Remember the old Jack Benny joke “how do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.”
I use to think that my purpose in life was to play the violin. I would dream of playing at Carnegie Hall and I spent years of practicing, practicing, and practicing.
In the book, “Talent is overrated” we’re told that to become a concert violinist it doesn’t matter how much talent you have. It’s a matter of how quickly you can a mass a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice.
To reach this required minimum of practice hours a person would need to practice 4 hrs. /day for 2,500 days; or 7 years every day, 7 days/week without a break.
This person would need to have outside support, unless they could make it on a part time job. Which I don’t think is very likely.
What would motivate a young person to push themselves to this extreme? Two things: Punishment or Reward.
In the classic movie, “Red Violin” a young boy at an orphanage is given the Red Violin to play and he excel at it so the Priors take him to a master teacher in Vienna where he is put through grueling days of repetitious practice with a metronome to increase his speed of playing. He is called a Prodigy, but he’s subjected to learning by the punishment and reward technique.
When the teacher finally thinks the boy is ready to play for the masters of music on the Austrian music scene the little boy stands before the Masters and before he can take his first bow stroke he falls over dead from an apparent heart attack. The movie would have us believe it was the Red Violin that killed him but the truth is far less titillating. It’s obvious, it’s from the stress of trying to please someone else.
As I said before, I used to think my purpose in life was to play the violin. Years later I would come to realize that it was NOT my purpose in life, it was only the means for me to find my true purpose and that is “to learn to love myself”. It sounds a little corny or maybe self-serving or maybe even lame. It’s not a very sexy or exciting purpose. It’s not very heroic, is it?
But what if, we all shared the same purpose in life and that everything else we do or have done is just us trying to projecting an image we have created of ourselves for fear of not being good enough for someone else, or trying to get society to accept us?
From the wisdom of the ancient Toltecs, given to us by the author, Don Miguel Ruiz, in the book “The Mastery of Love”, I find so much that is relevant to the spirit of the message in today’s theme of “Being present to Love & knowing that you are the presence of it.”
The Mastery of Love includes “why” our “domestication” and the image of perfection leads us to “self-rejection”. How the “war of control” slowly destroys most relationships. Why we hunt for love in others and how to capture the love inside US. As well as, how to finally accept and forgive ourselves and others. Happiness can only come from inside of you and IT is the result of YOUR LOVE.
From the Toltec point of view, 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, or the mind, or the soul. We ARE Love. Then every action we take is an expression of love, and love in action can only produce happiness.
Perhaps you never thought about it, but on one level or another, we are all masters. We are masters because we have the power to create and to rule our own lives.
Today we’re going to start with how fear based beliefs and assumptions can undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in relationships. Then, we’ll see how healing our emotional wounds can recover the freedom and joy that are our birthright and restore the spirit of playfulness that is vital to loving relationships.
You have the power to create pretty much anything you want. You create yourself, your relationships, your reality, whatever you believe that to be. You are the way you are because that is what you believe about yourself. Your whole reality, everything you believe, is your creation. Your power is so strong that whatever you believe comes true.
You are masters because you have practiced all of your life and you do it so well that you master what you believe you are. You master your own personality, your own beliefs; you master every action, every reaction. You practice for years and years, and you achieve the level of mastery to be what you believe you are.
At times, we have we become masters of jealousy, masters of sadness, and masters of self-rejection? All of our drama and suffering is by practice. We make an agreement with ourselves, and we practice that agreement until it becomes a whole mastery. The way we think, the way we feel, and the way we act become so routine that we no longer need to put our attention on what we are doing. It is just by action-reaction that we behave a certain way.
But to become masters of love, we have to practice love. The art of relationship is a whole mastery, and the only way to reach mastery is with practice. To master a relationship is therefore about action. It is not about concepts or attaining knowledge. It is about action.
When a human is born, the emotional mind, the emotional body, is completely healthy. Maybe around three or four years of age, the first wounds in the emotional body start to appear and get infected with emotional poison. But if you observe children who are two or three years old, if you see how they behave, they are playing all the time. You see them laughing all the time. Their imagination is so powerful, and the way they dream is an adventure of exploration. When something is wrong they react and defend themselves, but then they just let go and turn their attention to the moment again, to play again, to explore and have fun again. They are living in the moment. They are not ashamed of the past; they are not worried about the future. Little children express what they feel, and they are not afraid to love.
