The second of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements is “Don’t take anything personally.” He says this about what comes of that practice:
There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.
The Dalai Lama says:
We also often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, over-reacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally.
The extreme form of taking things personally is narcissism. Narcissism is associated with a sense of self-importance, entitlement and a belief that you are “special.” It can make life all about personality—yours and mine—and an endless attempt for self-affirmation.
It is possible for personality structure to be based on mild, or even extreme, forms of narcissism. And then there is a personality experience between us that we might call a social structure. That, too, can be based on narcissistic tendencies. In its extreme form, if you had a community of narcissists, how would that go? We get a picture of that on the political scene.
Maya Angelou says this about the human heart and its tendencies:
The human heart is so delicate and sensitive that it always needs some tangible encouragement to prevent it from faltering in its labor.
A wise woman! My heart needs encouragement, at least every now and again. It is wonderful when we receive it from another person. But hopefully we have learned to give ourselves encouragement, blessing, comfort and support. When we learn to do that for ourselves, we have increased our ability to do it for another person. Of course, so often, exactly the opposite is happening in the social structure in which we live. Instead of encouragement being offered to the heart to prevent it from faltering in its labor, the heart is being discouraged. If we are not careful, our own heart reacts, leading to a descending spiral.
The quote from Maya Angelou finishes with this:
The human heart is so robust, so tough, that once encouraged it beats its rhythm with a loud unswerving insistency.
There are great benefits to a strong heart. The heart feels the urge of Creation. Its job is to beat to that urge. And yet the heart can become distracted from that job and be self-obsessed.
As spring blossoms here in Colorado, I’d like to consider with you the loveliness of reality. For each of us individually, and then for all of us together, reality is unbelievably lovely. How the natural world is made and how we are made is just so magnificent to ponder.
Taking things personally can blot out an appreciation of the loveliness of reality. We can miss that loveliness in ourselves and in nature. We can miss the loveliness we have to share with other people. When we take things personally, relationships with other people become difficult. We lose the opportunity for connection and synergy. An individual relationship can suffer, and the entire social structure in a person’s life can break.
Try this simple thought experiment. Imagine a roomful of narcissistic people. Picture them conversing at a meeting or at a party. What do you see? It’s hard to have things come together at a personality level when narcissistic tendencies prevail.
And why is that? It is because the level of human personality is not where things are together. That’s not the structure of reality for us as a human being. So, when we try to make our life come together at that level, it doesn’t work. Has it ever worked? I think I remember five minutes once when it seemed to be happening. Coming together with a group of people, we have to access something else. We have to access our oneness.
But what is that oneness? Yes, it’s a common love. Universal Love is the energy that holds us together. But beyond Universal Love, there is the very structure of reality—the constellation of reality—in which we as human beings are in relationship to each other. The basic structure of that reality is not founded at a personality level. It is at some higher level of our Being. And when we move past the concerns that govern when we take things personally, we have a chance to crack open to that reality, and crack open to the fact that we are sharing a reality that transcends the personal. We are part of a reality that transcends the personal.
That reality has a structure to it. Think of diagrams of chemical molecules, or atoms, or even of constellations in space. The structure of our reality is like that, except that it is created simply by who we are in relationship to someone else. And we are all having a relationship amongst ourselves at a level that transcends personality. Those relationships create a geometric pattern: a constellation.
Sometimes, with a circle of people, I’ve passed a spool of white thread around, leaving a trail of thread behind. It creates a web. It’s fun, because you can see the geometric pattern that is created. But the structure of reality isn’t just determined by how we happen to be sitting in physical space. There is geometry to our relationships at the level of Being.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that has lost track of that level of reality, so that there is cultural amnesia. Our primal spirituality has been forgotten. And then we try to work it out in the social structure amongst ourselves as personalities. Do you like me? Do you think I’m nice? What is my opinion of you? And it’s unending. You got a better place in the social structure than I did—how did that ever happen?
How do we move to a different place in ourselves, in which we are relating Being to Being and navigating the social structure and our own personality from that perspective? If we have touched the truth of our Being, at least we have a fighting chance to figure out how to work with the personality that we have and with the feeling states that come along with that personality. And we have a fighting chance to navigate the social structure successfully and create connection, synergy and flow within it.
At Sunrise Ranch, where I live, we navigate the social space of an intentional spiritual community. In some ways it is a human social structure, as with any other collection of people. But we have an advantage. We have a fighting chance in that we are approaching our experience of community from a higher place. We are incarnating into personality and into the social structure from there. We are a secret agent from on high, here to do the secret work of creating real social synergy with the advantage that we are not taking things personally.
Just think about the loveliness of this. Sometimes joy overtakes me when I begin to contemplate what is real. Then I contemplate what has happened in our world and what goes on in our culture, and then even some of the lies that my own heart would tell me. And I contrast the loveliness of what is with the culture that I’m in. I can’t help but think, Reality is so beautiful!
