Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Journey On the Toltec Path (Part 3)

If our purpose is to enjoy life, then how do we proceed? I think don Miguel Ruiz provides many answers to this question in his books; starting with The Four Agreements.

The 1st agreement is to be impeccable with your word. What does this mean? We use our words to create. Our thoughts, ideas, feelings and beliefs are expressed with words. So in a sense we create the reality we experience using words.

To be impeccable with your word is to use your word in ways that create what you want. Words are signals to the mind that cause it to go to work toward creating what we tell it. One of the most important things I ever learned was: The mind will work toward creating anything based on what we tell it. The shocking part is: It does not care if it creates something undesirable! It trusts us to be responsible for the input that we provide it. We can create heaven or hell and it all depends on how impeccably we use our word.

In the 2nd agreement don Miguel suggests that we don’t take anything personally.

We take something personally every time we think that something is about “me”. An emotional reaction to what someone has said about us is an indication that we have taken them personally.

Imagine how much stress, sadness and drama we could eliminate by mastering this agreement!

If someone were to call you incompetent and you consciously or unconsciously believed it was true, you would get an emotional reaction. The more you believe it, the stronger the reaction.

As soon as you take something personally the drama begins and stress, anger, and negative emotions erupt, and this often leads to an undesirable outcome.

People often make a sport of pushing other peoples buttons so they can get a reaction and play with how the drama unfolds. Even if no harm is done, it perpetuates the idea that we need to adjust who we are so we can conform to the beliefs and expectations of others. It engages the domestication program that tells us we need to fit in so that we can be accepted. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of our authenticity.

The Toltec Path is a path of freedom from taking things personally. It is a path that not only leads one away from self-importance, it leads one to the acceptance of yourself and others. Unconditional acceptance (warts and all) of yourself and others opens the door to unconditional love.

I remember one time when someone was trying to push my buttons purely for sport and/or entertainment. I don’t recall what he was accusing me of, but I do recall saying to him : “ I don’t understand; what do you mean?” So he tried to explain it to me more in-depth, to which I responded by saying: “ What does this have to do with me?” Once again he tried to go more in depth about his allegation, and as he did, he began to blush and stammer until he said: “ You know; here I am trying to jerk your chain, and it isn’t working! Now I am the one feeling embarrassed!”

I will never forget that interaction because it revealed the power of The Second Agreement: “Don’t take anything personally”. On that day it would not have mattered if what he said was true about me or not. I knew that whatever he was saying was about him and not me. The fact that he got embarrassed seemed to prove that!

What other people say or believe about us, is not about us, it is about them, and what they see is distorted by their personal lens that they view the world through. We are not responsible for the way others perceive the world.... they are! The world is a mirror that reflects our own perceptual reality back to us. What we see may be true for us, but not necessarily for anyone else.

We can only take something personally if we believe what is said and then we give them the power to be an authoritative judge figure who we feel we need to be compliant to. We can never be our authentic self by trying to please everybody so that we can be accepted. So why do we do it? Again, it is because we live in a world that continually reinforces our dysfunctional domestic programming. We were taught garbage therefore, we practiced garbage. Then we became garbage masters and we accepted it as a way of life only because we did not know a better way at the time. When one realizes that this fear-based system ( the old paradigm) of control is flawed, one can become open to new possibilities that are based on non-judgmental acceptance, intelligent cooperation, truth, and love.

I developed a verbal self-defense method based on The 2nd Agreement. If you catch someone trying to get you to take something personally and you want them to stop, simply say in a kind and gentle way: “ You know, if I thought what you believed about me was true I would react. Since I know that this is not true about me, I have no need to react.” Then smile and with the energy of love and acceptance, look deep into their eyes and just let it all go. Chances are they will not see you as a potential victim ever again!

I would like to end this post with a relevant quote from don Miguel Ruiz from his Four Agreements Wisdom cards:

“ All of the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally. The whole world of control between humans is based on that. Take a moment and consider this.”

--don Miguel Ruiz

My next post will be about The Third Agreement: “Don’t make assumptions”

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Journey on The Toltec Path ( Part 2)

After reading all of don Miguel’s books I became very serious about my path of freedom. I was not satisfied just learning the material, I wanted to work it, live it, and achieve the quality of life that don Miguel clearly reflects in everything he does.

