Author Topic: Carlos Castaneda  (Read 104546 times)

Offline flyingdust

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #105 on: February 03, 2010, 07:50:33 am »
Yeah, fortunately back in the day (the early 70s) when I read that first books (the only one in which peyote and other plants were ingested) I was already close to my cultural traditions and teachings of respect.  I didn't dare fool around with drugs in ceremonial settings.  I was aware back then, too, that there were traditional peyote ceremonies being held in some of the local reserves.  I entertained thoughts of attending, but didn't because my elders always cautioned me not to attend any old ceremonies just out of curiosity.  Only attend a ceremony out of sincere need and with a right frame of mind, I was told.  If I did otherwise, there's a chance I could be a detriment to the success of that ceremony.  This is common knowledge in Indian country.  Here's just one example of which the new agers just don't have a clue about, those age-old teachings that go along with ceremonies.   ;)

Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #106 on: February 03, 2010, 06:55:18 pm »
Only attend a ceremony out of sincere need and with a right frame of mind, I was told.  If I did otherwise, there's a chance I could be a detriment to the success of that ceremony.  This is common knowledge in Indian country.  Here's just one example of which the new agers just don't have a clue about, those age-old teachings that go along with ceremonies.   ;)

Yes, well, the big missing picture for majority if not all of the new agers and people in general, is "I could be a detriment to the success of that ceremony."

People in general, in this "american" culture (if not the world at large), rarely if ever think outside the box of their self.  It would never dawn on them to think of the other people and the ceremony itself *FIRST* and then think of their self..

Whatever guided me in those days of my youth, guided me right.  I was always told to think of those around me first.. and to always step aside my own wants first, before stepping aside another's.  It does no harm to put my own desires or wants aside for the needs of another.  To me, it's common courtesy. And yet, I never see it in this world I live in.. or rarely.. hardly ever.. if at all.

In the book that I wrote I tried to outline these points.  I called them the 7 aspects of love.  With Respect being the first.  No one respects anyone in this world.  Just rumble on up and over whoever to get what ya want.. and oh well to the other guy.  It becomes very depressing at times.  No one really cares about anyone else. 

Them new agers, think they gonna ever consider that they could be a detriment to the others or to the ceremony itself?   Nope. It won't occur to them.  They are the centers of their own private universes and everything else is here to serve them and their purposes.. divine purposes mind you.. divine.  Nothing is greater than their own purpose..  their self adulated divine purpose.  Not any indigenous cultures or ways or spirituality's or ceremonies.. none of any traditions..  all of those things are only here to serve in their divine purpose.   8)  :o  >:(  :'(









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Ahriman

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #107 on: February 13, 2010, 08:11:08 pm »
Well, CC seems to be a very controversial subject...
Still I dare to put my first post on this. ;)

There are a number of issues about this guy. But too me it's not all black and white. Writing is what he did, so let's judge him by his books. That means, let's leave Castaneda's last years aside, when he came up with a brand name and was giving seminars for outrageous fees (which certainly fits the cateory "fraud"). But let's talk not about that, let's talk about the writer Castaneda.

I completely agree with Canadian novelist Joyce Carol Oates, who said, she cannot understand all the fuss, because it is just dead obvious that C's writings are fiction, and Don Juan is an invented character.

However, Oates said this to defend him, and I agree, his first books are not bad. The later ones, well... nothing left to say really, and badly writen. 

In any case, in his early books HE is the idiot, while his Indian teachers not only are able to establish contacts with the supernatural, they are also witted and articulate, and never stop to expose the pretentiousness of their disciple and indeed Western civilisation. Thus, Castaneda inverts the values that were dominant in his times: The white anthropologist was supposed to teach the Indian a lesson, not the other way around. Therefore I think, Castaneda was not such a bad guy to start with - what became of him with success and "stardom" is another thing.

Still another pair of shoes is the reception of Castaneda. The hippies were not a well read crowd, and the little they managed to read they usually got wrong. Castaneda just did not write, go in the woods and get completely wasted on hallucinogens. However, a lot of people think that's what he wrote.

