Gateway 1 - TACO Tarot Journey

TACO Tarot Journey

I’ve asked long-time former TACO member and Joydancer/TACO co-conspirator, Jessica McKay, to offer us a Tarot journey to go along with each Gateway. You will find a new part of the story as you begin each Gateway. The cards may be familiar, they may be new to you…be sure to take some time with the symbols in the cards, dream into them, read what Jessica has shared, and use what you find.

The FoolThe Fool
You are just beginning your journey. No matter how many spiritual journeys you’ve started in your life, no matter how many books you’ve read or teachers you’ve studied with, this card asks you to put all that aside and trust in the Unknown. In Gateway One, you are surrendering the idea that anything you’ve ever been taught is true. You are putting aside your preconceived notions, and with the innocence of a child, you jump! In this card, the young seeker is about to step off a cliff, but he is protected by the universe, he has faith in his journey, and sets out excited about what will be revealed.

The High Priestess
Your leap into the Unknown is within. You are going deeper inside 2 high_priestessyourself than you’ve ever allowed yourself to go. What is uncovered there are all the hidden beliefs and agreements you made as a child. Also inside, is The Spiritual Warrior, that part of you that has access to your true feelings and intuition. The answers you seek are inside yourself. You find those answers by listening to your feelings, and listening to the inner child. The High Priestess also symbolizes the teachers you are meeting outside of yourself (such as Allan), who reflect back to you the Truth of your Divinity. This idea resonates with you on a deep level, because you know it is true: You are the Divine.

Gateway 1 - Books and Movies


With each TACO Gateway you enter, the Books & Movies section will change to match the Gateway. Please use these resources to enhance your journey. Think of yourself as a student studying how to recover your personal power and live a life of freedom. I consider these books and movies to be essential expansions of the Gateway text for understanding our process together. I invite you to use the forum to comment on these selections, and to suggest books and movies to your fellow Toltecs.

ETWAllan_The Everything Toltec Wisdom Book by ALLAN HARDMAN

I encourage you to read this as the textbook for your TACO studies. It is for sale on

“Allan Hardman takes you by the hand and leads you through the maze of Toltec wisdom- starting with domestication and the dream of the planet. He will show you your inner landscape ruled by the judge and victim child and helps you grow your own spiritual warrior who will one day claim the sovereignty of the freedom and happiness which is your birthright. The deceptively simple formatting of the Everything series books hides a depth charge of extraordinary wisdom and clarity. Consider this the Lonely Planet Guide to TACO. A good introduction to ‘This must be the Place,’ where sooner or later, every apprentice must travel.”
(Review: Julia Lane)

“Your book is superb: so clearly and simply written, so uplifting and powerful. Your voice comes through clear as a bell, which makes me so happy since it’s something I love. All your pithiness and humor are there in just the right amounts, and there isn’t a drop of ego anywhere to be found — all things that have kept me so enthusiastic about working with you for the last four years.” — C.T.

voiceknowledge_The Voice of Knowledge is the fourth book in the Toltec Wisdom series by the author of The Four Agreements. I’m suggesting it here as the foundation on which to build the transformation found later in The Four Agreements. Don Miguel explores the voices in the human mind, their origins, and how they limit our lives and happiness. The book will help you understand how you are transforming your inner judging into a voice of self-trust and integrity. Your knowledge then becomes an ally, and your life becomes an expression of your authentic self.

Product DetailsIf you truly want to be a student of dysfunctional family life and the resulting childhood wounding, study John Bradshaw. His first book was On The Family (many revisions), and he has gone on to write many others on shame, family secrets, relationships, and the inner child. He also produced many video programs about families and childhood, some of which are available on YouTube, and probably on DVD at your public library (remember those?). Search and you shall find.

I highly value the workshops I did with John Bradshaw in the 1990’s.


If you have not seen this movie, or if you have not watched it through Toltec eyes, I strongly urge you to do so. “Truman” is a perfect example of how we are all starring in our own dreams, and how our friends, family, and everyone in our world are merely playing their parts. This movie is an excellent demonstration of the power of domestication, and how awareness can lead to transformation of the dream. It stars Jim Carey as a man who lives happily on an island. Quite by accident, he discovers the community he has lived in his entire life is really a 24-hour TV soap opera — and he is the star. As Truman awakens and gains awareness of the truth of his life, he rebels against his “safe” life and risks stepping into the unknown. Just like You. film was made in Mexico, and is based on the true story of Cabeza de Vaca, who came to the New World as part of an expedition of explorers in 1528 and was shipwrecked on the coast of Florida. Most of the company was lost, and with a few companions he walked (in eight years and mostly barefooted!) the thousands of miles around the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific coast of Mexico and Spanish “civilization.” He endured enslavement, starvation, and inter-tribal warfare on his journey, but was also initiated as a shaman and had mystical experiences and a spiritual rebirth. It is a wonderful look at the personal dream, and how Cabeza de Vaca had to break all his old beliefs to survive his ordeal — both leaving Spanish civilization and returning to it! Do not miss this movie. It may be hard to find, try a alternative video store or Netflix. Willis plays a totally unlikable image consultant, Russ. He comes home to find an eight year old boy, the kid, in his apartment. It turns out the boy is himself at that age, with all the characteristics he hated about himself when he was young—an awkward chubby cry-baby, who used to get bullied in school. He is the child self that Russ has worked hard to deny and forget. Now he is face to face with his past. Will he continue to reject this sweet and slightly odd lad, or find peace with himself through the relationship? What about you?

Watch and see.


Pathstep 1-1: Welcome, Preliminaries, Details, Getting Started

Wow! I am delighted that you are here, and I am excited about us taking this journey together. I consider you my Apprentice. That is a relationship different from “student” — which I think of as someone who is simply offered instruction by a teacher. You are welcome to be here as a student. However, I am going to assume that you come here in search of someone who can reflect your perfection, and guide you to your personal freedom. That is what I do, so I will assume you come here to be my apprentice. As my apprentice, I am very invested in your personal freedom. I want you to be free. I am holding my intent for you, here in cyberspace, and with my etheric energy. Although the nature of this web site and community must be somewhat generic, it is my intention to speak directly with you — the only one here. We will also have the opportunity to connect more personally through the Chat Room and Forums, events, and webinars– as well as other emerging technologies. It is you and I. And our Community. I have been working with don Miguel Ruiz and teaching the Toltec Path in local groups, workshops, on spiritual journeys, and with individual apprentices around the world since 1995. TACO is one of the main ways I support people like you. We have the opportunity to reach one person at a time throughout the world and together create a new world community of peace and understanding.

Our challenge is big. The experience and tools I have acquired in my many years of counseling practice in hypnotherapy and spiritual psychology, from Miguel Ruiz and the Toltec tradition, Peruvian shamanism, New Thought, and from Life itself, are resources I offer you to meet the challenges you face in your life.

I live my life to be happy. What makes me happy is to share my love. You being here makes me happy because I get to see your Divine beauty and perfection, and share my love with you. Thank you for being here and sharing this love. I am offering you the chance to escape the bonds of the old dream of Hell, to spread your wings, and fly. It is a simple process, but not an easy one. And not one that everyone wishes to pursue. I want to offer you this truth: “If I can do it, you can do it!” If your commitment and intent are here, you can do it. We will do it together.

Let’s take care of some more business and then get started

About stories, case histories, and genders

All examples and stories here about “an apprentice,” a person’s name, or other identifications are used by permission when appropriate. Some of them are my own, although I’m not telling you which ones! The truth is, all of the case histories and stories in these writings are fictitious, because they are all stories. As you will learn in these first three Gateways, nothing your Story Teller knows or tells is actually “true.” If you recognize your stories here, whether or not we have ever shared them in person, that is wonderful. I hope everyone will find themselves here, and will discover that we are all the same while we are different– all telling our personal story in our own unique way. I have mixed and matched genders here. They are interchangeable in stories, in relationship configurations, in Life. That includes the Apprentice, you, me, the fish, the horse, and God.

How to work in TACO

The work we do together here is sacred. Are computers sacred? Sure! Perhaps you can take a moment and examine how you might make your time spent in TACO a Sacred Computer Experience. Start by straightening or eliminating distracting visual clutter, urgent To-Do lists, your social media, and sources of distracting noise. Come here when we can work together without being disturbed. I want you to take your time here in TACO. The ideas may seem simple, but they build on each other in a very deliberate way. It will take time for the seeds planted in your mind to mature and give fruit. I have created the program so you cannot move to the next Gateway until you have worked in the previous one for at least one month. Maybe you want to take two months, or three, before you move on. Think of studying and being part of this community as your spiritual practice, and participate daily. Check in, read, repeat the exercises, ponder, read on. Listen to the audios for each Gateway often, especially the visualizations, in a quiet and comfortable space. You have the option of downloading the audio in order to listen away from your computer. Headphones or earbuds are best. Use the supportive resources offered here such as the suggested books and movies. Create a profile, read and share in the forums, and watch the schedule in the chat room for times when we can interact personally. I will notify you about free teleclasses or webinars as they are scheduled. The Gateways are divided into “Pathsteps.” I suggest reading and using one Pathstep at a time. Most of them are a full mini-book. The writing assignments in the Action steps are to help you reveal the agreements and beliefs programmed into your dreaming mind. I want you to hand-write in a journal for those exercises, rather than use the computer.

Find and create a TACO Journal for the Action steps

There will also be other suggestions of things to do, explore, think about, or enjoy. Maybe I will just invite you to go out and howl at the moon. Do it! I am not here to waste your time, and I know you aren’t either. I encourage you to have a “beginner’s mind” here, no matter if, or where, or with who, or how long you’ve been on your spiritual journey. You may have read many books, done therapy, maybe studied with a teacher, even with a Toltec teacher. Perhaps you have practiced or taught yoga, meditation, or hypnosis, or maybe you are a psychotherapist, nutritionist, or healer. Maybe you experienced ayahuasca in a remote Andean jungle. Wonderful! You will have much to offer our community. Be a beginner in the Toltec Apprentice Community Online. By coming here, you have offered yourself a wonderful gift. Take the time to savor your gift, to honor it, and to fully receive it. You give yourself the gift of personal freedom when you are ready and willing to inquire within– with an open heart and unconditional love for yourself– to invite the shadow parts of yourself into the light. Toltec” means Artist in the Nahuatl language of the early Aztecs who found the pyramid complex at Teotihuacan in ruins when they explored the area after settling at what is now Mexico City. You are an Artist of the Spirit now, here to create your life as a masterpiece of art.

Our life is a story; our life is a dream.  The kingdom of heaven is in our mind, and it’s just a choice to return to our authentic self, to live our life in love and in truth. – Miguel Ruiz

Think of TACO as a sacred space you enter into each time you come here. Your intent makes it sacred, knowing that everything that happens here is perfect in Spirit. Listen with that same intent to this audio… and welcome yourself into this TACO journey of love and discovery:

Now, let’s get started!

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Pathstep 1-2: The Three Masteries of the Toltec Path

The Burr in the Horse’s Blanket

Imagine you are trying to ride a horse, and it is fidgeting and resisting your efforts. You try being nice to her, you try being mad at her, but she still won’t let you control her. If she has burrs under her saddle blanket, she is never going to settle down until you take the saddle off and remove the burrs. Noticing that the horse is fidgeting, and knowing the problem is the burrs under the saddle blanket is the first step (The Mastery of Awareness). But if you walk away, you haven’t solved the problem. To help the horse settle down so you can ride her, you must take off the saddle, find the burrs and remove them (The Mastery of Transformation). Now you can ride your horse and have her take you exactly where you want to go — she doesn’t have any distractions or frustrations like burrs under her saddle (The Mastery of Intent).

The three Toltec Masteries are Awareness, Transformation, and Intent (or “Love”). As a master of your awareness, you become aware that your mind is dreaming, day and night, and that the “reality” you perceive is only a function of your dreaming mind. This awareness then leads you into exploring the details of your particular personal dream. You find the burrs under your saddle.

Having reclaimed enough of your personal power from where it was hooked in the old agreements and beliefs of the past, you begin the transformation of your personal dream. You take the burrs out of the saddle blanket. The more clearly you see the distortions in your dreaming mind, the more actual choices and new agreements you can make that support your happiness.

Using the power of your awareness, and your mastery of the tools of transformation, you create a life dream based in love and acceptance of yourself and all of creation. You will learn here in TACO how your personal dream “out-pictures” and creates the world you live in. Your transformed dream is reflected in your relationships, geography, work, creativity, and how you move through the world of the Parasite dream. Out of these changes grows more and more freedom to be the special and unique manifestation of the divine you came here to be. You are an artist, and your life truly becomes a masterpiece of art.

Now comes the Mastery of Intent, your mastery of Love. IN Love you begin to release your attachments to creating and controlling the outcomes of your life. You master Faith—faith in Life itself, faith in the grand unfolding of a mystery greater and more amazingly wonderful than anything your human brain could imagine. This is the final mastery, and it invites you into life free of limitations, free of fear, and free to love without conditions or expectations.

You relax on your horse and enjoy where it is taking you – fully trusting it knows where it’s going.

Sound good?

These are the three Masteries of the Toltecs. You and I will begin with the Mastery of Awareness — with understanding the nature of the Light and the Dream, Domestication, the Nagual and Tonal, and the dreaming mind. This, for me, is the most important teaching of the Toltecs, and the foundation of all that is to come.


The Fish in the Water

One of my favorite sayings is: “We don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t a fish.” You can take a fish out of the water and dangle it in the air and say: “See the difference?” He would probably say: “OK, OK, I see I have a choice, and I want to be in the water! NOW!” The new Toltec, of course, would say: “I like having a choice and the view out here is better. Please teach me to breathe air.” This work we are doing here together is that work of taking the fish out of the water, and giving it a choice. We are going to look at all of the belief systems and agreements that you have been immersed in and give you a choice. Where do you want to live — in the water of your old domesticated dream? Or do you want to learn to breathe the air of a new truth? The choice is yours.

