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The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

(The Teachings of Don Juan #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  39,425 ratings  ·  1,193 reviews
The story of a remarkable spiritual journey, the first awesome steps on the road to becoming "a man of knowledge," the road that continues with A Separate Reality and Journey to Ixtlan. Includes the teachings and a structural analysis. ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 1983 by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (first published 1968)
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Ryan Because, frankly, he doesn't exist. This book, like Go Ask Alice, The Long Walk, Never Cry Wolf, and A Million Little Pieces, is fiction masquerading …moreBecause, frankly, he doesn't exist. This book, like Go Ask Alice, The Long Walk, Never Cry Wolf, and A Million Little Pieces, is fiction masquerading as non-fiction. There are a hundred fact checks online that blow holes in the story, but to link just one:

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Miguel Mayher
Jun 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
You may find this book has a lot of chaff on how they prepare peyote and other drugs, mundane descriptions in diary... yet when you less expect it, they hit you with a boulder of wisdom that leaves you freezed.

There is ONE core idea in the book that makes the price tag disappear. You cannot pay for it. It goes like this:

"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Teachings of Don Juan (The Teachings of Don Juan #1), Carlos Castaneda

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge was published by the University of California Press in 1968 as a work of anthropology, though many critics contend that it is a work of fiction.

It was written by Carlos Castaneda and submitted as his Master's thesis in the school of Anthropology.

It purports to document the events that took place during an apprenticeship with a self-proclaimed Yaqui Indian Sorcerer, don
Rich Flammer
Nov 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I found this book in my friend's house in Spring Lake, New Jersey about 20 years ago. Flipped through it, started reading, and couldn't put it down. Since then I've read all of Carlos Casteneda's books, but this is by far the best. Sadly, the power of this work is often diminished by readers who mistakenly, and obtusely, attribute his experiences solely to tripping through the use of psychotropic plants in Mexico. "That's a book about tripping," people have told me. But no, it really has nothing ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it
In the seventies, after my footloose brother had left behind the old homestead for a freer and more independent life in seismic surveying, I was often greeted from the open door of his room by his adolescent book collection.

Near the top of his bookcase was Carlos Castaneda’s first book...

One day, in the habitually perplexed and low-level depressive frame of mind endemic to my life at that time (due, of course, to the barbarically primitive effects of first-generation mood stabilizers) I sought
Back in the 70's, Carlos Castaneda—a young anthropologist from the University of California—was the shit amongst hippies, new-agers and wanna-be-cool academics desperate to shed their stuffy tweed. Now? Not so much. For many readers, Castaneda's death knell sounded when most of his accounts turned out to be—factually speakingcomplete and utter BS. To which diehard Castanites objected: "But, like, what is truth anyways, man?"

I don't wish to get terribly enmeshed in the debate. But to my logical,
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-forever
The Best Advice that anyone has ever given me is all in this book. This book is my spiritual guidance.
"A warrior acknowledges his pain but he doesn't indulge in it.
The mood of the warrior who enters into the unknown is not one of
sadness; on the contrary, he's joyful because he feels humbled by
his great fortune, confident that his spirit is impeccable, and
above all, fully aware of his efficiency. A warrior's joyfulness
comes from having accepted his fate, and from having truthfully
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
Mar 05, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A young anthropologist goes into the desert, meets an old shaman and does a bunch of peyote, DMT/salvia, and shrooms. This book is his account from one trip to another with bits of hippy-wisdom thrown in, like the oft-quoted "ask yourself if this path has a heart" passage. Beyond the tripping, the author doesn't seem to understand the spiritual aspects of what Don Juan is trying to tell him. Like when he smoked the "little smoke" and thought himself to become a bird, he asks Don Juan afterwards ...more
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This obscure writer has a huge cult following who believe that Castaneda's semi-fictious stories about Don Juan and the indigenous peoples of Mexico hold the keys to power and enlightenment. Ninja is a skeptic. She doesn’t believe in any of that rot – but they are best books being peddled as non-fiction that I have ever read.

Years ago, I caught an edition of “Imprint” on our local public television station TVO. The host, Daniel Richler, was leading a panel discussion about native spirituality an
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
kinda boring
Nov 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fall-2008
The discussions on whether this book is fiction or non-fiction are rather futile, and prevent the reader from engaging with it more closely. I think a smarter move would be to suspend judgment on the matter, and look into what one can learn from this account.

The Teachings of Don Juan may be read as a bildungsroman where the narrator/anthropologist Carlos Castaneda engages with an alternative reality, under the strict guidance of Don Juan, on the path to becoming “a man of knowledge”. As a means
Pamela Wells
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Every Seeker has at some point experienced an unexplainable moment. These are great opportunities to expand your perceptions to begin to believe in something greater then yourself that cannot be explained by your culture, current beliefs or family. Any of Carlos Castanada's books will give you the opportunity to discover another perspective about what reality really is. For those who call themselves Seekers - looking for the meaning of life - this is a foundational book. This was the first book ...more
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
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This may be the first book that truly exposed me to psychedelic literature. I have just completed it for my third time, and it was just as fresh as the times I read it during college.

