Don Miguel Ruiz is known as a nagual, or shaman, of the Toltec tradition. The Toltecs were an ancient group of scientists and artists that was formed to explore and preserve the practices and spiritual knowledge of the ancient ones. It is not a religion, but a way of life that embraces spirit and honors all the spiritual masters who have taught on the earth. Toltec wisdom arises from the same essential unity of truth as other sacred esoteric traditions that are found all over the world.
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
From the cover of the book:
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.
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.
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.
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.
This book may be small in size, but it packs a hefty punch in terms of shattering personal illusions and opening up a path to personal freedom. I consider this book a must-have for anyone wanting to become more conscious and wanting freedom from personal stories and agreements that cause suffering.
on September 12, 2013
I'm not sure what all the hype is about. The book makes four points: (1) Be impeccable with your words; (2) Don't take anything personally; (3) Don't make assumptions; and (4) Always do your best. I would say each of these four points is self-explanatory. Within each chapter of the book is maybe a sentence or two making a worthwhile point, followed by pages and pages of stream of consciousness rambling. Much of the rambling, if viewed critically, makes little sense and is in fact quite distracting. The examples given are not terribly well thought out. Among the rambling are statements about spirituality and God which assume some level of religiosity in the reader. I purchased this book based on all the positive reviews, but I have to say, I don't understand where they're coming from. Anyone who has engaged in even a little introspection will not be enlightened by this book.
on October 4, 2010
Having heard several people rave about this book, telling me that I absolutely HAD to read it, I was interested in what Ruiz has to say. I cracked open the cover, read the inside flap (which, mind you, is the only part worth reading), and forged ahead to see what Toltec wisdom has to impart to this crazy western world.
The first problem with this book is that Ruiz's writing itself is trash - conversational syntax, incomplete sentences, circular logic (if one can call anything in this book "logical"), and the most insipid examples/explanations of his various claims that I've ever read. I don't have to have my socks blown off by a writer to appreciate his or her message; I can appreciate simple syntax, average diction, etc.. If the author can convey the point to me in a simple way, great. But this is a different kind of mediocrity. If feels like I'm reading the journal of a 12-year-old who is butthurt about people gossiping about him. It makes it a drag to read. (More below on when Ruiz abandons mediocre writing for mystical contradictions and contrived excuses)
So, says you, he can't write, but maybe he still has something worthwhile to say, right? Wrong. Ruiz nosedives on this account. As I said before, the inside flap lists the Four Agreements (Be impeccable with your word; Don't take anything personally; Don't make assumptions; and Always do your best), which taken at face value are commendable if not commonsense. But Ruiz severely damages the validity of these agreements by attempting to explain them.
The majority of his examples meant to illustrate his points revolve around the meaningless situation of a complete stranger throwing you an off-handed comment on the street. These are often superficial things like, "You're ugly," "You're stupid," and "We MUST be in junior high." Any reasonable person over the age of 17 knows not to take something a complete stranger says to them seriously. Why Ruiz feels compelled to repeat such insipid examples for each of his agreements like they're going to be meaningful (or different?) after x repetitions is beyond me.
He also describes the world as being in a state of hell, which may be accurate in some cases and I don't doubt for some people. But this bold claim immediately sets the setting in which all hope is lost, every single person is confused and malicious, and here's the kicker - we all LIKE it like this. We WANT to suffer. This again screams "I'm 12, I can't cope with life, I can't find good in the world, Everyone must be against me because I can't see the world for the navel-gazing I do. Poor me - and by extension, poor everyone! Everyone MUST feel the same!"
Most of his advice for "making agreements" with oneself follows the general steps of:
1) If you make this agreement, happiness will rain from the sky (but only on you - everyone else around will still wallow in hell because they want to suffer).
2) To make this agreement, abandon anything that gets in the way of happiness.
3) Don't let yourself feel any natural or negative emotions: guilt, jealousy, hurt, anger. Just don't. No, I'm not going to expand on HOW to turn yourself into a hedonistic robot - how would I sell more books if I did?!
4) If you do experience guilt, pangs of responsibility, or second thoughts, purge them with singular focus for the sake of happiness.
5) When you've finally accepted this agreement, you will be logical (because stifling your conscience obviously makes you think logically) and happy, while everyone else is still in hell. Because that is truly a commendable goal. Yay.
