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Facing Fear the Toltec Way

An Interview with don Miguel Ruiz

By Randy Peyser

In The Four Agreements, a New York Times bestseller with more than seven million copies sold worldwide, don Miguel Ruiz revealed how a set of four simple rules can help us to align with personal freedom, happiness, and love. These Four Agreements are: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.

Recently, don Miguel Ruiz joined his son don Jose Ruiz to bring forth a new book called, The Fifth Agreement, which is intended to lead us to a deeper level of awareness of the power of the Self, and to return us to the authenticity that we were born with.

For nearly three decades, don Miguel Ruiz has shared his unique blend of ancient Toltec wisdom and modern-day awareness through workshops and journeys to sacred sites around the world. You can find The Fifth Agreement and the other Ruiz titles in bookstores, and through ebook retailers and the ibookstore.

For information about his upcoming journeys to Mexico, an Alaskan cruise, and other workshops, please visit www.Miguel Ruiz.com

Randy Peyser: I recently received a surprise cancer diagnosis and had surgery. However, a second surgery may be necessary, and I’m facing many unknowns. It’s been challenging to stay out of fear. Can having a better understanding of the Agreements help anyone, like me, who is facing a challenge or an unknown in their lives to stay out of fear?

don Miguel Ruiz: This is very interesting. In 2002, I had a major heart attack. I was in a coma for many weeks. When I came back from the coma, it took 8-1/2 years before I had a heart transplant. I can understand exactly how you feel, but I was not afraid.

Randy: How is that possible?

Miguel: I was not afraid because I have awareness. In fact it was the opposite. I was excited when I had the heart attack. I thought: Finally, I will experience what death is. Several times, I had near-death experiences, but when I had that strong pain in the chest, I knew that this was it; I knew I was dying. The pain was very strong but the excitement was even stronger. Finally, I could show everyone a better way to let go of everything. I could show a proper way to die.

I called 911 and I called my manager to let everybody know I had a heart attack. I wanted everyone to witness how I would handle everything. However, they wouldn’t allow people in the ICU except for the family.

The first one to see me was my middle son, don Jose, who wrote The Fifth Agreement. He was in his early twenties. He came to see me, and he looked like everything he had ever learned was completely gone from him. He was in tears with a lot of fear. He said, “Please Father, don’t die. Don’t leave me alone. I need you.”

That surprised me because I had taught my children since they were very little. I even sent him to the swamis in India when he was sixteen. He had a lot of knowledge. However, when he came to see me, it was like he’d forgotten everything. I looked directly into his eyes and told him, “Is this the way you are going to celebrate the death of your Father? Get outside and fix yourself. Then come back in because I have something really important to share with you.”

He was shocked by the way I treated him. He went out to think about what I said, and he understood his selfishness. He came back to the room a few minutes later and everything was completely different.

He said, “Oh Father, please forgive me. I didn’t notice all my selfishness. I was taking the last moments of your life for my misery. I was using your death to hurt myself when you really want me to be happy. I can see that.” He took my hand and said, “I am with you, Father.”

Then I started talking to him. I told him to just imagine that, instead of me, that he had had a heart attack because it was his time. I said to him, “Let’s imagine that you are dead in the coffin, and you can see the pain of all the people you love — your wife, your mother, your grandmother, and your friends. You can see that their pain is real. They are in pain because they will not see you anymore and they want you to live. Imagine that you have two minutes to talk to them so that you can give them a message. What is the message that you would tell them?”

He said, “I would tell them that I am perfectly fine. I have no pain. I am happy. I understand that everything I did in my life was completely irrelevant. Everything I accumulated, it really was never mine because I cannot take anything with me. Do not use me in order to hurt yourself because I am dead. You guys are alive. So celebrate my death because I am no longer in pain, I have no worries anymore, and I have no more reasons to suffer, no justifications. I am completely free right now.”

We are dying all the time. Every time a tree falls over, it is a death. When I finished high school, when I lost a car or a relationship, everything I lost was dying. But every time something died, something new came and replaced it.

Randy: Do you believe in intuition? I am confused about making assumptions versus following one’s intuition.

Miguel: They are two different things. We make assumptions because we have a language and use words. We make assumptions about whether something is good or bad and then defend our belief systems in that part of our mind that is knowledge. Intuition happens before we create knowledge.

When we are four, five or six, we start creating an identity. It’s made of words. We learn the language that our parents speak, that our society speaks. When we are five, six or seven, the knowledge starts speaking with sounds that no one can hear but us, and we call this “thinking.” We use thinking — all those words — in order to justify and make interpretations about everything we perceive. This is how we make assumptions.

As we grow older, we can have entire conversations in our heads. We think about something that happened to us and we think about all the things we should do, say, or not allow someone else to do, etc. We shape a whole story. All of this is made by assumptions.

Intuition is always there. Intuition comes directly from our integrity, from what we really are. It’s so important to follow our hearts. This is another way to say it.

In your case, it is completely normal to feel fear. The biggest fear of knowledge is the unknown. We have a need to understand in order to feel safe. If we are afraid, it is because we don’t understand. Even if the information is not true, it still makes us feel safe. Hundreds of years ago, to know that the earth was flat made us feel safe. It is normal for you to feel fear because there are so many things that you don’t know.

