Castaneda and the Fourth Way

Ryan

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Well, looks like Laura was spot on about the correspondence between Castaneda's work and the Fourth Way. William Patrick Patterson has written a new book about Carlos Castaneda called "The Life & Teachings of Carlos Castaneda".

Here's the review from Amazon:

Before Patterson's book, Castaneda appeared an elusive figure, almost larger than or beyond life. There were so many questions: Who really was Castaneda? Don Juan? The witches? But now Patterson has masterfully unearthed the details that make up the "man" and the "Nagual." Having a background in Gurdjieff's teaching of the Fourth Way, I found Patterson's fact findings of Castaneda's contact with Lord John Pentland, the leader of the Gurdjieff Work in America (appointed by Gurdjieff himself), fascinating and revealing. It is astounding to read the long list of Castaneda idea-methods compared to Gurdjieff's teaching ideas. This was a connection I never knew about yet wondered whether Castaneda had learned it all from don Juan. No doubt, being well-read and having had contact with Lord Pentland, Castaneda reformulated these same ideas into his magical-Nagualist language.

The captivation for so many of us, for the "non-ordinary reality" that Castaneda speaks about--in denial of our "ordinary reality,"--may have perhaps thrown a veil over the whole Castaneda phenomenon. Patterson, who one gets the sense holds a deep respect for Castaneda, takes the details of the "ordinary reality" of his life and removes that veil by providing an entirely new perspective. He considers the whole of the man's life whose parts are interconnected as well as sources for motivating factors. For example: How did his experience with his parents manifest later in his life? His relationship to women? What was the heavy guilt he carried and tried to write about before he died?

Also included in the book is the full research paper by Dr. Daniel Brinton, M.D., on the origin of Nagualism. ...This is a fascinating book which for the first time has given context to Castaneda-- "man" and "Nagual," --as well as opened many questions.
Just to speculate, I think "Journey to Ixtlan" (the 3rd book) is where the 4th way ideas really begin to show. The first two books have more of a "shamanic" focus, whereas the later books contain concepts which "map" to concepts in the 4th way system to a noticeable degree, even if the imagery used is more "shamanic/Native American".

Looks like an interesting book!
 

kenlee

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Very interesting. Thanks for letting us know of this book by Patterson. A little over 30 years ago when I was a member of a group that was taught by a direct student of Gurdjieff, I remember the teacher being very impressed with Castaneda and she liked the concept of 'the warrior' (I think at about that time Castaneda had finished ‘Tales Of Power'). Well, if ever there was a warrior that was then this woman was most definitely one! Not much was known about Castaneda at the time and he was quite the mystery man (and I did not know of his meeting with Pentland) but it was obvious to me that Castaneda was strongly influenced by the teachings of Gurdjieff. His meeting with Don Juan is similar to Ouspensky meeting up with Gurdjieff and Castaneda's sojourns in the Mexican desert is, imo, reminiscent of Gurdjieff's expeditions thru the Gobi desert. I think this 'desert theme' even runs in some movies that have a strong psychological/spiritual basis, one of which that had a rather strong effect on me when I was younger was the old TV film called 'Ordeal' which took place in the Mojave desert:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070489/usercomments
Ordeal" is a quality television film from 1973 with a very good cast and great production values. The story of a somewhat shallow rich man who literally wanders the desert and in the process discovers his deeper self. The bright ,arrid Arizona desert is used to great effect and I was really impressed by the film's stately score. Seemingly all the main characters in the movie are unlikeable ,but Arthur Hill lets us see the subtle transformation from a man on a mission of hateful revenge (against a fed-up wife and the shifty trail guide who left him to die with a broken leg in the merciless desert) to a man who, in overcoming incredible obstacles(almost too incredible), he finds his place-connection in this stark natural world and an inner peace.The scene where he finds a water hole is beautifully done.This film is certainly a worth a look.
And also that old Kung-fu series where in the beginning scene of the intro to the series there was always Kwai Chang Caine (the Sholin Kung-fu guy) who was always shown walking thru the desert.

