- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; First edition, first printing (full number line) edition (October 27, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062390929
- ISBN-13: 978-0062390929
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 64 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Toltec Art of Life and Death: A Story of Discovery Hardcover – October 27, 2015
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From the Publisher
A Q&A with Don Miguel Ruiz
Q: The dream landscape of your coma was fertile ground for discovering deeper meaning in your life beyond limited knowledge in a universal truth. Where can readers look to find examples of truth in their own lives?
A: The story of my life is a reflection, allowing everyone else to see that their life is also just a story. In this version of the story I am the hero and the villain, just like they are in theirs. In my life, I created the main character of Miguel. This character represents everything I know, so you can also call him Knowledge. Every reader creates the main character of his or her story; every reader has to face his or her own lies and redeem himself.
Q: The reader is taken on a magical journey—both in the narrative of your story and in the opportunity to relate your revelations to their own lives. There are moments of new discovery juxtaposed with moments of deep remembering. Now, years after the experience, which feelings still resonate the strongest for you, adventure or remembering?
A: Both memories and adventures are important to me; I see them as tools for sharing my message. I love to use human imagination to create beautiful stories. If we don't invest all our emotional energy in the stories, we can see clearly what they are trying to tell us. The message of life is one of love, truth, and unity. There is only one being; nothing else is real. This one being is alive, and everything, including each of us, is a part of it.
Q: One of the lessons of the story is that "the privilege of knowledge is to serve the message of life." How do you practice this? How can readers better serve and cultivate their own expressions of this universal message?
A: You can tame your knowledge. Words can obey life. You are life. The challenge is to transform "Me," the main character, and make him or her our ally—life’s ally. He or she can now serve the human being, instead of being the tyrant. I tell all of my readers, "You don't have to be you! The character you imagine yourself to be is not real. You are life."
Q: Legacy and lineage are critical to understanding your experience of your coma. We meet generations past and glimpse future generations. What is your hope for the future of your lineage and teaching?
A: Hope is the last demon that escaped from Pandora's box. Hope is wishing for something to happen in the future, and there is no future. There is only now. But we can imagine the future; so we take action today and whatever happens is fine. My legacy is my teaching and my love. Humans learn to love with conditions. That's how they love themselves and everybody else. That's also the reason behind the need for control, and for all the violence, injustice, abuse, and war. I can say, without a doubt, that God is "hopeless". . . and resides in unconditional love.
“Another classic that will bring joy and enlightenment to the world.” (Deepak Chopra, author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success)
“Once again, Miguel Ruiz delivers the deepest truths in the most relevant ways. In The Toltec Art of Life and Death, his poetry, his wisdom, and his depth are as profound as ever.” (Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love and A Year of Miracles)
“Love, death, tragedy, pyramids, shamans, and an unforgettable spiritual journey-it is all here but mostly you will remember the new lens by which you see your own world after reading this amazing story.” (Dr. Joe Dispenza,, New York Times bestselling author of You Are the Placebo)
“Don Miguel Ruiz is simply one of the greatest distillers of truth alive today.” (Mike Dooley, New York Times bestselling author of Infinite Possibilities)
“The ultimate vision quest . . . . A powerful look into the metaphysical life of a spiritual teacher. It provides insight into ancient Toltec wisdom that is seldom available in written form, or to the uninitiated.” (Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight)
“Readers will come away with a deeper understanding of life’s complexities.” (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
From the beloved teacher of spiritual wisdom and author of the phenomenal New York Times and international bestseller The Four Agreements comes a profound new spiritual masterwork. Don Miguel Ruiz has been lauded the world over for his deep integrity, insight, and wisdom. Now in The Toltec Art of Life and Death he takes readers on a mystical personal journey, introducing us to an even greater level of spiritual teaching and awareness.
In 2002, Don Miguel Ruiz suffered a near-fatal heart attack that left him in a coma on the verge of death for nine weeks. The journey he undertook while suspended between this world and the next forms the heart of this autobiographical novel, a profound and mystical tale of spiritual struggle. As his body lies unconscious, Ruiz travels in his dreams and encounters the people, ideas, and events that have shaped him, illuminating the eternal struggle between life—unending energy and truth—and death—matter and subjective knowledge—in which we are all called to engage.
