Most of us pursue knowledge to a greater or lesser extent. We learn new things, some of us master them, and then we pass them along to varying degrees of accuracy. Those of us who take learning seriously are working on becoming ‘A man or woman of knowledge’, as Carlos Castaneda says in his book, The Teachings of Don Juan.
In this book, Castaneda meets an interesting man who leads him along a path that will turn Carlos into a ‘man of knowledge’.
The approach to knowledge that Don Juan shows Carlos is different from the conventional western approach to education.
In Carlos’ journey with Don Juan, a man will encounter ‘four enemies’ that he needs to defy before becoming a ‘man of knowledge’.
The first one is fear. “When a man in the path of knowledge begins to learn, he realises that what he learns is never what he imagined, and so he starts to become afraid,” says Don Juan. He goes on to establish that the only way to defeat fear is by facing it, giving the fear one’s full attention, and separating the feeling from any meaning attached to it.
This first step of the path is one that you can probably relate to. We all have felt fear, and we all have had to defy it at some point in our life.
Defying fear is one option, though in my opinion there are more effective ways of handling it (see above).
When you have the ability to manage your state you can confront and attend to, fear successfully. You would simply adjust your mental processes and physiology into a form that will help you become more resourceful and thus discover whatever it may be, in order to deal with the situation.
It may sound relatively prosaic, yet it is very effective.
Don Juan goes on to say that after you have been able to ‘conquer’ fear, you will gain clarity of mind. This, according to him, becomes the second enemy to defy.
“Clarity blinds him as it forces the man never to doubt himself again. He will be clear for the rest of his life, but he will not learn again“. Says Don Juan.
NLP trainer Steve Andreas illustrates this point very clearly in his article Certainty, Uncertainty, where he elaborates on the following:
“If a person is totally certain about their understanding, they will be closed to even considering other understandings, because their certainty about their understanding locks up the ability to consider alternatives”.
It is as if someone thinks they are ‘right’ and then tries to prove that they are ‘right’ with single-minded determination. They miss the point completely and forget what their intention was in the first place.
However, once clarity has been conquered, by recognising an uncritical sense of certainty and remaining deliberately curious, a man in the path of knowledge will gain power, which is also his third enemy.
“A man who is defeated by power dies without really knowing how to handle it. He will turn into a cruel capricious man. Such a man has no command over himself and cannot tell when or how to use his power”, elaborates Don Juan.
17th century Dutch philosopher Baruch de Spinoza once said: “When a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his own master but lies at the mercy of fortune”.
The emotions you feel are an interpretation of your state. Managing your state can give you the knowledge needed to comprehend a situation from multiple perspectives and be able to have ‘command over yourself’ as put by Don Juan.
The enemies of knowledge, according to Don Juan, will be an obstacle in the way of any man or woman in search for knowledge. Being able to defeat them is a matter of aligning your state and your intentions at the times when things get ‘tough’, remaining open to news of difference, and being curious about the world.
Now it is your turn! Now that you are aware of these, think about which ones you have faced and how you have defied them.
Edited by Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer at INSPIRITIVE.
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