneda a relatable foil t ...more
Sandra Hernandez
Apr 21, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was hard to follow, I found myself asking wether or not what was being read was actually occuring or if it was part of a story. I still enjoyed it, the book has the potential to open a mind and explore different dimensions outside of this world. I really think I would have captured more of the books teachings if I had joined in the peyote smoking! :> ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The greatest celebration of gullibility and lack of any ability to discern or investigate I have ever read. Also, poorly written.
Iona  Stewart
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read a biography (The life and teachings of Carlos Castaneda) of Castaneda previously and was rather put off about him, since it turned out he was by no means a pleasant character. I thus did not plan to read any more of his books. But then I found this one and thought I would try it.

I didn’t find it as good as some of the other books. Don Juan, the Yaqui Indian who was training Carlos to be a sorcerer, or whatever, kept getting him to do such strange, complicated, and, according to what Don J
Ibrahim Niftiyev
May 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
There is no need to continue. I did not enjoy my first reading from Carlos Castaneda and the second one was not an exception. I am done with him. He is not my horse.
Aaron Dennis
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Separate Reality is the second book written by Carlos Castaneda, and while still practically mired in the realm of hallucinogenic mixtures, a few new topics are brought to life; seeing, living like a warrior, and shutting off the internal dialogue.

It is those three concepts, which bring a rather large change to the narrative presentation. Some people argue that it is because the book veers away from the initial inspections of the first book that it must all be fake. Okay, very possible. It is
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: occult
"Too bad my life is so short that I can't grab onto all the things I would like to. But that is not an issue; it's only a pity." - Don Juan (A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda, Pg.5)

"I have told you time and time again. The most effective way to live is as a warrior. Worry and think before you make any decision, but once you make it, be on your way free from worries or thoughts; there will be a million other decisions still awaiting you. That's the warrior's way." - Don Juan (A Separate Real
Jonathan Hockey
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like this more sober approach to spiritual reality. It is an individual journey and there are benefits and dangers at every turn. Compared to the generic assertions of some new age spirituality, referring to abstractions such as the absolute and how we are all interconnected, etc... They feel like intellectualisations of something that can't be intellectualised and they make it seem that ultimate reality is quite a simplistic, passive thing to understand. This book only really hints at some as ...more
Dec 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"We learn to think about everything, and then we train our eyes to look as we think about the things we look at. We look at ourselves already thinking that we are important. And therefore we’ve got to feel important! But then when a man learns to see, he realizes that he can no longer think about the things he looks at, and if he cannot think about what he looks at everything becomes unimportant."

"Once you decide something put all your petty fears away. Your decision should vanquish them. I will
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a reread from a college-assigned book. It’s a fictional but well written account with some philosophy buried in mystical pretense. (Castaneda never declared it to be fictional.) Strange, I wish it were true, and I’m not sure why. Maybe we want there to be a different world lurking just beyond conscious perception. This book and the whole Yaqui Way of Knowledge is an appeal to the mystic want-to-be. It makes our reality seem so boring. But actually it’s not. A separate and better reality ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: human beings
"A Separate Reality" was in my opinion better than "The Teachings Of Don Juan"; however, it builds upon concepts and situations presented in that book, so I wouldn't recommend starting with this one. Not as much psychotropic-experience material in this one, but this is because Carlos begins here to realize that his journey is not actually about psychotropic / medicinal plants and fungi, but something much deeper and more important. Excellent material dealing with our perceptions of reality, ques ...more
Satyajeet Prabhu
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Can't get enough of what Don Juan has to say. After reading the first 3 books, I am of the opinion that - While people believe Don juan is a figment of Castaneda's imagination, I feel it's the other the other way round (in a philosophical way). Castaneda is all of us, with his skepticism and awkwardness. Don Juan is the true protagonist and Castaneda is a messenger Don Juan uses to invoke a curiosity in all the readers of the books about a separate reality. It's no coincidence, it's a deliberate ...more
Sean Morrow
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-view
Bullshit mixed with some good ideas. Tough to take seriously when you know it's all fake, but just like a novel, the ideas are still real. However, knowing it's fake makes the synchronicities, hallucination descriptions, and explanations of feats of power really boring. Unless the behavior of dons Juan and Genaro are metaphorical for something I'm unaware of. Lots of interesting insight into rationalism, how we (humanity) perceive things, and knowledge.
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Amazing!. I do say that the sequel of the don juan teachings trap me like no other sequel does and this second book is exactly enjoyable as the first. I am looking for the third book, Journey to Ixtlan.

This is the book sequel for those who really like, admire and want to find their roots in ancient mexican culture and costumes.
Allison Boyer
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
it got tiring how idiotic Carlos was and how he refused to just accept Don Juan's way of the world. Don Juan using the mind to do things differently seemed simple and following his instructions made me feel capable of seeing and living like a warrior too. I just wish we didn't have Carlos as the narrator or that Carlos eventually saw.
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
anthropology or fabrication? doesn't matter--can't be too much carpe diem literature and this is excellent--i've loved page 88 for many decades--
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Way of the Shaman
  • Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
  • The Sorcerer's Crossing: A Woman's Journey
  • The I Ching or Book of Changes
  • The Witch's Dream: A Healer's Way of Knowledge
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead
  • Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior
  • Be Here Now
  • Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet
  • The Prophet
  • Siddhartha
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  • Conversations With God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 3
  • Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small
  • The Essential Rumi
  • The Doors of Perception
  • The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice
  • The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism
See similar books…
Carlos Castaneda was an American author.
Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his training in shamanism, particularly with a group whose lineage descended from the Toltecs.
The books, narrated in the first person, relate his experiences under the tutelage of a man that Castaneda claimed was a Yaqui "Man of Knowledge" named don Juan Matus.

Other books in the series

The Teachings of Don Juan (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
  • Journey to Ixtlan
  • Tales of Power
  • Second Ring of Power
  • Eagle's Gift
  • Fire from Within
  • Power of Silence
  • The Art of Dreaming
  • Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico
  • The Wheel of Time: The Shamans of Mexico Their Thoughts About Life Death & the Universe

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
5 likes · 1 comments
“We are men and our lot in life is to learn and to be hurled into inconceivable new worlds.” 64 likes
“To be a warrior a man has to be, first of all, and rightfully so, keenly aware of his own death. But to be concerned with death would force any one of us to focus on the self and that would be debilitating. So the next thing one needs to be a warrior is detachment. The idea of imminent death, instead of becoming an obsession, becomes an indifference.
Now you must detach yourself; detach yourself from everything. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he is incapable of abandoning himself to anything. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he can't deny himself anything. A man of that sort, however, does not crave, for he has acquired a silent lust for life and for all things of life. He knows his death is stalking him and won't give him time to cling to anything, so he tries, without craving, all of everything.”
More quotes…