The ancient Toltecs believed that life as we perceive it is a dream.
We each live in our own personal dream, and all of our dreams come together to make the Dream of the Planet. Problems arise when we forget that the dream is just a dream and fall victim to believing that we have no control over it.
The Mastery of Self takes the Toltec philosophy of the Dream of the Planet and the personal dream and explains how a person can:
- Wake up
- Liberate themselves from illusory beliefs and stories
- Live with authenticity
Once released, we can live as our true, authentic, loving self, not only in solitude and meditation, but in any place—at the grocery store, stuck in traffic, etc.—and in any situation or scenario that confronts us.
The Ruiz family has an enormous following, and this new book from don Miguel, Jr. will be greeted with enthusiasm by fans around the world. This new book from don Miguel, Jr. will be greeted with enthusiasm by fans around the world.
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The Mastery of Self
A Toltec Guide to Personal Freedom
By DON MIGUEL RUIZ JR.
Hierophant PublishingCopyright © 2016 Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.
All rights reserved.
The Making of a Master
At the peak of her journey, a Toltec warrior clears her mind of beliefs, domestication, and attachments, marking the end of a war within herself for personal freedom. Surrounding her is an infinite number of possibilities, each one a choice that leads in a unique direction in life. When she makes a choice through her action, she knows that the path she follows is ultimately no different than the other paths, as they all lead to the same place. She has no demands for any outcome, as she realizes that there is nowhere she needs to go and nothing she needs to do in order to find herself. Her action is a result of the pure joy of realizing that she is alive at this moment to choose one of the many possibilities.
This living with a quiet mind creates a state of pure bliss that comes from being entirely in the moment. Truly nothing matters but the present, because it is the only place where life can express itself.
This is a state that many of you have experienced at some point in your life, when you were completely engaged in the now. Some people experience it while they are exercising, consciously creating, being in nature, making love, or, of course, meditating or praying. It's the moment when the mind and the body are in complete awareness of the experience of life. It can also be said that it is during these moments that we often reach a pure state of unconditional love for everything and everyone, including ourselves.
While living full-time in this state of pure bliss is a goal for many, most will agree it is easier said than done — especially if we don't live isolated away from the world. Surrounded by other people, we choose who we will interact and engage with, and it's often in these interactions that the trouble begins.
In the Toltec tradition, the main function of the mind is to dream, or to perceive and to project information. The Personal Dream is the unique reality created by every individual; it's their perspective, a manifestation of the relationship between mind and body, and intent is the energy that animates both. As our shared knowledge and experience mingle together, we co-create the Dream of the Planet, which is the combination of every single being in the world's Personal Dream. While we live individual dreams based on our individual perceptions, the Dream of the Planet is the manifestation of our shared intentions, where we allow our ideas and agreements to flow between us. If there is harmony in the Personal Dream, then there is a constant opportunity for harmony with the Dream of the Planet.
Since you are reading this book, it's likely that you don't live in a cloistered monastery or ashram, or all alone high atop a mountain. You have chosen to engage in the world, and you want to enjoy yourself in the process. Solitude can be a great tool for healing and communion with oneself, but it is our interactions with others that will allow us to thrive and enjoy an active life. If life is like a carnival, you have come to ride the rides.
But engaging in the Dream means you will likely develop preferences for certain potential paths — or, in other words, you will have wants and desires. When you become too attached to those desires and they aren't fulfilled, the result is that you suffer. There are also billions of others involved in co-creating the Dream of the Planet, many of whom have wants and desires that are different from yours. Without respect and understanding, drama, disagreement, and even conflict are sure to occur. This begs the question, is there a way you can engage in an active life without becoming too attached to your own personal preferences? Can you remain calm and balanced when dealing with others, seeing them and yourself through the eyes of unconditional love, and consequently not be drawn into the drama of the party? In my experience the answer to both questions is yes, and that is the subject of this book. This can be done through a process called the Mastery of Self.
You become a Master of Self when you can engage the Dream of the Planet and everyone in it without losing sight of your Authentic Self, and while maintaining the awareness that every choice you make is your own. You are no longer caught up in the drama of the party. When you engage with the Dream of the Planet with the awareness and remembrance that it's only a dream, you are able to move freely, liberated from the chains of attachment and domestication.
An attachment is the action of taking something that is not a part of you and making it a part of you through an emotional or energetic investment. When you become attached to something in the Dream of the Planet, you suffer every time the object of your attachment is threatened, and this is true regardless of if the threat is real or an illusion. Most people not only attach to their wants and desires as they relate to material things, but also to their beliefs and ideas. Although an attachment is something that can occur naturally in the moment, it becomes unhealthy when you lose the ability to detach from it when the moment ends or when the belief no longer reflects the truth. In many ways, attachments to beliefs are far more destructive than attachments to external items, because beliefs and ideas are much harder to spot and let go of.
