Miguel Ruiz, M.D. was a successful surgeon, practicing alongside his two physician brothers. Then, in the early-1970s, a terrible auto accident almost killed him. Hovering above his injured body, Ruiz realized that “what needed healing was not only one’s physical brain, but the human mind as well.” So, after recovering, he redirected his energy toward his ancestral path, teaching ancient, transformational Toltec wisdom. His book, The Four Agreements, has sold more than seven million copies in the U.S. alone. A near-fatal heart attack in 2002, followed by a successful heart transplant eight years later opened another new door to another new life for Ruiz. More about Don Miguel Ruiz and his work can be found on our profile page.
Soul Love had an exclusive interview with don Miguel Ruiz. We have decided to publish the interview in the spoken language.
Soul Love: When studying The Four Agreements we realize that reading and practically applying them are two different things. The agreements are: 1. Be impeccable with your word 2. Don’t take anything personally 3. Don’t make assumptions 4. Always do your best. Do you have any tips for us in order to make it easier?
Don Miguel Ruiz: You know, I really like what you are saying because something that we are currently developing and is almost finished is what I call “New Agreements for Life”. This is to support The Four Agreements as I advise small steps (little agreements) which will help us to reach that freedom. So these New Agreements for Life is a thirty day program and every day has a new agreement and is a practice with the support of a prayer too.
The Four Agreements is the introduction to the way of life of the artists, the Toltecs. And after practicing for years we can say that when we are ready, the conclusion will be “The Fifth Agreement” that my son Jose wrote. This is the conclusion, but it is even more than that.
All the books that I write and my children are writing have a very logical sequence. The Four Agreements is an introduction and is a challenge for everything that we believe and is made in a very short way that is so easy to read and easy to understand but as you have noticed, is sometimes difficult to apply. But it is meant to shake somebody’s beliefs like “hey, what are you doing, what are you thinking, how are you living your life?” So this creates doubts about all these personal agreements that we create. The book is being read all over the world by everyone and therefore it is not that easy to have contact with everybody, especially after my heart attack, when my body was in a very bad shape. But it is like I started all over again and I am getting up to speed very quickly again. It is like the earth is responding. So the New Agreements for Life will be a very good tool for everyone to apply the four agreements.
SL: The Four Agreements is such an incredible masterpiece and is written in a very clear and understandable language. But when we read The Four Agreements or follow any other teaching, I personally believe that ‘domestication’ is our biggest challenge. Can you explain what domestication is and do you have some practical tips to Break free from this domestication?
DMR: Well, this is the real challenge. When we were born, we had no knowledge, but society already existed, the entire humanity already existed and there are all those rules. Before you were born, there was already injustice, poverty, violence, war, you name it, it all existed. Individually, we didn’t create it. When we were born, our parents hooked our attention and through the attention they taught us what they knew. We also went to school, teachers hooked our attention and downloaded in our brain what they knew. In this way we start accumulating knowledge. And the knowledge that we accumulate depends on the beliefs that everybody around us have. Then it is not really our choice. We use this to create a masterpiece of art which is the story of our life, because we created this story through knowledge.
These stories create what we believe is ‘truth’, which is not true at all. It is a distortion of the truth because the truth doesn’t really exist. We perceive the truth and all the knowledge that we receive from our parents, teachers, television, media etc. and we create a whole story in what we believe is truth. This is also the reason why we always believe that we’re right and everybody else is wrong. Seven billion people are wrong!
If we understand what we are talking about right now, we will also understand what domestication is. Our brain is prepared to repeat what we perceive and this is how we create the need to learn. In this way we create an entire language, the language that we speak and every single word of the language is only true because we agree with the meaning of that word. And this becomes the story of our life.
People with authority over us can really influence our beliefs. The way that we learn is the same way that
we teach a dog, by punishment and reward. If a child is doing something that we want them to do we give a gift, we reward them. If they do something we don’t like we punish them. In a certain moment we learn through punishment and reward and very soon we are afraid not to get a reward and to get punished. This process is that strong that at a certain point in our lives we no longer need anybody else to domesticate us. Because now we domesticate ourself. We give ourself the punishment and reward and we practice and practice for so long that it becomes automatic, it becomes a habit.
When we now create the story of our life, we also create the main character of the story, the one we believe we are: ‘our identity’ and we know for sure that we are that we believe we are. So if I use knowledge to justify who I am, I will say “I am a male, I am a human being, I am a Medical Doctor, I am an author”, and I will say everything that I think I am. But is that really truth?
