I feel like I need to defend my churchless cred. Yeah, a few days ago I put up a post that praised what the front cover says is A Toltec Wisdom Book, "The Voice of Knowledge."
Can't be sure, but I seem to recall reading one of Don Miguel Ruiz's earlier books. Maybe it was "The Four Agreements." There's a lot of Four Agreement stuff in The Voice of Knowledge. For whatever reason, Ruiz's message was more appealing to me this time around.
Now, I readily admit that Ruiz engages in quite a bit of God-talk. Also, prayer talk (particularly in the very end of the book I just read).
But my impression is that he uses these terms because they are familiar to most of his reader-audience. Namely, Christians. Or ex-Christians. However, there are very few references to anything akin to the Father in the Sky God of Christianity.
Mostly Ruiz talks about life as being equivalent to God. For example:
The fruit of the Tree of Life is the message that comes directly from life or from God. Life is the only truth; it is the force that is creating all of the time. When you see that force in yourself, and when you put your faith in that force, you are truly alive.
...You are the king in your own reality; you are responsible for your own dream of life.
...We create our own heaven. Heaven is a story; it is a dream that we, as life, can create. But for life to create heaven, the main character of the story needs to surrender to life, and allow life to manifest without the lies.
We, each one of us, are the main character in our own stories. Ruiz is absolutely right about that. It is unarguable that everyone views reality in their own unique fashion. No one else shares our consciousness. Someone might tell me, "I know what you mean," but he or she can't be sure about that.
If we could jump into someone else's head for even a moment, directly experiencing how they see the world, and then jump out again with a memory of what we saw, I bet the reaction would be, "Holy #$%!&, that person is freaking weird!"
Of course, to them our way of looking at the world would be.
Which means that each of us is a marvelous story-teller, the central tenet of Ruiz's message. Our stories aren't true in any objective sense. Yet they are all we have, or are. Our stories are how we make sense of life in general, and our own life in particular.
Nothing wrong with that. Absent our stories, we wouldn't be human. There's good scientific reason to argue that what differentiates Homo sapiens from other apes is our story-telling ability.
We humans can conceptualize, assign words to things and ideas, communicate those notions to our fellow humans, pass on our learning and culture. So far, so good.
Until these evolutionary capacities show their dark side. Worry. Conflict. Anxiety. Rigidity. Abstraction that loses touch with the concreteness of life. Imagination run wild. Just because modern humans have developed certain abilities doesn't mean these are conducive to happiness and well-being.
Evolution rewards surviving long enough to pass on one's genes through reproduction. Contentment is a by-product. When it happens.
So I think Ruiz is on the right track when he urges us to take a look at our own thinking. After all, we aren't called members of the Homo sapiens species for no reason. Every human does a lot of sapien'ing. Often or mostly, way too much.
Our stories can drive us crazy. Or at least confine us in ways that aren't productive.
Here's a personal anecdote in line with Ruiz's admonition, Don't believe yourself, and don't believe anybody else. I'm sure you can supply similar stories from your own life experiences.
In high school I was a semi-nerd. Second in my graduating class, GPA-wise. Got better test scores than almost everybody else. A tennis player. Popular, but not in the Top Jock sense. I wore glasses. I didn't play football like most of my friends did. I didn't see myself as very athletic, though I was 6'1" and 165 pounds.
My tennis coach also was an assistant football coach. One day, in my junior year I think it was, he had us run wind sprints for conditioning. A star running back on the football team also played tennis. We were paired up. And ended up running neck and neck.
Damn!, I thought. I'm as fast as he is. The coach told me, "You have a powerful running style. You look like a football player."
Some time after that a P.E. instructor timed a bunch of us students in the 100 yard dash. I had the same time as the football team's quarterback, a very athletic Hispanic guy. The quarterback couldn't believe it. We had a side by side 100 yard runoff.
Again, ended up neck and neck. After that I was asked to be part of the track team. Never did it, though. In large part because of my self-image, the story about myself that I and others told about me.
It wasn't true.
I was brainy, but I also was quite brawny and athletic. That side of me didn't really come out for a long time, though. I continued to play competitive tennis into my 30s. Had quite a bit of success. However, it wasn't until my 40s, after I got divorced and remarried, which shook up how I viewed myself, that I belatedly took up martial arts.
And loved it. Still do. Have moved from hard style to Tai Chi.
This taught me that Ruiz is correct: the stories we tell ourselves can be horribly limiting. We can be fooled into not seeing capabilities that we actually have, while believing we are better at some things than we really are.
Near the end of his book, Ruiz engages in some talk that sounds suspiciously supernatural, but to me, isn't. It is about how to live life here and now.
The gates of heaven are open, and heaven is waiting for you. But if you don't enter heaven, it's because you believe that you are not worthy of heaven. You believe that you are not worthy of living in a place of truth, joy, and love. This is a lie, but if you believe it, that lie controls your story, and you cannot pass through the gates of heaven.
Anyone who tells me "the gates of heaven are open" and that it's my fault if I "don't enter heaven" can go to Hell.
Posted by: cc | March 09, 2014 at 10:55 PM
We create our own heaven. Heaven is a story; it is a dream that we, as life, can create. But for life to create heaven, the main character of the story needs to surrender to life, and allow life to manifest without the lies.
I don't know how anyone can take this kind of drivel seriously. It's so vague and airy-fairy, the reader has to add wishful thinking to give it substance.
Furthermore, Ruiz speaks falsely when he says "we create our own heaven" because he can't speak for everyone. Many people do not create their own heaven. Many people live with life as it is rather than imagine what it should be.
When he says, "the main character of the story needs to surrender to life", what the hell is that supposed to mean? I've surrendered to the fact that characters like Ruiz attract a huge following, but I won't surrender my intellect to his warm, fuzzy, religious twaddle.
Posted by: cc | March 10, 2014 at 09:15 AM
“We create our own heaven. Heaven is a story; it is a dream that we, as life, can create. But for life to create heaven, the main character of the story needs to sur-render to life, and allow life to manifest without the lies.”
(I wouldn’t use the term ‘heaven’, but it’ll do).
The information in our heads determines how/what we think – and yes, it’ a story, a narration that’s going on all the time.
Life is forever presenting us with reality, yet because we are so addicted to our story (beliefs, opinions, views etc.) we refuse or are unable to see it. In effect we lie to ourselves.
Maybe some people 'live with life as it' is' but there are an awful lot (literalist believers for one) who hide from life behind their beliefs, their 'stories' - and perhaps many of us non-believers have our own particular stories too.
Posted by: Turan | March 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM