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Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: nutrino ()
Date: July 07, 2006 10:01PM


His training in Aikido led him to the study of metaphysics, the healing arts and a ‘somersault into the unknown’. (So vague. What the hell is 'a somersault into the unknown'? Is that where he found special powers and hidden knowledge?)

This mystical flash of enlightenment story is heard over and over and over in guru circles... where long, incremental, credible processes of developing skills are repalced with a sudden flash of [b:b1e05df149] satori [/b:b1e05df149] or [b:b1e05df149] kensho [/b:b1e05df149] .... which is so profound ( [i:b1e05df149] and conveniently ineffable and incommunicable [/i:b1e05df149] ) that no lesser being has a hope of understanding... one can only stand in awe and follow... Werner Erhard reported a similar experinece driving over the Bay Bridge... in all cases they place great value on "intuitive knowing" and devalue intellectual analytic thought as being uptight, in your head, closed off... the instataneous and intuitive is overvalued as being [b:b1e05df149] inherently superior [/b:b1e05df149] to the linear and analytic, yet no one seems to consider that the engineering marvel of the Bay Bridge that Werner was driving over was constructed with this linear, analytic thinking... I would dread to cross over a bridge designed by Werner Erhard.... or Carlos Casteneda...

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: vlinden ()
Date: February 16, 2008 05:14AM

Might as well put my two cents in on this older topic, in case anyone in the future has issues with Castaneda styled gurus.

I grew up around the books of Castaneda, and to this day I enjoy them tremendously. I don't agree that they're boring, I think they're well written and extremely entertaining, but that's just my opinion of course. I also think that the character of Don Juan is one of the greatest fictional wisdom teachers ever created, and I can find little to sneer at in his direction. His character is so well defined, funny, poignant -- you've got to love Don Juan! And regardless of where his teachings were taken from (many sources, it seems), I find them to be very solid in most respects, though after a certain point they stray into areas of the unknown that are simply fantasy from the average person's perspective, and unverifiable.

That said, I've personally seen the "teachings" put forth in the book exploited and abused by sociopaths -- my best friend's father being one of them. The guy is simply a total asshole, an autocratic narcissist of rather low intelligence who really should have just started his own cult, but settled on psychologically abusing his two daughters and many girlfriends instead, and considering himself "impeccable."

My father, on the other hand, also really enjoyed the Castaneda books and used some of the teachings contained within as part of what he taught me in life. It's true that "impeccability" is a bit hard to define in one sentence, but somehow my father managed to give me a clear sense of what it meant in his life and my own, and I don't think it caused either one of us any harm.

I was not aware until very recently that there were any cults or gurus associated with Castaneda, or of the reports of his own terrible behavior and manipulations. I was very sorry to hear of these things.

However, it's ridiculous, to me, that the "path" of the sorcerers as described in these books could ever be considered by average people, since so much of it consisted of ingesting massive amounts of potentially fatal psychotropic substances, and the recipes were never even given.

I remember that in one book Don Juan said that the best candidates for sorcerership were NOT people who wanted to do it. Those people were already cracked! He said no sane person would ever want to follow this path, and that the person would be chosen by the spirit (so to speak), pointed out to the teacher, and the teacher would basically have to trick him into getting involved.

I guess this isn't something the new gurus tell their "apprentices."

I think books like these, and many others, simply spark a deep longing so many people have for a mystical reality, for a much deeper and more powerful and magical life. Certainly I felt it. And because Castaneda claimed these stories were true, to believe him meant to believe that a whole other world is lying right beyond our grasp.

However, only the most "cracked" people would change the course and structure of their lives to try and pursue these other realms, especially under the tutelage of self proclaimed gurus looking for new converts. Don Juan as a fictional character and all "real" gurus and high level teachers are known to be absolutely inaccessible -- stories often have these teachers making themselves literally invisible to the wandering "seekers" trying to find them in the deserts or the high mountains.

