A central feature of shamanic technology is the use of a petty tyrant for the purpose of growth. In The Fire From Within, Don Juan Matus defines a petty tyrant for his apprentice, Carlos Castaneda: “A petty tyrant is a tormentor… someone who either holds the power of life and death over warriors or simply annoys them to distraction.”
From a shamanic perspective, the more ruthless the tyrant the greater its potency. The tyrant disrupts any attachment one might have to moral fairness as an inalienable right and resting place.
The benefit of such disruption is to obtain access to a more expansive plane of consciousness better suited to navigating the greater reality of infinity. If we remain too fixed in our entitlement for a fair and reasonable universe, we remain unschooled in the ways of a predatory universe. The greatest predator of all is the irrational within ourselves that refuses to be tamed.
On a lighter note, the tyrant can be found in a Freudian slip, where we are tricked into revealing the irreverent side of our own judging nature. Though we hide behind a well-crafted persona, the trickster makes us cringe in shame as we inadvertently expose our true feelings. That trickster is the petty tyrant tormentor that resides within ourselves. How will we ever become whole beings if we disavow the Id of the Freudian unconscious?
If we can allow ourselves to laugh at our leveled ego, releasing the chains of a bruised self-presentation, then we will have passed the tyrant’s test. The tyrant truly helps us to get beyond the limitations of self-pity and self-importance that so limit our growth.
Petty tyrants also show up daily in our outer world lives, via the law of attraction. We actually, unknowingly, attract those individuals who frustrate and torment us, as an outer means to grow beyond the trap of feeling sorry for ourselves in our seeming powerlessness.
The key to the tyrant’s technique is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance occurs when the mind is confronted with two seemingly irreconcilable opposites. For instance, someone who truly helps and cares for you, suddenly stabbing you in the back. These contradictory behaviors simply do not compute in the mind, and cause disbelief and disorientation.
Emotionally, such cognitive dissonance leads to anger, sadness and depression. The task is to depersonalize the contradictory behavior and accept the pure truth presented: the reality you believed to be true, and the emotional attachment you had to that illusion must be released. You have entered a new reality through acceptance of the real truth presented.
To be able to be thankful to a ruthless, irreverent tyrant, who renders you a victim, is the resolution of two distinctly opposing experiences with the same person. The ability to reach such resolution frees one from the necessity of clinging to the safety of a predictable and fair universe. The key is in always being able to ultimately find love and laughter in whatever we are presented with. If we take ourselves too seriously, we burden ourselves with expectations that hamper our fluidity.
The fact is that coming into a life on planet Earth implies that we made the decision to do a tour with the petty tyrant. The greatest tyrant on Earth is death itself. After all the work we do to attach to loved ones and accomplish our Earthly roles, we are then forced to relinquish it all upon physical death. This hidden fact makes us all victims of human life.
In our advanced rational and technological age, belief in life beyond the physical body is largely rhetoric. Our obsession with the physical, as the only provable reality, casts a huge shadow of doubt over an afterlife. Frequently, it is the blow of the petty tyrant that opens the gates to life beyond the physical body.
Trauma is the blow of the petty tyrant. Trauma is cognitive dissonance. In trauma our precious hold on predictable reality is shattered by events that break all the rules yet introduce us to a deeper truth. And that truth is that everything is possible, even the unthinkable. If we can flow with that knowing, we need not cling to the illusion of guaranteed safety.
Of course, by one standard this rupture is unfair and deplorable, yet the jolt to the security of the known and predictable is the ticket to the discovery of heretofore unknown dimensions of the self. Most significant is the discovery of the self that lives outside the limits of the physical body; the body will die in time space but this self will live on.
From this place, the tyrant, though still reprehensible from one perspective, is met as the teacher, the initiator into greater reality. Of necessity, the tyrant’s blow makes us dissociative victims. And make no mistake about it, that blow is lethal.
Nonetheless, if we can take the journey to resolve the cognitive dissonance we are presented with, we advance freely into advanced consciousness and our fuller potential in the energetic dimension of our being. This is the greatest value offered by the petty tyrants who disrupt the comfort of our lives.
Of course, there are many stages, filled with many tasks to complete before we can arrive at the knowing that the petty tyrant is our chosen and necessary teacher. That knowing is the crowning realization of a completed recapitulation of a life, and lifetimes, that honed the sobriety, fluidity and analytic ability to come home to the fullness of self.
Be accepting of wherever you are on that journey. All roads lead to home.
There’s no place like home,