Ancient Wisdoms of the Toltec Tradition – A Path to Happiness
What would you think if I told you that you could be happy no matter what was happening in your life? What if you had been molested as a child — could you not only eliminate the anger but also use it as a doorway to greater intimacy? Could you reach a point in your life where such a heinous event could be looked upon as a stepping-stone to growth? What if your best friend just died? Could you learn to see the gift in her death? What if you lost your job and the rent was due? Would you see that event as a blessing and opportunity? When faced with the worst scenarios and seemingly most destructive events in life are you able to maintain a sense of peace and acceptance?
It is possible, that inner sense of peace and the ability to be happy are two of the many side benefits of learning how to connect with your own divinity. The ancient Hawaiians have a saying that there are many paths to the top of the mountain but the view is the same once you get there. There are many paths that will assist you in connecting to your divinity – the Toltec tradition is the one that resonated for me.
The Toltec tradition is incredibly rich in tools that encourage you to develop a profound connection to your inherent wisdom, power, goodness, and divinity. These tools do require effort as well as discipline and dedication but I can guarantee you that if you use them magic will occur, your life will be transformed, and nothing will ever be the same. If any ancient wisdom held ‘the answer’ we would already have ‘the solution’ to our problems. I have found that ‘the solution’ is learning how to make different choices and take different actions. Developing that ability required that I clear out my filter system.
The Toltec tradition is a philosophy or way of life that taught me how to make choices that result in happiness. This philosophy is based on the key concept that we don’t really see life at all; what we actually see is our filter system, which is composed of our beliefs, expectations, agreements, and assumptions.
The Toltecs were a civilization that lived in Southern Mexico around 900 AD. They were a rather violent race that brought warfare to Mesoamerica. After they conquered the city of Teotihuacán a secret society developed that was dedicated to preserving the knowledge of the ancient ones. The ancient ones were a race of people who were teachers of spirituality, science, and the arts. The members of this secret society became known as “men and women of knowledge.” They embraced the ideals, spiritual concepts, and peaceful ways of the ancient ones.
The ancient ones understood the illusionary nature of reality and used the universal laws of nature to create a life based on unconditional love and self-discovery. They considered all of life to be part of the great mystery and knew there was no way to separate the secular from the sacred or science from spirit. To a “normal” person, they appeared to be magicians or wizards; they could perform great feats, heal the sick, create whatever they wanted, and transform matter. In order to accomplish these feats a person had to achieve personal freedom; they had to develop the ability to consciously create what they wanted when they wanted.
After the conquest by the Spaniards this knowledge became a well-guarded secret passed down from master to apprentice through various lineages. Each lineage took on its own flavor and personality although the basic knowledge remained the same. In the early 1980’s I moved to San Diego and met Sister Sarita and her son Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. Sister Sarita had just started sharing the wisdom of her forefathers openly and I was privileged to be among her son’s first students. I was their apprentice for many years until one day Don Miguel told me he was done teaching me and to go and teach in my own way. Now there are numerous books and many people teaching about this tradition.
The Toltec viewed the universe as a complex energy system. Everything is composed of energy; all energy has consciousness, it is neither good or bad nor positive or negative. Energy just is. Life is as it is. Events in our lives are neutral; they are as they are, neither good nor bad, positive nor negative. I had a very hard time accepting these concepts but as I learned to embrace and apply them to my life the results were amazing.
The idea that everything in life is emotionally neutral ran contrary to everything I had been taught about life. How could the world function without the concept of right and wrong, good and evil? Did that make it all right for murders to kill? Did that excuse drunk drivers who maim themselves and others in our roads? Are drive-by shootings okay? Was it okay for my best friend to lie to me or for my lover to cheat on me? How would I make my decisions if they weren’t based on judgments?
I was taught to think in terms of duality: right and wrong, positive and negative, good and bad, black and white, you and me. As long as I viewed the world that way judgment and comparison were very much a part of my thought process.
Once dominion became the foundation of my belief structure judgment became unnecessary. I no longer needed external rules to make my world ‘right.’ Symbolically I think of dominion as a huge sphere, a womb that holds everything lovingly within it. How I view the events in my life depends upon where I am standing on that sphere.
Viewed from this perspective, life becomes limitless. I am able to embrace everything in my life because I no longer need to struggle against anything—I can accept who I am and where I am in my process. I can change where I’m standing on the sphere until I can encompass whatever I am afraid of, resisting, or judging. I can embrace it, have all my emotions, and ask myself what loving and nurturing thing do I need to hear right now. Then I can gently love myself until I can change my position on the sphere. Happiness becomes a function of where I am standing rather than on what is happening around me. Whenever I am in turmoil I can imagine myself walking around the issue until I can see it from a perspective that is expansive and loving, one that allows me to create happiness.
Our emotions are really signposts that lead us in the direction of our filter system. When we realize our emotions are our own creation we can use them to set ourselves free of our limiting beliefs. We can use the events in our life to illuminate our filter system. Instead of focusing our attention on our emotions and trying to change the events in our life we can change the way we think. Our spirit is limitless while our mind feels safer within the familiar limits of our filter system. Once we fully embrace that which our mind wants to judge we can then set ourselves free.
It is important to acknowledge our emotions and to do whatever is necessary to release them. I find writing a letter fully expressing all of my emotions that is for my eyes alone really helps. If I am really upset I rant, rave, scream and yell until I feel done. At times I have written hate mail to God or to the universe, myself and whoever else seemed appropriate. Then I burn them or put a stamp on them and mail the letter to God. I never give it to the person.
Once my emotions are no longer directing my actions I can begin to seriously look at my beliefs, any agreements I have with the universe, or myself, explore any assumptions I’ve made and change them. Writing is a very powerful tool. The Toltec talk about quieting the ‘mitote’ of the mind, all the voices of the market place that clamor for our attention. Achieving personal freedom is really a matter of retraining your mind so it is your servant rather than your taskmaster.
The process of retraining our minds can be a daunting one. It is easy to declare war and end up endlessly fighting with your mind. Breaking free of your mind is important but learn how to do it lovingly. There are several simple tools to help you accomplish that. One is focusing your attention on your breathing. As you move through your day take a few moments every hour to simply feel your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Really notice where you feel your breath in your body; perhaps it is in your nose or your chest, your throat or your stomach. Once you are aware of your breath consciously allow yourself to connect with your spirit, breathe in love and out love. With practice it will make a big difference in your life. Your thoughts may call you back but as soon as they do merely refocus your attention on your breathing. Another powerful tool is to practice seeing all the events in your life from different perspectives. Imagine seeing things through the eyes of those around you.
Personal freedom is a by-product of embracing these concepts and connecting with our divinity. When I first began my studies I defined personal freedom as having a good job, enough money to pay my bills, a nice place to live, and being in an intimate relationship. Over the years my definition has changed drastically. My current definition is having the ability to act rather than react to the events in my life and to consciously make my choices based on love instead of fear. When people begin studying with me I suggest they take the time to write their own definition of personal freedom and to revisit their definition frequently, allowing it to evolve as they do.
Instead of happiness being dependent upon some external event it becomes an inside job. Give yourself a gift, review your definitions, observe your filter system, move into dominion with your world, change your beliefs, lovingly retrain you mind, and set yourself free. Then let the magic begin!