What has happened is that when we are children, the adults already have this mental dis-ease, I called FEAR BASED IDEOLOGY, and they are highly contagious. How do they pass this disease to us? They “hook our attention,” and they teach us to be like them. That is how we pass our dis-ease to our children, and that is how our parents, our teachers, our older siblings, the whole society of sick people infected us with that dis-ease. They hooked our attention and put information into our mind through repetition. This is the way we learned. This is the way we program a human mind.
Don Miguel says, the problem is the program, the information we have stored in our mind. By hooking the attention, we teach children a language, how to read, how to behave, how to dream. We domesticate humans the same way we domesticate a dog or any other animal: with punishment and reward. Unfortunately, this is considered perfectly normal today. What we call education is nothing but domestication of the human being.
We are afraid to be punished, but later we are also afraid of not getting the reward, of not being good enough for Mom or Dad, sibling or teacher. THE NEED TO BE ACCEPTED is born. Before that, we don’t care whether we are accepted or not. People’s opinions are not important. They are not important because we just want to play and we live in the present.
The fear of not getting the reward becomes the fear of rejection. The fear of not being good enough for someone else is what makes us try to change, what makes us create AN IMAGE. Then we try to project that image according to what they want us to be, just to be accepted, just to have the reward. We learn to pretend to be what we are not, and we practice trying to be someone else, just to be good enough for Mom, for Dad, for the teacher, for our religion, for whatever. We practice and practice, and we master how to be what we are not.
Soon we forget who we really are, and we start to live our images. We create not just one image, but many different images according to the different groups of people we associate with. We create an image at home, an image at school, and when we grow up we create even more images.
When we are children, we learn that everyone’s opinions are important, and we rule our lives according to those opinions. A simple opinion from someone can put us deeper into hell, an opinion that is not even true: “You look ugly. You are wrong. You are stupid.” Opinions have a lot of power over the behavior of people who live in hell. That is why we need to hear that, “we are good, that we are doing well, that we are beautiful”. “How do I look? How was what I said? How am I doing?”
Human beings are suffering because of all the false images we try to project. Humans pretend to be something very important, but at the same time we believe we are nothing. We work so hard to be someone in that society Dream, to be recognized and approved by others. We try so hard to be important, to be a winner, to be powerful, to be rich, to be famous, to express our personal dream, and to impose our dream onto other people around us. Why? Because humans believe the Dream is real, and we take it very seriously.
You can see how real love and freedom are destroyed by looking at children. Imagine a child two or three years old running and having fun in the park. Mom is there watching the little guy, and she’s afraid he might fall and hurt himself. At a certain point she wants to stop him, and the child thinks Mom is playing with him, so he tries to run faster from her. Cars are passing in the street nearby, which makes Mom even more afraid, and finally she catches him. The child is expecting her to play, but she spanks him. Boom! It’s a shock. The child’s happiness was the expression of love coming out of him and he does not understand why she is acting this way. This is a shock that stops love little by little over time. The child does not understand words, but even so, he can question, “Why?”
Running and playing is an expression of love, but it’s no longer safe because your parents punish you when you express your love. They send you to your room, and you cannot do what you want to do. They tell you that you are being a bad boy, or a bad girl, and that puts you down, that means punishment.
In that system of reward and punishment there is a sense of justice and injustice, what is fair and what is not fair. The sense of injustice is like a knife that opens an emotional wound in the mind.
Little by little we lose our innocence; we start to feel resentment, then we no longer forgive. Over time, these incidents and interactions let us know it’s not safe to be who we really are. It will depend on many things. If you–are lucky, the domestication is not that strong. But if you are not so lucky, the domestication can be so strong and the wounds so deep, that you can even be afraid to speak. The result is, “Oh, I am shy.” Shyness is the fear of expressing yourself
Humans use fear to domesticate humans, and our fear increases with each experience of injustice. The sense of injustice is the knife that opens a wound in our emotional body. Emotional poison is created by our reaction to what we consider injustice.
