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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
16

on 29 January 2002
This book is quite different from some of the earlier books in the series. Don Juan still emphasises the importance of losing self-importance, but also introduces some metaphysical ideas which initially I could not accept. However, having given some thought to how these ideas could be true, I realised that Castaneda was imparting profound truths. I would advise anyone to be careful with these ideas; they should not be taken too literally. The book is full of good humour, such as the sliding scale of tyranny from The Tyrant(God), through Petty Tyrants down to Teensy-Weensy Petty Tyrants.
Some of it might seem a bit pointless when you are reading it, but if you reflect on it later you should be able to figure out what he is trying to say. This is probably not the best place to start with Castaneda, but definately worth reading.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 February 2015
All Castaneda's books are brilliant and fascinating reads. However, I felt that this one was even more challenging than many of the others I have tackled.

We learn that "seeing" is a peculiar feeling of knowing something without a shadow of a doubt. The old seers found out that the best way to teach their knowledge was to make their apprentices shift to their left side, to a state of heightened awareness, where real learning takes place.

We meet la Gorda, a woman from Don Juan's group of warriors, who is Carlos' "petty tyrant". This is one who "either holds the power of life and death over warriors or simply annoys them to distraction".

Also, we are introduced to the concept of the Eagle, and its emanations. Castaneda tells us that there is no world of objects, but "a universe of the Eagle's emanations. These are fluid, forever in motion, and yet unchanged, eternal". I can't say I really understood about the Eagle, but Don Juan terms it as the indescribable force which is the source of all sentient beings. It was called the Eagle because the old seers "saw" it as something that resembled a black-and-white eagle of infinite size. It is the Eagle who bestows awareness, and the reason for the existence of all sentient beings is to enhance awareness. The awareness of sentient beings flies away at the moment of death and floats into the Eagle's beak to be consumed. This meant that the reason for the existence of sentient beings is to provide food for the Eagle. (This reminds me of Gurdjieff's assertion that we human beings are food for the Moon.)

Carlos is brought by Don Juan into heightened states of awareness, in which he "sees". But when he returns to normal awareness, he forgets everything he has experienced and understood.

"Seeing" is not done by the eyes but by alignment. "The alignment of emanations used routinely is the perception of the day-to-day world, but the alignment of emanations that are never used ordinarily is "seeing". When seers "see", a voice tells them in their ear what's what. If the voice is not present, the seer is not "seeing". Carlos is told that later on everything would become clear to him.

Don Juan instructs Carlos about the first, second and third attention. The first attention in man is "animal awareness". Everything that one can think about is part of the first attention. It is "the flow of awareness developed to an 'ultra shine', a flow that covers the known. The second attention, however, is a more complex and specialized state of the flow of awareness, and has to do with the unknown. The third attention is attained when the flow of awareness turns into the fire from within: a glow that kindles all the Eagle's emanations inside man's cocoon.

(I did mention that some of the information contained in this book is somewhat challenging.)

There is a chapter about inorganic beings, those beings that are dealt with extensively in Castaneda's "The art of dreaming", in my view the most fascinating of his books. Inorganic beings have the emanations of awareness in them and a kind of love man can't even conceive. In the present book it is described how Carlos gazes into a mirror held under water and sees not only the reflections of Don Juan's face and his own, but also another head - not a human head or an animal head, but a "shape that had no inner mobility" (whatever that means). At the same time Carlos hears a voice in his ear, and realizes that he is "seeing". The headlike shape in the mirror was an inorganic being that had come to look at them. The voice in Carlos' ear said that he was dying, and he would have died, had Don Juan not been there.

The two do another frightening experiment with a mirror, after which Carlos has a severe attack of melancholy.

Organic beings have a different kind of energy, more like an electric current, or heat waves. They are attracted to emotions, particularly "animal fear".

Don Juan states that there is no God - all there is is the Eagle's emanations.

" ... human beings are made of the Eagle's emanations and are in essence bubbles of luminescent energy: each of us is wrapped in a cocoon that encloses a small portion of these emanations."

