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The Place of No Pity
Article ID: 14006
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Bob Makransky
Posted: July 4th. 2010
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“For the nagual Julian, self-importance was a monster that had three thousand heads. And one could face up to it and destroy it in any of three ways. The first way was to sever each head one at a time; the second was to reach that mysterious state of being called the place of no pity, which destroyed self-importance by slowly starving it; and the third was to pay for the instantaneous annihilation of the three-thousand-headed monster with one’s symbolic death.” – Carlos Castaneda, The Power of Silence
In this article we will examine the second way of destroying self-importance, ignoring for the moment the question of exactly what self-importance is and why it should be destroyed. Those who desire a complete explanation of what importance is can find it in my book Thought Forms. To make a long story short, importance is simply the ability to focus attention. In our society we are trained to do this by self-importance. We are conditioned from infancy to focus our moment-to-moment attention upon a constant inner dialogue of self-pity thoughts (shameful thoughts that we are hiding from other people, such as hating our looks, our bodies, and our feelings; and fantasies of receiving glory from other people, such as daydreams of wealth, romance, and sex) . Shame (feeling that we are inferior to other people) and glory (feeling that we are better than other people) are the two faces of self-pity.
In other words, self-importance is generated from, or is propped up by, self-pity: by an interminable inner dialogue of me-me-me-me-me thoughts. This inner dialogue creates our lower self – our sense of who we are, and of how and where we fit into our society (whom we are better than; and who is better than us) . All spiritual growth is a matter deconditioning the lower self, of becoming more selfless – i.e., of losing self-importance. This is accomplished by making something else more important than self-pity. There are various techniques (such as Active Imagination) for doing this; and these techniques are applications of the nagual Julian’s first way of losing self-importance (cutting off each head one at a time) .
As we will to lose our self-importance, we begin to obtain more volitional control over our moment-to-moment attention. We also find our ties to our society lessening: we stop caring so much about what anyone thinks of us; and we stop judging them. We thereby enlarge our capacity to listen to, and to follow, what our own hearts are telling us to do. We begin to operate on our own intuition and intent, our true feelings, rather than on fearful and unquestioning subservience to societal fiat.
The Place of No Pity is a peak moment in the lives of spiritual seekers when they are torn loose from their wonted psychological moorings and are completely wiped out emotionally – when they just don’t give a damn no more. This temporarily erases self-importance / self-pity, and permits their higher selves to surface. Per Castaneda, reaching the Place of No Pity also “unhooks” the lower self, which then begins to disintegrate slowly as it is battered by the vicissitudes of circumstances. When people who are still hooked to their lower selves face difficult circumstances, their natural tendency is to batten down the hatches and screw themselves down harder – cling tighter; erect more defenses; close themselves up more; pile lies on top of more lies; or do whatever it takes to keep their lower selves intact.
However, after a person’s lower self is unhooked at the Place of No Pity, difficult circumstances make the person release more lower self by losing self-importance. When people are unhooked they become more indifferent – “Who gives a damn?” “Why work up a sweat?” This indifference isn’t so much listlessness per se, as it is a disinclination to become involved if you can possibly avoid it. And, because you are uninvolved, you can see all the ego games that everyone around you is playing with crystal clarity. And when you do have to act, then you act with a cold, hard detachment.
White magicians try to cultivate the attitude that nothing that happens or doesn’t happen is all that important. This very sentiment is often expressed by people who lose part of their lower self willy-nilly after a near brush with death (the nagual Julian’s third method for losing self-importance) . They say things like, “Now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.” What they are saying is that their eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with their death has forced them to drop their customary moods and concerns. They lighten up, stop clinging to things, stop feeling ashamed of their past and fantasizing a glorified future. They become more selfless.
Selflessness means that, while both good and bad things still happen to the person, there’s not as much of a “me” there that things are happening to. There’s less personal stake in what happens. Situations just unfold under their own momentum. Things are taken in stride – philosophically, not personally. This can’t be faked – it requires reaching the Place of No Pity (or its equivalent) .
To change the outward circumstances of our lives, we must first change our inner state. The way to do this is by making a definite, unalterable decision (i.e., make something more important than our self-pity) . In order for us to learn how to be content with how things are right now (instead of making our happiness dependent upon this, that, or the other thing happening in some future which will never come) , requires an irrevocable decision. This happens when we get disgusted with our own self-pity and decide to really change.
The only way to arrive at such a decision is by exhaustion: when we’ve tried everything; and nothing works. We have to get to the place where we’ve just had enough of our suffering, and we are finally ready to take the responsibility for really changing things (instead of daydreaming that God will pull our chestnuts out of the fire for us with no effort on our parts) . Magicians are convinced – and 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous concur – that only when a person is completely wiped-out and desperate can any real change occur: when the person reaches the Place of No Pity and the higher self takes over.
In most people’s lives, the higher self only surfaces now and then, in response to emergencies and sudden, unexpected events. Higher self surfaces to save our lives, to pull us back from the brink and to warn us away from certain people, situations, and places. Higher self sees an opportunity and grasps it without hesitation or doubt of any sort.
When we operate with our higher self, we are mentally clear, coldly efficient, pitilessly detached, and utterly determined. We no longer feel like our (usual, lower) selves – trapped in our petty little moods and concerns. Rather, we are exhilarated and free; we become one with the Spirit.
When our higher self surfaces it brushes aside all our doubts and fears. We no longer fear death, and we never say die. Indeed, it is our higher self, which survives the death of the physical body. This is why we don’t fear death (or anything) when we act with our higher self.
