The Four Agreements

BY Tanja Taljaard
The Four Agreements
Modern Psychology Agrees with Ancient Toltec Wisdom

Most ancient cultures have timeless spiritual wisdom from which we can benefit today. In fact, science and psychology acknowledge the advantages of various age-old practices like meditation, mantra, and yoga, on our overall well being. Many eastern philosophies are incorporated into modern therapies.

There are countless ways to connect with a sense of inner peace and divinity, and the ancient Toltec wisdom embodies many of the universally accepted truths adopted by spiritual traditions around the world.

The Toltecs were a civilisation of Mexico thousands of years ago. They were known as spiritual scientists and artists who explored esoteric knowledge and practices. The Toltec viewed science and spirit as part of the same entity, believing that all energy – material or ethereal – is derived from one source and governed by the same universal laws. The Toltec understood the way the mind functions as dreaming reality. They described the mind as that which controls our dream. With awareness of the source of our dream comes the possibility of changing it.

“Life is nothing but a dream but that dream is alive; you are creating that dream, and that dream working for you is pure magic.” Don Miguel Ruiz

The Toltecs were a civilisation of Mexico thousands of years ago.The Toltec civilisation thrived in Mexico from around 900AD and still informs its spirituality.

The Four Agreements

Almost 20 years ago, Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. It explores the modern meaning of the Toltec teachings as a way to personal freedom and spiritual empowerment. Many people have found that committing to these four agreements have changed their lives and made them happier, more loving human beings.

Dr John A. Johnson, professor of psychology, believes that most of these ideas are highly similar to concepts used in modern psychology. He claims that Ruiz’s book could be a primer for congnitive-behavioral therapy, which treats problems and increases happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviours, and thoughts. It encourages patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behaviour.

In his book, Ruiz explains that children do not know any better than to agree with the adult realities into which they are indoctrinated. All children are born perfectly loving, playful, and genuine. Parents, however, teach their children standards of behaviour that they must follow in order to receive love and avoid criticism. These standards eventually become internalized into an unconscious set of instructions for living life. Ruiz says that the reason why people from shamanic traditions in America call themselves ‘warriors’ is because they’re in a war for independence and the right to use their own mind and break free. Dr Johnson agrees that as we mature, we can become warriors breaking free from the shackles of agreements with our fixed, false ideas. We can accept healthier agreements.

Parents teach their children standards of behaviour that they must follow to receive love.Parents teach their children standards of behaviour that they must follow.

Be Impeccable with your Word

Ruiz claims that this is the most important and most difficult agreement to honour. Committing a thought to word brings the thought to life. Being impeccable with your word means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself and, by extension, others. “Misuse of the word is how we pull each other down and keep each other in a state of fear and doubt.” It’s like poison. We use the word against ourselves through negative self-talk, and we use the word against others through gossip; trying to gain support from others to support our point of view. “Tell yourself how much you love yourself. Use the word to break all those agreements that make you suffer.”

Don’t take anything personally

We all have a unique way of looking at the world. When we say and do things, we are doing so directly through our view of the world. When you take things personally and feel offended, your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflict. Those beliefs are a reflection of your own agreements that you’ve made with life. Your point of view is personal to you; it’s no one’s truth but yours. Don’t take anything personally, even if someone tells you how wonderful you are! The opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true either; therefore, you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally. We have a choice of what to believe and agree with.

You don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.You don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.

Don’t make assumptions

There’s a well know saying that goes with the word assume… Ruiz states, “The problem with making assumptions is that we believe that they are the truth. We could swear that they’re real. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.” We often start gossiping about our assumptions. We have agreed that it’s not safe to ask questions, and also that, if people love us, they should know what we want or how we feel. Find the courage to ask questions until you’re as clear as you can be. Also, find your voice to express what you really want. With clear communication, all of your relationships will change.

Always do your Best

“Best” does not mean perfect. Your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Sometimes your best will be high quality, and other times it won’t be as good. Your best will be different when you’re healthy as opposed to sick, feeling happy or upset. Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best. When you overdo, you deplete yourself, and when you do less than your best, you subject yourself to self-judgment, guilt and regrets. Support and encourage yourself.” If you’re doing your best, you will feel good about yourself even if you still make assumptions, take things personally, and still are not impeccable with your word. If you do your best always, you will become a master of transformation.”

“Best” does not mean perfect.“Best” does not mean perfect.

By changing the foundation of your own agreements, you master your own dream.

“Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art. Dream masters create a masterpiece of life; they control the dream by making choices. Everything has consequences and a dream master is aware of the consequences.”

BY Tanja Taljaard
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J. Z. Tyler
4 years ago

Dizzy Wright made an album a few years back that was inspired by this book. It’s really good, inspirational hip hop. It’s called The Four Agreements. Check it out on youtube!

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