Unconditional love goes beyond accepting every belief. It is about accepting our capacity to have positive or negative beliefs. It is about the whole.
We are each capable of doing both positive and negative things in our lives (and oftentimes, when life gets complicated, things are not clearly 100 percent good or bad). Accepting the whole is accepting the Authentic Self that is me, that is you.
We have a choice. Yes, we can accept the negativity in us; but we can also decide to make positive choices that make us feel good. It is our free will to express our preference in life.
For example, let’s say that in a moment of clarity we discovered that we felt it was OK to judge everyone. We see that this belief was based on the illusion of self-righteousness. But in this moment of clarity, we say, “I don’t want to judge anymore.”
We look back on the past and see the many times we have judged, and we realize that we can’t take those times back. But we can forgive ourselves now, and we can ask for forgiveness from others when that is appropriate, because we have truly changed our mind in that moment of clarity.
Manifesting a Change of Heart
After years and years of practicing a belief—in this case, judgment—it has become an almost automatic reaction. Holding on to a new, more positive point of view may not be so easy. If we want to manifest this change of heart and create a new practice, we become aware of the moment we give life to a judgment and be on the look out for the triggers that make us judge. Paying attention to ourselves and getting to know ourselves all over again leads to mastery of awareness in which we go from being a victim to a hunter, then finally a warrior.
The victim mentality is where we have subjugated our will to our attachment to domestication—a belief. It is only when we become aware of that subjugation, in that moment of clarity, that we can express the choice to change it. And the best way to change it is to accept the truth. In the example of judgment, we accept that we had domesticated ourselves to the illusion of self-righteousness.
Next we become the hunter. The hunter looks for opportunities to practice this change in point of view. One way to do this is by paying attention and remembering the Fifth Agreement: “Be skeptical but learn to listen.” Skepticism is the action of consciously withholding our yeses and nos and not making automatic decisions. This gives us an opportunity to listen and to perceive life as it is.
Have You Been Giving Away Your Awareness & Free Will?
Skepticism allows us to spot those moments that something triggers us to react automatically without awareness. We ask, “What is it about this situation that makes me give away my awareness and the power of my expression of my free will?”
In that moment, we become aware that these situations can come continuously, each and every moment— at school, at work, while listening to political discussions, or even just hearing someone else having a conversation. In those moments, a judgment comes up inside us based on our attachments to our beliefs.
Once we are able to identify when old habits and agreements are trying to skew our vision, the warrior steps in. The warrior is born the moment we declare a “war for independence.” Once we are free from making decisions automatically, we can then express our free will by taking an action with complete awareness.
The Key to Lasting Change
The key to lasting change is unconditional self-love. Through the eyes of unconditional love, we accept that we do judge. This acceptance allows us to free up the energy of pretending to be something we are not.
Thus, we begin to become aware by paying attention. And when we recognize a trigger to judge, we have a moment of choice. We ask with awareness, “Do I choose to make a judgment here or do I choose not to make a judgment?”
If we make a judgment, it is because we want to. If we don’t make a judgment, it is because we don’t want to. This is the true expression of what we want.
When we are living a life of awareness, we realize we have a choice. We are in control of our yeses and nos. It is not about whether we are going to accept ourselves based on the correct decision. On the contrary, we already accept ourselves with unconditional love.
Our decision is clearly based on what we want as expressed through our yes or no. At that moment, the pattern is broken, and if we say no to judgment, then we have shifted the direction of our intent.
The Discipline of Awareness
We call ourselves warriors in the Toltec tradition not just because we are in a war, but because warriors have the discipline of awareness, where practice makes the master. How do we practice? By being aware of our triggers, and when the moment comes, by making the choice that expresses our true desire in life.
The Four Agreements, created by my father, don Miguel Ruiz, are:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
And my brother, don José Ruiz, contributed a Fifth Agreement later on, which I mentioned before:
- Be skeptical but learn to listen.
