Book Review

A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship. The Mastery of Love.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Amber-Allen Publishers, 1990 (210pp., $14, ISBN978-I878424-42-6)


I read this book in 2013, only to forget everything it had to say.  I just re-read it recently and decided to begin the YouTube channel I have been contemplating for a while, with a review of this book.

Don Miguel Ruiz is better known for his book The Four Agreements.  Ruiz was born and raised in Mexico and is a Toltec Nagual (Shaman) from the Eagle Knight lineage.  He comes from a long line of healers which is reflected in his writings.

The main message of this book is that finding love is really about finding self-love.  Ruiz introduces the book with the story of The Master. The story goes that a man admires his master so much, and invites him to have dinner at his house.  Every day the man receives a different guest, non who are the master himself.  The lesson as Ruiz writes is: The Master lives within everyone.  When you give food to the one who is starving, when you give water to the one who is thirsty, when you cover the one who is cold, you give your love to the Master (p.5).  All the individuals who showed up at the doorstep of this man were indeed an aspect of the Master. Loving all these aspects is the way to unconditional love.

After this introduction, Ruiz writes twelve chapters.

In the first chapter, Ruiz talks about how we are born with a healthy emotional body and how it starts getting poisoned by our care givers.  He says we domesticate children by a system of punishment, and reward.  By wanting to avoid punishment and gaining rewards we forget who we are.  We start putting on masks and this habit continues well into our life, and we use it in all our relationships.

In chapter two, which he titles The Loss of Innocence, Ruiz writes that seeing that we sense everything through our emotional body, our emotions are like an alarm system that help us know if there is danger. When we lose trust in our care givers as children is when we begin to lose our innocence. When we feel an injustice it gets held in our emotional body as poison. The reason being that that emotional body is wounded by losing trust.  Over time we feel like it’s not okay to be who we are and it becomes so ingrained in us that we take this into all our relationships as adults.  We use this emotional poison to hook the attention of those we are in relationship with, not for any particular reason but to release the poison.  Ruiz writes that according to Toltecs, this poison is called the parasite. The Parasite is all those beliefs that make you suffer  (p.38).  This parasite is handed down from generation to generation…

In chapter three Ruiz tells the story of the man who didn’t believe in love. This man thought that love just did not exist and his arguments were convincing until one day he meets a woman whom he doesn’t need anything from and she doesn’t need anything from him and they become friends and then lovers and soon after things are going well but the man begins to think he can give her happiness and that is what causes the relationship to crumble because no one can give you happiness, you have to find your own happiness within you.

Chapter four is how fear is the opposite of love and that when we love we cannot have expectations.  Fear is disrespectful, full of pity, irresponsible, and unkind, while love is respectful, empathic, responsible and kind. Most importantly love is unconditional while fear is conditional: I love you for no reason, with no justification.  I love you the way you are, and you are free to be the way you are.  If I don’t like the way you are, then I’d better be with someone who is the way I like her to be (p.63).  Don’t hold on to someone if you know that you do not accept them as they are.

In relationships we have to realize that everyone has their own dream we are each responsible for our own dream not the other person’s dream.  It is important to be able to communicate your dream to the other person.

Chapter five is about the perfect relationship.  The bottom line here is: people are who they are you either accept them as they are or you move on.  Ruiz writes: The right woman for you is the woman you love just as she is, the woman you don’t have the need to change at all,…you are going to be the right man for her if she loves you just the way you are and doesn’t want to change you  (p.77).

Ultimately it is about finding your voice and stating your needs but it can only be done when you love yourself enough.

The message in chapter six is that we need to look for love inside of our self and not outside. We find love in our own heart as Ruiz calls it our magical kitchen.

In chapter seven the author tells us that our life is a dream of our own making and if we do not like what is showing up in our life, we have the power to change that by finding what is causing the things we do not like to happen.  The way we react is a habit that has become a routine for us.  To change this we have to change a deeply rooted belief.  By becoming aware we become responsible for our life.

In chapter eight Ruiz talks about Sex as the biggest demon in hell.  The reason being life just is, if humans didn’t exist, no one would judge good or bad right or wrong.  We create angels and demons, and of course we create sin. But the human body was created to have sex!  All the rules that humanity creates around sex make you feel guilty when you actually do have sex.

The mind doesn’t need anything that the body needs, and yet it interferes in all the functions of the body. When the mind takes over the needs, nothing can satisfy it. When the mind thinks it is the body it’s a problem: The mind doesn’t need sex.  What the mind really needs is love, not sex. More than the mind its your soul that needs love…(p.127-8).  Ruiz says awareness begins when one realizes they are not the body, they realize that they are a life force.

In chapter nine Ruiz relates the story of Artemis the divine Greek huntress.  Once she started giving her power away and hunting outside herself, trying to get Hercules to love her, she fell from grace.  He says this story is a great lesson to never look outside oneself for love.

To remain inside oneself, the hunt must begin inside and is done by changing every routine that stands in the way of your freedom.

Chapter ten is seeing with the eyes of love, you must treat your body well, your body is praying to you.  You have to accept it completely. Once you do this, no one’s opinion of you will ever matter.  Honor your body every day in one way or another. When you wash it, feed it, clothe it, move it, do this in a sacred way.

In chapter eleven Ruiz writes that to heal the emotional body we have to open the emotional wounds. The way to open the wounds is to see everything as it is, not the way we want to see it.  The way to see this is looking that the injustice that you suffered is no longer true in the present moment.  This way you have a new perspective.

