by Diane Donovan-Vaughn – Sermon 04152017

Today, let’s expand your world. As most of you know, I spent last weekend at a Gathering of Shamans with Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, his sons and some of his other apprentices. This sermvon contains ancient Toltec wisdom. Open your heart.

Ruiz calls himself a Toltec Nagual in a different lineage but similar to Don Juan in the Carlos Castaneda’s books. Since I had already read all of Castaneda’s books many years ago, I was astounded when six of them kept appearing in my world immediately upon enrolling to attend this event. I can take a hint. I reread four of them and reread The Four Agreements before I left for Sedona. They said, “Diane wake up!”

It is amazing that I had already done an extensive Toltec study early in my life, years before I was hit on the head by the Q’ero elder in the Canyon de Chelly in 1997, designed to wake you up. This strange waking up and falling asleep over and over in life is a phenomenon the Toltecs discuss again and again. Even when that initiation took place, I continued to be puzzled about why I was considered to be a world healer even though the Q’ero elders explained it carefully to everyone. How is it even possible to keep forgetting about my earlier Don Juan studies? In fact, I literally told the woman who suggested that I should meet the Incas that I had never studied these subjects in depth. At that time, I did not fully remember yet that A Course in Miracles, the Sufi teachings, religious scriptures, innumerable studies, dreaming, visions, rebirthing, chanting and even theories in college were all the same mystical knowledge. I have been on the mystic’s path since birth, forgetting and remembering over and over.

The Toltecs are not alone in saying that you will remember and forget, remember and forget. At Destiny Retreats, we say over and over “remember” to wake up again and again. Remember love. Forgetting is natural in this life and all of life conspires to help us remember and to forget. You know your way home but you will forget that you know your way over and over. As James Twyman says you are already enlightened. All you need do is get out of your way.

You are dreaming your dream of life. As you get caught up in your dream, you forget to wake up. Every one on the planet is dreaming their dream. Although we share in the creation of the overall dream of the world, for the most part, our dream is unique to us. The Toltec teaches you to stalk the dream of your life, which is quite similar to mindfulness practices of observing yourself, all of yourself in each moment. It is important to realize that the dream is a construction, not the truth, similar to my favorite saying, “The brain lies.” Ruiz said laughingly that ninety percent of knowledge is not true. The dream is what we are doing here and it is made up uniquely by each and every one of us. Much like the brainwaves at the surface of your mind in “The Wheel of Awareness” meditation we do every week, we can discern that these activities of the mind are not who we are. In fact, we do not know who and what we are. We have been making it up.

Of course you believe what you believe in your dream and even look around the world finding the proof you need to verify your beliefs. You can ask your friends and family to cosign your view of reality and further confirm your beliefs. I remember Cheryl saying one time that she had a habit of nodding her head while listening to people speak, which totally convinced one person in a couple session that she was completely on his side in an endless marital dispute of colliding dreams. We see confirmation of our beliefs everywhere we go. We draw our realities to our side and we frequently mistakenly see our dream in the behaviors of others around us even though their dream does not mean the same as ours. Take note that this activity is called conflict.

Ruiz says that the creation of the dream is our masterpiece, a work of art. He says that Don Juan taught Castaneda the Toltec teachings with fear. Ruiz teaches with love. His focus on love coincides with A Course in Miracles, The Art of Spiritual Peacemaking, and let’s remember the loving teaching of Christ on this Easter weekend and his message: “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (KJV – Mark 12:31).

Obviously many dreams we encounter are not appreciated. Fear fuels our nightmares. We often judge the dreams of others as bad or wrong. However when we enter into judgment, we enter the space of fear rather than unconditional love. It is not our fault that we do not understand unconditional love because we are born into a world of conditioned love. Hell is what Ruiz calls this form of love, where he says that we take prisoners and demand sacrifices.

The first step in recovery from Hell is to watch your own beliefs, emotions and other nuances of your masterpiece. Moving away from judgment begins with you. Now you will cry. Look into the mirror, he said, and say, “I am the love of my life.” This practice alone will completely alter your existence and enable you to shift reality from conditioned love to unconditional love.

Oh, you will set boundaries with dreamers whose dream you do not like. But you would remember when your self-hatred colored your dreaming world with fear and control. Instead of judgment or rejection, your own unconditional love transforms your judgment into compassion. Ruiz says you do not have to like others but you can always love them.

Remember you do not have to like your own dream that you are dreaming right now, but you can still be the love of your life. This love alone will clean up your dream. The goal on earth is to clean up your dream, to live and to love and to choose happiness over fear, control, and dread.

Remember love. Look into the mirror and say, “I am the love of my life.” Truthfully no on knows how to love you but you and how would anyone do it for you if you cannot do it yourself? You would never recognize love anyway if you hate yourself. You are the lover you desire, the love of your life.

The Toltecs teach how to move your assemblage point, the customary way you view reality, which is like shape shifting into another dream. The first attention is your dream or ordinary reality. The second attention is awareness of your dream but you might then put your attention into creating a new dream. The third attention is fluid because none of it is real. Here you are free. The goal is freedom and unconditional love is the path.

The selection for today from The Buddha is Still Teaching (Selected and Edited by Jack Kornfield) is titled “The Web of Life” taken from the book World as Lover, World as Self by Joanna Macy.

I do not pick this selection to match the information I shared about the Toltecs. In fact, I usually read the weekly selection after I write the sermon.

Joanna Macy said, “The way we define and delimit the self is arbitrary. We can place it between our ears and have it looking out from our eyes; or we can widen it to include the air we breathe, or, at other moments, we can cast its boundaries farther to include the oxygen-giving trees and plankton, our external lungs, and beyond them the web of life in which they are sustained.
“To experience the world as an extended self and its story as our own extended story involves no surrender or eclipse of our individuality.
“Basic to most spiritual traditions, as well as the systems view of the world, is the recognition that we are not separate, isolated entities, but integral and organic parts of the vast web of life. As such, we are like the neurons in a neural net, though which flow currents of awareness of what is happening to us, as a species and as a planet. In that context, the pain we feel for our world is a living testimony to our interconnectedness with it. It we deny this pain, we become like blocked and atrophied neurons. Deprived of life’s flow and weakening the larger body in which we take being. But if we let it move through us, we affirm our belonging; our collective awareness increases. We can open to the pain of the world in confidence that it can neither shatter nor isolate us, for we are not objects that can break. We are resilient patterns within a vaster web of knowing.
“Because we have been conditioned to view ourselves as separate, competitive, and thus fragile entities, it takes practice to relearn this kind of resilience. A good way to begin is by practicing simple openness, as in the exercise of “breathing through,” adapted from an ancient Buddhist meditation for the development of compassion.” I have a copy of this practice if you are ready to try it.

Let’s practice love for a moment. Close your eyes. Take a deep relaxing breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Continue watching your breath, slowly inhaling and exhaling. Image you are looking into the mirror. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth as you notice any thoughts, feelings or emotions you experience about looking into the mirror. Look deeply into your own eyes and repeat these words: “I am the love the love of my life.” Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Repeat the words: “I am the love of my life.” Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Remember love this week especially every time you see a mirror. The mirror may be over the bathroom sink or a reflection in a window or it may be in the eyes of humanity. Namaste.