To Become a Man of Knowledge Was a Matter of Strenuous Labor

A man of knowledge had to possess or had to develop in the course of his training an all-around capacity for exertion. Don Juan stated that to become a man of knowledge was a matter of strenuous labor. Strenuous labor denoted a capacity (1) to put forth dramatic exertion; (2) to achieve efficacy; and (3) to meet challenge.

In the path of knowledge drama was undoubtedly the outstanding single issue, and a special type of exertion was needed for responding to circumstances that required dramatic exploitation; that is to say, a man of knowledge needed dramatic exertion.

Exertion entailed not only drama, but also the need of efficacy. Exertion had to be effective; it had to possess the quality of being properly channeled, of being suitable. The idea of impending death created not only the drama needed for overall emphasis, but also the conviction that every action involved a struggle for survival, the conviction that annihilation would result if one’s exertion did not meet the requirement of being efficacious.

Exertion also entailed the idea of challenge, that is, the act of testing whether, and proving that, one was capable of performing a proper act within the rigorous boundaries of the knowledge being taught.