Transcript of the tape:

Don Juan's Teachings: Further Conversations with Carlos Castaneda, 1968.


I'm Jane Hellisoe of the University of California press, and I have here today, Carlos Castaneda, author of The Teachings of Don Juan. I'm assuming that most of you have read the book, you all look like you have. So I think just turn it over to Carlos and let it go from there. Carlos...


O.K. Maybe you like to ask me something that you want to know?


How did you meet don Juan?


The way I, uh, got to know him,was very uh, very fortuitous type of affair. I was not not interested in finding what he knew, because I didn't know what he knew. I was interested in collecting plants. 

And I met him in Arizona. There was an old man who lived somewhere around them hills, that knew a great deal about plants. And that was my interest, to collect information on plants. And uh, I uh, we went one day this friend and myself we went to look for him. And we were misguided by the Yuma Indians and we up in the hills and never found the old man. 

Um, it was later on when I was at the end of this first trip that I make to Arizona, at the end of the summer and I was ready to go back to Los Angeles, that I was waiting in the bus stop and the old man walked in. And that's how I met him. 

Uh, I talked to him for about a year, I used to visit him, periodically I visit him, because I like him, he's very friendly and very consistent. It's very nice to be around him. He has great sense of humor . . . and I like him, very much. And that's was my first guiding thought, I used to go seek his council because he very humorous and very funny. 

But I never suspected that he knew anything, beyond knowledgeable in the use of plants for medicinal purposes.


Did you have a sense that he knew how to live?


No, no, I didn't- I couldn't respond(?) There was something strange about him, but anybody could tell that you know, there's something very uh, very strange. 

There are two people that I have taken down to the field, with me, and that they know him. They found that that... he has very haunting eyes when he looks at you, because most of the time he squints or he seems to be shifty. 

You would say that he's a shifty looking man. He's not looking, except sometimes when he looks, he's very, whenever he looks he's very forceful. You could acknowledge that he's looking at you. 

And I-... But I never knew that he knew anything beyond that. I had no idea. When I went to do my fieldwork, I always-... I departed from the point of view that I was the anthropologist, in quotes, doing the fieldwork with uh, Indian, you know. And they were uh, I was the one who knew most everything and uh they didn't. But of course, that it was a great culture shock to find out that I didn't know anything. 

It's a great feeling that of arriving, a sense of uh, humbleness. Because we are the winners, the conquerors, you know, and whatever we do is great, is logical, it's, it's magnificent. We only the ones who are capable of anything noble, that's in the back of our mind. We cannot avoid that, we cannot avoid that. And whenever we tumble down from that stand, I feels it's great.


What country are you from?


I'm from Brazil, I was born in Brazil. My grandparents are Italian.


Uh, do you still think that he manipulated you into the last part of your book into a situation in which you supposedly in danger of losing your soul?


There, there are two explanations, you see, I prefer to think, that he was cueing me. It made me feel comfortable to think that this was an experience resulting from these manipulations or social cues. But maybe this witch was impersonating him. Everytime I am in U.C.L.A., of course, I pretend the position that he was, manipulating me. 

That's very coherent, cogent of the pursual of academia. But whenever I am in field, I think they were impersonating him. And that's incoherent with what takes place there. That's a very difficult transition to make. If you are going to dwelling in a University, if I would be a teacher, if I know that I'm going to be a teacher all my life, I could say anything you know, and it's nice, but I may wind up again in the field, very soon. I uh, made up my mind. I am going to go back, later maybe at the end of this month, and uh, I'm very serious about that.


Could you describe the nature of your communication with don Juan, since you wrote the book?


We're very good friends. He uh, uh he uh, he's capable always to baffle me me, by kidding me. He never takes anything seriously. 

I am very serious in the sense like, I feel that I have withdrawn from this apprenticeship. And I'm very serious about that, I believe that I have.


He doesn't believe you?




Do you find that your approach to uh, uh reality, or whatever, is any different since meeting don Juan?


O yes, yes, very different. Very different as such. Well I don't take things too seriously anymore.


Why did you write the second part of your book?


Why? Essentially, I'm concerned with rescuing something that has been lost for five hundred years, because of superstition, we all know that. It's superstition, and it's been taken as such. 

Therefore, in order to render it, serious, to go beyond the revelation, that there must be something that could be distilled from the revelation period. And to me, the only way to do it, is by presenting it seriously, in format of the socialist position. 

Otherwise, it remains in the level of oddity. We have in the back of our minds, the idea that only we could be logical, only we could be sublime, noble. 