_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iaamkUEF_A
 

Approaching Infinity

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I just finished this one. It's short and a pretty easy read. The chapter showing the connections between Castaneda's sorceric system and Gurdjieff's Fourth Way is excellent. Patterson makes a good case that the concepts are at root, the same, much as Laura has done, although Patterson approaches it more systematically. He makes an interesting observation on the meanings of "tonal" and "nagual", the tonal being the "personality" and the nagual relating to "wisdom" -- the essence or true personality. These would correspond to "primary integration" and "secondary integration" in the theory of positive disintegration.

However, after reading Patterson's account of Castaneda's life, I am inclined to say that Castaneda, despite his rich literary skills and ability to present certain concepts, was probably stuck at the level of unilevel disintegration (level II) and never achieved the level of "nagual". However, this didn't stop him from presenting himself as such. Patterson gives evidence that he probably spent some time working for CIA, perhaps as an assassin. This no doubt influenced his psyche in a strong way.

As he aged, he seems to have gotten more narcissistic, paranoid, controlling. The descriptions of his "teaching" methods and the conditions he placed his female students under were quite shocking. Of course, his abuse was presumably "to destroy their self-importance", but this sounds more like a rationalization than anything. He slept with all his female students, controlling almost every aspect of their lives, forbidding the use of certain words and any signs of affection or love. For example, he chose when and how he would cut their hair (only he was allowed to cut it), and dictated that be hairless, trimming their pubic hair in specific ways. The slept in his "compound" (as he called it), two to a room and would choose each night which one would come to his room and sleep with him. He presented himself publicly as celibate but was a "sexaholic" who attempted to sleep with every woman in his sphere of influence. He was also quite callous in dealing with his children, making a point to leave them out of his will. His students were convinced he was a real sorceror and shocked when he died "like a man".

It sounds to me as if, in disintegrating the false personality he also disintegrated everything that was good or authentic in him, like any love and compassion. In short he threw out his own baby with the bathwater. As Patterson put it,

What one finds missing--is that the right word?--with Castaneda is a spiritual appreciation and valuation of the scale of Being and the duty to serve and offer "help for God," as Gurdjieff says. The genuine experiencing of the reason of understanding and unity that lead to conscience and divine love, which are at the core of Gurdjieff's teaching, seem to be missing. Certainly it is never mentioned.
Indeed, there isn't any indication it was present in Castaneda's life, either. In denying what was non-human about himself and humanity (the predator's mind, the formatory apparatus, the foreign installation), he denied that which was human as well. At least, that's the impression I get from this book!
 

anart

The Living Force
Interesting. It also sounds like he could have fused a 'dark' magnetic center. I get the idea from your description, hkoehli, that had Gurdjieff met Casteneda, he might have said to him exactly what he said to Crowley after Crowley was no longer a 'guest in his house'.
 

Zadius Sky

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It is an interesting read as I've finished it a few days ago. I found it to be quite intriguing.

When reading Castaneda's books, you made an impression of what Castaneda is like. After reading Patterson's book, you see Castaneda's whole life and it gives a different perspective, and he died just like any "man."

What I found most interesting from this book is the remarkable connection between G.I. Gurdjieff's teachings and that of Castaneda's. The author showed a list of the similarities in ideas between the two profound teachings. While there are differences between the two men's works, both of them "aim to awaken one from the dream of ordinary life" (p. 91).

And, I agree with hkoehli. There was something missing in Castaneda's life and in himself.
 

Aeneas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thanks Hkoehli for your short analysis. It does sound like Casteneda used what he had learned purely for himself. I have put the book on my wish list.
 

Craig

Jedi Master
Well until the book becomes more widely available, I'd recommend watching a BBC documentary - which I saw yesterday - called "Carlos Castaneda and The Shaman - Tales From The Jungle" which explores some of the issues hkhoeli brought up.

It doesn't go into too much detail, but there are a few interesting interview clips with his son and ex-wife, some results from investigation into his claims about his initiation with Don Juan Matus and actual footage of him and the "three witches" in the late nineties recorded by two ex-students who became suspicious about his lifestyle.

