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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

4.4 227
by don Miguel Ruiz
 

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According to don Miguel Ruiz, everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a

Overview

According to don Miguel Ruiz, everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth. In The Four Agreements, don Miguel reveals the source of self-limiting agreements that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: 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. 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. 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. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are tired as opposed to well-rested. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. The Four Agreements sound simple, even simplistic. B

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
When you get tangled in endless dilemmas -- at home, at work, or with friends -- you need to simplify. Don Miguel Ruiz offers the means. In this small book of wisdom, Ruiz, a shaman and healer, instructs us in the four agreements that ensure right conduct. Be impeccable with your word, Ruiz urges. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. Through this small but potent tract, Ruiz explains how Toltec laws can help us simplify and how they can lead us out of everyday snares and into personal freedom.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ruiz's explanations of Toltec-based cosmography got a major boost recently when publishing pooh-bah Oprah Winfrey mentioned his work on her TV show. 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. Reading aloud, actor Coyote sounds every bit the enthusiastic old hippie, genuinely excited by the concepts he is spinning. Based on the 1997 Amber-Allen edition. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781878424310
Publisher:
Amber-Allen Publishing
Publication date:
11/28/1997
Series:
Toltec Wisdom Series
Pages:
138
Sales rank:
263
Product dimensions:
9.60(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Domestication and the Dream of the Planet

What you are seeing and hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming with the brain awake.

Dreaming is the main function of the mind, and the mind dreams twenty-four hours a day. It dreams when the brain is awake, and it also dreams when the brain is asleep. The difference is that when the brain is awake, there is a material frame that makes us perceive things in a linear way. When we go to sleep we do not have the frame, and the dream has the tendency to change constantly.

Humans are dreaming all the time. Before we were born the humans before us created a big outside dream that we will call society's dream or the dream of the planet. The dream of the planet is the collective dream of billions of smaller, personal dreams, which together create a dream of a family, a dream of a community, a dream of a city, a dream of a country, and finally a dream of the whole humanity. The dream of the planet includes all of society's rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures and ways to be, its governments, schools, social events, and holidays.

We are born with the capacity to learn how to dream, and the humans who live before us teach us how to dream the way society dreams. The outside dream has so many rules that when a new human is born, we hook the child's attention and introduce these rules into his or her mind. The outside dream uses Mom and Dad, the schools, and religion to teach us how to dream.

Attention is the ability we have to discriminate and to focus only on that which we want to perceive. We can perceive millions ofthings simultaneously, but using our attention, we can hold whatever we want to perceive in the foreground of our mind. The adults around us hooked our attention and put information into our minds through repetition. That is the way we learned everything we know.

By using our attention we learned a whole reality, a whole dream. We learned how to behave in society: what to believe and what not to believe; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable; what is good and what is bad; what is beautiful and what is ugly; what is right and what is wrong. It was all there already - all that knowledge, all those rules and concepts about how to behave in the world.

When you were in school, you sat in a little chair and put your attention on what the teacher was...

Meet the Author

Don Miguel Ruiz was born into a family of healers, and raised in rural Mexico by a curandera (healer) mother and a nagual (shaman) grandfather. The family anticipated that Miguel would embrace their centuries-old legacy of healing and teaching, and carry forward the esoteric Toltec knowledge. Instead, distracted by modern life, Miguel chose to attend medical school and become a surgeon. A near-death experience changed his life. Late one night in the early 1970s, he awoke suddenly, having fallen asleep at the wheel of his car. At that instant the car careened into a wall of concrete. Don Miguel remembers that he was not in his physical body as he pulled his two friends to safety.

Stunned by this experience, he began an intensive practice of self-inquiry. He devoted himself to the mastery of the ancient ancestral wisdom, studying earnestly with his mother, and completing an apprenticeship with a powerful shaman in the Mexican desert. His grandfather, who had since passed on, continued to teach him in his dreams.

In the tradition of the Toltec, a nagual guides an individual to personal freedom. Don Miguel Ruiz, a nagual from the Eagle Knight lineage, is dedicated to sharing his knowledge of the teachings of the ancient Toltec. For more than a decade, he has worked to impart this wisdom to his students through lectures, workshops, and journeys to sacred sites around the world.

