Dear Lujan,

What is the purpose of the ‘petty tyrant’? Don Juan shared his experience with one and it left so many questions in me. Do I need to conquer him or her when they present themselves? His experience in Castaneda’s book is so dramatic, it freaked me out.

I ask this because I was confronted with this very difficult yet valuable experience. My ‘petty tyrant’ has been a woman I work with, who behaves- through my eyes- in the worst possible ways towards others. She is in a very influential position and maneuvers herself well within the social structure, using covert aggression to elicit compliance. We have had disagreements where I will simply not submit to her manipulation, which made me a target of her backdoor power games. Part of me was so scared that there would need to be some major show down that I just avoided her as much as possible.

Over the years, though I worked towards creating as much distance from her as possible, I was drawn into conversations with others where I would state my wariness and disapproval of her behavior. I always regretted it after, since I knew it was feeding some sort of fire and it pressured my heart center.

So this week, I partly set myself up to attend a week long meeting where she would be present, and where she would be in a position to offer me assistance or reject me. I could also choose to be completely independent from her. There were others there who knew of my opinion of her, yet are beholden to her influence as she maneuvers herself so that people keep her happy. Everything was so incredibly set up for this strange situation, even the weather, our locations, our commitments! I went into this knowing that it would challenge me, yet at the same time I was tired of fighting this petty tyrant in my heart. The emotional pull to ‘teach her a lesson’ and ‘wake others up to her manipulation’ were keeping me trapped and I wanted to move on.

Since childhood I have felt like an outsider in social situations, so being thrown into one with no way out made me reflect on this imprint. The inner struggle on this went on for days, spilling over into my dreamscape, until my heart asked to be closer to hers, and fill the void left by the shadow’s influence. I don’t know how to explain this. My heart simply spoke to her heart, and I stopped fighting then turned my gaze within.

I took the lowest position, allowing myself to be vulnerable and for her to reject me socially several times, yet remained fully independent and unconcerned so that the rejections had no impact on me or my needs. When she pushed me aside in an effort to elicit compliance (playing the tit-for-tat of the social “Golden Rule”), I simply moved in another direction of benefit for me, finding the freedom to be unconcerned. It is the strangest thing I’ve ever done. Some part of her knew she was being of service to me- though she outwardly rejected me socially-, and that I was the one causing the actions.

Now when I think of her in my heart, I feel love for her, for she has shown me the value of being unimportant and open my heart to whatever comes while staying fluid and unconcerned.

Much love to you,


Luma, there are many ways to decipher the description of the petty tyrant within the abstract meanings of Carlos Castaneda’s writings. The obvious context is that of adversarial circumstances, as you have described and experienced within your elucidation. It seems that you have resolved the meaning within the context of your own life.

Clarity and immovability is a way to personal power. Being immovable does not mean resistance or reluctance towards change. It is to become the mountain.

As we all know, to view a mountain is entirely different to climbing a mountain. As it overcomes you, you begin to view it from an alternate perspective. Yet it has done nothing to you personally by viewing you.

It witnesses your struggle to obtain footing. This is immovability; when you realize you contain the power of that mountain through witnessing the fact that you are being witnessed.

This is when the petty tyrant’s actions appear as they are: feeble. For there is the consistency and determination of change that awaits and watches all things traveling to their inevitability.

And this is where the knowledge of the abstract cores from Juan Matus are revealed for what they really are; only one piece, one step towards one’s self-mastery.

For those of you who are waiting for the follow up to the questions in the post about Sleep Paralysis: The Shaman’s Approach, they will be answered next week.

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