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Toltec Art of Life and Death Paperback – January 1, 2001
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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.
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Man muss offen für sie sein...
Die Kreation von Kommunikation zwischen Autor und Leser ohne dass es darum geht sich selbst zu produzieren.