In the book The Mastery of Love, wisdom pulled from Toltec teachings and written by Toltec teacher Don Miguel Ruiz, says that practice creates the master.
What master we become depends on us; we have the power to create and rule our own lives and we become the master of what we practice. Thus, the choices we make and the emotions or behaviors we exercise the most are what we become masters of.
So, if we are practicing rejection, hatred, or fear more than any other emotions, we become a master at those emotions.
For example, if you are then a master of fear, you can only see the world through a fearful lens. Everything is a danger or threat. The person who lives across the street from you is not to be trusted.
You can’t open your heart up to your significant other. You see the world outside of your immediate surroundings as a place full of unknowns and too dangerous to explore. And so on.
Obviously, this is not a life anyone would want to live and an emotion no one would like to master.
Luckily, the Toltec teachings say that we have all the power and capability within us to choose a different path. We can become masters of anything we choose.
“You have the power to create. Your power is so strong that whatever you believe comes true. You create yourself, whatever you believe you are. You are the way that you are because that is what you believe about yourself. Your whole reality, everything you believe, is your creation. The main difference between you and someone else is how you apply your power, what you create with your power.”
― Don Miguel Ruiz
Practicing Love Instead of Fear; A Toltec Teaching
Something about hearing that I have the power to choose how my life goes and how it feels really rang my bell. For so long, I believed deep within my bones that what happens in my life is happening to me, not for me.
I even remember passing by someone on the sidewalk who was wearing a shirt that read “Relax; nothing is under control.”
While I believe that the shirt’s message was intended to be comforting, a message much more comforting to me is that I have a say in how this whole life thing goes, so long as I believe in myself and couple good intentions with cultivated awareness.
When we are more loving beings, life is enriched with so much more meaning. A frequent smile is not at all scarce, we belly laugh at everything, we’re more kind to ourselves and one another, and we enrich the world by giving away our love because we have plenty of it to give.
No one can deny that the world could use more love; you can be someone who lends a hand in that incredible effort!
How to Begin Practicing Love, for Self and Others
- Remove the false image and don’t pretend to be who you are not.
This is a practice that takes time, but shedding the layers of your persona that don’t truly belong to you and stepping into your authenticity will make it that much easier for you to love and feel loved.
When we are pretending to be people we are not, we aren’t showing up in the world as our true selves. This deceitfulness makes it harder for us to give and receive love because the people trying to love you aren’t loving the real you, and you know it.
Conversely, you also know when you’re not being your authentic self, and most people can sense that type of dishonesty.
Love is unconditional; it can only be fully expressed and felt when it is true.
- Let go of the need to be perfect.
If you are aiming for self-perfection, I am sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but you will never get there.
Perfection doesn’t exist, and striving for it keeps us from feeling that we are good enough, right enough, healthy enough, wealthy enough, etc.
When we release the expectation of being perfect, we can cultivate self-acceptance. If love was a flower, self-acceptance (and acceptance of others) is the water it needs in order to grow.
- Know that no one else can make you happy.
True love for self can only come from within. When we believe that down to our core, we do not look for outside acceptance or validation from others and from the world.
The only way to master love is to practice it, and the only way to practice it is to feel it for yourself.
Remember, it is practice that makes the master.
- Love others just the way they are.
You cannot change other people no matter how hard you try and you honestly shouldn’t want to.
When you allow others to be exactly who they are, you are freeing them from their own self-limitations, letting them feel safe to be their authentic selves, and giving them permission to practice and master love.
The more people that are practicing love, the more people on this planet will become masters of love.
Practice Creates the Master
“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.”
Genuine love, for self and for others, is effortless. It doesn’t require explanation or justification; it doesn’t require rational thought or any set of conditions.
Real love comes from the heart and the more it is practiced, the more it is mastered.
Toltec teachings say that you don’t need to fix yourself or make a bunch of significant changes. You don’t need to become someone else entirely.
All you need to do is step into who you truly are; a loving being that is as capable of giving love as they are worthy of receiving it. Practice creates the master.