Updated: Dec 11, 2021
“There are four enemies one must defeat to become a person of knowledge.” This is the quote I am pondering from Carlos Castaneda. The first enemy is Fear. From a martial artist’s perspective, this enemy defeats most people. “This is too hard.” “I can’t do it for this or that reason.” For those who vanquish fear, the next enemy is Clarity. Clarity of mind, which is so hard to obtain, dispels fear, but also blinds. This is where a person quits after learning a little, believing they have it all. Only if one remains humble and dedicated to the path, will they face the next enemy: Power. From a martial artist’s perspective, here I am sadly reminded of a few senseis I’ve known through the years, those who closed their minds and stopped
learning. On a personal note, as one who constantly seeks knowledge, and yet knows it is a long way off, as I was reading the book, I ran a personal self-assessment. “Fear”: check, I don’t believe I will ever fully vanquish fear, but I have it in check. “Clarity”: regardless of how much I study, there are always others who know more than I, check. “Power”: I regularly replace my black belt for white, and continue to train. As I read through this chapter in the book, I was feeling pretty confident that there was hope that just maybe, one day, I might become a man of knowledge. Then I read of the final enemy “Old age”. Doh!!! This enemy will win one day. But not today.
In Castaneda's book The Teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui way of Knowledge, Don Juan speaks of the four enemies. “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.“
Stay on the path. Keep training.