To begin with, I have never read a book so quickly from start to finish. My eyes were glued to the pages. From the beginning, this book had me. It’s insightful, relevant and enlightening. Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements is a book enriched with high-quality guidance that describes Ruiz’s learnings from the Toltecs. Here’s what the book taught me.
Credit: Penguin Random House
Ruiz writes in the preface: “Thousands of years ago, The Toltec were known throughout southern Mexico as ‘women and men of knowledge.’ Anthropologists have spoken of the Toltec as 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 ancient ones.”
According to Ruiz, every external judgement that you perceive and accept is “an agreement”. The Four Agreements are explained in four chapters in the book, which are titled
- Be Impeccable with your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always do your best
As Ruiz describes it, “agreeing” to negative judgements from outside ourselves leads us to put ourselves into our own personal hell. But if we think differently, we can create a heaven or sanctuary-like state of mind that is peaceful and loving to be in.
What are the word and the agreement of the word? Miguel talks about the power of “words”, how our words and actions affect us and the people around us. This seems obvious, but it‘s something we may not be fully aware of. The word signifies the power and control we give others in our lives and the power we give ourselves. Miguel also argues that everything in life is an agreement. For example, what we hear, we agree to listen to. If someone insults us and we believe it to be true, we have “agreed”. We agree with everything that we perceive, acknowledge, and allow to affect us. Agreeing is just like allowing something to have an impact on you in some way. This means that we enable people and grant them permission to change the way we see ourselves. “Agreeing” to their “word”, we believe that’s how everyone sees us.
This also links with gossiping. Miguel mentions in The Four Agreements how human beings thrive on gossip. When we think about it, it’s most of what human conversation consists of. We are so absentminded to the fact that we are wasting energy on gossip without reflecting on ourselves and our own lives.
What is so enlightening about this book is that it allows us to understand our minds and how we perceive our lives. This is significant. Ruiz argues that most people are addicted to the feeling of suffering and that we create our own personal hell. This is from the word and agreement with the word.
Something worth noting from Ruiz’s book is that we are not in control of other people’s thoughts about us. Therefore, we should not be so worried about what people think. Miguel enlightens us and reminds us that we are not the person that others make up in their heads. This is reflected in the chapter “Don’t Take Anything Personally.”
This is where we give power to the word. If someone says something negative about us to us, we often believe them. It‘s like the human mind is self-absorbed and impressionable. When you agree with someone’s perception of you, that you are what they say you are, you give power to their words. By breaking this habit and recognising and practising the Four Agreements, you open the door to a world where your life is your own and you create what you want from it.
“To be a Toltec is a way of life. It is a way of life where there are no leaders and no followers, where you have your own truth and live your own truth. A Toltec becomes wise, becomes wild and becomes free again.”
This Toltec way of life that Ruiz talks about is one that allows an individual to live their life the way they want it. Having no leader means that you are not comparing yourself to anyone and having no followers means that you should not expect anything from anyone. Living for you creates a positive energy around you.
Something I love about this book is how it’s accessible to anyone. It applies to you in your own way, and whether you are religious or non-religious. This book is open to everyone, whatever their belief system. This book is a must-read: not too long and easy to read. The Four Agreements is reassuring and something you will not read only once. The message is beautiful and it opens you to a new way of thinking that creates harmony for yourself and the people around you.