There's a bit of focus on the people around him and what became of them; like Patty Partin - Castaneda's adopted daughter - whose remains were found in Death Valley in 2003 having seemingly committed suicide realising he hadn't taken her with him and just died from a typical illness. Apparently, he told her this was a way to achieve it should such circumstances transpire - that is, to drive into the desert at full speed whereby she'd miraculously shoot off into infinity.

All in all a very revealing programme.
 

go2

Dagobah Resident
I can't wait to read Patterson's book, as the Castenada books were part of life
in the "counter culture" of the seventies and eighties. This thread gives me much
to consider. Was I duped?

hkoehli said:
Patterson gives evidence that he probably spent some time working for CIA, perhaps as an assassin.
There have been rumors circulating for years that Timothy Leary and Ram Dass were envolved
with the CIA. Could the Carlos Castenada be part of a PTB effort to vector spiritual yearning into
STS alignment? Recapitulating my own life indicates I may indeed have been influenced by
forces I only begin to glimpse from the work on sott. It is interesting how a Jesus or a Gurdjieff's
gift to humanity is quickly subverted to enslave humanity. However, the power of the teachings
hides in plain sight, if only I had had discernment. We do indeed live in a jungle.

anart said:
It also sounds like he could have fused a 'dark' magnetic center.
I have heard it said that the work protects itself. Does a 'dark' magnetic center lead
to its own destruction, as it appears occured in Castenada's life? My own life
experience gives me some insight, as I was attracted to the teachings of Jesus and Gurdjieff
my STS life became unbareable, until moral bankrupcy resulted.
 

Ryan

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
go2 said:
I can't wait to read Patterson's book, as the Castenada books were part of life in the "counter culture" of the seventies and eighties. This thread gives me much to consider. Was I duped?
I suppose that would depend on how much you allowed yourself to be duped? For all the interesting points discussed above, Castaneda did present some useful concepts and information. STS sources tell the truth all the time, only they tend to mix it with lies in such a way as to obscure the greater Truth. The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff - discernment is the key.

go2 said:
Could the Carlos Castenada be part of a PTB effort to vector spiritual yearning into STS alignment?
Possibly, although a more likely probability is that he was just a "useful idiot", or someone who fell into confluence with his role as a powerful teacher. Self-importance will get you every time...

go2 said:
I have heard it said that the work protects itself. Does a 'dark' magnetic center lead to its own destruction, as it appears occured in Castenada's life?
Are you familiar with the work of Boris Mouravieff? If not, some of the details about the magnetic center(s) are explained in Henry See's article about the Maharaji.

Henry See said:
We are not integrated. There are many different little 'I's within us, struggling to be heard and to have their way. The tradition gives us the image of a container filled with iron filings. Give the vessel the slightest nudge and the filings change position. So it is in our inner lives. We are constantly changing from one moment to the next. The goal of esoteric work is through the fire of our work and conscious suffering to fuse these filings into a solid whole, the real 'I'.

However, if we become strongly identified with anything before this fusion occurs, lumps can form in the cup, lumps where small numbers of the iron filings have fused together. The Personality is no longer fluid in these areas. It is solid. The trouble is that such a partial fusion will prevent a later complete fusion. Once a lump is formed, further esoteric progress can only be made by going back and breaking it up. The shocks needed to do so are extremely painful as large and important parts of our lives must be put into question. Whatever it is that we have so identified with that it has created the lump must be analysed, understood, seen for what it is, and discarded.