Domestication is the system of control in the Dream of the Planet; it is the way we learn conditional love. Starting when we are very young, we are presented with either a reward or a punishment for adopting the beliefs and behaviors of others in the Dream. This system of reward and punishment, or domestication, is used to control our behavior. The result of domestication is that many of us give up who we really are in exchange for who we think we should be, and consequently we end up living a life that is not our own. Learning how to spot and release our domestication, and reclaiming who we really are in the process, is a hallmark of a Master of Self.
When you become so domesticated by or attached to a belief or idea that you can't let go of it, your choices narrow until any notion of choice is really an illusion. Your beliefs now define you, and they will dictate your choice. You are no longer the master of your own self, as your domestication and attachments are controlling you. As a result, you will engage with others and yourself in a way that does not serve your highest good. You have joined into the drama of the party, and it now shapes your Personal Dream.
The Dream of the Planet is full of traps to lure you back into the drama of the party, and falling into one of them can happen in the blink of an eye. If you choose to engage with the world, avoiding all traps is virtually impossible. However, when you become aware that you are falling into a trap, the simple act of noticing it allows you to begin to regain control. As you get better at spotting the traps and understanding your own underlying emotions and beliefs that make them traps for you in the first place, you are far less likely to take the bait. And even when you do, you can let go of whatever you are attached too as quickly as your will dictates. It may seem counterintuitive, but you choose to let go in order to be in control. Doing so is the Mastery of Self in action.
As a Master of Self, you can have relationships with others, even those who disagree with you, while still being grounded in your Authentic Self. You are able to maintain your free will and respect the free will of others. Knowing that others see you in a specific way gives you choices when you engage with them. You shape-shift only in their perception, and your awareness of that allows you to stay true to yourself and not give in to the temptation to take on others' definitions of who you are. You realize that you don't have to put on any image that others project onto you because you know it is not your reality. With this awareness, you will be better able to co-create harmoniously with others, making the relationships that matter most to you more fulfilling and rewarding.
Most importantly, when you become a Master of Self, you know how to stay grounded in your Authentic Self regardless of what's happening around you. You also have the awareness to realize quickly when you are acting in a way that isn't helpful to yourself or others and can spot those situations when you are feeding your ego, or the false sense of self, instead of living in peace. In this way, you free yourself from the drama and self- inflicted suffering created by so many people.
Without awareness of how to engage the Dream of the Planet and the beings who create it, it is too easy to internalize what is happening around you, or to forget that it is all a dream. As a result, your attachments grow until you are consumed with the drama of the party. Becoming a Master of Self is about maintaining awareness of your center while you are interacting with the Dream of the Planet, remembering that it's all a dream. Staying centered while engaging with the world is much easier said than done, and this book will be devoted to teaching you exactly how to do that.
Self-mastery is not an isolated idea within the Toltec tradition, as every form of spiritual discipline provides a map to help us live in harmony within the Dream of the Planet by freeing our mind from the tyranny of our own thinking and being affected by the projections of others. That being said, the Toltec tradition has some unique contributions to this effort, and we'll discuss these in greater detail in the pages that follow.
Before we deconstruct and rebuild the world around us, starting with ourselves, we need a greater understanding of attachments, domestication, and the difference between conditional and unconditional love. Then, and only then, can we reconstruct our Personal Dream in peace and harmony.CHAPTER 2
Understanding Our Domestication and Attachments
There is an old Toltec story that has been shared across generations in my family about a shaman who called himself the Smokey Mirror. He gave himself this name once he became aware of the smoke that not only clouded his vision and controlled his will, but also did the same to everyone around him. A recounting of the Smokey Mirror story will be helpful as we begin to go deeper into the Mastery of Self.
After many years of study and in a moment of great realization, a shaman experiences the truth. "I am made of light; I am made of stars. The real us is pure love, pure light," he says. As he looks around his village, he knows that everyone and everything he sees is a manifestation of God, and he intuitively understands that the human journey is a process of the Divine becoming aware of Itself.
Moved by this realization, the shaman immediately wants to share this information with everyone in his village. But when he does so, it becomes clear to him that no one else understands. The shaman then realizes that there is a smoky fog between him and others, and this fog doesn't allow people to see beyond the tip of their own nose. The fog controls their every action, every belief.
The shaman also notices that as he interacts with others the fog tries to assert its control over him again. But as soon as he notices the fog creeping back in, the simple act of noticing makes the fog dissipate. As the fog recedes, he becomes aware of a mirror in front of him and he can vaguely see his reflection. When the fog completely clears, he can see himself fully again.
The shaman is aware that he is the truth, and the reflection in the mirror is a reminder; it only reflects the truth. He begins to understand the reflection as an instrument of awareness.
Every time the fog begins to creep in and keep him from knowing who he really is, he can look to his mirror. If it is cloudy or he can't see himself, he knows he is on the wrong track, trapped in the fog. But as soon as he remembers his Authentic Self, the smoke immediately begins to clear. To remind himself of who he really is and the power of the fog to obscure his perception, the shaman changes his name to the Smokey Mirror.
This powerful story encapsulates a core teaching in my family's Toltec tradition. The fog represents our attachments and our domestications, which together keep us from experiencing the truth of who we are.
Let me begin to explain domestication with a simple story.
Imagine a child of eight or nine having lunch with his grandmother, who has prepared soup for their afternoon meal. They sit together and converse, enjoying each other's company and the love they share.
After finishing half his bowl of soup, the child realizes he is full. "I don't want the rest, Grandmother. I am full."
"You must eat all your soup, Grandson," she replies.
Whether you are a parent or not, it is likely clear what this boy's grandmother is trying to do. Her intentions are admirable; she wants him to eat in order to be nourished. When he declines, she tries to convince him to eat more by offering him a reward for doing what she wants. This is the first tool of domestication.
"You must finish your soup," she says. "It will make you grow up big and strong, like Superman!"
But the young boy is undeterred. "No, I am not hungry," he insists. "I don't want to eat any more right now."
In addition to not being hungry, the child is also enjoying the feeling of asserting himself, because it feels powerful to say no, to express his free will. He can also feel that same sense of power when he says yes to the things he wants, and it feels good to say it. This is how young children (including ourselves when we were young) learn about the power of intent: by stating yes and no.
Eventually, the boy reaches the threshold of his grandmother's patience, and when the carrot doesn't work, she reaches for the stick to impose her will upon him. Like many grandparents and their parents before them, she crosses the line of respect for his choice and adds punishment — in this case, guilt and shaming, which is the second tool of domestication.
"Do you know how many children don't have anything to eat around the world? They are starving! And here you are, wasting your food. It's a sin to waste food!"
Now the young boy is concerned. He doesn't want to look like a selfish child, and he really doesn't want to be seen as a sinner in his grandmother's eyes. With a sense of defeat, he relents and subjugates his will.
"OK, Grandma, I will finish my soup."
He begins to eat again, and he doesn't stop until the bowl is empty. Then, with the tenderness that makes her grandson feel safe and loved, Grandma says, "That's my good boy."
The boy learns that by complying with the rules of the dream, he can earn a reward; in this case, he is a good boy in the eyes of his grandmother and receives her love and encouragement. The punishment would have been to be seen as a selfish child, a sinner in her eyes, and a bad boy.
This is a simple example of domestication in action. No one doubts that the grandmother has the best of intentions; she loves her grandson and wants him to eat his lunch, but the method she is using to achieve that goal has negative unintended consequences. Anytime guilt and shame are deployed as tools to provoke action, this counters any good that has been achieved. Eventually, these negative elements will resurface in one way or another.
In this case, let's imagine that when this boy grows up, the domestication that occurred around this issue is so strong that it still has an imposing power over him well into adulthood. For instance, many years later he goes into a restaurant where they serve a big plate of food, and halfway through his meal his body signals to him the truth of that moment: I am full.
Consciously, or subconsciously, he hears a voice: It's a sin to waste food.
Consciously, or subconsciously, he answers Yes, Grandma, and continues to eat.
Finishing his plate like a good boy, he responds to his domestication rather than his needs of the moment. In that instant, he completely goes against himself by continuing to eat after his body has already let him know that he is full. The idea is so strong that it overrules his body's natural preference to stop. Overeating may damage his body, which is one of the negative consequences in this case of using guilt and shame as a tool. The other consequence is that he is experiencing internal suffering by reliving a past moment of guilt and shame, and it is controlling his actions in the present.
Finally, note that his grandmother is not even present in the current situation, as he has now taken up the reins of domestication and subjugated his own will without anyone's else's influence. In the Toltec tradition we refer to this phenomenon as self-domestication. As my father likes to say, "Humans are the only animals on the planet that self-domesticate."
The relationship between the boy and his grandmother forms a part of the Dream of the Planet, and the lunch between the grandmother and her grandson is a basic example of how domestication and self-domestication within the Dream occurs. The grandmother domesticated her grandson in that moment, but he continued to self-domesticate himself long after that. Self-domestication is the act of accepting ourselves on the condition that we live up to the ideals we have adopted from others in the Dream of the Planet, without ever considering if those ideals are what we truly want.
Excerpted from The Mastery of Self by DON MIGUEL RUIZ JR.. Copyright © 2016 Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Hierophant Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsA Message from the Publisher: How This Book Came into Being,
Explanation of Key Terms,
1. The Making of a Master,
2. Understanding Our Domestication and Attachments,
3. Unconditional Love for Yourself,
4. Unconditional Love for Others,
5. Spotting the Triggers and Maneuvering the Traps,
6. Breaking the Cycle of the Automatic,
7. Multiple Masks,
8. Goal Setting,
9. Comparison and Competition,
My Wish for You,