From My Bookshelf — Day 58
To master a relationship is all about you. The first step is to become aware, to know that everyone dreams his own dream. Once you know this, you can be responsible for your half of the relationship, which is you. If you know that you are only responsible for half of the relationship, you can easily control your half. It is not up to us to control the other half. If we respect, we know that our partner, or friend, or son, or mother, is completely responsible for his or her own half. If we respect the other half, there is always going to be peace in that relationship. There is no war.
Next, if you know what is love and what is fear, you become aware of the way you communicate your dream to others. The quality of your communication depends upon the choices you make each moment, whether you tune your emotional body to love or to fear. If you catch yourself in the track of fear, just by having that awareness, you can shift your attention into the track of love. Just by seeing where you are, just by changing your attention, everything around you will change.
Finally, if you are aware that no one else can make you happy, and that happiness is the result of love coming out of you, this becomes the greatest mastery of the Toltecs, the Mastery of Love.
We can talk about love and write a thousand books about it, but love will be completely different for each of us because we have to experience love. Love is not about concepts; love is about action. Love in action can only produce happiness. Fear in action can only produce suffering.
The only way to master love is to practice love. 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 — The Mastery of Love (pp. 70-71)
There is no endeavor in the world that starts out with more excitement and anticipation than love. We assume—quite naively—that if it’s true love then it won’t take any work—everything should just flow naturally. I don’t know about you, but The Mastery of Love 101 was never taught in my high school or part of my college curriculum. If it was, then I completely missed it and should be embarrassed.
I cannot think of anything else that requires more on-the-job training than love. It comes with no instruction manual. We learn on the fly. And, to make matters worse, we cannot learn anything about it ahead of time—we actually have to be in love to start the process of learning about love. And then, to make matters worse still, most attempts at love end in disaster. We wind up on our sofa eating Ben & Jerry’s watching sappy old movies crying to whichever friend or relative is unlucky enough to take our call that day.
With the odds stacked so overwhelmingly against us, one would think we would give up on mastering love altogether. Yet, we press on to try again. Oh sure, some of us bullheaded men (and women) make bold proclamations that we will NEVER allow another person to take a piece of our hearts again. We build a wall around our heart and draw lines in our imaginary love sand that we swear will never be crossed again.
Yup, you know what’s coming next (You must have seen a romantic comedy or . . . forty). Someone smiles at you and it cracks a hole in the steel fortress you’ve built around your heart. Before long (you know the rest of this story), you’re madly in love again and you can’t imagine your life without Exhibit B currently sitting across from you making you blush with their twinkling eyes and vibrant personality.
Guess what, eventually their twinkling eyes and vibrant personality start to feel more like a glaring stare and an obnoxious annoyance. If you aren’t there yet, wait for it, you’ll get there: I promise.
But hold on!
Here’s where the mastery part comes in. No matter who you’re in love with, it doesn’t always naturally unfold. Sometimes it takes practice (sometimes it actually takes LOTS of practice) to continue falling in love day after day with the same person for the rest of your life.
And here’s the problem: in our impatient, fast-food, gotta-have-everything-now society we live in, once the relationship takes a little bit of work to keep the love alive, we assume there’s some character defect with our partner and it’s time to trade them in. But that is the exact moment when mastery of love truly begins. When we start to assume our partner is 100% to blame for our unhappiness, that is when we know our focus is off track.
Practice Creates the Master!
Think of any endeavor that takes practice to master: playing an instrument, painting a portrait, perfecting a golf swing, writing an award-winning novel, etc. Anything worthwhile you want to perfect takes all kinds of practice. Practice creates the master.
I certainly have not mastered everything I write about. Many books I choose to read are far above my cognitive abilities. And still, I read them anyway in hopes that something the author writes about will stick with me. The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz is no exception. Every single time I pick it up and thumb through its pages I learn something new to apply to my life that day. When it comes to love and relationships, I am no expert, but I am continuing to live by the motto Practice Creates the Master.
Have a blessed day.
Peace and Love,
Great post, and really true! It sounds to me a lot like Erich Fromm’s Art of Loving, have you read that? He pretty much expresses the same idea. I haven’t read Don Miguel Ruiz, but it’ll be interesting to compare him to Fromm when I do read him!
I have read The Art of Loving (and nearly everything else by Fromm)!!! I was thinking of Fromm when I wrote my section of the blog after the Ruiz quote. I highly recommend both authors for various reasons. Thanks for the comment!
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