Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan

Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan
By Carlos Castaneda
Review by Midia Hadjixenofontos

Usually, when there are books preceding the one you’re reviewing it’s a good idea to have reviewed those ones first but I’ll go ahead and trust my instinct on this, so this is a review for Carlos Castaneda third book about his “teacher” Don Juan; a book that is taking a sudden turn in how Castaneda approaches his teacher’s teaching, or should I say better, a book in which Castaneda seems to realise the real teachings behind his teacher’s words.

I would be naive if I didn’t give you at least a bit of background info on Castaneda and his books, so here it goes. When his books first came out, they seemed like a revelation, to say the least, to the anthropology books of the time. Something about the way they were written, they gave a new breath to the dry academic approach of this genre. Later on, when it was understood that Castaneda’s work was not based on anthropological facts, but were instead fiction - maybe based on real characters, his work was fought against by the same fans.

Personally, I am not one to judge a book by how real the facts it is based on are or not. If the book “speaks” to me, it does. And this is a book of many rewards for the reader, regardless how anthropologically factual it is.

In Viaje to Ixtlan, as the book is called in Spanish, the author takes an expected turn from his previous approach and understanding of his “brujo” Yaqui teacher’s lessons. Whereas in his previous books Castaneda focuses primarily on the use of psychotropic plants as the only way to understand this “reality” his teacher is referring to, in this one we are witnessing the author awakening to what his teacher has always been telling me. That, in fact, the real way to enlightenment is “stopping the world” and start “seeing”, not watching.
For this book, Castaneda has admitted that he used his, up to the point, marginalised notes. And he did it so well that word by word, page by page, it feels like we are also awakening to the same understanding as Castaneda. We start realising that the teacher we each need, lies dormant inside of us. We just need to find the right people to give our inner teacher a nudge to awaken.
I honestly feel that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the previous two books. The author’s nude honesty about his own short-sights, mistakes and weaknesses, offer among other unique information and interesting ideas that are easily relatable and applied to the reader’s everyday life, with the purpose of making it a more happy and conscious one.

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