Note: This The Mastery of Love summary is part of an ongoing project to summarise The Best Relationship Books of All Time.
The Mastery of Love Review
Anyone ever tell you that love is like a magical kitchen?
Yea. Me neither.
Until I read The Mastery of Love.
I read this amazing book after reading The Four Agreements. In all honesty, the only reason I bought it was because I was drawn by the title.
But just as in Ruiz’s other popular book, I was led into a wise understanding of life and love and how to walk peacefully and contentedly in both.
Also, as a former codependent, this was just one more book that taught me how not to be.
Ruiz writes in easy-to-grasp language (I think the biggest word I came across was “transcendence”, so no, you won’t need a dictionary close by for this one), but challenges you with simple yet profound truths.
A Toltec healer with a discerning grasp of the spiritual and deep, peaceful insight into life and humanity, Ruiz gracefully and compassionately takes his readers through their wounds and guides them as they learn how to cleanse and heal them.
If growing is your thing (you have to write in and tell us why if not) and you would like to live a life free of suffering and full of vibrancy and joy, then this book is an excellent place to start.
Buuut, if you don’t have the means or the time, read on and explore your own fear-based beliefs and strongholds in our book summary below.
The Mastery of Love One-Sentence Summary
In The Mastery of Love, Toltec nagual Don Miguel Ruiz teaches us that everything is Love — that Love is Life — then shows us what stops us from giving and receiving love and, more importantly, how to free ourselves to walk in Love.
The Mastery of Love Summary (Full Summary)
You Are Living in a Dream
This is a main teaching of the Toltec — that we are all living in a dream — a paradigm — that has been created for us, and we all are already masters of our dream.
We have the power to create and rule our lives, and we get to choose what we wish to master. If we choose to master love, then just as in any other mastery in life, we must practice it (and no, it’s not going to be easy).
But, in order to choose to master our dream, we must first begin with awareness — awareness of the dream that has been created before and for us — the dream that we have chosen to dwell in out of fear.
We have our own personal dreams, and we all live within the larger “Dream of the Planet” that was constructed by the humans before us — the dream full of our collective rules, laws, religions, cultures, archetypes, etc.
This dream in which we live our life tricks us into living in our emotional body rather than our true essence.
The goal, then, is to escape the dream and return to living as we’re meant to — the way children organically live.
The goal is to live in love.
When we are children, we are robbed of this natural state of love — often by our parents — and become “domesticated”. We learn to seek outward approval and outward validation.
The Toltecs call this the “Parasite” — those beliefs that rob us of our vitality and joy.
This Parasite fills us with Emotional Poison — a poison that (unintentionally and often unknowingly) seeps onto those we enter into relationship with.
But the real us is pure love — and we must return to that to live the vibrant life we were intended for.
Track of Fear — Why We Fail at Love
The Toltec believe that we all govern our lives by one of two emotions…
Love or fear.
And unfortunately, most of us choose fear.
This war of control between love and fear often destroys our relationships.
When we enter into relationships in fear, we sabotage the bond. We…
- Treat each other as possessions;
- Stay together from fear of being alone;
- Enter into relationships akin to a druggie/dealer relationship — one person is desperate for love (the addict), and the other controls the entire relationship (the dealer).
But perhaps most significantly, when we live our lives in fear, then we place our happiness — our contentment — our joy — in the hands of another.
We must be responsible for our own happiness.
We must understand that happiness comes from within — from the well of love that flows within all of us.
We can abide in happiness when love is coming out of us.
But we have such a hard time with this because of our domestication — our domestication that creates in us this ideal of perfection.
An ideal that we can never achieve, and so we learn to reject ourselves — and others — because of it.
As our self-rejection and emotional poison grows, we each enter into a form of self-abuse. And when we yoke ourselves with other people, we yoke with people who match our self-abuse.
We don’t join with folks who abuse us more than we abuse ourselves — but we join with folks who abuse us to the extent that we intrinsically feel is appropriate.
If we want to stop failing at love, we need to learn to let go of fear, and as a result, learn to love ourselves.
We all are living our own personal dreams, which means, when we enter into a relationship, we are with someone who is also living their own dream.
For any relationship — of any kind — to thrive, we must respect each other’s dreams.
And more importantly, we need to actively and intentionally choose to live in love instead of fear.
Relationships of course are made of two halves. Yours will thrive once you realize that you are only (and fully) responsible for your half only — and when you respect your partner enough to let them be responsible for their half.
Thriving relationships demand a mature understanding of what love is:
- Love is kind — fear is cruel;
- Love is responsible — fear is not;
- Love is generous — fear is selfish;
- Love has no expectations — fear does;
- Love respects others — fear doesn’t even respect itself;
- Love has compassion — fear is full of pity;
- Love has no obligations (we do because we want to, not because we have to) — fear has strict, confining obligations; and
- Love is unconditional (it lets you be) — fear is rife with conditions.
When you love, you give more than you take, while still loving yourself enough to not allow another to take advantage of you.
