The Four Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz – Review
By L. J
When you first pick up this book, the first words you read are: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. If that doesn’t catch your attention I don’t know what will! The book itself is small, and I love the fact that the four agreements are listed inside the book jacket, unlike some books where the reader must go through chapters before actually getting to the crux of the text.
The book begins with an introduction to the Toltecs, “a society formed by scientists and artists to explore and conserve the spiritual knowledge of the ancient ones.” We learn that this knowledge has been kept secret for hundreds of years, so as not to be used for personal gain. It was passed on through generations by different lineages of naguals, the Toltec word for teachers. Now, Don Miguel Ruiz has been guided to share this information. It is not a religion, but a way of life, leading one towards happiness and love. We further learn, through the story of thehistory of the Smokey Mirror, how this knowledge originated.
The first chapter deals with the theory that this is all a dream. Though it may at first sound implausible, Ruiz walks us through ” the domestication of the planet”. He explains how we are taught by our parents and other influential adults of this dream and the effect it has on our lives. He describes how we begin to “agree” with these beliefs unconditionally through a system of punishment and rewards. We become ” auto domesticated.” He describes this belief system as a Book of Laws and how this becomes our truth. We then possess an inner judge who judges everything in our lives. We also have a part of us called the Victim. The victim receives the punishment ruled out by the judge.
But as humans, we are not satisfied with paying only once for each mistake. We payable thousand times over! Ruiz explains that 95% of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are lies. These false beliefs lead us to question our self worth.according to the judge, we will never be good enough and never find inner peace. Ruiz gives us a way to change our beliefs from those that cause us fear and deplete our energy to those that will heal our system and lead us to a new dream….a personal dream of heaven.
We are next introduced to the four agreements. Each is introduced in a straight forward, easy to understand format. Part of the beauty of this book is that you can easily focus on one agreement at any time. Each is explained in depth and is practical in nature, yet rich in the Toltec philosophy.
The first agreement is ” Be Impeccable With Your Words”. Ruiz declares this the most important and also the most difficult to sustain, he talks about the importance of the ” the word” all the way back to creation. According to Ruiz,mour intent manifests through our word. Since we are the only creatures that can speak, he describes this as our magic tool. We can use our words for good or to cause harm. He uses Hitler to demonstrate an extreme example of the effects of ones words.
Impeccable means ” without sin.” This means not using words against yourself or others. Gossip is described as black magic. Becoming aware of the words we speak, not only aloud but in our own minds, can greatly influence our relationship with others.
“Don’t Take Anything Personally” is the second agreement. Ruiz explains that when we take things personally,new often feel offended. And then our reaction is to defend. He further explains, by not taking things personally we can avoid many upsets in our lives. He, of course, goes into much greater detail in his book and gives practical advice and suggestions on how to adopt this agreement into our every day life.
Agreement number three is “Don’t Make Assumptions.” Ruiz lays out the many ways in our daily lives we “assume” we have all the answers. We make assumptions when someone tells us something, and we make assumptions if they don’t tell us something! We make assumptions about ourselves, and we make assumptions about others. Through a series of examples, it becomes clear the profound affect this can have on us,m he advises that we ask questions if we don’t know or understand something. This simple tip can easily make a difference in communicating with others.
The last agreement is ” Always Do Your Best”. Though again, simple in nature, the book describes it in such a way that one can easily see the practical nature of this tool. He explains that our best can change from moment to moment, from hour to hour, and from day to day. He further points out that by doing your best, the habits of misusing your words, taking things personally, and making assumptions will become less frequent with time.
The remaining sections of the book expands on ways we can change our lives and actually experience Heaven on Earth! He closes with two beautiful Toltec prayers.
The simplicity of the agreements is what makes this book so special. It is easy to incorporate theses agreements into our daily life. The book is written in such a way that it almost seems as if the author is carrying on a conversation with his reader. It is nonjudgmental and crosses all religions and beliefs. I had so many “a ha” moments and saw myself in many of the situations he depicts. I realized that I am the one judging myself based on a belief system I really had no control over as a child. As he points out, I didn’t even get to pick my own name! From the first reading I noticed I was more conscientious of my words, my feelings, and my interactions. I find myself going back to this book again and again. As previously stated, it is user friendly and I can review whichever agreement I am drawn to. Don Miguel Ruiz did the world a favor when he decided to share these beautiful Toltec teachings!