Straight Talk - V9


By The People's Chemist

It’s been 9 years since I taught my daughter, Lily, how to make soap. Since then, she’s had national placements in high school DECA, a successful soap business, a failed soap business, spent a night in jail under the suspicion of carrying drugs (she was innocent)…and she even produced a master class on soap making in the middle east, where saponification was born.

I started making soap 29 years ago. Lily’s first soap lesson was a math lesson—sell soap to a thousand people a month and you never have to work for someone else. 

Her second one was a chemistry lesson—when soap fat hardens, glycerin floats to the top. Let it cure into the soap, and you’ll have nature’s anti-aging serum, as well as a hair and skin brightening agent. 

Conversely, skim off the glycerin and mix it with sodium nitrate and a pinch of saw dust, and you’ve got dynamite. Chemistry can either destroy or protect. 

And finally, Lily’s third lesson was a cleaning lesson—“Cleanliness is next to godliness,” because nothing shows who you are more than your surroundings.

On day 1 of her soap lesson, Lily was just scratching the surface. She wouldn’t see a finished soap bar for an entire year. That kind of delayed gratification is hell for a 13-year-old. But it trains the brain to avoid cheap dopamine hits that lead to addiction.   It also instills the importance of discipline and focus, which yields life’s true treasures.  In this case, it would be the Magnum Opus of natural medicine - a rare bar of soap that hadn’t been made since the Babylonians boiled animal fats with ash and wine.

How to Make Soap - The 4 Cruel Enemies to Learning

Lily’s 22 now and still asking questions and expressing concerns about her future.  She doesn’t want to lose the love of her business again.  We sat outside last night discussing her recent success graduating from aesthetics school. Winning all three awards for attendance, sales, and performance, she confessed she still doesn’t know much. She’s also not sure what to do with her aesthetician license or education. “I’m going to keep growing my soap biz, training jiu-jitsu, and teaching my soap students. I guess we’ll see where it all goes.”

I insisted she’s going to run into problems with all of those things too. But she can have a fighting chance if she turns problems into learning opportunities. And that’s the only goal - learning! But she’ll have to be ready to conquer the 4 enemies of learning, as taught to Carlos Castaneda in Lessons from Don Juan.


Fear is the first enemy in the pursuit of knowledge. As you learn, you’ll confront weaknesses and blind spots you never knew existed. You’ll be forced to change in ways you thought weren’t possible. You’ll stand at the crossroads of your former self and have to say goodbye to traits and habits that don’t serve the subject matter you’re mastering. You’ll be scared.  If you confront that fear, effortless learning ensues.  With this new found ability to learn, you’ll be gifted clarity.

For Lily, she learned that owning and running a successful soap business had nothing to do with making soap. She then gained clarity and saw that being a successful entrepreneur had everything to do with learning how to be accountable to herself and others.

Fear is the first enemy in the pursuit of knowledge.


Once clarity is earned, it will become your next enemy to learning, ironically. Clarity is the kryptonite to fear. But it’s not always a gift.  With added clarity in her younger years she thought she knew it all.  Societies vices entered into Lily’s life—cannabis, wine, parties, friends, social media, and boys—all of which distracted her from the blood, sweat, and years she put into her soap lab. That path causes a slow decay. She was removing her heart from her business.

Gaining clarity makes you think you can see “everything.” It gives you false confidence.  You start telling yourself stories that aren’t true and letting falsehoods into your life.  Nothing new can be let in.  Blind spots dominate your vision, thought processes and most dangerously, your decision making.

To conquer the enemy of clarity, you must keep learning without fear, and recognize that no man has clarity. You have to force yourself to be a beginner again.  You have to sit down as a student, and start from scratch.  This helps you build and continue your quest for knowledge. And yet again, this gifts you a new, intoxicating and more extraordinary gift: power.

 Clarity is the kryptonite to fear. But it’s not always a gift.

With power coupled to fearlessness and clarity, the Holy Grail rests firmly in your hands. Your wish becomes your command.  Knowledge and clarity bestows great power and wisdom for greater self realization.  In the early 1900’s, Manly P. Hall told the world of this profound effect in man.  

In The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Hall tells us that,  “Esoterically, the Hanged Man is the human spirit which is suspended from heaven by a single thread. Wisdom, not death, is the reward for this voluntary sacrifice during which the human soul, suspended above the world of illusion, and meditating upon its unreality, is rewarded by the achievement of self-realization.”


In time, power becomes the third enemy looming. That’s because man doesn’t know how to use power.  Unwieldy power boils over into drunkenness and conceit. With unchecked power, cruelty reigns supreme (CRS).  You learn that you have everything and nothing all at the same time.  All paths lead to the same place - nowhere.  Power is usually your final demise.  Wielding power without heart forces kings to become unaccountable to enemies and loved ones alike. The king grows fat and ruthless on this throne.

Lily’s still wrestling with clarity. Today she sees power ruining dads who crawl into their Range Rovers to scroll their phones and eat more food to fuel their Pharma Belly. She sees moms wielding power in med spas on risky surgeries in search of vanity and more power…and kids chasing power through sugar highs and dopamine hits from the phone.

In time, power becomes the third enemy looming.

To overcome the enemy of power, you must know when to use it and when to bury it. More enticing, addictive, and profitable than love, power must be locked up and overcome with discipline, hard work, and non-selfish actions. 

Once you conquer fear, clarity, and power—self-love is the reward. This is when you no longer need admiration or adoration. The people you meet assume you have no power, no clarity, and no fear.  Your life tasks are fueled by unstoppable intent.

But there’s one more enemy…


Old age is the final and most fearsome enemy that arises after fearlessness, clarity and power are attained.  Old age is the cruelest of them all because nobody overcomes it. Most people try to run and hide from it. The only victory you have over old age is to always remember the alternative that awaits.  Turning away from this Grim Reaper means remaining a student of life and living tirelessly under its rule.  It means pushing past age with the physical and mental prowess of a child… and never paying attention to its’ slow, steady hypnosis that grabs ahold of you with birthdays, wrinkles, aches, pains, and illness.

The moment you conquer fear, clarity, power, and aging is the moment you realize heaven is a vibration, a feeling—not a place.

It doesn’t matter if your focus is soap or rocket chemistry. Conquering the four enemies of learning is the most revered path in life and your most powerful asset for protecting it.   Like Don Juan told Castaneda on the wisdom of the Yaqui, “A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it”

In time, power becomes the third enemy looming.

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