The Wisdom of Un-learning
Esalen Team
February 1, 2019
Photo by Miguel Ruiz Jr. and Jose Ruiz

Brothers Miguel Jr. and Jose Ruiz belong to a lineage of spiritual teachers called naguales in their Toltec tradition. Both apprenticed with their father, Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, as well as their grandmother, Madre Sarita. Now, the generations intertwine with the Ruiz family teaching and co-authoring books together while also pursuing individual callings. In The Agreements of Love, Miguel Jr. and Jose will lead workshop participants on a journey from ancient to modern life guided by their ancestral knowledge.

The Toltec tradition is oral, not written, and the brothers embody their teachings in part by sharing the stories of their lives. “Our elders have shared with us the lessons that life taught them,” says Miguel Jr. “Though a lot of the mediums have changed, the way we relate to the world hasn’t, and that is what helps us to heal the wounds that have distorted our lines of communication and our lives.”

“The wisdom of my elders shows us that there is nothing to learn but only to unlearn what does not serve us anymore,” says Jose. This un-learning often takes the form of releasing the assumptions, judgements and negativity that prevent people from tapping into the unconditional love underlying life. “These teachings bring us the awareness to help us understand where negativity is created,” Jose continues. “We don’t have to believe or take sides or take things personally. We can consciously make a choice to bring ourselves the gift of inner peace. This can only come from within.”

The Ruiz brothers use a framework of five agreements as the foundation from which they guide people through this process of un-learning. The first four agreements, originally set out by their father, include the following: Be impeccable with your word; Don’t take anything personally; Don’t make assumptions; Always do your best. These agreements are widely known and utilized around the world; The Four Agreements has been translated into 40 languages and sold more than seven million copies.

From early on, Miguel Ruiz Sr. tried to share a fifth agreement, that encouraged people to see the wholeness of their reality: Be skeptical, but learn to listen. “Though I shared the fifth agreement, I discovered that no one was ready to learn the teachings that underlie it,” Miguel Sr. shares. But years later, his son Jose successfully brought it to the world. They co-authored The Fifth Agreement in 2011. “By making the five agreements, we can become aware of what takes our inspiration away,” says Jose. “In the Toltec tradition, ‘Toltec’ means artists of the spirit. The way we live our life is an art; that is why it’s very important in this day in age to be authentic and live with an open heart. Life is too short to have it closed.”

The Ruiz brothers’ workshop offers rare insight into a living oral lineage. Plus, they have a lot of fun together. “Teaching together feels like we’re playing, just like when we were kids. But now instead of playing with toys and games, we are teaching and spreading our knowledge,” says Miguel Jr. “I hope that people come away with a moment of clarity that allows them to make a choice: to either continue to live with conditional love, or to live in unconditional love. To be able to make that choice with awareness.”

Learn more about The Agreements of Love.

Photo by Rick Rasmussen


Esalen Team