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Controlled stupidity


- Tell me, please, what is it all about - controlled nonsense.
Don Juan laughed out loud and slammed himself loudly on his thigh with a palm folded in his boat.
“This is controlled nonsense,” he exclaimed with a laugh and slapped again.
- Do not understand…
- I am glad that in a few years you have finally matured and bothered to ask this question. At the same time, if you had never done this, I would not care. Nevertheless, I chose joy, as if I really care whether you ask or not. As if for me it is more important than anything in the world. Do you understand? This is controlled nonsense.
We both burst out laughing. I hugged his shoulders. The explanation seemed wonderful to me, although I did not understand anything.
... - In relation to whom you practice controlled nonsense, don Juan? - I asked after a long pause.
He grinned.
- In relation to all.
“Okay, come on, then. How do you choose when to practice controlled nonsense, and when not?
- I practice it all the time.
Then I asked if it meant that he never acts sincerely and that all his actions are just an acting game.
“My actions are always sincere,” don Juan replied. - And yet they are nothing more than acting.
“But then everything that you do should be controlled by stupidity,” I was amazed.
“So it is,” he confirmed.
- But this can not be! - I objected. “All your actions cannot be controlled by stupidity.”
- Why not? He asked mysteriously.
- It would mean that in reality you have nothing to do with anything or anyone. Here I am, for example. Do you really want to say that you don’t care if I become a Knowledge Man or not, am I alive or dead, and what happens to me?
- Absolutely. It absolutely does not interest me. And you, and Lucio, and everyone else in my life are nothing more than objects for the practice of controlled nonsense.
Some special sensation of emptiness flooded me. It was clear that don Juan really had no reason to care for me. On the other hand, I had almost no doubt that I was personally interested in him. Otherwise, he would not have paid me so much attention.Or maybe he said that because I was getting on his nerves? In the end, he had a good reason for this: I refused to learn from him.
“I suspect we are talking about different things,” I said. - Should not have taken me as an example. I wanted to say - there must be at least something in the world to which you are not indifferent, which would not be an object for controlled stupidity. I can not imagine how you can live when nothing matters.
“That would be true if it were you,” he said. - What is happening in the world of people matters to you. But you asked about me, about my controlled stupidity. I replied that all my actions in relation to myself and to other people are nothing more than controlled nonsense, since there is nothing that would matter to me.
“Good, but if nothing else matters to you, how do you live, don Juan?” After all, this is not life.
He laughed, and was silent for a while, as if wondering if he should answer. Then he got up and went behind the house. I hurried after him.
- Wait, but I really want to understand! Explain to me what you mean.
- Perhaps the explanation is useless here. It is impossible to explain, he said.- In your life there are important things that are of great importance to you. This applies to most of your actions. I - everything is different. For me there is nothing more important - neither things, nor events, nor people, nor phenomena, nor actions - nothing. But still, I continue to live because I have the will. This will is hardened with all my life and as a result I became whole and perfect. And now it does not matter for me whether it matters something or not. The stupidity of my life is controlled by the will.
... I was completely confused. After a long pause, I said that some actions of our neighbors are still crucial. For example, nuclear war. It is difficult to present a more vivid example. Erase life from the face of the earth - what could be worse?
- For you it is. Because you think, don Juan said, flashing his eyes. - You think about life. But you do not see.
And if I saw, would I treat differently? - I asked.
- Having learned to see, a person discovers that he is alone in the world. There is no one else and nothing but the stupidity we are talking about, don Juan said mysteriously.
He paused, looking at me and as if assessing the effect of his words.
- Your actions, as well as the actions of your neighbors, are only important as long as you have learned to think that they are important.
The word "learned", he singled out a strange intonation. I could not help asking what he means.
Don Juan stopped collecting plants and looked at me.
“First we learn to think about everything,” he said. - And then we teach our eyes to look at what we think. The person looks at himself and thinks that he is very important. And begins to feel important. But then, having learned to see, he realizes that he can no longer think about what he is looking at. And when he stops thinking about what he is looking at, everything becomes unimportant.
Don Juan noticed the expression of utter bewilderment on my face and repeated the last statement three times, as if trying to make me understand. Despite this, what he said at first impressed me with absolute senselessness. But after deliberation, I decided that it was a complex formula that relates to some aspects of perception.
I tried to compose a question that would bring clarity, but I could not collect my thoughts. Suddenly I felt completely exhausted, and there was no trace of clarity of thinking.
Don Juan seemed to notice and gently patted me on the shoulder.
“You clean these plants, and then you carefully cut them here,” he said, giving me a big jug, and went somewhere.
He returned a few hours later. It is already evening ...
... I asked how about answering questions.
- What are you interested in?
“Our talk today about controlled stupidity has confused me,” I said. - I really can not understand what you mean.
- And you can not. Because you are trying to think about it, and my words do not tally with your thoughts.
“I'm trying to think,” I said, “because for me this is the only opportunity to understand.” And yet, do you want to say that as soon as a person begins to see, everything in the world loses its value at once?
