Recently I have been reading more and more on the life and works of Carlos Castaneda.
For those of you who don’t know who he is; here is a brief bio:
Carlos Castaneda was one of the greatest anthropologist in the new era.
Born in Peru in 1925. He lived and studied in United States and graduated as an Anthropologist and Ethnographist. He later on, studied Shamanism.
One of Carlos Castaneda’s greatest books is “The teachings of Don Juan”; here he relates his experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui man named Don Juan Matus.
Castaneda withdrew from public view in 1973, to work further on his inner development. He founded Cleargreen, an organization that promoted tensegrity, purportedly a traditional Toltec regimen of spirituality and powerful exercises.
Castaneda’s books make the reader experience a different reality. One that focuses more and more not just in the inner self, but also in all that we missed with the naked eye. It challenges us to question our own existence, as we see it traditionally; and makes us aware that there is more to life than what we can explain with our minds.
If you think about it, it makes sense, as most of our thoughts are derived from our experiences and the information we absorb each and every day. However we have a tendency to forget that not everything we see is all there is. Our reality is like a dark room in which our eyes are the flashlight. Just because we can see a part of the room, it does not mean that the rest of the room does not exist. To go around adjusting and living life, as if all there is, is what we see with the flashlight, is not only foolish, but limited; as a result our growth and experiences become limited.
Here I bring to you one of the greatest lessons taught to Castaneda. The 4 natural enemies of man. These lessons were taught to him after Castaneda asked how can one become a man of knowledge. The answer he got was that in order to become a man of knowledge, one must defeat the 4 natural enemies; and here they are:
1)FEAR. When a man starts the path of knowledge he comes to realize that what he learns is never what he pictured or even imagined ; as a result he begins to be afraid. Every step of learning is a new task, so it is never what one would have expected. The fear we can experience at having our reality or ideas challenge is intense and the mind can become a battlefield. So fear is a terrible enemy; it remains concealed, and if one runs away, the enemy grows and wins by putting an end to the search. The person won’t become a man of knowledge.
Castaneda’s teacher said to him, that if one runs away from fear, he runs the risk of becoming a bully, or a coward. He becomes a defeated man, as fear puts an end to his cravings.
Castaneda was taught that to defeat fear, one must overcome it. One must continue stepping in learning, no matter how hard, or how challenging to our beliefs it may be. He must be fully afraid and yet keep going, no stopping. After a while, his first enemy will retreat. Once one has defeated fear one obtains full clarity. One can anticipate the steps of learning, and a sharp clarity takes over everything, but the first victory will lead to the second enemy.
2)CLARITY. That clarity of mind which was so hard to obtain dispels fear but also blinds. It can force a man never to doubt himself. If the person gives in to this make believe power, he will succumb to the second enemy. He will be clear but won’t learn anything else, or even yearn to.
In order to defeat the illusion of power that comes with clarity, he must do the same as with fear. He must understand that clarity is only a point before his eyes. At this point the person will realize that the power one has been pursuing for so long is finally there; to be used as one pleases.
The person can see with clarity all that is around, and understands that all there is, is at one’s command.
With that he has conquered the illusion, but the victory will lead to the third enemy.
3)POWER. A person at this stage finds it hard to notice the third enemy closing in. Suddenly without knowing, the enemy will have won.
Power can turn one into a cruel, capricious person; spoiled. A person defeated by power dies without knowing how to conquer it. Power becomes a burden, such person does not know when or how to use the power. Power makes him a slave, through the opinion of others. The person hates to be challenged, at the same time however he/she does not like to disappoint anyone.
In order to defeat it, one has to defied it, deliberately. One needs to realize that the power that he/she has was never part of one. He must keep in line at all times, handling carefully all that one has learned.
One must learn to balance knowledge. To live peacefully, yet never allowing atrocities to continue. To not put weight in the opinions of others.
In conquering the third enemy; one comes across our fourth and last enemy.
4)OLD AGE. This enemy can be the cruelest of all. The one no one can defeat completely, but only fight away. However if one has lived life conquering each of the previous three enemies, that person can have the peace of knowing that he has become a man of knowledge.
Someone who has brought a little more light to the world. A person who has shown others how to balance life. When to be peaceful; when to fight. Someone who knows there is more to life than what is seen, and with it fears death no longer. With that one has in a way conquered if not defeated the fourth enemy.
That moment of clarity, power and knowledge, will be enough to bring peace to one’s end. After all the end is only a new beginning!