You believe everything you know because of where you popped up in the world, when you were born, how you lived, who you lived with, and what your caretakers believed. Out of that came your entire belief system. Once you break your faith in the “water” you have been living in … wow! The fish has so many choices!

I am imagining the fish crawling out of the water, changing into an amphibian … a four legged…then into a bird and then flying … becoming an eagle … and that eagle is you. The eagle is a very powerful symbol for cultures that do this spiritual warrior work. The eagle has the power to fly very high, looking down on the patterns and the inter-relatedness of everything — without any judgments, expectations, or fear. To the eagle, what is, is What IS. That is the symbol of the spiritual warrior. You become that eagle.

The Serpent, the Jaguar, and The Eagle

People who live close to the land, the changing seasons of planting and harvesting, the movements of the heavens, and life and death are deeply aware of symbols that represent various aspects of their lives. Like many cultures of the past, the Toltecs were very connected to various animals, constellations, plants, crystals, the four directions, and the elements, such as earth, air, fire, and water. They used symbols in rituals and ceremonies to help them understand and safeguard their world. Many native peoples, including the Toltecs, used the serpent, the jaguar, and the eagle to represent stages on their journey into spiritual awareness.

In the Andes of South America, the Incas recognized the symbols of the serpent, the puma, and the condor in the same way.

The Serpent

1.Serpent Icon HuicholThe beginning Toltec apprentice is like the serpent. The serpent sees a pretty small piece of the big picture – its main interests are food, and safety. It is a hunter and it is prey. It moves easily, even gracefully, through the tall grass, but it can never see beyond it. Like the serpent, the beginning student’s view of the big picture of life is still limited to her or his immediate needs, such as food, the gratification of pleasures, and the fear of being judged or “eaten” by the judging human predators around her. With awareness – like the wise fish learning there is more to life than water – you want more.

You are here to explore your domestication, and embrace the new awareness that you are dreaming your reality. As you awaken to the truth that you have lived according to a program installed in your mind early in your life and without your permission, you become determined to take charge of both the program and your life and live the happy free life that is your birthright. It is time for the serpent apprentice to become the Jaguar.

The Jaguar

2.Jaguar Icon HuicholThe jaguar is a great hunter. This animal learns the behaviors and activities of its prey by waiting and watching. The jaguar patiently stalks its prey, and moves in deliberately and decisively for the kill. Jaguars are skilled at what they do, and they don’t waste any energy doing it. Sometimes they hunt with others of their kind, but mostly they hunt alone.

As you grow in power on the Toltec path, you will become the jaguar. You become the stalker, in the Mastery of Transformation. Your prey is the judgments, fears, and lies that have been programmed into your mind by others. You study and stalk your prey carefully, and when you are ready, attack it, grab it by the back of the neck, and shake it until the old lies are gone from it. Changing old lies to new truth is the goal of the jaguar on the path of transformation.

The Eagle

3.Eagle Icon HuicholThe eagle is also a hunter, however is prey for no other hunter. Eagles fly high above the land, and see the patterns, colors, and perfection spread out below them. They have no opinions or judgments about anything they see. The eagle hunts alone, and then soars gracefully in silence with its fellow eagles on high updrafts. When you become the eagle, you are the master of your faith, and the master of love and acceptance. You are a seer, open and perceiving without distorting the many magical manifestations of creation. You no longer react to your old judgments and fears, or those of others– you fly free from the old dream. You soar high on your own currents, and live your life impeccably and effortlessly. The abundance of the universe is yours, spread out below, awaiting your choice. You are a master in the Toltec Eagle tradition.

[The Serpent, the Jaguar, and The Eagle adapted from The Everything Toltec Wisdom Book, by Allan Hardman]

Surrender in Hell

Why “Surrender?” You have been the fish immersed in your belief systems for a long time. Those belief systems typically include ways of judging, condemning, and punishing yourself. Judging yourself is the “Hell” of the Toltecs. You don’t need to die and go anywhere to live in eternal judgment and punishment. You have been trained very well to do that right here — in your life. Every time you judge yourself or someone or some event … every time your opinions lead you to conflict with another person, group, or nation . . . every time you feel afraid, less than, or victimized by someone, or feel that you have been treated unfairly, you suffer. And that suffering is “Hell.”

To surrender in Hell is to realize that the conditioning by the Big Dream is so complete, there seems to be no way out. As a fish, you are afraid of the air, because all you have ever known is the water. This first level of surrender is the willingness to let go of the safety of the water — the safety and comfort of everything you know and believe. I am not talking about letting go of it all now; I am talking about the willingness to let go. To say “Yes, it makes me nervous to contemplate the idea of not believing what I believe and not knowing what I know. I am willing to surrender and risk leaving the little island of safety that I have created with my beliefs and opinions, and to find out what Life has to offer beyond my island.”

There is more on your Surrender and Hell in PathStep 1-7. For now, I want to start with the big picture of Toltec Cosmology about The Light, and how we use it to create a Living Dream in our minds.


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Pathstep 1-3: The Light

In “The Four Agreements,” Miguel Ruiz begins by telling the story of “a human just like you and me.” This human is dreaming in a cave, and in his dream he sees himself going out, looking up into the starry night sky, and discovering something very wonderful. In the middle of that night he realizes that all that space between the stars is not empty. It isn’t dark, it isn’t filled with some mysterious ether, it is filled with light! You look at the night sky and it looks dark, but when you put any object out there you discover that light hits it from all sides. Our sun, which sends so much light to the Earth, is sending light out in every direction — at 186,000 miles a second — and the light is going at that speed, without slowing down, forever, in all directions. That is true of every single sun/star in the universe. That’s a lot of light. So any point in space is filled, absolutely filled, with all light from everywhere passing through that one point.

When the human looked up and saw that phenomenon he said, “If I see mostly light and some little pieces of matter spread around, then this universe is not made up of matter, it is made of light. Light makes up the bulk of the universe.” Looking down at his hands in his dream, he saw that they, too, were made of points of light. We call them atoms. They’re little points of light and they have little “planets” going around them, just like the sun. It’s mostly space in between them, just like in the sky. And he realized that the space in his body was filled with light also, and that it was the same light as “out there.” He realized that if his body is mostly light, and the universe is mostly light, then there is no boundary where one light stops and some other light begins. That light is everywhere.

The human saw that light is the messenger of creation, the messenger of Life. The light is alive, and is carrying the message of Life from the source, or the Creator, which we also could call God. The Toltecs call this messenger of creation the “Nagual,” and the manifestation of that message, or creation itself, the “Tonal.” A human who frees himself from identification with the Tonal, and knows himself as the light and Creator, is thus referred to as a “Nagual.”

I’m talking about light in a very broad way here. I’m not talking about just visible light, becauyarn6se as you probably know, there’s a wide, wide band of what we think of as light. Visible light — what we see reflected — is just a little, tiny part of that band. If you move just a little bit into the infrared band, you won’t see it with your eyes. A particular band of light is only received by that which has receptors for the light. We could say that radio waves are light. So you are sitting there, immersed in radio waves. If you were able to perceive all the radio waves that are coming through you as light, right through the space that you are right now, it would be absolute chaos. Can you imagine? A rock and roll station is playing in your head, right along with three talk shows and a basketball game! So even when we have a radio that receives that light as radio frequencies, we use a system to tune up and down and choose one frequency on the radio — out of the hundreds that are passing through everything all of the time. You can even do it in a building. The light comes right through the walls. The wall is mostly space, filled with light.

If you go out in the middle of the desert and you set up a TV — with the right kind of antenna — you will receive images. But you need the receiver for that particular kind of light. Humans have the receiver for our particular narrow band of light. Grasshoppers and whales each have a different kind of receiver, and so perceive a different universe. When I say the universe is full of light, I am saying that all the information it takes to run a universe is being communicated by the light in every place in the universe, all of the time. Humans are designed as receivers of one particular band of that light.

The visible light and heat we receive comes mostly from our sun. As you learned in school, when you are looking at an object, what you are seeing is not the object. What you are seeing is the light reflected off of the object into your eyes.

The light is the living messenger, carrying the message of creation, the tonal, to you. The light has memory and can travel across the universe for billions of years. When it’s received in a telescope it remembers and communicates exactly what was going on when it started on its journey. If it leaves a star, and travels for 13 billion years to get to the telescope, it remembers and communicates exactly the event that occurred 13 billion years ago. It has perfect memory. That light arrives with perfect memory of what the object is. It hits your organ of perception, your eye, which is designed to perceive the light perfectly. This “message of light” hits the back of your eyes and is transformed into neurological signals that create or project an image of the light’s message into your mind. This image is what we see, not what is out there.

We need to expand the idea of the “light” here. It includes all the information your senses collect: Sights, sounds, touches, smells, and tastes. These “lights” are perceived by your physical organs of perception: Your eyes, ears, skin, nose, and mouth.

We call the pathways for these perceptions in our body and mind our “Channels of Perception.” These channels are filled with stored light – old belief systems and agreements, dramas, emotional wounds, fairy tales, fears, disappointments, excitements, and unmet expectations. This stored light distorts the light coming in from the reflection of creation. The stored light has perfect memory, and so it remembers itself. If your mother said to you: “Your father’s a bum and he never comes home. All men are alike,” you stored that as a light memory somewhere in your channels of perception. Your cells change, your atoms change, your body changes– over and over and over. But somehow that light retains its memory and stays alive inside of you.

The perfect message in the light comes in through those channels and picks up matching pieces of stored light, until finally it’s projected into your brain. You look at the little hologram of the object in there, and you look at it and say, “Wow, there’s Dad. I know Dad. I know who Dad is. Dad is a bum.” The truth is all you are seeing is a little hologram or “virtual reality,” inside of your own mind. You are not seeing Dad at all. The hologram is simply all those pieces of light, all the stored feelings, assumptions, opinions, judgments, and memories that have come together in that one moment.

The perfect message of the light has been distorted by the old stored light and that is what you “see” in your mind. Distortion. Deception.

Your mind is the organ of deception

That little hologram in your mind is your “dream.” It is not what is really “out there.” All humans are dreaming. You could say that the function of humans on the planet is to dream, because that’s really what we do. We take in the light, digest it, distort it, and then project that dream back out as light. Your mind dreams 24 hours a day. If you really know that and really get that, it gives you the choice of whether or not you want to believe that your little holograms are real.

This is the most important foundation of this Toltec path. We are going to spend a lot of time together examining these concepts, taking them apart, and creating a new way that you can experience your dreaming mind.

Please listen to this audio about Dreaming, the Light, and the Smoky Mirror – Including a message from the Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan.

Dreaming the Light (20:54)

For now, back to our story . . .

As each of us dreams our own dream individually, we also create dreams collectively. In other words, the dream of living in California, USA, is very different from the dream of living in east-side Chicago, or Moscow, or Afghanistan, or in an indigenous culture in the Amazon jungle. The human dream is different everywhere. Additionally, we have a collective dream for all of humanity, about what it means to be a human. There are common themes to the human dream, extending throughout all humanity.

The Toltecs say the light that comes from the dream of the humans is reflected back to the sun. The message comes from the divine, is reflected from the sun down to us and we then reflect it back. We reflect our dream of what it means to be human back to the sun, and the sun changes the light, based on what it receives and sends it back to the humans again. The humans are evolving — because of the relationship between the light and the sun and the humans — and the dream that is reflected back and forth. This is why we aren’t still living in the Dark Ages with rules like “don’t take a bath naked.” The dream of the humans is evolving. (We especially will come back to these concepts about how we reflect or project our dream back out as light).

blue_sunThe Toltecs and Aztecs say there have been six changes in the light from the sun (unfortunately, as in most lovely mythologies such as this, opinions differ about the count). The last one happened several decades ago. We are now in the Sixth Sun of the Toltecs, a time of a new evolution of the way humans dream. I see evidence of that shift all around me. How about you? Perhaps that is why we are together in this moment. Now is a time when the mystery schools are opening their wisdom to everyone. We no longer need anyone to lead us to God. The age of Gurus is ending. We are simply coming together to share our discovery: We are already there! We are the light, the Nagual, not the Tonal.

The human in don Miguel’s story saw the nature of the dream and the truth about the distortion of his perceptions. He wanted to be sure he would remember what he had learned when he woke up. So he called himself “The Smoky Mirror.” He had learned he was a perfect mirror for the Divine, as we all are. Almost nobody can see that perfect mirror, though, because of the “smoke” that comes when we distort the pure light of what we are, and others distort the light reflecting off of us. The stored light of your perceptions distorts the truth of the message of the Divine in the light . . . like smoke distorts an image in a mirror.

When you look at a friend, you create your little hologram in your mind . . . your dream of your friend. What would you see if you could see without the distortions, without the smoke? I would suggest what you would see is the pure message of creation; you would see the Divine, reflected in the mirror that is your friend. You would see your own divinity reflected back in that mirror! That is the message brought to your eyes in the light, before you add the stored light in your channels of perception. You can’t see the true reflection in the mirror. You can only see the smoke.

My goal in life is to see the Divine in the mirror all of creation . . . to know the Divinity in myself, in you, and in all of the events and affairs of my life and the world. The way I do that is by cleaning those channels that the light passes through — by letting go of all those old beliefs and limiting agreements — all that old stored garbage. Together, in these Gateways and with these Pathsteps, that is what we are here to do: Clean your old channels, learn to open new ones, and bring you closer and closer to seeing the Divine in the mirror without the distortions of the smoke. The cleaner you make those channels, the more joy and happiness you will experience, because, wow, the Divine is so beautiful!

Take some time now to consider these ideas about how humans distort the light. Are you, as the fish, ready to learn about the air? Are you willing to surrender your attachment to what you believe and know about yourself and your world? This is warrior work, don’t take it lightly. You have to release your grip on what makes you feel safe and comfortable and knowing who you are, so you can have an empty hand and heart to reach out and take hold of the new way. It might be frightening to your mind, however I assure you your heart and deeper wisdom parts will be excited.