Again, this is just empty. There isn't anything more to his advice than "Accept what I say and you (and only you) will be happy."
He explains how even if someone tells you "What you're doing/saying is hurting me," it is not you who is hurting them. It is they who have the internal wounds of which you remind them with your words or actions; you don't have to feel responsible for any hurt you cause another person because if they hurt, it is their fault and their problem. Don't bog yourself down with the feelings of others, who, since they haven't flipped their Emotions-off, Robot-on switch, are inferior and deserve to suffer. Ruiz shamelessly exonerates his followers from any sort of commitment or mutual obligation to others in society. Thankfully, only a fraction of our fellows live according to such selfish and short-sighted guidelines.
Finally, after he's had his field day with boring repetition of nothing, Ruiz decides it's high time to fill some of that empty space buzzing in your head with some good old-fashioned mystical rubbish that now flagrantly contradicts with what he said in the preceding paragraph(s). Sometimes, says he, you might hear voices in your head (which can either be called one's conscience or else clinically diagnosed). These "may be" the voices of other beings in alternate universes that are made of the same consciousness as our brains, what some people call "gods." When they converse amongst themselves, their speech is on the same frequency as human brain waves, and we "may" hear their wills, their advice. So we can't always be blamed for what we do, because it "may" be that we're acting (evidently quite helplessly, I might add) on impulse of a brain-god floating in another universe/time-space continuum. This is a marvelously juicy addition to add to the rich repertoire we've already built of excuses for one's hedonism. When someone does something, it may be because 1) they're acting coldly in their self interest, or 2) they're acting out the will of a brain-god in an alternate reality and so can't be blamed. How splendidly unaccountable this makes us for - well, shoot, anything! Zero accountability and pursuing one's own happiness with furious abandon is the M.O. for which Ruiz cries. Scary to think this is an adult, much less as one who's accredited with reasonable and helpful advice on how to live.
I could go on with the flaws with this book, but I've already earned some tl;dr's as it is, and frankly, it doesn't matter. This book is a tremendous disappointment. Please do not waste your time - it will very likely interfere with your personal happiness.
on December 22, 2012
This book was suggested by a dear friend as good inspirational reading for our holiday book club gathering. I typically prefer a good historical fiction novel, but approached this material with an open mind and an open heart. I grew increasingly frustrated with Mr. Ruiz's blanket statements of "do this and it will make you happy" with nothing credible to support such a bold directive. By the end of the book, Mr. Ruiz has provided for the unsuspected and misguided a entire quiver full of excuses of how to get through life without ever challenging yourself or accepting responsibility for your deficiencies. If you like this book, other suggested reading material would be "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley".
on June 19, 2016
This book is too simplistic, repetitive, and boring. I really wanted to like it, since the "four agreements" on the description made some sense, but boy, the writing is so bad and the approach so superficial that I just couldn't bear it. The tone is somewhat preachy, too, which makes me wonder why the author isn't himself following his first "agreement" and being more impeccable with his word.
To save you the expense of a boring book, here are the four agreements in a nutshell:
1. If you want to be free, stop gossiping.
2. It's not about you, it's about them.
3. Assume and expect nothing or you will always be disappointed.
4. Do your best but don't try too hard if it takes too much energy.
This approach is too mental, as if you could simply decide to follow his method without understanding yourself or where your motivations and mental patterns and programming come from. I thought Toltec wisdom would shed some light onto our human nature, but the Toltec label is simply used for marketing. A total waste of time and money.
on July 23, 2000
"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz is some of the best money I have ever spent. For such a small book this one could certainly change many more lives that people I'll ever meet in mine. It breaks everything all down and lets your soul be your guide. The four basic agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable With Your Words.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
3. Don't Make Assumptions.
4. Always Do Your Best.
You can't break it down much more than that. These basic goals and hopes are wonderfully helpful and a path to making ones life a bit easier.
While, I'm not one for a lot of self-awareness books, self-help, etc....but, I certainly found this one helpful, honest and forceful. It made me take a good look at myself and make some changes in how I plan to proceed from this day. If nothing else, give yourself a chance and read this book. It might be helpful.
on June 2, 2013
By all the great reviews I thought I was in for a real treat with this book. Wrong!
