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Table of Contents
A Practical Guide to Inner Peace
What if the key to achieving inner peace and harmony is unlearning the things you’ve learned?
Here’s Don Miguel Ruzi with yet another Toltec Wisdom Book:
Who Should Read “The Voice of Knowledge”? And Why?
The voice of Knowledge is for everyone who doesn’t know what the four agreements are and who thinks that “learning more about more” should be one of his/her life’s objectives.
It is also for everyone who thinks that he/she is imperfect and that he/she might never become a better version of himself/herself.
About Don Miguel Ruiz
Don Miguel Ruiz is a bestselling Mexican author who dubs himself a Toltec shaman.
He debuted in 1997 with The Four Agreements. The book remained a bestseller for the next decade and brought Ruiz fame and, among other things, a few guest appearances at Oprah.
What followed was a series of “Toltec Wisdom Books” (The Mastery of Love, The Voice of Knowledge, The Circle of Fire, The Fifth Agreement) which made Ruiz one of the most respected spiritualistic teachers of the modern age.
Find out more at https://www.miguelruiz.com/.
“The Voice of Knowledge PDF Summary”
They say that knowledge is power.
Don Miguel Ruiz thinks that this is one of the many lies you’re fed with on a daily basis.
“What is truth is real,” he writes in the epigraph to The Voice of Knowledge. “What is not truth is not real. It’s an illusion, but it looks real. Love is real. It’s the supreme expression of life.”
And love is precisely what is at stake: due to the many lies we’ve grown to believe to be true in our lives, we have forgotten how to love and, with that, how to live as well.
The voice of knowledge from the title of Don Miguel Ruiz’s 2004 book is not, as you might expect, a voice of God; it is, actually, the voice of the prince of darkness separating you from your very own self.
Consequently, it is one you should almost never listen to.
And here’s why in detail.
The Symbolic Meaning of the Story of Adam and Eve
Since everybody knows the story, we can sum it up in just a few sentences:
So, Adam and Eve were created by God, placed in the Garden of Eden, and told that the only thing they are not allowed to do is eat from the Tree of Death, aka the Tree of Knowledge. Of course, they did just that, and, before you can say “why, God, why?“ they fell from grace and became ordinary suffering humans.
Expectedly, Don Miguel Ruiz is interested in the story from a different perspective. “It explains with symbolism what I will try to explain with words,” he says in the first chapter of The Voice of Knowledge. “The story of Adam and Eve,” he goes on, “is based on absolute truth, though I never understood it as a child. It is one of the greatest teachings ever, but I believe that most people misunderstand it.”
The story is, in fact, he says, about us: Adam and Eve were every single human being that existed at the time of Creation, so the story is not about them exclusively, but about humanity in general.
And it says this:
We are born innocent and in Paradise; everything is about joy, freedom, and eternal love when we are children; we live in perfect harmony with all of creation.
But then, the Prince of Lies sneaks in from somewhere and, bringing a message of fear, convinces us to try the tempting fruits from the Tree of Knowledge. The fruits of knowledge are poisonous because they bring with them thousands of lies. The minute we start eating these fruits, the lies start living in us.
“The mind is fertile ground for concepts, ideas, and opinions,” writes Ruiz. “If someone tells us a lie and we believe it, that lie takes root in our mind and can grow big and strong, like a tree. One little lie can be very contagious, spreading its seeds from person to person when we share it with others.”
The Simple Truth of Existence (and Miguel’s Visit to His Grandfather)
When Miguel was a teenager, he once went to visit his grandfather in an attempt to share with him what he had learned at school.
His grandfather, a shaman nearly 90 years of age at the time, listened very carefully to Miguel’s stories “about all of the injustice in the world, about the poverty, about the violence, about the conflict between good and what [he] then called evil.”
“Well, Miguel, those are very good theories that you’ve learned,” his grandfather replied. “But they are only theories. Everything you have told me is just a story. It doesn’t mean that it’s true.”
Now it was Ruiz’s turn to listen. And his grandfather started explaining to him:
Most people around the world believe that there is a great conflict in the universe, a conflict between good and evil. Well, this is not true. It’s true that there is a conflict, but the conflict only exists in the human mind, not in the universe. It’s not true for the plants or the animals. It’s not true for the stars or the trees, or for the rest of nature. It’s only true for humans. And the conflict in the human mind is not really between good and evil. The real conflict in our mind is between the truth and what is not the truth, between the truth and lies. Good and evil are just the result of that conflict.
Miguel was startled and surprised. But that’s not where his grandfather ended his story.
Instead, he proceeded to explain how humans overcomplicate things, and how this is also the result of lies, the biggest one among them that we are not created perfect.
It’s the other way around: we are created perfect, but we fall from grace because, through our knowledge, we let lies infest our being. And they gradually separate us from ourselves, because we start believing in them and stop believing in us.
The only way for us to know the truth is by experiencing it. Everything else is just a product of our mind, which can never be free of lies.
“We can perceive truth with our feelings, but as soon as we try to describe it with words, we distort it, and it’s no longer the truth,” said Miguel’s grandfather to the teenage Ruiz.
And at that moment, he knew that he had experienced something that would eventually evolve into this book.
The Lie of Our Imperfection
This, the lie of our imperfection, is the big lie, the one undermining everyone’s existence, the one causing the chaos in the world.
When we are children, writes Ruiz, we are completely in tune with our selves. We are authentic and never try to pretend that we are something we are not. We are, simply put, incapable of it.
“When the child was a child,” to quote the exquisitely beautiful movie, Wings of Desire, “it didn’t know that it was a child: to it, everything had a soul, and all souls were one. When the child was a child, it had no opinion about anything, had no habits… and made no faces when photographed.”