ACTION: Stop here and make whatever commitment is appropriate to yourself about this surrender of who you believe you are. Please don’t rush on with the text until you have given yourself this gift. Write your thoughts in your TACO Journal.

ACTION: Also take some time to write down your thoughts about how you might be distorting the light and not seeing the Divine in the mirror . . . with your lover, friends, family, world events, and especially the distortions of your own Light. How are you distorting your own Divine Light? HINT: Judgments and fears are pretty smoky.

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Pathstep 1-4: The Dreaming Mind

The Toltecs have passed down to us this awareness that everything we “know” is a dream. We will continue to return to this wisdom until it becomes a reality for you—it was the biggest “Ah ha!” for me in my awakening on the Toltec Path.

Everything you perceive is a dream. When we say “dream,” most people think of something that happens at night, when you go to sleep and your mind imagines all sorts of wild things. Or, you have a “day dream” when you stop at a traffic light and your mind wanders off into something you did years ago or something you are planning to do in the future. The Toltecs teach us that we are dreaming all the time . . . that what we see and know when we look out with our eyes and other senses is a dream . . . and it is happening 24 hours a day. The light comes to you through your organs of perception, travels through your channels of perception, where it is distorted by the stored light of opinions, judgments, fears, loves — everything from your history. The light is projected into your mind and creates a little virtual reality or hologram in your mind. You look at the hologram and say it’s real. “I know that, I believe that, it’s true. I can see it with my own eyes, and seeing is believing.”

Perhaps, “Believing is seeing?!”

Your Personal Dream is a description of every belief, every fear, every assumption and strategy and need and longing– of everything you know. When you say you love or hate something, you are describing your dream. Whenever you argue with someone when you think they are wrong, it is because your dream is in conflict with theirs. When you believe your dream is right, you have forgotten you are dreaming a very unique and personal version of reality and the other person is doing the same thing. Everyone is dreaming in this way. You have the opportunity to change your dream—and change your life.

So perhaps you can see the problem here. Your mind can only dream, which means that it can only take in the light of creation, distort it, and create a hologram dream in your mind that is not real. As long as you are the fish in the water, you will never know this process is happening, and that you are a slave to it. You will suffer. I hope by now you are willing to be held out of the water, and see what you can discover about the air . . . what possibilities lie outside of your limited personal dream.

So what about the night dream? We say the hologram in the dreaming mind is created by light. The light is received by the various organs of perception of the body, sent through the channels of the mind, and creates the hologram in your mind. When the body goes to sleep, the organs of perception are no longer receiving their sensory data. In sleep, the dreaming mind uses stored light to create images. Released from the limitations of belief systems, the mind is free to roam. Our night dreams are more fluid, and are not restricted by agreements about flying, monsters, or even death.

Your mind is dreaming 24 hours a day. The only thing that changes is the source of the light your mind uses to make the images in the dream hologram. We will look more closely at the night dream as a tool of awakening in a later Gateway.

The Dream of Time

A good example of a dream that’s commonly held throughout the world is the dream of time. The dream of time and clocks and watches and time zones and changing to daylight savings and Greenwich meantime is very recent in the history of humanity. We used to say “I’ll meet you when the cows come home.” Today, time is a very powerful dream. Of course there’s literally no basis to it. The fact that time changes by an hour when you cross a boundary marking a time zone is totally arbitrary, and created for the convenience of the culture.

Tepehuano closeupsWe all agree to believe the dream of time, and we take it completely for granted. You know what time it is, and everyone would agree with you. What time is it on the moon? You don’t know what time it is on the moon. Why? Because the moon doesn’t have an agreement or dream about time yet (actually, there really is moon time now — day 1 is the day Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon). Someday you will need to know what time it is on the moon, so when you call there you won’t wake up anybody.

The dream of time we’re dreaming is an agreement that we have all made together. So if that agreement is a dream, what about the other things you “know?”

Here is another example: Imagine your best friend goes to a party, and meets a stranger. In the course of their conversation, your friend tells this new person all about you, without using your name. Arriving a little later at the party, your brother or sister meets the same stranger, and tells him all about you as a sibling. Once again, no name. Later your boss, and then your mother arrives at the party. They each meet this stranger, and describe their employee and son or daughter, without using your name. The stranger thinks he has heard about four different people. You arrive at the party, meet the stranger, and tell him your story about yourself.

The stranger believes he has heard about five different people. Which one is the real you? Is the story you tell about yourself the “truth?” What about the other versions? The only truth is that each of those five stories is a dream, based on each individual perspective. Each story is true for the individual dreamer, but not for anyone else. There is no “true” or “right” dream.

Have you ever traded stories about your childhood with your parents, other relatives, or your childhood friends and had them vigorously disagree with your version, especially if it made them look bad? Whose story is right? Well… everybody’s and nobody’s. They are just descriptions of a dream. Smoke.

The Dream of Money

One more example is the dream of money. What the heck is “money”? In the U.S. it’s pieces of green paper, with different numbers on them. They have no value in themselves, and yet the different numbers are very important. The more green pieces of paper you have with big numbers on them, the more power, prestige, and stuff you can have. What a dream! We all have to agree exactly with the dream. When somebody makes their own pieces of green paper with numbers on them, wow, federal offense. In other countries, of course, the pieces of paper are different colors, and worthless most everywhere but in their country of origin. An American dollar will be accepted in much of Mexico, but a Mexican peso will be quickly rejected by the cashier in the USA. It depends on the dream.

The dream of money includes all of the beliefs that everyone holds about whether it is easy or hard to get, what it means to get it without working for it, and what it says about you if you don’t have any or if you have too much.

In Mexico many years ago, rapid inflation created an exchange rate of 3000 pesos to the U.S. dollar, and everyone did business with 10,000 and 50,000 peso bills. So the government took three zeros off and issued bills of 10 and 50 pesos. The dream changed, everyone agreed the exchange was 3 pesos to the dollar, and we paid with mixed bills until the old ones were gone. A ten peso bill had the same value as a 10,000 peso bill.

ACTION: Write these questions and their answers in your TACO Journal, as a way of beginning to see how your personal dream is described by your beliefs.

What is the value of money?

What is the value to you of money?

Would you like some more?

Should you save money for later, or spend it all and enjoy it now?

How much money is it okay for you to have?

Is it okay to have money you didn’t work for?

Should you give money to homeless people when they ask? What about your child? Your friend’s child?

What about children in third world countries that beg for it?

If you were totally without money, what would it say about you?

In what ways does money control the decisions in your life?

What agreements do you have about the relationship between money and love?

What about the relationship between money and spirituality?|

It is all smoke. There is no truth about any of it, no right way. In fact, there isn’t actually any “money.” Only a dream that we have all agreed to accept.
The Mind Needs to Know

The mind dreams because it needs to know. It needs to have stories to tTepehuano 2011 #5ell and it needs to justify everything. The most frightening thing for the mind is to not know. Consider this: At this moment, you are sitting on a ball of rock with a molten core, a barely stable crust, and a little bit of water and green stuff on the outside. For all you know, you are sticking sideways off this ball, or hanging off the bottom: You do not know what is up and what is down in the universe. You are held in place by some mysterious force while “Earth” is spinning rapidly on its axis and flying through the solar system at some unknown speed around the “Sun.” The sun is a minor league burning ball of gas giving off rays of light and heat. This Sun and Earth are flying around the disk of the Milky Way Galaxy, made up of billions of other burning gas balls. (This is all hearsay since I have absolutely no direct experience of it). The Milky Way Galaxy is shooting outwards from the center of something ever since the big bang billions and billions of years ago when it was all just a thimble of dust . . . and now a rose is blooming outside my window. That is the context in which we live.

In the discussions that follow we are going to explore the possibility (or the reality!) that there is nothing real about the dream hologram you see in your head — which includes the hologram of yourself. There is nothing real to believe, and nothing to fight for or defend. You are dreaming, and you are mostly dreaming someone else’s dream that has been downloaded into your mind. In order to be truly happy, in order to truly experience the personal freedom to live your life as a masterpiece of art, you must surrender your belief in your dream.

ACTION: Take a look at your surroundings. After a moment, close your eyes, and imagine your surroundings. Can you “see” the objects with your eyes closed? Is what you see with your eyes closed real, or not real? Is what you see with your eyes open real? Now do this: Imagine your head is a video camera, your eyes are the lenses. This is more dramatic if you make “tubes” of your hands or look through cardboard tubes—like using binoculars. Turn off your dreaming mind. Move your head slowly, and “pan” your camera-head around the space you are in. You are simply a camera, recording what is there, without any judgments or opinions. Try it for a few minutes, then stop and turn your dreaming mind back on. Look around and listen to the opinions and stories about what you are seeing created by your dreaming mind. This Action is to do forever.

ACTION (From a TACO member and Mentor, Chris Turner):

“I choose an object and then list all the stories I attach to it. I chose, for example, a dirty coffee glass on my bedside table. Here’s what I wrote:

“OBJECT: Coffee glass

“Dirty – Imagined outside judge will judge me harshly for having a dirty bedroom/home and then reject me.

“Should be in the dishwasher. I should put it in the dishwasher and not expect my partner to do it.

“It’s a coffee glass from Italy. The traditional way to have your espresso. It’s the genuine article. The proper way to drink proper coffee. Espresso is the best way to drink coffee.

“Not nice sitting there. Makes clutter. Has sediment sticking to the bottom like an old red wine.

“Aren’t I lucky/clever to know about real coffee. Most Australians don’t have the knowledge and experience with real coffee that I do. I’m a person who knows about coffee. I lived in Italy. I am special!!

“For me, this exercise really brings home just how truly useless and silly it is to have all these stories in my head about something as mundane as a coffee glass and how everyone is dreaming their own version of everything. Doing it with many objects, as well as people and events, has been a wonderful way of making it clear to myself how I dream.”


Yikes! You might be asking yourself: “If I have no idea what is real or what or who I am, or why I am here, what then? How do I make choices, what do I believe, how do I conduct my life? Why should I bother to care about anything or anybody?”

I will suggest to you right now that there are two guidelines to use to make choices about actions in your life. 1) Does it make me happy? and, 2) Am I going against myself? We will come back to #2 later.

For now, #1: “Does it make me happy?” A simple idea but not actually widely held in the dream of the planet. I imagine you have actually been taught as part of the dream that you should not be too happy. “That’s enough of that running around the house (making joyful noises unto Life). Go outside! You’re giving me a headache. I don’t want to hear you. If you can’t be civilized and sit quietly and draw with your crayons then go outside.”

Let’s say a friend sees you, and asks: “Wow, how are you doing?” And you say, “I am so happy . . . you can’t believe it! Everything is working out great — I just bought a new car, I have this great relationship, my spiritual life is powerful now, and money is just pouring in!” Your friend is probably thinking: “How can this be for real? I don’t want to hear this.” So he says: “Oh, so your job and your relationship and your money are great but (your friend is trying to think of something to challenge your happy dream) what about your brother, I heard your brother is sick?” Or, “Wow, you look pale, you must be working too hard. A friend of mine was pale like that and died of cancer. Are you sure your life is balanced?”

What if you were that happy? What if life was working so well for you that you wanted to tell someone how great life is? You might think: “Well, I shouldn’t talk about it. I would be bragging. I don’t want to make them feel bad. Who do I think I am to be this happy!?” The Dream of the Planet has belief systems in it for every occasion! In this case, you might have agreed not to be overly happy. The idea of choosing belief systems and agreements according to being happy sounds basic, but if you go a little deeper you will see there are many agreements in the Dream about happiness. Perhaps you believe that you need to suffer and be unhappy in order to appreciate the times of happiness. Or it is not polite to make others feel bad about their misfortune. There are those who believe that to be too happy invites disaster, or that to suffer is to be spiritual.

The goal of our work together is for you to be happy all of the time, even in difficult or challenging situations. Is it possible? Do you have permission from yourself to be totally “happy” all the time? We’ll have more to explore about this idea as we go along. For now note that the happiness I am speaking of is ultimately not about external things…but is a feeling that rises from within you as a result of your personal freedom. The freedom to love, actually.

ACTION: Stop now, and write down your beliefs and agreements about being VERY HAPPY. You might try sentences like these to get started and reveal the hidden agreements. You can write the beginning over and over, and receive different endings from your subconscious:

“I want to be Always Happy because _______________.”

“It is not OK to be Always Happy because ______________.”

“If I am always happy, people will think I _____________.”

Keep Going!

As I said, we’ll be coming back to this idea of dreaming throughout TACO. If you want to read more now (or later) please refer to my chapter “The Perfect Dream,” from the anthology, Healing the Heart of the World click the link below. The chapter includes a more complete description of human dreaming, along with an illustration of the light and channels of perception.


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Pathstep 1-5: Domestication

The foundation for how you dream is your domestication. Your training started early and continues to this day. Domestication is based on the simple system of punishment and reward. You were punished for being or doing “bad” and rewarded for being or doing “good.” Simple.

Your parents and caregivers learned this system from their parents and caregivers. Nobody questioned it because it works to teach children how to behave. It works for puppies, too.

Imagine there is a new puppy in your house. Perhaps you have had this experience. The puppy piddles on the rug. You know you cannot tolerate that behavior, so at first you keep the puppy on newspapers, or away from the carpets. When the puppy gets a little older, you begin to train him. When he piddles in the house you punish him (scolding, shaking, or smacking), and put him outside. Soon the puppy experiences fear when his bladder is full, so he runs to the door. You let him out, and when he comes back you say “Good boy!” and give him a cookie. Punishment and reward. He learns that following his instinct to pee where he is standing leads to punishment — to run to the door and piddle outside is rewarded. When you have taught your puppy to follow the rules of your house, and he no longer has “accidents,” you can consider your puppy properly domesticated.