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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (Four-color Illustrated Ed.) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 227 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not a 'how to' reader, but I love this book and frequently give it as a gift. I am also a Christian, while at the same time being open-minded and willing to hear other people's points of view. The basic 'agreements' do not infringe on my beliefs. Those that are offended should try not to 'take it personally' (one of the 4 agreements). If all religions could apply these principles we would be much better off.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm in recovery for Bulimia and my therapist actually recommended this book and I'm so glad she did! I thought it was amazing and everything seemed to hit so close to home. It all seems so simple but he elaborates on all the agreements and really makes you want to follow them. One person wrote that he says if someone else is angry w/ you or whatever it's their problem, etc. And the reviewer said maybe sometimes it is your fault. I interpreted it differently. He definitely makes it clear that you are in control and if you judge someone or are angry w/ someone, it has to do with you and your beliefs. So he was saying if someone is angry with you it has to do w/ their beliefs, so it works both way. I like how he really makes you feel like you are in control. Other reviewers have said it's self centered, but the only thing you can truly control is indeed yourself! So if you life isn't going right, etc then it's most likely you and not any of the things you're blaming.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many people seem to like this book, but I am not quite sure why. This book is full of very common platitudes and dangerously self-centered ideas. The main premise of this book seems to be that each person should treat themselves like the center of the universe. He states that if someone criticizes you or is angry with you, it is because of their own issues, and not you, and therefore you have no responsibility to address it (he terms their feelings and words 'black magic' and 'poison'). Well, sometimes you ARE the problem, and pretending that you are not will not lead you to any sort of 'heaven on earth,' especially for the people around you. He also contradicts himself (i.e., we are all God but there is also a Creator who is separate - how does that work?), misquotes the Bible to support his statements, and has a tough time staying on topic. Do not waste your time reading this - find something substantial that will move you to exhibit real love to those around you and to yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, I read this 2 years ago. I love books like this
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first time I rate a book here. I bought this book and read it in three days. It does contain some good advices, but I think its lessons are just repetitive. The message of this book is well known by most of us. Be careful when you talk, don't take everything so serious, ask questions before doing something, and do your best at what you do. I was a little disappointed with this book.
Atticablue More than 1 year ago
I recently bought this book again because every copy I've ever owned, I've given away only to realize some months later that I no longer have it when I need to review it for myself! Anyway , this is a wonderful little treasure and a concise way to regain focus and self esteem when the world becomes overwhelming. Life is hard and sometimes we all need a review or a new perspective on how to handle the challenges we face as human beings. Sometimes, the most important relationship we have is the one with ourselves and this book focuses on that and how we all sometimes have mistaken beliefs that effect our daily life in a detrimental way. I think this is a must read for just about everyone and as I've said, I've given away quite a few of these but I always end up buying a copy just for myself to have so I can go back to it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many spiritual authors and after reading the reviews of this book I decided to give it a try. The book has a lovely cover and a lovely premise I just found that it did not ring true for me. I ordinarily do not leave reviews but I thought it might be helpful to give a counterpoint to the lavish praise of this book. I found this prescription for happiness not only simplistic but also a denial of the human condition. I don't even think I'd like living in the heaven that Ruiz describes. Some of his ideas are thought provoking, perhaps even disturbing if a person was to take them to heart. Not for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a 2 year spirituality class and received much more out of it that is practical for people of all ages. I have kids and have found I can simplify the lessions and help them deal with peer pressure and social situations. It's also helped improve communication in my marriage. What interested me is that as I was reading it, several parents called to talk about things that were upsetting them or their kids and I could pass along the insights of Don Miguel Ruiz. It helped me realize that when people get frustrated and say something that sounds hurtful, it's more about what they are going through and not really aimed at me. They've had a tough day, they are stressed about someone in their family, they're running late. Be