Not long after reading The Four Agreements, I learned that I could meet don Miguel and participate in his Circle of Fire Ceremony in Nunnelly, Tennessee. That was a trip that I will never forget!

There were many great teachers there giving presentations and sharing their wisdom and one of them was don Miguel’s son; Jose Ruiz. One day shortly after Jose had delivered an excellent speech I approached him and thanked him for being there. He turned and while looking deeply into my eyes with a smile that I will never forget, he put his hand on my shoulder and thanked me for being there. It was a simple gesture, but it was so powerful and there was something to it that I just could not define with words.

A few months later I realized why my experience with Jose was so powerful. He was reflecting everything that a man who has personal freedom has. His eyes were filled with complete unconditional love and acceptance for me even though I was a complete stranger. There were no walls, no barriers, nothing to hide in those eyes. His smile was so complete, pure and genuine. He was radiating his authenticity in a way that I had never seen from anyone before. Later on I decided that my goal was to be able to reflect that kind of authenticity, love, and acceptance not only to others, but to myself.

One day don Miguel was speaking and he asked the crowd “ Why am I here?” Then he paused silently for a moment and then he said “ what is my purpose?” I can imagine there were a lot of people thinking “ why is he asking us that?” After another momentary pause he said “ I am here to enjoy life! My purpose here on earth is to enjoy life, it is as simple as that!”

I found what he said to be extremely powerful. Here was a man who is one of the most important teachers of our time and he is saying that his purpose is simply to enjoy life!

We were all probably taught that our purpose in life was to serve a career, reproduce and support a maniacal consumerist munching machine. That’s what I grew up thinking anyway and I tried to live that purpose and even though I did have moments of true happiness, they were mere drops in a bucket full of suffering. I spent 32 years of my life working jobs that provided little or no rewards other than a paycheck. I spent 22 years of my life learning how to enjoy life and that helped, but I was not truly living my purpose like Miguel was suggesting. I was distracted by the American Dream which is not necessarily laser-focused on enjoying life.

What better purpose can there be than to enjoy life? My enjoyment in life is highest when I am doing what I love. I love to write, teach, mentor, and coach. Therefore, in doing what I love, I not only serve my purpose to enjoy life, I serve a purpose in helping others to do the same.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Journey on The Toltec Path (Part 1of 3 )

Over many years I have studied Toltec Authors that wrote about topics similar to Carlos Castaneda. One day around the mid to late 90’s I saw don Miguel Ruiz on the Oprah Winfrey show. He was talking about the Toltec’s but he did not say anything that I was familiar with at all. My first reaction was: “Who does this guy think he is? It doesn’t sound to me like he knows anything about Castaneda or don Juan, or the path of power!”

Many times after this I would see his book “The Four Agreements” while browsing at a book store. I would pick it up and skim through it and have the same reaction each time: “What the heck is this? There is nothing in this for me” – or so I thought at the time!

In December of 2002 I had a very vivid and powerful dream. I dreamed I was walking through a Native American camp and I was consumed with the feeling that I really did not know who I was or what it was like to have the complete freedom to be my authentic self. As I walked around the camp, I kept my eyes open hoping to find a medicine person or a “man of knowledge”. I was sure that if I found one there that I could be helped. I saw a few people who had that special sparkle in their eyes, but for some reason I did not feel like approaching them.

Later on as I was walking in the camp along a lake shore. On my right side in my peripheral vision I saw a woman dressed in full ceremonial garb. She was holding an eagle feather and while I was walking she was staring over the tip of the eagle feather directly at me. As I continued along the shore, she magically turned on her heels and followed my motion in perfect synchronicity. At one point I felt an immense wave of energy come from her direction. I had never felt anything quite like what was moving through me.

Two days later I was in a bookstore and once again The Four Agreements book called out to me. When I picked it up, it opened directly to page 95. My eyes went right to a paragraph that said:

“Very young children are not afraid to express what they feel. They are so loving that if they perceive love, they melt into love. They are not afraid to love at all. That is the description of a normal human being. As children we are not afraid of the future or ashamed of the past. Our normal human tendency is to enjoy life, to play, to explore, to be happy and to love.

But what has happened with the adult human? Why are we so different?”

Those words had a powerful impact on me. They seemed to be directly related to my feelings in the dream. This time I dropped all of my judgments and purchased the book.

