I assume you all know who Carlos Castaneda was, but then assumptions make an ass of you and me, so for those few who might have forgotten, Carlos Castaneda was a best-selling author of books, from the 1970s till his death in the 1990s, which purported to teach how he learned to go into altered states of consciousness at will.
Castaneda's teacher was supposed to be a Yaqui Indian shaman from Mexico named Juan Matus, respectfully known as don Juan. We won't go into the details, but it's pretty certain that Carlos was a trickster who invented a teacher so he could, as "Carlitos" you might say, play the foolish young devotee who obstinately refused to listen to and learn from don Juan's teachings, forcing don Juan to repeat his lessons over and over, which enabled Carlos to later write book after book about their time together. Fortunately the books are meaty and well worthing reading more than once in spite of the famed flaws of the books and their author.
Casting himself as the student instead of the teacher was a true stroke of genius on the part of Castaneda, who was in fact a highly energetic genius with a sense of humor several worlds beyond most people's ability to apprehend what he was cackling about behind his hands. But instead of setting himself in front of us and saying, "You have to listen to me because I'm a highly energetic genius," he went around the resistance this would have generated by sitting sideways to us and at the feet of a third party who knew everything and was also not addressing us directly. We were thus effectively tricked into passively absorbing the information that the real Carlos wanted to teach, while never questioning his qualifications as a teacher. Carlos was just an anthropologist who met someone in the field who changed his life.
Castaneda's approach was mimicked by a few new age writers who are probably still giving lectures and such, but Carlos didn't need to give seminars. His books made him a millionaire. But he succumbed to the temptation of a highly energetic Latin American millionaire, and used his impish personality and wily ways, not to mention his status as an exotic foreigner--to attract a group of female disciples around himself who could satisfy his ferocious sexual appetite while being convinced that it was all part of their practice in "sorcery" which is one of the names that Carlos called unworlding.
One of these women was an author and the daughter of a well-known novelist, and she wrote a tell-all about Castaneda's real lifestyle after he died. The book was mostly a whinefest in which she blamed Carlos for other people's decisions to like him and follow him. She even wondered aloud, in her book, if Carlos might not be a psychopath or sociopath, that is, someone without real human feelings who takes what he wants from people, leaves them high and dry without the satisfaction of a human relationship, lacks a conscience, lies compulsively, etc. etc. Sounds like the typical rap of an average ex-girlfriend. Of course you and I know that the covert purpose of these psychiatric labels such as "sociopath" is to help shrinks get richer faster, but let's not go too deeply into that. Let's just say that Carlos announced to the world in his third book that he was in fact a compulsive liar, gave his reasons for doing it, and of course the wanna-believers who read his books in a superficial way did not notice that they were reading not-a-novels. Not that it matters, one way or the other, whether they are novels or not.
I'm here to tell you the real story of Carlos Castaneda's apprenticeship, and this was delivered to me in a series of ROTEs by little green angels, so you must know for a fact that everything I am about to say is literally true.
As a young man or teenager, the energetic Peruvian, who had been born on Christmas Day in 1925, was nearly destroyed by the death of his mother. He went into his room and barely moved for two weeks. But at some point, his self-pity and distress were interrupted by some strange things that happened to his state of mind. This happened for two reasons: firstly because he barely moved day after day and had even wrapped a dark cloth around his eyes, trying to make himself disappear. And secondly because he had, in his grief, stopped masturbating. And it so happens that Carlos had two or three times more sexual energy than most men, and as most men remember from when they were young, this energy must go somewhere or it can drive you crazy. At this critical juncture in his life, none of his energy was going anywhere.
But part of being a highly energetic person is that when Carlos made a decision, it was made, and when he went into his room he made the decision that his life as he'd always known it was over. Because he had effectively convinced himself that he was literally the most depressed and unfortunate young man who ever lived, it was natural for him to lay off the typical adolescent practice of spanking the monkey fairly constantly.
So here's what happened to the mentally seized-up, inert, rigidly immobile, emotionally destitute Carlos as he lay in the dark with no social input and no physical means of venting, day after day after day: he started to experience unworldings spontaneously.
And forgot about his mother completely. Having met the Unworld, he never cared about his family again. When he'd gone into that room, stricken with grief, he'd wanted out. But when he came out of that room, he knew where Out was.
To make a long story shorter, one day Carlos stood up from his bed, tore the dark cloth off his face and pitched it into a corner, and set off for America, intent on making unworlding his life. He was gonna get rich teaching Americans how to escape into alternate realities. In Los Angeles he worked odd jobs such as taxi driving for years, saved money and made plans to complete his education and begin writing books about unworlding, so that he could one day live the luxurious dream life of a best-selling author. This was not something he had any doubts about. It was one of those decisions he'd made and it was going to come true, no matter what.
