Reflecting on "The Four Agreements" —Don Miguel Ruiz
A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
A Toltec Wisdom Book
“To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive an express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans.”
In this modern era of increasing complexity, people are constantly searching for a solution to their problems. Some seek out material wealth while others try to find an easy fix by taking a pill. But the pathway to personal freedom, happiness, and love is a long and difficult journey- a journey of personal growth that Don Miguel Ruiz’s book of Toltec Wisdom can help achieve. This book maps out four principles- agreements by which one should live their life in order to face their fears and create a life of love and happiness. Adopting and committing to these agreements is simple. Actually living and keeping these Four Agreements can be one one of the most challenging endeavors.
Personal Freedom means freedom from fear, illusions, and the fear-based beliefs in the mind. The book purports that through a process called the domestication of humans, we are conditioned to the beliefs of our parents, our community, our culture and the wider social narrative of humanity through no choice of our own. From the language you speak, the morals and values you hold, to your very own name: we do not get to choose our beliefs but we agreed with the information that was passed to us. From the time we are children as we go through life into adulthood, we accumulate thousands of agreements that shape of behavior, many of them causing us to be in a state of self-rejection. Because we are always being judged by others and judged by ourselves: we carry emotions of guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, envy, and hate. The Four Agreements attempts to reveal to the reader how to create their dream life by painting a little heaven to strive for and a hell to avoid.
Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity.
Say only what you mean.
Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you.
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.
Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.
Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.The human mind is like a fertile ground where seeds are continuously being planted.
The first agreement is the most important and the most difficult to honor. The truth and more specifically true speech is a value that permeates across cultures around the world. I do not believe it is by accident that at the axiomatic core of Western values we hold true speech and justice to be our most important values. The subsequent three agreements can only be followed if the first agreement is followed properly. The analogy that comes to my mind is that of a band or musical symphony. Each instrument makes a sound but it’s not until they are all played together harmoniously do we hear a beautiful song. Through repetition of these agreements, one can begin to claim mastery over their life. The Toltec’s call this the Mastery of Transformation. In essence, it means to win the war over the beliefs in the mind. It is with Personal Freedom that we are free of the human condition of emotional suffering.
For some, the spiritual language of this book may cloud its message. One might dismiss what they see as New Age or unscientific thinking as dogma to their material perspective. But as I read this book I frequently saw parallels to many of the self-help books that are popular; from Dale Carnegie to the resurgence in popularity of stoicism and its classical wisdom. All of these books have a message rooted in personal responsibility, taking ownership of yourself and your actions, and moving through the world in a positive and meaningful way. I believe that people seek out a right way of living because deep down we know that something is wrong in this world and the only way to change it is to start with ourselves, by overcoming our ego. The Toltec’s call this the warrior way.
All the magic you possess is based on your word. Depending upon how it is used, the word can set you free, or it can enslave you even more than you know.