Volume 1 No. 9          

The Mastery
of Love

an interview with
Don Miguel Ruiz
by Diane M. Cooper

''You are Life passing through your body, passing through your mind, passing through your soul. Once you find that out, not with logic, not with the intellect, but because you can feel that Life - you find out that you are the force that makes the flowers open and close, that makes the hummingbird fly from flower to flower. You find out that you are in every tree, and you are in every animal, vegetable, and rock. You are that force that moves the wind and breathes through your body. The whole universe is a living being that is moved by that force, and that is what you are. You are Life.''[1]
Diane: Don Miguel, I understand that you were born into a family of healers - your mother was a curandera and your grandfather a nagual.[2] How did you come to take up the Toltec ways?

Don Miguel Ruiz: All my life magic was around me. When I was a kid it was an everyday thing. But I was very, very skeptical. I became even more so when I went to medical school to become a surgeon.

It was in my last year of medical school that I crashed my car and had an out-of-body experience. That changed everything. After that experience I began looking for answers. I went searching right away, because I had had the most incredible experience, but there were no words to explain it. It changed my life completely because I understood that my everyday life was not exactly as I had believed.

My grandfather used to tell me that life was a dream. He also said that when people finally realized this, the dream could be changed, and then humanity would change. After my accident, everything I had witnessed as a child started making sense.

You know that it's one thing to hear about something and another thing to have an experience. After the accident the things my grandfather said were no longer theories for me, they were facts.

Flower symbolI knew that I was not my physical body. I experienced myself as a force that moves the physical body. A force that is hard to talk about, but we can see its results and manifestation in everything. It is this force that opens the flowers and it is the same force that moves the stars and moves the atoms. That is what I am and what you are.

There is no difference between the force that opens a flower and the force that makes us grow up and the force that makes us grow old. This is life!

After the accident, my point of reference was changed radically. I saw that we are used to illusion, or maya.[3] I saw the reason why we get upset and angry, why we become violent. I saw that we misperceive everything. And it is this misperception, this distortion that creates all the problems for humanity.

The Toltec Lineage

Then I went even deeper and tried to understand the philosophy of my own lineage. The challenge I gave to myself was to clear away the superstition and mythology in the Toltec philosophy of my heritage. What was left was common sense. This applies to every philosophy, or any human expression. If we take the superstition and mythology from all the philosophies and all the religions, we discover that the underlying message is the same. Because all information comes from inside of us, from Spirit.

Diane: Don Miguel, why is it so hard to constantly live in the vibration of love?

Don Miguel: We can say that when we were born Love was our normal tendency. If you can, remember how you used to be, or how a baby is before he learns to speak.

Babies don't have words to describe what comes out of them when they see their mother, or father, their toys or their pets — they don't know this is Love because they don't have language. But they don't need to know words in order to feel, and what they feel is much more than any poet or writer can explain about Love.

Then, as we grow older, we begin to be told how we should be. And we become afraid to be ourselves. We start repressing our emotions — we repress things that used to be very natural, and we feel ashamed about our feelings. We believe that Love will make us vulnerable. We become afraid to be hurt.

But it is not Love that hurts us. It is all the lies that we believe that cause us to fear. When we finally stop believing those lies — when we finally have the courage to allow ourselves to feel — we will recover the capacity to Love that was always there.

If we practice, we can win the war against the lies. We can become masters — that's why I call it the Mastery of Love. Not because we learn this — no! — Love is an instinct. It is part of the evolution of the human emotional body. Mastery can happen to any of us if we stop being afraid to be ourselves.

Diane: That's a big challenge when people have suffered experiences that have hurt them deeply.

Don Miguel: Yes, we can see this all around us — humanity has had experiences that were very traumatic, and we have learned that it's not safe to be in Love. But it's exactly the opposite. Love makes us so strong. What we've learned has sabotaged this expression.

Diane: In The Mastery of Love you speak of Awareness as one of the three fundamental masteries that can guide us to our true nature. You say this mastery teaches us to be aware of what we really are. What do you mean by ''what we really are.''

Don Miguel: Most people think they know what they are. We say, I am a human, I am a man or a woman, and we describe all these characteristics based on our beliefs.

But what has happened is that when we are babies, before knowledge — before we ''know'' — everyone tells us what we are. Our mother tells us what we are, and because we are innocent we agree and believe. But what our mother tells us is what she believes about us. And our father projects another image to us, and again we agree. Our brothers, our sisters, the television, all tell us what we are, and we agree. And not just that. They also tell us what we should be but are not. And we believe that also.

