I caught up with Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. at his grandmother’s restaurant “Por Vida” in San Diego. He is the celebrated author of “The Five Levels of Attachment” and the son of “The Four Agreements” author Don Miguel Ruiz. This is an excerpt of the energetic interview Don Miguel had with Radiance in April. For the full video interview, go to the Videos tab.
It seems people are using the concept of wellness to look at themselves closer, to learn more about themselves and what’s best for them, self-care. Is your message for them or the new age crowd? I would say when my father first started out in the 80’s, it was considered new age. But the way we approach it and the language we use makes it an everyday thing. We’ve gotten to the point where the language is almost universal. People who are in the hip-hop community engage with it. Nikki Sixx with Motley Crue is into it, so heavy metal people are into it. Even Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses.
But it’s not just them, it’s people in our everyday life. Whenever we want to heal from the wounds conditional love have left in our life, we look for something that resonates. Whether it’s listening to Marianne Williamson, Louise Hay, may she rest in peace, Wayne Dyer, may he rest in peace, or the teachings of Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed, or using technology like psychology or psychiatry, even Alcoholics Anonymous or recovery centers… these are all instruments and traditions that allow us to heal ourselves.
We live in a time when we can give ourselves permission to indulge in this kind of self-care. Before it used to be taboo, but now it’s accepted and readily available. Or maybe was resonates with us is going to a Reiki Master. Or even a nice barista! As long as we’re reaching out for help.
So many people are going to recovery centers and getting this work done there and they’re going to church and synagogue and temple and spiritual centers… And some are going deep, some maybe not so much, but other people, what if people are just stuck in their lives? They don’t know where to go. They have pain, they have trauma. Look around – prescription drugs are way up. People are taking them in huge numbers. It just seems easier to reach for something like that. But the most important part of all this is the fact that someone recognizes that they need help.
You’ve said, “The truth will set us free “if we let go of the illusions.” But why should we? Aren’t illusions comfortable? Yeah, but they keep us from living life.
They feel good. Yeah, but the keep us in the future or in the past, not in the present moment. For example, I can’t go back in the past and change a yes to a no, a no to a yes, because life no longer exists in the past. It only exists in my mind. The future doesn’t exist yet. It only exists in my mind, in my imagination with all the what ifs. If I get hooked on you can say, nostalgia, and my years living in this house with my grandpa and grandmother, that’s beautiful. But if I live there (in my mind), then not only am I gonna miss what’s happening in the world, I’m gonna miss out on my wife and kids, because they’re my truth right now. And my grandparents are no longer here. Right now, this present moment, the truth will set you free, meaning the only thing that exists is this moment, is the only place where I’m able to express a yes or a no, is the only place where you’re here with me.
So a lot of people don’t know how to be present. They don’t know that they’re not present. They’re just living a life where they’re going towards pleasure and avoiding pain. But there are symptoms that are probably starting, where they’re starting to question themselves like anxiety. So they have to take a pill, they have to take remedies that they know may not be the best for them, or they’re eating, or drinking, a lot of these.
What would you say to people who have discomfort, or challenges in their life who aren’t awake yet to the fact that they have more control than they know? Something’s knocking? Well, life is always knocking. For me, I feel the anxiety of raising two children, one in the autism spectrum, one not. But they both are going to be dealing with life. And the worries I had of a childhood are starting to fade, because now they’re entering teenage years, and they’re entering that world. So as a parent, there’s the anxiety of what if. What’s gonna happen to them? What about this or that? And sometimes if it’s overwhelming, and I want to close down and totally protect them, they’re not gonna think. When we do that, we’re overprotecting, and then they won’t know how to function in life. Now that’s with awareness. Sometimes we’re not aware of it. Our emotions are real, but triggers, they may not be real.
I like to use my emotions like a car alarm, an instrument of transformation. More importantly, an instrument of awareness. Whenever I feel terrible, it’s like someone touching the car alarm, and alarm going off. It exposes something that’s there. Well, first it starts with admitting that there is that emotional reaction, and that it’s okay to have that emotional reaction. It’s okay to have that fear. Now the question is, do I want to continue living with that fear, that anxiety, or not? If the answer is I don’t want to live with it anymore, that’s a moment of clarity.
And because a moment of clarity without any action is just a thought that passes in the wind, you take action, then it changes our life. And what happens there is that we reach out. Yes, there are people who reach out with medications. Then if it works, great. But if doesn’t work, then it’s the willingness to take the next step, the next step, the next step.
We live in a time when there are so many opportunities for wellness… Yes, we have a lot of people out there who have something to give, a jewel that allows us to heal. Whether it be mental, psychological, be it physical, or physiological. Sometimes it’s community-based, sometimes it’s private-based, but we do what we can, and we’re out there helping each other. We have the University of Google, where you can research all the stuff. And all of a sudden, you can find ways to help you. So we live in those times, and that’s the beauty of it. But how does the wisdom come? How do we check in to make sure?
The image I use, and this is from spiritual people down to anyone who’s just learning their own path, imagine that you’re walking in an orchard of apple trees. Let’s say that every apple tree is a teacher in your life. And every teacher has an apple to give you. Now mind you, all that apple tree has a lot of apples for you. Some of them are very nutritious, very good. Some of them have been rotting. Some of them have a worm inside. They’re all in different stages. But the tree has all of it to give. Now here’s the thing, knowing yourself. It all requires, and this is the most essential part in all of it, knowing yourself allows you to know which one of those apples were actually gonna be nurturing to you.
And which ones are not ripe to pick. Exactly. It all requires knowing yourself, because people bombard us with information. As a parent, we get bombarded with everyone telling us what to do in order to be a parent, but not all that advice is gonna be relevant to our child. So the way we know which one is relevant is knowing our child, and which information will work and which one won’t. Same thing’s gonna be for us. Which of that information is there for our wellness, for our healing, requires us to know our body.