I love talking about petty tyrants because they surround us everyday. They can be total strangers or the people we love the most. The only thing they have in common is that they eat our “ kishkas” out. We experience anger, frustration, indignation, fear and sometimes hate, just to mention a few of the negative feelings that might come up when you encounter a petty tyrant. At the end, reacting negatively won’t solve the problem; it will just get us sick.1
According to Don Juan Matus, a shaman from a long lineage of shamans going back to Ancient Mexico, petty tyrants are gifts. He once sat next to his apprentice Carlos Castaneda, who was reeling from an encounter with a fellow apprentice. Don Juan laughed at his predicament and told Carlos how lucky he was. Carlos looked at him as if he lost his mind. How can I be lucky? This woman is crazy. All she strives for is to aggravate me! Why? What could I have possibly done to her?
Don Juan hollers out with laughter and told him not to pay any attention to her. What he needs to understand is that she is his petty tyrant. And petty tyrants teach us important lessons in stalking.2
I won’t go into what stalking is for shamans but basically in order to stalk someone, you need to be detached. You need to remove yourself from the illusion of how you tell yourself that this person relates to you. Your attachment to a person, in whatever form, has an affect on how you perceive yourself. For instance, let’s talk about a husband and wife. The wife sees the husband as a provider and a partner. She takes pride in how she runs the household and her contribution to the family. If her husband doesn’t see it this way, it diminishes her view of herself. It becomes important not only for him to see her they way she wants him to see her, but that he agrees with how she sees the world.
In reality, these are ALL thought forms that only exist in our minds. They are illusions or dreams of how we, “the self”, perceive our lives. In reality, it doesn’t matter what the husband thinks of her since this doesn’t change her real everyday world in any way. But it can affect her frame of mind from one of happiness or sorrow.
If we can identify the petty tyrant in the midst of his or her tyranny, we can instantly remove ourselves, or detach ourselves, from the situation. They remind us in the midst of turmoil and chaos that we are so much more than the roles we play in our lives. When this realization comes upon us, it allows us to transcend the moment in which we find ourselves and rise above it. Clarity prevails and correct action or reaction follows. In other words, we can think clearly and react appropriately.
Basically, “don’t take things personally”. Don Miguel Ruiz, who also brings us the ancient wisdom of the shamans of antiquity, states this over and over again in his book, “The Four Agreements”. “Don’t take anything personally.” Of course, this is easier said than done. 3
The husband comes home screaming about his food not being on the table. The wife nags about how things are not getting done around the house. The teenager walks into the house from school in a bad mood and takes it out on his/her parents. A crazy lunatic just cut you off and almost caused you to have an accident. These are all “stereotypes” of everyday situations that exemplify a petty tyrant.
Think about it. How many times have you lashed out when under stress and regretted it? Should everyone around you take it personally?
Next time you run into a petty tyrant, first recognize them immediately. Then proceed to detach yourself from the situation by reminding yourself that you are much more than the roles you play in this lifetime. You are in fact an eternal being that can transcend time and space. You can transcend who you “are”, all the roles you “play” and truly “re-member” your eternal connectedness to the Universe at large. Then proceed with clarity and intent.
Now, why is it important to live our lives with a certain degree of detachment? Negative feelings will get you sick. This is where Caroline Myss comes in. She is a medical intuitive who wrote the book, “Anatomy of the Spirit.” I recommend this book highly. She could see clearly how emotional stress turned into physical dis-ease.
Almost all the people she read who had illnesses, could trace the cause of the illness to specific moments in their lives that created tremendous emotional stress. She was able to see that not only was every thought and emotion recorded in the grand schemata of the Universal Consciousness, they were also recorded within our very own physical being.4 Scary thought, don’t you think?
Thankfully, Caroline Myss gives us ways to release these negative thoughts from our physical bodies and prevent the loss of energy and power. We are human and we will by our very nature err. When you do, when you lash out, don’t kick yourself for it! Just take a moment to compose yourself. Take one, two or three deep breaths. Think about why you are having negative thoughts or feelings. Decide instantly to forgive the “petty tyrant” (for they don’t know what they do), forgive yourself for overreacting, and CALL YOUR POWER BACK. Yes, every time you get angry or frustrated, you are allowing something or someone to steal your power. That bad feeling in your gut is your power leaving you. If you call it back, you can actually feel it “replenishing” your body. It’s the most awesome feeling I ever felt. I couldn’t believe it until I experienced it myself. CALL YOUR POWER BACK. But you must fully forgive in order for it to work.
