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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship
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Publisher: Amber-Allen Publishing
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The Toltec culture was a pre-Colombian Mesoamerican culture, and was seen by the Aztecs as their cultural and intellectual predecessor. Although no written accounts from Toltec culture survive, teachers such as Don Miguel Ruiz have adopted the word to encompass a long tradition of indigenous beliefs in Mexico. According to the author, naguals (teachers) were tasked with keeping the Toltec wisdom, and he, being one of them, has been charged with sharing the Toltec wisdom with the world. So get ready to learn how to heal your relationships in the tradition of the Toltecs.
Imagine you lived in a world where everyone suffered from a skin disease. Every person’s body was covered in infected wounds, and people did not touch one another because it was extremely painful. This skin disease had been around for so long that people, including scientists, believed it was the normal condition of the skin. While babies were born with healthy skin, they started developing the skin disease by the time they were 3 or 4 years old.
In this imaginary world, having human contact and relationships would be extremely painful, but the instinct for love is so strong that people would still try. Now imagine, one day, miraculously, you woke up with healthy skin. You had no more wounds, but you were the only person who was healthy in a disease-ridden world. Still, you could not touch anyone, and no one touched you because they believed it would cause you pain.
This imaginary planet is our planet. Humanity has been infected with a disease of the mind, and we have been deceiving ourselves for so long that we believe our wounded emotional minds are normal. Our emotional bodies are full of wounds filled with emotional poison. The disease manifests itself in negative feelings such as hate, anger, sadness, or envy.
Sometimes, the human mind cannot take the emotional poison any longer and the reasoning mind starts to fail. This is what happens when people develop schizophrenia, paranoia, or even psychosis, because contact to the outside world and to others has simply become too painful.
In order to protect ourselves from pain and for fear of being hurt, humans have created a big denial system, writes Ruiz. We are lying to ourselves, and we have become so good at it that we have started to believe our own lies. In our minds, we create images of ourselves and of others. We have a personality that we project, and we assign roles to people in our lives. According to Ruiz, we are masters of creation.
This means that in relationships, there is not just yourself and the other person, there are also all the images that each of you have created of yourselves and of the other person. It becomes impossible to see the truth, as you can never truly know the other person. The barriers we have put up to protect ourselves simultaneously restrict our own freedom.
The Toltecs call the relationships between humans the “dream of hell.” According to Toltec wisdom, everything we believe of ourselves and the world around us is a dream. Every person dreams their own dream, meaning each person has their own unique worldview. But there is also an outside dream, the big dream, that contains all the rules and laws of society, including its religions, and its cultures. In Toltec wisdom, this is the mitote.
But a dream is just that, a dream. Underneath all the layers of deception there is a real you, made of pure love. The mitote keeps you from seeing who you really are, but how did you get here in the first place?
When we are born, our emotional mind is healthy. Just look at young children: they play and laugh all the time, and that is what it feels like to live without deception. But at the age of 2 or 3, this begins to change. The child is being domesticated, and he loses touch with his true self. He starts to create an outer image to please his mother, father, siblings, and society. By the time he reaches adulthood, his inner and outer image have become irreconcilable.
How does this domestication happen? Imagine you are just a toddler. You have no consciousness of what is good or bad, what you should or should not be doing. You simply are. You are happy, and you are in the living room playing with your dad’s guitar. You have no notion that this could possibly displease your dad, since he always protects you and allows you to be yourself.
But today, your dad is having a bad day. He comes into the living room and sees you playing with his guitar. He gets very angry and spanks you. To you, this is an injustice since you are not aware of doing anything wrong. This injustice causes a pain in your heart and is the first step to losing your innocence. You have experienced your first emotional wound, and for fear of another punishment, you start to behave differently. You develop an outer image that you present to the world.
Eventually, you become absorbed in the big dream and lead a life dictated by fear, following what you should or should not do. You also begin to believe that everything around you happens because of you as you are now caught in the bubble of your own perception - this is the emotional poison that will fill your wounds.