But the biggest unknown is death. “What happens when I die?” When I had that heart attack, I wanted to share with everyone who wanted to listen so I could help them to face the unknown. There is nothing wrong to feel the fear. That’s okay. But to have the awareness, face that fear, and overcome the fear of death is the real challenge. Be yourself, be authentic. Enjoy your life. This is our mission — to enjoy life. How to do it? There are 7 billion people and 7 billion different ways – one for every single human. We are unique. There is no one like you. There never was anyone like you and never will be anyone like you. Only we know exactly what makes us happy or unhappy and what we want or don’t want. This is what makes humanity extremely beautiful.

Everything that exists in the universe is perfect. We are all perfect. We say, “I’m human. I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect.” It’s the biggest lie. We don’t understand our own perfection. But we are perfect. Every atom, electron, particle, and organ is perfect. Imperfection only exists in our knowledge, in our minds. It is what we believe that is imperfect.

Randy: Illness doesn’t feel like perfection.

Miguel: Of course it’s perfection. Everything that is created will end. But new creation is replacing it. There are two things that are true: one is life and the other is death. We know that life is real because we all are alive. We know that death is real because all of us will die. And also, we are alive. That is a fact. Disease is normal. Only our knowledge can say it is not perfect.

Randy: If everything is irrelevant after we die, what about all the love and the giving we’ve done in this lifetime? Isn’t that relevant?

Miguel: Synonymous with “life” is “love.” Love just exists. Truth is also synonymous with love and life. It just exists.

Many people ask me, “What is the opposite of love?” They expect me to say hate or fear. But no — the opposite of love is love itself.

Randy: Can you explain that?

Miguel: Look at yourself in a mirror. Your left hand becomes your right hand. The image in the mirror is the opposite of what you really are. It’s the same thing with love. Love just exists. We perceive love and we are a mirror for that love.

We distort love with knowledge. What we think of as love is exactly the opposite of what love really is. What we describe as love is jealousy, possessiveness and controlling others. That creates a lot of drama and emotional pain. We say, “Love hurts.” No, it’s not that love hurts; it’s that image of love that we have in our heads. Real love just exists.

Love exists in gratitude and generosity. That is real love. Real love has no expectations or obligations. It just exists. People don’t feel safe to love because we have so many broken hearts. People can say they do things to us for our own good. Then we have to deal with their garbage and their judgments and opinions and we call that love. They try to control us. That is not love.

Randy: Many people are stuck in relationships like the ones you are describing. It seems hard for people to leave those relationships.

Miguel: That is because we grew up surrounded by those kinds of relationships. That is what we have practiced. It’s not our fault. We’ve learned what society has taught us. It’s complicated. All of it is in the mind and in the knowledge that we have.

Randy: Can you talk about the Toltecs?

Miguel: I can tell you who the Toltecs are now, since the ancient Toltecs no longer exist. Toltec means artist. We are all the Toltecs; we are the artists. Every human being is an artist because we create all the time. As artists, we see the world in a different way, as a thing of beauty. It takes practice to live that kind of life, the life of an artist.

This is our legacy for all of planet earth, with all humanity. We are unique, but we have similar programs. We complement each other. This humanity is just like an organ for a bigger living thing. We are just one organ of the planet earth. The forest is another one, the ocean is another one. We all work together. In medicine we call it “the metabolism of the planet earth.” We are the earth and the earth is extremely beautiful.

As artists, the biggest creation we make is the story of our lives. The real world is in the truth, in life. Everyone lives in the world in the reality that they create. It is real for them and for nobody else. The fifth agreement is Be skeptical, but learn to listen. When we say “be skeptical,” we know that we live in the story that we create and everybody lives in the story they create. The truth is the “unstory.” Every human has their own truth and that is the reason why we try to make everybody else wrong.

When someone speaks their story, we don’t have to believe it. But as we listen to them, we can take from them what can help us, or what we can use to make our world better.

Be skeptical, but learn to listen is the end of the consciousness that exists in our minds. For thousands of years, we have tried to stop that noise in our heads, that dialogue, that thinking. We use mantras, meditation, dancing, and music — any-thing that really inspires us to stop the mind. The fifth agreement takes you to that point where you are no longer a worrier. You don’t have that worry in your mind anymore. Finally, you are at peace. You respect your own story. You respect yourself. You love yourself. You respect everyone else and you help everyone to become free. Nobody is responsible for our creation but us. They are responsible for their creation. We are not responsible for their creation. But we respect the creation that they created.

Randy: In The Fifth Agreement you mention that we are all messengers.

Miguel: As humans we are always messengers. Angel means messenger. We are those angels. Our wings are our imagination. Everything that humans create first exists in our imaginations. With action we make things real and transform what already exists before humanity. All the feelings, cultures, cars, computers, everything. It’s in our imagination first and we make it real.

Randy: How can we use the Agreements to restore the world to balance?

Miguel: It is happening right now. It’s working. The Agreements speak directly to the human integrity. It is exactly the same for every single human. Please help me to change the world. The Planet Earth needs humanity to be aware of the world we each create in our own minds. That is the world that only we can change.

The benefit when you change your world is that you can live in peace, love, and joy. The benefit is not just for you. It’s for your friends, your children, your relatives, the community. By changing your world, you are part of the change of all of humanity. Just imagine what would happen if we all changed. How different everything would be.

For more information, please visit www.MiguelRuiz.com

Randy Peyser edits and ghostwrites books and helps people get book deals with literary agents and publishers. www.AuthorOneStop.com