The Dahli Lama clearly stated that first we must be compassionate and love ourselves before we can extend this further to our family, friends and beyond. So forgive yourself first, before you forgive others. Love yourself first, so you can truly love others. He went on to further state that detached love is more powerful then love that comes from attachment.
Eckhart Tolle wrote the book “The Power of Now.” In this book, he teaches you that the only thing that you really have is the Now, the moment in which you are currently breathing in and out. Every thing else is lived in the mind; our past, our possible future and our opinions of ourselves and others.
There was a moment in Eckhart Tolles’ life of tremendous despair. In this moment, he experienced a life-changing event that allowed him to live in the moment. It was as if his old self died and a new self was born. Many cultures talk about this. Shamans and spiritual leaders talk about having a similar experience. In many cultures, young adults are sent out to fend for themselves in the wilderness, sometimes having to achieve daunting tasks; all with the purpose of transcending the ego, quieting the mind and becoming conscious and living every moment in the NOW.
I would like to end this short discussion by giving you an example of a person who has lived his life based on this principle. I am talking about my father. He is now 81 years of age and has never been hospitalized (knock on wood). He swims the ocean everyday, takes long naps and travels for business every other week (kinahora).
When we were in business together, I once sent him a prospective buyer to visit our factories in the Dominican Republic. The client returned from his trip and asked to meet with me. When we sat down, he asked me “How does your father do it? What is his secret to living such a healthy life?”
I never thought about it before since the question was never quite posed to me this way but the answer came to me immediately. He is always present and he doesn’t hold a grudge”
My father is a survivor of the Holocaust. Perhaps there was a moment during his experience where the pain and suffering, both physical and emotional was so great that he transcended by removing himself mentally and started to live in the moment. The past was no longer and the future not his concern, just the now.
It’s been said by many mystics that we all have this moment, the moment when we can detach and see things clearly in the now. The moment when we realize we are far more than the roles we play. This moment is our deathbed or the moment before we cross over. Of course we don’t have to wait for tragedy or death to become conscious. We can try through many methods including meditation.
Don Juan Matus always told Carlos Castaneda to live fully in the moment, aware of his impending death, as if death constantly sat over his left shoulder. Death is a friend that constantly reminds us that all we have is NOW – this moment. This is how warriors live – fully aware and consciously in the moment.
1(Don Juan Matus sees these negative feelings as a loss of energy and acting without impeccability. Caroline Myss sees the same loss of energy but prefers to refer to it as a loss of power).
2Quoted from Carlos Castaneda’s book, “The Fire From Within” of which you can find on line the entire chapter on Petty Tyrants:
“Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it. What weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow men. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.
“Self-importance is not something simple and naive,” he explained. “On the one hand, it is the core of everything that is good in us, and on the other hand, the core of everything that is rotten. To get rid of the self-importance that is rotten requires a masterpiece of strategy. Seers, through the ages, have given the highest praise to those who have accomplished it.”
“I’m really mystified,” I said. “You keep on saying that la Gorda is the petty tyrant of my life. Just what is a petty tyrant?”
“A petty tyrant is a tormentor,” he replied. “Someone who either holds the power of life and death over warriors or simply annoys them to distraction.”
Don Juan had a beaming smile as he spoke to me. He said that the new seers developed their own classification of petty tyrants; although the concept is one of their most serious and important findings, the new seers had a sense of humor about it. He assured me that there was a tinge of malicious humor in every one of their classifications, because humor was the only means of counteracting the compulsion of human awareness to take inventories and to make cumbersome classifications.
The new seers, in accordance with their practice, saw fit to head their classification with the primal source of energy, the one and only ruler in the universe, and they called it simply the tyrant. The rest of the despots and authoritarians were found to be, naturally, infinitely below the category of tyrant. Compared to the source of everything, the most fearsome, tyrannical men are buffoons; consequently, they were classified as petty tyrants, pinches tiranos.