Somehow, I think, maybe I'm speaking for myself alone, but that's the end of character of our actions. In social science you see that. Every social scientist goes to the field, loaded with the idea that he's going examine something and know. And uh, that's not fair, that he so um, in that sense, I cannot escape that.


Don Juan in the book, he mentioned that he asked you never to reveal the name that Mescalito gave to you, or to reveal the circumstances under which you met, yet you wrote this whole book of don Juan's to anyone who would read it.


I asked him about that. I wanted to know before I ever, ever, in writing something like that, I asked him if it was alright. I didn't reveal anything that was not permitted. I didn't. 

I was interested in the logical system. It's a system of logical thought. It takes a long time, took a long time for me to discover, that this was a system of exhaustive, the best, presented in this, my world. This is what is appealing, is the order. 

And whatever, I reveal in it, has nothing to do with the things that were, let's say, taboo. I reveal only the order, only the system. So, as to make us realize that the Indians are very, very tenacious, they are persistent people and as intelligent as anybody.

Voice overdub on tape:

I think it's significant how Carlos is bending over backwards to present a system of non-ordinary reality, non-linear reality in a conceptual framework so that it can be accepted by his peers at the University of California by the American public. 

It's almost as if Carlos had wasn't taking any chances that the psychedelic generation was really going to be there and ready to read the book. 

The psychedelic generation could get the message- be a large enough part of the readership to to pass the word. 

He's talking about people, he talks about non-people there's some really some really remarkable instances there where I remember the one where don Juan walks or Carlos walks off into the chaparral and he comes back and there are these three beings there who turn out later according to don Juan not to be even beings. Apparently, they don't have these fibers coming or they don't look like eggs. Do you have any insights into what these are, that aren't really people, from having listened to that? I'm not too much into that, that was part of so-called phantoms that Carlos was describing, but it wasn't very clear to me where they fit into the whole picture, except these were people you know, phantoms were entities that you had to look for, and be careful about. It seems also like only a sorcerer and a man-of- knowledge can tell who they are, because to Carlos it looked very much like real people, and Genero and Juan can recognize them and unless we're into that other kind of knowledge, I can't claim to be able to recognize them. 

Carlos talks about his experience with the datura plant, or the jimson weed, the devil weed in the first book and the second book which is dealing very heavily the need for the psychotropic plants. He drank the root extract and rubbed himself with the paste, and what followed was an extraordinary experience. Afterwards Don Juan discusses with him the lessons he learned. 

Carlos says there was a question he wanted to ask don Juan. Carlos knew don Juan was going to evade it, so he waited for don Juan to mention the subject. 

Carlos waited all day. Finally, before he left that evening, he had to ask, "Did I really fly, don Juan?" 

"That is what you told me. Didn't you?" 

"I know, don Juan. I mean, did my body fly? Did I take off like a bird?" 

"You always ask me questions I cannot answer. You flew. That is what the second portion of the devil's weed is for. As you take more of it, you will learn how to fly perfectly. It is not a simple matter. A man flys with the help of the second portion of the devil's weed. That is all I can tell you. What you want to know makes no sense. Birds fly like birds and a man who has taken the devil's weed flies as such ." 

"As birds do?" 

"No, he flies as a man who has taken the weed." 

"Then I didn't really fly, don Juan. I flew in my imagination, in my mind alone. Where was my body?" 

"In the bushes," he replied cuttingly, but immediately broke into laughter again. "The trouble with you is that you understand things in only one way. You don't think a man flies; and yet a brujo can move a thousand miles in one second to see what is going on. He can deliver a blow to his enemies long distances away. So, does he or doesn't he fly?" 

"You see, don Juan, you and I are differently oriented. Suppose, for the sake of argument, one of my fellow students had been here with me when I took the devil's weed. Would he have been able to see me flying?" 

"There you go again with your questions about what would happen if... It is useless to talk that way. If your friend, or anybody else, takes the second portion of the weed all he can do is fly. Now, if he had simply watched you, he might have seen you flying, or he might not. That depends on the man." 

"But what I mean, don Juan, is that if you and I look at a bird and see it fly, we agree that it is flying. But if two of my friends had seen me flying as I did last night, would they have agreed that I was flying?" 

"Well, they might have. You agree that birds fly because you have seen them flying. Flying is a common thing with birds. But you will not agree on other things birds do, because you have never seen birds doing them. If your friends knew about men flying with the devil's weed, then they would agree." 

"Let's put it another way, don Juan. What I meant to say is that if I had tied myself to a rock with a heavy chain I would have flown just the same, because my body had nothing to do with my flying." 

"If you tie yourself to a rock," he said, "I'm afraid you will have to fly holding the rock with its heavy chain." 

[end of Voice overdub]

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