Question: Would you say a few words about Castaneda,
please? When did the described by him take place?
Answer: Castaneda is our contemporary. While reading his books, one has
to realize that he primarily describes not his spiritual experience, but the way
he was taught, that is the process of his apprenticeship.
He was a student at university, and he started gathering materials for his ethnography
paper. For this purpose, he went to Mexican Indians. In particular, he was interested
in hallucinogenic plants that they used. There he found Juan Matus who later became
his spiritual preceptor. Their contacts were going on for several decades.
Castaneda’s books describe how Juan Matus himself grew over this period of time
and how he taught Castaneda. The books are written in a very interesting, bright
literary form. Castaneda used the technique that speaks of his humility (most high
feature!), he laughed at himself, at his failures; he also described episodes when
Juan Matus and others mocked him.
It is essential to emphasize, that Castaneda’s books contain not the completed
Teaching of Juan Matus but the history of their relationship, the personal search
of Juan Matus and his friend Genaro, their mistakes, how they found themselves in
a deadlock on the spiritual path, how they found their way out of it, how they made
a lot of things that are unnecessary on the Straight Path. The reason is that they
did not have such an enormous amount of book knowledge with description of their
predecessors’ experience that we possess. There was only very simplified Catholicism,
which did not even provide parishioners with the New Testament. Don Juan did not
read the New Testament himself, otherwise he would quote it. And naturally, such
form of religion could not satisfy Juan Matus; he was looking for more. There was
also a tradition of ancient sorcerers — Toltecs, who did not walk the “path of love”,
the “path of the heart” (in Juan Matus’s terms), and this also ceased to satisfy
him starting from a certain moment. And then he took to the new path, having proclaimed
Love the major principle for successful advancement toward the Goal.