The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz has been recommended to me many times so finally I got round to listening to it as an audiobook. I was hooked from the very first story – a beautiful, simple explanation of how we transmit love to one another.
He goes on to give a masterful description of how our education and upbringing, almost from the day we are born, condition us to lose touch with who we really are. The personal and social consequences are disastrous.
I had heard many times that the first agreement was to “be impeccable with your word.” It always gave me a slightly uneasy feeling. I was reminded of how many times I have promised something to someone and failed to deliver. You know, those little passing promises to do something or send something to someone which then get forgotten.
When the real meaning of the first agreement was explained – so different from what I had expected – it was such a relief. It was not another exhortation to be a moral and dutiful person, who never forgets anything, is totally organised and generally above reproach in all ways.
It was about recognising the power of what you think and say about yourself, above all, and never putting down your own true self to be someone other than who you are.
As I listened to the explanations of all the agreements I thought of one person after another who I wanted to share the book with, including many clients. It is another way to make sense of what I have experienced for myself, learned from teachers and often talk about in my sessions.
So I recommend the book wholeheartedly and do not want to write a lot about it because it is quite short, very accessible and speaks for itself.
Having said that, there is one thing that has been bothering me about it. In the latter part of the book where he describes how to put the four agreements into practice he talks about becoming a ‘warrior’.
Yes, it is a warrior for the truth. And yes, there are many similar metaphors in other spiritual teachings. I understand how you can feel like a warrior as you fight your way through the negative thoughts that arise constantly, as you change your life in the way he is teaching.
However, after many years of trying to do this I can honestly say that it did not work very well. I found that the more I fought against those kinds of negative thoughts the more of them came up to fight me.
It occurred to me that rather than more warriors we need more lovers in the world. When I was taught how to help people release demons and other negative spirits it was entirely with love and compassion for them, no fighting, no struggle, no enemies. And it works very well.
I have also found that the only effective and lasting way to release negative thoughts and feelings is with love. We are saying goodbye to thought patterns that may have served us in the past, but are no longer needed. There is no need to kill them. We can say goodbye to them with kindness and they will slip away quietly.
Resistance is powered up by a good fight but it cannot survive in the face of love.
Don Miguel Ruiz is clearly a master of what he is describing and practises what he preaches. However, I would like to suggest that if you want to change the agreements you have made in your life, you look for a method that is loving rather than fighting.
There will be less struggle and deeper satisfaction. Even though you may not get the chance to become a hero, you might find yourself becoming a lightbearer instead.