Carlos Castaneda was an American author who wrote a series of books about his experiences with traditional Mesoamerican Shamanism. The books that follow The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge are also excellent, and I plan on re-reading the series and reviewing it. This book is written in first person b
Jan 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I was reminded of this book by a recent article, and I realized I had never read it when it first came out. I was curious to see what the fuss was about. I must say I was sorely disappointed -- the book is clumsily written and very sparing with its insights. Not recommended for enlightenment or even a good read.
Michael Lassoff
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Michael by: Barrett
Normally teachings that involve drugs bother me to no end. Somehow this book is proving an exception to that. Drugs, I think, complicate spirituality by orienting seekers toward intense spiritual experiences. They strike me as a great form of laziness, which would be fine if they were more effective than they are. But it usually just boils down to rich white kids that watched the matrix one too many times. Again, in the person of Don Juan, the drugs occupy a very secondary position. Foremost, mo ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in altered states of consciousness
Recommended to Erik by: Bill Causer
Shelves: religion
Carlos Castaneda's series about Yaqui religion is a mixture of fact and fiction. According to the Wikipedia article about him, the first three of the dozen or so volumes he produced constitute the academic work leading to his doctorate in anthropology. However, only this volume, the first, has an academic tone. Subsequent volumes are more literary.

Although Castaneda is rightly criticized for misrepresenting his work to the UCLA faculty of anthropology, the first three books still bear reading fo
Wesley  Gerrard
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has the vaguest interest in shamanism, this is an essential text. It is Carlos Casteneda's seminal work and in my opinion is a work of art. He has a very direct personal way of revealing his story, about an encounter with an ageing Native-American man of knowledge, who takes Carlos under his wing and reveals to him some of the secrets of shamanism. The range of psychedelics encountered are followed up in the book, after consumption, with vivid detail of the accompanying experience ...more
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very deep, you need to be in the right frame of mind for this one
Carlos Castenada was at best a fraud and a liar. He later founded a cult. ...more
Oct 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is a book about a Western student's apprenticeship under a Yaqui sorcerer named Don Juan. That's how the author thinks of it. It was more like getting high in the desert with an old man and playing with lizards.

I think this book was mistitled. A more accurate title would have been, The Drug Trips of Don Juan: An Indian Way of Drug Tripping. It's not about teachings or knowledge at all, at least not as I understand those words to mean. The entire book was a memoir of his drug trips and conve
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked the first half of the book, but then it just seemed to be more of the same, so I stopped about 3/4 of the way through. Maybe I'm just impatient, or maybe the story was going nowhere. I understand why don Juan was annoyed with the narrator, he got on my nerves at times, too.

There were good parts, though, I liked where they were out in the desert ingesting peyote, and he wandered off talking to the embodiment of peyote, or "Mescalito", who told him to eat some more, but he didn't have a kn
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Whoa. This one was a real trip and half. UCLA grad student in botany goes down to southern Arizona to learn about plants in the 1960s. Winds up studying under the tutelage of a local Yaqui shaman and explores the nether-regions of human perception, induced through a variety of 'power plants' as well as peyote (its own special deity). The is the first of a whole series of books and a large following that were largely inspired by the author, Carlos Castaneda. I haven't read the others, but I like ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Feb 27, 2021 rated it did not like it
If only I could find a wise shaman to lead me on my journey and get me to realize that non-sense-reality is as real as real-reality and make assertions without foundation on the power that pervades the world which only a wise shaman knows through the wisdom of the elders since there is no Western way to truth, and there is no Eastern way to truth, there is only the fact free assertions of a mystic-native-American way to truth especially when it’s mixed with drug inducing psychedelic peyote tripp ...more
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I recently attended a short course (8 hours) at UCSD Extension entitled Principles of Clarity. It could also have been called Mindfulness if that term is more useful to you in envisioning the nature of the course. Forewarning, this is the longest Goodreads review I have ever written.

One of the readings recommended by Karen Dobkins (the professor at UCSD instructing the course) was The Teachings of Don Juan; A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Her intent was to help us comprehend that there were more ways
The 20th century’s most successful literary trickster: Carlos Castaneda?

Or perhaps even the largest literary and academic fraud in history?

Is Carlos Castaneda a nut job?
Is the story really a fiction?

Did he really hallucinate these things?

Is he the shaman per-excellence?

Well, it was writtten in drug positive times (1968)....

It is bizarre , yet certainly well-written, lucid and believable.

Gotta love the turgid "structural analysis", makes it sound like a legit work of scholarship.

So, fantastic,
Jetska Kahanek
May 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I loved this book but once I researched the author a little more, I found his cult like theories to be weird and creepy. I have 3 of his books and wouldn't mind parting with them. These books are primarily about student anthropologists who studies Native American usage of peyote, Dimethyltryptamine(DMT), saliva, and mushrooms. He meets a shaman who teaches him the method in which to use peyote and discovers the powers of shamanism. The first half of this book goes into the efforts of trust and s ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Spiritual learning and hallucinations in the desert. Enjoyable to read and also full of interesting and inspiring knowledge; I gained a lot of ideas about self-awareness, personal improvement and approaching life with a more respectful and open attitude. Be the warrior!

“All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you ... Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as ma
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Although the authenticity of this text has been questioned over the years, and it has been disowned as an anthropological case study (for obvious reasons), this text remains a beautiful and thought-provoking piece of historical fiction. Castaneda no doubt spent a great deal of time in the Mexican Southwest and in this novel he recounts his first years under the tutelage of Don Juan, a Yaqui "brujo" or sorcerer. He describes his fascination with psychotropic cacti, mushrooms and jimson weed, and ...more
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me a few years ago by a professor of mine. I was deep into graduate school by then, attempting to earn my MFA while not losing my mind. My work as well and my mental state were suffering.

My professor told me I needed to learn how to see. And this book would show me how.

And it did. It helped tremendously. I did not approach the book as an anthropologist. Nor did I approach it as a study of any kind. I had no prior knowledge of Castaneda or any of the controversy his b
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Carlos Castaneda was an Latin-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 M

Other books in the series

The Teachings of Don Juan (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • A Separate Reality
  • 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

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“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length--and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” 192 likes
“Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.

This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.”
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