Thoughts on “A Separate Reality” by Carlos Castaneda

This is the second book in Castaneda’s account of his apprenticeship with the sorcerer don Juan. Chronologically, the events recounted in this text occur some years after the events recorded in The Teachings of Don Juan. Castaneda needed to take time away from the lessons because it seems he was having difficulty coming to terms with a new way of perceiving reality.

This book essentially deals with what don Juan terms “seeing,” which, in simplified terms, is a way of perceiving levels of reality that are beyond the comprehension of our ordinary states of consciousness.

Don Juan’s particular interest in his second cycle of apprenticeship was to teach me to “see.” Apparently in his system of knowledge there was the possibility of making a semantic difference between “seeing” and “looking” as two distinct manners of perceiving. “Looking” referred to the ordinary way in which we are accustomed to perceive the world, while “seeing” entailed a very complex process by virtue of which a man of knowledge allegedly perceives the “essence” of the things of the world.

(p. 8)

Don Juan asserts that humans know very little about reality, and unlike certain animals, we are fooled by what our limited consciousness perceives.

“We men know very little about the world. A coyote knows much more than we do. A coyote is hardly ever fooled by the world’s appearance.”

(p. 41)

Later, don Juan states that we maintain our limited view of reality through our internal dialog. Essentially, our minds are constantly talking to us, and this internal chatter defines our view of reality. Thus, by silencing our internal dialog, we are able to catch glimpses of how the world truly is.

“I’ll tell you what we talk to ourselves about. We talk about our world. In fact we maintain our world with our internal talk.”

“How do we do that?”

“Whenever we finish talking to ourselves the world is always as it should be. We renew it, we kindle it with life, we uphold it with our internal talk. Not only that, but we also choose our paths as we talk to ourselves. Thus we repeat the same choices over and over until the day we die, because we keep repeating the same internal talk over and over until the day we die.”

(p. 218)

Don Juan continues by asserting that once we stop telling ourselves how the world is, our minds shift and we see the world differently.

“The world is such-and-such or so-and-so only because we tell ourselves that that is the way it is. If we stop telling ourselves that the world is so-and-so, the world will stop being so-and-so. At this moment I don’t think you’re ready for such a momentous blow, therefore you must start slowly to undo the world.”

(p. 219)

Although I have read this book twice before, I got a lot out of it on this reading. This is one of those books that takes on other levels of meaning as we progress along our individual paths.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Have a great day!

2 Comments

Filed under Non-fiction, Spiritual

2 responses to “Thoughts on “A Separate Reality” by Carlos Castaneda

  1. Thank you, Jeff, for opening my eyes to different reads!