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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) Paperback – November 7, 1997
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Sit at the foot of a native elder and listen as great wisdom of days long past is passed down. In The Four Agreements shamanic teacher and healer Don Miguel Ruiz exposes self-limiting beliefs and presents a simple yet effective code of personal conduct learned from his Toltec ancestors. Full of grace and simple truth, this handsomely designed book makes a lovely gift for anyone making an elementary change in life, and it reads in a voice that you would expect from an indigenous shaman. The four agreements are these: Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best. It's the how and why one should do these things that make The Four Agreements worth reading and remembering. --P. Randall Cohan
About the Author
Janet Mills is the founder and president of Amber-Allen publishing. She is the co-author, with don Miguel Ruiz, of six books in The Toltec Wisdom Series, creator of “The Four Agreements for a Better Life” online course, and editor of Deepak Chopra’s bestselling title, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Her life’s mission is to publish books of enduring beauty, integrity, and wisdom, and to inspire others to fulfill their most cherished dreams.
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There is a huge tradition of skepticism in linguistics, especially about how language is used in various cultures to create belief systems. A belief system is basically a set of instructions inside your brain based on language. These instructions help you navigate the stressful world around you so you can survive. We are psychologically wired to think our belief systems are accurate and experience deep stress if we find them to be inaccurate.
The trouble is, our belief systems are ALWAYS inaccurate. Yes, I used the word "always" for a reason.
Without going deeply into the study of philosophy and linguistics, I will give you an overview here:
Philosophy - When you study philosophy, you study belief systems about how the world works and explore important questions like "is there a God?" or "What is consciousness." You may not be surprised to find out that philosophy majors have not come up with answers to these questions because there is always a case where we are going to be wrong or have a counter argument. Much of the study of philosophy is the collection of vocabulary words to describe beliefs. They even have a mathematical component called propositional logic, where one takes sentences and reduces them to symbols and creates "proofs" but even prop-logic is under fire from academics for its complete inability to predict anything. In other words, it isn't the answer either.
Linguistics - When you study words and language, you realize that all our beliefs are based on language and this language can never "touch reality" in that language is just an arbitrary description of reality, posing as real. I believe Miguel Ruiz must have taken a linguistics course as well--as his first agreement attests to the power of language. The four agreements pulls heavily from Saussure and Derrida. Both Saussure and Derrida (and many, many others) did work on how we form ideas in our heads based on language. The gist is this: we have something called a "symbol" in our brain which is composed of two parts: the word and the visual representation of the object (look up semiotics for further detail). These symbols are in our mind and work together to form meaning, then belief. The unfortunate thing is that they are entirely made up. It isn't real. Our ideas of it aren't real.
If you really want a deeper understanding on how linguistics has saturated our belief systems I recommend reading some of their academic essays or get Rivkin and Ryan's literary theory books. They are excellent and will take you further down the rabbit hole. Most of the essays are dense but worth the effort!
To simplify: scientists and academics in the millions have tried and tried and tried to find "the true belief" for thousands, maybe tens of thousands of years and we have not yet arrived at any truth. Because of domestication, we think other people have it, but they don't! "Truth" is defined as that which has the most predictive power. So far, mathematics, geometry, and physics has the most predictive power. Our belief systems simply do not.
So any beliefs about yourself can be true and they can also be false. We can't know. So why not pick something positive? If no one knows anything, then how can you even know anything?
But you don't need to study this yourself. All you have to do is think back to your past self, let's say ten years ago. Did that person have a belief system that you now consider to be faulty? How is that possible? What about your future self? Will that person believe you have a faulty belief system? Probably! How is this possible? How can you be SO WRONG? Is it because you "haven't learned?" I highly doubt it!
But we have to be right! We ARE RIGHT! At least we think we might be . . . maybe?
The need to be right is so ingrained within us that we create a huge drama when someone contradicts our beliefs. We end relationships over it! We storm out! We write angry twitter updates.
HOW THIS BOOK HAS PERSONALLY HELPED ME:
- No one person's opinion will ever again have the power to limit what I can do, even if this person is an authority figure
- No one group's opinion will ever again have the power to limit what I can do
- No one has a clear idea of who or what I am, not even me!
- When people talk, they are telling stories. I don't have to argue. I don't have to fight. I simply have to listen. WOW!
- I cannot comprehend another person's dream. I can't mind read. I can't assume. I know nothing of their inner workings.
- Even scary, aggressive people are just telling stories.
- I no longer have to feel ashamed about who I am or what I've done or where I'm going. It's not my job to assign a story to my life, or a judgment.
- I no longer have to pretend to be something or hustle to gain love. I just need to love who is willing to love back. It's so simple.
- I take all gurus, religions, indictments and gossip with quite a high level of benevolent skepticism, which allows me to be free from the fear that goes along with these stories.
- I don't take myself as seriously as I used to.
Probably the most valuable of all . . .
- I have a deep compassion for all people. We are all just stuck here together, trying our hardest and doing our best. I don't have to hate someone because their best wasn't up to some story I tell myself. I don't' have to insist they believe in my story. I can just smile and listen and do what I can.
In a nutshell, the four agreements are:
The Four Agreements are very simple, but very profound. To embrace and live each of the Four Agreements is to find yourself experiencing personal freedom--possibly as never before. The Four Agreements are:
- Be Impeccable With Your Words
- Don't Take Anything Personally
- Don't Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
-When he says be Impeccable With Your Word, he means you should always speak,with integrity. Only say 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.
-'when he tells us Don't Take Anything Personally, he means that 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.
- when he says Don't Make Assumptions, he means you must find the 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.
- When he says Always Do Your Best, he means your best is going to change from moment to moment, but you must simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
This is a very profound book that could really help less you to a very good place in life.
1. I can’t blame my parents for how they raised me. That’s what they were taught by their parents and the environment around them.
2. I am responsible for my own thoughts, emotions and actions. No one can force me to do anything unless I choose to .
3. People’s perspectives are based on their own experiences. I don’t have to react to them since they are not mine.
4. It’s possible to be authentic with yourself and others.