We try so hard to become what they want us to be and we practice and practice and practice because we are so afraid of not being good enough for someone else. We are so afraid to be rejected, we are so afraid that they won't like what we do, the way we dress, the way we talk, the way we eat, what we believe. We try so hard to be somebody that will be accepted wherever we go and finally we try to be accepted by ourselves. We create an image of perfection — a picture of what we believe we should be — but we know we are not that image.

We try so hard to do whatever we can to clear the voice of our internal judge — we try to be perfect for our husband or for our wife, for the teacher, the guru, the religion, knowing that it is not possible. We all are taught to say, ''We are human, and we are not perfect. No one is perfect.''

We are perfect, but we don't see that. We are not aware of what we really are because our attention is so focused on what we are trying to be.

We hear people say, ''Oh I'm so afraid that the real me will come someday and will destroy everything.'' You know, in a way this is true. If the real ''us'' comes out, it will destroy all those lies we've believed.

When we have the awareness that we are not what we think — this is the first step to recovering what we truly are. And of course practice makes the Master. If we practice, it becomes a way of life. It becomes a habit to always be what we are and not what we want to be — to hear what people really say, not what we want to hear. If we practice, in a short time we will perceive a completely different world — the world as it is, not the way we want or need it to be to satisfy others' points of view or to satisfy our own lies. If we are what we really are, we don't have to justify our existence anymore. We don't need to be ashamed that we are not what they want us to be. Our whole attitude changes.

Don MiguelWhen we know who we are, we will no longer live our lives in conflict with our parents, our beloved, or our children. Everything becomes so wonderful, because we are no longer afraid to Love. And that is the most precious thing that can happen to anyone — the return to Love. Because when we return to Love, life becomes so wonderful and so beautiful. Everything is so romantic! And we see everything through the eyes of Love. We become so relaxed. And we are no longer afraid to express who we really are and what we want to say. We no longer say yes when we want to say no. We live our lives with integrity again, because we are no longer afraid to be rejected. We don't need anyone. It's a wonderful way to live. It will improve every relationship that we have, beginning with the relationship with ourselves.

Then, a romantic relationship becomes a wonderful thing because we are not afraid to be ourselves and ask for what we want. We no longer take anything personally. We no longer have the need to control our beloved or be controlled by them. And we become a teammate — not competing with each other. It is completely different.

Diane: That's beautiful! Thank you. You say the second mastery is Transformation, which teaches us how to become spiritual warriors. What does this principle mean?

Don Miguel: When we discover that most of the conflicts we have are because we believe in many lies, we can choose not to live any longer with these conflicts. Then a battle begins within our head between the lies and the truth. To change lies into truth is what we call Transformation. And this leads to the third mastery, the Mastery of Love. When you no longer believe the lies, then the Light comes and chases the darkness away. You become the way you used to be, with the innocence of a child. This has been called the return to Paradise, or Heaven. I call it the return to Love. It is miraculous.

When we live our lives in Love, everything we do becomes a ritual of Love, and life becomes so wonderful.

The Mastery of Love is the result of the first two masteries. From the Toltec perspective, everything is made of Love. Love is Life itself. When we master Love, we align with the Spirit of Life passing through us. We are no longer the body, the mind, or the soul; we are Love. Then every action we take is an expression of Love, and this Love-in-action can only produce happiness.

Diane: Relationships seem to be going through a very hard time these days. Many people say they are tired of trying and failing over and over again. How do we keep from attracting the same kinds of relationships?

Don Miguel: The main problem is that the relationship with our self is not good. All relationships will be a copy of the first, because the relationship with our Self didn't change. We need to deal with our self-judgment.

You know, a few years ago an apprentice came to me and said, ''Miguel, you know I wish I could find the perfect man for me. I'm tired of dealing with the same men and the same problems. All the time it is exactly the same. I wish I could have the perfect man come to me.''

I looked at her and said, ''Well, let's say the perfect man comes into your life. He comes for you and wants to be with you.'' Then I told her, ''The way that you treat yourself will be the way you will treat him. How long do you think you will keep that person with you if you don't respect yourself and you don't respect him?

