Notes on the Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
To the Circle of Fire; those who have gone before, those who are present, and those who have yet to come.
Introduction: The Smokey Mirror
I Am Made of Light
One day, as he slept in a cave, he dreamed that he saw his own body sleeping. He came out of the cave on the night of a new moon. The sky was clear, and he could see millions of stars. The something happened inside of him that transformed his life forever. He looked at his hands, he felt his body, and he heard his own voice say, “I am made of light; I am made of stars.”
Everything Is God
This is what he discovered: Everything in existence is a manifestation of the one living being we call God. Everything is God. And he came to the conclusion that human perception is merely light perceiving light. He also saw that matter is a mirror — everything is a mirror that reflects light and creates images of that light — and the world of illusion, the Dream, is just like smoke which doesn’t allow us to see what we really are. “The real us is pure love, pure light,” he said.
1. Domestication and the Dream of the Planet
Mitote: Your Mind Is Fog/A Dream
Your whole mind is a fog which the Toltec called a mitote (pronounced MIH-TOE’-TAY). Your mind is a dream where a thousand people talk at the same time, and nobody understands each other. This is the condition of the human mind — a big mitote, and with that big mitote you cannot see what you really are. In India they call the mitote maya, which means illusion. It is the personality’s notion of “I am.” Everything you believe about yourself and the world, all the concepts and programming you have in your mind, are all the mitote. We cannot see who we truly are; we cannot see that we are not free.
The Fear of Taking Risks
That is why humans resist life. To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans. We have learned to live our lives trying to satisfy other people’s demands. We have learned to live by other people’s points of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.
We know we are not what we believe we are supposed to be and so we feel false, frustrated, and dishonest. We try to hide ourselves, and we pretend to be what we are not. The result is that we feel unauthentic and wear social masks to keep others from noticing this. We are so afraid that somebody else will notice that we are not what we pretend to be. We judge others according to our image of perfection as well, and naturally they fall short of our expectations.
Harming Our Physical Bodies to Be Accepted
We dishonor ourselves just to please other people. We even do harm to our physical bodies just to be accepted by others. You see teenagers taking drugs just to avoid being rejected by other teenagers. They are not aware that the problem is that they don’t accept themselves. They reject themselves because they are not what they pretend to be. They wish to be a certain way, but they are not, and this they carry shame and guilt. Humans punish themselves endlessly for not being what they believe they should be. They become very self-abusive, and they use other people to abuse themselves as well.
Our Image of Perfection
We have the need to be accepted and to be loved by others, but we cannot accept and love ourselves. The more self-love we have, the less will experience self-abuse. Self-abuse comes from self-rejection, and self-rejection comes from having an image of what it means to be perfect and never measuring up to that ideal. Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves; it is why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are.
2. the First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word
The Power of Your Words
The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life. […] All the magic you posses is based on your word.
Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.
Misinformation Can Break Down Communication Between People
All of this mess can be caused by one little computer virus. One little piece of misinformation can break down communication between people, causing every person it touches to become infected and contagious to others. Imagine that every single time others gossip to you, they insert a computer virus into your mind, causing you to think a little less clearly every time. Then imagine that in an effort to clean up your own confusion and get some relief from the poison, you gossip and spread these viruses to someone else.
Your Point of View
Your opinion is nothing but your point of view. It is not necessarily true. Your opinion comes from your beliefs, your own ego, and your own dream. We create all this poison and spread it to others just so we can feel right about our own point of view.
3. the Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
On Personal Importance
What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me.”
Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
When you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts. You make something big out of something so little, because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong. You also try hard to be right by giving them your own opinions. In the same way, whatever you feel and do is just a projection of your own personal dream, a reflection of your own agreements. What you say, what you do, and the opinions you have are according to the agreements you have made—and these opinions have nothing to do with me.
Whatever you think, whatever you feel, I know is your problem and not my problem. It is the way you see the world. It is nothing personal, because you are dealing with yourself, not with me. Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, so nothing they think about me is really about me, but it is about them.