Knowledge is something we use to make us feel powerful, useful, loved. Something we use to give us comfort, preferring to know who we are and know where we’re going. Knowledge makes us hold onto our beliefs and opinions as truths. It tells us who we love, how we love and why we love. It convinces us that we need to be good to be loved. But imagine a world of not knowing, of never knowing? In this world, surrender is everything…to absolute awareness. Where love is just that. Love.
I bought this book, The Toltec art of life and death, years ago. I didn’t know the author then and simply found the title intriguing. On the shelf it went. I attempted to read it several times but always found myself blocked to it. Until now. I wasn’t ready to have my thinking and beliefs challenged to this extent, pushed so close to the edge. I wasn’t ready to wonder about everything. I live off knowledge. I live off always knowing. My comfort lies in my beliefs. This is what I thought fed my soul; what I thought was love. But is it?
When we do not love ourselves or come from a place of love, we use knowledge to hurt ourselves. We cannot just believe for the sake of believing or surrender for its own sake. We require some sort of validation; we sabotage our relationships because we “know” we cannot be loved so from the beginning do not give it our all or constantly come from a place of doubt. We do not trust because we “know” it cannot be trusted. We do not love fully because we “know” love hurts.
“Everyone looks for someone to love them, even when they hate themselves. They wait for lightning to strike, for the phone to ring, for a knight in shining armor. When people are disappointed in love, they think they’re unlovable. They feel deprived and always hungry. This hunger makes them desperate for any offer of love and attention, and susceptible to all forms of mistreatment…if each of us could love ourselves as we wish to be loved, then we wouldn’t let our hunger for love make decisions for us. When we’re not desperate, we can refuse seductions – even those that arrive in shining armor and bring along a delicious pizza! (Ruiz, DM. The Toltec art of life and death).
I found love to be a difficult topic to discuss directly because for years I didn’t love myself. I felt shame and guilt and not love when I saw my reflection. But this book has challenged my feelings. What if I did just surrender to love without any knowledge? What if I just believed that love was; love is; that I was deserving of love; that everyone was deserving and I did not question, as I am now? Would I continuously put myself in situations where I’m constantly in doubt? Would I then still put myself in situations where I am hurt? Would not knowing the answers but just loving, give me the freedom I seek?
“Achieving personal freedom means liberating ourselves from the penalties of knowledge. Change one thing – one idea, one habit – and the frontiers open. Freedom is a beloved idea in the human dream, an idea that is not fully comprehended. Freedom begins when each individual mind dares to liberate itself from the prison it created. We are free when the war in our heads is over. We were born authentic, responding directly to life, but we lost our authenticity on the battlefield of ideas. We can become authentic again, of course. We can become immune to the effects of knowledge. We no longer have to believe ourselves, but we can learn so much from listening – listening to our own thoughts, to the opinions of others, and refusing to pay the emotional price they demand. We can see, without making assumptions. Change one idea, make a different agreement, and the prison bars begin to bend.” (Ruiz,DM. The Toltec art of life and death).
How different would we be if we felt more and thought less? If we listened more and talked less? If we asked instead of assumed? How much more love would we feel? Towards ourselves and others? Maybe it’s not knowledge that is the problem but rather the use of it. If we’re always using it to prove that we’re unlovable, that we’re unlucky, that we’re the victims then of course we’ll find enough to identify these thoughts with. We then need to stop looking for proof. We need to stop telling ourselves the same story. We need to just surrender.
“Human knowledge has proven its worth and potential. Knowledge gives the mind a landscape, a virtual space where it can use words to explore and play. As words make objects appear in our imagination, this landscape becomes richer with visions and possibilities. Knowledge is the backdrop to all human dreaming. It’s meant to serve as an ally to awareness. From that perspective, we can also see that knowledge is the angel that delivers us…or the demon that possesses us. That recognition gives us the power to take control of our stories so that they more consistently reflect the truth. Taking control of the story is our first tentative leap to freedom.” (Ruiz, DM. The Toltec art of life and death).
From this challenge, I’ve found my purpose. Where I want to be now:
“I surrendered long ago. My war with knowledge is over. I don’t think anymore. I see; I listen; I respond. Words are not the most compelling thing – not for me, not for anyone. We are far more attracted to the force of love. And yet few people can imagine how many old agreements have to be broken for this kind of force to prevail.” (Ruiz, DM. The Toltec art of life and death).