One thing the average man holds onto is his personal history, and it is imperative for a warrior to erase it. A warrior doesn't need personal history. One day, he finds it is no longer necessary for him, and he drops it. Personal history must constantly be renewed by telling parents, relatives, and friends everything one does. On the other hand, for the warrior who has no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with his acts. And above all, no one pins him down with their thoughts and their expectations.
Shamans are vitally concerned with their past, but not their personal past. For shamans, their past is what other shamans in bygone days have accomplished. They consult their past in order to obtain a point of reference. Only shamans genuinely seek a point of reference in their past. For them, establishing a point of reference means a chance to examine intent. Never dwell on past events except in reference. It is not advisable for you to indulge in focusing your attention on past events. We may touch on them, but only in reference. To emphasize them would mean to take away from the importance of what's taking place now. A warrior cannot possibly afford to do that. The average man also examines the past. But it's his personal past he examines, for personal reasons. He measures himself against the past, whether his personal past or the past knowledge of his time, in order to find justifications for his present or future behaviour, or to establish a model for himself.
I have no routines or personal history. One day I found out that they were no longer necessary for me and, like drinking, I dropped them. One must have the desire to drop them and then one must proceed harmoniously to chop them off, little by little. If you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts. It is best to erase all personal history because that makes us free from the encumbering thoughts of other people. I have, little by little, created a fog around me and my life. And now nobody knows for sure who I am or what I do. Not even I. How can I know who I am, when I am all this?
Little by little you must create a fog around yourself; you must erase everything around you until nothing can be taken for granted, until nothing is any longer for sure, or real. Your problem now is that you're too real. Your endeavors are too real; your moods are too real. Don't take things so for granted. You must begin to erase yourself. You've said that you want to learn about plants. Let's put it this way then. If you want to learn about plants, since there is really nothing to say about them, you must, among other things, erase your personal history.
Begin with simple things, such as not revealing what you really do. What's wrong is that once people know you, you are an affair taken for granted and from that moment on you won't be able to break the tie of their thoughts. I personally like the ultimate freedom of being unknown. No one knows me with steadfast certainty, the way people know you, for instance.
From now on you must simply show people whatever you care to show them, but without ever telling exactly how you've done it. You see, we only have two alternatives; we either take everything for sure and real, or we don't. If we follow the first, we end up bored to death with ourselves and with the world. If we follow the second and erase personal history, we create a fog around us, a very exciting and mysterious state in which nobody knows where the rabbit will pop out, not even ourselves. When nothing is for sure we remain alert, perennially on our toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind than to behave as though we know everything.
In order to help his ward to erase personal history, the warrior as a teacher teaches three techniques: losing self-importance, using death as an adviser, and assuming responsibility for one's acts. Without the beneficial effect of these three techniques, erasing personal history would involve being shifty, evasive and unnecessarily dubious about oneself and one's actions.
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