A most highly adored book, The Mastery of Love was written by Toltecs teacher Don Miguel Ruiz in 1997. Since its genesis, it has earned numerous impressive accolades. With over 16 million copies sold worldwide, it’s been translated into an astonishing 46 languages, and it sustained a place on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost a decade.

With so many prestigious achievements, one’s mind can’t help but be gripped with curiosity. What makes this piece of work so special? What treasures must the contents of this book contain? Ultimately, the Mastery of Love is all about cultivating an authentic and loving relationship with the self. When an individual’s relationship with themselves is healthy and balanced, they’re better able to make positive changes in other areas of life.

A great takeaway from many who’ve read Mastery of Love includes the transformational overhaul of one’s automatic emotional responses. There’s much to unearth about our emotional responses, and how to go about transmuting them, from this text. The Toltecs, and Don Miguel Ruiz more specifically, gifted our world with this knowledge. Their hope being that we learn to take control of our reality and create lives we enjoy living.

Don Miguel Ruiz And The Toltecs

Creator of The Mastery of Love is Mexican author Don Miguel Ruiz. A practicing surgeon until he faced a near death experience, Ruiz shifted his life’s work towards his greater calling; becoming a Toltec spiritual teacher. The Nahuatl name “Toltec” translates to “artisans.” Scientists and artists, Toltecs have been known for thousands of years as “men and women of knowledge.”

Although Don Miguel Ruiz is one of the better-known modern Toltec teachers, their spiritual work has reverberated throughout the world since the ancient Mesoamerican people gathered near Teotihuacan to carve out and enrich their teachings. “Artists of the spirit,” Toltecs continue to thrive today as teachers of potent truth and love-based understandings.

The rudiments of their work inspired Ruiz to write The Mastery of Love, where readers learn about truth, love, and forgiveness. These three qualities allow an individual to transmute their automatic emotional responses more easily.

Truth, Forgiveness, And Unconditional Love

Fundamentally, Toltecs believe that within each human being lives a potential “master.” This master is the embodiment of which traits we practice the most in life. Either we are loving, free, giving, and authentic. Or, we train our master to be fearful, greedy, jealous, and self-rejecting. The master we practice the most reigns supreme over the direction and disposition of our lives.

To consciously choose the master that we desire to rule, we have to unlearn many things about ourselves. Aspects or statements we were raised and conditioned to believe. This includes unworthiness, fear of rejection, and the lack of self-acceptance. Put simply, we become the creators of our reality if we can uproot the unhealthy “weeds” in our minds that we’ve continuously watered.

These weeds grow when we experience injustices. Throughout childhood and adolescence, injustices from our parents, friends, and society slowly take away our ability to forgive. This lack of forgiveness strengthens our judgments of self and others, and bolsters our fearful and critical side. As we age, we also learn to seek love and validation from outside of ourselves. The Toltecs remind us that true love can only come from within. “Love creates the master,” says Ruiz.

Through a practice of harnessing unconditional love for the self and learning how to forgive others of injustices they had us endure, we’re able to see the truth of life. This truth shows us the way to the seat of our awareness.

When we are aware, we are conscious of our choices, actions, reactions, and emotions. While this is no easy feat, it is our life’s task to speak, think, and react with control and honesty. If someone/something pains us and we automatically react with hatred or volley a dose of pain right back, we lose. We sink further into fear, separation, and back into the seat of the master that we don’t want to be.

Practicing Who We Are Instead Of Who We Are Not

If we’re conscious of our emotional reactions to anything and anyone, we then have choices. Do we choose to react with rejection, fear, or hurtful words and actions? Or do we want to respond with love, forgiveness, compassion, and understanding? Life is but a continuous set of choices that we have to make. The Toltec teachings are all about practicing the act of choice. Practicing who we truly are at our core instead of who we are not.

We are beings of love. Each of us can transmute our automatic emotional responses by stepping into love and away from fear, rejection, and unworthiness. To consciously invoke this transmutation, Ruiz says we must open our emotional wounds, using truth as the scalpel. When lies told by others or lies we’ve told ourselves are discharged from our wounds, we develop greater capacity to be who we truly are.

Transmuting Your Automatic Emotional Responses

No matter how difficult a choice can be to make consciously, no matter how easy it is to collapse back into our default mode, we must learn to return to our awareness time and time again. We must learn to make all of our choices from a place of unconditional love, truth, and forgiveness.

Start out with a beginner’s mind. Find moments of contemplation by way of meditation, journaling, and having conversations with those you trust. Note circumstances in the recent past where you responded from the seat of the loving master. Conversely, admit in what ways you responded with fear, pain, or anger. During this process, be sure to show yourself grace. The human experience is highly complex and perfection is impossible.

The more honest we are, the more examples we find of times we conducted ourselves the way we intended to. And the ways we did not intend to where we were not living from our heart. Over time, our patterns, automatic programming, and default responses emerge. When we reach this pattern recognition stage, we are then routed back to the conscious choices we want to make.

Before making choices, we can ask ourselves, “do I want to embolden my loving, truthful, forgiving master? Or do I want to activate the fearful, hurtful, rejecting master?” The choice is always up to us.

Toltecs firmly believe that we can be the creator of our lives. We can take the seat of the master within each of us that simply loves. To transmute your emotional responses, breathe life into the master that waits patiently for your permission to exist.

“You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love, you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.” ― Don Miguel Ruiz



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