Shamanism And Toltec Practice
Toltec practices that originated across Central Mexico and further on, many thousands of years ago, are not of a religious nature. In modern terms, this means that no "beliefs" in the unseen are dogmatized into any structured method of morally guided action. Rather, the pursuit of knowledge irrespective of contemporary thought, religious belief, or assumed knowledge, is sought after with passion. A Course In Shamanism follows this path of seeking to both understand first, and then practice second, what it takes to enhance the boundaries of human awareness. That awareness, just like it existed in Toltec times, is guarded and guided by many forces that have to be fought with in order to expand our adeptness in the use of our already existing abilities. Take our own egos for instance! Just know that "ego" is an entirely arbitrary term, much in the same way as the ancients used the word "tonal" to describe all that could be known, or that which the ego ruled.
But before we get into the societally standardized criticism of the ego, let's not. The ego is as necessary for our survival, as the tonal was thousands of years ago. The Toltecs knew this, and respected the sacredness of all of us. Because without all of us, the totality of ourselves could not be reached. What the ego guards may be limited, jealously fought over, and totally ruled by, the ego, but nonetheless, that fact in no way makes what the ego guards in any way unimportant. Quite the opposite. According to the Toltecs, what the ego guards, instead of being fought with, needs to be so cleared and cleaned, that when traveling over the road ruled by the ego, there are no more bumps or barriers to hit into, causing pain and suffering. Again, quite the contrary. Because once the world of the tonal is cleaned, there is sheer joy in living within the world of reason, and all the comfort and safety though limited and temporary, that is found there. There is also a purpose for that world, and it's for the protection of our sanity. When traveling on the path to expanded awareness through the many realms of non-ordinary reality, we want that sanity, or that which is grounding and familiar to us, to be there when we get back. When it isn't, because we have hated or abused it, that's when we lose our marbles. We don't want to do that. This grounding is what the processes of
A Course In Shamanism
are all about.
So we take the guidance of the Ancient Toltecs, as modern practitioners, and strive to so clear and clean our tonal, that we become expanded beings. What is an expanded being? In purely transformational modern terms, it is someone who has so much space, that when events and circumstances happen in their lives, as they happen in all of our lives, and we react to them, that person doesn't freak out anymore. Rather, in the terms of Everyday Zen by Joko Beck, we are able to be with life "as it is, not as we want it to be." In this way, our "space" or literal ability to be with things as they are, increases. And our growth in space continues to increase only to the extent that we are willing to proceed, on a moment by moment basis, with the practice of this expansion.
If you are wanting a simple "history" lesson in what the Toltecs ate, where they lived, and what their names were, this is not the place to find that information. The only information A Course In Shamanism in interested in becoming knowledgeable in is that which opens us up into an ever-expanding experience of unconditional love and awareness. Finding out what someone ate for breakfast ten thousand years ago, will most definitely not produce that intended result. Our lives are way too short for storing useless information that only has value as entertainment, at least, that's the way of practice of A Course In Shamanism. It may not be your preference, but there is no argument with that, or anyone else's preferences here. Quite the contrary! Prefer what you desire and it will be honored here, much in the same way that The Way Of The Spiritual Warrior will be also honored here. And the ancient Toltecs were very clearly, Spiritual Warriors.
What we are battling for here, and a battle it is, because the tonal, or the ego, will not relinquish total control without a fight, is the experience of experiences, or the totality of ourselves. We are not asking the ego to give anything up, because it's not going anywhere, but rather, just to let go of its attachment to its guarding of the tight boundaries it allows our awareness to experience life within. The only thing that is lost in that battle is a thought. The thought that being right is so important to the ego, that it is quite literally, willing to be so unaware at times, as to facilitate killing you, or in other cases, to facilitate a slow, uninformed dying, day by day over years through drinking, complaining, judging, disease, anger, frustration, stress, unease, smoking, overeating, suicide, shall I go on? In every case, the end result is the same, and may it be pointed out here, to live a clear and clean life of the tonal also ends much in the same way; with our deaths.
Given that fact, I will choose to follow the Way Of The Warrior of the Ancient Toltecs every time. What? I have to travel down that road and I have two choices for the vehicle within which I must take my journey? One choice is to bang around and suffer in a noisy car that breaks down all the time, and is full of not so fragrant complaints and justifications for the way life is, and the other is a Ferrari with leather seats and an awesome stereo? Well, let me see, which one should I choose? And this is not some joke, people choose the clunker all the time. The fact is, in doing over thirty years and fifteen thousand hours of transformational work with over fifty-thousand people, most times at first they choose the clunker simply for the default fact that they don't know the Ferrari even exists, so much so, that even when told about it, and guided to its open doors, they either don't see it, or won't get in! Our societal training, in the same way as the societal training that surrounded the Toltecs, is that influential. And, in being so, the battle begins. The battle to be our true selves. With each birth this battle begins, and I imagine this sacred fight waged long before even the Toltecs decided to group themselves together in communities of like-minded seekers of real, practical, energetic knowledge.
