Living The Four Agreements™
A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
A Toltec Wisdom Book by Miguel Ruiz
In his powerful book The Four Agreements,™ Toltec author don Miguel Ruiz offers readers four simple yet profound agreements as important tools on the path to personal freedom. Anyone can use these wonderful tools to break their self-limiting beliefs and agreements from the past and transform their lives into a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love—if they understand and use the deep power in them. These new agreements have the potential to help you move your attention from what the world thinks you “should” do or be to what you know is right for you, to reclaim scattered personal energy and power, and open you to a deeper intimacy in personal relationships.
Be Impeccable With Your Word. Our words, thoughts, actions, and our feelings all contribute to the creation of our reality. Our word is a two-edged sword, it can create or it can destroy. To be impeccable is to create with conscious awareness and love. Many people read don Miguel’s wonderful book and see “impeccable” and their minds’ translate it to read “have integrity.” Or, “be honest.” They think he is saying, “Always keep your commitments,” or even “Don’t cheat on your wife.”
They miss the magic of don Miguel’s explanation of the meaning of impeccable: The prefix “im” means without, and “peccable” is from Latin derivations of peccatum which means “sin.” To be impeccable is to be without sin. Then Miguel defines “sin” as “going against yourself, or using your word against yourself.” This definition is very different from “integrity” or “honesty.” Those are concepts that come from the outside, as cultural, moral, or religious values and rules. To not use your word against yourself is an inside job. Only you know if you have gone against yourself with your word (thoughts, deeds, choices, reactions, beliefs, etc.). And sometimes the awareness may come long after your word is spoken or your choice is made. If anyone says “You’re not being impeccable with your word,” you know they read The Four Agreements and misunderstood it. You don’t need to tell them that…perhaps show them this article. No one can know that for another.
The human mind is fertile ground for the seeds we plant with our word. Plant the seeds of love, not fear. Judging, blaming, shaming, and especially gossiping create poison in ourselves and others. The most powerful way we use our word against ourselves is to judge ourselves. Stopping self-judgment is the biggest challenge for domesticated humans, because we have been judged all our lives and continue the tradition in our own minds. Look below and elsewhere on this site for proof you are perfect just the way you are, and just the way you are not. There is nothing you can do or say that deserves to be judged. This is really the only agreement you need to challenge all of your old agreements and change the dream of your life. Always be impeccable with your word. And when you aren’t, or when you take something personally (#2), do not judge yourself for it! You are always doing your best (#4). Just keep being you.
Don’t Take Anything Personally. The foundation of the Toltec Wisdom is that we are all dreaming. We are taking in the truth of reality through our organs of perception (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin), and then distorting reality as it travels through our organ of deception– our mind. Everyone is distorting reality based on their domestication, age, gender, experiences, emotional wounds, loves, fears, and a lifetime of collecting evidence to support the opinions and beliefs that result. That is the human dream. It is unique for every person.
Very few people can perceive reality clearly. So when people judge you, or compliment you, they are talking to the image of you they have created in their minds, not you. If we all perceived the same, we would all have the same reactions, the same memories of events, and the same opinions. We don’t. This alone can show us that other people’s reactions and opinions are simply other people’s reactions and opinions. Everyone is having their own experience and none of it has anything to do with you – their distorted perceptions do not make you wrong, guilty, bad, flawed, unworthy, famous, loveable, or important. You only take them personally when you agree with their dream of you. If you are “triggered” by someone or they “push your buttons,” they have touched a wounded place in you. Become aware of the emotional wound they have exposed for you, be grateful for their help, and take responsibility for healing your own wound. Therein lies the power of this second agreement; however you must also agree to be responsible for your emotional reactions to how others dream you, and not believe or blame them.
Don’t Make Assumptions. Our minds have the need to “know.” When we don’t know, we make assumptions — they make us feel safer than not knowing. To imagine that you know what someone else is thinking is an assumption. To imagine that you can know or control the future or another person’s actions is an assumption. This need for control come from your mind’s fear that without being able to control people’s actions or perceptions of you, you will suffer social embarrassment, rejection, loss, ridicule, or even death.
