An Interview with don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz

Don Miguel Ruiz Help Me to Change the World

The Fifth Agreement



While doing my research in writing my book on the consequences that belief systems have on our world today, it didn’t take me long to see that most everything we “believe” to be true is in fact nothing more than half-truths at best and superstitions generated from things that may or may not have happened as far back as the Iron Age. The only way I can see that we will have a sustainable and durable future is to bring religion, politics, and human understanding into the 21st century through open dialogue, honesty, and integrity … however, this takes courage, the courage to doubt and ask questions of people and organizations that have traditionally placed themselves beyond questioning.

To ask the right questions we will need some guidelines, something simple, nothing complicated. These guidelines are portrayed eloquently in the new book The Fifth Agreement which is a continuing story of the Toltec wisdom found in the original Four Agreements. We strive to avoid pain thereby living in our drama created by agreements we’ve made with ourselves. The Toltec answer is to replace those agreements with new ones that can lead us to peace and contentment. I can see a movement on the horizon that is insisting that traditional ideas and beliefs find the middle ground beyond their polarized and rigid views. And even though they may come kicking and screaming, in the end it will be the only way to create a new world vision that is sustainable. To even imagine that the whole world could somehow be coerced into believing the way you do is to be living in the grandest of delusions, although that’s exactly how most of our nations and religions behave. This delusion shows itself in many of our leaders today, and I for one am questioning their authority and their mental stability when making major decisions that affect my life.

Many of us have watched the unfolding of world event, the financial and environmental collapse, an unending war, the world’s diminishing food and freshwater supply, the fishing out of our oceans, the devastation of virgin forests; the list goes on. While we still have much to be grateful for, we need to start doubting and not believing everything that we are told. We live in the information age, so investigate, be informed about the products you buy, the news you hear, the politicians’ rhetoric, and every single person who’s telling you what you should do and believe and promising you a reward somewhere down the road or in the next life.

We were given minds that have the power to go beyond “needing to pretend we know things that are, in fact, unknowable.” This is our world—we all live and breathe the same air, have dreams for better lives for our children, and are walking around on this fragile planet with the unalienable rights of every human being to pursue happiness and live out our lives in peace. It says in our Declaration of Independence that governments are regulated and given their power by the people, but we’ve been asleep at the wheel. Today, the people who have the power are special-interest groups, lobbyists, and now we seem to have a nutritional-industrial complex telling us what “nutrition” is and isn’t, all in the name of protecting the interests of the pharmaceutical companies.

So it boils down to this: If you blindly accept another person’s idea of what is true, it’s like expecting to be nourished when someone tells you of a great meal he had; you can be nourished only by what you eat and you can benefit only from knowing through direct experience.


Rahasya Poe, Lotus Guide


Lotus Guide: It seems to me that to be skeptical should be a process of asking, and sometimes demanding, validation for what we have traditionally accepted as true, usually through indoctrination at an early age. But what I’ve noticed is the tendency for people who have maintained a system of skepticism over a period of time to unknowingly slip into “being a skeptic,” at which point their skepticism has become a position they take against everything. How do you maintain balance while being skeptical?


A: Yes, it’s true that skepticism can go in two directions. One way is to pretend to be skeptical because you think you’re too smart to be gullible. “Look at how intelligent I am. I don’t believe in anything.” This isn’t skepticism. To be skeptical is not to believe everything you hear, and you don’t believe because it’s not the truth, that’s all. The way to be skeptical is just to be aware that the entire humanity believes in lies. All humans distort the truth because we are dreaming, and our dream is not the absolute truth. It’s a relative truth—it’s just a point of view.

Then how do you “maintain balance while being skeptical?” The answer is awareness and respect. When you’re aware that every human distorts the truth, you use the power of doubt to discern what is true and what is not true. People will come to you and tell you their personal story. They will tell you their point of view, what they believe is truth. But you don’t have to judge if it’s truth or if it’s not truth. You don’t have any judgment, but you do have respect. Respect is so important. All of us have the right to believe whatever we want to believe; we have the right to say whatever we have to say, but if you don’t learn to listen, you will never understand what other people are saying.

When you learn to listen, you show respect for the way people express themselves; you show respect for their opinions, for their point of view. You know that whatever they say is distorted by their beliefs. You know that what they’re telling you is nothing but a story. But you also know when their words come from truth, and you know because you can feel it. By listening to the intent behind words, you will understand the real message.


LG: The more I dismantle some of the beliefs I’ve been told since I was a child, the greater the mystery of life becomes. This statement sounds profound and engaging; however, the reality is that it brings to the surface many of the fears I have suppressed with my beliefs, such as my mortality. If this particular fear surfaces too early in a person’s spiritual growth, it is almost assured they will revert back to their earlier belief system to find comfort even though they know, at least at some level, they are pretending to know something that is, in fact, unknowable. How can we prepare for this moment that will surely arise—some call it the “dark night of the soul”?


A: In every moment, you make the choice of where you put your attention, and where you put your attention is what you’re going to experience. If you take responsibility for your choices, if you learn to take control of the attention, you prepare yourself for almost anything. You can begin by choosing to keep your attention in the present moment. When your attention is in the moment, you are not afraid of what the future will bring.

Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen to me?” To die? We are all going to die, and there’s nothing we can do. We can enjoy the ride, or resist it and suffer. Resistance, however, is futile. We are programmed to die; we are programmed to be what we are, and we can only be whatever we are. But inside the virtual reality of our mind, we can go against life—against our own programming, and that’s how we create a whole world of resistance. The struggling is just the resistance, and resistance creates suffering.

When you surrender to life, everything changes just like magic. You surrender to that force that is coming through your body, through your mind, and it’s a whole new way to see life. It’s a way of being. It’s being life. You are happy wherever you are, whatever you do. Even when you create problems, you enjoy life because you are free, and it’s the freedom that comes when you’re not attached to a particular outcome. You completely surrender, knowing that everything is just the way it is. And because you accept everything as it is, you no longer worry about anything. You know that everything that has happened was meant to happen; you know that you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Then life becomes exciting because there’s no more fear.


LG: It’s been my experience that when people say to have faith in what they’re telling you that it’s nothing more than a license to believe something that lacks evidence. Is there a time and a place for something called faith and what is your definition of it when used correctly?


A: Faith is a force that comes from deep inside us; it’s the power of creation that all humans have, and it doesn’t have anything to do with religion. Faith is the result of an agreement. When you agree to believe in something 100 percent without a doubt, you invest your faith. If you have no doubt about what you believe, then for you it is truth, even though it may really be a lie.

You can put your faith in scientific theories, in religions, in all sorts of opinions, but this is not real faith. Faith in yourself is the real faith. Real faith is to trust yourself unconditionally, because you know what you really are. What you really are is a force; you are life. When you have faith in yourself, you respect yourself. You completely accept your body, your emotions, your life, your story. You live your life in love, and you are not afraid to express your love, to say “I love you” to others. And in that moment when you love yourself unconditionally, you only put your faith in agreements that support life, that add to your joy, to your happiness, to your freedom.


LG: I know this may be a tough question, but being a skeptic as the Fifth Agreement tells me to be, I must ask it. You say that by making The Five Agreements your way of life that you will be living in your personal dream of heaven. Is this not where all religious believers live, and like them, you have no evidence. So my question is, how do you know you’re not falling into the area of wishful thinking?


A. Heaven refers to the way we perceive reality; it’s a point of view, a state of mind, and so is hell. We don’t have to die to go to heaven or hell. Heaven is all around us, just as hell is all around us. Whoever believes in truth, lives in heaven. Whoever believes in lies, sooner or later lives in hell. When we are educated to be a member of society, we learn so many lies. Our belief system creates millions of little barriers to the truth, and we inadvertently create our own hell.

A personal dream of heaven means a life lived in truth, love, and respect for everything in existence, beginning with yourself. With truth, love, and respect, everything changes. You no longer feel the need to defend your opinions—to be right and to make others wrong. You accept everything in existence just the way it is, not the way you want it to be. When you decide to love and respect yourself completely, when you learn to love and respect everybody else, then you no longer judge yourself or anybody else.

When you give meaning and importance to everything you learned in life, your attention is dispersed on many things at once. When you take away the meaning from everything, you are in communion, and you become the only living being that exists. There’s no difference between you and any star in the sky or you and any rock in the desert. Everything in existence is part of the only living being in existence. When you experience this truth, even for a moment, the structure of your belief system disappears, and you are in that wonderful dream of heaven.

In the dream of heaven, you become aware that you are life—not just as a concept, but as an action, as complete awareness. No wishful thinking is involved; in fact, there’s no thought at all. Now you can see with the eyes of truth, and this is a completely different point of view. You see yourself not just from the point of view of a human, but from the point of view of a force. You no longer see everything outside of you as if it’s separate from you. You feel the totality of yourself in everything. You feel yourself as the only living being that exists, and you don’t just feel it; you know it.

But first you have to unlearn all the self-limiting agreements that make you suffer in life, and there are Five Agreements that help you to do this: If you are impeccable with your word, if you don’t take anything personally, if you don’t make assumptions, if you always do your best, and if you are skeptical while listening, there won’t be any more conflict in your head; there will be peace. Instead of being your adversary, the voices in your head will become your ally, and instead of guiding your life into drama, they will help you to keep the peace. Then the mind becomes a powerful tool of the spirit; it becomes a powerful ally. The result is a completely different dream: your personal heaven.


What follows is from THE FIVE AGREEMENTS




Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.


Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.


Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.


Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.


Don’t believe yourself or anybody else. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear: Is it really the truth? Listen to the intent behind the words, and you will understand the real message.



For nearly three decades, don Miguel Ruiz has shared his unique blend of ancient wisdom and modern-day awareness through lectures, workshops, and journeys to sacred sites around the world. Sales of his books have soared to more than 7 million copies in the United States alone, and they have been translated into more than 30 languages worldwide.



In the tradition of his ancestors, don Jose Ruiz has dedicated his life to sharing the teachings of the ancient Toltec. For the past seven years, he has been lecturing and leading classes across the United States and at sacred sites around the world.