Book Summary: The Four Agreements

A terrific and short read on the power of transforming your beliefs and building personal freedom. The following are passages I took away from the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Domestication and the Dream of the Planet

The Collective Dream

  • “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… 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 Fear of Being Alive

  • “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.”

Acceptance and Self-Love

  • “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 we 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.”

Agreement #1. “Be Impeccable with you Word.”

The Power of Word

  • “Why your word? Your word is the power that you have to create.”
  • “Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything. Regardless of what language you speak, your intent manifests through the word. What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word.”

Your Word and Sin

  • “A sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself. Everything you feel or believe or say that goes against yourself is a sin. You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything.”

Your Word and Gossip

  • “Gossiping has become the main form of communication in human society. It has become the way we feel close to each other, because it makes us feel better to see someone else feel as badly as we do. There is an old expression that says, “Misery likes company,” and people who are suffering in hell don’t want to be all alone. Fear and suffering are an important part of the dream of the planet; they are how the dream of the planet keeps us down.”

Your Word and Self-Love

  • “You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-love. How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word. When you are impeccable with your word, you feel good; you feel happy and at peace.”

Agreement #2. “Don’t Take Anything Personally.”

Personal Importance

  • “You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. 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.”

Choice to Believe

  • “You have the right to believe or not believe these voices and the right not to take what they say personally. We have a choice whether or not to believe the voices we hear within our own minds, just as we have a choice of what to believe and agree with in the dream of the planet.”

Personal Responsibility

  • “You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.”

Agreement #3. “Don’t Make Assumptions.”

Assumptions and Emotional Poison

  • “We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally, because usually we start gossiping about our assumptions… Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering.”

Assumptions and Relationships

  • “Making assumptions in our relationships is really asking for problems. Often we make the assumption that our partners know what we think and that we don’t have to say what we want. We assume they are going to do what we want, because they know us so well. If they don’t do what we assume they should do, we feel so hurt and say, ‘You should have known’.”

The Courage of Questions

  • “The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are clear as you can be.”

Agreement #4. “Always Do Your Best.”

The Right Effort

  • The Master replied, “You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy, and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point, and you won’t enjoy your life. Do your best, and perhaps you will learn that no matter how long you meditate, you can live, love, and be happy.”

Taking Action

  • “Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are. Expressing what you are is taking action. You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward.”

Acceptance and Self-Love

  • “By doing your best, the habits of misusing your word, taking things personally, and making assumptions will become weaker and less frequent with time. You don’t need to judge yourself, feel guilty, or punish yourself if you cannot keep these agreements. If you’re doing your best, you will feel good about yourself even if you still make assumptions, still take things personally, and still are not impeccable with your word.”

The Path to Freedom

Understanding Freedom

  • “True freedom is the freedom to be who we really are.”
  • “The freedom we are looking for is the freedom to be ourselves, to express ourselves. But if we look at our lives we will see that most of the time we do things just to please others, just to be accepted by others, rather than living our lives to please ourselves. That is what has happened to our freedom.”
  • “Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art. And you can change your life anytime if you aren’t enjoying the dream.”

The Art of Transformation

  • “The first step is to become aware of the fog that is in your mind. You must become aware that you are dreaming all the time. Only with awareness do you have the possibility of transforming your dream. If you have the awareness that the whole drama of your life is the result of what you believe, and what you believe is not real, then you can begin to change it.”
  • “The next step is to develop awareness of all the self-limiting, fear-based beliefs that make you unhappy. You take an inventory of all that you believe, all your agreements, and through this process you begin the transformation.”

The New Dream

  • “The dream you are living is your creation. It is your perception of reality that you can change at any time.”
  • “Using your imagination and your new eyes of perception, I want you to see yourself living a new life, a new dream, a life where you don’t need to justify your existence and you are free to be who you really are.
    • Imagine that you have permission to be happy and to really enjoy your life.
    • Imagine living your life without fear of expressing your dreams.
    • Imagine living your life without the fear of being judged by others.
    • Imagine living your life without judging others.
    • Imagine living without the fear of loving and not being loved.
    • Imagine living your life without being afraid to take a risk and to explore life.
    • Imagine that you love yourself just the way you are.”
  • “Only love has the ability to put you in that state of bliss.”

One of the best self-guidance books I’ve read. It challenges our existing beliefs while empowering us to create new ones.

All content credit goes to the author. I’ve simply shared the bits I’ve enjoyed the most and found most useful.

That’s it for now. Cheers ’till next time!

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