Tuesday, October 30, 2007

4: The New Paradise Lost by Don Miguel Ruiz

In the third chapter of ‘The Voice of Knowledge’, Don Miguel doesn't tell the fall of humankind as much as the fall of the child. We are born perfect. As children, we are authentic, alive to the world as it is, loving everything and everyone naturally, while naturally avoiding some things and people that appear dangerous or unloving to our wide-open eyes.

Then we are slowly introduced to this thing called knowledge. First, language; next, concepts; and then, opinions. We listen to our parents tell us who we are, our siblings tell us who we are, and then our teachers tell us who we are. And although all of these conflicting opinions may sometimes be confusing to us, we, as children, play and have a lot of fun with all these roles.

The trouble, the fall from innocence, begins when we are told who we are NOT, and who we should be, that we are not perfect as is, that instead we need to live up to some external idea of perfection. And, alas, too young and vulnerable, we learn to agree. Through punishment and rewards, we are trained to believe this untruth. And the high drama really begins sometime in adolescence, when we begin to feel we’re not good enough ourselves.

I’ll call it the third truth of Toltizian Dreaming: we are domesticated into knowledge and its big lie of our imperfection. Then we no longer make decisions based on what is good for us; it is more important to satisfy other people's points of view. Inauthentic. And impossible. Resulting in self-judgment and self-loathing.

We are always striving to live up to some false image of perfection, and ironically, we use that sense of imperfection as an excuse for our mistakes: after all, we're only human. When the truth is far from that. I'll improvise: we are spirit, one with god and goddess, mystical consciousness in an ever mysterious universe, electrical chemical genetic power. You name your preferred sense of deity; we are its kin. But know again it's anything but not perfect.

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