As the teaching says, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. Additionally, if you meet the guru at the seminar -- RUN!

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 24, 2011 12:16AM

On another venue, someone wrote about pathological liars and devised a catagory called 'Mythomaniac'.

This fits Castaneda very well. I made some slight modifications.

·... “mythomaniacs,” may be suffering from histrionic personality disorder or narcissistic behavior disorder. The following comments basically reflect a pathological liar who has the characteristics of histrionic personality disorder.

The compulsive liar who is a mythologizer behaves in some or all of the following ways.

1.Exaggerates things that are ridiculous.

2. One-upping. Whatever you do, this person can do it better. You will never top them in their own mind, because they have a concerted need to be better than everyone else. This also applies to being right. If you try to confront an individual like this, no matter how lovingly and well-intentioned you might be – this will probably not be effective. It’s threatening their fantasy of themselves, so they would rather argue with you and bring out the sharp knives than admit that there’s anything wrong with them.

3. They “construct” a reality around themselves. They don’t value the truth, especially if they don’t see it as hurting anyone. If you call them on a lie and they are backed into a corner, they will act very defensively and say ugly things (most likely but depends on personality), but they may eventually start to act like, “Well, what’s the difference? You’re making a big deal out of nothing!” (again, to refocus the conversation to your wrongdoing instead of theirs).

4. Because these people don’t value honesty, a lot of times they will not value loyalty. So watch what you tell them. They will not only tell others, but they will embellish to make you look worse. Their loyalty is fleeting, and because they are insecure people, they will find solace in confiding to whoever is in their favor at the moment.

(Not always. They will insist that you always be loyal to them, but they will never reciprocate your loyalty when you need it. When you point this out, you are accused of being narcissistic. If you stick to your guns, you will be accused of being crazy or selfish)

5. They may be somewhat of a hypochondriac. This can come in especially useful when caught in a lie, for example, they can claim that they have been sick, or that there’s some mysterious “illness” that has them all stressed out. It’s another excuse tool for their behavior.


a(If a cult leader, the person may claim that disciples own bad thoughts made him or her ill. This is a favorite guilt tripping strategy in the occultist or New Age scene.

b(When reporters or process servers arrive with cameras or subpoenas, they will come down with illnesses. That way, their enablers/disciples will demand that the ailing mythologizer/charmer be pitied and protected, and the media and critics will hesitate to kick someone when he is down. If the mythologizer is rich and has a cooperative physician is rich, he will find a ways to check into a hospital as a way to avoid media fall out.

A.They will contradict what they say. This will become very clear over time. They usually aren’t smart enough to keep track of so many lies (who would be?)

Note: However, some mythologizers are very smart. They will find ways to make their contradictions seem to be 'magical teaching' or 'crazy wisdom'. They will gravitate toward belief systems which make it seem facts dont matter and that there is a difference between conventional reality and absolute reality. Castaneda was industrious and created an entire such system.

Other industrious mythologizers will adapt systems created by earlier compulsive liars of the mythologizing type--Gurdjieff for instance. They can also identify persons who have talent as followers and recruit them when breaking away to form their own franchises.

Mythologizers who are smart and industrious create or rework religions so that they have an escape hatch at all times and plenty of judo methods by which to mind fuck anyone who catches them in the midst of their lies.

Their output attracts other mythologizers who reinforce the entire sorry mess.

c.(If the mythologizer becomes seriously ill or learns he or she is dying, and has an empire or group to mantain, he or she may hide the illness and turn it into a secret.)

d)(The mythologizer may fire or dismiss health care providers who provide unwelcome news--such as the need to limit indulgent behaviors suchs limiting intake of sweets, alcohol, etc. The mythologizer may prefer to seek the dubious services of quacks and charlatans who tell what the person wants to hear not what he or she needs to hear.)

e.(If the spouse, partner, or a disciple of the mythologizer become ill and need rest and respect, mythologizers will claim their sufferings are infinitely worse, therefore they deserve compassion and you are behaving like a wimp. All of your own past loyalties as a careprovider will be ignored)

6. When faced with the consequences of his or her wrongdoing, the mythologizer will claim that Jesus was persecuted too. The mythologizer forgets that, Jesus accepted the consequences of his actions and faced his judges alone and spoke for himself.

