The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Relevant Lessons from Carlos Castaneda

castaneda3The world was very different when I was coming of age.  Indelible memories of an unpopular war, the wisdom of great heroes – the Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King – taken from us all too soon, the Cold War, Berlin Wall, Equal Rights, Womens’ Rights, and of course, the Peace Movement. (It wasn’t only about sex, drugs and rock and roll).


Many, looking to make sense of the tumultuous times and find relevance in their lives, latched onto  authors who took them out of their selves and into a different reality. They offered a shift in perspective from the outward manifestations of the turmoil surrounding the times, to a more introspective way of thinking and being.


One such author was Carlos Castaneda, whose early books especially, transported readers into the realm of Don Juan, a Yaqui Indian shaman – a sorcerer, who took the young Castaneda under his wing.


While the books capitalized on the generation’s fascination with mind altering drugs, (Don Juan’s lessons were often delivered under the influence of peyote), his messages helped people get back to center, and return to their more natural and authentic selves. He represented hope.


The world will likely never know whether Castaneda’s life,  or his books reflected fact or fiction.  Some say Don Juan was a composite of many people Castaneda met on his journey. Time Magazine wrote that Castaneda’s own life remained ‘an enigma wrapped in a mystery.’


To me, it doesn’t much matter.  Regardless, the man knew how to tell  good stories.


What’s makes them meaningful is that in retrospect,  his voice remains not only relevant, but vital to both our businesses and our personal lives today. There are good takeaways.


Here are 12 quotes from Castaneda that I think are particularly relevant to today’s world.  Do you have any others you’d like to share?


  1. “Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.”


  1. “A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting.


  1. “The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness. The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.”


  1. “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”


  1. “The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.””


  1. “Warriors do not win victories by beating their heads against walls, but by overtaking the walls.  Warriors jump over walls; they don’t demolish them.”


  1. “To believe the world is only as you think is stupid.”


  1. “Nothing in this world is a gift. Whatever must be learned must be learned the hard way.”


  1. “A warrior takes responsibility for his acts, for the most trivial of acts. An average man acts out his thoughts, and never takes responsibility for what he does.”


  1. “When a warrior learns to stop the internal dialogue, everything becomes possible; the most far-fetched schemes become attainable.”


  1. “A warrior takes responsibility for his acts, for the most trivial of acts. An average man acts out his thoughts, and never takes responsibility for what he does.”


  1. “Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy and vain. To be a warrior one needs to be light and fluid.”
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