You came into the world with that same innocence. You did not know the rules, and you had no fears or judgments about anything. When you arrived as a little infant, I can imagine you saying: “I’m here! I am only Love. I have no opinions. I have no judgments. I don’t accept or reject you. I’m just here.” You appeared as an empty vessel. The amazing thing is that everybody loved that about you! Don’t we love babies? Everybody wants to pick up a baby, hold the baby, make the baby smile, and make eye contact with the baby. I think it is because we know that babies are not judging us. Babies have no opinions. When you pick up a baby it doesn’t say: “Yuck, bad hair day, did you just get out of bed?” or “My goodness, where did you get that outfit?” Even if an infant is left hungry and crying, when someone comes to pick it up and feed it, it probably doesn’t formulate the thought, “Hey, what were you doing? I heard the television going. You just ignored me! You are a bad parent.” In the moment, it is just glad somebody came.

There is a beautiful emptiness or innocence in the infant; I think that’s why it is so easy to love them. We see them smiling at us because it means they just love us the way we are. We don’t have to impress them. That space of innocence gives us a chance to open our hearts and love the baby in the same way– without conditions, without expectations. It is easy to fall INTO love with an infant—the channel is open.

Then, three o’clock in the morning rolls around, and the baby is colicky. Mom gets up, a little irritated with the child. The infant is sensitive to Mother’s irritation. This is the beginning of domestication. The child learns Mom has an opinion about his crying . . . an opinion that says “I don’t like it! You are irritating me. You’re putting me over the edge!” It may be Mom is tired . . . she’s sleep deprived and cranky . . . maybe she does not really want to be a mother. She isn’t trying to harm the baby or teach the baby anything about itself, but the baby learns that his mother doesn’t like his crying. The baby creates his own little agreement that he should not be crying because it upsets Mom and she doesn’t like it. If she doesn’t like it, the results could be disastrous. In that moment the baby learns to judge its own crying and make it wrong. He learns to take the judgment from the outside and bring it inside, and make it his own.

Mother is not bad, this is not wrong. It is just how it happens. This is the process of domestication.

The baby in our story matures, and his ability to focus his attention develops. He begins to recognize the difference between Mom and Dad and Auntie. He can differentiate between loving tones and angry tones of voice. As he learns to focus his attention on the world, the world begins to hook his attention. The more the child’s ability to focus his attention develops, the more the world hooks his attention. Why do they hook his attention? To teach him their dream.

An apprentice was sharing her enthusiasm about the Toltec path with her friend. The friend’s little girl wanted to talk to the apprentice, too. The mother said to the girl, “Don’t interrupt when an adult is talking!” She was very stern, because she knew it was important to teach her little girl “manners.” “You don’t interrupt when someone is talking. You’re bad when you do that! That is bad manners.” Of course, the little girl just wanted to share something with the apprentice, but now she had to think about not doing what she wanted because of this thing called “manners.” When the little girl rebelled and began interrupting, the mother became very angry. Mom knew it was imperative that she teach her daughter good manners — or, in Toltec terms, she knew (unconsciously) that she must domesticate her daughter by teaching her the “dream of manners” she had been taught as a child and was still dreaming. If the daughter learned and followed the rules of the dream, she would be given a reward (love, acceptance). If she continued to do it her way, she would be punished and put outside (of the acceptance of the family) just like the puppy. Note that this also protects the mother from being judged by her inner judge or outer judges who believe in the dream of “good parenting.”

This is domestication. You learned the prevailing dream of your caregivers, just like the puppy. Punishment and reward.

Just for Fun

You had to go against your own dream and agree with the outside dream. They used punishment and reward to make you agree, just like with the puppy. This is the key to your domestication — the punishment and reward system, using rejection and acceptance. There was no other way to domesticate you. They had to find a way to control you. They had to make you afraid in order to domesticate you. Why else would you follow their dream if you were not afraid to dream yours?

Your parents wanted to control your behavior so they looked good. The question is, are you willing to control your behavior to make them look good?

(At this point, you may be asking “But what if everyone just did what they wanted to without regarding any one else? We would have total anarchy! Nobody would be safe.” I agree, sort of, and we’ll come back to that question in due time.)

A moment with the Dream of Manners. “Don’t belch at the table. You are bad! If you belch at the table, it is a disgrace to the hostess.” Most people I know would agree with these good manners. There are many countries where if you don’t belch after a meal, you are disrespecting the hostess. There are places where belching is a way of saying: “Thank you, I’m satisfied. What a wonderful meal! I appreciate it.” In that country if the child doesn’t belch someone says: “What is the matter with you? Why did you leave the table without belching? I can’t take you anywhere! You disgrace me everywhere we go!” See? It’s not real. It has nothing to do with anything real. It is only an agreement in somebody’s dream.

Once a child is old enough to agree to the dream, she starts hooking the attention of the littler ones, teaching them the dream. “Get your elbows off the table! You know Mommy gets mad!” “Don’t cry! Daddy gets mad if you cry.”

Once we agree to the dream, we believe it is true. We use it to judge each other. If somebody belches at the table, we judge them and reject them the way we were judged and rejected when we did it, because that’s what we know: “You don’t belch at the table!” We know that to be a fact and so we judge each other and ourselves. We judge ourselves worst of all. All because we agreed to dream someone else’s dream.

Why is that a problem? For me it’s a problem because it doesn’t make me happy. How about you? To judge myself and other people, to feel the judgments of other people and believe they are true does not make me happy. In fact, believing our dream, stuck in believing what we know to be true, causes us to suffer. We can’t be happy while we are suffering.

When you forget that everyone’s dream is unique, you will argue with others about their dream, and try to help them see the truth of your dream. If you are going to be right, you have to make them wrong. Nobody wants to be wrong, so they will argue to be right. Two people arguing about whose dream is right are essentially going to make each other wrong, so both people end up being wrong, when the truth is — both people are right! When someone is describing their dream, they’re right. The other person describing their dream is also right. Everybody is right. It is obvious and maybe a little incomprehensible, too.
Just for Fun

It might even seem like you are helping someone “see the truth” with love, but you are not really loving them. Your response is really fear… fear that your dream is wrong. If you cannot convince them that your dream is right then you are afraid that your dream is wrong.

Note that anytime you are describing your dream of “reality” you are wrong because you are looking into the smoky mirror and describing the distortions you see there—it is not The Truth.

ACTION: Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Stop, think, and write in your TACO journal about your relationships. How many of your relationships with other people, with your beloveds, with your parents or children, are about you being right? What about them being right? What are you afraid of about being wrong?

Perhaps you can see how important it is to release your belief in your dream.

I have an extensive background in hypnosis and hypnotherapy. It is interesting to discover that some of the principles of hypnosis are very similar to what happens during our childhood domestication process.

Hypnotherapists use “direct suggestion” techniques when they want to speak directly to the subconscious mind and implant a new belief or reality. There are three very important conditions that need to be met for successful direct suggestion. The first is that the subject needs to be in an altered state. The altered state is a hypnotic trance. The second condition is that the suggestions must be delivered by someone the subject holds in a place of authority. And third, the suggestion must be repeated over and over.

To plant a suggestion as a fertile seed into the subconscious mind one needs an altered state, a person in authority, and repetition. Besides hypnotherapy, there are some other interesting ways that direct suggestion occurs. Imagine that someone is in a doctor’s examining room, waiting for the results of their cancer biopsy. They are dressed in a paper gown, they are cold, they have waited 45 minutes, and they are afraid. Finally the doctor appears, and says, “Oh, your tests look really bad. It’s malignant. I’ve seen this many times, I know how it works. You’ve got six months to live.”

Well, we’ve met the three main requirements for effective hypnotic suggestion: An altered state (fear), person of authority (the doctor), and repetition (the patient repeats the diagnosis to themselves, and their family and friends, over and over again). “Oh, my God, I’ve got six months to live!” Counting down: “I’ve got five months to live. Oh my God, I’ve only got four months to live.” Six months later they are dead and the doctor says, “I called that one right again.” Sure did! If the doctor said, “I created that one” he might be closer to the truth. That’s the power the mind has and the power that other people’s dreams have over us. The nocebo effect. (Dear Doctor, you are wonderful, and I know this illustration does not describe you).

Of course, it works the other way, also. The doctor is a person of authority and he says, “If you take this pill, you’re going to get better.” He may say it once but then the person repeats this over and over to himself, “I’m afraid. I’ve got this illness. The doctor says this pill will make me better.” So they have satisfied the three requirements of effective hypnotic suggestion and they take the pill and they get better. Good pill. The placebo effect.

I am describing this to you because the same thing happens in Domestication. Before the age of five, six, or seven years old, children are in an altered state 100% of the time. They have not yet developed that critical factor that screens information for logical reality. A four year old will fight for the reality of Santa Claus. You can’t change his mind. His eight year-old brother will tell him, “Stupid! We don’t even have a chimney.” The little one stands firm on his belief in Santa Claus: “There IS a Santa Claus! Mommy said so!!”

Or an irritated father tells a little child: “If you don’t behave yourself I’m gonna put you on the curb and call the Salvation Army and they’re gonna take you away!” A four year-old child believes that as fact, is afraid, and behaves herself. The child is in a natural altered state (early childhood), and the parent is the person of authority — along with her older brother, friends, babysitters, the church, television, and movies. The suggestions are repeated over and over again, “You are so naughty,” or “I hate your voice. Would you please stop singing!? You can’t sing.” “You’re ugly.” “You are so stupid.” “You won’t have fun unless your parents buy you this toy.” “God and Santa Claus are watching you every minute, making a list, they know if you are naughty or nice.” “You are really not worth paying attention to. Get out of the way of my TV.” “Happy meals will make you happy. Tell your parents.”

(In fact, the junk food industry has learned to target young children sitting hypnotized in front of TV’s and control their tastes and their brand recognition from a very early age).

Others messages may be more subtle, but always underneath the same: “If you don’t do it our way, we will not approve of you and we will not give you our love.” Whatever the parent or brother or TV is saying to the young child, it acts as a hypnotic suggestion and goes directly into the subconscious mind and becomes the dream of the child. It is not the intention of the parent or TV to hurt the emotional body of the child. But that is what happens. It happened to you, in some form, and it left your emotional body wounded. You were domesticated in this way.

Just for Fun

When you reached five, six, or seven years old, and even before that, you began to take over the job of the parents and you began to domesticate yourself. Whenever you tell yourself: “What’s the matter with me? I can’t believe I did that. I got lost, I am going to be late. I should have known better.” Or, “I have a terrible singing voice. I should make an excuse to not go Christmas caroling.” Or, you say to someone else, “I am so stupid. You should hear what I did today.” You are domesticating yourself, rejecting yourself because you are not good enough. You are throwing yourself outside without a cookie for doing it wrong. And you are convincing those around you to dream you the same way you do.

I am grateful to have this audio reminder from don Miguel Ruiz, recorded for the original TACO in 2002. Please listen now:

The Light is Distorted by Everything You Believe – don Miguel Ruiz (1:01)

Do this exercise to help you become more aware of the war between the dreams in your mind: Read the paper, the front pages about Syria, Ukraine, the Middle East– as well as the small articles in the back pages about the ever-changing “civil unrest” in Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, and other places around the world. Make a list of the “wars,” who is fighting who, and what dream they are fighting for on each side. The TV evening news or internet feeds will give you the same news.

Look for news about wars between individuals (ending in fighting or killing), spousal abuse, parent/teen fights, gang wars, drug cartels, political parties, and religions.

Note the incredible power of domestication to support the different dreams, and create violence. And note your emotional reactions to each event. Who’s side are you on?

ACTION: Now make a list of the wars being fought in your own mind. If you don’t like to read the paper, or at least not the part about wars, and resisted the first half of this assignment, put that inner war on your list. Write in your TACO Journal about who is fighting who in your mind, and what dreams they are fighting for. What parts of you are in conflict about your life? About the world? Note the incredible power of domestication to support the different dreams in conflict right there in your own mind.

I want you to comprehend how the domesticated dreams of humans cause inner and outer conflict. Spend some time with this before you move to the next Pathstep.

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Pathstep 1-6: Perceptions and The Dream

More on Dreaming: You are dreaming 24 hours a day. You are taking in the Light of creation and distorting it into a hologram in your head. Perhaps by now you are questioning how you can know what is real. Simply put, you cannot perceive directly what is “out there,” you can only know what your senses bring to you after it is distorted by your personal ways of perceiving.

Look at a “chair” right now. Watch how the light from the chair goes through your channels of perception, you add your own stored light, create a hologram somewhere in your brain, then you look at the hologram and say “there is a chair.” Where is the chair? You are not seeing the chair in the room, you are looking at the chair in the hologram in your brain. And it is not actually a chair! When the light leaves the chair it doesn’t say “chair,” that word is part of the stored light in your channel of perception. It comes from the beliefs, agreements, and language of your domestication. Chair is a word you were taught in English and if you had been raised in Mexico, you would say your are looking at a “silla.”

Whatever emotional energy comes with the experience of the chair is also part of the stored light. The body receives the perceptions of the chair in their pure state. The mind dreams, and creates the emotions.

An Apprentice was raised in a household where nobody had time for her. They looked at her, a gift from God, a manifestation of the Divine, and they reflected to her in words and actions: “You don’t matter.” She had no choice but to agree with them. They were her smoky mirror, they distorted the reflection of her, she saw her reflection, and knew she did not matter. She kept the agreement that she did not matter for her whole life, creating and fighting a world that agreed with her that she did not matter. She fought to prove to the world that she mattered when she believed deep inside that she did not matter. It never worked. She was tired of fighting.

There was something that did work. The Apprentice became aware of her agreement. She realized she had made the agreement against her will, and at a very young age. No one is expected to keep a contract for the rest of their lives that they made when they were two years old. She had kept it for a long time. When she truly broke that agreement, she reclaimed important personal power for her life.

How about you? Did you make that agreement, or one like it? Do you see that it is not even true? You have kept an agreement to believe something that is a lie.

ACTION: Stop here and take some time to write about an agreement defining your value or worth you have carried with you since your childhood.