Note: Heinz Kohut made a distinction between narcissistic personality disorder vs narcissistic behavior disorder.

In NPD, one may experience other persons as objects and uses ones thoughts to regulate ones moods, but--importan--but one does not actually use other persons as objects.

NPD occurs on a spectrum from mild to more severe and every one has it to some degree. What matters is how well one relates to others in relationships.

Narcissistic Behavior Disorder (NBD) is far more serious in its consequences to the person and those who cross the persons path.

In NBD one not only experiences others as objects rather than persons, but one uses and abuses others as objects to achieve temporary self relief. Kohut saw addiction as NBD behavior.

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: July 31, 2011 05:22AM

Hi Corboy - you drew my attention to Bartley's biography of Werner Erhard some weeks back, and I've since read it. For all his intellectual gifts he was a proper innocent abroad when it came to Erhard.

The book is full of dark dramatic irony (with hindsight - it was written before any scandal broke). A particularly ironic moment is the chapter 'One Big Family' where Erhard is presented as having completed with/healed all of his family issues as the Rosenberg family gather for Thanksgiving all seemingly redeemed from the difficulties of their collective past (and all now est graduates).

As a coda Bartley writes, 'Like Castanada's Don Juan, Werner denies that he continues to be the ghost of his own or his parent's past...' Oh dear...

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 31, 2011 08:54AM

It appears that Bartley himself dearly wanted someone to idealize and look up to.

This is age appropriate in childhood and also in early to mid adolescence, when one is establishing an identity and seeking mentors outside one's family of origin.

But when someone who is adult in calendar years and has already established a secure footing in a career, yet still needs someone to idealize as a role model--that indicates some sort of wound that has lingered unresolved and unhealed from childhood.

And a personality configuration of this kind makes a person exquisitely vulnerable to snake oilers.

Intellect offers no protection--this corresponds to a lingering injury in parts of the personality underneath education and social sophistication.

And...this does not mean that a person in this predicament 'asks' to be exploited or used.

The tragedy is that Bartley did not find a therapist capable of addresssing his longings and concerns.

A restless and greedy person like Rosenberg/Erhard cannot bring healing to anyone.

People like Erhard often make it their business to become bliss technicians. But this bliss technology is merely technique.

Bliss experiences do not heal. Otherwise one could snort cocaine and solve the riddle of life.

Such experiences feel personal but are generated by impersonal manipulation of people's bodies, minds, and biochemistry.

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: July 31, 2011 08:55PM

Yes I'd largely agree with what you have said here - and there is some real pathos in Bartley's book in that he gives away enough about himself to show how very vulnerable he was (and he looked like Dudley Moore too).

I love the phrase 'bliss technician'! Also 'mythomaniac' is a useful category - as is the idea that mythomaniacs draw in others to bolster their myth.

I note that Bartley alludes to Christ - Bambi like - on several occasions when speaking of Erhard. Indeed, Erhard once refers to himself indirectly as a Christ figure when he quotes - 'A prophet is not without honour except in his own country...' from the Gospels. He's referring to a welcoming homecoming for himself here and has completely misunderstood the double negative in the Gospel saying which refers to Jesus rejection in his home town of Nazareth.

Bartley also alludes to Erhard as a sort of Buddha of the age prophesied in Tibetan lore (allegedly - I'd love to see independent corroboration of this 'tradition'). And this Book is often referred to by Landmark as a piece of objective scholarship!

I preach to the converted but it's worth sharing these things...

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 31, 2011 10:17PM

Lordmayor, it may be that what gets the process going full tilt is when a mythomaniac leader makes contact with and recruits enough persons who are in Bartley's predicment, searching for someone to look up to, to mythologize.