Only one problem. He couldn't master unworlding. Out in the real world, unworlding wasn't easy any more, the way it had been when he was emotionally flatlined with a broken give-a-shitter, immobilized by psychic pain, with a black cloth wrapped around his face. And worse, he couldn't get laid. He was considerably older than most of the girls at the university, slightly overweight, and shorter than the women he found most attractive. The clownish behavior that had made him popular back home in Peru threatened to make him look like a middle-aged wanna-be in the relatively snooty middle-class environment of UCLA. In response to various discouragements and everyday fears, he started losing his focus as he descended into the foul pit of hopelessness known to the masses as compulsive masturbation. Worst of all, he believed that losing his seed would make it impossible to unworld, and because he believed this so strongly, it was true.
So because of the Catholic ghosts in his closet, his ability to unworld went from slight to none, and in desperation he began to seek out the most capable psychiatrist in the world, certain that no amateur or wanna-be would have what it would take to help him with his superlatively monstrous dilemma. For on one hand, he felt he was a little too short, fat and old for the girls he truly liked, but on the other hand, having oftentimes spanked the monkey over and over that very day, he would then find some acceptably attractive damsel putting the moves on him, but he would flee in terror that he would not be able to get it up once more that day. He decided that for him, being a wanker was literally suicide, but he didn't know how to stop. And he was sure that people would talk if he sought counselling; his reputation would be ruined, so in order to protect the career he'd planned for himself, he would consider only psychiatrists who lived far from Los Angeles.
With the pretense of writing a college paper about psychiatrists who were somehow able to get better results than the average shrink, Carlos asked around among professors he knew at school. It wasn't long at all before the name "Milton Erickson" had found its way to the top of his list, and steadfastly remained there. So Erickson it would have to be, and Carlos' regular life-changing drives to Arizona began, which he later characterized as journeys to the Sonora Desert to visit the mythical don Juan Matus.
Milton Erickson M.D. was one of the most influential psychiatrists of the 20th century. As founder of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis he was perfectly qualified to serve as Castaneda's "don Juan"; he knew more about altered states, and intuitively so, than any number of people proclaiming themselves experts on such matters. Erickson, like Carlos, had the energy of several people, but served it up from a wheelchair. Carlos Castaneda's books gave him wings, but Carlos had infinite respect for him, so he never breathed a word of the truth to anyone about where he got the idea for an old man who had somehow managed to transcend the human form and knew everything about altered states of consciousness, including how to get there and back again.
At first Carlos had the single, simple, but seemingly impervious problem to present to the old man, and this problem had a typically ingenious Ericksonian solution, which I will reveal presently. But while describing himself to Erickson, Carlos made the mistake of not saying anything that was true, and Erickson was one of the few people Carlos had ever met who could easily see through his habit of never revealing the facts about himself.
"Young man," said Erickson after letting Carlos reel off a completely fictitious life story from start to finish, "now I hope you are serious enough about solving your problem to start your story over, and if you ever lie to me again, the door's over there, fella, and I'm not kidding. One more lie and we will never meet again." You see, Erickson had recognized Carlos' high energy and instantly loved him, so he had every intention of giving the middle-aged Peruvian immigrant his undivided attention as long as possible, because he saw in Carlos a lot of potential as well as a learning opportunity for himself. He badly wanted Carlos to stay, and he knew the easiest way to pull this off would be to threaten him with expulsion. He didn't actually care about the lying, he just used it as a lever.
So Carlos told him everything, because he was desperate. He sobbed, he laughed hysterically, he rolled on the floor in the ecstasy of vent and release, everything came out on the table, all his frustrations, his cultural anxiety about living in a foreign country, his fear that the tall women he fantasized about would never look at him, and most of all, his decision to become a best-selling author like Lobsang Rampa, but better, more sophisticated, and smarter. In short, Carlos begged Erickson to put him in a trance, get rid of the presenting problem immediately, and then teach him how to hypnotize himself so he could get unworlded anytime he wanted, like he'd been able to do when he was locked in his room after his mother's death. Once he had met Erickson and experienced the depth of his charisma and intuitive abilities, he was not going to leave unless he was tied up and dragged away.
"We can do all that," Erickson stated flatly. "And first we're going to solve the presenting problem, because a man your age should not be playing with himself several times a day, or several times a week for that matter. Not unless he wants to." Carlos hid his face in his hands, and Erickson continued. "You can be as embarrassed as you need to be, and since you were brought up Catholic you might think shame is normal, although since you are also begging me to pry open your mind, I don't mind telling you that shame and remorse are not very good motivation tools for most people." Carlos unhid his face. Erickson went on. "Now you must never again do what you just did, what I made you do. Never again tell your true story to anyone. Because you don't want to, you should never let anyone make you. I don't know why, because I just met you, but for some reason you thrive on not letting people into your secret world with you. And if it makes you happy, if it makes you thrive, if it makes you powerful to live alone in a secret world, that is reason enough. From now on, everything you do will be your big secret. Everything."
The two men stared at each other. Carlos Castaneda had never felt so validated in his life. Not even close. This was the first person he'd ever met who really understood him. He was, you might say, hooked.
Next, Erickson told Carlos that he could easily solve the presenting problem, even without putting him in a trance, but he would not do it unless Carlos agreed to some very unusual terms. Carlos didn't hesitate for a moment, because when Milton Erickson says, 'I can help you,' you know he's telling the truth. And Carlos was not only desperate, but had decided that Erickson could somehow convey to him the facts of how to get unworlded, although Erickson seemed a bit reluctant. But he promised to teach him all about altered states and how to get into them, if and only if Carlos would agree to his terms. And the terms would not be revealed to Carlos until Carlos should willingly and truthfully agree to those as yet unspoken terms. In advance.