Worse, if the lump is strong enough and the influence which led to its creation is active in one's life for long enough, a black magnetic centre can be formed within the individual. [see article for diagrams + commentary]
I cannot help but wonder if Castaneda's use of psychoactive drugs as detailed in his earlier works contributed to the formation of a "lump" in his Personality that could have then resulted in stifling his esoteric growth, even to the extent of forming a 'black' magnetic center? Maybe there's a clue there about the inherent dangers of such chemicals for those who are seeking Truth?
 

go2

Dagobah Resident
ryan said:
I suppose that would depend on how much you allowed yourself to be duped?
I remember strongly resonating with some of the ideas,such as, 'death is the advisor'
and 'losing self-importance', but whole package seemed like a cheap advertisement. I lost interest
when I discovered Ouspensky and Gurdjieff. It all makes so much sense after this clarifying thread.

ryan said:
Are you familiar with the work of Boris Mouravieff?
Yes---I am studing Gnosis:Book One-Exoteric Cycle today. I ordered and read Mouravieff's
trilogy a year ago. For the last two months I have read and studied Book One. It takes me a
while and repeated reading to grasp the concepts. Everytime I look at a page again, I see more.

ryan said:
I cannot help but wonder if Castaneda's use of psychoactive drugs as detailed in his earlier works contributed to the formation of a "lump" in his Personality that could have then resulted in stifling his esoteric growth, even to the extent of forming a 'black' magnetic center? Maybe there's a clue there about the inherent dangers of such chemicals for those who are seeking Truth?
I wonder whether alcohol and drugs stifled my spiritual growth. It has been five years since I used
a chemical short cut to quiet the inner storm. This is a different mechanism for stifling spiritual growth than
having a 'black' magnetic center, it seems there are many ways to avoid or be diverted from the spiritual path.

henry see said:
Once a lump is formed, further esoteric progress can only be made by going back and breaking it up. The shocks needed to do so are extremely painful as large and important parts of our lives must be put into question. Whatever it is that we have so identified with that it has created the lump must be analysed, understood, seen for what it is, and discarded.
Is a 'lump' an obsession or confluence with a cause or objective that is STS?

I did some Work twenty years ago and used the resulting insight and coherence
to pursue STS objectives. This caused much internal conflict and an eventual
collapse as alcohol no longer provided escape from conscience. My own experience
confirms the suffering necessary to start the Way again after turning back or using increased
awareness for selfish ends. Is aim the way to avoid 'lumps' on the esoteric path?
Did Carlos Castanada, Maharaji, and Aleister Crowley become one, with a black magnetic center,
assuming they did, to attain an STS aim, or did it occur from ignorance? I am here because it seems
networking may be a necessary condition to avoid this pitfall. I have found I can't see myself. Were
these above mention men self-directed on an esoteric path? I know much of this work can
and must be done alone, but I wonder about this, as I have been surprised at how often
I am 180 degrees from the truth about myself.

henry see said:
if we become strongly identified with anything before this fusion occurs
When fusion occurs with an STO aim or with 'B' influences is this identified, or am I misunderstanding?

ryan said:
The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff - discernment is the key.
Do you mean, to separate the message from the messenger as well as the truth from lies?
Did QFG discern the mix of truth and lies in Carlos Castaneda's work before it used his work
for teaching?

I just looked at the link to Maharaji, it may answer the questions. I could have read the link
before I posted, but I didn't. I will be more careful if the future.
 

Approaching Infinity

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henry see said:
Once a lump is formed, further esoteric progress can only be made by going back and breaking it up. The shocks needed to do so are extremely painful as large and important parts of our lives must be put into question. Whatever it is that we have so identified with that it has created the lump must be analysed, understood, seen for what it is, and discarded.
Is a 'lump' an obsession or confluence with a cause or objective that is STS?
A 'lump' would be any 'crystallization' or 'integration' of the personality that is not in the service of a 'higher' ideal. It can be a strong drive, instinct, obsession, sacred cow, expression of egoism, insensitivity, illusion, etc. These parts of oneself, if one is on the path of self-development, must be disintegrated, destroyed, sublimated. They must be discarded in favour of parts which are more conscious and more free.

Is aim the way to avoid 'lumps' on the esoteric path?
The aim is to destroy lumps, or to create lumps that are true to the self. The magnetic center, after all, could be called a 'lump'. It is a crystallization of that which is true and good in oneself, of their essence.