  • Don’t believe me, my truth is not your truth
  • Don’t believe yourself
  • Don’t believe anyone else

That is as far as opening the wounds, the next step is the cleaning part. We do this through forgiveness. Forgiveness means letting go of the past. The final step is self-love.

In chapter twelve, the author says we were born to enjoy life not suffer through it. The idea that we came here to suffer is a program. Even drama is beautiful.  A healthy human being is not afraid to express love and not afraid to live.  When you awake, it means you no longer have emotional wounds in the emotional body.

Ruiz ends this book with prayers.

I found this to be a quick, and grasping read despite the fact that I had read it before. Although the main theme is that mastering love is actually about mastering self-love,  the author makes some very valid points about belief systems, how, and why we acquire them, and how they play a role in controlling our life.

Again, I find these concepts easy to read, and understand and yet when it comes to application, that is when we all fall down!

Memory is an Enigma

Memory has been on my mind lately.

Have you ever noticed how our memories are so selective? The things we choose to recall as opposed to all the other things we choose to forget?  It is really difficult to remember everything in full detail even when we have an epic experience.

I understand that it would be brutal to recall all the trauma we have been through in detail.  And that is one way our selective memory serves us.  Sometimes, forgetting things can be in our own best interest, and yes for sure that is a blessing.

I have always wondered why we take photos when they are not even giving us the memory of an experience in its entirety? To freeze a moment in time? What is the point?

Then there is also the idea of the collective memory.  Most of what we have in our collective memory is a fabrication.  Historical and archeological data cannot be verified without a shadow of a doubt and are based on reconstructions, best guesses, and methods that can be proven inefficient in a heartbeat.  It is nice to know where we came from and sort of have an idea of our past, but it would be difficult to know everything without a shadow of a doubt…

Research has shown that our memories are flawed , and no matter what we do remember, we usually embellish it with something or the other that was not in our actual experience.

Then there is the whole idea of our own personal perspective, and how we would have a completely different memory of the same event than someone else would…

So, what is the best possible way to preserve a memory?

According to neuroscience, write it down as soon as you can, or produce a piece of art that documents the event or experience.  I do not think that taking a photo would help tell about an entire experience but hey a video maybe your second best bet!

I still have a nagging question though, if we want to transcend the illusion of this physical dimension, how does keeping our past preserved in little snippets that do not even give us the complete story serve us?

To be A Spiritual Teacher

*Edited from an original post published as “Who is a Spiritual Teacher?” February 25, 2016 on a blog I had to shut down due to a major hack.


In an age where spiritual teachers have come to hold the status of celebrities, it feels like most are after the fame. It is an ego thing. Some are claiming the title, without walking their talk.

This is not to generalize every teacher out there, rather to understand and bring attention to celebrity status spirituality.

Spiritual teachers are like the rest of us, humans. The one thing that distinguishes them as teachers of spirituality is that they have been gifted special talents for helping individuals move through areas in their life they feel stuck or stagnant. Do such gifts mean that they are now able to judge the rest of us as being less than they are? How does one even determine this test of consciousness? Does a teacher embrace a student or shut them out because “they see everything as something?” Or because they cannot evolve as fast as the teacher would like?

I learned from my teacher Almine, that all perspectives are important, that is, all levels of consciousness are of value. One is not less or more. We must embrace them all as seekers of truth and light.

Every spiritual teacher requires: equanimity.

We are all at different levels and different stages in our life, with different levels of trauma, and emotional baggage that needs to be processed. When a spiritual teacher claims to embrace non-duality, how can they ostracize you by judging your level of consciousness? Or what they perceive to be your degree of mindfulness? Wouldn’t that be projection? And if we are all one, why cut off your finger and tell it it’s less than you are?

Isn’t the job of a spiritual teacher/leader/seeker/mystic actually to embrace all levels of consciousness? All the saints, prophets and ascended masters through history have taught this.

When we reach enlightened states we must remain humble.  There is a high price to pay with arrogance. Human suffering is real, trauma is real, grief is real…yes, yes, I understand that in the greater scheme of spirituality it is all an illusion, but we live this illusion. Every day we wake up in it, unless we go hide in a cave somewhere. We are here on earth, and in this dimension for a reason. Experiencing our life with all its facets is a necessity for soul growth.  Claiming to be someone you are not is the flip side of authenticity.

A spiritual teacher is here to help in this process of growth. Anything less would not qualify them for such a position.

Who is truly a spiritual teacher?

A spiritual teacher is not looking for growing a business, or a name, he or she are not in it for the money or the fame.  They are in it because they truly want to facilitate and assist a person’s growth. They have an invested interest in a person’s evolution for no reason other than compassion, love, and the call to service.

A spiritual teacher is someone who has embraced his/her shadow publicly, and privately.  Someone who is not afraid to say what their struggles are, what they are working on, and where they are at with it.

A spiritual teacher is someone who values all of humanity. A seer who knows that we each have a role to play regardless of where we are on our path, regardless of what path we choose, regardless of what life we choose, regardless if we are still trying to move past the illusion, regardless if we are heart centered, head centered or gut centered.

A spiritual teacher has wisdom. This wisdom comes from experiencing life. You cannot teach that which you have not experienced. Otherwise you would just be regurgitating what someone else had said or written about and if it is not your experience then the teaching will remain shallow.

You can travel between worlds all you want, and communicate with beings, ascended masters, monks, and star races in alternate dimensions, but if you lack equanimity, and wisdom, the ability to embrace all stages of human conscious evolution, I am sorry, you cannot call yourself a spiritual teacher. You would qualify as a fraud.