However, one thing in Castaneda's writings contrasts very much everything I know about Native American spirituality (which might not be a lot): There is no, or very little, responsibility or accountability by Castaneda's teachers to a community. The primary end of all Don Juan and Don Genaro do and try to teach is the acquisition of "power". Thus they are truely "brujos", it's about witchcraft, not healing or conflict-solving for a community (what medicine men/women do). Here, I do see a parallel to the new age movement, which also seems to be focused very much on personal change, but at minimal costs and with "no strings attached" in terms of obligations to the poor and needful.

This was also the primary reason why Castaneda's books finally left me cold: If all he has experienced is only for the very very few, very very exceptional ... why should I read it and why should Castaneda even bother to write books for an audience of normal folks whose business is anything but what is described in the books? Somebody told me in volume whatever it turns out that the purpose of all those years of apprenticeship is to fly past a giant soul-eating eagle that guards the afterworld. Well, excuse me, but isn't that really a daft answer to the question of the meaning of life?

Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #108 on: February 13, 2010, 09:41:22 pm »
LOL about the giant soul-eating eagle.  Yeah, that was the later books. 

I find your perspective interesting, I didn't come away from those first books thinking it was about the acquisition of power, but that it was about finding the whole total sum of your being. I also came away with the impression the witchcraft and sorcery were actions of selfishness, and that don Juan was more about moving beyond self and selfish intentions, to not place ones self above all others. That there is no need to bend others to ones own will or desires. 

I also liked how he loved Earth, and that love was expressed in those first books often.  The latter books were cold of that, no heart, no love.  Also, in the first books, I always thought he did have 'friends' of some sort, whether it was community, I didn't read it as him living within a community, but known to the community.. although outside of it. The latter books were all about self, and who cares about anyone else. They breed sociopaths, imo, because they instruct a person to try and live from a point of being where there is no empathy. The first books were not so. They were about the heart, and of living life with heart, if there was no heart then it was the 'wrong' path.

Anyway, I just think it's sad so many people believe they can defy death. They'll spend a lifetime, seriously spending their entire life and life's energy and life's time..  working to avoid something that cannot be avoided.

Death is. As is birth. If you are born, then you will die.  You cannot have one without the other. It just is.  These people are freaking loons to believe that somehow, they will not die.

To me, I believe whoever wrote the last books became obsessed with death in a most unhealthy way.  I know within the first set don Juan tries to make Carlos realize the impermanence of life. By trying to force him to realize death. Personally, my own beliefs are that of reincarnation, but I still understood what was being stated in the statement 'you are going to die' that was dictated to Carlos often in those early books to mean literally, that you are going to die.  Regardless of incarnation, we still have death.  And I, personally, see the value in realizing this, and not living as though you have forever. But this person, became so obsessed with fear of death, that he had to create some whole perverted fantastical way of escaping it. 

It's sad. And I wish those latter books had never been writ.

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Ahriman

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #109 on: February 14, 2010, 12:07:48 am »
Like you, I read Castaneda when I was a teenager, and it somehow supported me surviving my severely dysfunctional family.

However, today my view on the books is a bit more prosaic. They revolve around the fantasy of meeting the exotic savant-savage, which has been an obsession of the West since Helena Blavatsky. It goes together with the claim of the author of not being an average human, but having a bit of a Ubermensch vocation. Castaneda is reminded all the time that he has to radically change his ways. As he has started to go the path of the brujo/savant, he has to stop doing stuff ordinary folks do.

In anthropology, Castaneda's writings are today considered forgeries. It remains the possibility, that he has had some contacts with medicine men, which was then inspiring his writings. However, it is impossible to decide this.

In his books, a dominant idea is to find in the Native American some type of "Great Other" who has all the big answers. However, it is easy to see that Don Juan as the "Great Other" is a projection, wishful thinking.

Another motive in Castaneda is the reality of the supernatural. Which to me is more interesting. Because the insistence that a direct contact to the divine is possible is brought forward again and again by Native Americans, as well as other traditional people. However, the West has no concept for this except for the dysfunctional. That means, in the West whoever makes such claims is either stupid (superstitious) or mad (psychotic) or delusional (on drugs).

