The Four Agreements is a simple and short presentation of some very deep wisdom. In a world filled with spiritual reading material, this one’s a goodie. It just made a lot of sense to me.
These lessons come from the shaman culture of Central America. “Toltec knowledge arises from the same essential unity of truth as all the sacred esoteric traditions found around the world. Though it is not a religion, it honors all the spiritual masters who have taught on the earth. While it does embrace spirit, it is most accurately described as a way of life, distinguished by the ready accessibility of happiness and love. introduction pg x. Happiness and love! Sign up the Hippie Librarian, pronto.
The book goes on to talk about how everyone has unconscious beliefs that we pick up as children. We view and experience our world through these beliefs. Most folks aren’t even aware that they have them and this causes a myriad of misunderstandings and problems: “We keep searching and searching, when everything is already within us. There is no truth to find. Wherever we turn our heads, all we see is the truth, but with the agreements and beliefs we have stored in our mind, we have no eyes for this truth. We don’t see the truth because we are blind. What blinds us are all those false beliefs we have in our mind.” pg 17.
So, how do you cut through the fog of these beliefs to see clearly? Ruiz suggests using The Four Agreements.
The first is: “be impeccable with your word… you begin to see all the changes that can happen in your life. Changes first in the way you deal with yourself, and later in the way you deal with other people, especially those you love the most.” pg 46. This includes your inner voice, the way you talk to yourself and how you narrate your reality.
Ruiz mentions that some people talk to themselves in a manner that they would find unacceptable to use with the people they care about. Change the way you speak and, Ruiz claims, your life will follow.
The second agreement is: “Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don’t take it personally. If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you.” pg 59 This helps you because: “When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do. Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid. They are afraid you will discover that they are not perfect.” pg 63.
The third agreement is ‘don’t make assumptions’: “If others tell us something, we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate.” pg 74. Now that I’ve been looking for this, I’ve caught myself assuming things all the time.
It’s funny how quick hurt feelings evaporate when I just put an “assumption” label over any stories I’ve concocted. It has actually been world-changing for me: to realize how many stories I make up because I’m bored or confused or simply don’t know what someone else is thinking. And to realize that they’re not real is such a relief. Really.
Finally: “Just do your best – in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under.” pg 85.
This was another big one for me. I used to get down on myself about how circumstances played out even if I had nothing to do with it. Now, I just pause and give it a quick think over, “Did I try my best?” Generally, yeah, I was trying my guts out.
And that’s all I can ask of myself, really. I can’t control the uncontrollable, I can only do the best I can with what I’ve got in front of me.
The Four Agreements may help readers live in the now and experience life as it is rather than as they’ve imagined it to be. At least, that’s what it has done for me. Also recommended for readers who may be interested in spirituality but want a easy place to start. This one is simple and packs a big punch in a very few pages.
Thanks for reading!