We all live life in a dream. And each dream is different, as it is based upon our own perceptions. Your dreams are made up of emotions, and these spring either from fear or from love. According to Ruiz, we perceive both emotions, but fear dominates in everyday life. Since we are emotionally wounded, normal relationships for us are based on fear.
The author believes the emotions to be polar opposites with particular characteristics ascribed to them. He likes to call these “the track of love” and the “track of fear.” The track of fear is full of obligations and conditions. It has no respect, avoids responsibility, and is unkind.
The track of love, on the other hand, has no expectations and is unconditional. It is based on respect, is responsible, and kind. If you live a life based on fear, your relationships will hurt you as you will expect things from others that they cannot fulfil. If you do not respect others and you do not respect yourself, that is where self-pity comes from.
In a life defined by fear you also try to avoid responsibility. This creates more hurt, as it misleads you to think you can do things without consequences. In fact, every action has a consequence. In a life defined by love, you accept responsibility for your own actions. You have respect for others and for yourself, and you live a life without expectations. The author writes, “That is why hardly anything hurts us when we are in love; we aren’t expecting that our lover will do something, and we have no obligations.”
If you want a good relationship with someone else, you need to accept that you are only responsible for your half of the relationship, for your dream. We all dream our own dreams and you can never fully know the other person. Very often however, we try to take responsibility for the other person regardless.
That is when we create a war of control: We live a life without respect for the other, and we follow the track of fear. If you want to have a happy and fulfilled relationship with someone, you will have to choose the track of love instead. You can choose to dream with the other person and become a playmate, instead of trying to control them.
The author says: “In the track of love, you are giving more than taking. And of course, you love yourself so much that you don’t allow selfish people to take advantage of you.” Mastering a relationship is all about you: you need to realize that everyone dreams their own dreams and you can only ever control yourself.
To just let the other person be, you need to be with the right partner. According to Ruiz, this is someone who “wants to go in the same direction as you do, someone who is compatible with your views and your values - emotionally, physically, economically, spiritually.”
To find such a person, you need to develop self-honesty. Start projecting who you really are and not the domesticated version of yourself. That way, you are going to find someone who aligns closely with your true self.
Maybe you have been in a relationship for a long time already and you do not want to give your partner up. Here, too, you can have a fresh start by accepting your partner for the way she truly is. You can do so by first accepting yourself and developing self-love. Realize that we live with wounded emotional minds and that they complicate our relationships.
So, how do we heal our wounded minds? How do you heal a physical wound? You cut it open using a scalpel, you clean it out and you keep it clean until it has healed. You do the same with emotional wounds. Use the scalpel of truth to cut your wounds open.
It is going to hurt to uncover all the lies and the denial system that has protected your emotional wounds thus far. Ruiz uses the example of rape to explain how this could work. Someone who was raped 10 years ago likely still lives with the emotional suffering this event created. But why should you suffer for something you did not cause? You are not guilty; you are the victim. Ruiz believes that a victim of rape should see that the rape was true then, but it is not true anymore.
Once you have opened the wound with truth, it is time to cleanse it of emotional poison. You do this through forgiveness. Forgive the person who hurt you and forgive yourself. No matter what someone did to you, when you forgive them you will do yourself a favor because you will stop your own suffering. Remember that whatever someone did to you had nothing to do with you, as everyone dreams their own dream.
Finally, to accelerate the healing, practice self-love. Love yourself unconditionally and accept yourself the way you are. You can only be happy if you first love yourself. The author writes, “You have the right to love, to smile, to be happy, to share your love, and to not be afraid to receive it also.”
Humans were born as innocents, but through domestication we lost our innocence and became part of the big dream. Growing up, we joined a system of denial to protect our emotional wounds.
If you want to lead a happy life filled with love, you have to cut open your wounds, forgive and love yourself. Self-respect and unconditional self-love are the key to all happiness.
Think about your relationships: are you being controlled or are you free to be your true self?
Don Miguel Ruiz is a Mexican author of Toltec spiritualist and neoshamanistic texts. Members of the New Thought movement primarily focused on old teachings, meant to achieve spiritual enlightenment, appreciate and follow his work. The youngest of... (Read more)
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