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When you realize nothing matters...

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    When you realize nothing matters...






    "Nothing matters"

    Nothing Matters

    At first, when you really get that nothing matters at all it's very depressing. It's extremely melancholy to realize that nothing has any intrinsic meaning, that life is essentially meaningless.

    It's very disillusioning to get that no matter what one might accomplish, it disappears like smoke in the air; that no matter what service one might attempt to perform, it's like an insignificant grain of sand upon an infinite beach.

    Are you feeding the poor? Are you Shakespeare? Doesn't matter. It's all insignificant in the end. If not today, then tomorrow. If not in a thousand years, then in a million billion. The whirling clusters of galaxies don't even notice.

    Not only that, but the fact that everything is insignificant and nothing has any intrinsic meaning doesn't mean anything either.

    All the meaning is supplied by us human beings. We supply the value judgments—this is good, that's bad, this should happen, that shouldn't happen. Existence has no value judgments about itself; it has no meaning, it doesn't need or want any, to speak metaphorically. All the "good," "bad," "right," "wrong," etc. is supplied by us humans.

    Existence not only doesn't care about any of that, it's not even aware of it. Whatever you or I might ever do to make a difference in the world or our little corner of it is like a drop in an infinite sea—meaningless, empty. In fact, all is emptiness, completely empty—like empty characters in a video game, or like a robot in a machine factory pondering what its meaning is.

    When I really got all this I walked around in a complete daze. Because life had no intrinsic meaning, because nothing really mattered at all, everything seemed forlorn, empty, drained, bleached. Everywhere I looked, everyone I looked upon, including myself—there was just emptiness, nothing, meaninglessness.

    If nothing mattered, then my life and efforts didn't matter, and neither did anything else. Perhaps the best word for it was "bleak."

    And then something happened. After I had dwelled miserably in this state for awhile, feeling this bitter reality of emptiness like a freezing wind upon my face, the whole thing suddenly "flipped" one day.

    The very thing, the all-pervading emptiness and lack of meaning and insignificance that had depressed me so much suddenly became a source of great joy. So much so that I burst out laughing—I couldn't stop—and then began crying tears of joy.

    Lest I be declared a candidate for the looney bin (which probably wouldn't be a bad idea), let me try to explain. It's something like this: The fact that nothing matters is actually a source of great liberation. It's very freeing to realize that nothing matters at all, because that whole weight of trying to make life "make sense" or "go the right way" or "look like this" drops away.

    In its place is just reality, exactly as it is, with no meaning at all in the usual sense and yet incredibly pristine, beautiful, shimmering in its "emptiness," forever shining like the lovely moon upon the sea.

    When everything becomes completely empty, paradoxically, it also becomes extremely full. In effect, the "emptiness of emptiness" becomes the doorway to the "fullness of emptiness."

    The brujo Don Juan understood this very well. He said that you realize that everything is empty and meaningless and yet you act as if it had meaning. In his words, even though you're perfectly aware of the emptiness of all things, of all phenomena, you "act as an impeccable warrior" just the same.

    And of course he didn't mean "war" in the usual sense. We usually think of fighting something or kicking ass as being a great warrior. But simply carrying a project through to completion is being a much more mature kind of warrior. Just accomplishing any task at all is being a true warrior.

    So we do our service work or we drive our beer truck or we turn out papers at the office or we do whatever we do, but without the stress and strain of trying to make everything make sense or somehow acquire the correct "meaning." This most assuredly includes "our own" life.

    Not that stress and strain disappear from life. As far as I can tell, stress and strain are an inevitable part of life, just as relaxation and peace are also a part of it. But beneath the stress and strain, when it appears, is a light heart, dancing with that stress and strain, knowing that it's an indissoluble part of this precious existence.

    Paradoxically, when we see clearly the emptiness and meaninglessness and insignificance of everything, including our own life, after passing through the "emptiness of emptiness" there comes a light heart, which contains both a smile and a tear.

    The smile comes precisely from the seeing that nothing matters. Isn't that strange? If nothing matters, we're free not to take it all so seriously. It's not serious at all, none of it. Not one bit.

    Yet at the same time there's a tear, a tear of compassion for this precious world and its suffering. The pain that we sometimes feel in life is not illusory; it hurts. And the laws of physics and biochemistry, etc. are not suspended just because we realize something.

    If we jump off a building we're still going to go splat, no matter what we may or may not have realized. If we stub our toe, it's still going to hurt. If we eat a lot of fat, we're still likely to develop heart disease or cancer. The laws of life are not repealed.

