The Four Agreements

Last week I picked up Don Miguel Ruiz‘s The Four Agreements while browsing at Little Mysteries, a local book and spiritual supplies store. I had the book recommended to me through a friend and thus decided to give it a try.

“The Four Agreements are tools to help us in the process of personal transformation. This transformation requires an inventory of our beliefs, which are based on agreements we have made with life. We can transform our beliefs and break our old, self-limiting agreements by practicing the Four Agreements.” (Ruiz)

Ruiz presents a set of practical and powerful tools to improve one’s life. The core of the philosophy he presents is that we fill our lives with agreements about everything we encounter and do. Some are true agreements, such as recognizing natural laws, and are worth keeping. Others can be harmful to us, limiting the ways in which we live. He proposes some stages that will allow us to break down harmful agreements and build new, positive ones.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

The four agreements referenced in the title of the book are four simple yet powerful agreements we can make with ourelves in order to live well. They seem to be universal advice, but so often each of us do not follow what they insist is best. Ruiz suggests that if we accept these as true and sincere agreements we can use them to dismantle harmful agreements.
Ruiz’s philosophy is based on Toltec wisdom. The Toltec were a people of ancient Mexico, a people filled with scientists and artists, he tells. They followed a path quite similar to Taoists and members of other global traditions of philosophy.

“Toltec knowledge arises from the same essential unity of truth as all the sacred esoteric traditions around the world. Though it is not a religion, it honors all the spiritual masters who have taught on the earth. Though it does embrace spirit, it is most accurately described as a way of life. Unlike our familiar experience, this way of life is distinguished by the ready accessibility of happiness and love.” – Ruiz

My only major complaint about this book is the language Ruiz employs. I found it too steeped in words and metaphors that called attention to its “new age” nature instead of the underlying, beneficial philosophy. I believe the book would be much more effective if it had been written in more accessable language. If Ruiz wishes to help a wide audience, he fails in this respect by talking of “dream reality” and “black magic” as if they were common place ideas, essentially alienating anyone with a negative impression of “new age” movements and other works that utilize similar language.

Despite that one failing, I found the book to be rewarding, thought provoking and insightful. I’d have no hesitation recommending it to anyone with a tollerance for the language issue I mentioned. It’s really a valuable tool.

6 comments on “The Four Agreements

  1. It's an excellent book that I first read about a year ago. If only I'd put the principles into practice then. Thank you for reminding me of it.

  2. Is truth, truth regardless of the language it is shaped in? If God is truth, then can we find those who speak God's truth outside of our comfort zone? I have this book, but not reaqd it yet. Thanks for the ppost, I will check it out!


  3. I just wanted to say “Yay for Little Mysteries!” It's a wonderful store. I once spent about 4 hours there. 🙂 I've also blogmarked your blog. BB!

  4. Thanks for writing about the book. It's one of my favorites! Another book in a similar vein that I loved was “The Power of Belief”, by Ray Dodd. don Miguel was Ray's mentor. If the Four Agreements is a “what to do” book, the POB is a “how to do it” book. All about changing beliefs that hold you back.

    I recommend it. Great Book.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: