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The Dark Legacy of Carlos Castaneda

Here is something for ya. A rather negative assessment of the sham shaman Carlos Castaneda, an anthropological graduate student who lied about his credentials, lied about his contact with Shamans, and fooled such luminaries as John Lennon and Michael Murphy (founder of Esalen). To this day, he continues to lead people astray down a dark hallway of distraction and confusion. His work is ostensibly about shamanic connection, but as Weston La Barre wrote in a suppressed New York Times book review, it is really nothing more than "pseudo-profound deeply vulgar pseudo-ethnography," an "unforgivable breach of ethics,"  an "amusing footnote the gullibility of [spiritually] naive scholars" and regular people.

The story of Carlos Castaneda is an object lesson in [spwiki]Authentic Spirituality[/spwiki], or the lack of it. Castaneda's corpus is ostensibly an authentic representation of authentic spirituality. It is supposed to be about shamanic forms of [spwiki]connection[/spwiko] and presumably how to achieve them. The problem is, it is not. The problem is,  is impossible to tell how much of it is true (probably not a lot) and how much of it is a made up fictional tale. How much of it is authentic, and how much of it is madness and self-deception? Castaneda may have himself experienced connection, but even if he did, he lied about it. Even if there is a trace of authenticity here, he failed to represent it in an authentic, rigorous, meaningful, and truthful way, and probably failed to give actionable advice on how to achieve connection. This has negative consequences for those seeking an authentic spirituality. Anybody who follows his "teachings" looking for spiritual authenticity is unlikely to get beyond the confusion, misdirection, and just plain fictional accounting of a man who was either a) an outright fraud or b) mentally ill and unable to distinguish between the realities and truths of connection, and his own distorted delusions.


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