In order to understand these emotions, we can describe certain characteristics about love and fear that Don Miguel calls the “TRACK OF LOVE” and “TRACK OF FEAR.” Let’s look at six of the characteristics of love and of fear.
Love has no obligations. Fear is full of obligations. In the track of fear, whatever we do is because we have to do it, and we expect other people to do something because they have to do it. We have the obligation, and as soon we have to, we resist it. The more resistance we have, the more we suffer. Sooner or later, we try to escape our obligations. On the other hand, love has no resistance. Whatever we do is because we want to do it. It becomes a pleasure; it’s like a game, and we have fun with it.
Love has no expectations. Fear is full of expectations. With fear we do things because we expect that we have to, and we expect that others are going to do the same. That is why fear hurts and love doesn’t hurt. In fear we expect something and if it doesn’t happen, we feel hurt – it isn’t fair. We blame others for not fulfilling our expectations. When we love, we don’t have expectations; we do it because we want to, and if other people do it or not, it’s because they want to or not and it’s nothing personal. When we don’t expect something to happen, if nothing happens, it’s not important. We don’t feel hurt, because whatever happens is okay.
Love is based on respect. Fear doesn’t respect anything, including itself. If I feel sorry for you, it means I don’t respect you. When I feel sorry for you I believe you cannot make your own choices. Then I have to make the choices for you, and at that point I don’t respect you. If I don’t respect you, then I try to control you. Most of the time when we tell our children how to live their lives, it’s because we don’t respect them. We feel sorry for them, and we try to do for them what they should do for themselves.
Love is ruthless; it doesn’t feel sorry for anyone, but it does have compassion. Fear is full of pity; it feels sorry for everyone. You feel sorry for me when you don’t respect me, when you don’t think I am strong enough to make it. On the other hand, love respects. I love you; I know you can make it. I know you are strong enough, intelligent enough, and good enough that you can make your own choices. I don’t have to make your choices for you. You can make it. If you fall, I can give you my hand, I can help you to stand up. I can say, “You can do it, go ahead.” That is compassion, but it is not the same as feeling sorry. Compassion comes from respect and from love; feeling sorry comes from a lack of respect and from fear.
Love is always kind. Fear is always unkind. With fear we are full of obligations, full of expectations, with no respect, avoiding responsibility, and feeling sorry. How can we feel good when we are suffering from so much fear? We feel victimized by everything; we feel angry or sad or jealous or betrayed. We can only pretend to be kind. We are not kind because we don’t feel good, we are not happy.
If you are in the track of love, you have no obligations, no expectations. You don’t feel sorry for yourself or for your partner. Everything is going well for you, and that is why that smile is always on your face. You are feeling good about yourself, and because you are happy, you are kind. Love is always kind, and that kindness makes you generous and opens all the doors. Love is generous. Fear is selfish; it is only about me. Selfishness closes all the doors.
Love is unconditional. Fear is full of conditions. In the track of fear, I love you if you let me control you, if you are good to me, if you fit into the image I make for you. I create an image of the way you should be, and because you are not and never will be the image, I judge you because of that, and find you guilty.
In the track of love, there is no if; there are no conditions. 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. We don’t have the right to change anyone else, and no one else has the right to change us. If we are going to change, it is because we want to change, because we don’t want to suffer any longer.
If you know what love is and what is fear, you become aware of the way you communicate your dream to others. The quality of your communication depends upon the choices you make in each moment, whether you tune your emotional body to love or to fear. If you catch yourself in the track of fear, just by having that awareness, you can shift your attention into the track of love. Just by seeing where you are, just by changing your attention, everything around you will change.
Finally, if you are aware that no one else can make you happy, and that happiness is the result of love coming out of you, this becomes the greatest mastery of the Toltec’s, the Mastery of Love. We can talk about love and write a thousand books about it, but love will be completely different for each of us because we have to experience love.
Love is not about concepts; love is about action. Love in action can only produce happiness. Fear in action can only produce suffering.
The only way to master love is to practice love. You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love; you just need to practice . . . your . . . love . . .