“Denying oneself is an indulgence. The indulgence of denying is by far the worst; it forces us to believe that we are doing great things, when in effect we are only fixed within ourselves.”
In this quote from A Separate Reality, Carlos Castaneda unmasks the self-importance of self-denial. On the one hand, Americans overindulge and, on the other hand, have a puritanical guilt complex about it. What Carlos is challenging is the self-definition of becoming valuable because we begin a collection, a new inventory of deeds of denial and feel good about ourselves accordingly.
Certainly, the inability to discipline the self comes with a huge price. On the other hand, disciplining the self and accomplishing great deeds also comes with a huge price, the illusion of permanence. The challenge is to avoid becoming a collector of anything, huge deeds or huge misdeeds, indulgence or denial.
Self-importance appears with many faces, asceticism and worldly accumulation are but two. Beware as well of the middle way: if you find pride in your attachment to balance, once again self-importance has found its way into your self-definition. Better to indulge, to break the accumulation of days of pride in having achieved the better way. ‘Tis better to pick up after a year of sobriety and restart the steps than to indulge in thirty self-important years of dryness and rage.
Break all the rules. But beware not to get attached to the self-importance of being a rule breaker. If you fall into that trap, better to become consistent and disciplined to erase any attachment to the self-importance of the maverick. Self-definitions are rigid and fixed and make us appear to “be something.” Better to be nothing and everything, as fits the situation. This is fluidity, the ideal place to be. Of course, it’s possible to get caught in the self-importance of being fluid! In that case, it might be important to become rigid and unrelenting, to break the spell of unwittingly becoming fixed within as a superior fluid being.
I close today with another quote, from the Tao Te Ching:
“To hold things and be proud of them is not as good as not to have them,
Because if one insists on an extreme, that extreme will not dwell long.
When a room is full of precious things, one will never be able to preserve them.
When one is wealthy, high ranking, and proud of himself, he invites misfortune.
When one’s task is completed and his mission is fulfilled, he removes himself from his position.
This is indeed the way of Nature!”
If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.
Until we meet again,
NOTE: The quotes above come from The Wheel of Time by Carlos Castaneda, p. 53 and Tao: A New Way of Thinking by Chang Chung-yuan, p. 25.