Did Carlos Castanada, Maharaji, and Aleister Crowley become one, with a black magnetic center,
assuming they did, to attain an STS aim, or did it occur from ignorance?
If it was conscious development, it would not be one-sided, as Gurdjieff called it. There are certain prerequisites for global development: the higher centers, at least in potential. The presence of this potential seems to manifest in certain "overexcitabilities" or "sensitivities", namely intellectual, emotional, and imaginative. Either through ignorance, false teaching, the presence of certain 'lumps', or the lack of certain potentials, one-sided development can occur.

henry see said:
if we become strongly identified with anything before this fusion occurs
When fusion occurs with an STO aim or with 'B' influences is this identified, or am I misunderstanding?
I think you can use this word, although it is a qualitatively different type of identification. It is conscious identification with higher aims and a higher will. We are receivers and transformers of energy. We may not have a truly free will (only "God" or the "Absolute" would have such a will, uninfluenced by any external stimuli), but we have a choice which influences to identify ourselves with: the base names of god, or the noble ones, as Ibn 'Arabi put it.

ryan said:
The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff - discernment is the key.
Do you mean, to separate the message from the messenger as well as the truth from lies?
What do you think?
 

go2

Dagobah Resident
hkoehli said:
henry see said:
Once a lump is formed, further esoteric progress can only be made by going back and breaking it up. The shocks needed to do so are extremely painful as large and important parts of our lives must be put into question. Whatever it is that we have so identified with that it has created the lump must be analysed, understood, seen for what it is, and discarded.
go2 said:
Is a 'lump' an obsession or confluence with a cause or objective that is STS?
A 'lump' would be any 'crystallization' or 'integration' of the personality that is not in the service of a 'higher' ideal. It can be a strong drive, instinct, obsession, sacred cow, expression of egoism, insensitivity, illusion, etc. These parts of oneself, if one is on the path of self-development, must be disintegrated, destroyed, sublimated. They must be discarded in favour of parts which are more conscious and more free.
I read Henry See's essay, "Spiritual Predator: Prem Rawat AKA Maharaji, this thread, and more in Gnosis on
lumps. Many of my questions are answered. It is clarifing to try to answer my own questions and communicate
them to others. I have one question concerning the exact procedure to "disintegrate, destroy, and sublimate"
the lumps. I may be misunderstanding due to lack of semantic skills or failure to understand an experience
responding to "shocks" which occurred several months after I had silently repeated the following prayer
I read in Gnosis a year ago. The prayer is "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, My Lord:" The first shock occurred when after several months saying the prayer daily before
social situations, it became clear I have little control over my mouth in certain situations. The next shock was discovering that my resolution to stop this undisciplined communication was having no effect. I would intend not to speak and yet when the situation presented I would awaken latter with my good intent over ridden by some "program" or "lump" which seems to want to show everyone how much I know, whether they have asked for my in put or not. Then another inner "I" would jump up and tell me that people won't like you if you bring disturbing news. I observed, analysed, and resolved to change the behavior. I failed completely after several months of effort. At this point I understood I cannot change this behavior. The following quote discribes my state exactly.
Paul...Romans 7: 14 said:
"For we know that the Law is spiritual but I am carnal, sold into the power of sin. For I do not understand what I do, for it is not what I wish that I do, but what I hate, that I do........Unhappy man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
This understanding came to me about eight months ago, at which point I stopped trying to change my behavior and only watched with increasing detachment and amusement. Today I see some improvement in the tongue as it
becomes a little more acceptable to "My Lord." The most recent "shock" is that I have no power to control the
"meditations of my heart". I am very slow at seeing. I am assuming the out of control mouth was a lump or at least a number of installed programs. The words across teachings are perhaps the source of my confusion.

Now, on to the question. What exactly is meant by saying, "these parts of self...must be disintegrated, destroyed, sublimated, or discarded." Is this something I can do? If so which I does this, and how should I take control of
my tongue, or is just observing and analysing, without attempting any of the actions, the most I can do?
 

cholas

Jedi Council Member
In regards to Castaneda's writings and personal life, I have long thought that he had indeed "fused the dark magnetic center". I'm not very well read in Gurdjieff's work yet, but the idea sounds similar to what Carlos himself wrote in one of his later books(name of which escapes me at the moment).

