I did not write a blog article last month. I have just not been inspired or motivated to do so. I have experienced another huge loss. The loss of my 24 hour a day companion for the past 16 ½ years, my dog, and it has left a hole too great to fill with words. I sat with my feelings, and took time to honour the memories, and find a new centre of balance.
This has been another defining moment in my life. His passing has invited me to grow spiritually and emotionally in a whole new way. When I lost my Mum and also my childhood friend earlier this year my dogs companionship and physical presence was a constant comfort to me but now he was gone and I had to connect with him in a whole new way. His furry smiley face, his nudges, his familiar smell and his unconditional presence was no longer there to soften the pain. Our pets are so good at being present and providing us with that warm fuzzy feeling no matter what, aren’t they. Remembering these things allowed me to virtually bring him back to life.
My dog, Inu, has been one of the great loves of my life and I would say so far in my life, my greatest teacher. But it was not always this way. We started out together on very shaky ground.
I love animals and I really wanted a dog, so when a friend from yoga class told me her daughter had taken in an abandoned female dog that had birthed 6 pups I took my husband to have a look. Of course once you see puppies you can’t resist.
I had my eye on a quiet little girl pup, but my husband wanted the independent, boisterous puppy with a cheeky curiosity for the world. So we compromised – I got a puppy and he got to pick.
Well we thought this puppy was going to be small to medium from what we had been told about the likely father of the brood. However, a couple of days later when I took him for his Vet check I soon found out that he was in fact going to be a Large dog – with a capital L. Our Vet said ‘’Look at the size of his paws”.
I had never taken care of a large dog before. As you pet lovers may know, they need to be well trained and under control or you can get yourself into much trouble with other people and dogs. So I was a bit scared about what we had gotten ourselves in to, but up for the challenge.
At home he was full on. He either wanted to explore, and he was free to go outside whenever he wanted and would often bring in to the house, huge tree branches that had fallen, or he wanted to be alone and would lie down in a corner far from where we were, or he wanted to play.
And he played rough! You could not just cuddle him or play with toys or throw a ball, no he wanted to wrestle and bite – I still have the scars from the sharp little teeth on my forearms and feet. We tried everything to train this out of him.
As he grew we took him to lots of different places to socialise and adjust him to different situations. He always got really hyped up and it was an effort to keep him calm and engaged on the leash.
He was always happy to see other dogs and wanted to interact, but over the space of that first year he had been attacked 4 times and even mauled by other dogs that were not as happy to interact with him.
He began to put up his defences at contact with some dogs and be friendly with others. With human adults he would often be nervous of them touching him and started to get up his defences around people too – we were confused and took him to obedience. To cut a long story short, obedience training was not for us or him. The regimented restrictive code confused him more and isolated us, even more, from being able to help him.
At this time I was working as a volunteer with a boy with autism and learning all about interaction through play and acceptance using non-traditional learning methods – the Sunrise Program. I felt there had to be a better way to teach my dog and I discovered that obedience training was not right for many dogs, often scaring and even scarring them. Training was best done by working with the dogs natural abilities.
This fitted in very well with my learnings and my philosophy and I began to see Inu in a whole new way. He was a highly intelligent dog but was afraid and needed love and understanding and not obedience and control. This was a turning point for the two of us.
It wasn’t till later that I realised we were divinely connected to each other. He was my petty tyrant and we were both here to teach each other and learn about love. There are many powerful tools of transformation but maybe none as powerful as having a petty tyrant. It may even be the only tool necessary to achieve total freedom. As Carl Gustav Jung stated:
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Here is the run down on the idea of a Petty Tyrant.
“A petty tyrant is a tormentor…….Someone who either holds the power of life and death over warriors or simply annoys them to distraction.”–Don Juan
The petty tyrant serves you by illuminating your judgments of the “wrongness” of behaviours and emotions in yourself and all humans, as well as events, ideas, opinions, wars, and nature.
The petty tyrant is like a mirror that reflects back to you the parts of yourself you agreed to send into exile. Don Juan says that the warrior/ess goes into the world in search of petty tyrants, and they are not hard to find! S/he does this with enthusiasm knowing that anyone who judges the way she acts, dresses, talks, eats, frowns, thinks, or votes is her unique personal petty tyrant. Anyone who irritates him, annoys him, triggers him, or pushes his buttons is a gift offering personal growth and transformation.
The petty tyrant is exposing the reflection of a child part and presents face to face like looking in a mirror of the truth of what s/he has been rejecting and judging. We can see the petty tyrant as a way to highlight inner friction, fear and negative emotions that are to be transformed.
In his writings Carlos Castaneda accounts Don Juan’s teachings: the warrior recognizes that his petty tyrants are getting to do things or behave in ways that he does not allow himself. Every disowned part of herself will show up in the petty tyrants of her world. When she is triggered by someone who is messy, she sees the reflection of her own exiled messy part. When he reacts to a companion’s burst of anger, he sees a reflection of the anger he has denied to himself.
The usefulness of the petty tyrant for growth is enormous. My dog Inu gave me the greatest gift I could ever receive. Some of the negative emotions I experienced were anger, frustration, resentment, fear and even hate. As Don Juan told Carlos, petty tyrants are gifts and in the end, reacting negatively won’t solve the problem; it will just get us sick.
And this struggle was making me sick. My mind was not clear and free and my body was definitely feeling the effects of the struggle. To have continued to see things as I thought they were (and indeed listen to the populous view), I would have stayed in a resistant fearful state reinforcing my pain and would never have received the gift. This is how it was explained by Don Juan (Sharman):
As Don Juan listened to his apprentice Carlos Castaneda, reeling from an encounter with a fellow apprentice he laughed and told Carlos how lucky he was. Carlos looked at him as if he had lost his mind. How can I be lucky? This woman is crazy. All she strives for is to aggravate me! Why? What could I have possibly done to her? His laughter increased and he says not to pay her any attention just understand that she is his petty tyrant – a person who teaches us important lessons in how to be detached, and to remove yourself from the illusion of how you tell yourself that the person relates to you. Any attachment to this person has a corresponding effect on how you perceive yourself, exposing to you in the form of a mirror what you have disowned about yourself.
So the idea is that, you need to be detached from the illusion that you see/think. You need to remove yourself from the illusion of how you tell yourself that this person relates to you. When you are attached to the illusion, in whatever form, it automatically diminishes your view of yourself.
Inu exposed the area that was a false belief – he does not love me so I cannot love him and not loving him makes me love myself less. In reality, these are ALL thought forms that only exist in our minds. They are illusions or dreams of how we, “the self”, perceive our lives.
This helped me to identify a part of myself that was not being fully expressed, which is exactly the role of the petty tyrant, reminding us in the midst of turmoil and complaining to detach from the illusion. Once this realisation is reached we can transcend the moment and rise above it – clarity is restored. For me it became so clear that the only ‘fix’ for this situation was to LOVE MORE. I decided that it was I who needed to give all the things that I was expecting from my dog. Every day I chose to love him, cuddle him and tell him that he was the best dog in the whole world – even when he did not live up to that or love me back.
So I decided from that moment onwards that I would love and understand him. This was the great gift he gave to me – he gave me back the love I was closing off from myself and now that I was giving this love, my life became filled with love.
Miracles do happen as they say. He became the most loving and caring dog I could ever have asked for and to me he is and will always be the best dog in the whole world.
Do you have a petty tyrant? How might you see your situation differently now that you know it is an illusion? What might the hidden gift be? I would love to hear from you about it.
The Wellbeing and Life Creation Coach