impeccable with your words, don't take things personally, don't make assumptions and do your best. I also think you'll enjoy his follow-up book The Fifth Agreement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The basic premise behind this book is conveyed through the book. The problem with this book is that it is overly repetative. The author begins discussing great personal tips, then goes outside of the plain of common sense into a world of non-sense. A prime example is within his chapter on Don't Take Anything Personal', he discusses not to even take it person if someone shoots you in the head! What is he talking about? There are better examples to use of than being shot in the head. This book is really good at times and then meanders into repetative mumbo jumbo. Recommend you look elsewhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I brought the book for extra credit for a class and was hesitant to read it at first. I was surprise to find it useful and educational. I started applying these four agreements to my daily life and found it to be true. It was hard to change, but I took it step by step and found that I started being more positive about my future. My job and studies started to improve and don't get in as much trouble as I use to. I see why the professor wanted us to read the book and I want others to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very inspirational to me. I liked it and I will read it again next year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just had to buy this, I loved every part of it. I also Love MYSTIC by R.E It has a great focus on a diversity of topics
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I browsed through the book, it seemed very thought-provoking. However, when I sat down to read it cover to cover, I found the writing style a bit simple for me and occasionally repetitive. Still, there are some interesting lessons to be learned from this book.
CarolW More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK HAS BECOME A GUIDE BOOK FOR MY LIFE. IT TEACHES SIMPLE ACTIONS AND WAYS TO HANDLE LIFE...IDEAS I WOULD HAVE NEVER THOUGHT OF ON MY OWN. IT DEFINATELY KEEPS ME CENTERED AND I REFER TO IT OFTEN.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ruiz has produced a masterpiece. Simple and straighforward.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book contains a number of truths. It should not be considered the 'end all' of wisdom though-- the acquisition of wisdom is not something one can complete by reading 138 pages. 'Wisdom Literature' was a specialty study of mine when I was earning my master's. Solomon, Confucius, Plato and the other 'great ones' are still the best, even after thousands of years, but Ruiz isn't bad.
nikkirome More than 1 year ago
Great book, but not for those who are set-in their ways, think they know it all, extremely religious, bias, overly opinionated. This book is at the top of my list for personal development. Repetition is good if you are determined to learn something, so I don't see why repetition is an issue for some people. If you are like me and enjoy enlightenment and universal truth as oppose to religious debate, then you will not have any issues with this book.
lovethesun More than 1 year ago
When I saw don Miguel Ruiz on Oprah I knew I had to order this book. I ordered one for each of my children. This book has some wonderful, thought-provoking ways to live your life in a way that makes sense - lots of common sense. An easy read without having religion pushed down your throat. With these four agreements it is more the way the universe allows you to live your life if you so choose. Very uplifting read.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
This book is difficult to categorize. Is it a book: about a philosophy, a member of the “Self-Help” genre, a “spiritual” basis for Bowanian Theory, a mythological history of Mexican enlightenment or a memoir of a man’s recollections of a beloved Grandfathers teaching?  Any of these designations would be correct at points and all of them (plus a few more) would be needed to accurately describe this slim, non-fiction “booklet” that is right at home in a New Age library. Don Miguel Ruiz survived a near-death experience that led him to study the “wisdom teachings” of his ancestors.  As his grandfather was a nagual (teacher/leader/shaman) of the Toltec, one could say he was drawn into the family custom and has followed the teaching of the Toltec tradition since the early 1970’s.  At the root of that tradition are four agreements, but the reader is given background and is given a short tutorial in the language of this discipline before being exposed to those “agreements.”  The author suggests that the adherence to those four “agreements” will bring internal direction and peace, calmness to one’s household and would lead to world peace (if enough people followed those teachings).  Mr. Ruiz does an excellent job of quickly familiarizing the reader with a long tradition that lead to the development of the agreements. The 1st Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word – as the words one speaks become powerful (“magical” is how the author describes them) speak only truth, let only positive things be spoken and live by what you say.  The 2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally – what is spoken to you is about the speaker, not you, unless you “make it about you” (take it personally).  Practice detachment in relationship, allowing others to know you without a need to be accepted by them.  