Because the key is…
your relationships thrive when you love yourself
It all begins with awareness:
- Know your own responsibility;
- Recognize when you step out of that responsibility;
- Communicate your side; and
- Be attuned to when you act in fear instead of love.
But that begs the question…
How Do I Know if It’s Right
Consider your relationship with your dog — they love you no matter what, they don’t try to change you, and they don’t hold any expectations over you.
They just let you be you.
So consider your partner in the same way (minus the slobber).
You want to find someone you don’t want to change (and who doesn’t want to change you).
You want to find someone who wants to go in the same direction as you — who’s compatible with your views and your values — emotionally, physically, economically, and spiritually.
But as Ruiz emphasizes throughout the book, you must first begin with yourself.
- Know yourself;
- Know your needs and your desires; and
- Love yourself enough to respect your needs and desires.
And then wait for someone who fits what you know.
Don’t force a dog to be a cat.
Starting with yourself — loving and accepting yourself — enables you to love and accept another.
When in a relationship, honestly ask yourself if one of you is the provider and the other the addict — and if so, ask yourself if that’s what you really want in life.
Unconditional Love — The Magical Kitchen
The magical kitchen.
Ruiz gives a beautiful analogy —
You have a magical kitchen, where you can have endless quantities of any kind of food you want, from anywhere in the world.
In fact, you have such an overwhelming abundance of food that you happily share it with anyone who comes by.
So if someone came to your door with a measly box of pizza — along with an offer to give you an unlimited amount of said pizza in exchange for the ability to control your life — I mean you’d probably laugh and tell them “no way!”, right?
But suppose you don’t have a magical kitchen, and you haven’t eaten in weeks.
Measly pizza might sound mighty tasty.
In fact, you might even come to depend on the pizza.
You might even grow paranoid about losing your pizza — “What if they start giving their pizza to someone else?”
In this metaphor,Love is the food — and we all really do have an abundance of it in our hearts. We can give freely, but when we’re starving for love, we’ll often give too much for too little.
When we’re starving for love, we’ll often allow others to change us in exchange for satiation.
BUT — when we rest in the comfort and knowledge of our own inner magical kitchen, we no longer enter into hungry or abusive relationships.
When we rest in our magical kitchen, we walk confidently in peace and love.
Self-Love or Self Rejection — It’s Entirely up to You
We return again to a concept Ruiz carries throughout the book — to master the art of Love, you must begin with yourself.
You are responsible for the consequences of what you do, think, say, and feel.
So, alter your decisions based on whether you like the consequences.
Which returns us, again, to awareness.
When we walk in awareness, we return to our own free will and, inevitably, our own responsibility.
You must start with loving yourself — and with setting a high price. When you do, you no longer tolerate self-abuse, and those who come close to you will also have to match the price.
Life will respect your price.
Drugs — alcohol — overeating — all are forms of self-abuse. And we most often engage in these when we don’t like who we are or can’t tolerate being alone with ourselves.
When you love yourself and no longer indulge in self-hatred, you attract the same energy from others around you.
Ruiz gives some actionable ways to love ourselves and our bodies:
- Treat your body with love, honor, gratitude, and respect;
- Taste your food and delight in it — food is an offering to your body;
- Offer adaily devotional to your body, like an Indian Puja (literally an adoration or worship); and
- Be just to yourself — when you make a mistake, you pay only once (whatever the consequence of that choice was). Injustice brings punishment and makes you pay over and over again for the same mistake. Stop agonizing and criticizing yourself for mistakes! Justice has already been served.
But you see, no matter how you choose to start loving yourself, you have to choose to embrace it. You cannot wait for others to love you the way you want and deserve — it has to start with you.
Sex — Good or Evil?
Of all the hellish components of our personal dream, sex is often the biggest.
We’re inundated with (and believe) lies about sex:
- Sex is evil…
- Sex is shameful…
- Sex is for animals…
And we believe them until we don’t even enjoy it.
What we need to understand is that sex is of nature — it’s a natural need.
We have no qualms when we tend to our other needs — hunger, thirst, movement, sleep — so we have to be at peace with meeting our sexual needs.
What’s more — we need to separate the needs of our mind from the needs of our body.
The body will often convince the mind that the needs of the body are the needs of the mind — this is where we must embrace awareness and recognize the difference.
Our mind doesn’t need sex — our body does — and that’s ok.
Once you can separate your mind from your body, you can see that you are a force — a Life force — and that you exist in and through everything because you are life.
Any Star Wars fans reading? This isn’t too far from the concept of The Force — that force of life (which the Toltec teach is, in fact, you) that pervades everything in and around us.
When you hunt and grasp the Love that abides within you, it can fulfill all your needs.
And when you walk in Love and Life, you’ll find that sex is so much more than you may have experienced so far.
Sex is powerful — it’s spiritual — it’s a beautiful and poetic joining of two souls, and when it’s freely experienced outside of domesticated fears and rejections, then it is an amazing encounter.
But it starts with awareness.
Cleaning your emotional wounds and freeing yourself from your domestication will allow you to meet your body and your mind’s needs — without inhibitions, fears, and worries.