    So nothing changes at all. And yet everything changes, because we see that the very preciousness of life arises from its essential emptiness. The grateful heart arises precisely from the recognition of life's ephemeral, fleeting, meaningless quality.

    That very meaninglessness, stripped of all fantasies and dreams, becomes the hidden meaning itself. That very fleetingness of all things becomes the very thing that makes them precious.

    That literally "nothing matters" becomes the very thing that transforms into thankfulness, bubbling up in surrendered gratitude for this precious life and all its appearances, like a compassionate, mysterious and effervescent spring bubbling up from the meaningless nowhere of nothing.

    —jim sloman, 10/24/02 for 12/17/02
    It doesn't matter how you find the pot of gold, so long as you beat the leprechauns.
    TJTJ is fictional character and purely theoretical.

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    I've felt this way for years, its nice to see it put into words.
    M1T, GOTTA LOVE IT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deity View Post
    I've felt this way for years, its nice to see it put into words.
    ditto...most of my adult life
    William F. Buckley describes a conservative as, "someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop." - and then proceeds to drag civilization back to times best left in history's dungheap.

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    This is what happens when I Google my thoughts.
    It doesn't matter how you find the pot of gold, so long as you beat the leprechauns.
    TJTJ is fictional character and purely theoretical.

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    Wonderful article, but I disagree with this view. There are two extreme opposite views and a middle way view about life. I think this looks like one of two extreme opposites or nihilist view about life, I think.
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference
    you have never spent the night with a mosquito."
    ~ Dali lama


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    Such a sad way to live life though. Though it may be reality, it is better to live for something and provide those around us with the best person we can. So that we even though nothing really may matter may have friends to enjoy the short life we live. I try my hardest to never make enemies, keep peace amongst enemies, bring laughter to those around me. I believe that in the end all that matters is how we lived our lives so that when we are on our death beds we look back with no regrets or what if questions. To live happly with friends and family and to help everyone I come into contact with. Not getting all poetic or anything, but just a thought to help ease the insanity we call earth!
    Never accept anything less than the best for yourself

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    I liked it. But if I was going to abbreviate or boil it all down, it would read like this:

    Don't sweat the small stuff.
    Last edited by Curt James; 11-30-2011 at 07:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisotpherm View Post
    Such a sad way to live life though. Though it may be reality, it is better to live for something and provide those around us with the best person we can. So that we even though nothing really may matter may have friends to enjoy the short life we live. I try my hardest to never make enemies, keep peace amongst enemies, bring laughter to those around me. I believe that in the end all that matters is how we lived our lives so that when we are on our death beds we look back with no regrets or what if questions. To live happly with friends and family and to help everyone I come into contact with. Not getting all poetic or anything, but just a thought to help ease the insanity we call earth!
    Yes, how rightly we lived our lives matters.
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference
    you have never spent the night with a mosquito."
    ~ Dali lama


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    Excellent post, although I completely disagree with the materialistic views of the author.

    When we realise that the reality we witness outside our minds doesn't exist, we will begin to ask deeper and more relevant questions as to what this existence is all about.

    "If a tree falls in the forrest and there's nobody there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?"

    Answer: No

    The implications for truly understanding this allows us realise we don't know anything about this thing we call reality and that the theory of it all being insignificant is not only improbable, but impossible.

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    Losing oneself in service of your fellow being, If it's helping an old widowed neibor take out the trash to the roadside or pulling weeds and mowing her yard, this is when we start to feel true joy. Our purpose is to serve one another, only then can we begin to comprehend how much our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be back with him. These actions add purpose and meaning to our lives. When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt James View Post
    I liked it. But if I was going to abbreviate or boil it all down, it would read like this:

    Don't sweat the small stuff.
    Thanks curt. I was reading the article and I was starting to get depressed because that's how I feel sometimes. But your post cheered me up

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    ^^^^ Glad to help, brother.

    I don't care if life is meaningless according to some. My goal (well, most of the time) is to get through the day without causing anyone stress. I have my moments like anyone else, but the hope is to have some fun, bring a smile to someone's face, and not **** anyone over.

    It doesn't always work that way, but that's the target.

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    Believe it or not, this is a glass half full view. IF nothing matters, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! There are no boundaries. No restrictions. An unbelievable amount of possibilities become available to us(within the laws of nature and even that is debatable). Im glad I stumbled on this.
    It doesn't matter how you find the pot of gold, so long as you beat the leprechauns.
    TJTJ is fictional character and purely theoretical.

