“The Four Agreements”: Finding Personal Freedom

From the author of The Four Agreements:

The freedom we are looking for
is the freedom to be ourselves,
to express ourselves. But if we look at our lives
we will see that most of the time
we do things just to please others …
The worst part is that most of us
are not even aware that we are not free.
Don Miguel Ruiz

According to the above author, personal freedom can be attained by following “The Four Agreements.

This best-selling book, which has been highly popular in recent years, was first published in 1997. But from what I hear, it was not until Oprah eventually recommended it on her show—no big surprise here—that both the book and its author were propelled into the spotlight.

From the Publishers Weekly review:

Ruiz, whose workshop teachings are distilled here, was born into a Mexican family of traditional healers, became a surgeon in adulthood, then underwent a near-death experience that made him reexamine his life, his beliefs. Like the popular works of the late Carlos Castaneda, Ruiz’s teachings focus on dreams and visions. ‘Dreaming,’ Ruiz argues, ‘is the main function of the mind.’ A series of four ‘agreements’ are detailed, which make up a larger picture of unconditional human faith. Despite the New Age-sounding language, Ruiz is refreshingly clear in the presentation of his ideas.

Key words: “Despite the New Age-sounding language.”

From Lisa Unger‘s “Three Books For The Self-Help Skeptic” on NPR: “A tiny book with gigantic wisdom — and not nearly as woo-woo as you might think.”

And from Keith D. Grimes, at voices.yahoo.com:

Before I start this review I feel the need to state an important caveat up front: I am not a navel-gazing, crystal-wearing, pipe-smoking, new age freak. Ahh. I feel much better.

That said, I’d like to tell you about one of the best books I’ve read in the so-called New Age category: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. For such a tiny little book, tipping the scales at a measly 138 pages, it really packs a punch. The pages are short, the text layout lite (as opposed to densely packed pages), and Ruiz’s voice is conversational and poetic. Though you could get through this book in a day or two, you’d be well-advised to slow down and enjoy the journey. Spend some quality time mulling over the points of this book; its message will resonate with you for years to come. Good things really do come in small packages.

What exactly are the Four Agreements? Straight from the cover of the book:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

And if any of the above sound reasonable to you and worth exploring further, you might also like his latest book, co-written with his son, about the next agreement—which, of course, is The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery. According to its description, it “encourages us to see the truth, to recover our authenticity, and to change the message we deliver not only to ourselves, but to everyone around us.”

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