March 14, 2018
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
My husband and I have begun reading The Four Agreements, a Toltec Wisdom book by don Miguel Ruiz about the power of our thoughts and words. I remember the first time I was introduced to these ideas. It was the late 1990’s and I was attending a Truthought Criminal Justice conference titled Mind over Matters — Corrective Thinking. It was there I first learned a formula that has stuck with me ever since:
- Our repeated, ingrained thoughts become our deeply seated beliefs —
- Our Beliefs become our individual and collective values —
- Our Behavior is a result of these beliefs and values. As are our words.
- Thoughts — Beliefs — Values — Behavior (actions and words).
- Feelings? They are the messengers…but, like our behavior, they are a result of our thinking, our beliefs and our values.
Our words are the building blocks with which we construct our world. But it all begins in our mind, with our thinking. You want to change your behavior? You have to first change your mind.
When the movie What the Bleep Do We Know? hit the theaters in 2004, followed soon after by the movie The Secret, positive thinking and manifesting abundance became a hot new topic. But as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 of the Old Testament, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
Books on the subject had been coming out way before the movies of the early 2000’s opened the floodgates. Napoleon Hill’s 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich, and Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 release of The Power of Positive Thinking were two well known books from the early 20th century. The behavioral sciences had been studying the power of our thoughts as the conference I attended attests. In the early beginnings of the field of quantum mechanics (physics) researchers stumbled upon the impact that the thoughts of the observer of an experiment had on the experiment’s results, which has led to greater research into consciousness. Scientists studying water and the effect that our thoughts and words have on the properties of water have been going on since the middle of the 20th century.
And yet, none of our “discoveries” are new.
There are numerous references in the texts of various religions and spiritual practices that describe the importance of “positive thinking”. In the New Testament we are counseled to “take every thought captive to Christ” (who embodied love, compassion, forgiveness) and to think on: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
The Buddha taught: “What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.”
Abu Amina Elias in his commentary about the teachings of the Quran wrote: “After understanding the effects of positive and negative thoughts, we then need to direct our thought processes towards positive trains of thought and learn to dismiss negative thoughts before they take us into a downward spiral. Many of the Prophet’s companions considered the skill to direct thought in a positive way as the enlightenment of true faith.”
And then there are the Toltecs. The Toltecs lived thousands of years ago in southern Mexico. They were scientists and artists who formed a society to both explore and preserve the spiritual knowledge of the Ancient Ones. The Toltecs came together as Naguals (Masters) and students at Teotihuacan. But over time, due to European conquest and misuse of personal power by some of their apprentices, the Naguals were forced to conceal the ancestral wisdom. They embodied and passed it through the generations of different lineages of Naguals. Their ancient prophecies foretold the coming of an age when it would be necessary to return the wisdom to the people.
That “future age” has come. We are living in it. don Miguel Ruiz is a Nagual from the Eagle Knight lineage, and has come forward to share the powerful teachings of the Toltecs, one of which is, The Four Agreements. Ruiz says that if we were to take these to heart and live them, all conflict would be resolved. I believe him. Certainly all my conflicts would dissolve. These agreements are:
- Be impeccable (do no harm) with your word;
- Don’t take anything personally;
- Don’t make assumptions;
- Always do your best.
These agreements are where the rubber meets the road and expose how we really think. Being “into” positive thinking and intention and manifestation is a good thing to be “into”. But, are we living it? How well are you able to live according to these Four Agreements?
A VALUES AND BELIEFS EXERCISE
Consider what behavioral values are really important to you in terms of how you show up in your relationships. Maybe honesty, or kindness, or with humor. Jot down a few.
Now think about what you believe about how life works that makes those values important to you. Write down a few sentences about these beliefs.
For example, it is important to me that I show up with gentleness and grace. I believe that in doing so, the other person feels safe enough to be themselves.
Now, choose one of your values and think about the last time you violated that value. Lied, lost your temper, used humor to harm.
Now, here’s the tricky part. Figure out what belief was bigger in that situation than the one you just wrote down that made living that value important to you.
After you have identified this “other” belief, think about which belief more often runs your behavior. Many people doing this exercise, if they are really honest, find that their idealized values and their lived behavior are frequently not in sync. Rather takes the stuffing out of some of us.
I believe the verdict is in. Our words are raw, creative power. They do create our experience of life. It is our thinking, our beliefs, and our words that construct the world we live in. We are waking up to this powerful truth at a time when it is absolutely essential that we begin deconstructing the way we’ve been running the world, and build something better. We cannot do this with marches and posters and petitions and elections alone. We certainly cannot do it with violence — we’ve proven that over centuries of carnage! But maybe, just maybe, if each one of us begins to make serious changes in our own mental constructs of the world, if collectively we can imagine a thriving world, we will indeed heal our Earth, and build a world of peace, where all are allowed to thrive.
But even if I don’t live long enough to see such a world, I at least can heal my little corner of it. I can create my own wild, wonderful life, sending out vibrations of love and joy and peace. Who knows where the ripples will end — in what time, in what place?
Next: The Power of Words — Part 3: The Ripple Effect