- Did I say "lose value"? It becomes not important, that's what I said. All things and phenomena in the world are equivalent in the sense that they are not equally important. Here, say, my actions. I can not say that they are more important than yours. Just as no thing can be more important than another. All phenomena, things, actions have the same meaning and therefore are not something important.
Then I asked if he thought the vision was “better” than a simple “looking at things”. He replied that the eyes of a person can perform both functions, and neither of them is better than the other. To accustom oneself to only one of these modes of perception means to limit oneself unjustifiably.
“For example, in order to laugh, we need to look,” he said. - Everything that is in the world of the ridiculous can be caught only when you look. When a person sees, everything is so equal that nothing funny can be.
“Do you, don Juan, say that the seer cannot laugh?”
He paused for a moment.
- Probably, there are people of knowledge who never laugh. However, I do not know these. Those with whom I am familiar, not only see, but also look, so they can all laugh.
- Can the Knowledge Man cry?
- I think yes. Our eyes are looking, so we can laugh, cry, have fun, grieve or rejoice. Personally, I do not like to be sad. Therefore, when I have to face something that causes sadness, I shift my eyes and begin to see instead of looking. But if something funny comes across, I prefer to look and laugh.
- Yeah! Then your laugh is real. It turns out that laughter is no longer controlled nonsense.
“You know, I'm talking to you partly because you give me a reason to laugh,” he said. - Rodents live in the desert - rats are such with fluffy tails. To manage the stocks of other rodents, they put their tails in their burrows. Those get scared and run away. But at that moment, when the rat is sitting with its tail stuck in another's hole, it is easy to catch it. So you - are caught on their own issues. Is it time to choose? After all, rats are sometimes left without a tail, saving their skin.
His comparison made me laugh ...
... “My laugh is real,” don Juan said. However, like everything I do. But he is a controlled nonsense, because it is useless. It does not change anything, but still I laugh.
“But as far as I understand, don Juan, your laughter is not useless.” He makes you happy.
- No. I am happy that I look at things that make me happy, and then my eyes catch their funny sides, and I laugh. I told you this many times. To be at your best, you always have to choose the path suggested by your heart. Maybe for someone it will always mean to laugh.
I decided that he meant the opposite of laughter and crying, or at least that crying is an action that weakens us. But don Juan said that there was no fundamental difference. It's just that he personally is more suited to laughter, because when he laughs, his body feels better than when he cries.
Then I noticed that there is no equivalence here, since there is a preference. If he prefers to laugh rather than cry, then laughter is more important.
But he stubbornly asserted that his preference does not mean anything, they are equivalent. I said that, bringing our argument to a logical end, we can say: "If everything is equivalent, then why not choose death?"
“Sometimes the Knowledge Man does it,” don Juan said. “And one day it might just disappear.” In such cases, people usually think that he was killed for something. And he simply chose death, because for him it did not matter. I chose life. And laughter. And not because it is important, but because this is the tendency of my nature. I say “chose” because I see. But in fact, I did not choose. My will makes me live contrary to what I see in the world. You cannot understand me now because of your habit of thinking the way you look.
The last phrase interested me. I asked what he means.
Don Juan repeated it word for word several times, and then explained that, when he said “to think,” he meant the stable, permanent concepts that we have about everything in the world. He said that the vision eliminates the habit of them. But until I learn to see, I will not be able to understand what is at stake.
“But if nothing matters, don Juan, then why should it matter if I learn to see or not?”
- I have already told you that our destiny as people is to study, for good or evil. I learned to see, and say that there is nothing that would matter. Now it's your turn. It is likely that one day you will learn to see, and then you yourself will know what matters and what does not. For me, there is nothing that matters, but for you, perhaps everything will be significant. Now you have to understand: the Man of Knowledge lives by action, not by thought, about action. He chooses the path of the heart and follows this path. When he looks, he rejoices and laughs; when he sees, he knows. He knows that his life will end very soon; he knows that he, like anyone else, is not going anywhere; he knows that everything is the same. He has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name, no homeland.There is only life to live. In such conditions, controlled stupidity is the only thing that can connect him with his neighbors. Therefore, it acts, sweats and sweats away. And looking at him, anyone will see an ordinary person living just like everyone else. The only difference is that the stupidity of his life is under control. Nothing matters, therefore the Knowledge Man simply chooses an act and commits it. But it does as if it matters. Controlled stupidity makes him say that his actions are very important, and act accordingly. At the same time, he is well aware that all this does not matter. So, ceasing to act, the Man of Knowledge returns to a state of rest and balance. Good was his action or bad, was it possible to complete it, before that he does not care.
On the other hand, the Knowledge Man may not commit any actions at all. Then he behaves as if this relativity has meaning for him. So it is also possible, because it will be controlled nonsense.
In long and confused expressions, I tried to explain to don Juan that I am interested in motives,forcing a Knowledge Man to act in a certain way despite the understanding that nothing matters.
