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52: Self-importance is merely self-pity in disguise

(The Power of Silence by Carlos Castaneda)

Don Juan described self-importance as the force generated by man’s self-image. He reiterated that it is that force which keeps the assemblage point fixed where it is at present. For this reason, the thrust of the warriors’ way is to dethrone self-importance. And everything sorcerers do is toward accomplishing this goal.

He explained that sorcerers had unmasked self-importance and found that it is self-pity masquerading as something else.

“It doesn’t sound possible, but that is what it is,” he said. “Self-pity is the real enemy and the source of man’s misery. Without a degree of pity for himself, man could not afford to be as self-important as he is. However, once the force of self-importance is engaged, it develops its own momentum. And it is this seemingly independent nature of self-importance which gives it its fake sense of worth.”

His explanation, which I would have found incomprehensible under normal conditions, seemed thoroughly cogent to me. But because of the duality in me, which still pertained, it appeared a bit simplistic. Don Juan seemed to have aimed his thoughts and words at a specific target. And I, in my normal state of awareness, was that target.

He continued his explanation, saying that sorcerers are absolutely convinced that by moving our assemblage points away from their customary position we achieve a state of being which could only be called ruthlessness.

Sorcerers knew, by means of their practical actions, that as soon as their assemblage points move, their self-importance crumbles. Without the customary position of their assemblage points, their self-image can no longer be sustained. And without the heavy focus on that self-image, they lose their self-compassion, and with it their self-importance. Sorcerers are right, therefore, in saying that self-importance is merely self-pity in disguise.


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