Well, this all changes when we become mature enough to be capable of learning abstract things and ideas. Because with them comes the emptiness as well: suddenly, we get the feeling that some people know more about the world than us and that we lack something (i.e., knowledge).
And we start inventing stories about what is good and what is bad, about what is love and what is hate, about who we are and what we are not. Of course, all of them are nothing more than stories: just like one who has never experienced love can never understand it if merely described, we can never understand anything (even ourselves) if we don’t experience it in entirety.
Think of it this way:
If, theoretically, a single individual is drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, and Dali, few would be able to guess that their portraits depict the same person.
Because they all see that person in a different way, noticing very different things in him/her.
And that’s how much our stories differ. Some are more appealing to the majority, while others can only be appreciated by a selected minority. This doesn’t make them true. In fact, nothing does. They will always be nothing more than stories.
“Humans are born in truth,” notes Don Miguel Ruiz, “but we grow up believing in lies. One of the biggest lies in the story of humanity is the lie of our imperfection. It’s just a story, but we believe it, and we use the story to judge ourselves, to punish ourselves, and to justify our mistakes.”
Be the Storyteller of Your Life
To sum up the argument so far:
Just like Adam and Eve, we are created perfect. This must be true, because we are created by God in His image, and God is necessarily perfect. And we know this for a fact through our experience of ourselves as children.
However, we start forgetting this as soon as we start listening to the voice of knowledge, which Ruiz describes as a wild horse taking us wherever it wants to go.
The voice of knowledge exposes us to the illusion of what the world is: we start believing things that we have never experienced, and the real knowledge can only come through experience. So, in other words, with the voice of knowledge come the lies.
The greatest one among them: that we are imperfect by birth and need to spend a lot of time and energy to perfect ourselves.
“What you call thinking,” writes Ruiz, “is the voice of knowledge making up stories, telling you what you know, and trying to make sense out of everything you don’t know. The problem is that the voice makes you do many things that go against yourself.”
You can change that!
Merely knowing that “you are the author of an ongoing story you tell yourself” is a great start. Because the good thing about stories is that they can be rewritten.
The main character of your story is, of course, none other than you. Everyone else is a secondary character whose story, in relation to you, depends upon the story you believe you are in.
“The only way to change your story is to change what you believe about yourself,” writes Ruiz. “If you clean up the lies you believe about yourself, the lies you believe about everybody else will change. Every time you change the main character of your story, the whole story changes to adapt to the new main character.”
Knowing that you are a character in a story helps in fashioning a better relationship to the people around you.
In their stories, you are a secondary character, just as they are in yours. If you try to write their story for them, you don’t respect them. If they try to write your story for you—they don’t respect you.
We are born to write only one perfect story: that of ourselves. So, don’t waste your time taking anything personally: when other people are interacting with you, they are really interacting with the secondary characters in their story.
And even Shakespeare wasn’t that great in creating three-dimensional secondary characters.
Key Lessons from “The Voice of Knowledge”
1. We Are Born Perfect
2. The Voice of Knowledge Interferes with Our Experience of Ourselves
3. You Can Write Your Own Story
We Are Born Perfect
Since God is perfect, perfect is the only form in which he could have fashioned us.
Consequently, the greatest lie ever told is the one of our imperfection: we cannot be someone else even if we tried.
“We are born perfect, we grow up perfect, and we will die perfect, because only perfection exists,” writes Ruiz trying to recapture the words of his grandfather, a shaman.
“But the big lie is that you are not perfect, that nobody is perfect. So you start to search for an image of perfection that you can never become. You will never reach perfection in that way because that image is false. It’s a lie, but you invest your faith in that lie, and then you build a whole structure of lies to support it.”
The Voice of Knowledge Interferes with Our Experience of Ourselves
Truth can only be experienced. When put into words, it is not truth anymore: it is merely a distorted version of the experience.
When we are children, we know this very well: we live in the present, and we live authentically. We are what we are: beings full of love and innocence.
However, once we grow mature enough to understand abstract things, we start thinking too much. And we start believing that there are all kinds of things in the world which affect us: what is just and what is unjust, what is good and what is bad, what is beautiful and what is ugly.
These things, however, don’t exist in the world: they are not real for the flowers or the stars or the lions. In other words, they are a product of our minds.
Instead of working for us, as soon as we separate them from our experiences, our minds start working against us, concocting stories which are false and which infest our happiness.
You Can Write Your Own Story
The good thing is that we can always rewrite our story—using our point of view as the be-all and end-all.
“All humans create their story with their own unique point of view,” writes Ruiz. “Why try to impose your story on other people when for them your story is not true? When you understand that, you no longer have the need to defend what you believe. It’s not important to be right or to make others wrong.”
“Instead, you see everybody as an artist, a storyteller. You know that whatever they believe is just their point of view. It has nothing to do with you.”
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“The Voice of Knowledge Quotes”You don't have to try to be good; you just need to stop pretending to be what you are not. Click To Tweet You are alive, and you don’t need to justify your existence. You can be the biggest mystery in your own story. Click To Tweet “How can you ask for something you don't think you deserve? Click To Tweet If you don’t perceive love, if you cannot recognize love, it’s because you only recognize the poison inside you. Click To Tweet You are divine, you are perfect, but as an artist, you create your own story and you have the illusion that the story is real. You live your life by justifying that story. And by justifying the story, you are wasting your life. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
Published one year before The Fifth Agreement, the book does seem to anticipate the (so far) final agreement (“be skeptical but learn to listen”) by suggesting that knowledge has done us more harm than favors and that we need to question the lessons we’ve learned.
But, other than that, it does seem like one of the books in Ruiz’s oeuvre, one can safely skip without fear of missing out on anything important.