Here, Vine Deloria takes a very interesting position by saying, the problem is not nature versus the supernatural, but that the West mistakes its intellectual, abstract conceptualisations for nature. Thus, an observation contradicting my intellectual conceptualisation cannot be reality. Plato as the archvillain, regarding ideas truer than evidence.

Another interesting writer is Ziauddin Sardar (actually I discovered Vine Deloria because Sardar refernced him). What he writes about the systematic dismissal of (subcontinental) Indian traditional medicine, including the ban for traditional doctors to practition, and the closure of Islamic medicine colleges during British colonialism, parallels the dismissal of systems of traditional knowledge of Native Americans.

Regarding Castaneda, I think he contributed to a paradigm shift regarding the superiority of the west, but I find the esoteric spin makes it less pertinent. I mean, it is so easy to ridicule somebody like Castaneda as just the product of indulgent fantasies of the psychedelic era.

Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #110 on: February 14, 2010, 01:16:45 am »
I don't know.  I tend to see a lot of Tibetan Buddhism as well, which was at that time not accessible to people as it is today. Even 5 years ago trying to find anything on the Dzogchen on the net was daunting, now it's everywhere.

Supernatural, I believe is becoming less 'super' and more 'natural'.  When I was a teen the idea of 'ghosts' was ludicrous, now it's more mainstream and accepted that sometimes, the unexplainable does occur. It's not written off so quickly as being stupid, mad, or delusional. 

As far as direct connection to the divine, I know many Christians who will differ with your view, and state they have direct connection. Which I disagree with.  I personally believe the Christian Bible is far away from Divine. Once they realized all that killing and hatred and intolerance, and mass genocide of indigenous peoples was perhaps not right, they rewrote the book and called it the New Testament.   ::)

Well, in my experience, there are things in the natural world that are beyond the reasoning mind, and people call it 'supernatural'. And when met with something of that sort, the mind plays tricks to protect the psyche of a person. Amnesia, or even reforming the event in a way acceptable to their minds.  People's psyches are fragile to some extent. And some people can be severely damaged psychologically by such events. However, I also perceive that as people expand their ways of thinking and can accept more, the supernatural begins to be less 'super'.  To me, this is akin to the unknown becoming known. The world was flat, sailing too far you'll drop off the edge of the world.. but as thinking and mind evolved, it became more evident that the world was not flat.  Our minds and our thinking does evolve, and opens us to perhaps a larger view.

As far as intellectual conceptualisation, I don't know, if you know that it's just your thoughts and point of view that makes something invalid or not real, then seems to me that would automatically break down that same intellectual conceptualism. I mean, why hold all that in place if you know it's just intellectual conceptualism? 

I'm not very good at all this intellectual volly-ing. It may seem I am, but I really am not. I try to keep things simple and not over intellectualize to the point of losing the entire topic inside some vast mental hallway..   ;D  Not saying that's what you are doing, but reading the points from those authors, I'd never make it through the book..  LOL 

Thing is, whatever Carlos was trying to do with those first books, there is some valid points within the work. I just know that I read at 14 things I'd started experiencing seriously at 9 and never had answers for.  I still don't have answers, but it was nice to read of it, nice to not think I was insane.  I used to be terrified that someone would find my journals and commit me to an asylum.  LOL  ;D 

Then 10 years later and all this New Age stuff started coming about. How anyone could relate that to Castaneda I don't know. It's all about fluff..  many just swapped out margarine (christianity) for butter (something a tad better but still not healthy).  But I think it's all just in perspective, for me, what I read in those first books had nothing to do with new age gizmos.  It had to do with inner work, of self awareness, not self propaganda and walking around on clouds with oh.. what did someone here call it.. bliss monkey?

