Four Enemies

Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.

                                              -- Sun Tzu


In the tales of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda, a Yaqui Indian named Don Juan teaches a man the way of a warrior.  In one of the many lessons there are to be taken from this series of books the lesson of the four enemies is a timeless classical lesson for any culture.  To become a man of knowledge one must challenge and defeat his four natural enemies.

Man’s first enemy is
Fear.  There are many kinds of fear and if at any point man succumbs to this enemy then his quest is over and he is defeated.  Like anything overcoming fear is a process and the only way to overcome ones fears is to face ones fears.  Overcoming fears is a continuously graduating process that builds on previous successes.  The reward of overcoming fear is confidence.  Fear and confidence are two ends of the same stick.  Eventually determination wins and he becomes immune to his fears and has overcome his first enemy.

His second enemy is Clarity.  If he does not have clear understanding of what needs to be done, he becomes a bull in a china shop.  Clarity

His third enemy is Power.  Power is the strongest of the enemies because it is intoxicating and it is that intoxication that can ruin a man.  It is in this stage that a man is easily susceptible to making mistakes.  A sense of entitlement ensues and soon the man’s ego will be filled with unquenchable desire.  He will become malicious and merciless while looking down on others, and thus he becomes victim to his third enemy.  Giving into power is to lose the battle with it.  By not giving in, progress is still available.  Even if he is defeated by his power he will not lose his fearlessness and clarity, but will become rotted by his own ego.  Humility is his only ally.  If he can keep his power in check he will have defeated his third enemy.

Only to face his final enemy – Old Age.  Old age is an enemy he can not defeat, only keep at bay.  His last enemy makes him realize the futility of fighting because it can not be beat, but it is facing up to it, just as he did with fear that allows him to conquer it.  Old age can cause a man to become listless and tired and become not enjoy the rewards of having overcome his first three enemies.