Believing Is Seeing
You learned in Chapter 2 how the old opinions, emotions, and memories stored in the mind's channels of perception distort the incoming light into a virtual dream. One of the most basic reminders the Toltec teachers give their students is “Don't believe yourself.” A healthy skepticism about what you believe gives you a chance to escape the power of your mitote and claim your true wisdom. And if you are not going to believe yourself, you might as well not believe anyone else, including your teacher! The Toltec master simply offers her wisdom and asks you to use it if it makes sense to you.
What an amazing request from a teacher! In many paths of knowledge, the teacher becomes the authority, and assumes that you will believe her and follow the rules of the group. The entire identity of the group and the individuals in it is based on what is believed and known to be true — as defined by the dream of the group. The Toltec teacher knows that attachment to beliefs leads to fear and judgment, and that judgment creates conflict and suffering.
It is important to remember that simply wanting to change a belief or agreement is not always enough to make an instant permanent change. Beliefs are programmed deeply into the mind, and you have collected evidence for many years to support them. If an agreement you changed comes back, it just means you need to go deeper.
Breaking Belief in the Dream
The Toltec teachers of the past often used hallucinogenic plants to break an apprentice free from his belief systems (and some in the present still do). Under the influence of these plants, the apprentice would be confronted with alternate realities so far outside of his normal experience, it gave him no choice but to let go of his narrow vision of the world.
The teacher don Juan Matus, described in the books by Carlos Castaneda, explains to Carlos that the plant medicine he gave him was not important itself; it was only a tool to liberate Castaneda's mind from the grip of his beliefs about reality. Once belief in the beliefs is broken, the true teaching can begin.
The Dream of Beauty and Perfection
Someone once said that if all the women in the world accepted themselves the way they are, the beauty and cosmetic industries would collapse, and the entire world economy would collapse with them. Whether this is true or merely a graphic illustration of this particular dream of the planet, it does illustrate an important reality. Anyone who has waited in line at a modern supermarket can hardly avoid taking in the images of the “perfect” women on the covers of the magazines displayed there. The headlines of the articles inside are equally important to the creation of this dream of beauty and perfection.
Remember that domestication is enforced through reward and punishment. The most feared punishment is rejection or isolation. The images and words on those magazine covers — and all the advertising for cosmetics, clothes, and diets for both men and women — are all intended to remind you that you are not enough. They say you are not pretty enough, tan enough, slim enough, young enough, buff enough, sexy enough, rich enough, or dressed well enough.
Once magazines and advertisers can trigger your “not good enough” domestication from childhood, they can convince you they have the exercise routine, article, deodorant, lotion, or potion that will correct your deficiencies and (finally) make you worthy of love and acceptance. If you believe you are not good enough, you will see truth on the magazine covers. The Toltec warrior does not believe what she sees, but looks inside herself to know who and what she is.