Once a group of 50 people was attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He started giving each one a balloon. Each one was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room. Now these delegates were let in that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written, within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos. At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon. Now each one was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon. The speaker began— exactly this is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is. Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness. And this is the purpose of human life.
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.
Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can, to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
The Five Levels of Attachment
By Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., Unity Magazine
When I was 14, I began apprenticing under my father, don Miguel Ruiz Sr., and my grandmother, Sara Macias Vasquez, who most people knew as Madre Sarita. She was a well-known healer in San Diego, California, who was born and raised in Mexico. Her grandfather was a Toltec shaman who taught Madre Sarita our culture’s holistic healing traditions.
When we began working together, she asked me to translate her prayers and talks from Spanish into English. I was having a hard time, and she eventually confronted me about it. “Are you controlling knowledge or is knowledge controlling you?” she asked me. “You’re listening to your own thoughts, Miguel. You’re not listening to me. If you were listening to me, you’d be able to translate everything. But if you’re only listening to your mind, then you’re putting into words what you understand while you are trying to understand it and make it right according to your belief. When that happens you’re not paying attention to life. You’re missing out on the experience.”
I eventually understood what she was trying to teach me—that when knowledge controls you, your beliefs control you. This will not only blind you to the perception of life because it forces its own rhythm—its own projected image— onto the world, but it will also dictate your responses to
any situation. In other words, when knowledge controls
you, then your will is subjugated. Your free will doesn’t exist because it’s completely bound by your beliefs.
If I follow the San Diego Chargers football team, for example, and the whole culture says I have to hate the Oakland Raiders, my knowledge has already told me who not to like and who to accept. My knowledge is controlling me. However, when I control knowledge, instead of being an instrument to distort my perception, it’s an instrument that allows me to understand the world and converse with it. I’m aware that knowledge exists because I give it life.
If I begin to detach from the conditions of being a Chargers fan, I can then see a Raiders fan as a human being, someone who has a preference for a different team, but who shares my love for the sport. We have something in common, and we can have a friendship based on that. Here, knowledge isn’t blinding me.
This brings us to the concepts I wrote about in my book, The Five Levels of Attachment: Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World (Hierophant Publishing, 2013). These levels are instruments for becoming aware of how attached you are to your own beliefs and ideas (and how open you are to those of others). That’s important because your beliefs create your reality, what Toltec teachings call your Personal Dream, which contributes to our collective reality (the Dream of the Planet). Understanding what level you’re operating on can help you see how your attachment to knowledge and beliefs can lead either to freedom—the ability to express your full potential—or to suffering.
The first level of attachment is the authentic self. At this level, I am alive and I’m aware of it. I know that I can go in any direction; and just like a little baby, I have my whole life ahead of me. I am infinite possibility. In terms of my grandmother’s question to me about knowledge, I could answer that I’m a living being regardless of my knowledge, regardless of what I think and know.
Level two is preference. At this level, I will attach to a preferred direction in life, using knowledge as an instrument that will help me make choices and navigate this world. I’m able to attach to some directions, and when the moment is over, I’m able to detach. That’s what makes attachments healthy—the ability to detach when the attachment is no longer necessary or appropriate.
Level three is identity. At this level, detaching becomes a little more difficult because knowledge and I are one. I become so attached to a particular moment that I give myself the name attached to that moment. I define myself by the game I watch or by the food I eat or by the books I read or by the prayers I give. I see myself not as the experience of life but as a definition I’ve given myself—and the only way to know myself is through this definition.
Level four is internalization. At this level, I’m so attached to knowledge that I rely on it for the rules by which I will live my life. Knowledge basically becomes a system of reward and punishment, and so here we begin to love each other conditionally. If you live up to my expectation, then you’re worthy of my love; and if you don’t live up to that expectation, then you aren’t. And if I don’t live up to my own expectation, then I’m subject to my own rejection. The attachment to these beliefs becomes so great that I begin to distort knowledge because knowledge now has to live up to my expectation. I have to make it fit my beliefs.
Level five is fanaticism. At this level, knowledge has total control over me and I have no awareness of my authentic self. I see myself only through this identity that I must live up to—and I see everyone in my life as the identity I have given them that they must live up to, as well. At this level, people become so zealous that they’re violent toward each other and their cultures go to war with one another.
This blinding of perception is like the story of Don Quixote—a man so attached to his books of chivalry that one day he renames himself Don Quixote de la Mancha. From then on, everything he sees is a distortion. He sees windmills as giants because he believes that if he sees giants then he is worthy of the name Don Quixote, but if he sees windmills then he sees the truth—that he is not Don Quixote de la Mancha. When he finally sees that the windmills are really just windmills, he concocts a story about a magician changing the windmills to make him look bad. In other words, he tries to continue the illusion.
When we have a moment of clarity like that, we become aware of what we’ve created—aware that those ideas exist only because we believe them. When that happens, we then realize we have a choice. We can continue to believe our illusion or we can let go and allow ourselves to have the experience of being who we truly are without illusion.
That’s what the Toltec tradition is about—realizing that we are the creators of our own Personal Dream and that we are all cocreators of the Dream of the Planet. We are continually engaged and manifesting things within our own life as well as in our community. The point of all this work is to enjoy life, which we do by accepting ourselves just the way we are. That allows us to love all people unconditionally.
As creators, we can choose for our voice to manifest a nightmare or a beautiful dream. Which will you choose?
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but don’t drink from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
About Joy and Sorrow
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
It is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say onto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.
It is the most requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37.. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42.. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds: “What does love mean?”
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think…
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
Rebecca – age 8
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
Billy – age 4
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”
Terri – age 4
“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”
Danny – age 7
“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.”
Emily – age 8
“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)
“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”
Nikka – age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet)
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.”
Noelle – age 7
“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
Tommy – age 6
“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.
He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.”
Cindy – age 8
“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
Elaine – age 5
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
Chris – age 7
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
Mary Ann – age 4
“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” (Now THIS is love!)
Lauren – age 4
“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” (what an image!)
Karen – age 7
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.”
Mark – age 6
“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”
Jessica – age 8
And the final one…
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.
The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.
Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,
“Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
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The mother filled three pots with water.
In the first, she placed carrots.
In the second she placed eggs.
And the last she placed ground coffee beans.
She let them sit and boil without saying a word. About twenty minutes later, she turned off the burners.
She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she said, “Tell me what you see.”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. (You know the tone of voice.)
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did, and noted that they felt soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg inside. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “So, what’s the point, mother?” (Remember the tone of voice.)
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid center. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its insides had become hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water…they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your
door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot , an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt
and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial
hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my outer shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water – the very circumstances that bring the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of the bean. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you instead of letting it change you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?
How do you handle Adversity?
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built. Not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.