The 3rd Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions – “The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth.”  Everyone makes assumptions and, once they are pronounced, they must me defended.  Real love is accepting others and self as “they are” not needing to change others and changing ourselves as we desire.  The 4th Agreement: Always Do Your Best – perfection is a delusion whose pursuit only leads to misery.  Life is fluid and ever changing, learning to do one’s best and accept that limit opens one to the “magic” of a more full life. None of these agreements is earth shaking, new revelation nor are they limited to the Toltec teachings.  They are also words that merit repeating, as most (all) major religions (and many effective psychological treatment modalities) use these teachings, in some form, as the basis for personal peace and healthy community living.  Having them gathered in a volume such as this one causes these “reminders” to be freshened and a point for reminding caring and “loving” people how one is to act that will affect one’s community in a positive way.   Reading this book straight through will take a matter of an hour or two; READING it will require: a fresh highlighter, space for reflection, a sounding board for “spouting off” against and a willingness to hear truth without surrendering one’s Self to another’s opinion.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very well done and valuable. It's perfect for beginners. It explains the basics for personal philosophies and beliefs. Anyone interested in meditation and private spirituality this is a great place to start. This is also a great read for anyone experienced, who wants to refresh the basics.
SeederReeder More than 1 year ago
This book is delightful to read and remind each one of us that we have choices - always. I recommend this book - it will make you happier!
MBlank More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book. Some things may not relate to the reader, but the reader can still use the points to understand what other people may be experiencing in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I heard about this book I was a little skeptic, my older brother was saying all these wonderfull things and I was thinking "Could this book really be all that wonderfull?" I thought that for the next few days while my mother was reading it.. She too was saying the same so I said I'll give it a try, and when I did, I was amazed. I couldn't stop reading it. I read the entire book in a day it was so good. WHen I say his words really spoke to me, I really mean they spoke to me. I feel like all my problems just dissappeared after reading this book. I connected with averything he said and I truly became closer to myself. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a MUST READ !!!!!!
JonasSP More than 1 year ago
Don Miguel Ruiz wrote the book, The Four Agreements, about Toltec wisdom. Ruiz preferred to share his knowledge through oral tradition rather than traditional healing practices. Don Miguel Ruiz wants us to reach inner and outer peace by following The Four Agreements. I believe Ruiz is successful in showing us how to incorporate Toltec wisdom in our lives, and he provides an easy-to-follow approach to personal freedom. Upon examination of The Four Agreements book cover, one will know that the book is a "practical guide to personal freedom." The book has four ways to achieve that said freedom. The first agreement is Be Impeccable with Your Word, which means to be careful with what you say. The second agreement is Don't Take Anything Personally, which is self explanatory. The third agreement is Don't Make Assumptions, which states that we make assumptions because we believe they are true. The final agreement is Always Do Your Best, which is also self explanatory. Ruiz triumphantly guides us to personal freedom with the first agreement. For instance, Ruiz states, "The word is so powerful that one word can change a life or destroy the lives of millions of people" (27). When someone misapplies the word, one creates a living hell. Using the word correctly can lead one to freedom, and the word can make anyone happy or make anyone suffer. Based on Ruiz's philosophy, one can choose to be impeccable with her word or one can choose to suffer and create a living "hell." The fourth agreement is another example of how Ruiz successfully guides us to personal freedom. For example, Ruiz declares, "Just do your best in any circumstance in your life" (77). Our best always changes, and it will never be the same. Each situation is different, thus your best is going to be situational and you must be willing to adapt in order to potentially reach personal freedom. As demonstrated in the previous examples, Ruiz gives us a common sense guide to personal freedom. Even though I only addressed two agreements, one should consider all four in order to reach inner and outer peace. If one is looking for personal freedom, I recommend reading The Four Agreements.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was less than I expected. There is good practical advice - like cultivating distance from your own thoughts and other people's words and replacing old ideas with new beliefs. However, there's really nothing new here, it's more of a common-sense book, and I see little, if anything, that hasn't been taught many times over by other popular authors and most major religions. I prefer the little book of wisdom by Taro Gold over this one.