Many go to India or South America, already mythologizing the scene and are ripe for the picking. As I not below, part of the cultic milieu may be that it not only contains ideas that have been rejected by the mainstream, treats ideas as interchangeable, but most importantly, the cultic milieu is itself characterized as a psychosocial zone in which mytholgizing and mythomania are normative, long past the time when this mindset is age appropriate.

The cultic milieu prefers mythologizing and dislikes actual scholarship and fact checking.

(For a description of what happens when one goes from a mythologizing upbringing and into an environment in which one learns scholarship and discovers, with sorrow and anger that ones beloved role model was a mythomaniac, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's memoir My Father's Guru is a must-read. The Masson family had a guru living in their house. The guy fits the profile of a mythomaniac. However, PB was unusual in that he was a bully. He did however, have a huge influence on the lives of his closest disciples and caused some of them much financial and emotional anguish.)

Real recovery from the cultic scene happens when one gets aware enough to feel tired of mythologizing and senses it is a dead end.

IMO one mark of an actual cult is that it exploits and inflames mythologizing tendencies a seeker already has--and conceals this regression by using bliss technology. The person gets hooked both on the bliss and on the mythomaniac leader or (in some cases) the mythomaniac organization.

By contrast to a cult, an emancipatory teacher/therapist would

1) Not be a mythomaniac. Real therapists do not fill the room with themselves and their own Big Stories. The real ones create boundaried space so that the seeker can come home to his or her own yearnings and bring them out into conscious awareness.

2) The real teacher or therapist, in addition to not filling the room with his or her story, listens more than speaks and tries to find ways to assist the client to become conscious of his or her yearnings for a Big Mythical Daddy. This is done to free the person from yearnings that are a source of suffering and that trigger hurtful patterns of behavior.

Real therapists and gurus demythologize. This will not kill wonder in life. It opens us up to a quieter and more human calmness and agency.

This cannot be done on a mass industrial scale, in workshops. Close and undivided attention is needed.

IMO, the crazy wisdom alibi or the 'sorcerer's way' as actually practiced in Castaneda's cult, is a preframe to mythologizing.

In the case of a guru named Adi Da, Mark Miller described the imprisoning process of a mythomaniac (Adi Da) and mytholgizing disciples.

Persons unwilling to mythologize were winnowed out of the group (Corboy)


In an off-line discussion a couple of us speculated that high energy people with bipolar disorder might gravitate to gurus who have untreated bipolar disorder and create wild, crisis ridden ashrams, and call this 'crazy wisdom practice'

Or we just dont know how to energize ourselves and feel hope unless we have a myth--something to crave, some goal to meet.

Mark Miller examined the sitaution around Da Free John and noted it wasnt just a crazy guru who was the problem; it was that people clung to the whole process of mythologizing the guy.

(And Adi Da, the mythologizer, encouraged this)


Mark Miller wrote,)

'The community is at root [i:afc1f20921]a society devoted to glorification and myth-making in relation to DFJ[/i:afc1f20921], who is truly the ultimate example of "Narcissus", the mythical figure DFJ uses to describe those who are unenlightened. This supreme Narcissist requires the constant adoration of not only himself, but also of everything associated with him -- his properties and possessions (including the "holy sites"), and the "murtis" (pictures) of him, etc. These inanimate objects serve as extensions of his huge ego, and the construction of them and/or worship of them serve to usurp huge amounts of devotees time and money.

''... Once people leave the group, there is no guarantee they will stop the "esoteric practice" (ha ha) of DFJ mythologization. That is just one reason why some people you've met who leave the group still believe in all kinds of nonsense about DFJ. It can be difficult to see all of the ways in which [u:afc1f20921]habitual mythologization is operative and to understand the full range and scope of its influence.

