A Separate Reality is the second book written by Carlos Castaneda, and while still practically mired in the realm of hallucinogenic mixtures, a few new topics are brought to life; seeing, living like a warrior, and shutting off the internal dialogue.
It is those three concepts, which bring a rather large change to the narrative presentation. Some people argue that it is because the book veers away from the initial inspections of the first book that it must all be fake. Okay, very possible. It is also possible, as Castaneda states later on, that his conglomeration of notes were mostly tossed aside because he believed the teachings were predicated on tripping balls.
So, it isn’t that the story or characters have changed, it’s that Castaneda uses previously unused notes in his story.
I want to stop here and state firmly that I am not trying to convince anyone that we can be sorcerers. It’s simply that these stories have had an overwhelming impact on my life and I see how stale everyone else around me is, yet I see the world as something new and fresh everyday…
Anyway, if nothing else, the story if used as an allegory can still show us what many books, T.V. programs, movies, etc., shows us; ways to enrich our lives. The actual events don’t have to be true or accurate. The bible may well not be real, but the teachings are still valid, no? Once more, I’m not saying the bible is fake, but it is written by God’s fallible man. The only thing God ever wrote was the 10 commandments, and if you look into the real commandments, not the ones altered in the 19th century, they are very powerful and actually fit quite well with Don Juan’s living as a warrior.
So here’s a little exchange that I really enjoy:
Juan looked at me with an air of disbelief then broke into laughter.
“What would you do?” I urged him.
“If someone is waiting for me with a rifle with a telescopic sight?” he said, obviously mocking me.
“If someone is hiding out of sight, waiting for you. You won’t have a chance. You can’t stop a bullet.”
“No. I can’t, but I still don’t understand your point.”
“My point is that all your strategy cannot be of any help in a situation like that.”
“Oh, but it can. If someone is waiting for me with a powerful rifle with a telescopic sight I simply will not come around.”
There you have it. This is key for martial artists. The first line of defense is not be in the way of danger; to not be pinned down by routines. In essence, this is living as a warrior.
As a whole, the book is nearly perfect; funny and lighthearted at times, filled with anticipation at others, it paints beautiful pictures, and will take you to another world…even if it is only in your mind.