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    ...might want to up the test dose a little. ;-)

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    It doesn't matter how you find the pot of gold, so long as you beat the leprechauns.
    TJTJ is fictional character and purely theoretical.

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    ^^Carl Sagan is a major role model to me and an asset to humanity. He took the atheist approach to combat christian fundamentalism yet he was agnostic in regards to the ultimate truth. He expressed his doubts and opinions in interviews and in his series "Cosmos" which can be found on YouTube.

    Amazing guy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TJTJ View Post
    "Nothing matters"

    Nothing Matters

    At first, when you really get that nothing matters at all it's very depressing. It's extremely melancholy to realize that nothing has any intrinsic meaning, that life is essentially meaningless.

    It's very disillusioning to get that no matter what one might accomplish, it disappears like smoke in the air; that no matter what service one might attempt to perform, it's like an insignificant grain of sand upon an infinite beach.

    Are you feeding the poor? Are you Shakespeare? Doesn't matter. It's all insignificant in the end. If not today, then tomorrow. If not in a thousand years, then in a million billion. The whirling clusters of galaxies don't even notice.

    Not only that, but the fact that everything is insignificant and nothing has any intrinsic meaning doesn't mean anything either.

    All the meaning is supplied by us human beings. We supply the value judgments—this is good, that's bad, this should happen, that shouldn't happen. Existence has no value judgments about itself; it has no meaning, it doesn't need or want any, to speak metaphorically. All the "good," "bad," "right," "wrong," etc. is supplied by us humans.

    Existence not only doesn't care about any of that, it's not even aware of it. Whatever you or I might ever do to make a difference in the world or our little corner of it is like a drop in an infinite sea—meaningless, empty. In fact, all is emptiness, completely empty—like empty characters in a video game, or like a robot in a machine factory pondering what its meaning is.

    When I really got all this I walked around in a complete daze. Because life had no intrinsic meaning, because nothing really mattered at all, everything seemed forlorn, empty, drained, bleached. Everywhere I looked, everyone I looked upon, including myself—there was just emptiness, nothing, meaninglessness.

    If nothing mattered, then my life and efforts didn't matter, and neither did anything else. Perhaps the best word for it was "bleak."

    And then something happened. After I had dwelled miserably in this state for awhile, feeling this bitter reality of emptiness like a freezing wind upon my face, the whole thing suddenly "flipped" one day.

    The very thing, the all-pervading emptiness and lack of meaning and insignificance that had depressed me so much suddenly became a source of great joy. So much so that I burst out laughing—I couldn't stop—and then began crying tears of joy.

    Lest I be declared a candidate for the looney bin (which probably wouldn't be a bad idea), let me try to explain. It's something like this: The fact that nothing matters is actually a source of great liberation. It's very freeing to realize that nothing matters at all, because that whole weight of trying to make life "make sense" or "go the right way" or "look like this" drops away.

    In its place is just reality, exactly as it is, with no meaning at all in the usual sense and yet incredibly pristine, beautiful, shimmering in its "emptiness," forever shining like the lovely moon upon the sea.

    When everything becomes completely empty, paradoxically, it also becomes extremely full. In effect, the "emptiness of emptiness" becomes the doorway to the "fullness of emptiness."

    The brujo Don Juan understood this very well. He said that you realize that everything is empty and meaningless and yet you act as if it had meaning. In his words, even though you're perfectly aware of the emptiness of all things, of all phenomena, you "act as an impeccable warrior" just the same.

    And of course he didn't mean "war" in the usual sense. We usually think of fighting something or kicking ass as being a great warrior. But simply carrying a project through to completion is being a much more mature kind of warrior. Just accomplishing any task at all is being a true warrior.

    So we do our service work or we drive our beer truck or we turn out papers at the office or we do whatever we do, but without the stress and strain of trying to make everything make sense or somehow acquire the correct "meaning." This most assuredly includes "our own" life.

    Not that stress and strain disappear from life. As far as I can tell, stress and strain are an inevitable part of life, just as relaxation and peace are also a part of it. But beneath the stress and strain, when it appears, is a light heart, dancing with that stress and strain, knowing that it's an indissoluble part of this precious existence.

    Paradoxically, when we see clearly the emptiness and meaninglessness and insignificance of everything, including our own life, after passing through the "emptiness of emptiness" there comes a light heart, which contains both a smile and a tear.

    The smile comes precisely from the seeing that nothing matters. Isn't that strange? If nothing matters, we're free not to take it all so seriously. It's not serious at all, none of it. Not one bit.

