A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Mastery Of Love

I'd heard of Don Miguel Ruiz for a while, but hadn't got round to reading any of his books. I'd known about his four agreements — (1) Be impeccable with your word (2) Don't take anything personally (3) Don't make assumptions (4) Always do your best (The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide To Personal Freedom) — but that was about it. Even though I'd been reading texts on ancient wisdom, self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment for some time — by Carlos Castaneda, Sogyal Rinpoche, Thomas Merton, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Stephen Batchelor, David Brazier, the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle and Osho among others — Ruiz had passed me by.

However, last night I picked up his book, The Mastery Of Love, and it blew me away. I read half of it straight off at one sitting (or rather at one lying — I was in bed at the time). For me this simple but profound work is one of those immediately life-transforming, once-read-never-to-be-forgotten books you encounter all too rarely in life. (I remember also having this experience when I first came across Krishnamurti in my early twenties.)

I scribbled these notes while reading the book — the highlighted pieces are straight from the text, the rest are my own interpretations and summaries:

When a man meets a woman, he makes an image of her from his point of view, and the woman makes an image of the man from her point of view. Then he tries to make her fit the image he makes for her, and she tries to make him fit the image she makes for him. Now there are six images between them. Of course, they are lying to each other, even if they don't know they are lying. Their relationship is based on fear; it is based on lies. It is not based on truth, because they cannot see through all that fog.

Ruiz analyses our relationships, and shows how most of our love relationships are ones of control, of neediness, of manipulation, of possessiveness and of selfishness (oh, how Proust understood this — I've been reading In Search Of Lost Time recently).

It doesn't matter how much you love someone, you are never going to be what that person wants you to be.

We can't be responsible for another person's happiness or unhappiness; we create our own happiness or unhappiness from inside. If we make another person responsible for our happiness or unhappiness, we become dependent on that person. Then that person will have the sole power to increase our happiness or take our happiness away. Not good. Ruiz compares this kind of unequal relationship with the relationship of the provider and the drug addict. 

We never really know another person — what's in their mind, all their thoughts, feelings and fantasies — even in close relationships such as husband and wife, or parent and child.

Every human being has a personal dream of life, and that dream is completely different from anyone else's dream. Every dreamer is going to dream in his own way.

We can never dream the same dream as another, but we need to respect each other's dreams.

We may have many relationships in our lives and, when it comes down to it, each relationship is unique and one-to-one, a relationship formed by two dreamers with separate dreams, but whose dreams touch and commingle to some extent within that relationship.

If our physical bodies consist of cells, then our dream-bodies consist of emotions, and our core emotions are fear (emotions such as anger, jealousy and sadness are just masks for fear) and love. Ruiz  goes on to contrast love with fear, and shows how fear is lacking and divisive in every way. Unlike fear, love has no obligations or expectations. It is based on respect. Love does not pity, but has compassion (two very different things). Love is responsible. Love is kind. Love is generous and unconditional. Love has justice.

We are not responsible for others, for the other halves of our relationships.

We don't have the right to change anyone else, and no one has the right to change us.

You cannot change other people. They are what they are. Love them for what they are. Love yourself for what you are, warts and all.

I've been shocked by reading this book into realising how much I've tried to control some relationships in my own life, tried to influence and change other people, to make them conform to some predetermined image. No, no, no! You can't do it! It just brings misery and frustration. It's all through fear, really — fear of the autonomy and unique mystery of the other person, fear of what they might think of you, fear of what they might do to you,  Fear and insecurity! Time to move on. I feel such relief.


Ruth Mowry said...

I just want to shout "hallelujah!" For me, for you, for all of us!

I have read Ruiz, as you know, but just the Four Agreements. (By the way, he added a fifth, which is very important, too:

Don’t believe yourself or anybody else. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear: Is it really the truth? Listen to the intent behind the words, and you will understand the real message.

My brother Nelson has been telling me about this book, The Mastery of Love, for years, and I've witnessed how transformative it also was for him and a very difficult relationship in his life.

This is brilliant. I think it's time for me to read this one myself.

All of what you've shared here is just so basic. But it's so basic that we've been conditioned away from it by our society. We take on everyone's business, and the only business we can take care of is our own!

The Solitary Walker said...

From me, too , hallelujah!

George said...

I will add my own "hallelujah" — and how timely this post is for me. I devoted my morning walk to thinking about this very subject — the absolute and undeniable insanity of mortgaging one's happiness and peace of mind to others, as if there is no other way to fulfillment. There is another way, and Ruiz has nailed it, as indeed you have, Robert, in your comments. The operative word is "respect," not only for the rights, dreams, needs, and aspirations of others, but also for our own rights, dreams, needs, and aspirations. We do not need others to "complete" our own identity. We need only to liberated ourselves — and others in the process.

Haven't read the book yet, but I'm headed over to Amazon to place my order. Thanks, Robert.

The Solitary Walker said...

I'm so pleased this post resonated with you, George. I know you will love this book.

The Solitary Walker said...

PS Yes, we are already complete, if we did but know it. And the business we should be attending to is our own self-respect, which in turn means we can then properly respect others.

Ruth Mowry said...

Great comment by George, and then another by you, Robert, about already being complete. This makes me want to add another thought that my brother Nelson has been reciting like a mantra:

You are enough.

While the media and society tell us the opposite constantly ("You are not ________ enough") if we can believe that I am enough, then we can believe that others are too.

roselle said...

Yes, Robert, YES! - Almost all my own thinking and writing turns on this question of the nature of our own journey to wholeness, to Self in the transpersonal sense, and how we can lift the burden of our journey off Other - so many of our relationships are founded in need and not delight, aren't they? – and as Jill Tweedie said, frighteningly we call that love. Have almost blogged the subject to death - but I haven't read that one of Ruiz's, though I know his 4 Agreements (useful to see the 5th from Ruth M).

I have read almost all of the books you mention both here and in the more recent post (Alexandria Quartet was so worth finishing, way back then, but seems unreadable to me now), and both Basho and The Magus are in my top 30. Have you read Jim Perrin's 'West'?

Enjoying your blogs. Thank you.

dritanje said...

Thanks for posting this Robert. Ruiz is wonderful. I gave my copy to someone who I thought might benefit from it but I think I need to get another one and read it again. He just makes so much sense.