Cultivating the Petty Tyrant


Do you know someone who just upsets you to no end? That you can’t seem to keep from ruining your mood and sending you spiraling down into anger, sadness or self-pity?

Is this person your boss?  Perhaps a friend? Or even a family member? Someone who thinks they are better than you and that put you down at every opportunity; that plays with your mind, heart and even your soul?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might have a Petty Tyrant in your life.

Carlos Castaneda wrote his doctoral dissertation on his journeys in the deserts of the Southwest with a Yaqui Sorcerer named Don Juan, who taught him the path of the Man of Power. While some have questioned the reality of Don Juan’s existence, the wisdom he taught remains perennial and relevant to the lives of those seeking answers to the deepest questions of life and beyond. Along that path, according to Don Juan, one may encounter a type of person known as a Petty Tyrant. Don Juan stated that everyone encounters these types of individuals in their lives, but that how we deal with them determines who and what we are.

Petty Tyrants can be any person that has power over you in your life. A person who displays all of the lower personality complexes in abundance, to include, vanity, greed, jealousy and short-temperedness, among others. This petty and vengeful person utilizes his or her perceptive power over you to nag and harass, to berate and humiliate, to abuse you in any and every way possible, spiritually, mentally and even physically. A Petty Tyrant can be a boss, a friend, or even a family member. The only qualification that must be met to identify someone as a Petty Tyrant, is that your response to them is one of upset, annoyance or even fear. How you respond to someone can indeed give you an indication of the purpose they serve in your life.

Overcoming a Petty Tyrant takes discipline, control, timing, forbearance and will. The discipline to pass through the transfiguring flames of personal egoistic dissolution as one is assaulted psychically by the Petty tyrant. The forbearance and self-control to cultivate patience, to wait for the time and place to act as well as the will to do what is necessary to achieve freedom, from the Petty Tyrant, but also from the delusions of self-importance that haunt all people.

The Petty Tyrant can be small fry or large fry, can truly be someone of power and importance in the institutions and power structures of our world, or they can just be someone that happens to be able to push our buttons in some way that only they seem to be able to do. The Petty Tyrant is the person that we all have in our lives that pisses us off to no end, causes our hearts to pound, our solar plexuses to burn. The one that abuses us mentally and emotionally.

The Petty Tyrant can actually be a tool of personal evolution if perceived from a slightly different perception than usual. That perception as depicted here, this elevated perspective, is that of the warrior. Not all people are warriors and that is alright. For those who cannot take this kind of experience directly, who cannot stand the immersion within the mental conceptions of another projected into our consciousnesses. This mental assault can be debilitating, intellectually and emotionally, so it is mandatory for the Experiencer of the Petty Tyrant’s depravities to cultivate a measured perspective that understands the experience as a valuable and unmatched opportunity for growth. If one can not approximate this perspective, then the best way to deal with a Petty Tyrant is to do what is necessary to remove yourself from their presence and to exit the situation immediately.

But to those individuals of higher vision for whom the ability to control one’s thoughts is a paramount goal, being able to exist in a state of peace and serenity is a major step along the way. Experiencing the abuse of the Petty Tyrant can act to sear the personality traits, exhuming the flotsam and jetsam of extraneous ego and habit, pruning the tree of life to its bare minimum of expression. No matter the intensity of the interaction, the strength of the emotions that arise in response to the Petty Tyrant’s abuses can act to decrease our egotistical excesses and give rise to a state of humility.

Humility is a necessary part of the arsenal of anyone seeking to become a more willful actor in their own experience. Humility includes gratitude, the combination of which empowers the individual to transcend all circumstances that seek to kill the spirit, deaden the soul. Control, discipline, forbearance, timing and will are the ways to achieve it by way of interaction with the Petty Tyrants in our lives.

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