Carlos Castaneda, 1925 - 1998 is a best selling author of books dealing with the alleged esoteric tradition of the ancient sorcerers of Mexico. The books start with The Teaching of Don Juan, published in 1968, where Castaneda recounts his experiences as the apprentice of the mythical brujo Don Juan.
This first book deals extensively with the use of natural hallucinogenics for accessing other realities. The later books have more emphasis on internal discipline.
There is endless debate on the historicity of Castaneda's alleged teacher, Don Juan and many have pointed out discrepancies in Castaneda's own accounts. The trail is probably muddied on purpose and it is likely that Don Juan is a composite character. Much has been written on Castaneda and his following, thus we refer the reader to other sources, such as Cleargreen and Sustained Action, both to be found on the Internet.
From the QFS viewpoint, Castaneda is a valuable popularizer of spiritual concepts and probably has transmitted genuine parts of ancient tradition to the public, doing so in conformance with the 'Law of Confusion, i.e. maintaining deniability, thus leaving people with freedom to accept or reject the teaching as they may.
The QFS does not recommend Castaneda be taken too literally or that people experiment with hallucinogenics but does recognize practical validity in many of Castaneda's concepts. . Castaneda is a very readable author and often paints himself as the bumbling buffoon, better to underline the sobriety, mastery and cool virtue of his mythical master, Don Juan. This makes Castaneda more accessible and human to the reader, which most likely was Castaneda's intention from the start.
The main concepts the QFS has adopted from Castaneda include:
Predator's Mind Petty Tyrant Overcoming Self Importance Stalking
Additionally, Castaneda speaks of reality as being a habitual interpretation, something far less solid than generally perceived. The warrior, the esoteric quester on the road to freedom, may travel through other worlds, change his physical form and perform other magical feats. Castaneda is a storyteller, he does not build complex intellectual edifices of cosmology but rather tells hands-on stories through which he explains esoteric concepts. Other Castaneda concepts include second attention, assemblage point, tonal, nagual, energy body, flyer, stopping time etc.
From the QFS's viewpoint, Castaneda's best work may have been his last, the Active Side of Infinity, published in 1998.
Castaneda has a fair amount of overlap with Gurdjieffian concepts, although the presentation is very different. Castaneda's and Gurdjieff's views on death as the 'advisor' and giver of significance to human life are notably similar. Neither lends particular emphasis to reincarnation, although both acknowledge consciousness to be potentially separate from body. Another similarity is the emphasis of both authors on attaining freedom through paying back what one owes the world.