What a way to create a world! Where it is all based on simply being yourself in your purest essence and expressing yourself. You get to be who you are and radiate who you are. You have the opportunity to bring the natural urge of creativity that is never-ending. It pours out of your Being, and you get to create a life out of it and create a world. And then you get to be in that process with other people who have the opportunity to do the same thing.
When this happens, you realize that the energy that is creating everything is Universal Love, which is the power of Creation that is pouring out of you all the time. That’s the heartbeat Maya Angelou was speaking of. You get to join the creative power of love to the creative power of love with another person and feel the volcanic energy of that. You get to bring the unending genius that pours out of you as a Being. The unending pattern of Creation is just pouring out of you and me all the time. And then, as a human being on earth, you have a mind that can think the patterns of Creation. If you’re not careful, it won’t stop. It just creates and creates and creates. And you get to do it with other people!
This is way better than we ever imagined, and way better than our culture tells us it is. Our culture is full of all kinds of negative messages about what it’s like to live a human life. I’ll just pick on one little thing: Aren’t many of the TV commercials pathetic? At 7:30 in the morning they’re talking about strange medical things and the drugs you ought to be taking for them, which have side effects that can be worse than the condition for which you’re taking them! And it goes on and on, with all the messages about what it means to live a human life and how bad it all is in so many different respects, when reality is actually beautiful.
What isn’t beautiful? What isn’t beautiful is trying to make it come together at the level of your personality structure and social structure. It’s not coming together there. Narcissism is not beautiful.
An afraid, narcissistic person is having a bad dream. Reality doesn’t constellate around a bad dream. The bad dream has no power to constellate Creation and evolve human culture forward. It doesn’t have that power because it isn’t the structure of reality. As compassionate as we might be about a person who is afraid, and as understanding as we might be about the real threats that person might be facing in their life, this truth remains: A bad dream does not have the power of Creation.
As we look out at the world today, we see a social structure—and a political structure that goes with it—that is disappointing in so many ways. We could look at it nationally, globally, or even locally. The social and political structure is so obviously inadequate to the issues of the day. In so many places it’s just not coming together, whether it’s the U.S. government or the United Nations. And even some of our more enlightened approaches with seemingly enlightened people often fail. They often lack the synergy and the momentum to evolve culture. And why? To the degree that we don’t live reality and talk reality and exude reality and create from reality, our creative endeavors don’t come together.
In the structure of reality, what is real is together. I don’t think that the higher levels of who you are and the higher levels of who I am are having a problem, actually. So, whatever you want to call that—the indwelling divine Being, the higher self, the God self, the God reality, the angel within—I don’t think we are having any issues at that level. The geometric structure of our Being is already together. When we experience that level of reality for ourselves and with each other, we feel the heartbeat that Maya Angelou spoke about. We are creating a new tomorrow, individually and together. All the genius that naturally pours forth from our Being is now pouring through collective consciousness.
It’s hard to be wise when you are a narcissist. It’s hard to be wise if you’re just thinking about yourself, because you lose awareness of the pattern of Creation that’s unfolding. There are the more extreme forms of narcissism that we decry. But there are all the little petty narcissisms that go on every day that keep people from coming into their genius.
Coming into our genius is seeing from the perspective of Being. It’s not only seeing the petty concerns of the personality self. It’s seeing as a creator. That is a radical departure from so much of what is happening in human culture.
When two people come together who have an awareness of who they are in a way that transcends and includes their immediate personal experience, that is magic. And when there is a group of people who are having that experience, it is wildly loving, and wildly creative. When that happens in community, it doesn’t get any better than that.
There is a deep pleasure in living reality. I’m saying that this is way better than we thought—way better. Oftentimes people get caught in the trap of trying to fix the personality experience. And then they postpone the creative life that is waiting for them until they get themselves fixed. The reality is that our personality state shifts and transforms when we are approaching it from a different place, when we know who we are and know that our life is all about the joy of being who we are and creating as who we are.
And then personality reflects that. It exudes it and radiates it. We often get healthier, because when consciousness connects with what is already happening at the inmost levels of our Being, then the radiance and the wisdom of that is landing in our body. We are becoming energized and activated and healed from within by that energy.
This stuff is real. I’m not making it up. This is not New Age happy talk. This is real, and you and I can prove it out every day. We can prove it out individually and we can let it happen together. We can be a living experiment that proves this, and then, in proving it, we become a teaching and demonstration site for it. We become an influence in the global culture, bringing a radical message to the world—because this is radical: Get over yourselves! Get over your narcissism so that you can be a creator and so we can bring what is natural for us to bring as creators, which is the very urge for the evolution of our species and the evolution of our planet.
Can you feel the urgency of that? This planet wants to live, it wants to move forward. We as human beings want that. This is the urge of Creation that is naturally with us. Spoken in the words of the English language, that urge simply says, I want to live.