“The Four Agreements is a book that lays out an alternative, indigenous Mexican take on the nature of reality and existence. And though the author, Don Miguel Ruiz, identifies as “Toltec“, a broader label of neoshamanistic is probably more realistic.
In any case, the mythology he introduces is page-turning, his writing is powerful and his treatment of the illusory nature of reality is lucid and compelling.
If you’re already steeped in Western or Eastern philosophy The Four Agreements is a good (short) read that casts familiar truths in new and enjoyable forms.
If you’re new to philosophy of any kind, exploring neoshamanism or just looking for a good spirit-lifting read, The Four Agreements is as good a place as any to begin.
To this end, Ruiz proposes four new agreements to make with yourself today:
~Be impeccable with your word;
~Don’t take anything personally;
~Don’t make assumptions; and
~Always do your best.
1 – Be impeccable with your word.
Words are more powerful than we realise, they are the building blocks of labels, concepts and beliefs.
To avoid creating new, harmful illusions, be extremely conservative when using them on yourself or on others.
Get in the habit of saying only what you mean and meaning only what you say. When in doubt, say nothing at all.
2 – Don’t take anything personally
Remember that the words and actions of others are the products of their own illusory realities.
Acknowledge that if you shared the same reality you would know no better than to act and speak in exactly the same way.
Armed with this knowledge: take nothing personally. It will defuse the power of the words and actions of others to impact you.
3 – Don’t make assumptions
Though we know most assumptions are baseless, we often still give them the weight of full agreements.
The result? The violation of one-sided expectations is a major source of misunderstanding and suffering at all levels of life.
Be aware and wary of your natural tendency to assume things about yourself, others and the world around you.
Instead, look and listen without labels or judgement. Have the courage to ask questions and clarify.
And remember, when someone or something surprises you – the failing isn’t theirs, it is yours.
4 – Always do your best
Always do the very best you can. Live with maximum possible areté in each moment.
But don’t worry about whether your best now is the same or better than your best yesterday, or even five minutes ago.
Instead, accept that your best will change from moment to moment – depending on the conditions within and around you.
Now, do what you can, with what you have, from where you are – you can ask nothing more of yourself.”