Toltec pyramidFirst you need to change what you believe about yourself. The day the relationship you have with yourself is great — when you Love yourself unconditionally, when you respect yourself 100 percent, when you honor yourself, and you never do anything against yourself — when finally you are that way, then you will attract the right man. And because you have such high respect for yourself you will respect him. But also, you will not allow him to disrespect or dishonor you. In this way, the relationship will become completely different than those you have had before, because you don't have the need to control the other out of jealousy or insecurity about yourself.

When you love that way, you allow your beloved to be whatever he is. You don't need to impose. You won't feel hurt that he is not what you want him to be. You'll accept him just the way he is. You'll love him the way he is, and even more. You will love him because of what he is.

But you have to present yourself honestly. Try to be what you really are, and don't pretend to be what you are not just to get him. You'll also be able to see what he projects on you. And you'll get the opportunity to be yourself even though you might want to meet his expectations just because you like him.

Let's say you and a partner play doubles tennis. It would be fun if your partner allowed you to play freely instead of trying to control the way you play or criticizing you every time you made a mistake. Your teammate is not your enemy. No. You both are working together for the same cause.

In order to make it easier for the student I mentioned before, I told her, ''There are two kinds of humans — the humans that are like flies, and the humans that are like bees. Bees Love honey. Flies like poo.'' And I asked her, ''What kind of human being are you.'' She said, ''I'm like honey.'' I said, ''If you behave like honey, the bees will come to you. If you behave like poo the files will come to you.'' And she said, ''Now I've got it — okay — it's so simple — I need to become honey. And if I become honey, a bee who only Loves honey will come to me.'' And I said, ''Honey is Love, and poo is all that emotional poison. Who wants that? Only flies.''

So you have a man that you love, and you say, ''Ah, honey, I love you so much, take my poo!'' That's what we do when we send our jealousy, envy, or anger to the one that we love. Why in the world would we want to give that to someone that we love?

Or what if someone says that they love us, and they project envy or jealousy or self-righteousness, or try to control the way we walk or the way we talk — wow, this is a fly, really.

We have to be so clear with what we want. Then the perfect match is honey and a bee. If we have awareness we can see that clearly. But without awareness there is no way we can see that. We can behave like poo or we can behave like honey. With this choice, everything can change.

Diane: One of the things that made an impact on me from your first book, The Four Agreements[4], was what you said about being abusive to ourselves.

Don Miguel: I said that you will not allow anyone to abuse you more than you abuse yourself. If somebody abuses you more than you abuse yourself, you will leave. But if someone abuses you just a little less, you'll stay, because you believe that you deserve it.

The more you love yourself, the less tolerant you become of abuse from others. When you love yourself, you will not allow anyone to abuse you.

Diane: Do you think that we also test ourselves a little bit to make sure we've learned our lesson?

Don Miguel: Life is an eternal test, so we don't need to consciously test ourselves. It comes to us in the form of a lover or a friend or our own mother or our own children. The test is always there. Then with our reactions, we can make sure of our evolution. We will no longer say yes when we want to say no.

Diane: Do you feel hopeful and optimistic about the human race?

Don Miguel: Oh, definitely. Yes. We are evolving very beautifully. It will take some time — a few generations into the future — but we are going in the right direction. There is nothing to be concerned about. If we survived the Middle Ages, if we survived the Inquisition, we will survive the rest. Humanity is getting better and better. Yes, there is still war and injustice and violence — but it's changing.

Diane: Thank you, Don Miguel.

Don Miguel Ruiz, since the experiences described above that led him into the Toltec world, has evolved in preparation for the recent emergence of the Sixth Sun of the Mayan Calendar, prophesied by the Ancients to be an extraordinary period of personal and planetary change. Combining new insights with old wisdom, Don Miguel teaches that the path to personal freedom is the first step of a progression. The ultimate goal is to change the collective dream of the planet.

His website is at miguelruiz.com.


  1. The Mastery of Love; A Toltec Wisdom Book, Amber-Allen Publishing, ISBN 1878424424
  2. A curandera is a healer; the Nagual is a special kind of Toltec shaman who helps others to achieve spiritual freedom. This was Don Miguel's Toltec lineage, passed from Nagual to Nagual for many centuries.
  3. Maya refers to the concept that the material world is an illusion; it means the ''illusion of matter.''
  4. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom — A Toltec Wisdom Book, Amber-Allen Publishing, ISBN 1878424319


Another book by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • The Four Agreements Companion Book: Using the Four Agreements to Master the Dream of Your Life, by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills, Amber-Allen Publishing, ISBN 1878424483

  • Top of Page Print Version