(Extract from an interview with Théun Mares, by Elizabeth Schnugh)
Elizabeth: In the books that you have written you have brought the legacy of the Toltec tradition or Toltec philosophy to the world. What does Toltec mean? What does it actually mean?
THÉUN MARES: Toltec is a very ancient word, and it quite literally means a man or a woman of knowledge. And it is quite as simple as that -- a man or a woman of knowledge.
Elizabeth: And knowledge in this context, how would you describe that?
THÉUN MARES: Exactly what I have described earlier -- knowledge of self, and knowledge of life. Because we must remember that there is not a difference between self and life. We are alive or if you like, a life, and therefore, we are one with life. So when we speak about knowledge of self, versus knowledge of life, it is really one and the same thing -- self representing the microcosm, life representing the macrocosm. And of course, the microcosm and the macrocosm are one.
Elizabeth: Are all Toltecs the same then? Those people who present themselves as Toltecs, or masters of Toltec wisdom, are they all the same, do they have the same approach?
THÉUN MARES: Living in the world in which we live today, it's quite a difficult question to answer without stepping on toes! There are many today who have proclaimed themselves to be Toltec, but they are truly not Toltec. They are not men and women of knowledge. These are people who have mixed up what one might call the Meso-American culture and the traditions which arise out of the Meso-American culture with what is called Toltec.
It is unfortunate that as far as humanity's present knowledge goes, the word Toltec became associated with the Meso-American culture. We do not have to go into the reasons for that now, because it is long and it is complicated, and it is quite technical. But for some reason, where the word Toltec stuck in humanity's memory, was with the Meso-American culture. So much of what is today called Toltec shouldn't really be called Toltec, it should actually be called Meso-American. And that is where a lot of the confusion has come in.
Elizabeth: So what then are the true Toltec teachings or Toltec philosophy? Is it a religion, or is there a Toltec religion? Is it a belief system?
THÉUN MARES: Toltec is not a religion. And I want to be quite emphatic about that -- it is not a religion. But I will come back and I'll clarify that in a moment.
When I say that it is not a religion, what I mean is, to be Toltec, or to be an apprentice to the Toltec teachings or Toltec wisdom, means to be a follower of the One Truth -- if you like, the One Knowledge. It is to seek knowledge of self, and of life. That is what it means to be on the Toltec path.
Why I say that it is not a religion, is because religion today has become as misunderstood as the word Toltec. What people today regard as religion, is really what should by rights be called Churchianity. Churchianity and religion are not one and the same thing. Churchianity is to follow the teachings of the Church, whereas religion has everything to do with reaching back into time and digging deep into self to understand the roots of what we really are as human beings, or if you like, a son of God. What does that really mean, as opposed to what the churches like to tell us it means? Or what the churches like to teach us it means?
Elizabeth: So on a day-to-day basis, how would the Toltec teachings themselves help us in practical terms?
THÉUN MARES: The Toltec teachings are of enormous benefit to humanity. In fact we spoke earlier about the heritage of humanity. I am one of those people who very much see the Toltec teachings as being the heritage of humanity. The heritage in the sense that it has got everything to do with knowledge of both self, as well as life. So in that respect the Toltec teachings today, although they are still very little known, and very little understood, really belong to every man and woman upon this planet. It is their heritage.
Elizabeth: Are you saying then, that the Toltec teachings or the true Toltec philosophy are not new to this planet?
THÉUN MARES: It depends upon what one calls new to this planet. You must realise that man is far older than this planet. Man had existence within the universe before we came to this planet. But if we don't want to go that far back in history, let's just talk about this planet.
The Toltec teachings, as we understand them to today, started on this planet from the time that man once again had the spark of mind, and individualised. By individualised, I mean that he started to think of and see himself as being an individual that has the ability to think and to be a master of his own destiny.
So we can, for the sake of simplicity, narrow the Toltec teachings down to say that from the time that man became a thinking creature, we have been gathering that knowledge which today goes under the banner of the Toltec teachings.
Elizabeth: How do they then differ from any other path, these Toltec teachings or the Toltec wisdom that you convey?
THÉUN MARES: In essence, they don't differ, because we must realise that all paths lead to Rome. At the end of the day, there is only One Life and therefore there can only be One Truth. And therefore although we might have many different approaches, or as you call it, paths, if a path is a true path, true, in the sense that it is true to life, and that it is genuinely about a knowledge of self and of life, then there is no difference between the Toltec teachings and any of the other great religions of this world.
Elizabeth: So, are you saying that if I wanted to come and visit you at the Temple of Peace, it wouldn't really matter if I was a Christian, or Muslim, or Jewish, or Hindu, or any other belief system or type of religion?
THÉUN MARES: Not at all. In fact, I find it always a joyful experience to be able to speak to people, and to be able to interact with them when they come from different avenues of life. Because for me too, it then becomes a learning experience. In this particular case you asked me about religion, and I always find it very enlightening to be able to converse with someone who maybe comes from a religion which I am not that familiar with. And therefore for me it is always fascinating to start tracing, to see where I can find the same truth, and then to help that person to see that it's the same truth, it's the One Life that we are talking about, although the approach could be very different, and people use different names for different things, and they use different words to say the same thing.
Elizabeth: What then is the approach of the warrior, if that is another term for somebody who is on the Toltec approach to life?
THÉUN MARES: It has always been traditional that people who are following the Toltec teachings are termed warriors, and hence the Warrior's Path. But this is not a military warrior that we are talking about; it is a warrior of the spirit. In other words, someone who is really fighting to gain knowledge, but true knowledge -- not just information -- of the self, whether male or female, and that is what we call a warrior. Hence the Warrior's Path, which has become associated, and indeed is part of what we call the Toltec way.
Elizabeth: We often hear it referred to as a Path with a Heart. How does that actually connect then with being a warrior? If we are talking about heart and warrior in the same sentence?
THÉUN MARES: As I said just now, a warrior is not a military being.
If I can perhaps take it from a different angle first, before answering your question. You must realise that as human beings we operate with two principal functions. We have what is called the thinking, rational, principle, which is the mind, and then we have the feeling, intuitive principle, which we call the heart.
Upon the Warrior's Path, or within the Toltec teachings, we are taught both principles, because in fact, both principles make up our totality -- the totality of the self. The way of the mind, or the rational thinking principle, we term the right side; and the feeling, intuitive side, we term the left side, or the heart. But when we refer to a Path with a Heart, it is because that is the ultimate goal. We can't just be thinking, rational beings, we also have to feel, and we also have to be able to intuit life. And therefore the aim upon the Warrior's Path is to start the apprentice off by coming to grips with how the thinking principle, or the mind, really works, and how it can be made to serve the real purpose of why we are on this planet. Once that much is achieved, it then becomes relatively easy to start understanding what the feeling, or intuitive, approach really is.
This might make more sense to you if we just looked at where the world is basically at today. If one looks at the scientific fraternity as an example, or even the medical fraternity, generally speaking feelings and intuition are scoffed at, because they are regarded as being airy-fairy nonsense. But that is a great tragedy, because, our feeling, intuitive side, although it is irrational, and therefore very hard to understand, is in fact our true essence. It is what really makes our lives into something either that has great meaning or that is an empty intellectual process.
And this is why I said just now that upon the Warrior's Path the apprentice is trained to go from mind to heart. And ultimately, it is all about heart, once we know how to work with that which we call the irrational. Hence a Path with a Heart.