Length: 168 pages
Publisher: Amber-Allen Publishing
First Published: 2001
I read this book as part of the Top Ten Happiness Books to read. I have always wanted to read this book and see what it had to say further about the four agreements I have always heard: Be Impeccable with Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best. From the moment I have heard of these four 'agreements,' I have taken them to action and on more than one occasion they have been more than helpful. But I do have some reservations about this book.
"In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best."
Ultimately, I think this book has power in offering you some type of wisdom, if you choose to see the power in these four agreements. First, I want to start with the background inspiration for this book. "Anthropologists have spoken of the Toltec s a nation or a race, but, in fact, the Toltec were scientists and artists who formed a society to explore and conserve the spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones. They came together as masters (naguals) and students at Teotihuacan, the ancient city of pyramids outside Mexico City known as the place where "Man Becomes God."
The Toltecs defined your whole mind as a 'fog' called a mitote. As a result, you do know truly know yourself, you do not truly understand the world around you, and your whole life is built on an illusion. "Everything you believe about yourself and the world, all the concepts and programming you have in your mind, are all the mitote. We cannot see who we truly are; we cannot see that we are not free. That is why humans resist life." So in order to become free of our fog, we must follow these four simple agreements.
Be impeccable with your word. "Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest yourself. Regardless of what language you speak, your intent manifests through the word. What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word." It's the reality of who we are. Our words will influence our lives in more ways than we can conceive at first, before we even open our mouths. Being impeccable with your word will ultimately free you by directing your intent and energy in the "direction of truth and love for yourself."
Don't take anything personally. "Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world." Most time what we experience has nothing to do with us, unless specifically stated in which case do observer your influence and responsibility. This chapter is very well expressed and worthy of reading and rereading because so many of us are reactionary about taking things personally, almost a second nature. This way we free ourselves from being linked to other people's personal baggage.
Don't make assumptions. "It is very interesting how the human mind works. We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe. We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe. This is why we make assumptions." It is crucial to our life that we deal with others in a direct sense, and not subtext. We free ourselves from other people's power over us when we only deal directly with the truth. This action frees us by strengthening our will, and establishing a solid foundation for who we are and how we interact with others.
Always do your best. "When you do your best you learn to accept yourself. But you have to be aware and learn from your mistakes. Learning from your mistakes means you practice, look honestly at the results, and keep practicing. This increases your awareness." Doing your best frees you from the judgement of others. You are your own last barrier or filter to life. Persevering and practicing to be your best is something you do for yourself and not to fulfill some expectation set by someone else.
"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.." John Lennon