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Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

In Carlos Castaneda’s book, The Journey to Ixtlan, he illustrates the teachings of Don Juan who teaches him how to be a warrior and sorcerer in the world. The relationship between Don Juan and Carlos reminded me of the guru-disciple relationship, where one is taught by some one who has transcended ego-consciousness. Additionally, I find that the use of humor in the relationship serves many purposes, but most importantly it teaches an individual to not take oneself so seriously or the world too seriously. This teaching to not take either oneself or the world too seriously is a significant and recurring theme in this book, especially in the path of becoming a warrior. This is a fundamental step in the process of awakening to warriorship because if one takes oneself or things too seriously it colors their perception of the world, while not allowing for deeper or alternative ways of perception of reality.

According to Don Juan, death is our companion and it is important for the warrior to feel the presence of death over one’s left shoulder. Death teaches us to not take ourselves too seriously as death can tap us on our shoulder at any moment. Therefore, Don Juan goes on to say in the next chapter that one does not have time for negative moods or thoughts due to the nature of death. Don Juan teaches Carlos to take responsibility for his own reactions such as losing control of his emotions and thoughts. This is an essential part in how one becomes a warrior, in that, if one is troubled or distracted by moods then one is always reacting to external events rather than taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Furthermore, something else that I have been reflecting on and working to implement into my life is the concept that Don Juan teaches Carlos in chapter eleven. In that chapter there is reference to the fact that a warrior makes or chooses his mood, and the distinction that a warrior can be injured but never offended. I find this very helpful in thinking how I respond to others or any external event that I have the power to choose how I feel about it, i.e., mood. More importantly, there is the realization that the warrior can be injured, that injury or the ability to be inflicted by others is possible; however, the warrior does not take offense to this injury. Another way of stating this is, that a warrior doesn’t take the injury personally or too seriously. For me, this is such an important lesson to learn, as well as a sorely missing component to our modern society and larger culture in America. It seems that everyone right now is taking too much offense to other’s actions and words these days.

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