But that's what I got out of those books.  That it is a life long study and practice that takes a commitment and a perseverance.  Also, the fact that that connection to the divine was not needed by any 'great other'.  That was clear to me in what I read. No one needs that great other, or 'guru' .. all one really needs is the commitment to being aware of their self (mind, action/reaction) through self observation. That's what I got out of it.  So it's hard for me to see the leap from that to these new age expos and workshops and whatnots with self proclaimed teachers and ascended masters and shamans and whatever the heck they wanna call themself.. 






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Offline debbieredbear

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #111 on: February 14, 2010, 01:21:16 am »
Quote
In any case, in his early books HE is the idiot, while his Indian teachers not only are able to establish contacts with the supernatural, they are also witted and articulate, and never stop to expose the pretentiousness of their disciple and indeed Western civilisation.

This is acutally a theme that runs through the white shaman literature. If you read Lynn Andrewes  or Heather Hughes Cordero, you will see exactly that same approach. The problem with this is that people then go to frauds and expect this kind of treatment and end up abused and taken advantage of. Then they are angry with Indians over the whole thing.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 01:28:36 am by debbieredbear »

Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #112 on: February 14, 2010, 05:28:32 am »
I actually know someone who visited Carlos when he was dying.  He told them that he made the whole thing up.  So, for anyone who is searching around out there, and who still is undecided even after having read all this, believe me, he made it up.
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Ahriman

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #113 on: February 15, 2010, 01:23:37 am »
@debbie red bear
not quite sure what you mean.

My point was that Castaneda, despite all problems, made a point valueing Native American traditional knowledge system.

I know, you will say, great, appreciation of Native knowledge through a fraudster. And I take that point, Castaneda might very well have delivered a hell of a disservice.

I am not quite sure whether you are saying, Native America has no message to deliver.

The problem with Castaneda and also the New Age movement is that they over emphasise esoterical knowledge. We do not need spirituality, Native American or otherwise, to see that we are presently destroying the planet. However, the low valueing of traditional knowledge systems might politically well go hand in hand with New Age and Castaneda, because these distorted representations of spirituality can be easily dismissed as ludicrous BS by the radical materialism in power. (I mean nothing against materialism, if it only was dialectic;-)

Offline debbieredbear

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #114 on: February 16, 2010, 01:57:18 am »
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I am not quite sure whether you are saying, Native America has no message to deliver.

?? Where did you get THIS? I was commenting on the fact that he writes about how he was an idiot and his "teachers" were widse and witty etc  and how then many many newagers think they can get a teacher just like that, who maybe is a bit abusive. And how then the neagers find a teacher who is a fraud and abuses them or takes advantage of them and gets angry with Native people because their fantasy was not fulfilled.  Met losts of them. All castaneda did was sell a FANTASY. And by the way, by what right do these people have that makes them so special that they come along and demand that Native people teach them something? That is arrogance, pure and simple. And when someone DOES try, many have no ears to listen as their heads are stuffed with pre-concieved ideas. And self importance.

Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #115 on: February 16, 2010, 03:34:55 am »
You're absolutely right about that debbieredbear.  I have met enough 'Castaneda' followers and they all have this preconceived notion of what/how a teacher is supposed to be and you nail it right, they have no ears to hear when/IF someone they met/might meet actually is a teacher.  They're lost in a mind tunnel.  If it don't match up like in the book, then it isn't 'real' and they dismiss it outright.  Without ever listening.  And I agree too that the books clearly set a stage wherein these people act like the Native people's are to somehow automatically teach them, as if it is owed. 

So then they went and made themselves teachers to teach others the nothing they learned.  Do you know how many 'naguals' I have met?  It's blooming ridiculous.  And then the new age people did the same, it's like a branch sect that didn't quite like Castaneda, so they made their own again, with their own teachers the 'ascended masters' and the like. All because they have a belief of what a teacher is supposed to be.  Couldn't find 'em, so made their own. 

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Offline flyingdust

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #116 on: February 16, 2010, 09:54:50 am »
In more traditional Indian society or circles you will quickly get knocked down a few notches in a very humorous way for acting too self important or like a not-it-all.  This is done almost always in a humorous way so as to only attack the ego and not the person as a whole. Humbleness is the way to go when learning the Indian way. In other words it's inappropriate to openly proclaim to know something more than the next person or to insult someone's intelligence with what you claim to know.  That's considered mental abuse and is unacceptable behaviour.  A new ager would certainly be the butt of jokes and laughter in any traditional circle. 