In the beginning Mr. Ruiz delves into how we are programmed(fed what he calls "agreements" that are not are own and are self destructive which he calls us as a people becoming domesticated) as a child. We all know this, as a kid our brains are sponges blah blah. The funny thing about it is, he's just further enforcing agreements that most of us were taught as a child. One thing he is spot on with is right from the beginning we are taught by a reward or punishment system. This follows us into adulthood where we feel like we have to constantly reward or punish ourselves and other people based on actions, looks, etc. I agree with him that we constantly punish ourselves, as a society our self-esteem is crap and we should work on it.
1. The first "agreement"- Be Impeccable with Your Word. (First chapter he quotes the bible which in my opinion is the most force fed programming you can recieve as a child.) But anyways, in other words he's saying if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all. If you say something bad to someone, i.e. call someone fat or ugly its only because your insecure with yourself. I truly believe, with all these obese people moping around this world today, someone needs to plant some, as he says "black magic" into their ego.
Favorite excerpt from this chapter: "Example: I see a friend and give him an opinion that just popped into my mind. I say, "Hmmmm! I see that kind of color in your face in people who are going to get cancer." If he listens to the word, and if he agrees, he will have cancer in less than one year. That is the power of the word."- Are you kidding me dude.
2. The second agreement and as far as I got in this book before considering it utterly useless was- Don't Take Anything Personally. Ok, everyone elses point of view comes from all the programming we recieved during our domestication process. So if someone calls you fat or obese, its because that person has problems not because you are actually fat and obese. He goes on to talk about how he doesn't need to feel accepted, he doesn't need for someone to tell him how good he's doing. So guy, whats the point of the first agreement? Should the first agreement be keep to yourself? But because everyone elses opinion is their problem not yours at all, dont pay it any mind. Even if your heavily into drugs and need people think you need serious help, dude, its their problem not yours.
Favorite excerpt from this chapter: "Even if someone shot you in the head, it was nothing personal. Even at that extreme."
I couldn't read beyond the second chapter. The book is pretty much telling you to get into your own little world with lollipops and gumdrops, don't let outside factors bother you. Well the world can be a cold and dangerous place and choosing to numb yourself to others opinions or keeping what you really want to say depressed inside of you and not telling it like it is, is probably not good for you or your self dovelopment. I would like to hear a psychologists opinion of this book. I could compare this book to the movie "the secret" it is that outlandish. Save your money.
on June 26, 2003
This book gripped me like few have ever done before. The AWARENESS that Don Miguel Ruiz brings humanity about our mental "agreements" that we have been taught, and have subsequently attached ourselves to, have been the basis for all human suffering. The gift this book brings us are the simple, yet impeccable manner in which we can break those inner agreements, once we are aware of what they are. To be impeccable with your word, because it carries so much power, both to hurt, and to heal. To not take anything personally, because people do what is coming from their OWN belief system, and truly has nothing to do with us. The big one for me was: "Don't Make Assumptions."
Making assumptions, instead of having the guts to ask questions to gain clarity, has certainly caused much pain for me. I would venture to say I am not alone in this category.
I learned a new way to view "problems" as "agreements" I took on during various stages of my life. Most importantly, I learned to replace those agreements (in whatever way I am the Victim or the Judge) and to make new agreements that suite me, and myself alone, without the need for approval of anyone.
With new agreements, we become FREE to truly love: ourselves, to love all others, and to release judgment and blame.
This is a powerful book that can be read within an hour. I highly recommend it!
From my heart,
Barbara Rose, author of "Stop Being the String Along: A Relationship Guide to Being THE ONE" and 'If God Was Like Man'
Editor of inspire! magazine
on December 6, 2000
This book touches the core of a person because you already know the truth that you are reading. It is very easy to read and you find yourself beginning to pull forth the four agreements that are buried deep within you almost immediately. Changing your way of being is a deep subject, but the way the book is written, you believe that the change will be as easy as falling off a log. In this book, Miguel Ruiz is extremely adept at conversing with you as you read. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE.
on October 13, 2013
You will need a massive amount of suspension of disbelief to read this book. Over and over again the author quote "facts" that contradict science severely, such as: stars are made out of light (doesn't he understand about fusion reaction?), or human is the only living species with a language (chimpanzees and dolphins are known to have languages as well). The four agreements make some sense, but the author's total lack of credibility makes this book an absolute joke.
Fortunately Amazon has a return policy so I can just get my money back, awesome!