Don Juan Matus told Carlos Castaneda that the view of human beings is frozen, fixated out the back window of the caboose of a train that is moving forward into oncoming time. Humans are not free to face life as it approaches, like the engineer who drives the engine car, but instead see only the rails of life already lived.
This fixated view is the product of our self-importance, which reigns supreme over our ability to assimilate and interpret reality as it funnels all events through the filter of “me,” thus depriving us of the fuller view of life, as it truly is, in real time. The sorcerers of don Juan’s lineage strove relentlessly to become beings of no importance; mindful shamans, fully present to life unfolding, in the engine car of life.
The shamans place no blame on humans for their narcissistic predicament, in fact, removing judgment is the primary mechanism to freeing all events from being rendered as a reflection of self. For example, I’m standing on line at a store, calmly waiting my turn to go to the register. Up walks a being who cuts the line and proceeds to the cashier. I see red. I’m offended, in fact I’m incensed! Who do they think they are? Do they think they’re special, that I don’t matter! It’s not fair; we all had to wait. This person must be stopped, confronted.
No one is saying anything, though obviously everyone has noticed. I’ll be the hero! I won’t allow my self-importance, my value, my significance to be undermined or negated. Not again. Not like when I was a powerless child. Why do I have to be the one to stand up? Why is it always me that has to take the risks and maybe get hurt? Am I afraid I’ll be hurt? Will my voice crack? Will sound come out if I open my mouth? Am I supposed to turn the other cheek? Isn’t that just a copout? Is it okay to be angry? Is someone noticing that I’m nervous? Etc., etc., etc.
LET ME OUT OF THE CABOOSE!!!
This is an example of the incessant internal dialogue of “me” that reports and constantly gauges all events in terms of my self-worth, self-importance, self-esteem, etc. If I, on the contrary, feel worthless, then the dialogue switches from offense to pity, and a stream of comments that construct and reinforce my inferior self spew out. Perhaps I’ll realize, as I stand on that checkout line, that I don’t have the right to exist and hence have no right to complain about any injustice perpetrated upon me. Either way, “me” is the common denominator of the internal dialogue. Feeling unimportant is equally attached to “me.” It’s still all about “me,” however diminished that “me” may feel.
Being of no importance is being mindfully present, without obligation to change, fix, or defend anything. Without importance there is no offense. How can I be offended if I have no importance to uphold? I might choose to act or not to act when standing on that checkout line, but my criteria for action will not be to defend offense to myself. I might indeed challenge the perpetrator, but won’t be offended by the outcome of my challenge—it simply doesn’t matter. There’s no self-importance to defend. I am not attached to the outcome; in no way is it a reflection on me. The mirror of self-refelction no longer mars my view when I lose my importance.
As a being of no importance, I cherish and have gratitude for all who might offend me. You give me the gift of breaking the mirror of my self-refelction, as I break through my attachment to being offended by you. So thank you! Through your gift, I further unburden myself of the weight of “me,” too cumbersome to carry on my journey through infinity. I’m ready to hop out of the caboose and move up to the engine car. Deep gratitude for helping me to lighten my load and to clarify the view—the view of a being of no importance facing oncoming time. And quite a clear view it is!
Figuring it out at the checkout line,