Every Mind Is a World

Every Mind Is a World

by don Miguel Ruiz, don Jose Ruiz, and Janet Mills

When we are born, there are no words in our mind, but we have a brain and we have eyes, and our brain captures images that come from light. We start perceiving light and the reaction of our brain to light is an endless play of images in our imagination, in our mind.

When the brain is awake, there is a material frame that makes us perceive things in a linear way; when the brain is asleep, there is no frame, and the dream has the tendency to change constantly. Even with the brain awake, we have the tendency to daydream, and the dream is constantly changing.

The imagination is so powerful that it takes us to many places. We see things in our imagination that other people don’t see; we hear things that other people don’t hear. Imagination gives movement to the images we see, but the images only exist in the mind, in the dream.

Light, images, imagination, dreaming. . . .
You are dreaming right now, and this is something that you can easily verify.

Imagine looking into a mirror. Inside the mirror is a whole world of objects, but you know that what you see is just a reflection of what is real. It looks like it’s real, it looks like the truth, but it’s not real and it’s not the truth. If you try to touch the objects inside the mirror, you only touch the surface of the mirror.

What you see inside the mirror is just an image of reality, which means it’s a virtual reality; it’s a dream. And it’s the same kind of dream that humans dream with the brain awake because what you see inside the mirror is a copy of reality that you create with the capacity of your eyes and your brain. It’s an image of the world that you construct within your mind, which means it’s how your own mind perceives reality. What a dog sees in the mirror is how the dog’s brain perceives reality. What an eagle sees in that same mirror is how the eagle’s brain perceives reality, and it’s different from your own.

Now imagine looking into your eyes instead of a mirror. Your eyes perceive light that’s being reflected from millions of objects outside of your eyes. Billions of rays of light come from everywhere, go inside your eyes, and project images of objects in your eyes. You think you are seeing all these objects, but the only thing you are really seeing is light that’s being reflected.

Everything you perceive is a reflection of what is real, just like the reflections in a mirror, except for one important difference. Behind the mirror there is nothing, but behind your eyes is a brain that tries to make sense of everything.

Your brain is interpreting everything you perceive according to the meaning you give to every word, according to the structure of your language, according to all of the knowledge that was programmed in your mind. Everything you perceive is being filtered through your entire belief system. And the result of interpreting everything you perceive by using everything you believe is your personal dream, an entire virtual reality in your mind.

Perhaps you can see how easy it is for humans to distort what we perceive. Light reproduces a perfect image of what is real, but we distort the image by creating a story with all those opinions and beliefs that we learned. We dream about it with our imagination, and by agreement we think that our dream is the absolute truth when the real truth is that our dream is a relative truth, a reflection of the truth that is always going to be distorted by all the knowledge we have stored in our memory.

Many masters have said that every mind is a world, and it’s true.

The world we think we see outside of us is actually inside of us. It’s just images in our imagination. It’s a dream, and this has been known for centuries, not only in Mexico by the Toltec, but in Greece, in Rome, in India, in Egypt. People all over the world have said, “Life is a dream.” The question is, are we aware of it?

When we aren’t aware that our mind is always dreaming, it’s easy to blame everyone and everything outside of us for all the distortions in our personal dream, for anything that makes us suffer in life. When we become aware that we are living in a dream that we artists are creating, we take a big step in our own evolution because now we can take responsibility for our creation.

To realize that our mind is always dreaming gives us the key to changing our dream if we’re not enjoying it.

It’s your world; it’s your story; it’s your dream. If you’re enjoying your dream, that’s wonderful; then continue to enjoy each and every moment. If your dream is a nightmare, if there’s drama and suffering and you’re not enjoying your creation, then you are the only one who can change it.

Of course, the way you dream when you are ten years old is completely different from the way you dream when you are fifteen, or twenty, or thirty, or forty, or the way you dream now. The story you’re dreaming today is not the same story that you were dreaming yesterday, or even half an hour ago. Every time you talk about your story, it changes depending on who you’re telling the story to, depending on your physical and emotional state at the time, depending on your beliefs at the time. Even if you try to tell the same story, your story is always changing.

At a certain point, you find out that it’s nothing but a story. It isn’t reality; it’s a virtual reality. And if the story is changing anyway, then why not direct the change with awareness?


Adapted from The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery. Copyright © 2010 by Miguel Angel Ruiz, M.D., Jose Luis Ruiz, and Janet Mills. Reprinted by Permission of Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc., San Rafael, California.

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