There are chapters about the assemblage point, which is a point in our cocoon, the location of which determines what we perceive of as the world. The precise spot of its location is determined by our repetitious acts. The position of the assemblage point thus dictates what our senses perceive.

I won't go into the further content of the book. As indicated, it is not the easiest book to comprehend, but, like all the author's works, it is absorbing and well worth reading, and thus I thoroughly recommend that you read it!
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on 29 April 2008
"Fire From Within" is one of two most memorable books (with the second being The Active Side of Infinity) by Carlos Castaneda that I have ever read, as ideas from this book that can be utilized for everyday life, such as "petty tyrant" and being "impeccable." This book contains profound lessons to learn in our world.

Face the petty tyrant in everyday life and you will face the unknown.

It is not the question of whether or not this book is fiction, but it is the idea(s) that stem from this book and others that can have such impact on our lives and how we deal with other people. These ideas seem to be traced back to ancient philosophies to which they were currently being ignored but they are crucial for today's world.

Most highly recommended.
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on 13 August 2013
Very insightful into how one should live their life, it gives a different view of the world and challenges the ideas and beliefs that we have be taught whilst also providing simple methods to changing your thinking and behaviours with how we interact with the world on a day to day basis.
I really enjoy reading these series of books, they go far deeper to answering the questions about our purpose than anything else that I have ever read.
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on 24 September 2010
This is one of the last books in a series of books that cultural anthropologist Castaneda wrote about his apprenticeship with a sorcerer. This book has great informative value if it's true indeed. Castaneda, who showed no evidence of his stories was critiqued prior to this book because of the inconsistencies of timeline and character appearances in his previous books, that suggested that he may be be making it all up.

So in this book is that the sorcerer repeatedly alters Castaneda's states of consciousness, and whenever he enters another one he has no recollection of the other (except for the normal one). And guess what: it turns out he's been doing it all along! So basically he only remembers what happened in a certain state of consciousness when he's in it, which explains the inconsistencies in the previous books -- and I couldn't help thinking that this is exactly what he's doing!

He spends much of the book trying to explain inexplicable things on which -- consequently -- he does a quite poor job, thats a bit bad if you start reading it as fiction. But either way it's a nice read, pretty inspiring and at times very interesting. When I was reading it I often taught of Márquez, who makes me believe (more subtly) that magic is still happening, except of course he's a better author. But Castaneda' not bad either..
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on 4 August 2015
The teachings of Don Juan recorded in this book make up the most profound illustration of life it is possible to read. They are on a par with the greatest spiritual teachers of all time, but from a totally different mould and language. Reading these words, it is necessary to concentrate utterly, as they contain such a depth of meaning. The connections it is possible to make with other teachings on awareness are thrilling. After finishing it I just had to start from the beginning all over again, it has so much to absorb. Carlos Castaneda is such a surperb writer, his command of language and ability to communicate so vividly his teacher's being, illustrate the power that the teaching has given him.
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on 16 September 2012
Excellent book, know Castanedas Books in German Language for a long time. Use this book for my english studies. The content is very special and not easy adaptable to our environmental powers. I prefer to teach the old western way. Nevertheless do I deeply respect the Teachings of Don Juan. This book is well worth to read and think about it. If you like to know about the western way, have a look at this book: The Handbook of the Energy, Aura and Chakra System - What you never learned in school
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on 18 June 2007
Castenda gives hints and clues toward and ancient philosophy. Specifically he deal's with "Petty Tyrants" - those who use their position and abilities to enslave or torment others - and teaches the reader the art of facing them without flinching.

It is thought, that if one can do this successfully, repeatedly, he can face anything the universe can throw at him. This is the subtle art of becoming Impeccable.

Also reccomended in the superhero 101 collection is Bouris Mouravieff's Gnosis I, Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous, and everything by Georges Gurdjieff.

Fight the Future, Save the World.
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on 28 September 2014
Advanced Toltec lore
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on 29 May 2015
The condition of the book met my expectations.
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