Most ancient civilizations around the world had a set of beliefs, ideas and teachings about life and the Toltec culture of Mexico was no different. Toltec, meaning the craftsman, was one of great empires of the Basin of Mexico that existed around 900-1200AD. The Toltec empire controlled most of central Mexico, parts of the Yucatan area, the Gulf coast, and the Pacific coast, with its capital located in Tula.
Toltecs had an incredible knowledge of the mind and spiritual philosophy that incorporated esoteric teachings that allowed them to create very effective systems of teaching. Their teachings offer one possible path in life, where we raise our awareness through learning to ultimately become beings of knowledge. This can be achieved through selecting paths in life that have our heart, and defeating the four natural enemies in life.
When we embark on our learning experience, we come across hardships caused by unclear objectives and vague intentions. This is where we discover fear, the first natural enemy in life. Fear waits for us at every corner, becomes an obstacle in learning, and difficult to overcome. If fear stops our learning, we become defeated, scared individuals, bullies or fear mongers who operate out of fear. To overcome fear, one needs to continue taking steps until eventually fear retreats and stops being an obstacle. When fear is defeated, learning no longer is a terrifying task instead confidence increases, intent becomes clearer and clarity fills the mind.
Clarity is the second natural enemy in life, since it blinds us and initiates complacency that stops us from further growth. Clarity forces us to never doubt ourselves and gives us a false sense of security or assurance that we know everything. When we yield to this imaginary power, we are unable to learn anymore and stop learning. To overcome clarity we must realize that clarity is almost a mistake and only use it to continue taking action. With sensory acuity, we must be able to change and adjust according to every new learning experience we undertake.
The old believe everything; the middle aged suspect everything, and the young know everything. – Oscar Wilde
When we overcome fear and clarity, we enter into an area where we are seen as masters or experts by others. This is where we discover the third and the strongest natural enemy in life, power. Inability to overcome power, turns us into cruel, capricious, self-absorbing and important individuals. A being who is defeated by power dies without really knowing how to handle it. As power becomes a burden upon our fate, we abandon learning and become blind to our own errors. To many, power becomes an addiction as self importance becomes a higher priority.
Self-importance is man’s greatest enemy. What weakens him is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of his fellow men. Self-importance requires that one spend most of one’s life offended by something or someone. – Don Juan.
To overcome power, we must realize that the power we seemingly have conquered, in reality, is never ours. We must handle power carefully and use all that we have learned faithfully and ethically. In Tao, when we become self-absorbed, power of modesty is recommended, as it invites loyal alignment with others. To defeat power, we must treat others with respect no matter what our level of success in life is.
As long as a man feels that he is the most important thing in the world, he cannot really appreciate the world around him. He is like a horse with blinders; all he sees is himself, apart from everything else. – Carlos Castaneda.
When we have no more fears, no impatient clarity of mind, all power is in check, a strong desire to rest surfaces and our last enemy makes an appearance, old age. Old age is the cruelest enemy that cannot be completely defeated, only delayed for a while. With our permission, old age can cut us down into weak and feeble old creatures, slowly draining our body’s life force. To overcome old age, we must implement a physically and mentally active lifestyle that allows us to live an active life for life. Only until then, according to the Toltec wisdom, we truly can become beings of knowledge.
Miguel, R. (2000). The Four Agreements. San Fransisco, CA: Amber Allen Publishing.
Mijas, R. (2010). Awareness Through Time. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Publishing.
Smith, M.E. & Montiel, L. (2001). The archaeological study of empires and imperialism in pre-hispanic central Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 20(3):245-284.