This knowledge, for the Toltecs, much in the preferred way of A Course In Shamanism, was a knowledge of action more than anything else. And it is in this dedication to practice, where the similarities of function are aligned with Ancient Toltec wisdom and A Course In Shamanism. Again, you can read and study all you want about someone's breakfast now, or a thousand years ago, but for my part, when hungry, I would rather find a way to simply sit down and eat real food, regardless of what I think I know.
In that "think I know" paradigm-of which we, as modern humans immersed within a society that so prizes information over knowledge, or to put it bluntly, titillating entertainment information over that which is much harder to know, and of much greater value to energy work, or the enhancement of the human body, mind, and spirit-we often get sidetracked. Yes, because that's what entertainment is designed to do, and it does its job well. But the breaks we take, break us eventually, because they close down our ability to be with our lives as they are, and instead, give us false hope in having our lives be what we would like them to be, which rarely happens using entertaining information. At least, our lives certainly don't happen in the way Hollywood delineates them. Truth is, our lives can happen at a far greater level of satisfaction and power than Hollywood is capable of imagining, but again, that takes practice. And the only reason any of our dreams don't happen the way we would like them to, is our failure to practice them, not due to some unrealizable possibility, or some vague inability within ourselves to reach them. Not at all. Again, quite the contrary. Because if as humans, we can create one thing-lives that don't work in so many ways-then it's Universal Law that the exact opposite in perfect balance also exists, because it has to: lives that work in so many ways. And we do that living through our practice.
Our practice. Our practice of Ancient Toltec methods such as stopping the internal dialog, which opens up all manner of new possibilities that our language based world we have been so thoroughly trained into believing is the only world "out there" wherever "out there" actually is, has told us time and again are not possible. They are. Or "stopping the world" through walking in silence and reaching that place of power inside of us that exists whether we become aware of its existence or not. To talk to you frankly, if something exists within my own personal energy envelope, I certainly want to know about it, especially if the coming to be adept in its use will enhance my life in both seen and yet to be seen, highly desirable ways. Ways of manifestation, clarity, power, confidence, and intuition. And yes, fear will come up for all of us when confronted with the richness of entirely denied possibilities that are unleashed through the practice of what the Toltecs knew.
By the way, even though they lived in Central Mexico, and beyond, the Toltecs were a group of humans, not a race of humans. They could have been Mexicans, or Norse Vikings who accidentally landed on the East Coast Of Mexico, and then traveled inland, brave warriors that they were. Or Native Indians to the area. It didn't matter then, what they were, but who they were being, and it doesn't matter what they were now. Anyone who has an energy envelope can practice what The Toltecs knew, and practiced, and though the clear presentation in modern language of A Course In Shamanism, begin to expand their energy envelope, or the "space" they have within which to be with life as it is. To reach this state, and then to stay in that state as much of our time as we can do so, is to live in the condition of awe. And it is being in awe, which increases our ever-expanding experience of unconditional love and awareness, and is the experience of experiences: a true life of living with the totality of ourselves.
There are three realms of knowing, or knowledge. There's what we know, or the knowable or known. We know how to tie our shoes and bake a cake, and we know, at least some of us do, how to shape shift. All knowable information, all within the realm of accepted human possibilities. The second realm is that of the unknown. The unknown is that which we can be aware of, regardless of whether it is within the realm of known human possibilities or not. There are awarenesses that exist within our Universe, whose abilities are extremely difficult to even mimic, and yet we can learn about them, what they do, who they are, and what they want, but until we do, this knowledge is within the realm of the unknown. And there's also the human unknown, or what we can more easily come to know and then practice, like shape shifting for most people. It is knowable knowledge. And then there is the unknowable, or that which we can only see the effect of, but not come to directly know. In either case, whether known, unknown, or unknowable, if you ask the question "what do we really know" the answer is, not much, if anything, and in that being so, the true majesty and mystery of life, and our own lives, is confronted, and in the ever expansion of the miraculous gift of what awareness we have and can grow into, a true ground of being is gained; the experience of experiences, or to live as much of our time as we can in awe.
Don Miguel Ruiz
Don Miguel Ruiz
is a Toltec Warrior, and author of The Four Agreements, and his new book The Fifth Agreement. His life and contribution to others, truly represents the best of Toltec Wisdom. Thank you, don Miguel!