Jan 302010

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Like many books, I first ran into this one in audio form. Since I had always been intrigued by the Carlos Castaneda books, I was interested in a self-development book which claimed to be based on Toltec principles. The book turned out to be both simple and profound at the same time. The four agreements it mentions are very basic, but understanding them makes them very powerful.

The basic theme of The Four Agreements is that each of us is conditioned from birth to be slaves to a system of thought and behavior – a series of unspoken agreements that taken together are almost like a supernatural being. The Toltecs refer to this spiritual and emotional energy as a parasite – something that attaches itself to us and drains our will and energy. This concept is not unlike the concept of the “pain-body” taught by Eckhart Tolle.

Don Miguel goes on to outline four new agreements – commitments we make with ourselves – that can free us from this unconscious slavery and bring us freedom to grow and act independently. The four agreements are:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Ruiz is very emphatic about the power of words to capture attention and influence us and those around us. Words are magic – either white magic or black magic, whether we know it or not. To be impeccable with our word is to speak only the truth, only what we mean, and only what builds, helps and uplifts.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
This is a reminder that people often act unconsciously. They are immersed in their own world-dream. Their actions, the ones that might hurt or offend you – are not directed at you, but at their own projections and fears.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Ask questions. Communicate clearly. Ask for what you want and make sure you are understood. Do not jump to conclusions.

4. Always Do Your Best
This one was a little harder to understand. Don Miguel spends some time explaining that our “best” varies from moment to moment and situation to situation. If we are tired or upset, our best may be different than on our better days. To make the effort to do our best also carries the qualification that we must be kind to ourselves in acknowledging that our best is a moving target. Always do your best, giving the circumstances and your personal resources.

Ruiz believes that with these four agreements you can completely break free of the “world dream” that holds you in slavery. For someone who has an affinity for a shamanistic path or native American spirituality, this book is an excellent approach to self-development.

Oct 242009

Don_Miguel_Ruiz Don Miguel Ruiz is a Mexican Toltec shaman and teacher.  Writings about Toltec shamanism came into popularity decades ago with the writings of Carlos Castaneda. But Ruiz makes his teachings relevant to everyone, not simply to students of the esoteric. Like Eckhart Tolle, he gained significant exposure for his work from Oprah Winfrey. While his credentials may be as a shaman, his popular books and teachings are quite practical and down-to-earth.

His first book was The Four Agreements, which focuses on four key principles to recover spiritual power in our life. These are not strange esoteric principles, although Ruiz invests them with spiritual power. They are, in fact, things your mother might have told you. I won’t be giving anything away if I tell you what they are.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
4. Always Do Your Best.

If those sound a bit simplistic, you need to read his books. His explanations of these simple principles are actually quite spiritually sophisticated. They are not all what you might think. In the section on being impeccable with your word, for example, he discusses the magical power that words have over the human consciousness. Cruel or overly critical talk, for Ruiz, is basically a case of black magic, and many of us are black magicians without realizing it. We use the power of our words to destroy rather than to help.

Ruiz is an excellent author for someone of shamanistic inclination, or simply someone who wants good practical advice and techniques for improving life and gaining happiness, freedom and spiritual power.

Here’s a brief video of Don Miguel Ruiz:

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