Upon receiving Carlos' promise to go along with anything, the old doctor looked the chubby little Peruvian up and down, wordlessly, for a solid five minutes, maybe six. Finally he said, "OK, here is your assignment. You will report to work here at my house every weekend, cleanly shaven and dressed as a maid, a girl maid. You will clean the lecture room while I lecture my students. You will learn everything they learn, without the privilege of asking questions. You will never speak. I will explain that you are a deaf mute. If you ever break your cover, you will be expelled from our secret school of secrets. And never mention my name when you leave here. You will need to invent an excuse for travelling to the Sonora Desert so often."
Carlos agreed reluctantly, but his course of study over a few short years made it possible for him to write the books which some credit with introducing the new age philosophies that are nowadays taken for granted. A mixture of what it really takes to get into altered states of consciousness, Taoist and Buddhist philosophies, along with homespun tactics for breaking free of one's own limiting beliefs and habits. As indirectly straight from the horse's mouth as the horse could make it, because, you see, it had been one of Milton Erickson's lifelong passions to find out just how indirectly he could manage to influence people.
For his part, Erickson warned every single one of his students and visitors privately, one at a time, that his maid was a cross-dressing deaf-mute that he--Erickson--had rescued from "an abusive Catholic mental institution," who was both intuitive and paranoid and would know instantly if anyone was talking about him or making fun of him. Once they'd been so carefully informed that the stubble on the odd woman's face was real man whiskers, they assumed the deaf-mute mental patient story was real too. The result is that not one of Erickson's students ever spoke to Carlos; in fact, since they knew he was a man pretending to be a woman, and since they thought he was both deaf and crazy, many were so intimidated that they pretended he wasn't there at all. Carlos learned a huge lesson from this, and incorporated similar stories into his books. During his time with Erickson, the deaf-mute Peruvian cross-dressing psycho maid only revealed himself once. Here are the sordid details.
The founders of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), a psychology student and a linguistics student who I will call Nitpicker and Potwatcher, were students of Erickson too. They were very devout students, but they were pushy, always wanting more information than Erickson was willing to spoon-feed them. Carlos was angry at their pushy treatment of the old man, who suffered from the aftereffects of polio and other disorders, he didn't like them, and ached in silence to find a way to get rid of them, hoping to either scare them away or find a way to blackmail them. One day our Peruvian maid sidled up to the two boys when they were sitting alone together in Erickson's yard, and dropped a word bomb on them. He didn't mention that he didn't like the way they were pushing the old man around, demanding that they be allowed to use cameras and tape recorders, but rather he pretended he wanted to get friendly. He said he wanted to sell them a fairly large quantity of pure liquid LSD at a steeply discounted wholesale price, and he wouldn't mind taking payments because he had a child back in "Brazil" to support, and he was desperate. But it backfired. Nitpicker and Potwatcher threatened to report Carlos to both Erickson and the immigration authorities, and as a result, Carlos ended up doing what he never did, telling them his real name and what he was really doing at Erickson's house.
As it turned out, Carlos' first book and Nitpicker & Potwatcher's first book came out around the same time. What no one knew until now (and this must be true because it came to me by way of a ROTE from a little green angel), is that Carlos did in fact manage to get rid of Nitpicker & Potwatcher. He caught them jerking each other off behind the door in a coat closet, with one hand, while eating Twinkies with the other. They tried to tell him they were doing a scientific experiment upon the effects of junk food on heterosexuals experimenting harmlessly with homosexual behavior. He threatened to put the incident in one of his books if they wouldn't stop bothering the old man, and they promptly disappeared.
So that is the real story of Carlos Castaneda and his real don Juan. Of course the part about the founders of NLP is all made up.
But speaking of wankers, I promised to reveal how Milton Erickson helped Carlos Castaneda solve his little problem, the one that had brought him to Erickson to begin with.
Once Erickson had satisfied himself that Carlos would really keep his end of the bargain, he laid out the grand solution in less than six sentences.
"I'm not going to tell you to stop doing what everyone with a peter naturally wants to do from time to time. And I hope you intend to fall off the wagon now and then if you accept the cure, but whether you do or not is none of my business. But to tell a man never to auto-stimulate again would be an exercise in futility."
Carlos nodded unconsciously in agreement while developing a hostile, suspicious squint, afraid he was being hoodwinked. Was the old man telling him to just keep at it, after all his promises to make the problem go away?
The old psychiatrist continued, leaning forward and speaking in a conspiratorial whisper. "You can masturbate all you want, you know, and I would never try to stop you, but if you want to receive my teachings, and you have already agreed to this, you will never touch your dick again, as long as you live."
Carlos and the old man stared each other down for a full minute. Finally, Carlos said, "You mean I have to learn how to masturbate without touching myself?"
Carlos said, "Well I refuse to rub myself on the wall like a filthy dog." And Carlos Castaneda never beat his meat again.