The Petty Tyrant – Castaneda Quotes
Castaneda was a fraud but he was a coyote teacher: i.e. he taught with stories, but his stories were borrowed or made up. His claim was that he was taught to become a warrior/sorcerer by a wise old Mexican Indian called Don Juan who himself was part of an ancient lineage of mysterious teachings going back to pre-Aztec periods.
The concept of The Petty Tyrant (Bully) is extremely valuable to modern day folk in dealing with people who have power over us but abuse that power, consciously or otherwise.
I share some quotes below from CCs books on the key concepts, and after 40 years of applying them, I have finally started to see for myself how accurate this method is.
Quotes are from Chapter 2 of “The Fire From Within”:
Develop A Strategy
“Don Juan explained that the mistake average men make in confronting petty tyrants is not to have a strategy to fall back on; the fatal flaw is that average men take themselves too seriously; their actions and feelings, as well as those of the petty tyrants, are all-important. Warriors, on the other hand, not only have a well-thought-out strategy, but are free from self-importance. What restrains their self-importance is that they have understood that reality is an interpretation we make.“
Self-Importance Is Our Greatest Enemy
“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. “The new seers recommended that every effort should be made to eradicate self-importance from the lives of warriors.”
Control, Discipline, Forbearance, Timing
Don Juan: “”My benefactor (Don Juan’s teacher) developed a strategy using the four attributes of warriorship: control, discipline, forbearance, and timing… The idea of using a petty tyrant is not only for perfecting the warrior’s spirit, but also for enjoyment and happiness.””
Carlos asked: “How could anyone enjoy the monster you described?”
Don Juan: “He was nothing in comparison to the real monsters that the new seers faced during the Conquest. By all indications those seers enjoyed themselves blue dealing with them. They proved that even the worst tyrants can bring delight, provided, of course, that one is a warrior.”
Don Juan’s Story of Facing A Petty Tyrant
Don Juan then tells a story of becoming abused by a manager working under a Mexican land owner, this manager (referred to as “the man” in the below quotes) had the power to kill him, but would have to do it without the land owner knowing.
During this time he was also under the teachings of his Benefactor in the arts of becoming a warrior. He was now applying Control, discipline, forbearance, timing, and a curious final part defined as Will. (I don’t share discussion on Will, as it is not something we can apply in the strategy).
Don Juan: “My control made me fulfill the man’s most asinine demands. I gladly did everything he asked of me. I was joyful and strong. And I didn’t give a fig about my pride or my fear. I was there as an impeccable warrior. To tune the spirit when someone is trampling on you is called control.“
Don Juan then explained that his benefactor’s strategy required that instead of feeling sorry for himself as he had done before, he immediately got to work mapping the man’s strong points, his weaknesses, his quirks of behavior. (He had been a prisoner to the same man years before but escaped, once he started his warrior training he was advised by his benefactor to go back and use this Petty Tyrant to cement his lessons).
He added that his benefactor’s strategy called for a systematic harassment of the man by taking cover with a higher order, just as the seers of the new cycle had done during the Conquest by shielding themselves with the Catholic church. A lowly priest was sometimes more powerful than a nobleman. Don Juan’s shield was the lady who got him the job. He kneeled in front of her and called her a saint every time he saw her.
Don Juan said that timing is the quality that governs the release of all that is held back. So one day, in the presence of the other workers but in sight of his lady as well, don Juan insulted the man. He called him a coward, who was mortally afraid of the boss’s wife.
His benefactor’s strategy had called for being on the alert for a moment like that and using it to turn the tables on the petty tyrant. Unexpected things always happen that way. The lowest of the slaves suddenly makes fun of the tyrant, taunts him, makes him feel ridiculous in front of significant witnesses, and then rushes away without giving the tyrant time to retaliate.
The man and his friends called him to the back, allegedly to do some work. The man was very pale, white with anger. From the sound of his voice don Juan knew what the man was really planning to do. Don Juan pretended to acquiesce, but instead of heading for the back, he ran for the stables. He trusted that the horses would make such a racket the owners would come out to see what was wrong. He knew that the man would not go where the horses were – that is, unless he had been pushed beyond his endurance.
“I jumped inside the stall of the wildest stallion,” don Juan said, “and the petty tyrant, blinded by rage, took out his knife and jumped in after me. I went instantly behind my planks. The horse kicked him once and it was all over.
“I had spent six months in that house and in that period of time I had exercised the four attributes of warriorship. Thanks to them, I had succeeded. Not once had I felt sorry for myself or wept in impotence. I had been joyful and serene. My control and discipline were as keen as they’d ever been, and I had had a firsthand view of what forbearance and timing did for impeccable warriors. And I had not once wished the man to die.”