The Four Enemies

The Four Enemies

The Four enemies to a man of knowledge are a lesson in the Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. While many view the work of Carlos Castaneda as a fraud and useless a deeper truth exists for those willing to sift through obvious metaphor and allegory. Traditionally wisdom was imparted in myth to leave it accessible to those perceptive enough to receive it. The Four enemies alone are worthy of study and consideration.


First, we encounter fear. As the mind killer, it can warp the thoughts of a man of knowledge causing them to stop. Fear has subtle roots in lots of the biggest issues in our culture. Many will perish at the hands of this enemy.

Overcome by:
Beginning to recognize fear is actually based in a self-important outlook. Next understanding our own invincibility on a soul level.


After we overcome fear we encounter clarity. Although clarity may seem desirable, it’s not. Seeing that we can’t know everything or perceive every situation correctly, true clarity is an illusion. However, a man of knowledge may become so reliant on their own “clarity” they fail to open themselves to new outlooks, thus ending their quest for knowledge.

Overcome by:
In order to overcome clarity, a man of knowledge must maintain an open mind. Often times people say they are openminded when in fact they only entertain their own beliefs. A truly open mind requires constant vigilance.


When we are no longer fearful or blinded by our own perception we begin to access real power. Having overcome our previous enemies we no longer have some of the safety they provide. Power wielded unwisely is able to manifest misfortune in many ways. In case you haven’t heard, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The ultimate threat here is having your quest for knowledge hedged for power alone.

Overcome by:
Given that power is a potent enemy, a two-prong approach is necessary. Therefore, humility and respect are important assets to bring to this fight. The definition of humility needed here is a balanced assessment of reality. Respect in this context would be the integrity to act in alignment with reality.

Old Age

Finally, we come to the last enemy, old age. This is the point where failing health, the passage of time and becoming obsolete weigh heavy on the soul.

Overcome by:
Carlos Castaneda presents this as a fixed fight in the Teachings of Don Juan. However, subsequent works by Castaneda reveal that there may be a way to overcome this enemy as well.

The Four Enemies In Summary

When one decides to become a man of knowledge knowing the path is important. Initially fear confronts us until we recognize our invincibility on a soul level. Then clarity steps into the ring until we embody open-mindedness. Now the power we possess must be tempered with humility and respect. Lastly, we encounter old age, whose secrets you must uncover on your own.

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