He said that there were two subclasses of minor petty tyrants. The first subclass consisted of the petty tyrants who persecute and inflict misery but without actually causing anybody’s death. They were called little petty tyrants, pinches tiranitos. The second consisted of the petty tyrants who are only exasperating and bothersome to no end. They were called small-fry petty tyrants, repinches tiranitos, or teensy-weensy petty tyrants, pinches tiranitos chiquititos.
He added that the little petty tyrants are further divided into four categories. One that torments with brutality and violence. Another that does it by creating unbearable apprehension through deviousness. Another which oppresses with sadness. And the last, which torments by making warriors rage.
“La Gorda is in a class of her own,” he added. “She is an acting, small-fry petty tyrant. She annoys you to pieces and makes you rage. She even slaps you. With all that she is teaching you detachment.”
“That’s not possible!” I protested.
“You haven’t yet put together all the ingredients of the new seers’ strategy,” he said. “Once you do that, you’ll know how efficient and clever is the device of using a petty tyrant. I would certainly say that the strategy not only gets rid of self-importance; it also prepares warriors for the final realization that impeccability is the only thing that counts in the path of knowledge.”
“The new seers used petty tyrants,” Don Juan said, staring at me fixedly, “not only to get rid of their self-importance, but to accomplish the very sophisticated maneuver of moving themselves out of this world. You’ll understand that maneuver as we keep on discussing the mastery of awareness.”
I explained to don Juan that what I had wanted to know was whether, in the present, in our times, the petty tyrants he had called small fry could ever defeat a warrior.
“All the time,” he replied. “The consequences aren’t as dire as those in the remote past. Today it goes without saying that warriors always have a chance to recuperate or to retrieve and come back later. But there is another side to this problem. To be defeated by a small-fry petty tyrant is not deadly, but devastating. The degree of mortality, in a figurative sense, is almost as high. By that I mean that warriors who succumb to a small-fry petty tyrant are obliterated by their own sense of failure and unworthiness. That spells high mortality to me.”
“How do you measure defeat?”
“Anyone who joins the petty tyrant is defeated. To act in anger, without control and discipline, to have no forbearance, is to be defeated.”
“What happens after warriors are defeated?”
“They either regroup themselves or they abandon the quest for knowledge and join the ranks of the petty tyrants for life.”
3 The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:
The First Agreement: Be Impeccable About Your Word
The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions
The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best\
4 Quoted from Caroline Myss book “Anatomy Of The Spirit. The Seven Stages Of Power And Healing.” :
The day was hot, and I was tired. The woman and I sat facing each other in my small office at Stillpoint. I had completed her evaluation and was hesitating for a moment before sharing it with her. I dreaded telling her that the cancer had spread throughout her body. I knew she was going to ask me why this catastrophe had happened to her, and I felt irritated by my responsibility of answering her. Sure enough, as I opened my mouth to speak, she reached over, put her hand on my leg, and asked, “Caroline, I know I have a serious cancer. Can’t you tell me why this is happening to me?”
My indignation rose to meet the hated question, and I almost snapped, “How would I know?” – when suddenly I was flushed with an energy I had never felt before. It moved through my body, as if it were pushing me aside in order to make use of my vocal cords. I could no longer see the woman in front of me. I felt as if I had been shrunk down to the size of a dime and ordered to “stand watch” from inside my head.
A voice spoke through me to this woman. “Let me walk you back through your life and through each of the relationships of you life,” it said. “Let me walk with you through all the fears you’ve had, and let me show you how those fears controlled you for so long that the energy of life could no longer nurture you.”
This “presence” escorted this woman through every detail of her life, and I mean every detail. It recalled the smallest of conversations for her; it remembered every relationship that held any meaning for her. This “presence” left the impression that every second of our lives- and every mental, emotional, creative, physical, and even resting activity with which we fill those seconds – is somehow known and recorded. Every judgment we make is noted. Every attitude we hold is a source of positive or negative power for which we are accountable.
Love and Light,
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