When I started reading the book I had a completely different perspective of it than I had ever had in the past. It seemed that the book truly did have the “medicine” that I was looking for in the camp. don Miguel turned out to be the “man of knowledge” that I was looking for in the dream.

Don Miguel’s answer as to what happens to adults really opened up my eyes. He basically said that we were domesticated in such a way that does not allow us to be our authentic selves. A belief system was created for us by authority figures who did not know any better. They did not know how damaging their system of control would work against us as adults.

The Toltec path is a path of freedom from that which causes us to suffer unnecessarily. It is a path that leads one toward regaining their authenticity. It provides all of the tools and understanding that you would ever need to completely transform your life. I know from experience that just reading books alone cannot undo a lifetime of D.D.P. (defective domestic programming). The tools have to be utilized often and the knowledge must be put into regular and consistent practice in daily life.

Why can change be so difficult? Because our domestic programming was powerful enough to control a human being unnecessarily for an entire lifetime. I often say that I have spent the last 46 years of my life overcoming my first 5.

Regaining our authenticity can be very challenging because we live in a world that continually bombards us with garbage that reinforces the defective domestic program. In a nutshell we were taught garbage, we practiced garbage, and we became garbage masters & then we wonder why we don’t enjoy life as much as we could!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Worlds Greatest Magician

Would you like to become The Worlds Greatest Magician?

The only secret is that there are no secrets. You all ready are the Worlds Greatest Magician!

I don’t need to prove this to you, you can prove it to yourself simply by closing your eyes and stating this powerful incantation:


Then open your eyes to the world that you have created. It is EXACTLY as it is, and your experience of it is EXACTLY as you perceive it.

The most powerful magic in the world is rooted in the power of your perception. You and only you are responsible for how you perceive the world. If you perceive it in a way that causes you to suffer in any way, know that you have all the power you will ever need in order to change your view of the world in a way that makes you happy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Inside/Outside " The Box"

Our experience of the present moment is without limitation until we try to explain it. Words, descriptions, beliefs, memory, etc. cannot contain the totality of the present moment anymore than we can fit infinity into a finite box and call it's contents "reality".

Friday, July 6, 2012

Access Infinity

The finite mind is accessed by thinking. The infinite mind is accessed in silence.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Living by Challenge

One of my favorite quotes from don Juan Matus to Carlos Castaneda is:

“We either make ourselves strong or we make ourselves miserable; both require the same amount of effort.”

We all know that making ourselves strong requires effort, but how or why would we expend any energy on making ourselves miserable? The things that make us unhappy often seem to be external to us. Our boss may snap at us, we get cut off on the road, our car breaks down etc. Blaming our reaction on the event, justifying our reaction, and then sustaining our reaction requires effort. It may not seem this way because our reaction is automatic; seemingly as if there is no effort required at all! In reality our reactions are a choice, but if they are unconscious, the outcome of our reaction often works against us. Our unconscious reactions can make us victims of our own making. Learning to become aware of our reactions and taking complete responsibility for them takes us out of victim mode and enables us to consciously and deliberately reframe events in ways that are more productive for us.

“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction”.
--Rita Mae Brown

One of the most challenging and rewarding things that you can do while on the warriors path is learning to become conscious of what was previously unconscious. Living by challenge is a tool that can be used to help us shift out of a reactionary state into a state of awareness and acceptance.

"We cannot change everything, but we can change how we react. "

When the boss yells at us we can choose to see the event as a challenge to grow from. Doing so is an act of a warrior, it is intentional, purposeful, and no matter what the outcome is, we will have gained knowledge, strength and wisdom from the event. Accepting what is before us in the moment as a challenge helps us to become more aware of our unconscious negative reactions and is a good step toward eliminating them.

"When we resist our challenges we suffer, when we accept our challenges we prosper. "

When you find yourself suffering from any event ask yourself what it is that you may be resisting. If the boss yells at you, are your resisting hearing his perspective? Is he yelling because of something you resisted doing? Are you resistant to changing your perspective or doing something differently? Is your resistance an attempt to keep things the same even though you know you need change?

"Resistance is a catalyst for suffering "

When confronted with a challenge it is good to check for any signs of resistance. Where there is resistance there is an increased potential for suffering.

"Taking proactive action is empowering, avoiding proactive action is disempowering."

