Don Juan & "The Enemies of a Man of Knowledge"

JonnyRadar

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
i find myself lately thinking about this process of learning. so many thing can stand in one's way, and most of the time it's one's own self! there are so many obstacles, distractions, diversions and deceptions. if it's taken into account all at once it can be overwhelming!

sometimes i come to the point internally, not of thinking "i know it all" or any ridiculous notion like that, but perhaps getting complacent, slacking off a bit or forgetting to "always expect attack." in those moments i find it helpful to read this passage from Castaneda's "The Teachings of Don Juan." it's always stuck with me as a good "outline" of the various modes and methods by which we can deceive ourselves in the quest for knowledge, and the process of learning.

The Teachings of Don Juan said:
Sunday, 15 April 1962

As I was getting ready to leave, I decided to ask him once more about the enemies of a man of knowledge. I argued that I could not return for some time, and it would be a good idea to write down what he had to say and then think about it while I was away.

He hesitated for a while, but then began to talk.

"When a man starts to learn, he is never clear about his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague. He hopes for rewards that will never materialize, for he knows nothing of the hardships of learning.

"He slowly begins to learn - bit by bit at first, then in big chunks. And his thoughts soon clash. What he learns is never what he pictured, or imagined, and so he begins to be afraid. Learning is never what one expects. Every step of learning is a new task, and the fear the man is experiencing begins to mount mercilessly, unyieldingly. His purpose becomes a battlefield.

"And thus he has tumbled upon the first of his natural enemies: Fear! A terrible enemy - treacherous, and difficult to overcome. It remains concealed at every turn of the way, prowling, waiting. And if the man, terrified in its presence, runs away, his enemy will have put an end to his quest."

"What will happen to the man if he runs away in fear?"

"Nothing happens to him except that he will never learn. He will never become a man of knowledge. He will perhaps be a bully or a harmless, scared man; at any rate, he will be a defeated man. His first enemy will have put an end to his cravings."

"And what can he do to overcome fear?"

"The answer is very simple. He must not run away. He must defy his fear, and in spite of it he must take the next step in learning, and the next, and the next. He must be fully afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule! And a moment will come when his first enemy retreats. The man begins to feel sure of himself. His intent becomes stronger. Learning is no longer a terrifying task. When this joyful moment comes, the man can say without hesitation that he has defeated his first natural enemy."

"Does it happen at once, don Juan, or little by little?"

"It happens little by little, and yet the fear is vanquished suddenly and fast."

"But won't the man be afraid again if something new happens to him?"

"No. Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity - a clarity of mind which erases fear. By then a man knows his desires; he knows how to satisfy those desires. He can anticipate the new steps of learning, and a sharp clarity surrounds everything. The man feels that nothing is concealed. And thus he has encountered his second enemy: Clarity!

"That clarity of mind, which is so hard to obtain, dispels fear, but also blinds. It forces the man never to doubt himself. It gives him the assurance he can do anything he pleases, for he sees clearly into everything. And he is courageous because he is clear, and he stops at nothing because he is clear. But all that is a mistake; it is like something incomplete. If the man yields to this make-believe power, he has succumbed to his second enemy and will fumble with learning. He will rush when he should be patient, or he will be patient when he should rush. And he will fumble with learning until he winds up incapable of learning anything more."

"What becomes of a man who is defeated in that way, don Juan? Does he die as a result?"

"No, he doesn't die. His second enemy has just stopped him cold from trying to become a man of knowledge; instead, the man may turn into a buoyant warrior, or a clown. Yet the clarity for which he has paid so dearly will never change to darkness and fear again. He will be clear as long as he lives, but he will no longer
learn, or yearn for anything."

"But what does he have to do to avoid being defeated?"

"He must do what he did with fear: he must defy his clarity and use it only to see, and wait patiently and measure carefully before taking new steps; he must think, above all, that his clarity is almost a mistake. And a moment will come when he will understand that his clarity was only a point before his eyes. And thus he will
have overcome his second enemy, and will arrive at a position where nothing can harm him any more. This will not be a mistake. It will not be only a point before his eyes. It will be true power. He will know at this point that the power he has been pursuing for so long is finally his. He can do with it whatever he pleases. His ally is at his command. His wish is the rule. He sees all that is around him. But he has also come across his third enemy: Power!

"Power is the strongest of all enemies. And naturally the easiest thing to do is to give in; after all, the man is truly invincible. He commands; he begins by taking calculated risks, and ends in making rules, because he is a master.

"A man at this stage hardly notices his third enemy closing in on him. And suddenly, without knowing, he will certainly have lost the battle. His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man."

"Will he lose his power?"

"No, he will never lose his clarity or his power."

"What then will distinguish him from a man of knowledge?"

"A man who is defeated by power dies without really knowing how to handle it. Power is only a burden upon his fate. Such a man has no command over himself, and cannot tell when or how to use his power."

"Is the defeat by any of these enemies a final defeat?"

"Of course it is final. Once one of these enemies overpowers a man there is nothing he can do."

"Is it possible, for instance, that the man who is defeated by power may see his error and mend his ways?"

"No. Once a man gives in he is through."

"But what if he is temporarily blinded by power, and then refuses it?"

"That means his battle is still on. That means he is still trying to become a man of knowledge. A man is defeated only when he no longer tries, and abandons himself."

"But then, don Juan, it is possible that a man may abandon himself to fear for years, but finally conquer it."

"No, that is not true. If he gives in to fear he will never conquer it, because he will shy away from learning and never try again. But if he tries to learn for years in the midst of his fear, he will eventually conquer it because he will never have really abandoned himself to it."

"How can he defeat his third enemy, don Juan?"

"He has to defy it, deliberately. He has to come to realize the power he has seemingly conquered is in reality never his. He must keep himself in line at all times, handling carefully and faithfully all that he has learned. If he can see that clarity and power, without his control over himself, are worse than mistakes, he will reach a point where everything is held in check. He will know then when and how to use his power. And thus he will have defeated his third enemy.

"The man will be, by then, at the end of his journey of learning, and almost without warning he will come upon the last of his enemies: Old age! This enemy is the cruelest of all, the one he won't be able to defeat completely, but only fight away.

"This is the time when a man has no more fears, no more impatient clarity of mind - a time when all his power is in check, but also the time when he has an unyielding desire to rest. If he gives in totally to his desire to lie down and forget, if he soothes himself in tiredness, he will have lost his last round, and his enemy will cut him down into a feeble old creature. His desire to retreat will overrule all his clarity, his power, and his knowledge.

"But if the man sloughs off his tiredness, and lives his fate through, he can then be called a man of knowledge, if only for the brief moment when he succeeds in fighting off his last, invincible enemy. That moment of clarity, power, and knowledge is enough."
so, in all of this, constant vigilance seems to be key. for me, at least, it is easily forgotten, and a struggle to keep it in the forefront of my mind.

thoughts? anyone else experience these same "enemies?"
 

bedower

Jedi Master
Hi JohnnyRadar,

Thanks for posting this; so much of it relevent to my own search to know myself.

e.g I still have problems with 'fear', which to me ties in with the 'negative introjects' and suspicion. Thanks to what I've read on these threads, I'm now getting better at standing back and viewing these reactions objectively.

e.g The 'clarity' is a good one! It's happened several times that I've read a thread and thought I underrstood, which is the 'false clarity' meant by Don Juan, I think. Then, on re-reading, I often find a point I missed before, which alters my perception of what the piece meant the first time I read it. Coming back to the same piece, maybe after a day or so, another reading adds another piece of understanding, until in the end, the final understanding can be quite different from the initial misunderstanding. OSIT.

e.g. Re 'Power'. This is something that has never been an issue for me, I have no desire to rule or control anyone as far as temporal power is concerned. (Teaching growing children social behaviour and what is and what is not acceptable comes under a different heading, I think.) Nor does spiritual power over someone else cut it for me. What I read years ago, before discovering The Cassiopaean site, about the unpleasant results of misuse of psychic power turned me off on that kick. The only power I want is over myself!