The challenge here is to break the belief in your perception of the “reality” that is out there, then you can clear your channels of stored light so you can perceive more directly what is there. You will be able to open new channels with no stored light in them so you can perceive directly without the distortion. You will still be dreaming, but perhaps you can dream more nearly the living creation that is here.

The Assemblage Point

Imagine a radio with all of its different stations. When you are the fish in the water, without the awareness of how you are dreaming, you are stuck on one station and you perceive everything from that perspective. Once you learn you have choice, you can move your attention up and down the dial. The Toltecs call your place on the dial the “Assemblage Point.” From every assemblage point on your dial the world will look totally different. When you experience those changes you will clearly see that you are dreaming the world and that you have been dreaming it from one assemblage point for so long that you thought your world was real.

I am not talking about never dreaming, or that any dream is good or bad or better than another. I am saying that your awareness creates choice. Your awareness gives you the choice of Assemblage Points, and the choice about your emotional responses to Life– which takes me back to my original goal of being happy. I don’t know what it means to be flying through space on this ball of molten rock, and I don’t have any idea who or what I am. I do not expect to ever know, and it no longer matters to me. If the distortions in my channels of perception are making me unhappy, then I am very motivated to go into those channels of perception, discover what those distortions are, and replace them– with distortions of my own choosing. I hope you are too.

If you went to the fun house at the circus and looked in the mirrors and you were round in one mirror and had a tiny head in another, you would laugh because you would know that the mirrors were distorting you. When you look into the mirror of another human being and you see their distortions of you– that you don’t matter or you are not good enough– do you believe it? Don’t believe the distortions in the smoky mirror of another person any more than you would believe the distortions of your reflection in the fun house mirrors. Do not believe your own distortions of your divine light. You are nothing but the divine and anything that distorts that image is a lie. Do not believe it. Click on the “Cookie Thief” link below, to enjoy an interesting warp in perceptions.

The Cookie Thief

Choose Your Eye, Choose Your Life

A friend had an operation on one of her eyes. She was visiting me and we were looking at my flower garden from the patio when my friend said, “Wow, with my new eye, that geranium is a beautiful, clear pink. With my other eye, it’s a muddy, burgundy color.” We began talking about perceptions and my friend said, “Before my eye operation, if you had said that was pink, I would have argued with you. I would have known it was not pink, that it was muddy burgundy.” With awareness of the different dreams, we didn’t need to argue about the flower’s color. “Pink with one eye, burgundy with the other eye.” Pick your eye, pick your color. Pick your assemblage point, pick your dream…pick your life!

Your unique perceptions of the light have created the dream in your mind. Your perceptions create the dream and then your dream reinforces your perceptions and your perceptions create the dream and the dream reinforces your perceptions. You get more and more sure that your dream is real.

Which eye are you going to look through to get what perception to see which reality?

Your domestication taught you how to perceive. A little boy came home from school one day and proudly showed his father his successful assignment for the day. The teacher had given his class a page of drawings of people washing cars, building forts with blocks, raking leaves, cooking, riding bikes, cleaning their room, and so on. The kids were expected to know which activities were “play” and which were “work.” The teacher graded the papers, and the apprentice’s boy got everything right. The little boy was excited to share that “to play is fun, and to work is not fun!” And thus continues the distortions.

ACTION: On your car or home radio, program buttons on AM for various “talk” stations. Perhaps you can find call-in shows like National Public Radio, Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and a religious station or two or three. If you live outside of the US, I am sure that there are people on the radio with opinions. Listen to them and watch which opinions you agree with, which ones make you mad, and anything else you are able to discover for yourself about perceptions. Write it down for yourself in your journal.


MUSIC BREAK: James Nihan is a poet/singer/songwriter who lives in Tennessee. He is a long-time student of the Toltec tradition, and has studied with don Miguel and other teachers. I have great respect for James’ artistry, and have included his work throughout the Gateways. I hope you will listen, and if you enjoy, consider supporting him with a purchase of a CD or three.

Take a moment and listen to James Nihan  sing, “That’s Life.” He sings about the assemblage point as a point of view, and how our conditioning distorts our world and we are wounded by our point of view.

That’s Life (3:43)


EXAMPLE: Here is an extreme example of the way the light can be distorted by the experiences of the past: A client of mine was very afraid of men. She had been badly abused by her father, and then had created relationships with men that continued the abuse throughout her adult life. Her history with men had left her afraid and alone, and it was a huge act of courage to begin doing therapy with a male therapist. We had a good relationship and she saw me many times.

My client was too heavy to climb the stairs in my office downtown, so we met in my home. One day she used my bathroom and when she came out she was ashen white and trembling. She stood there shaking, ready to run out the door: “Stay away from me. Why do you have a picture of a man stabbing a woman in your bathroom?” “Well, I don’t think I do,” I said as I started to get up, “let me go look.” My client retreated, terrified. When I went into the bathroom I discovered she had seen an old Maxfield Parrish lithograph on the wall. I took it off the wall and brought it out and asked, “You mean this?” She screamed in terror and refused to look at it again. I was seeing a sensual, classical picture, a little erotic perhaps, with no clear story about what was happening in it. She saw a man stabbing a woman.

It took me a long time of sitting quietly with my client before she would let me show her the picture. With my help she began to change her perceptions, so she could see what was actually in that picture. And when she finally saw the picture wasn’t a man stabbing a woman, she said, “Well, why would you have a picture that is so sexual on your bathroom wall?” She had switched to new stored light, a different assemblage point, a new fear, a new dream, and a new realm of wounding and judgments.

The story is a powerful example of how experience creates perceptions and then the perceptions reinforce the experience: My client was terrified of men, so her perception of the external was distorted, which created evidence to support her fear. Had she been allowed to run away from our interaction believing her distorted perceptions, she would have continued to suffer—and maybe never gone to a male therapist again. Having a chance to see how distorted her perceptions were, gave my client a chance to question more of her beliefs and perceptions, and gain freedom from them.

Click the thumbnail below to see the picture of “the man stabbing the woman” that caused such terror in my client. What do you see?5.Parrish-man stabbing woman lrg

There is a conundrum here: If you cannot trust your perceptions, then what is real and true? If someone says to you, “I can’t believe the way you do relationships, what a mess, of course nobody wants to be with you.” Is that true? No. If they say, “You are the most beautiful and wise human in the whole world, I know everyone wants to be with you,” Is that the truth? No. If someone says, “You are a very lovable person,” is that the truth? If you are walking down the street and a homeless person is panhandling and he stops in front of you and says: “You know, I really like you,” you would probably believe that is not true. What is true? What is true is what you believe– it is what matches your dream.

What you know is not real or not true is that which does not match your dream.

Perhaps you can see that when you become free to choose your dream consciously, you can make the choice about what is real, for you. The truth is, there is no truth and nothing real except the absolute divine nature of the universe… the unknowable divinity that is Life. That is all there is here, and that is what you are. And there is no way you can know what that is.

The universe is nothing but light and you are nothing but light. When we talked about The Light in PathStep 1-1, we saw how the Universe is mostly space. We dream the objects of the Tonal as solid and it works for our human mind. You can move your hand very quickly through the air and nothing gets left behind (that I can see). Chairs hold us up, and walls are solid. But everything is actually made of light. Nothing is solid. Quantum physics has shown us that the smallest stuff they know of changes from physical to energy, from something to nothing back and forth, back and forth. The message of creation, the Nagual, manifests itself as creation, the Tonal. The Tonal is a mirror that reflects the Nagual. Everything is Light, reflecting Light. To know the truth of your being is to know yourself as that Light.

Of course, I am only describing my dream . . . and I like it. It makes me happy.

Below is a fun exercise to show how what you see is conditioned by your experiences- or, in Toltec terms, we could say how your “reality” becomes distorted by the light that is stored in your channels of perception. Click on the link to test your perception.


Spend Time In Nature

It is important to spend time in nature, animals, or with Masters of Love– because they can all be clear reflections of your Divine nature. They reflect an assemblage point you are learning to reveal within yourself. These resources will help you open a new, clear channel to the reflection of the truth of who you really are.

ACTION: Leave the computer right now and go outside. Somewhere near you there is a tree or a forest, a wild bird or a pet fish, warm sunshine or a snowstorm. Take some time to marvel at the simplicity and complexity of the Tonal: It manifests, it has consciousness, it eats, it reproduces, it dies. Life itself, the Nagual, isn’t concerned with any of that. It knows no fear. Life itself is not what dies. Life is the Light. You are Life, you are Light.

When you are being outside, experiment with looking down at the ground, looking straight ahead, and looking up. Listen to what kind of thoughts are in your mind with each of the three perspectives. Do it often.

Now, GO!

When you return, record your observations in your TACO Journal.

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Pathstep 1-7: Hell and The Surrender

I have called Gateway One “Surrender in Hell” because I believe surrender is the only way out of Hell. How do we describe Hell? And what do I mean by surrender?

Hell is a place of suffering, created by your domestication. It is a place of judgment. Hell is a place of fear. There are religious books and beliefs that tell us that Hell is a place you go after death to be punished if you have been a bad person during your life. “Bad” is described in different ways, depending on the dream of the particular book and religion. They all have lots of rules about these things. Every religion has different rules because they each have a different god, but what they have in common is a god who is judging you, and will reject you from retiring to heaven if you are not good enough. Not only can you be rejected and barred from heaven, but in some belief systems you can be cast into Hell, a sulfurous nightmare of fire, suffering, and torment which one must endure for all of eternity.

Be good, receive reward. Be bad, be punished. Sound familiar? Are you a puppy? All of the different gods seem to be in the same dream as everyone else. Perhaps they were domesticated like the rest of us. Have you noticed the dream of Santa Claus? In most places, it works the same: Santa Claus is watching you, he is judging whether you are “naughty or nice,” and will reward you or punish you accordingly. The punishment there is a lump of coal in your stocking, or some other nonsense, and really represents withholding the reward of acceptance and love (gifts). Punishment by withholding the reward is Rejection.

Sounds like Hell! A place of judgment, with the fear of rejection or other punishment. Sounds like childhood for many. After the childhood domestication is complete, hell moves from the outside to the inside dream, supported by teachers, peers, police, gods, and Santa Claus. Who needs to die first?! Hell is right here, right now. Do you recognize it?

Do you recognize the voice of the Judge who follows you around day and night, criticizing everything you do, second guessing other people’s reactions, watching for their feedback to see if you did it right or wrong, watching to see if you are right or wrong? Do you recognize how it feels when you are being made wrong by your own mind? Do you hear the voice of your Victim that says: “This isn’t fair. Why me? It is not my fault.” Are you aware of your suffering caused by your Judge’s criticism?

You will get to know the inner Judge and Victim child, as well as the Toltec Spiritual Warrior in the following Pathsteps.

dreamer_rWhat do I mean by suffering? To be afraid is to suffer. To be a Victim is to suffer. To not be happy is to suffer. To be happy is to not suffer. You cannot be a happy Victim. I said before that you could be happy in extreme situations. Here is my version of a great story I heard Ram Dass tell: He had given up his life as a respected professor at Harvard and was living in India, as a wandering Sadhu. He was going somewhere by train, and had just enough money for a ticket. The train was so late that he had to wait for days. He had dysentery. The only restroom was in the train station, and it was neglected and awash with filth. As he was squatting there, he realized that this is the kind of thing that people had warned him would happen if he left his good life of tenure at Harvard and went to India. It was happening, but what was also true was that he was happy! He was not wrong, he was not bad, he had not failed. He was not suffering, he was not a victim, he didn’t even wish it to be any other way than how it was. He accepted the reality of the moment. He was free.

The degree to which you disagree with reality is the degree to which you suffer. (Read it again). You disagree with reality because you dream. The light from “what is really out there” passes through your channels of perception and picks up your stored light, so that by the time you see the dream hologram in your mind it has totally changed. Your domestication created the inner Judge that says you and the world should be or do differently than you and it are or do. He rejects the reality of You, and substitutes an imaginary you that you are not — and then punishes you for not being his imaginary you. What injustice!

A definition of Hell then could be the living experience of suffering caused by a disagreement with reality. Hell is believing the lies and distortions of the Judge. Hell is living in the injustice of the Judge. If suffering is rooted in fear then happiness would be the result of a living experience of being in agreement with reality, accepting reality as it is—which is Love. Accepting yourself as you are. Happiness is rooted in your love of Creation as it is. Or, we could say that happiness comes from receiving the light without distortions… being in the light… “en-lightened.”

When you clean the old distorting light out of your channels of perception, and also open new channels without distortions, you free yourself from Hell. You experience acceptance of yourself and all people, places, things, and events, and that acceptance (or agreement with reality) becomes like an energy that comes out of you. It does not require the object of your acceptance to care or respond in any particular way. That is love coming out of you, and that is what makes you happy. Nobody can take it away from you. It does not even belong to you. You do not need to make bargains with any one to receive it from them, nor to give it to them. This is very important, and we will come back to it: Happiness comes from the experience of love as acceptance coming out of you—and it is your birthright. Listen to this audio and meditation:

Freedom is your Birthright (11:30)

The Ocean of the Unknown and the Island of Safety

So, back to Hell. Because of the fear in hell, you want to feel safe. You’ve attached yourself to the ideas, agreements, beliefs, opinions, people, and institutions that appear to provide that safety. You believed your perceptions of your “reality.” You created an Island of Safety in what we will call “The Ocean of The Unknown.” The Ocean of The Unknown holds all of the things that your mother told you would happen to you if you didn’t follow the rules. The monsters in the Ocean waiting to eat you if you leave your Island are all of the rejections and punishments that society will mete out to you if you deviate from the safe boundaries of the particular dream that you have agreed to. You will be stuck in Hell.

