Once you recover all the power you invested in lies, you can see what is real; you can feel what is real. Even though lies still exist, you no longer believe them. You don’t believe everything anymore, but you can see, and what you can see is the truth. The truth doesn’t need you to believe it. The truth simply is, and it survives — believe it or not. Lies need you to believe them. If you don’t believe lies, they don’t survive your skepticism, and they simply disappear.

Centuries ago, people believed that the earth was flat. Some said that elephants were supporting the earth, and that made them feel safe. The belief that the earth was flat was considered the truth, and almost everybody agreed, but did that make it true? It was nothing but a superstition, and I can assure you that we still live in a world of superstition. The question is: are we aware of it?

Wherever you go, you will hear all kinds of opinions and stories from other people. You will find great storytellers wanting to tell you what you should do with your life: “You should do this, you should do that, you should do whatever.” Don’t believe them. Be skeptical, but learn to listen and then make your choices. Be responsible for every choice you make in your life. This is your life; it’s nobody else’s life, and you will find that it’s nobody else’s business what you do with your life.

For centuries, there have been prophets who predicted big catastrophes in the world. Not that long ago, there were people who predicted that in the year 2000 all the computers would fail and society as we know it would disappear. The day arrived, and what happened? Nothing happened. Thousands of years ago, just like today, there were prophets who were waiting for the end of the world. At that time, a great master said, “There will be many false prophets who claim to be speaking the word of God. Don’t believe.” You see, being skeptical is nothing new. Doubt takes you behind the words and helps you to discern the truth from lies. And this is a good thing.

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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