When you make assumptions, you create your reality without respect for another’s truth or experience. You will also create expectations based on your assumptions and then be disappointed or angry and blame others when what you expected doesn’t happen. Our assumptions are the root of most of the dramas in our lives. You get a one-word text from your partner you don’t understand—you have to guess. You aren’t invited to the big party and you need to know why—you make up something. Perhaps your favorite cashier at the market says something you didn’t quite hear, but she is rushed and you don’t ask her to repeat it. Whatever she said, it felt odd—was she making fun of you, commenting on your outfit, you don’t know. So, you trust the odd feeling, and start a big drama based on your assumption about what happened. You can’t wait to tell your friends about it. Perhaps they are appalled by your story and vow never to go back to that market. A big dream from a small assumption, and it spreads like a virus. To avoid assumptions, ask questions. It takes courage to go against your fear of asking for clarity: “I saw you had a big party, and it seems I wasn’t invited like I expected. Is there anything I need to know about that?” We risk hearing the truth: “I’m sorry, but last time you got sort of drunk and it was disturbing for people.” Or, “You said something after our last gathering that made me think you didn’t want to be invited again.” Or, “I sent you an invitation and was disappointed you didn’t come.” There are so many possible answers, but to risk asking for clarity seems dangerous. Be brave. Trust the present moment, trust and respect other people to be exactly who they are, and let life unfold according to its own plan– it avoids a great deal of suffering.
Always Do Your Best. The only place in the universe where “success” and “failure” exist, is in the minds of humans. As far as we know, the trees and animals and butterflies and storm clouds and galaxies do not concern themselves with such nonsense. Why do the humans fear failure so much…and sometimes success…? The answer: We made it up and use it against ourselves and each other. There is some strange notion in most cultures that judging each other—and ourselves—leads to increased productivity, better manners, weight loss, eliminating bad habits, and creating good ones.
It doesn’t actually seem to work—there is enough judging going around, inside and out, to perfect an entire human race! Yet still we suffer, fall behind, don’t meet our goals or keep our resolutions, We have lost touch with the reality of our perfection with which we entered this world. We had no shame, no regrets, no failures, and no fear of those dread diseases of human minds when we were very young. It didn’t take long to domesticate us to believe many lies, and we still believe them. We use the lies against ourselves, and judge ourselves for not being perfect. “What do you mean I did my best!? I made a total mess of that (paint job, presentation, marriage, spilled spaghetti sauce) and you are telling me I was doing my best!? I should do much better than that!” It is challenging to re-domesticate ourselves into the truth of Life: We each came here as unique expressions of the one creating and animating force of this universe. We are perfect expressions of that divine source, and therefore must be perfect ourselves. You are always doing your best. Stop and imagine how many factors were at work around a recent decision you made. Remember to include your ancestors and those of everyone involved. Your DNA. And that mean teacher in fourth grade. And those times of being punished for things you didn’t do. And whether you were sick or well, tired or rested when you made that decision. And your unique beliefs and fears about success and failure. One moment, infinite influences, and you acted. Well, actually, the influences all acted together.
Toltec spiritual warriors know they are doing their best in every moment. They gather information, they act, get new information, and act again. When they aren’t impeccable, when they take something personally, or make an assumption, they know they are still doing their best– and are still beloved children of Spirit. Agree that you are always doing your best, with love and acceptance for the perfect divine human you are. When you do, the inner and outer judges will be impotent to hurt you with their lies, and you will be free!
Allan Hardman, based on The Four Agreements™ — A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. A Toltec Wisdom Book by Miguel Ruiz.
And be sure to read my book, The Everything Toltec Wisdom Book, which describes in-depth the many tools available to us from Toltecs both ancient and modern– tools you can use to heal the wounds, delete the lies, change your dream, and make your life a beautiful work of art as a Toltec Artist of the Spirit. And to go all the way, join the Toltec Apprentice Community Online, “TACO,” right here at ToltecOnline.com.