    Yet at the same time there's a tear, a tear of compassion for this precious world and its suffering. The pain that we sometimes feel in life is not illusory; it hurts. And the laws of physics and biochemistry, etc. are not suspended just because we realize something.

    If we jump off a building we're still going to go splat, no matter what we may or may not have realized. If we stub our toe, it's still going to hurt. If we eat a lot of fat, we're still likely to develop heart disease or cancer. The laws of life are not repealed.

    So nothing changes at all. And yet everything changes, because we see that the very preciousness of life arises from its essential emptiness. The grateful heart arises precisely from the recognition of life's ephemeral, fleeting, meaningless quality.

    That very meaninglessness, stripped of all fantasies and dreams, becomes the hidden meaning itself. That very fleetingness of all things becomes the very thing that makes them precious.

    That literally "nothing matters" becomes the very thing that transforms into thankfulness, bubbling up in surrendered gratitude for this precious life and all its appearances, like a compassionate, mysterious and effervescent spring bubbling up from the meaningless nowhere of nothing.

    —jim sloman, 10/24/02 for 12/17/02
    This actually comes from a book written by Carlos Castaneda, and its an awesome book.

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    Reality is what it is. There is no denying the inevitable. However even though this life may mean nothing and what we have or have not done; I believe that if we are surrounded by loved ones, folks seek us out for friendships and we contribute a laugh or peace to those around then the last breath we take on earth will be a peaceful one. Not saying that those around us won't hurt us, betray us, but as said before we can't due anything with grudges or hate except allow them to have a place in our mind. I choose not to, because no oneeeeee will intercept my happiness and laughter or effect me in change for the negative. If we do that then are we not wasting our life even more by the swaying of another man/womans thoughts and words. No thanks I will choose to make friends with my enemies and love those around me every chance I get. Soft, no I just choose to be at peace with myself and others when I do.

    What does having a grudge against anyone solve? The only satisfaction that you get is that of knowing you are giving them the cold shoulder and truly, truly desiring that things were cool or back the way they were originally. I am not saying let an individual walk all over you, but those who love you or a friend who jacked up, maybe forgiveness is due and allow time to heal that which was broken. Just saying!
    Never accept anything less than the best for yourself

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    Love matters most doesn't it?
    Coarse edged youth, the irish pendants string from their smiles
    not yet plucked as to slacken the seams
    and drag down the features of age,
    no folds or creases from unkempt wear
    eyes of tranquilty, crystalline-beads
    no sign of despair in their hair, nor their hearts
    but oh they have yet to be experienced and that makes aging so very worth it...ML circa2012

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    Mostly it comes down to the things that we spend so much time and energy on are so often the things that deserve our attention the least. Much of daily existence is meaningless, but I think the key is to seek out and find those things that are meaningful and worthy of our attention, and try to give them as much attention as possible.

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    I agree that love matters and with you MDR as well. If we spend our time only living for ourselves then we will be bitter and an evil aroma will be what we give off everywhere we go. We will die with no friends or love ones. The classic example of this that comes to mind, even though elementary is the Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge. I know that in the end he had his revelation but if he wouldn't have he would have died a lonely bitter life and those around him would have praised the day of his death and split all he owned happily. We must not allow ourselves to get caught up in the evil of this world and put up shields around our hearts so much in that we shut out those around us. Yes we must be protective to not get repeatedly hurt by those around us or even close to us, but not let them ultimately affect our character and how we react with life. When we allow others to affect us negatively in so much of changing our outlook are we not allowing them to control who we really want to be and live for? I have as many of you have much tragedy in life and many moments of bitterness, but realized that no matter will not allow another MAN/WOMAN to have place over me and who I truly want to be!!!!
    Never accept anything less than the best for yourself

  22. #22
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    eventually something will happen to the planet, whether it's a virus, global killer asteroid, etc. mankind's time on this planet is limited. that's why I say things are pointless when you look at the big, big, big picture...
    William F. Buckley describes a conservative as, "someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop." - and then proceeds to drag civilization back to times best left in history's dungheap.

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    I like this one.

    “Many of our world's problems and conflicts arise because we have lost sight of the basic humanity that binds us all together as a human family. We forget that despite the superficial differences between us, people are equal in their basic wish for peace and happiness.”
    ~ anonymous


    "If you think you are too small to make a difference
    you have never spent the night with a mosquito."
    ~ Dali lama


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    Everything matters.
    Infinite existence ftw.

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    The reality is that humans haven't been here forever and we will not last forever. We will suffer extinction from disease, war or natural disaster OR we have the potential to evolve into something that in no way resembles our current form. One thing's for sure and that is whatever species, intelligent or not that witnesses our sun die will not resemble anything that is currently on this planet at the moment.

