The Four Agreements; A Shiny Doorknob
There are times in my life when I want some outside guidance. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for more doctrines. I’ve had my fair share of those already. I guess, for me, outside guidance is like a shiny doorknob on an ancient door. As I busily flit and flutter my wings, that doorknob will catch my eye and make me want to open the door. It always leads me back into my own wisdom, of course.
Sometimes outside guidance is easier to grasp when it comes in the form of a numbered list of clear instructions – you know, like the ten commandments or the seven habits. A friend of mine says she likes books that offer numbered lists because she feels like she’s checking off the boxes as she reads. I know what she means. Numbered lists make me feel as though I’m moving forward – measuring progress. It’s definitely ingrained from childhood when I was taught to be left-brained oriented. I’m guessing the number is recognized by my left brain, and that allows the accompanying information access to my right brain. Anyway, I digress (you can tell I’m reading Daniel Pink right now!). It’s a shiny doorknob called The Four Agreements that I want to discuss.
Don Miguel Ruiz attributes the concepts in his book to the traditional wisdom of the Toltecs, an ancient Mesoamerican culture. To my way of thinking that’s not especially relevant because I’ve discovered that even soup can art inspires some folks under the right circumstances. Really though, whatever the source of this wisdom, one thing is undoubtedly significant about Ruiz’ four agreements… what he says can be found in other spiritual philosophies. There are specific parallels to the teachings of Buddha, such as mitote (Toltec), which reminds me of the description of "the monkey mind" (Buddhist). And one can make the case that Jesus was a living example of the mastery of these four behaviors. Mmm, now that would be an intriguing analysis. However, my intention today is to share this list. We can always go much deeper or even get intellectual about this later on…
Here’s the list:
Be Impeccable With Your Word
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Don’t Make Assumptions
Always Do Your Best
Initially, I thought these agreements were merely good pillars of moral behavior that would help me improve my character and communicate better with others, so I decided to live by them. It wasn’t as easy at it sounds. During the last few years, these four concepts have propelled me through the door and into an inner journey of further conscious awakening.
What does this mean… further conscious awakening? Trying to live these seemingly simple agreements continue to profoundly change me in ways I never expected. I once hoped my character, or, rather, what I’ve come to understand as my ego, would shift. I now realize that nothing on the outside changes until the inside is awake, aware and actively engaged. Once that happens, the outside becomes less important yet begins to transform anyway. Relationships improve as I improve, too.
Let me be honest – this has not easy. It’s not like going to sleep one evening and waking up refreshed with eyes wide open in the morning. At least it hasn’t been that way for me. No, for me, it’s been more like handling an onion, where I’m pulling back layers, and sometimes there’s even tears from the emotional release. It’s worth the effort, though, because the inner core, I’m learning, is where the Divine Spark resides. In Genesis language, I suppose it would be called God’s Breath. The closer I get to the core, the more profoundly I’ve sensed the Presence. Waking up to this understanding illuminates one’s life far more than 10,000 morning suns ever could.
So these are the Four Agreements. I’d like to go into more detail about each one, and I might just do that over the next several weeks. But, for now, let me just state this simple fact. Living these agreements isn’t meant to be the answer for the human struggle. They are simply a shiny doorknob. It may sound cliche, but I have to say it – the answers are within. Just be warned: Once you use this shiny doorknob to open the door, you won’t want to turn back ’cause it can be pretty glorious in there!