'Waking up can take time. Many can't seem to develop much insight into their delusions and commitment to myth-making about DFJ, beyond identifying the crudest and most obviously "cultic" level of it. This is why some of the group's beliefs and assumptions are retained indefinitely by many people, even long after they leave. '

In other words, you can leave a group, but still retain the myth-making mindset that made the group and guru so appealing.

Unless you become willin examine your own craving for an energizing myth, you'll remain recruitable by yet another Magic Parent.

You can reject a particular guru, then walk around with a 'guru-shaped hole' in your psyche.

Eventually someone will come along who matches that outline, and the game resumes.

IMO the cultic milieu/new age scene can be distinguished by its mythologizing mindset. If you are unwilling to mythologize, you are not a member of the tribe.

I remember finding myself in the midst of such a gathering. Felt like the only sober person in a roomful of people who were stoned.

They were stoned on mythologizing and the lecturer, whom I thought was a legitimate person, turned out to be a mythomaniac.

I could see, and later verified that he was a cruel person. But the mythologizing audience were blind to all this.

Leaving a bad ashram or organization is not enough to ensure recovery. Leaving will give you short term relief by removing you from a disorienting, confusing situation. THat part is very good.

Long term, leaving a bad set up will not address the mythologizing needs and yearnings that attracted us to these unbalanced power set ups--and will not help us understand what made the mind fuck feel thrilling rather than chilling.

There are some gurus out there who are over the top bullies. They'd be kicked in the butt if they dared behave this way in normal society, but in thier own communities, thier bad behavior is celebrated as crazy wisdom. Their disciples come to believe that they need to be abused in order to make any progress. Anyone who has misgivings is written off as wimpy, not serious about 'the path' or accused of being 'touchy-feely.'

Most people walk out of their lectures and never return--persons who are disgusted by bad behavior. But--a few people stay, and become disciples to these bully-gurus. They tolerate a level of suffering that cause most of us to run the other way. For them to recover, they have to investigate what led them to stay in that room with that bully-guru, when so many other people walked away.

Its not something to be ashamed of---shame doesnt solve this.

You need to feel curious, to investigate this with a kind of friendly curiosity. What was it about that power imbalance that sparked my hope, energized me, made the abuse seem a worthwhile price to pay?

Bad gurus are not universally appealing. But they get their devotees by skilfully recruiting in such a way as to attract and keep the few who are thrilled by power and by power imbalance and by quickly repulsing people who are revolted by power abuse and game playing and would disrupt the guru's game playing if permitted to join the ashram

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: August 01, 2011 06:55PM

That's a very interesting and useful post. Will get back to you when I have some time later in the week. Thanks for that

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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 01, 2011 10:21PM

To Lordmayor:

Relax your august self and savor your holiday. The cult leaders we are concerned about have entourages.

We hoi polloi must be our own entourages, as it were. We cannot beguile or hire others to wait on us.

So...relax. You are on holiday.


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Re: Carlos Castaneda
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 01, 2011 10:27PM

Fast correction. When I wrote


However, PB was unusual in that he was a bully. He did however, have a huge influence on the lives of his closest disciples and caused some of them much financial and emotional anguish

I meant to say 'PB was unusual in that he was not a bully.'

However, Masson demonstrates how PB could use hints, carefully situated pauses, to insinuate vast implications. PB fits the profile of a mythomaniac.

Masson describes a tragic show down in which he caught PB out in a ruse. Everyone in the room was hurting.

And in the end, decades later, Masson admitted that though he welcomed his own disillusionment (which could be termed his own transition from a mythologizing cultic milieu environment to an evidence based world)...he admits that in middle age he missed the sense of wonder he felt as a child when PB, an old man, but concealed child at heart, spun his wild tales.

As Masson put it, 'How could Harvard compete or compare with the Astral University'? the latter was where Paul Brunton (PB) claimed to have been to school.

That book is a must read and because it came out pre-internet and challenges so many people's cherished beliefs, has not had the attention it deserves.

My Father's Guru by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

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