The Island of Safety also alleviates the fear of being alone. It is the place you bond with others through gossip, judgments, drama, commiserating, need, bargaining, and shared opinions. Your island of safety informs you who you are and where you belong. You know who the good guys and the bad guys are, you know who the winners and losers are, and you know exactly where you rank in it all. Then one day you discover, maybe as you read this, that it is all a dream, you do not know anything, and you are alone. You are alone and attached to an illusion that you are not alone. I say it is an illusion that you are not alone because your “human form” is what is connecting with other people and the world, and that human form is simply a living dream defined by your agreements and belief systems. It is not real. There is no way that anyone else can dream the dream you are dreaming and there is no way you can know someone else’s dream. You are alone with your personal dream and your perceptions and no one else shares those because you are an absolutely unique being and your dream is just as unique. You can share it, but no one will ever really know what is going on with you.

Judgment. Rejection. Eternal Suffering. And you do it all alone! Sounds like Hell, for sure!

ACTION: I have to assume that you are stopping to do these Action steps. They are important. I know it is tempting to skip them, and there is a trick of the mind that likes to say “Oh, that is obvious. No point in bothering to waste time writing it down.” How has this habit of your mind served you so far in learning to love yourself? WRITE! Good. Use your TACO Journal to ponder these topics:

What makes you feel safe? What ideas and agreements and institutions do you hold onto on your Island of Safety, to avoid the dangers of The Ocean of the Unknown? (There should be some eerie music and a deep voice when you read that: “The Ocean of the Unknown”).

Now write a list of 10 to 20 things that you believe in or identify with that help you know who you are. Things like your name, gender, mate, job, home, religion, spiritual path, or nationality. Or ideas like “commitment” or “marriage.” Or, the agreement to not be “selfish.” Perhaps it is your youthful good looks, wrinkles of age, or being a fan of your hometown team. Dig deep.

Also write out these questions and your answers (I suggest writing the questions so you can come back and review them later):

• How does it feel to think of yourself as alone in the world, knowing that no one will ever really know you, and you will never know anyone else?

• What beliefs or identities would you be most afraid to let go of because you could not predict what might happen without them?

• If you had no fear of anyone judging you for your actions, and you knew you could not fail, what actions would you take in your life right now?

Please take some time, let the ideas and feelings come, and write them down. This is for you, not me.


I assume you did some thinking and writing. Take a look at your answers. Are you willing to surrender your attachments to any of those beliefs? I don’t mean let go of your job or mate or youthful good looks. I am asking if you are willing to let go of your attachment to, and your fear of losing, those things. Are you willing to acknowledge that you don’t really know what is out there in the Ocean of the Unknown, that it is all a dream — and are you willing to test the monsters? Can you see that your attachments are based on fear, and fear is the root of the suffering that keeps you in Hell? Do you want to take a chance and risk stepping off of your Island of Safety and surrender to The Ocean of The Unknown — trusting the possibility that new freedom and love are somewhere beyond your horizon?

If the answer is “Yes,” then let’s go! (If your answer is “No,” that is OK, too. You may keep reading. Maybe it will feel safer later).

Note that the Toltec guide to this surrender is The Angel of Death. For now let’s keep going, and we’ll come to her in Gateway Four. For now use these instructions:

ACTION: SURRENDER. Right here in Hell, without any idea what might happen to you, let go. Set your intent to release your attachments to your Island of Safety. Be willing to NOT KNOW. Be willing. Of course it will not happen all at once. This is about willingness and intent. Right now, be willing to risk facing the monsters in The Ocean of The Unknown—remember they are the ghosts from domestication.

Do a ritual to make it real. Close your eyes, and let your intent show you what you need to do. Perhaps you will give away something that you love. Or use an object to symbolically throw away, burn, or bury your attachment to a person or idea. Perhaps you are attached to the fear that keeps you “safe.” Is your mind reeling? This is big, this shift in your perspective. This is not to think about, this is to DO. The Toltec Path is a path of action. These are the small (?) actions I offer you throughout the Gateways that will lead you to your freedom. Stop reading now, and do it.

Thank you.

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Pathstep 1-8: The Judge

Great! Now that you have surrendered, let us talk about what you are surrendering to! Where did this Hell come from, and how is it that you came to live here? In the following PathSteps, we are going to reveal all of the actors in your mind’s “Mitote.” Remember we describe the “Mitote” (Mee-toe-tay) as: “The sound of 1,000 people talking in the market place and nobody listening.” Do you recognize that Mitote inside your own mind? Have you noticed how you might decide to take some action in your life, large (new career) or small (turn off the TV and go to bed), and a whole committee starts arguing about it in your mind, and nothing happens? Do you procrastinate? Do you sabotage your own ideas and plans? Do you leave conversations or parties mad at yourself for what you said or should have said and didn’t? This is your Mitote.

ACTION: Before we go any further, stop and listen to your mind. Take dictation from the voices in your head for five minutes. Write down everything they say in your journal. What a hoot, eh!? (No judgments!)

ACTION: A second interesting exercise is to sit quietly and not let the voices speak. Say: “Stop!” What happens when you try to stop them? Do it for long enough to get a sense of how they operate. Always remember that we do these exercises in a spirit of acceptance and love, to create awareness, not to give you something to judge yourself for doing “wrong.” Stop now and do it. smSerpent
8.Judge1The main man in Hell is the Judge. I will refer to the Judge in this section as a masculine being. You might remember him as the Devil, Satan, or other images from the religious books. He sits on high, he accuses, condemns, and punishes. Here we call him The Judge (Eerie music again, please). He is a major voice in your Mitote.
The Judge is the Director of Domestication. To see my version of the Judge, with his Book of Law (Lies) and his angelic version of how you should be, click on his image. 

When I talked about Domestication in PathStep 1-5, I described how we come into this world free of fear, free of judgment, free of opinions. We simply arrive, fresh and innocent, we throw out our arms, and say “Ta Da. I am here.” There is no way to domesticate someone like that, so those in charge of teaching you the dream needed a bargaining tool. They needed you to agree that they, not you, were the source of love. Remember, I use “love” and “acceptance” interchangeably. They needed you to agree that they were the authority on what was acceptable and what was not. They needed you to fear being rejected for not being okay—according to their standards and expectations. Once you made that agreement, the domestication could begin. Your caretakers became the judges of what was right and what was wrong, and what was good and what was bad. They had opinions, not just about you, but also about each other, themselves, their friends, their government, and the events in their lives. They judged. The Toltecs call this childhood experience the time of the “First Attention.”  (Please note that you will find terms such as this used differently in different lineages and teachings. Remember to use your beginner’s mind). This time of the First Attention is the time when you used your attention for the first time, during your original domestication, to accept the beliefs and agreements being downloaded into your mind from the prevailing dream. Most of what was downloaded was from the Judges outside. In time, you learned to agree with the external Judges. You learned that you had to agree, or you would be punished and rejected, so the voice of the outer Judges became your voice, in your mind. You have a Judge for every occasion. See how many of the judgments in this selection you recognize from your childhood. Feel free to add your own.

The Voice of the External Judge: “You are so messy! I am so tired of always having to clean up after you! Don’t use that tone of voice with me, young man/ lady! Why did I ever have children/ boys/ girls? I wouldn’t have to drink if it wasn’t for you kids. What is the matter with you? There is nothing to cry about. Stop that pouting. What are you smiling about? Stop all that noise and go outside if you have to run around yelling like that! How do you expect me to watch TV with all of that noise? You don’t expect me to talk to you dressed like that, do you? What is this “C” on your report card? In my family we always get “A’s”. You are so stupid! Where did you get an idea like that? There is no such thing as monsters under your bed, now march right back in there and go to sleep and quit bothering us. I am not going to put up with your whining. Why did you dress in those ridiculous clothes? Do you think that looks good? Any son of mine has to be tough enough to defend himself against people like them — don’t come running to me, sniveling about it! Do not talk back to me. I told you to kiss your Aunt Marigold good night and I meant it! Who ever told you that you could sing? Get out of here, I can’t stand the noise. We always tell the truth in our family. I don’t know where you get these crazy ideas, your mother and I are very happy. We weren’t fighting, just talking loud, you don’t know anything. Stop that crying or I will give you something to cry about. Why do you always insist on interrupting when I am talking/ watching television/ on the phone/ reading the paper? Don’t interrupt. Where are your manners!? You are not (fill in blank) enough. If you bug me about what you want you can’t have it. Why can’t you get it right? Why don’t you pay attention!? What were you thinking when you spilled that? I don’t care what you think about it. You can’t because I said so. You should be grateful for what you have instead of asking for more. I am not surprised nobody wants to play with you, you are so selfish.”
Just for Fun

ACTION: If this list stirred emotional responses in you, sit quietly for a moment, perhaps with your eyes closed, and let those emotions stir.

Journal about your relationship to those emotions. If nothing stirred, then also sit quietly for a moment, and see if it is because no one ever spoke to you like this, or is it because there is something blocking your response? Do it now. smSerpent I want to remind you about our agreement that if emotions arise from your work in this community that cannot be held or managed in this format, you agree to find additional support from me, your Mentor, one of our Toltec teachers, a local therapist, a group, or other source. Make sure you participate in the Chat Room and Forum here to share your truth and find support from your community. This is an important responsibility you have to yourself. In Gateway Five (Recapitulation), there are some powerful Inner Child exercises that will help you to explore your relationship with difficult, strong, or confusing emotions. For now, one thing at a time. smSerpent
MUSIC: Listen as James Nihan (“Murals”) sings about the Judge, the stories, and what happens when we believe the Judge’s lies and fall from heaven into hell:

Stories (4:06)

The Voice of The Inner Judge: What is the matter with me? Why can’t I get it right? I am not beautiful enough, smart enough, tall enough, happy enough, serious enough, focused enough, spiritual enough, relaxed enough, free spirited enough, mature enough, open enough, thin enough, buffed enough, loving enough, lovable enough, stylish enough, sexy enough, healthy enough, old enough, young enough, slick enough, discriminating enough, rich enough, outgoing enough, sophisticated enough, brave enough, humble enough, able to see well enough, knowledgeable enough, meditative enough, outgoing enough, man enough, funny enough, healthy enough, blond enough, enlightened enough. “I should be more emotionally available, more friendly, less sensitive, more outgoing, less emotional, more authentic, less nervous, more warm and caring, less afraid, more stylish, less judgmental, more spiritual, have less debt, eat better, and just be more aware!”

There is another, much more subtle level to the Judge, that needs to be mentioned, also. Not all of the messages from the outer Judges were spoken out loud, nor were they necessarily abusive or overtly hurtful. If someone didn’t come when you called, whether it was to change your diaper, feed you, or see a dead lizard in the patio, if they didn’t put the newspaper down when you wanted to show them your school art, or any of the other small ways that even busy loving parents didn’t respond to your childhood needs, you were hurt. And the message you gave yourself was: “I am not important enough (or good enough, or interesting enough, etc., for them to want to pay attention to me and love me.” Those distorted “truths” were added to the litany of your Inner Judge. “I need you to listen to me with your eyes, too, Daddy, not just your ears!” When you become aware of how constant this inner Judge is, I hope you will rebel and “Just Say NO to the Judge!” If there were someone walking around behind you saying the things your inner Judge says to you over and over, you would probably want to punch him (or worse!). When you rebel against the Judge you realize he is a figment of someone else’s imagination, not even yours. They taught your Judge his laws, and taught you to believe him. As long as you continue to believe the Judge, you are going to be walking around in the world trying to prove that you are OK, first to the Judge inside and then to everyone outside that you imagine is judging you the way you are judging yourself. Everyone is wearing a mask (or several), to hide the self that they judge as unworthy of being seen or known. It is like Halloween.

GW3.5 - Allan with Mexican stone maskEveryone is walking around with a mask on pretending to be someone else. Who are YOU? (More on the masks in Gateway 3). In fact, the Judge is really only concerned with the outside world. He wants you to look good, to conform, to act and dress and speak in acceptable ways, and to fit in. The fear of being rejected and sent outside of the family (tribe, pack, social circle, club, fraternity, team, spiritual group, relationship, TACO) to suffer alone is so strong that the Judge frantically works to keep you inside the lines, where you will be safe. This is why the Spiritual Warrior (coming soon) has to remember that he/she is alone already. We are all alone. When you face and accept your alone-ness, it makes the threat of being rejected a lot less threatening. If you follow the laws of your Judge, you aren’t going to be You, you are going to be the Judge’s idea of the perfect you, which is a combination of the best qualities of everyone else and has nothing to do with you. Those rules say you should be different than you are. You cannot be different than you are. Read it again. You cannot be different than you are. You can pretend to be different than you are, but you cannot be different than you are. When you stop following the Judges’ rules, you can become the actual You, and get on with your life. The rules are someone else’s invention and they have absolutely nothing to do with you. You have followed them all your life and I wonder, how have they served you? Have they made you happy? How have they served those that believed them and taught them to your Judge? Are they happy?

The Book of Law

The Judge actually has all of the rules bound together in his Book of Law. In that book it has everything about how you should be, how you should act, how much money you should make, what you should be and do in a relationship — every way that you should be and act is in that Book—see above. The frontispiece in the book is a picture of the Perfect You, with a little halo around your head, and every quality that the Judge knows would make you desirable and lovable absolutely exudes from the picture. The Judge looks at you, then looks at the book, and points out to you how you are failing to live up to the image and the law. When you have broken the law, you are tried and convicted, and you must be punished. And he is a “hanging judge.” He punishes you over and over for the same “crimes.” Have you noticed that? If you say something to someone that the Judge thinks was thoughtless, or you forget an important birthday, or you married the wrong person, how many times does he bring it up, make you wrong, and describe to you the suffering you caused in yourself or another person, and blame you because they will probably never want to talk to you again? smSerpent  Sometimes the Judge can become so angry with you that he thinks you should die. I have known people that have had inner Judge voices yelling at them to throw themselves in front of a truck, or off an overpass, because of the anger. The Judge is usually that angry because he says you should have protected yourself and stopped someone and not allowed some serious physical or sexual abuse when you were small. He blames all the pain and shame on you and thinks you should suffer his hatred or die as punishment for your failures. If your Judge is that angry, I encourage you to find a loving resource to personally guide you through your hurt, along with our work here together. Let me know if I can help. So the Judge makes you wrong inside, and also projects those judgments outside. He criticizes other people — their clothes, hair, furniture, car, opinions, cooking, driving, bodies, attitudes and behavior, even their judgments. He judges the weather, TV programs, your parents or children, the government, and the potholes in the street. Every judgment is based on your opinions, which are based on what you know. If, as we discussed earlier, what you know is based mostly on smoke and bad mirrors, then the opinions and judgments your knowledge gives rise to are not all that sound either. Is that where you want to hook your attention? Is that what you want as the source of your decisions and responses to the world? Is that who you want to be? Do you want to be a puppet, or a person? I know you want to be free. I get to assume that!