I think Carlos picked up on this traditional norm and ran with it brilliantly in his earlier books.  Because of the widespread appeal of his books, new age authors who came along afterwards, like Lynn Andrews and Redfield's Celestine Prophecy, copied Castaneda's style but they come off as cheap and obvious imitations his works.  In fact, Castaneda continues to have a deep and lasting impact on the American psyche.  His compelling concepts are being lifted and proclaimed by a steady stream of new age authors and self-help gurus like Miguel Ruiz (Four Agreements) and James Arthur Ray (Stop The World...[what a killer]). 

In all cases, these books blatantly violate Indigenous American ways of learning right off the jump with the authors' claim to know something the rest of us don't yet know.   Where's the power in that?  I hate to say anything bad about Carlos because he's dead, but I think he got us in the mess we’re in today with this new age problem.   :D

Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #117 on: February 16, 2010, 03:21:48 pm »
Oh, I don't think he's the father of the new age thing. His books are not new age, not like Ruth Montgomery or even Edgar Cayce, who many new agers follow more so than Castaneda.  Heh, but Cayce refused to ever charge any money..  they seemed to have over looked that. 

There is a large difference in what Carlos had in his early books (and even the latter ones) and the new age stuff.  You cannot be a 'Castanedian' AND a New Ager..  the people into Castaneda would never accept you and you'd either have to change what you think, or leave.  I'd seen it numerous times, anyone coming into the Castaneda forums talking of new age concepts or anything even remotely sounding new age-ish were attacked, and left.
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Offline flyingdust

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #118 on: February 16, 2010, 09:12:02 pm »
My knowledge of the new age scene is limited other than what is readily apparent to me and I respect your understanding and first hand experiences with Castaneda's books and legacy group.

In my observation, Castaneda's followers may claim to not be associated with anything new age, but are in fact a denominational aspect of the new age movement. The Tensegrity group exhibits all the same characteristics of any new age group being exposed in this forum.  This group is appropriating and exploiting Indigenous American knowledge and culture, mixing and matching it with other old world knowledge traditions, and making money selling books and charging for workshops.  A lot of people are being hurt and deluded by this group and even some from within the group have committed suicide soon after Castaneda's death, I've heard.  And Castaneda's influence is spreading regardless of what tensegrity wants; his concepts are appearing in the writings and messages of many new age authors and self help gurus.  They are fixated with and fascinated by his influential and financial success and wanting some of that for themselves.  He's unacknowledged fodder for these new age writers and gurus.

It's all a big scam and thievery of gigantic proportions and this activity is spreading all over, being done even by some of our own people.  The protocols and ethics that go hand in hand with the acquisition and use of Indigenous knowledge and culture are being forgotten and ignored.  In traditional Indigenous society, anyone who takes ceremonies, songs, or stories from another individual or family without their expressed permission and blessings is considered a thief.   :(


Re: Carlos Castaneda
« Reply #119 on: February 16, 2010, 09:23:28 pm »
 

In my observation, Castaneda's followers may claim to not be associated with anything new age, but are in fact a denominational aspect of the new age movement. The Tensegrity group exhibits all the same characteristics of any new age group being exposed in this forum.  This group is appropriating and exploiting Indigenous American knowledge and culture, mixing and matching it with other old world knowledge traditions, and making money selling books and charging for workshops. 

You're right.  In this context I can agree it is 'new age'.  My previous postings I was thinking more in terms of what they 'believe'.  What their doing is the same principal. Steal and sell. In that regard, it's 'new age'.

Sometimes, I do have to have the picture drawn out for me to 'get' what is being said.  I tend to have a literal sense that can get in my way.. so I appreciate the time and patience it may take some to 'educate' me on the view they are providing. 
press the little black on silver arrow Music, 1) Bob Pietkivitch Buddha Feet http://www.4shared.com/file/114179563/3697e436/BuddhaFeet.html