Making a Choice From a Place of Unconditional Love
Let’s take the Second Agreement, “Don’t take anything personally,” as an example. After someone I love says something to me, I recognize the moment I take it personally. I accept that I tend to make it personal. I know what that feels like, and I have already made the choice to accept myself for who I am. I also choose to use this agreement to make a change. The moment is coming; I recognize it. It is about to happen. It is here.
I have a choice: I can take it personally or not take it personally. Making this choice from a place of unconditional love for both myself and my loved one, I simply choose not to take what was said personally for no rewards or gain, but just to express my true desire. I already love myself. I am free to make the choice of “Yes, I will take it personally” or “No, I won’t take it personally.”
The agreement is not a condition, but an actual instrument that allows me to remember how I am going to use my intent. I am worthy of my own love.
Seeing Life Through the Eyes of a Judge, or the Eyes of Unconditional Love
The art of living a life of awareness comes down to perfection and unconditional love. It is realizing that in every moment in our life, we have a choice. We can choose to see the world through the eyes of the judge, whose motivator is conditional love. Here I can create a hierarchy and multiple levels of “I am better and you are worse.”
Or we can choose to see the world through the eyes of unconditional love. When we do this, there is no hierarchy. Everyone lives life expressing their uniqueness, which is how they say yes or no, regardless of whether or not they are aware of it. Life is perfect because it is the truth that exists at this moment. That is their life.
We always have a choice. I can change things with just one choice. If I like the way something is going, I can keep on doing it. If I don’t like it, I can change it. This is not because I have to, but because I want to.
What matters is your choice: Do you choose to live life with awareness? Do you see the windmills, or do you prefer the illusion of the giants? When illusion bursts, the heartbreak is enormous. Loss will always bring hurt, but what is it that we are mourning? For example, if we lose a loved one, are we going to miss that person for who he or she was or because of the illusion we projected onto that person and the meaning it brought to us?
The Practice: The Choice of Being Continuously Aware
Living a life of awareness takes work, which is why we call ourselves warriors in our Toltec tradition. The discipline required to become a master requires constant practice. It gets easier to keep a discipline with time. As a warrior, every moment becomes a choice to continuously be aware. The choices made at every moment are based on truth, because we are always watching it. The mastery is being aware that we are alive, free to make each and every choice that shapes our life.
The only way for this knowledge to come alive is by practicing it. You will never learn how to cook or experience new foods if you don’t move away from the cookbook and get into the kitchen. The same is true for every book of knowledge—especially the sacred books from around the world. If you merely read them, they are just words on the page. The flavors and meaning only come to life when you choose to put those words to use. That is when a lesson comes alive—when it becomes truth for you in that moment because it is an experience in life.
Simply put, living a life of awareness means making meaningful choices every moment of our lives. We can choose to live through the eyes of conditional love or through the eyes of unconditional love. Making this choice is what allows you to create your life as an ever-evolving masterpiece of art.
That is my wish for you.
*Subtitles added by InnerSelf
©2013 by don Miguel Ruiz Jr. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hierophant Publishing.
Dist. by Red Wheel/Weiser, Inc. www.redwheelweiser.com
Living a Life of Awareness: Daily Meditations on the Toltec Path
by don Miguel Ruiz Jr.
About the Author
don Miguel Ruiz, Jr., is a Nagual, or a Toltec Master of Transformation. He is a direct descendant of the Toltecs of the Eagle Night lineage, and is the son of don Miguel Ruiz, Sr., author of The Four Agreements. At the age of 14, don Miguel Jr. apprenticed to his father and his grandmother, Madre Sarita. His apprenticeship lasted 10 years. For the past six years, don Miguel Jr. has applied the lessons learned from his father and grandmother to define and enjoy his own personal freedom while achieving peace with all of creation. As a Nagual, he now helps others discover optimal physical and spiritual health, so that they may achieve their own personal freedom.
Watch a video with don Miguel Ruiz Jr.: How To Be at Peace (short interview)