ACTION: Write down three original thoughts in your journal, from the past or present moment. Do not include anything you heard from somewhere else, or any combination of things you know from being told.

ACTION: Write down five judgments (or more!) you have about TACO and Gateway One. Stalk them to learn what they reveal about beliefs you have about how it should be. Where did those beliefs originate? Who do they remind you of? Does believing them serve you?

“You can never be good enough by proving you are.” (Allan)

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Pathstep 1-9: The Victim Child

If the Judge is The Director of Domestication in the big Mitote committee in your mind, and is constantly talking about what is wrong with you and what you should have done differently, who is he talking to?

When you are little and you had an emotion inside of you, your natural impulse was to put it out into the world. Your natural expectation was that your need would be filled or an adjustment made by the caregivers around you according to your desires. For most of us that worked pretty well when we were infants — we cried, they fixed it. As our needs got more sophisticated and we began dreaming our own personal dream, we entered into conflict with our caregiver’s dream. Their job was to deny us our dream and teach us theirs. Simple. No right or wrong here. Just the way of the world.

If they were enforcing their reality, then you couldn’t use the truth of your emotions and your inside experience (your integrity), to affect your environment. You truly became a victim of the outside world, without power or control over what happened to you or in your environment. This is true whether you were raised in “normal” circumstances of domestication, or in a severe and abusive situation. The experience of powerless-ness and the resulting dream of Victim was the same — only the degree was different.

In a healthy system, a child might say, “I don’t like broccoli, and I don’t want to eat it,” and someone would respond: “That is fine, what would you like to eat?” If that listening and respect were consistent, the child would learn that she has control of her environment, that she can express her reality into her environment and it will have an effect. A child raised with that respect will have an entirely different way of getting her needs met and of feeling empowered as an adult (including learning to enjoy broccoli—or not).

The childhood powerlessness creates the Victim dream, which continues into adulthood and reinforces itself over and over again. Once that dream is projected out, the world is very happy to project it back. There is nothing in the Dream of the Planet to encourage you to let go of the Victim of childhood and claim your personal power as an adult. When you left home, no one said: “This home-life was not how the world really is, this was just our beliefs and fears and have nothing to do with reality. The world is a wondrous place of power, beauty, health, joy and abundance. Just leave that Victim dream and the Judge by the door as you leave and go out and have a wonderful, creative life.”

10.Victim Child1
Click on the graphic to see the Victim Child– broken-hearted and hiding his or her truth…

The Victim Child

The childhood experience of powerlessness becomes the adult Dream of the Victim.

In this audio I share about the psychological content of the early Gateways of TACO.

TACO Psychology (6:55)

Your childhood dream of victimization becomes part of the old light that is stored in your channels of perception. If your family taught you that is how the world will treat you, then that is how your world will look and respond to you. The light will come in and pick up that distortion and the little hologram of victimization and powerlessness will look real to you and it will show up everywhere in your life. When you see it and believe that it is real and miss the fact that you distorted the light because of your experiences, it reinforces the belief and adds new light to the channels that says, “I am a victim.”

It is vital you learn not to believe the evidence you have accumulated that validates these beliefs as real because the light is being distorted by itself. The experiences of childhood repeat themselves most insidiously in your adult life when a person or event replicates your most needy or fearful childhood experiences — such as when you are reaching out for love that is not there, or when an authority figure is an angry a judge.

As a child, you knew that it was not fair to be treated without respect for your little dream, sensibilities, and your body. That feeling of injustice is part of the Victim dream.

The Victim voice says: “It’s not fair! What about me? How come nobody picks me? It always happens this way. It never works out. I’ll never be good enough. Everything always goes wrong. There is no point in asking, he always says No. Why date, there aren’t any good men/women out there anyway. I tried, and tried, but what’s the use? It is not my fault. If I were more (fill in blank) then it would be easier. If other people weren’t so (fill in blank) then I could (fill in blank). You just can’t get ahead in this world. My therapist said I was the victim of childhood abuse, so it is no wonder I can’t get ahead in life. It’s not fair. Why me? It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It doesn’t do any good to share my feelings (needs, truth). Nobody cares about it anyway. I know I should meditate, but my knees hurt, and the people upstairs make so much noise it is impossible. Nobody listens to me. I should take better care of myself, but I can’t afford it (don’t have the time, keep forgetting, can’t decide what to do). You have to fight to get your share, and I believe in peace. It’s not fair.”

Sounds like Hell, doesn’t it?

The Victim believes the Judge . . . it is part of the programming of Domestication. The Judge in your mind makes you wrong, and your Victim child self believes him, and feels powerless, hurt, angry, helpless, and hopeless.

ACTION: Read these instructions, then leave your computer. Go somewhere to sit quietly, and review your day. Listen for the voice of the Victim. Were you hurt by something someone said today? How did you respond (silently, and/or out loud)? Did you feel left out of something? Were you angry at the way someone treated you? Did you feel powerless to change or affect a person or circumstance in your day? Who did you blame? Sit quietly with your thoughts and feelings.

Journal what you noticed—with pure self-love.


Living in the Victim dream is very common, and causes much suffering and pain. The Victim dream makes people angry, hurt, resentful, and suspicious. Victims take everything personally, and blame others for their misfortunes and failures. They believe (or imagine) bad or critical things people say about them, and collapse into powerlessness and despair. The most important manifestation of the Victim dream is power-less-ness. It is the replay of the childhood experience of being over-ruled, over-run, and over-powered.

The worst victimization, of course, is what the Judge does to you inside. Everything the Judge says, he says to the Victim part of your inner kingdom. It is the inner Victim that believes the Judge, knows she is a failure at being what she should be, and needs masks and strategies to hide her failure from the world. The Victim is afraid to be seen as so imperfect, when the Judge demands such perfection. She hides behind her masks, roles, and strategies. It is a lot of work. Hiding the truth of who they are uses up most human’s personal power every day.

The Victim Dream is Learned

The Victim dream is a perception. It comes from a learned point of view, an assemblage point, and is no more or less real than any other point of view. It is not even good or bad, or right or wrong. It is just a way of perceiving the world and the self. Applying my Toltec criterion, we could ask: “Does it make you happy?” If it does, fine. If it doesn’t, you can change it. That is the good news: You can change it. The other news is: Although it is quite simple to change, it is not so easy. Let us continue.

Everyone goes in and out of the Victim dream– some, considerably more than others. It is what keeps therapists of all kinds in business, as well as religions. Many of the symbols of organized religions are about suffering and victims. Think about a bloody Jesus hanging on a cross, saints depriving themselves or being tortured, and the fear of suffering in Hell for eternity as punishment for your sins. That is suffering!

The Victim is afraid to take risks, and especially afraid to fail, because the Judge is just waiting to drop kick him or her back through the goal posts of Hell. You could say that the Judge, in addition to being the director of domestication, is the Gatekeeper of Hell. Anyone trying to escape will be judged, punished, and thrown back into Hell. The lock on the gate is Fear. The Warrior is the one with the key, and we will get to him soon.
Just for Fun

I want to say something else about psychotherapy. There are many wonderful people working as therapists, perhaps you are one, or have been helped by one. There is a dangerous dead end road I want to warn about down which many therapists and teachers (including myself in the past) have taken their clients.

Probably most people seek therapy because of their Victim dream. They have been hurt by love, anger, betrayal, or injustice, and need help letting go of it. So many therapists help them to release their anger, maybe with a pillow and a baseball bat, and teach them to set “boundaries” to protect themselves. The client is empowered to go into the world and create boundaries: “No, you cannot talk to me that way, it hurts my feelings. You are abusive and you have to stop. You hurt me, don’t ever do it again. You have to love me better than you do. You make me angry when you are late– you have to be on time. I am writing to you to tell you that you should have faster service. If you hurt my feelings again I am leaving you.”

Victims in the healing room are often “empowered” to make other people wrong for their own hurt feelings, fear, and anger. I call this the “empowered victim.” It is not freedom, because when you get angry and set boundaries, you are still believing that someone else is causing your suffering. You are still perceiving yourself as a Victim.

From the empowered victim perspective, in order to be happy you have to change other people in order to protect yourself. There are too many people! You can’t change them all no matter how empowered you are. And it is not just the people; it is the DMV, the CDC, the IRS, the NSA, the NRA, Monsanto– plus stop lights, all drivers, the pothole in the highway, and God. How can you ever be empowered enough to change enough of the world to feel safe and happy? You cannot.

I call upon all helping professionals to not let their clients get stuck in Empowered Victimhood. It may be a useful place to visit on certain journeys (to find the lost Voice of Protest, perhaps), but it is not a worthwhile destination in itself.

You feel victimized and take things personally because of the poison in your Victim dream, not because of what other people do or say to you. Your Victim dream releases its own poison into your emotional body, you feel it, and blame the other person or institution. We will explore this wondrous mystery in much greater detail in a later gateway.

Don Miguel Ruiz says in his book, The Four Agreements, if someone shoots you in the head, it is not personal. You are not a Victim. Here is the ultimate non-victim perspective: “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do. They have put a crown of thorns on me, stabbed me in the side, and given me vinegar to drink instead of water. They have nailed me to a cross in the hot sun and I don’t take it personally. They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t understand. I came to love them, and tell them of Your love. They are being driven by fear. They think it is because I am bad. I know I am not. They are simply living in their dream, and I in mine. I forgive them.”

ACTION: Is there anybody you have been using lately to make yourself a Victim? Perhaps you owe them an apology for using them to hurt yourself!

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Pathstep 1-10: The Wall of Strategies, Masks and Adaptations

The Victim Child, hurt by the injustice of the accusations and demands of the Judge, needs some way to protect himself. What to do? There is nowhere to hide, he is too little to move to his friend’s house down the street, and he has learned that expressing his anger just makes things worse. What to do?

It is remarkable how resourceful each of us was to develop masks and strategies in an attempt to try to get it right for the Judge. Depending on the circumstances of your domestication, you developed strategies that helped you meet your need for love, attention, approval and safety, as well as to deny the fear of failing to be worthy, or to numb the pain of knowing you were not unworthy.

Everyone is wearing a mask and acting out their strategies, whether it is the fellow that always gathers everyone around for the latest jokes, or the person sitting quietly alone in the back of the room. Whether it is the unfortunate soul down on her luck, or the valiant hero that rescues her from her plight, the strategies are making the choices and creating the dream.

Imagine wearing a mask. You can present whatever face you want to the world. You can hide your true identity. Just like Halloween. How perfect, since the Judge says that your true self should be hidden because it is not good enough, and then goes on to remind you how you should be. Just as there is a Judge for all occasions, there is a mask for all occasions. Knowing how you should be, you present your mask to the world, hoping they will believe it is the true you . . . while behind the mask, you believe your Judge’s lies and live in fear that your hoax will be discovered. Whew, it is a lot of work! And like I said, it uses up most of your personal power.

(A note: I can imagine some of you saying, “don Allan is not talking to me, I am not in such bad shape. Maybe this program is for people more wounded or dysfunctional than I am.” Well, it could be true. What could also be true is that we all have created very complex denial systems as our best strategy. I want to cut through that denial. It is not my intention here to create a philosophical treatise on why people are unhappy. I want to shake you up. I want to get you asking yourself deep questions about the truth of what I am saying. I want you to be happy! I want you to free yourself to love wildly and freely… for no good reason!

To see the Wall of Strategies, Masks, and Adaptations, click on this image:

13.Wall of StrategiesDo you have original thoughts and make choices freely from your truth? Or is your life being run by a program that someone else put in your mind? My intention is to rattle belief systems here, so that in Gateway Two we can begin to take them apart and create an even deeper awareness of the magnitude and thoroughness of your domestication. From there: Transformation and Freedom! I promised that we would go all the way. This is where we start.

Your Masks and Strategies Become Your Adult Personality

To the extent that your masks, strategies, roles and adaptations dominate your personality, you will remain in bondage and a puppet. The outside world will pull your strings, and you will react — not based on the integrity of your true self, but on the programmed actions of the character you are pretending to be in any given moment. Personal freedom is the gift you give yourself by finding and releasing the agreements that keep you masked by the fear of being seen and known. Because we have a mind, we will always dream. Because we dream, we will always wear a mask. There is no right mask or bad mask. The goal is choice. When they are no longer needed, the masks and strategies become something you choose when appropriate, and then detach and set aside. The Toltecs say: “A Nagual is a man or woman of 1000 masks, who is attached to none of them.” May that soon be you.

Some of the Masks we will be exploring in great depth in Gateway Three are: The Hero, Bully, Star, Caretaker, Rescuer, Enabler, Rebel, Perfectionist, Loser, Mystic, Clown, Addict, Space Case, Guru, Romantic, Martyr, Prince/Princess, Pleaser, Procrastinator, Complainer, Helper, Peacemaker, Lawyer, Hermit, Adventurer, Talker, Intellectual, Victim, Ms. Together, and the Co-dependent, along with strategies such as procrastination, justification, promiscuity, chaos, impatience, illness, invisibility, depression, and rage. Stay tuned!

Some strategies are used to numb out the pain caused by failure to achieve both the perfection the Judge demands, and the acceptance the soul cries out for. Addictions to food, drugs and alcohol, worry, or relationships take the awareness away from the hurt and cover it with the safety of denial.