The Toltec Art of Life and Death invites readers into the mind of a master seeker, offering an unparalleled and intimate glimpse into the development of a soul. In this culmination of a lifetime's learning, Ruiz shares with readers the innermost workings of his singular heart and mind, summoning us to grapple with timeless insights drawn from ancient Toltec wisdom that are the essence of transformation and freedom.
Top customer reviews
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This book is awful and so self aggrandizing it ridiculous. Every other chapter is about how powerful he is and how all the ladies love him. Most people who are fans of Don Miguels books and similar books are used to "far out" talk, but its very very hard to suspend disbelief in this book. I just don't understand how this is the same person that wrote all those other books that we know and love.
He had previously courted death by recklessly walking into the dangerously hot rim of a dangerous volcano in order to demonstrate a healthy approach to life and fear of death to a touring group of his disciples, and had injured his heart. Insufficient explanation is given to undo the impression that this was machismo.
Finally, I hung in with my attempt to follow the narrative of what Ruiz experienced in his dream state. Some dream - that can go on for nearly 400 pages with such detailed recall! But I guess that can happen while you're in a coma for nine weeks.
The description of his development as a healer or Nagual (Toltec-speak for a shaman) and his learnings from his shamanically inclined mother and grandfather serve as interesting autobiography; and as a physician, I can admire his finding a deeper calling in sharing wisdom than continuing his medical practice. However the weaving of the narrative from Ruiz, to Ruiz’s spirit, to his mother, to her spirit, to grandfathers, and to the enigmatic Lala (who can often be very bad-tempered) is confusing and (for me) unconvincing. She is revealed as the personification of knowledge, and Ruiz goes into great detail about his early infatuation with knowledge and his subsequent intense ambivalence about it. He portrays it as a seductive woman who is like a constant companion and temptress. The whole book could be seen as Ruiz's struggle with "knowledge".
I feel the book didn’t deliver on its promise to enlighten on the mystery of death and the wisdom available in the borderland between life and death. However this won’t stop me from highly recommending “The Four Agreements” to patients.
After further digesting this complex autobiography/ personal statement, several things stand out for me. First, the realms that Ruiz explores, once liberated from physical form, don't seem to me to ascend very high. His sense of the sacred, of the exalted realms of the transcendent found in mystical literature or in books like Michael Newton's "Journey of Souls", seem limited and earthbound.
Instead he places great value on vitality with its strong base in robust sexuality; on power; on freedom; and on forcefully demolishing our limited beliefs so as to achieve a superior participation in of all things--------knowledge! But we need to have healthy skepticism about the advice even of someone who has impressive shamanic abilities and a lineage of a wisdom tradition and has a foundation. (And don't believe anything I say!)
Lastly, I was struck by his posing to his students, the question "How do you get God's attention?" (They danced, wept, writhed etc.)
I think a better question would be "How is God going to get YOUR attention?"
After a while, I really got frustrated with Ruiz's self0indulgence and haughty attitude. One can really grow to dislike him after a while of reading. His experiences center around common theme of him styling himself as an "enlightened master" who is just so valuable to the world, but he couldn't be bothered with it because he wanted to die, and it was just so selfish of them and so unenlightened of them to want him to fight for survival and return to them. After a while, one gets tired of his constant whining about how these people, such as his mother, lovers, children, and apprentices just would keep being so desperate in wanting him to live. His attitude was very self-indulgent and pompous for a spiritual warrior. Many of the stories were about his sons and life experiences he had with them. A truly "enlightened master," or sincere teacher does not indulge themselves as much as Ruiz does in this book, and has the humility to allow people to draw their own conclusions.
Reading and meditating on this book reminded me very much of Journey To Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda as well as most of his earlier books (non fiction or fiction -- it doesn't matter). Additionally some of Carlos' original apprentices books such as The Witch's Dream: A Healer's Way of Knowledge by Florinda Donner-Grau and Carlos Castaneda and Being-in-Dreaming: An Initiation into the Sorcerers' World
by Florinda Donner give one a taste of dreaming, but again you can't get it from a book. It is experiential.
I had mixed feelings on this book. Every book that don Miguel has written has been top notch and this one is too. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars as my own opinion (don't believe it) feels it is a bit advanced for the beginning journeyer.