In this book, Castaneda resumes his apprenticeship, determined to go deeper still into don Juan's world, to learn to see beyond the surface realities of life. He continues his dialogue with don Juan, intuitive, wise, demanding, and fierce in his struggle to see and know beyond the vision of ordinary men; and himself, a man of courage and intelligence who submits himself to don Juan's teaching, to enter into another world as a participant rather than an observer. A Separate Reality is a work that is at once the discovery of a hitherto unrecorded body of wisdom and knowledge and the story of a remarkable and shattering personal experience.
Carlos Castaneda (25 December 1925 – 27 April 1998) was a Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author. Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his purported training in traditional Mesoamerican shamanism. His 12 books have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages. The books and Castaneda, who rarely spoke in public about his work, have been controversial for many years. Academic critics claim the books are works of fiction, citing the books' internal contradictions, discrepancies between the books and anthropological data, alternate sources for Castaneda's detailed knowledge of shamanic practices and lack of corroborating evidence.
In his books, Castaneda narrated in first person what he claimed were his experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui shaman named don Juan Matus whom he met in 1960. Castaneda wrote that he was identified by don Juan Matus as having the energetic configuration of a "nagual", who, if the spirit chose, could become a leader of a party of seers. He also used the term "nagual" to signify that part of perception which is in the realm of the unknown yet still reachable by man, implying that, for his party of seers, don Juan was in some way a connection to that unknown. Castaneda often referred to this unknown realm as nonordinary reality, which indicated that this realm was indeed a reality, but radically different from the ordinary reality experienced by human beings who are well engaged in everyday activities as part of their social conditioning. Ordinary reality as experienced by humans was simply a "description" that had been pounded into their awareness since they were infants.