I am an avid don Miguel Ruiz fan. Having said that, I will confess I never know when my favorite authors are releasing new books, and Ruiz is no exception. Recently I was researching his classic book “The Four Agreements” when I stumbled across a reference to an interesting book titled “The Fifth Agreement.”

My first thought was, “There’s a fifth one?” My second thought was, “But I still haven’t mastered any of the other four Agreements yet.”

This is a mere technicality in Ruiz’ world, it would seem, since he barreled on through and wrote the fifth one anyway (with the help of his son and fellow shaman, don Jose Ruiz). The way I see it, either this means he isn’t intimidated by my failure to master any of his other teachings to date, or it means there are other people in this world who are actually keeping up.

Either way, it’s pretty exciting.

As I started reading “The Fifth Agreement” I felt quite seasoned and confident, breezing through the first four Agreements while nodding sagely in recognition. But then I got to the Fifth Agreement: “Be skeptical, but learn to listen.” My first thought – literally – was, “Huh?”

This is still my thought in case you are wondering.

But after that chapter, Ruiz said something I didn’t struggle with at all. He started to talk about presence, and how when we are little we have it long before we have language, and we communicate with those around us just fine. Our proof of this is that we survive our infancy and early childhood, getting fed and clothed and changed and burped and bathed and taken to the doctor and all the rest without being able to say one word to express what we need.

Ruiz says it all starts to go south after we get language. When we learn to talk is when our presence is forced to take a back seat to our brain. Our brain, in cahoots with our mind, churns out thought after thought and sends us, unarmed and uninformed, into dangerous places that frequently cause us to draw to ourselves the exact opposite of what we need.

To fix this, Ruiz advises, we need to return to our original presence. We still have it – it is still within us and it is still who we are. It is still just as pure and just as effective. All we need to do is remember we have it and use it again. In my favorite quote from the section on presence, Ruiz writes:

Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any symbol, before knowledge took over your mind. When you recover your presence, you are just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun, just like the light. You are just like you. There is nothing to justify; nothing to believe. You are here just to be, for no reason. You have no mission except to enjoy life, to be happy. The only thing you need is just to be the real you. Be authentic. Be the presence. Be happiness. Be love. Be joy. Be yourself; that’s the main point. That’s wisdom.

Today’s Takeaway: Imagine you as a baby, a language-less infant. There you were, with implicit trust in those around you that your needs would be met. You tapped into the pure power of your presence, and somehow, every day, it spoke for you the way you could not yet speak for yourself. How would a conscious return back to this place transform your connection with yourself and others today?