Grinning, he replied:
- You think about your actions, so you need to believe that these actions are as important as you think they are. But in reality, of all that a person does, there is nothing that matters. Nothing! But how can I live then? After all, you asked about this? It would be easier to die; you say so and think because you think about life. Like, for example, you think now what a vision looks like. You demand a description from me. That which would allow you to think about it, how you think about everything else. But in the case of a vision it is impossible to think at all. Therefore, I will never be able to explain to you what it is. Now, regarding my controlled stupidity. You want to hear about the reasons that motivate me to act that way, but I can only say one thing - controlled nonsense is very much like a vision. It is impossible to think about this or any other.
Don Juan yawned, lay on his back and stretched, crunching his joints.
“You have been away too long,” he said, “and you think too much.”
He got up and went into the thick charaperl behind the house. I remained sitting by the fire, throwing brushwood, so that the brew in the pot would boil ...
Only one thing remained of our conversation in my head - don Juan doesn't care about me. It did not give me rest. So many years I believed him! If it were not for this faith, I would have long been paralyzed from fear when meeting with what he taught me. At the heart of this belief was the firm conviction that don Juan took care of me personally. Somewhere deep in my heart I was always afraid of him, but I managed to suppress this fear thanks to deep faith. Now he himself completely destroyed the basis on which my attitude towards him was built. I had nothing to rely on. I felt completely helpless.
Some strange concern gripped me. I jumped up and began to walk excitedly near the fire. Don Juan did not come, and I was looking forward to his return.
Finally he appeared and sat down by the fire. I laid out to him everything about my fears: and the fact that I cannot change direction, having reached the middle of the stream; and the fact that, for me, faith in him is inseparable from respect for his way of life, which is inherently more rational, or rather, more appropriate than mine; and thatthat he had driven me into a corner, plunging me into a terrifying conflict, because his words make me radically change my attitude towards him and to everything connected with him. As an example, I told don Juan one story about an old American, a very educated and wealthy lawyer, a conservative by conviction. This man all his life piously believed that he was fighting for a just cause. In the thirties, when the Roosevelt administration developed drastic measures to heal the American economy, the so-called "new approach", he was completely embroiled in a political confrontation. He was convinced that change would lead to the collapse of the state. Defending the usual way of life and being convinced that he was right, this man fiercely rushed into the thick of the struggle with what he considered a political evil. However, the time for change has already come, and a wave of new political and economic realities has overturned him. He fought for ten years of life in the political arena as well as in his personal life, but the Second World War finally finished him off politically and ideologically. With a feeling of bitterness, he retired and climbed into the wilderness, voluntarily condemning himself to exile.When I met him, he was already eighty-four, he returned to his hometown to live the remaining years in a nursing home. I was surprised that he lived for so long, given the bitterness and self-pity he was experiencing for decades. I liked him a little, and we often talked for a long time.
Ending the conversation that took place before we left for Mexico, he said:
- I had enough time to look back and understand what was happening. The main events of my life have long become history, and far from the best of its episodes. And it is possible that I spent the years of my life in pursuit of something that simply did not exist. Recently, I feel that I believed in some kind of pathos. For this it was not worth living. Now I know that. But the lost forty years will not return ...
I told don Juan that the reason for my internal conflict was his words about controlled nonsense.
“If there is nothing that would matter,” I reasoned, “then, having become a Knowledge Man, you will inevitably come to the same desolation as this old man, and you will not be in a better position.”
“That's not true,” don Juan objected.- Your friend is lonely, because he will die without knowing how to see. In his life, he simply grew old, and now he has more reason for self-pity than ever. He feels that he has lost forty years, because he longed for victories, but was defeated. He will never know that to be a conqueror or a vanquished is one and the same.
Now you are afraid of me, because I told you that you are equivalent to everything else. You fall into childhood. Our destiny as people is to learn, and one should go to knowledge as one goes to war. I have told you about this many times. People go to knowledge or to war with fear, with respect, with the consciousness of where they are going, and with absolute self-confidence. You must believe in yourself, not in me!
Are you afraid of the emptiness into which the life of your acquaintance has turned? But in the life of a Man of Knowledge there can be no emptiness. His life is filled to the brim.
Don Juan stood up and stretched his arms out in front of him, as if feeling something in the air.
“Everything is filled to the brim,” he repeated, “and all the same.” I don't look like your friend who just grew old. And, asserting that nothing matters, I am not at all talking about what he means.For him, his struggle was not worth the effort, because he was defeated. For me, there are no victories, no defeats, no emptiness. Everything is filled to the brim and still, and my struggle was worth my efforts.
To become a man of knowledge, you need to be a warrior, not a aching child. To fight without giving up, without complaining, without retreating, fight until you see. And all this only in order to understand that there is nothing in the world that would matter.
Don Juan stirred the contents of the pot with a wooden spoon. The soup was ready ...
... The soup was too hot to drink directly from the bowl, and while it was cooling down, I asked don Juan if controllable stupidity means something that a Knowledge Person can never love.
Don Juan stopped eating and laughed.
“You are too anxious to love people and to be loved.” The man of Knowledge loves and that's it. He loves everyone he likes and everything that he likes, but he uses his controlled nonsense to not take care of it. Which is completely opposite to what you are doing right now. People to love or be loved by them - this is not all that is available to man.
He looked at me, tilting his head slightly to one side, and added:
- Think about it…
© Carlos Castaneda. Separate Reality.

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