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Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, September 15, 2000

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Susan Gregg is not just a healer of people; wounded
animals often show up in her life. Her present
menagerie includes Mandy, Muffin and Ginger,
pictured here, and four cats.

Author masters
her reality the
Toltec way

Bullet The Toltec Way: By Susan Gregg, Renaissance Books, hardcover, $22.95

By Stephanie Kendrick

Susan Gregg devotes much of her energy to teaching people to live without fear, though fear once saved her life.

The Hawaii author and spiritual healer had already begun to study the philosophies that would become her life's work, but she was not happy.

She was living in California, moving through a series of unsatisfying jobs and had a feeling of desperation. She said, "It wasn't like there was anything obviously wrong. It was more of a sense of it was same-old, same old."

So she took cyanide.

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Susan Gregg wrote both "Toltec Way" and
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spiritual
Healing" in the same four-and-a-half-month

"I wound up in a place where there was no time, so it was eternity; no body, I was just left alone with these emotions. It was as close to hell as I can imagine. I was left alone with everything I was trying to get away from," she said. "I was willing to do whatever it took to get back on the other side."

Gregg was hospitalized and under restraints for four days while her body and spirit tangled with the poison. She flatlined four or five times and made the medical text books as the first case to survive that level of poison.

"It gave me the commitment to do what it took to transform my life."

And to publish four books.

Gregg's latest book, "The Toltec Way: A Guide to Personal Transformation," is a summation of the tools she used with her mentor, Toltec master don Miguel Ruiz, who taught her about this ancient Mesoamerican culture.

"It's a book that's really designed to touch your heart and change the way you think and feel about your life," said Gregg. It's the guide she didn't have when she tried to end her life.

"I was hearing these concepts, but when I studied with Miguel there was no concrete way to live these concepts," she said. "When I wrote the book, what I always had in the back of my mind is 'what would have made a difference to me?' "

Her studies taught her that living a good, happy life is ultimately about attitude. The Toltec philosophy teaches practitioners how to master their own reality in the pursuit of personal freedom.

"We're looking for something outside of ourselves that's going to fix us. There's nothing outside of us that's going to fix us," said Gregg. "Besides, we're not broke, we're perfect."

Students at her Lifeforce Center hate it when she advises them to see the perfection in their chaotic lives, said Gregg, but she sticks by that advice.

"Anything in our life is like a Burma Shave sign. And if we bitch and moan about the message on one sign, then we never get to the punch line," she said.

At the same time, she believes there's nothing wrong with wanting to change your life, and her book is designed to help.

"I tend to be very practical," she said. "You can pick up the tools and use them yourself. Those tools include analytical exercises and guided meditation.

"I had a client who was very proud of the fact that she had a whole wall of self-help books. I asked, 'Have you done any of the exercises?' She said 'No.'

"In the book there's lots of exercises and suggestions and if they really do them, their lives will change," said Gregg.

Gregg's teacher, Ruiz, learned the Toltec philosophies from his mother and grandfather. It was Ruiz's mother, Sister Sarita, who started teaching people outside the family and Ruiz followed suit. "It was never out in the open like it is now," said Gregg.

At first, Gregg was nervous about sharing the power of the Toltec masteries.

The Toltec society has a bloody history. Its philosophers formed a secret society and tried to keep their teachings from the warriors, according to Gregg, but there were some who misused the power.

"The Toltecs, some of them did that. You can choose the dark path," she said. But Ruiz always told her "You teach who comes to you."

While she has had students who she knew were interested in manipulation, Gregg's fears have subsided.

"The people who want to misuse the power can't really tap into it in a meaningful way," she said, because the philosophy draws its energy from love.

Gregg has published two other books on her Toltec studies, "Dance of Power," which is the story of her apprenticeship with Ruiz; and "Finding the Sacred Self," a Toltec workbook.

Her third book was "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spiritual Healing."

"That one was the most fun," said Gregg. "They wanted a lot of words." She got to write about everything she had ever learned that might help someone.

Gregg admits to being taken aback at the idea of a book on spiritual healing called the "idiot's" guide, but she resolved the issue.

"One of the requirements of spiritual healing is humility. And the title, well you have to get humble to get past it," said Gregg.

The process of getting a book published is humbling as well. Gregg worked five years on getting "The Toltec Way" published.

"It's your baby, so when people keep saying no it's really hard," she said. But perseverance pays off. In its first two weeks in stores, "Toltec" sold out of its 15,000-copy initial print run, promising to surpass her best seller to date, "Dance of Power," which has reached 20,000 in sales.

Gregg's publisher is scrambling to get "Toltec" reprinted in time for her West Coast book tour, which starts next week.

"It's been an interesting journey," said Gregg. "In the publishing industry it's hurry up and wait."

She finally found a publisher for "Toltec" at the same time her proposal for the "Idiot's Guide" was accepted, giving her about four and a half months to write both books. That was followed by months of rewrites, then she had to start planning a book-signing tour. She'll be making 18 stops from San Diego to Seattle in just under three weeks.

"I think pretty soon I really want to take a vacation," said Gregg.

Except that her next project is already under way. "Savoring Life Fully" will be a book of teaching stories, as well as guided visualizations and meditations.

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