e.g. Giving in to old age - I'm still fighting that one!
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
[quote author=bedower]Re 'Power'. This is something that has never been an issue for me, I have no desire to rule or control anyone as far as temporal power is concerned. (Teaching growing children social behaviour and what is and what is not acceptable comes under a different heading, I think.) Nor does spiritual power over someone else cut it for me. What I read years ago, before discovering The Cassiopaean site, about the unpleasant results of misuse of psychic power turned me off on that kick. The only power I want is over myself![/quote]

Much of Don Juan's teachings about power correlates with the Fourth Way understanding of our mechanical nature and lack of will. Energy is used up completely by the "tonal" to maintain its construct of reality which is the predator's mind. A thorough reorganization of energy is necessary and only accomplished by being "impeccable" as warriors in the pursuit of the unknown.

The energy caused by fear is to be used by the warrior constructively toward the pursuit of knowledge. A warrior's impeccability makes his awareness unpalatable to the predator and provides the requisite energy for will.

The pitfalls provided by having power are overcome by conquering self-importance. Castaneda often mentioned being chastised by Don Juan for his self-indulgence, which showed up in various forms.
 

bedower

Jedi Master
[quoteThe pitfalls provided by having power are overcome by conquering self-importance.]
[/quote]

I'm glad you brought that up, Mountain Crown, because it relates to something I've been puzzling over.

In this forum, we are all encouraged to share our experiences of our own personal journey towards knowledge, and to give our own impressions about how much progress we think we are making, or the lack of progress in certain areas that we feel is a problem.

We can each only do this work on ourself; no-one can do it for us, as we cannot do it for any other forum member. We can point the way, or the way can be pointed for us, but at the end of the day it is only our own individual hard work on ourself which will bring results.

But... it is hard to engage in the necessary interaction relating to our perceived progress in the Work without using that big 'I'; the capital 'I'. This is a problem for me.

For instance, in replying to JohnnyRadar's post, because it was about myself as opposed to someone else, I had to use the first person pronoun which made me sqirm a lot, I can tell you; as though I were pushing myself forward in some way. And yet, it was an answer to JohnnyRadar's request to know other people's subjective experiences relating to Don Juan's quote.

How can we respond with our necessarily subjective assessments without using that big 'I' all the time? When does the use of the big 'I' leak over into self-importance?
 

JonnyRadar

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
bedower said:
How can we respond with our necessarily subjective assessments without using that big 'I' all the time? When does the use of the big 'I' leak over into self-importance?
thanks for your responses bedower and mountain crown. :) the reason i asked for people's experiences on this matter was to perhaps gain insight on new perspectives. in the past, when confronting an issue such as "clarity as an enemy" as don juan speaks of it, when i feel stuck i can come to this place, or to friends who are also involved in the Work, and ask "how do you feel about this?" in essence then, it seems i am asking them to talk about themselves.

it is very often that i will not see something in/about myself until someone else brings up something about themselves. this is not to say i wish to feed off of others experiences, rather it seems to be a part of networking. if i can share an experience which may help you see something in a new light, and vice verse, that seems beneficial in the pursuit of learning, osit.

it is an interesting question you raise, about the "I" vs. the self important "I". it is often discussed here that one cannot relate their understanding, or "revelations" to another accurately, because one's own understanding is a cumulative result of one's own experiences. and as you said, one may find themselves (and "I" find "myself" doing this a lot) necessarily using the capital I to engage in discussion. IMO, since this "place" (the world) is STS, we must learn to work to learn within this context to learn.

the Cs have said that time is an illusion placed here for the purpose of our learning process (roughly paraphrased), and so would not our "native STS natures" also be an important component to that learning process? if we deny the reality of our current state of being, is that not just one more lie heaped upon another?

it seems that in discussing these matters, when one feels uncomfortable using the capital "I", perhaps keeping self-importance in the forefront of the mind each and every time the "I" is used is sufficient for where we are at. (?) i wonder (and there it is again) how else would we communicate with each other without ever referring to ourselves or our own experiences? subjective though they may be, sometimes it feels as though my own experiences in life are "all i have to work with" until i can gain insight or a new perspective from another person.

