A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
Author Don Miguel Ruiz
I’m never really sure what draws me to read any particular book and this book is an example of this. As I browsed my local library online, up it popped and I was intrigued. This book is a great, easy read, with profound messages and actions for living a more authentic and contented life.
Just to put you out of your misery, the four Agreements, based on ancient Toltec wisdom, are as follows:
- Be Impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
Thousands of years ago, the Toltec were known throughout southern Mexico as “women and men of knowledge”. According to Ruiz, the Toltecs were scientists and artists who formed a society to “explore and conserve the spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones”. Like many sacred traditions, it arises from the same fundamental truths about accessing happiness and love in our lives.
“Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see….” -John Lennon
One of the most fascinating chapters came right at the beginning an explores the “domestication” of humans and how the “dream of the planet “ comes to become more important than our own unique dream during our developing years (and will remain so, until we begin a search for our own true self and dreams). We are each born with our own capacity to dream (that is, to have a unique vision for ourselves and our lives) and that through the process of domestication, we take on the external dream- the dream of our Mum and Dad, our schools, religions. We learn how to behave in society, we learn the rules, what is acceptable. We don’t have a choice. We don’t get to choose our beliefs as children as we believe everything adults say! So we inadvertently surrender to these beliefs with our agreement. The outside dream teaches us how to be a human. We learn what a “woman” is, and we are rewarded for our compliance with acceptance and the attention of others. Then we judge (ourselves and others) according to this concept of what we “should be” like.
A Book of Law
Ruiz calls the belief system a Book of Law and contests that we have our own inner Judge that keeps us operating to our own internal Book of Law, and we punish ourselves when we deviate from it. Thus, we keep our selves trapped.
Breaking our own rules in the Book of Law takes enormous courage. During midlife, many women start to see that their guiding rules are not their own, and start to challenge them. It can feel hugely daunting, and a can of worms too scary to open. The fear can be existential- life threatening, all encompassing. Women ask “what will I lose if I go down this path…. everything?”
This is another way of thinking and talking about unconscious limiting beliefs, unhelpful thought, unhelpful beliefs, or whatever else you have come to know them by.
The Four Agreements is a guidebook for authentic living.
I don’t want to give too much away, but being “Impeccable with your Word” was for me the most profound. In essence it is coming to an agreement with yourself to never use your word against yourself or others. That means not blaming or judging yourself. It doesn’t mean that you don’t take responsibility for your actions.
Imagine not blaming and judging yourself and others, and only using your energy in the direction of truth and love.
These agreements are not easy or simple. They are a commitment that we need to affirm and reaffirm everyday. It is difficult at first, and I’m hoping it will get easier as I get more practice.
I would love your comments if you have read or go on to read the book as a result of this article.
Note: The book does have religious references but is not what I would call a religious book.
Another note! Don Miguel Ruiz has written a sequel called The Fifth Agreement, which I’m looking forward to reading.