EXAMPLE: Masks and strategies spring from the resourcefulness of the Victim Child. Imagine that the child comes home from school with a “C” grade on a report card. Dad is furious: “My family has earned ‘A’s’ for three generations. I will not let you ruin that legacy. What are you, stupid?? Or just lazy? Don’t let this happen again, do you hear me?!” The child has various options for protecting himself from further judgment and rejection. The most obvious is to study harder, maybe copy from someone, and get “A’s.” Whatever it takes to please Dad so he doesn’t yell again. And so, a Star is born.

But what if he tries as hard as he can and can’t earn “A’s”? What then? Or maybe he gets the “A’s” and Dad never notices or mentions it again. The child is thinking: “I worked hard to please Dad, and my heart still hurts. I jumped through all of his hoops and nobody notices. The heck with Dad, the heck with his love, screw it! I don’t care about grades or school! And besides, I think I am going to go get a tattoo.” And the Rebel is born. Maybe the Rebel, to prove he doesn’t care anymore, gets “D’s”. Dad says: “I give up on you. You don’t belong in this family. You are a loser. I don’t want to hear about you anymore.”

The Rebel has successfully protected the victim child from the outer Judge. The Judge has given up on him, and will no longer be watching and criticizing. Of course, the inner Judge is not that easy to get rid of, nor is Dad, probably, but the child is doing his best in a difficult situation. Now he has a mask, “The Loser,” and he must stay attached to it, regardless of what other impulses may arise in him.

Your Strategies and Masks Split You

This reveals another important aspect of these masks: For every strategy you created, you denied and disowned the other half of that part of your personality. To be a Star denies the Rebel, to be a Loser denies the Achiever. The wholeness you are looking for is yours when you bring back into awareness and acceptance those parts of you that you split off in order to create and wear your mask(s). Once again, I must say “More on that later!”

So to protect herself from the hurt of judgment, the Victim child erects a wall between the Judge and herself. It is made out of heavy blocks. Each block is a new mask or strategy to protect herself from the Judge. Most of them help her to look good and get it right. Maybe some of them help to numb or deny the fear and pain of rejection. The stronger the Judge, the tougher the wall needs to be, and the stronger the mortar (fear) that holds it all together. The tougher the wall, the more rigid the personality. The more rigid the personality, the more one suffers. And stuck in that rigidity, we are unable to participate in the beautiful, sensual flow of Life/ Love/ Divinity that is the fluid, present, gracious reality of the Creation in which we live.

Just for Fun

As I said before, we will continue to explore these masks and strategies in Gateway Three, after we have initiated the Mitote Book in Gateway Two, and have begun taking apart the entire dream of judgment and fear. One piece at a time. Your masks and strategies represent everything that you know — your entire belief system is reflected in them and their hidden opposites. When you reclaim your personal power from the strategies you learned and invest it in your conscious adult life, you will discover a freedom to be You that can only be experienced by being there.

ACTION: Before you move on to the next PathStep, do some contemplating. What is the dominant part of your personality, or, we could say, your favorite mask or strategy? Look the list over again if you need to. Then sit for a while with the idea that the masks you present to the world are an old resource from childhood. How did they serve you then? How do they serve you now? If you took them off, and someone saw you without them, how would you feel?

Write your experience in your TACO Journal.

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Pathstep 1-11: The Parasite

The Toltecs call the combination of the Judge and his book of law, the Victim, the belief system, and the masks and strategies that go with it, The Parasite. It is a system of knowledge based on fear. It says, “You have to look good for other people. There is a limited amount of love available, you need it to live, and you have to be good and get it right to get your share.” That is the Parasite. Most people live solely and completely as the Parasite.

Don Miguel, in The Four Agreements, describes the Toltec parasite in this way:

“When we talk about the Toltec path to freedom, we find that they have an entire map for breaking free of domestication. They compare the Judge, the Victim, and the belief system to a parasite that invades the human mind. From the Toltec point of view, all humans who are domesticated are sick. They are sick because there is a parasite that controls the mind and controls the brain. The food for the parasite is the negative emotions that come from fear.”

“If we look at the description of a parasite, we find that a parasite is a living being who lives off of other living beings, sucking their energy without any useful contribution in return, and hurting their host little by little. The Judge, the Victim, and the belief system fit this description very well. Together they comprise a living being made of psychic or emotional energy, and that energy is alive.”

When we take the fish out of the water and she wakes up out of the Parasite dream, she has the chance to see: “Wow, I am suffering in Hell, and for no good reason, except for what I agreed to believe! I am asleep in the midst of a Life going on around me that looks to be wildly joyful. I see that I am surrounded with abundance, and the joyful celebration of plants and animals and all beings, living in the magic of Life. I want to be part of that. I want to be free!” Me, too! You, too?Click on the image here to see how the Judge, Victim child, and the Wall of masks and strategies hold the Parasite energy. There is no loving resource in the circle to break the power of the circle—it is all based in fear.

Can you imagine other living beings with a personal parasite like we humans? A small oak tree would be jealous of a larger oak tree, and say: “It isn’t fair that you are so big. How come you got the good soil, and I have to be over here in the rocks?” Or, the large oak tree says: “I had better not grow this year, I shouldn’t hurt the little oak tree’s feelings by looking too good.” I don’t think that parasite talk is going on out there with the deer, snails, trees, birds, fish, worms, clouds, wind, rain, or galaxies. Nor in your body. Can you imagine your cells worrying about what other cells think, or your liver thinking it should be more like your kidneys so that it will be accepted by your pancreas? The only part of creation that dreams in comparison and fear is we highly evolved humans! What a ridiculous waste of Life.

The Parasite’s Job

The parasite’s job is to keep you in line and following the rules the Judge knows society wants you to follow, so you will be loved and accepted. It controls your behavior with fear; it dresses you and your hair in the morning, and makes most of your choices during the day. The minute you try to write new rules, the parasite is terrified, because in the past to go against the dream meant rejection or worse. The parasite will do everything it can to sabotage your efforts to change your personal dream. It fears for your safety, and ultimately your life, if you go against the Book of Law. Who could blame it? Your parasite learned well, in a very tough school.

If your personal parasite can’t control you, there is always the Big Parasite, a living being that is the dream of the planet. It taught your parasite everything it knows, and colludes with your parasite to keep you asleep. Everyone knows the rules.

EXAMPLE: An apprentice began to seek out uplifting spiritual experiences in her life, and discovered the Church of Religious Science, based on the New Thought principles of Ernest Holmes’ “Science of Mind” (most of the churches in this tradition have changed their names to “Center for Spiritual Living”). She went to a Sunday service, and was enjoying an inspiring talk on the oneness of the unifying presence in creation, when a baby began to cry. “How rude,” she thought to herself, “Why doesn’t that mother take the baby out of here. I am totally distracted, and so is everyone else here.” Her mind began to review other actions by thoughtless people that had interfered with her enjoyment in the past. As the baby continued to fuss, her agitation grew stronger, and her attention was focused on the mother. She casually leaned forward, to see if she could identify the offending mother. Perhaps she would say something to her after the service. She began to rehearse the off-handed way she would let the mother know how inconsiderate she was. She assured herself that if she were a mother, she would never be so thoughtless as to let her baby disturb other people. When her indignant reverie was interrupted by the sound of applause, she realized that the baby and her mother had caused her to miss the entire second half of the talk. Now she was determined to find the mother in the lobby and let her know how she had cheated her out of enjoying the morning’s spiritual message about love and acceptance.

The Parasite won another round. It knows how things should be and how people should act. It knows what is not right, and what is not fair. The Apprentice’s attention was hooked by her knowledge, which is held in the Book of Law and presided over by the Judge. She missed the opportunity to feed her soul with the love and wisdom in the morning talk, and instead her Parasite fed her with judgment and fear.

EXAMPLE: Another apprentice decided that he should meditate every morning as part of his “spiritual work.” He would meditate for one hour every morning. He knew that it would help him to become more loving and peaceful (which meant, of course, that he would be more liked and accepted in his spiritual community). After doing well for the first week, he overslept and had to rush to work without meditating. All day he was agitated, knowing that he would not have time to meditate when he got home, and angry for failing to keep his agreement with himself. He decided that he would have to meditate for two hours the next morning, in order to make up for his failure. (A strong feeling that was working him inside that he was unaware of, was the fear that if he failed in his meditation practice, then he would not be liked and accepted by his spiritual community).

The Parasite made the rules about how this apprentice should meditate. The Parasite created the motivation based on love and acceptance. The Parasite judged the Apprentice for breaking the rules, and punished his failure with anger and the penance of a two-hour meditation. Do you see the Parasite talking to the Parasite? It actually never wanted the apprentice to do anything that might help him become free from the influence and control of the Parasite. So it ran the apprentice in little circles, all dedicated to “spiritual work.” It is the best trick of the Parasite, and we will stay eternally vigilant for it as we proceed here.

If you were to meditate in this context, what kind of meditation is that anyway? You would be meditating because you have a rule that says you have to meditate, or something bad will happen. The ultimate Judge, the dreaded spiritual Judge, will reject you. Who is your spiritual Judge? Inside? Outside? Please, do not let your Parasite trick you into making me your spiritual Judge. In fact, we can play the ultimate dirty trick on your Parasite: You don’t have to do it right for me because there is no right or wrong here. You cannot please me by doing your work here right nor can you disappoint me by doing it wrong. I hold absolutely no standard for how you should do it. If you and I can make and keep that agreement, it is the ultimate trick on your Parasite. If you can partner with me and not set any standards for how you should do your “Toltec spiritual work,” and not judge yourself in any way for how you do or don’t do it — only knowing you are doing it the perfectly appropriate way for you — then you are doing the ultimate Toltec spiritual work in that moment!

A Living Being That Feeds on Your Fear

Your Parasite: A living energy being that lives in you, and both creates and feeds on your fear. Everything from your domestication — the distorting of the light, all of the belief systems in the Book of Law, the judging, victimization, masks, strategies — all of it is based on fear and feeds the Parasite. If you look at it just right, you can sometimes see the Parasite as a living being, searching with its tentacles until it finds a fear or doubt or wound in your emotional body. The minute it finds a wound, it opens it and the tentacles go in and hook you and pull your personal power right out of that wound.

The Toltecs saw this a very long time ago, and now, finally, we get to do something about it. Clearly, we need a new resource, some part of us who is not domesticated into fear, who is able to see the big (divine) picture, and who can be a source of unconditional love as a healing balm for a wounded little victim child inside. Such a being would be The Toltec TACO Spiritual Warrior! Coming soon, in a Gateway Two near you.

ACTION: Leave your computer and sit quietly. Allow the presence of your Parasite to become real to you. Perhaps you can visualize it. Can you feel its fear? Does it have a message for you? Journal your experience.

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Pathstep 1-12: Recap of Gateway One, Surrender in Hell

This is the end of Gateway One—but not the end of your experience in the Mastery of Awareness and waking up from the old dream!

You learned how you perceive and distort the light into your personal dream. This is the most important understanding of the Toltec wisdom, and the foundation of all to come.

You were domesticated by your early caregivers to distort the light and create fear. This fear-based knowledge is your parasite, and controls your life until you break the dark spell. Your assemblage point determines your point of view of life—and changing it changes your life. Awareness gives you choice about your assemblage point.

In Gateway One you were invited to “surrender in Hell.” This hell is the result of your domestication, fear, distortions, and beliefs. You don’t have to die to go there, it’s easy to live there all the time. You can surrender your attachment to the agreements and beliefs that create your private dream of Hell. Your Judge is the gatekeeper of your Hell, the chaos of the Mitote in your mind.

The Judge is criticizing the Victim child within, and creating fear. To get it right for the Judge, or protect yourself from the Judge’s criticism, the Strategy children learned to wear masks and adapt behaviors to keep the Victim safe.


I trust you have honored yourself and your apprenticeship by being thorough in the Gateway. Congratulations. You have eight more. There is no rush—and, I remind you, not a moment to waste! If you answer these Self-Reflection Questions (click on the toggle bar below) and realize there a parts of the GW you missed or want to go back to, do it! Remember my goal: Make this the last and final time you will struggle with your past, your limitations, and your doubts about your divine perfection.

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Gateway 1 - Self-Reflection Questions

You will find Self Reflection Questions at the end of each Gateway in TACO. I want you to carefully answer these questions before you move on to the next Gateway. When you submit them they will be e-mailed to you and to me, and to your Mentor if you have one. We want to know how you are doing. This isn’t a test you can pass or fail, there are no grades, and I probably won’t respond unless you are in personal apprenticeship with me. These questions here are for you to assess how you are integrating the material, and what you are learning about yourself from the ACTION steps– plus they will give you a record of your progress through the Gateways. I suggest you open a folder and save all of your responses. You may wish to revisit your record of these “SRQs” from time to time and see how you might respond to these questions differently as you deepen your understanding and experience. Note the two buttons below the “SRQ” to “Save Progress” or “Submit.” You can save your answers and come back to them later. When you are ready, us the ‘Submit” button to send the answers to yourself, me, and whoever else you wish to.

We are breaking your habit of skimming through wisdom teachings, recognizing them on the surface, and not absorbing them or using them to actually change your mind’s Mitote. I can assume that you have that habit, because otherwise you would not be here—something you studied before would have been the final thing you needed! Make it your intention to use TACO as the last time you use knowledge as a tool for your freedom. Go for it 100%. After this, your tool is Love.

Remember I have configured this program so you cannot move to the next Gateway until you have been in this one for a minimum of one month and are current with your membership. If Gateway 2 appears on your menu before you are done with this Gateway, it will stay there—simply keep going until you feel complete in this GW. When you hit the SUBMIT button you will receive a copy of your answers and a copy will be e-mailed to me and whoever else you want to have it. I suggest you write your answers in a separate text document and then paste them here to prevent losing the information!

Go to Gateway 1 Self-Reflection Questions Here