Review of Mastery of Self by Don Miguel Ruiz by Author Ross Victory
The Mastery of Self, by Four Agreements author Don Miguel Ruiz, looks at humanity through the Toltec tradition lens, which originated in 10th-12th century Mexico.
Mr. Ruiz frames the notions of society and self through two key ideas:
(1) The Dream of the planet, which is society/collective thought
(2) Personal Dream, which is a personal perspective of the experiencer
The Dream of the planet and the Personal Dream coexist in a state of constant friction. Mr. Ruiz draws parallels between the Dream of the planet and ‘being drunk at a party,’ which is a clear, effective way to visualize his point.
Most of us have been there or at least seen people who’ve had one too many drinks. Some are super drunk and wobble everywhere with loose lips (and loose hips). Some choose to attend the party but do not engage. Then some people decide to participate in the party and are easily lured in. Some people don’t go to the party period. Which one are you?
The Dream of the planet (party drunkenness) is fueled by mass domestication that is so forceful that it perpetuates and expands its effects without effort. Domestication from our childhood, from influential people in our lives, and authoritative bystanders all compile over a lifetime.
Mr. Ruiz defines domestication as beliefs and restraints on behaviors, some of which exist heedlessly. Domestication is fueled by conditional love, which is rewards and punishment from those who seek for us to behave in a certain way. The antidote to the nightmare is unconditional love.
How do you escape? How do you get on a path to “mastering self?” Mr. Ruiz says that we can never entirely escape the Dream of the planet nor fully resist the “intoxicating music” that distract us from our personal goals and narratives. Humans can only thoughtfully manage the party. It begins with a keen awareness of how collective thought measures against our individualized narrative and perspective.
Mr. Ruiz offers several practices to stimulate self-awareness. The first is to identify how you have been domesticated and ask yourself if you’re willing to survey your attachments.
Mr. Ruiz states that most domestication happens during childhood years through reward/punishment scenarios from our parents and teachers. Mr. Ruiz refers to this as conditional love.
Mr. Ruiz says the first step to stimulate self-awareness is:
(1) be aware that you are at a party, and there are traps to keep you there longer
(2) Try to spot the traps
(3) Know that you cannot avoid all traps
(4) Be willing to ask, “who am I?”
Mr. Ruiz states that the answer to “who am I” is an energetic answer and a calm sense of knowing and not necessarily written or vocalized confirmation.
How do we avoid traps at the party? Listen for two key things:
- Negative external talk. Negative talk is anything you hear in conversation that attempts to impose conditional love, invalidate, demean, or reduce
- Be aware of labeling others’ opinions as facts
Analyzing myself, I want to believe that I go to the party to appreciate it for what it is. But I have noticed that I tend to personalize the occurrences of the party by participating too long. There’s a fine line between participating and believing that the party is all there is.
Easy, quick, inspiring read! Check it out.