    Do the people who doubt there is any meaning at all to life which over shadows the personal meaning that we bring into our lives think that just maybe it all makes perfect sense yet the human mind simply doesn't have the capacity to understand it at this point in our evolution?

    Existence is odd, but maybe it's not as odd as we think. Maybe we are just too stupid to see the bigger picture. To me it would make perfect sense if nothing existed, ever. But here we are.

    We are not separate from the universe. We are an extension of the universe. Therefore the universe has evolved to consciousness and is pondering it's own existence.

    This reality is extremely difficult to dismiss as meaningless in my opinion.

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    your solipsism will be your grave.
    "When in doubt, whip it out"- Mother Teresa

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    Quote Originally Posted by withoutrulers View Post
    your solipsism will be your grave.
    You may well be right. It nearly happened not that long ago while in an eager attempt to find answers. I realise there is a reality that exists outside our minds however it is not the reality that we have become accustomed to. I also realise that consciousness is subjective yet the seperation of things within this universe and possibly beyond is a man made illusion.

    If consciousness was not a fundamental law of nature then it couldn't exist.
    How can something as material as matter give rise to something as non-material as an experience or an emotion?

    Consciousness is where the greatest mysteries of existence can be found and there's a good reason why science can't explain it let alone locate it and analyse it. It's non-material and science can only explain material based problems. It will never solve the hard problem of consciousness using its current methodology.


    You know as well as I do that if you break the material world down to its quantum level in no longer exists. It's nothing more than energy and we can change the behaviour of this energy by simply observing it.

    Quantum physics is also a dead end for science. They've broken the material world down as far as they can and have inevitably come to grinding hault.
    Last edited by BillHicksFan; 11-30-2011 at 06:30 AM.

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    It doesn't matter how you find the pot of gold, so long as you beat the leprechauns.
    TJTJ is fictional character and purely theoretical.

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    I've seen all those videos before. They don't and cannot explain consciousness.

    Great videos and amazing minds in those videos though. I love science but I can acknowledge that it does have its limits in understanding the grand scale of reality.
    I'd post some vids to shed some light on my argument but I'm limited to using my iPhone and it won't allow it.
    Last edited by BillHicksFan; 11-30-2011 at 06:42 AM.

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    In our conversations, don Juan consistently used or referred to the phrase "man of knowledge", but never explained what he meant by it. I asked him about it.

    "A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning," he said. "A man who has, without rushing or without faltering, gone as far as he can in unraveling the secrets of power and knowledge."
    "Can anyone be a man of knowledge?"
    "No, not anyone."
    "Then what must a man do to become a man of knowledge?"
    "He must challenge and defeat his four natural enemies.
    "Will he be a man of knowledge after defeating these four enemies?"
    "Yes. A man can call himself a man of knowledge only if he is capable of defeating all four of them."
    "Then, can anybody who defeats these enemies be a man of knowledge?'
    "Anybody who defeats them becomes a man of knowledge."
    "But are there any special requirements a man must fulfill before fighting with these enemies?"
    "No. Anyone can try to become a man of knowledge; very few men actually succeed, but that is only natural. The enemies a man encounters on the path of learning to become a man of knowledge are truly formidable: most men succumb to them."
    "What kind of enemies are they, don Juan?"

    He refused to talk about the enemies. He said it would be a long time before the subject would make any sense to me. I tried to keep the topic alive and asked him if he thought I could become a man of knowledge. He said no man could possibly tell that for sure. But I insisted on knowing if there were any clues he could use to determine whether or not I had a chance of becoming a man of knowledge. He said it would depend on my battle against the four enemies - whether I could defeat them or would be defeated by them-but it was impossible to foretell the outcome of that fight.

    I asked him if he could use witchcraft or divination to see the outcome of the battle. He flatly stated that the results of the struggle could not be foreseen by any means, because becoming a man of knowledge was a temporary thing. When I asked him to explain this point, he replied:

    "To be a man of knowledge has no permanence. One is never a man of knowledge, not really. Rather, one becomes a man of knowledge for a very brief instant, after defeating the four natural enemies."
    "You must tell me, don Juan, what kind of enemies they are."

    He did not answer. I insisted again. But he dropped the subject and started to talk about something else.

    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 stumbled 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 definitely 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 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 had 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 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 over-powers 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."

    (Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan)



    Last edited by Ichigo; 11-30-2011 at 12:59 PM.

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