Carlos Castaneda, Don Juan and the Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Reading Dabiatchishere’s recent theory on course correction I had a thought which I wanted to share with you all.

In particular Dab says ‘If the Universe can ‘course correct’ itself to ensure that something DOES happen, it must also ‘course correct’ to ensure that something DOES NOT happen!’

This made me think of Carlos Castaneda and his series of books about the legendary Don Juan, a Yaqui shaman. A little background info; Castaneda purported to have met Don Juan and studied under him for a number of years. It turned out that most of Castaneda’s so-called anthropological work was actually made up (or so say his critics, me, I’m on the fence) but that’s by the by.

The teachings of Don Juan centred around the idea of Nagual. Nagual signifies that part of perception which ‘is in the realm of the unknown yet still reachable by man’. Castaneda explains Nagual as follows. Imagine a table upon which you can see things which represent practical elements of your life such as work, food, clothing etc. Now imagine the air that surrounds the table represents the intangible elements of your life such as love, intelligence, dreams etc’

Castaneda describes a world in which a shaman can see BOTH elements of the world, and more importantly, he can affect both elements using his mind.

Don Juan was one such person. He could transform himself into an animal, he could cover huge distances using a special walking technique and he could curse people. Magic by another name.

Castaneda is basically saying that the seen and the unseen, the tangible and the untangible, are equally real and equally important.

Interestingly Castaneda’s work also talks about Lucid Dreaming ie when an individual can project their inner self to another time or place without actually leaving their current location. Walt anyone? Going back to the early seasons we know that psychic abilities are important within the show. Claire visits a psychic, Walt has special powers, Rose and Locke are ‘healed’ by the island and so on.

Now for the theory (apologies for the long wait and thank you for your patience, lol). What if Richard Alpert is a shamanic figure like Don Juan? He seems to have a mystical knowledge of the island as well as his supposed Peter Pan abilities. I put it to you that Alpert is a student of Jacob who is the real shaman of the island. Jacob has managed to work out a way of affecting the seen and the unseen, or looked at another way, he is able to tap into a multitude of possible events leading to a number of different futures’

Is the universe trying to course correct Jacob’s actions? I throw this open for discussion and look forward to hearing your thoughts.


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Known as The Missus to friends, mrssawyer is a five seasons (and counting) fan of Lost with a particular love of our long-haired lothario, James Ford. A doyen of the LT site, The Missus is overjoyed to have found this site peopled with old and new faces, and like-minded individuals. Two small people keep The Missus from joining in as much as she would like but she reads every post via the newsfeed and thinks Emzi is a genuis for including this function.

3 thoughts on “Carlos Castaneda, Don Juan and the Yaqui Way of Knowledge

  1. Very interesting comparison with Richard Alpert, as Shaman, and the work of Castenada.

    So little is known about Alpert, but I think it’s safe to say, he does have a close relationship to ‘the island’, if not directly with Jacob.

    He is also the ‘unspoken leader, of ‘the others’ and Ben’s right hand man. There may be a very good reason, Richard is not able to be the ‘official leader’. I suspect it has something to do with the rules.

    He remains the ‘man of mystery’ to me. I haven’t got a ‘fix’ on him yet.

    Good thoughts!

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