How To Love Yourself — Let Go of Your Image of Perfection
You are what you believe you are.
Many of us are domesticated to believe that there’s a right way to be beautiful and a wrong way, but we all are beautiful just as we are.
Your body needs and deserves to be loved.
But if you reject your own body, others will do the same.
You must understand:
- There’s no such thing as “beautiful” or “ugly” — just what we choose to believe;
- Aging is often rejected when it should be embraced — aging and growing up is beautiful; and
- Feeling the beauty within allows you to experience the beauty without.
When you learn to release these lies and your false image of perfection, you’re able to hear the Voice of Knowledge within — you’re able to hear your truth.
Unfortunately, most of us were raised by people who didn’t know how to love themselves, much less teach us how to love ourselves.
Loving yourself means cleaning and healing your emotional wounds.
Just like when you need to clean out a physical wound, you need to open your emotional wounds to clean them out.
And the antiseptic for cleansing these wounds?
Loving Yourself Starts With Forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an act of self-love — you forgive others not for their benefit, but for yours.
To end your suffering:
- Ask everyone you need to for forgiveness, even if you only ask in prayer.
- Then ask others to forgive you; and perhaps most importantly
- Forgive yourself.
Forgiveness is not always encouraged in our collective dream, so learning and mastering it takes practice.
The more you forgive yourself and others on a regular, daily basis, the more naturally it comes.
And forgiveness becomes even easier when we realize that everyone is living their own personal dream, and therefore no one hurts us on purpose — they are all merely reacting to their own demons within their own personal hell.
So to master the art of self-love, awaken to the truth of your dream, forgive yourself and others, and actively, intentionally, and unapologetically…
The Mastery of Love FAQs
Who Wrote the Mastery of Love?
Don Miguel Ruiz is a nagual — a master who guides an individual to personal freedom — from the Toltec Eagle Knight lineage. The knowledge and teachings of the ancient Toltec — a society from ancient southern Mexico — were once considered esoteric and remained veiled behind walls of secrecy. Ruiz is one nagual who chose to share this Toltec wisdom with the world after a near-death experience changed his life and altered his perspectives.
How Long Is the Mastery of Love?
The Mastery of Love is 205 short and easy-to-read pages long. At an average reading speed of ~238 words per minute it should take about 3 and a half hours to read. (For a breakdown, see this interesting article on how long it takes to read 200 pages.)
What Is the Mastery of Love About?
The Mastery of Love is about the delicate art and practice of mastering love. In our fast-paced world, most of us are unaware of how deep or emotional wounds can run. More importantly, we’re unaware of how these wounds affect not only our relationships with others but also our innate relationships with ourselves. Mastering love is the essence of Toltec teachings — that life is meant to be lived in abundant happiness and love.
How Do You Master the Art of Love?
Mastering the art of love takes awareness, honest inner healing, and practice. By waking to the understanding that no one is responsible for your happiness other than yourself — and that happiness is the result of Love coming out of you. When you learn to love yourself you will Master the Art of Love.
The Mastery of Love Quotes
“When you give food to the one who is starving, when you give water to the one who is thirsty, when you cover the one who is cold, you give your love to the Master.”
“A Toltec is an artist of Love, an artist of Spirit, someone who is creating every moment, every second, the most beautiful art — the Art of Dreaming.”
“Life is nothing but a dream, and if we are artists, then we can create our life with Love, and our dream becomes a masterpiece of art.”
“If you take your happiness and put it in someone’s hands, sooner or later, she is going to break it.”
“Love respects. I love you; I know you can make it. I know you are strong enough, intelligent enough, good enough that you can make your own choices. I don’t have to make your choices for you. You can make it. If you fall, I can give you my hand, I can help you to stand up. I can say, ‘You can do it, go ahead.’”
“Selfishness, control, and fear will break almost any relationship. Generosity, freedom, and love will create the most beautiful relationship: an ongoing romance.”
“Love is not about concepts; love is about action. Love in action can only produce happiness. Fear in action can only produce suffering.”
“You are complete. When love is coming out of you, you are not searching for love because you are afraid to be alone. When you have all that love for yourself, you can be alone and there’s no problem. You are happy to be alone, and to share is also fun.”
“Selfishness comes from poverty in the heart, from the belief that love is not abundant.”
“Every relationship in your life can be healed, every relationship can be wonderful, but it’s always going to begin with you.”
“You are not responsible for what is happening in the world. You are responsible for yourself.”
“Humans who hunt each other for love will never be satisfied; they will never find the love they need in other humans.”
“Beauty is nothing but a concept, nothing but a belief.”
“You are what you believe you are.”
“When you make it your goal to create the perfect relationship between you and your body, you are learning to have a perfect relationship with anyone you are with, including your mother, your friends, your lover, your children, your dog.”
“But if you have the eyes of love, you just see love wherever you go. The trees are made with love. The animals are made with love. That water is made with love.”
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Read More: 5 Books Like The Mastery of Love
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