In a manner of speaking, our higher self is actually the same thing as our death. Our lower self is firmly pegged down by our fear of death. When society teaches us fear of death, what it is teaching us is fear of operating with our higher self – our intuition / intent instead of our fear of what other people might think of us.
Our higher self is a state of unfettered limitlessness, just as our lower self is a state of crabbed dissatisfaction and torpor, symbolized by the prison of the body. And the way that we activate our higher self is by reaching the Place of No Pity. It is the doorway: after this point we lose our fear of death. We sever our ties to society, since it no longer has that fear-of-death hold upon us.
The reason why not everyone reaches the Place of No Pity when they are pushed beyond their limits is because the ground must be prepared. You have to have already cast out any demons that might possess you; and you must also be somewhat open to the idea of change (e.g. be willing to entertain ideas such as “you create your own reality”, whether you really believe this or not) . If you are possessed by demons (as most people in our society are) ; or if you are clinging to some salvation fantasy (such as that God will intervene miraculously to save your butt) ; then when disaster strikes you, it will just screw you down tighter rather than knock you off your pins.
In Carlos Castaneda’s guru don Juan’s tradition of heuristics, the teacher purposely contrives an outlandish situation to force the student to the Place of No Pity. In Castaneda’s case, don Juan feigned complete madness. One day, out of the blue, don Juan attacked Castaneda verbally and physically in front of a gathering crowd in a public square in a small Mexican town, and accused him of assault and theft. Don Juan told the crowd: “Help me. I’m a lonely old Indian. He’s a foreigner and wants to kill me. They do that to helpless old people, kill them for pleasure.” He exhorted the crowd to restrain Castaneda and send for the police.
When the crowd turned on the stunned Castaneda, he reflexively kicked his attackers and fled in despair; but soon realized that there was no way of escape from a small Mexican town whose police would be watching all the buses, roads, and hotels. He hid and stood watching the scene from a distance until the crowd began to disperse and the police moved off. Then, as Castaneda explains in The Power of Silence:
“It was at that point that I felt a sudden uncontrollable urge. It was as if my body were disconnected from my brain. I walked to my car. … Without even the slightest trace of fear or concern, I opened the trunk … then opened the driver’s door. … I stared at (don Juan) with a thoroughly uncharacteristic coldness. Never in my life had I had such a feeling. It was not hatred I felt, or even anger. I was not even annoyed with him. What I felt was not resignation, or patience, either. And it was certainly not kindness. Rather, it was a cold indifference, a frightening lack of pity. At that instant, I could not have cared less about what happened to don Juan or myself. …
“And then, as if all of it had only been a bad dream, he was again the man I knew. … ‘What kind of act did you pull out there, don Juan?’ I asked, and the coldness in my tone surprised me.
‘It was the first lesson in ruthlessness.’ he said.”
I have reached the Place of No Pity twice. The first time was several years after leaving a very dysfunctional marriage. I would break up with my wife; and then my spirit guides would say, “Oh give her another chance, take her back, you’ll be glad you did”, so I would take her back. Things would be okay for a couple of days or a week, then the old bullsh*t would start again and I’d break up with her again. This went on for the better part of a year, until finally I called it quits. I learned much later that my spirit guides knew all along that there was no way that marriage was going to be saved; what they were really trying to do was push me to the Place of No Pity, but I wimped out before I got totally desperate. This is a good example of why you should obey your spirit guides – it would have saved me a lot of grief in the long run if I’d reached the Place of No Pity with my marriage instead of seeking the easy way out.
I finally reached the Place of No Pity almost ten years later, at the end of another partnership with a person who was trashing me emotionally (in my younger days I had a penchant for pretty, young, witchy women; which of course implies self-centered, immature, conflictive women) . Since I am a complete ass about women, my guides have always used women to trick me – or better said, enticed me to trick myself. Anyway, when I broke up with this other woman, I completely surprised myself – something in me welled up and cried “ENOUGH!” I had finally reached the Place of No Pity – my normally wussy self was shattered and a cold, detached, pitiless higher self took over the reins – rather like how Castaneda describes it. However, I can’t say that the aftermath of this experience made a major dent in my ongoing loss of self-importance. But the second time did.
The second time I reached the Place of No Pity was ten years after that, when I was assaulted and beaten up by a gang of thieves. When I got up from the ground and dusted myself off, it was as if a burden had been lifted from me: I felt in complete peace; I felt no fear of my attackers (who were still surrounding me and threatening me) ; and I felt no anger towards them whatsoever. This state of placidity and clarity lasted a couple of weeks, but it did move me up to a new level in a permanent way. I can say that, since this last time that I reached the Place of No Pity, it is much easier for me to reject thoughts of self-pity than it was before. Consequently it is much easier for me to shut off my thoughts altogether and listen to sounds (or to put my attention on what is going on around me, rather than on my inner dialogue) . As I’ve been losing self-pity, I’ve also felt lighter and more detached from everything. I don’t give so much of a damn anymore.
The coming collapse of society will force a great number of people to the Place of No Pity, willy-nilly. This is what the much-vaunted coming shift / transformation in consciousness is all about. This transition is not going to be pleasant: when things start falling apart as the earth turns against us; when people lose their faith as society fails to deliver the goods it’s promised; when people’s supports – everything they’ve been taking for granted – are kicked out from under them and they are driven to the wall of despair; then there will be a global movement to the Place of No Pity. People’s higher selves will surface, and then they will know intuitively what they must do. It would be nice if this occurred in time to save the human race.
Copyright: (Copyright © 2009 by Bob Makransky http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac. All rights reserved) .
Location: Coban, Guatemala
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