this is, of course, all within the context of our machine natures, which is a problematic situation at best. perhaps after the base realization of the machine nature, the next step is, as mountain crown said, the reorganization of energy to work towards impeccability and make one's awareness unpalatable to the predator in order to have the energy to continue Working.
 

bedower

Jedi Master
It seems to me JohnnyRadar, that you have offered up the solution to this in your post; namely, that until we have completed our quest we are a composite of many little 'i's and should refer to ourself as such.

So i think perhaps this is what i'll do from now on; write with a small i. This way, whichever little i that is writing whatever it is will be covered. A little i certainly seems less ego-centric, osit.

The next problem will be trying to break a lifetime's habit of always writing correct grammar; i.e. the first person pronoun is always a capital letter! :lol:

Oh well... :cool2:
 

Pierre

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
bedower said:
It seems to me JohnnyRadar, that you have offered up the solution to this in your post; namely, that until we have completed our quest we are a composite of many little 'i's and should refer to ourself as such.
Most forumites know about the composite nature of each of us. So even when one uses "I" it is perceived for what it is : an heterogeneous mix of little "i"s
So i think perhaps this is what i'll do from now on; write with a small i. This way, whichever little i that is writing whatever it is will be covered.
So you might want to change the first sentence of your signature ;)

A little i certainly seems less egocentric, osit.
I'm not sure little "i" or cap "I" are ego centric per se.

Maybe it's more the way they are used that will give them or not an ego centric taste.

If a forumite writes through external consideration, he might use cap "I" though his post won't be perceived as ego centric.

On the other side if a forumite write a post full of inner consideration, even if he only uses small "i" his posts will be perceived as an ego centric message.
 

agni

Dagobah Resident
Besides, how would you go about other languages ? :) I could be wrong, but isn't capitalization of i's a feature of English language only ?
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
[quote author=bedower posted Yesterday at 10:00:24 AM EST] When does the use of the big 'I' leak over into self-importance?[/quote]

Importance is a term used when an assessment is made, a priority is implied. Things are perceived as "more" or "less" relative to each other. Self-importance then, is the measuring of self (however it is perceived to be) relative to anything other. One should not confuse self with self-importance.

It is treated as an attitude: (emphases mine)

[quote author=A Separate Reality]"Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy and vain. To be a warrior one needs to be light and fluid."

"(A man of knowledge) knows that his life will be over altogether too soon; he knows that he, as well as everybody else, is not going anywhere; he knows, because he sees, that nothing is more important than anything else. In other words, a man of knowledge has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name, no country, but only life to be lived, and under these circumstances his only tie to his fellow men is his controlled folly. Thus a man of knowledge endeavors, and sweats, and puffs, and if one looks at him he is just like any ordinary man, except that the folly of his life is under control. Nothing being more important than anything else, a man of knowledge chooses any act, and acts it out as if it matters to him. "

"An average man is too concerned with liking people or with being liked himself. A warrior likes, that's all. He likes whatever or whomever he wants, for the hell of it."
[/quote]

[quote author=Tales of Power]"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."

"The humbleness of a warrior is not the humbleness of the beggar. The warrior lowers his head to no one, but at the same time, he doesn't permit anyone to lower his head to him."[/quote]


[quote author=G.I.Gurdjieff, September 1941, from Question de Gurdjieff by Albin Michel]"You believe that all things are due to you, only because it's you! All your blindness is there."

"You live only between 'I like it' and 'I don't like it'. Which means that you have appreciation only for yourself."

