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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) Paperback – July 10, 2018
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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, and the creator of "The Four Agreements for a Better Life" online course. 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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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.
Once I began the chapter on the First Agreement, I found myself resting my eyes on phrases, sentences, and truths that just stood out from the page with child-like simplicity and tremendous depth. As I started to unpack what I was learning, I cried some good tears. This happened over and over, like the wounds in my soul were beginning to heal. They were healing through my active attention and I learned how to speak to myself without being judgmental. I thought I already knew how to do this through meditation and therapy, but this book uncovers something for me that I just can't explain.
I don't want to give away too much of this book, because the way everything is explained is so brilliant and builds in layers. The way it is told is important. You can feel the kind and loving intent within every word. This book is very easy to read and understand; you really don't need advanced philosophy to move mountains of the mind.
I feel like Don Miguel Ruiz is right next to me, gently and lovingly help me to see the real beauty in me, the real beauty in the universe and how we are all connected. It has the same force of an elder looking you in the eyes and telling you truths that come from years and years of contemplation, experience and wisdom. The best part is that I'm learning how to be me, really me. I'm learning how to love me, not things *about* me, but the real me way down inside that doesn't have to puff up or put up guards. I'm learning to be vulnerable and relate to others with far less fear and self-doubt. What a gift. What a treasure.
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.
Top international reviews
Being a Landmark graduate I have to say the concepts in this book aren't neither new nor mind blowing, however they are a good way to remind what are the key behaviors to put into action, to have a powerful life.
I didn't like very much the self-centered approach in the relationship with other people, where the message I got is "I deal with my own business, you deal with yours and I have no interest in what you're dealing with". This is how it occurred to me.
I won't spoil it so just buy it and learn why this is amazing for yourself.
I didn’t find the teachings in this book to be revolutionary or even that well put together, in fact at some points I had to force myself to read on due to repeated statements or empty sentences. The book could have probably been half the size and at a mere 140 pages - that says it all.
I did like most of the last section of the book, there were a few metaphors I enjoyed on how society is now and how we can try and break free from the dream of hell but it is a bit far fetched.
I wouldnt say there was a strong emphasis on the toltec background after the first few pages other than the odd phrase throughout.
So basically, if you want to try a different sort of book which is a bit out there, you may enjoy this. I personally would have rather spent the £7 ish on another book which was better written.
The Four Agreements is such a simple guide, can be read in less than a couple of hours (if you want to!) and can be understood and used immediately.
It's been a few weeks since I read it now and I am still using them every day. At night before I go to sleep I ask myself if I have achieved them and if not, how I can do my best (agreement 4) the following day.
I love this book so much, I have been encouraging everyone I know to read it.
Simple, easy, enlightening.
One needs to follow four simple steps in one’s day-to-day life – what Ruiz calls Four Agreements: 1. To be impeccable with one’s word; 2. Not to take anything personally; 3. Not to make assumptions and 4. Always doing one’s best.
A good book but only if one follows the age-old principles in one's daily life.