The conversation(real or contrived) between Castaneda and dJ was about the "lineage" of the Naguals of dJ's line with a heavy focus on his own nagual, Julien. DJ describes the Sorcerers of the Old Way as focusing their energy in a very STS manner, in the end becoming "trapped" in alternate illusions of power and control. He explains that this was the Nagual Julien's leanings and he explains to Carlos that he(Carlos) also leans in this direction-"like the old sorcerers".

DJ himself was one of the New Sorcerers interested in Freedom from all illusion, not learn how to escape/trade one for another. He explained that Julien's nagual, Elias was also of this "predilection"/leaning.

Though straying a bit here, it appears to me, hypothetically, that many ancient cultures throughout the world of the "Pyramid People"- type were doing this kind of dark magnetic fusing. Maybe true of some alchemists as well. Is this "graduating" STS-style sans Rasputin etc. (No need to break up any "lumps"?)


Also, though there appears to be lots of evidence as to Castaneda's "personal darkness", could there also be many Stories created in order to discredit his books? Kill the message by discrediting the messenger?
 

Ryan

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
go2 said:
Now, on to the question. What exactly is meant by saying, "these parts of self...must be disintegrated, destroyed, sublimated, or discarded." Is this something I can do? If so which I does this, and how should I take control of my tongue, or is just observing and analysing, without attempting any of the actions, the most I can do?
From observing your posts, I find that a certain "flavour" they have seems to be a kind of "desperate eagerness". You seem awfully keen on being "instructed" in some way, and it would be far better for you to attempt to simply observe and learn about your machine, rather than concentrate on some kind of "exercise" as a short-cut to enlightenment. There is no mystery about how the Work is done here. It is simply LEARNING about things, in the same way one would study at School or University. Trying to force yourself into "STO-ness" or some kind of "higher state of consciousness" just doesn't work, and can even be counter-productive to the aims of the Work.

Study yourself. Observe the way you stand and the way you move. Observe the tone of your voice when speaking. Observe the tension in your muscles, be alert for little nervous tics and twitches. Observe your breathing and how it changes with your different states. Observe your thoughts, your inner dialogue. Observe how external influences trigger thoughts. Observe how you cease to observe for periods of time - when you simply forget yourself and are nothing more than a machine. Observe how your machine changes when you remember to observe yourself. Observe what things make the machine happy; what things make the machine angry; what things make the machine sad or repulsed. Observe how these emotions flow, ebb, and change. Observe how external influences trigger emotions; observe how strong emotions can cause you to forget yourself. Observe how thoughts, emotion and tension interrelate in programmed reactions. Observe your attention and its focus. Observe how your attention can be captured by things, how identification takes over. Remember your past. Could you narrate the film of your life? Are you conscious of every event that has shaped you and made you into what you are?

Know Thyself.

Gurdjieff said:
... the fourth way differs from the other ways in that the principal demand made upon a man is the demand for understanding. A man must do nothing that he does not understand, except as an experiment under the supervision and direction of his teacher. The more a man understands what he is doing, the greater will be the results of his efforts. This is a fundamental principle of the fourth way. The results of work are in proportion to the consciousness of the work. No 'faith' is required on the fourth way; on the contrary, faith of any kind is opposed to the fourth way. On the fourth way a man must satisfy himself of the truth of what he is told. And until he is satisfied he must do nothing.
 

PepperFritz

The Living Force
go2 said:
I have little control over my mouth in certain situations....
Why are you so anxious to gain "control" over your mouth in such situations? What are the "consequences" of the behaviour? In what ways does it work to your disadvantage? Are there any ways in which it seems to be of benefit to you? In other words, how and what do you "lose" and how and what do you "gain" from the behaviour?

These are sincere questions, not just rhetorical. Are you able to answer them?
 
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