"The first demand, the first condition, the first test for he who wants to work on himself is to change his appreciation of himself."[/quote]


How can we respond with our necessarily subjective assessments without using that big 'I' all the time?
This seems to be unnecessary and inhibiting. It's like trying to assess one "little I" over another one.
 

bedower

Jedi Master
Points taken, everyone, and thank you all for your clarifications. :)

Most forumites know about the composite nature of each of us. So even when one uses "I" it is perceived for what it is : an heterogeneous mix of little "i"s
Thanks, Belibaste; the composite 'i' I have learnt a lot about since being on the forum. But I didn't know about the capital 'I' in a post being perceived as a heterogeneous mix of the little 'i's by other forumites. Thanks for enlightening me. So, there is no need now to change the first sentence of my signature, which I think is correct anyway, as it's the self-important 'I' that needs to learn! osit.

Besides, how would you go about other languages ? I could be wrong, but isn't capitalization of i's a feature of English language only ?
Off the top of my head, Agni, I think you are right about that. What I wrote wasn't meant to confuse or exclude other forumites; it was just something I felt more subjectively at ease with. Thanks for your gentle reminder. ;)


Thanks for those reflective quotes, Mountain Crown. I think I can see the difference now.

So, back to Work...
 

agni

Dagobah Resident
I see where you coming from Bedower. After all word capital comes from Latin capitalis "of the head," from caput (gen. capitis) "head". So i guess capital i can be interpreted as Head of little i's :)

i also have thought that no i deserve capitalization, since they do not represent real "I". But it's not about how you write it, Belibaste made a good point there. Forumites are smart to figure it no matter how you write it.
 

JonnyRadar

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
agni said:
But it's not about how you write it, Belibaste made a good point there.
agreed! for me personally, writing little "i's" has been a practice since high school, which i suppose then became a habit. always just enjoyed the aesthetics of it. of course if the context is different, in the case of an essay or a professional communication of some sort, then "correct" grammar is used. i suppose in that i may be reflecting what G said - it comes down to what "i like" or what "i don't like." and in that sense certainly could and should be analyzed further.

Belibaste hit the nail on the head, osit. it has been my experience so far on this forum that if the content of one's post is skewed, or one has a hidden agenda, there are so many hard Working people here who can effectively mirror others that the truth will always be outed. it is up to the individual to overcome the programming and reach beyond self-importance in order to learn. and then to remember the lessons!
 

fluxed

The Force is Strong With This One
Jonathan said:
....it has been my experience so far on this forum that if the content of one's post is skewed, or one has a hidden agenda, there are so many hard Working people here who can effectively mirror others that the truth will always be outed. it is up to the individual to overcome the programming and reach beyond self-importance in order to learn. and then to remember the lessons!
I like this.

Mankind is dawning on a new era - the era of truth.

Truth is the sequence of what really happened - history.

This sequence is mostly known only to royalty and the genepool
but more and more people are learning the true sequence and it
does not match what they have been telling us, since the prophet
left us.
 

1984

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
fluxed said:
This sequence is mostly known only to royalty and the genepool
but more and more people are learning the true sequence and it
does not match what they have been telling us, since the prophet
left us.
As mentioned to you in another thread, this forum is based on hard research, not opinion. So far, your posts are opinion unsupported with any facts. Please re-read the Guidelines provided to you in your welcome post. The Recommended reading list is paramount to understanding what purpose this forum serves.
 

fluxed

The Force is Strong With This One
1984 said:
fluxed said:
This sequence is mostly known only to royalty and the genepool
but more and more people are learning the true sequence and it
does not match what they have been telling us, since the prophet
left us.
As mentioned to you in another thread, this forum is based on hard research, not opinion. So far, your posts are opinion unsupported with any facts. Please re-read the Guidelines provided to you in your welcome post. The Recommended reading list is paramount to understanding what purpose this forum serves.
I see many opinions dotted around this forum, surely every post is not
limited to researched facts?

And concerning what i say above - it is common knowledge that royalty
monopolize information and resources, and being an ancient family
this monopolization could very well have been setup a long time ago.

The same with the genepool , we all know they interbreed which suggests
a genepool.

I research psychological profiles and family tree's of royalty.
This research cover many aspects such as coats of arms and emblems.
Traditions and ceremonies.

I was hoping to post my research and supporting links on this
forum but it seems a sensitive subject.
 
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