The biggest fear that knowledge has is the fear for the unknown. Like the fear for death. We don’t know what happens after we die. Even when we believe things that are not true, it still makes us feel safe, especially our own identity. But when we start realizing this isn’t the truth, our world starts shaking and then the whole story of your life is not so important anymore. It is just a story, but you are still alive, you won’t die. Everything that you have believed so far falls apart but you are alive. And that is the moment when you have the awareness that everything that you know is there because you created it.
Now we become our own judge, the most serious judge that has ever existed, because we know exactly what we believe and not believe. With judging comes punishing for not being the way we should be and this is the biggest tragedy in every human being – not being the way you are supposed to be. And all this awareness that we are discussing right now is our path to freedom. You will now find out that you are born alone, you grow up alone and you will die alone and you will live in your own story. It is important to realize that you can be authentic just the way you are and to be free. A flower is wild, a bird is wild, but humans are the ones who are not wild, we are domesticated.
So now you have the awareness whether you are domesticated or not. With this awareness you take away the power of knowledge and you no longer will judge yourself, punish yourself and you don’t even reward yourself, because it is not important. The moment you are dying and you remember everything you did in your life you will see how irrelevant everything you did is. But you don’t have to die to realize this. Try not to believe in all this anymore, be skeptical and listen. And by-the-way, this is The Fifth Agreement.
“I can assure you without a doubt, that on the whole planet earth, there is no one like you, there never was anyone like you, and there will never be anyone like you. You are unique.”
SL: From The Four Agreements we quote: “95% of the beliefs of we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies and we suffer because we believe all these lies.” What do you think is the function of the human mind, since it seems that it only causes us trouble and with the knowledge that nature is perfection, isn’t this paradoxical?
DMR: Well, if you can see the way that you are thinking right now, in your mind, your own knowledge tries to justify, tries to understand this in order to feel safe, because at a certain point you start feeling that something is shaking. You already have an idea of what perfection should be and it is not even yours. Because you hear from so many people about perfection. How many times you hear people say when they make a mistake: “nobody’s perfect”. Well, it is not true. We are perfect just the way we are. Only the imperfection (which is not true of course) which exists in the human mind is nothing but an agreement. We don’t understand our own perfection, but we are perfect.
I can assure you without a doubt, that on the whole planet earth, there is no one like you, there never was anyone like you, and there will never be anyone like you. You are unique! Then, to whom will you compare in order to see if you are perfect or not? You cannot be anybody else, you can only be you. If you don’t accept yourself, you will have a big tragedy. We see millions of humans who don’t accept themselves. They don’t even like themselves, they even hate themselves up to a point that they even kill themselves, because they don’t reach that level of perfection that they have in their mind.
SL: Part of your life story is that a near-fatal car accident caused you to reevaluate your life and make far reaching changes. It seems that sometimes we need suffering in order to see the world through different eyes. Do you agree with that?
DMR: No, we don’t need suffering at all! Something that I will tell you that is important is that the real teacher is life itself and life is teaching life. Life is all those billions of events that are happening all the time. We perceive life through our physical body and we interact. We perceive the images of the object but we don’t perceive objects, it is a virtual reality which we call the mind.
This is how we create knowledge and our story, but it doesn’t mean this is real. It is all corrupted by life which is completely normal. There are moments that the body is so close to break, close to die. During those moments we often have a fast review of the story that we created and you will then find out how irrelevant this story actually is, and this of course will change everything. It is all a wonderful game, but it happens in the brain, in the mind and it is not real. It is not true. The truth is even better than that, much better. I know that, I have been there. So when Oprah asked me what happens after we die, I said “nothing, nothing happens.” Now only the truth will exist, the truth cannot be destroyed and is always in front of you. Don’t try to explain the truth, because as soon as you try to explain the truth, it is no longer the truth.
SL: We have two more questions from our readers:
A question from Heather:
The second Agreement says “Don’t take things personally” – If we are responsible for our own life, how can we not take it personal when things don’t work out?
DMR: Why should we? Why should we take it personally? If something doesn’t work out the way we want it to work, that has nothing to do with you. It is not personal. But we take it personal because we have made it a habit.
SL: And Sandy asks you to expand on the following:
Quote from The Four Agreements: “It is when we lose control that we repress the emotions, not when we are in control.”
Do you mean that by losing control of our temper that we are not addressing the real emotions behind our outburst?
DMR: Emotions are completely normal, they come from our integrity. The reasons why those emotions come out may not be that normal. It can be a trigger that some assumptions that you make in your brain, something that you take personal, something that you believe about yourself is something that you know, which triggers an emotion to come out. It is not about to repress the emotions, it is about seeing the cause, not the effect, not the knowledge, not the story.
Buy The Four Agreements here.
For information, please visit the website: miguelruiz.com
INTERVIEW BY: DIRK TERPSTRA – SOUL LOVE FOUNDER
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