Introduction: Following the Eagle's Flight - A Conceptual Guide to the Books of Carlos Castaneda.

Ever since I could remember, I've had a vague awareness that the world was more than it seemed. As a child, I often felt surreal, like life was a play and everyone else pretended it was real. Growing up, this feeling mainfested itself into passions for science, literature and metaphysics. I began reading anything that helped deepen my understanding of life's mysteries.

The first time I read Carlos Castaneda, I was in high school. The book was Don Juan: A Yaqui's Source of Knowledge and to be honest, it didn't impress me. While the book was entertaining, I never gave any credence to Castaneda's experiences and considered them only as drug-induced possibilities. How could anybody turn into a crow? Instead I read: Watts, Rand, Kerouac, Keats, Pirsig, Jung, and anyone else who I thought had legitimately glimpsed into the human condition. I went to college, traveled for a few years and tried anything that could turn my vague awareness into a conscious knowing. I took a job teaching science but I was more interested in the metaphysical universe than the physical one. By that time, I understood that all humans possessed the ability to experience something greater than themselves. In fact, I would argue that the themes of most books deal with a person's experience of trying to tap into a greater power. The problem for me was that neither science, philosophy nor religion had ever explained that "greater power" in a rational, causual way.

A few years later, I came across The Art of Dreaming and after only a few pages, I realized that this book was attempting to explain in detail, the metaphysical universe. I wondered whether I had missed something in Castaneda's first book so I immediately bought the entire series from a second-hand book shop and started reading. The more I read, the more I realized that Castaneda's books were not about drug-induced fantasies but about a system of knowledge (Toltec) that explained the nature of the universe. To understand that system, I knew I had to pluck out all the important pieces from each book and try and put them back together like a puzzle. After initially reading the series, I reread it again, this time marking each important passage and typing it into a computer. Having no idea how the pieces of knowledge fit together, I began organizing each idea conceptually trying to understand the main themes of Castaneda's writing. Finally, four years later, I put the last pieces of the puzzle together and stepped back to see what had been created. I wasn't disappointed. Castaneda had managed to weave into his books, the Toltec's entire system of knowledge. I was amazed at the simplicity behind the knowledge yet the thoroughness to include everything in its description. I no longer scoffed at the idea of someone becoming a crow, in fact, it seems very rational to me now. To ensure that I had left nothing out of the Toltec system of knowledge, I read the other books written by other members in Castaneda's group. All books verified and repeated what Castaneda wrote with the exception of Taisha Abelar's The Sorcerer's Crossing. Her book not only verified the Toltec knowledge but enhanced some explanations that were vague or incomplete. Her writings are included along with Castaneda's work.

Three themes emerged from Castaneda's work: First, the description of the universe and humans as energy. Second, the description why humans fail to perceive the universe and themselves as energy. Third, the description on how to perceive the universe and ourselves as energy via the sorcerer's way. See the summary of the Sorcerer's Way.

To truly appreciate the core ideas of the Toltec knowledge, the work was designed to be read completely from beginning to end. Through a series of questions and answers, each Toltec concept is built upon each other thus enabling the reader to move deeper and deeper into the knowledge as they read. Each quotation is followed by the particular book's intials (see bottom of page for key) and page number.

Finally, I would like to caution those who wish to understand Toltec knowledge through academic means only. You can't. This intellectual organization of knowledge serves as a starting point for people to question their reality but does nothing to help you experience that reality. To truly understand what it means to stop the world, to slip between its cracks and to follow the flight of the Eagle, you need to put away the books, stop talking about it and act. And you might, if you maintain your actions, (intent) and act impeccably, you just might be lucky enough to verify for yourself some of the concepts of the Toltec path.

Jay French

Guide to the books:

DJ - The Teachings of Don Juan
SR - A Separate Reality
JTI - Journey to Ixtlan
TOP - Tales of Power
SRP - The Second Ring of Power
EG - The Eagle's Gift
FFW - The Fire from Within
POS - The Power of Silence
TAOD- The Art of Dreaming
TSC - The Sorcerer's Crossing (Taisha Abelar)

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