Forming our intention to take action or resisting action requires the same amount of energy. However, the outcome of resistance is often a loss of energy, the outcome of productive action is a gain of energy and this is why living by challenge is so powerful.

"Our challenges are here to make us stronger. Resisting our challenges is a futile game for no gain. "

Resistance may not seem to require much effort because it is often an unconscious process. Taking action may seem more like effort because it involves overcoming the program that keeps us in resistance. A warriors aim is all about eliminating the reasons why we argue for keeping things the same; even at the cost of our own well being!

"Resistance is a form of resisting life. "

When you find yourself in resistance it is useful to ask yourself the following questions:

What is the purpose of this resistance?
What is the outcome of this resistance?
Is this the outcome I desire?
What do I need to change in order to move forward?

In Living By Challenge we stay focused on what we want and we avoid having our attention being hooked to anything that does not bring us closer to our goals. Suffering can only occur when we identify with negativity. We set ourselves up for suffering when we identify with a negativity, then we take it personally, then we justify our reaction, then we resist and place the blame for suffering outside of ourselves; as if we are not responsible for our own emotions! ( I can hear Dr. Phil say “ how’s that workin’ for you?”)

"Resistance lends energy to creating and sustaining the problem. Acceptance lends energy to creatively solving the problem. "

Blame either toward a person or event, is a major contributor to negative emotions. In fact, it could be considered a root cause. Next time you feel a negative emotion, check in with yourself to see if blame is in anyway connected to how you feel. By removing the blame you can move from a negative and emotionally draining state to an empowering and productive state.

"When we blame we are in resistance to what is. "

If we cannot change what is, then resistance is truly futile! Eliminating blame moves you toward a state of acceptance. When you are in acceptance you are in a state of openness that is much more conducive to problem solving.

A brave step toward living by challenge is to accept responsibility for everything we create in our lives. Our state of being in this moment and every moment has been created by our own beliefs, actions, or inactions. No one else is responsible for how you feel in this moment or any other. don Juan’s point “we either make ourselves strong or we make ourselves miserable” is very appropriate here. Warriors accept full responsibility for their state of being and as a result, make conscious choices and take actions that are consistent with their values and in alignment with their hopes, dreams and visions.

"You can change the world simply by changing your perception of it."

We react to the world based on our perception of it. We may not be able to change what is, but we can change our perception of it. Changing our perception enables us to control our reactions and to utilize our energy in more productive and harmonious ways.

" You cannot change your life by changing your life. You can only change your life if you change your thinking."
-- Jannie Putter -- South Africa

If you are cut off in traffic it is your choice to make an assumption about the driver, then take it personally, then blame the person for your reaction, and create all kinds of useless negative energy, or simply accept the incident as a fact of life on the road. In reality it is nothing personal, your assumptions about the other driver change nothing, and the outcome of blame serves no one or no-thing. Shaming, blaming, and “shoulding” only creates and sustains what you do not want.

'Your way of being is a choice from moment to moment. "

To shift your perspective out of blame mode you can choose to see the event as a mirror of what you may have done in the past. One day you may have changed lanes very close to someone you did not see; it was unintentional, but the other driver took it personally and assumed that you were being an inconsiderate jerk and he blamed you for his day that was a bad day “right from the start”.

"Detached and at ease; I release this emotion to be free. "

To shift your perspective, imagine yourself being the other driver that you unintentionally cut off. You are angry, but now you know that being angry is your choice. You are aware that the anger is a result of identifying with the event, as if the other driver was attacking you personally. If we don’t take anything personally, then nothing that happens to us can possibly be personal. We literally go against ourselves and the other person when we take anything personally.

As my Toltec Mentor Allan Hardman ( said so eloquently to me :

"The universe does not do “it” to us, we do “it” to us."

Accepting the fact that it is was nothing personal allows us to release the anger and see that it was a mistake that anyone can make. Letting the incident go is literally an act of power because it is an action step toward an emotional state that you consciously and deliberately create.

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
--Winston Churchill

Living by challenge is a step towards seeing events that create emotional reactions as opportunities for growth.

"A challenge is a warriors key to empowerment."

A victim takes things personally and loses energy, a warrior takes nothing personally and uses each challenge as an exercise; much like a power lifter uses weights to become stronger.