In light of his focus and detachment, a spiritual warrior also understands that his life consists of equally important acts, and these actions are also equally unimportant. Sounds like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it?
This premise warrants further explanation because it is critical to a full understanding of the warrior mentality. It raises the following question. If all of our acts are equally important and unimportant, why should we bother with the Golden Rule or have personal integrity? Why not be like so many others and worship at the altars of greed and avarice, if it does not matter what we choose to do? What about morality and ethical concerns? Do we just throw them to the wind?
The answer is controlled folly, as described in Carlos Castaneda’s ” Journey to Ixtlan.” Here is an excerpt from his dialogue with the Nagual Don Juan.
Don Juan is speaking to CC:
“I am happy that you finally asked me about my controlled folly after so many years, and yet it wouldn’t have mattered to me in the least if you had never asked. Yet I have chosen to feel happy, as if I cared, that you asked, as if it would matter that I care. That is controlled folly!”
We both laughed very loudly. I hugged him. I found his explanation delightful although I did not quite understand it…
“With whom do you exercise controlled folly, don Juan?” I asked after a long silence.
He chuckled. “With everybody!” he exclaimed, smiling.
When do you choose to exercise it, then?”
“Every single time I act.”
I felt I needed to recapitulate at that point and I asked him if controlled folly meant that
his acts were never sincere but were only acts of an actor.
“My acts are sincere,” he said, “but they are only acts of an actor.”
“Then everything you do must be controlled folly!” I said truly surprised.
“Yes, everything,” he said.
“But it can’t be true,” I protested, “that every one of your acts is only a controlled folly.”
“Why not?” he replied with a mysterious look.
“That would mean that nothing matters to you and you don’t really care about anything or anybody. Take me, for example. Do you mean that you don’t care whether or not I become a man of knowledge, or whether I live, or die, or do anything?”
“True!” I don’t. You are like Lucio [another one of don Juan’s apprentises] or everybody else in my life, my controlled folly.”
“I experienced a peculiar feeling of emptiness…”
Controlled folly does not mean that nothing matters to a warrior. On the contrary, it means that a warrior acknowledges that he does not know all the questions, much less the answers to all of life’s complexities and mysteries.
He honors the unknown and unknowable, remaining open and fluid instead of pretending that he knows everything. He never exhausts his power building and trying to maintain castles made of sand. He realizes that he can not anticipate the workings of the Spirit.
A warrior gathers power by acting impeccably. He chooses what to be and what to do, according to a set of values and principles that defines him, just as I have chosen to make impeccability the focal point of my value system.
A spiritual warrior plays for keeps using his personal power in a clear and focused manner to accomplish his intent because, with death always at at his shoulder he knows that it does not make any sense to spend this precious lifetime acting in an unfocused and haphazard way.
Yet, at the same time, because he knows that he does not have all the answers, he realizes that nothing he does may matter in the scope of the totality of the universe.
He realizes that nothing he says or does may ever be of any eternal signifigance. But he acts anyway out of a deep longing lodged in the quiet recesses of his soul.
It is about a perspective, indeed. He chooses the empowering optimistic perspective without regret assuming full responsibility for his choices and acts even though he knows damned well that it may be folly to do so.
A spiritual warrior chooses to live his life on the abyss and he laughs as he leaps into the unknown.