In the past half century, perhaps unlike any other time in history, there has been a deluge of self-help, spirituo-philosophical nonfiction books, an inevitable byproduct of our fast-changing times and of our sense of lack amongst plenty. Numerous authors with compelling book titles have all asked and subsequently tried to answer the (same) eternal question: How did we get here and where do we go from here? The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz (with Janet Mills) is another addition to that category, and a follow-up to Ruizís previous book, The Four Agreements.
In The Voice of Knowledge, Ruiz takes considerable time to explain why he considers all people to be artists creating their life stories, and how it is possible for two people to have different stories for the same situation. In this setup, Ruiz christens the voice of knowledge as the voice of lies and deception, controlling and hampering our personal and spiritual growth as also our connection with the Divine or pure consciousness. Ruiz contends that our imperfection is the biggest lie we have been fed as children and we can make a tremendous difference to the mental well being of the forthcoming generations simply by ensuring that all our "lies" end with us.
Perhaps due to the fact that he goes against the commonly associated positive connotation of the word "knowledge", Ruiz spends a lot of time building up the scenario (about a fourth of the book) by using storytelling devices (e.g. re-telling the story of Adam and Eve) and giving reasons as to why the voice of knowledge is not to be trusted. This can cause a little reader fatigue; nevertheless, the persistent reader will be rewarded. As the book inches towards completion Ruiz, impresses with the integrity of his message. Ruizís prose does not have the lucidity of a Deepak Chopra or the warm analytical abilities of a Sharon Salzberg, but persist with it and you will soon find a kindly uncle who means well.
The book is simply written with numerous examples from his own life illustrating personal struggles, breakthroughs and Ruizís eventual recovery of faith. Ruiz hails from a long line of naguals (masters) from Toltec community in Southern Mexico. His journey from a vulnerable but sharp young adolescent to a surgeon grappling with his near-death experience and to his final embrace of the Toltec wisdom and teachings of his grandfather and mother is especially poignant.
Structurally, each chapter is summed up in points for easy recapitulation, and the tools Ruiz gives towards the end of the book are especially valuable and build on The Four Agreements. Ruiz venerates these four agreements, (Be impeccable with your word, Donít take anything personally, Donít make assumptions, Always do your best) and attributes them with talismanic effects against the flippancy and lies that surround us.
Our quest for our realities is perhaps as old as life itself and in our complex frenetic "modern" lives it has become very easy to get caught up in our experiences and think that they are us, but voices like Ruizís are essential reminders of the realization that there is more to our existence than meets the eye.