The decision to journey into the inaccessible is quite possibly the most difficult one I’ve made in terms of harnessing the will power to continue and fortitude to face criticism. Just like how we don’t choose the life we’re given, we also don’t choose to be awakened; it is forced upon us. However, what we can control is how we live our lives and whether or not we wish to remain awakened.
I was sitting in my living room one morning, browsing channels and barely paying attention to Oprah’s show. So I wasn’t really watching Oprah’s show instead I was skimming through the different summaries of the channels available. That day, Oprah was featuring a special guest, Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the book “the Four Agreements”. Don Ruiz is a spiritual teacher of Toltec wisdom. Toltec tradition is an approach to life that offers complete freedom to be your authentic self.
I was 20 then and was living my life as if I didn’t really have a purpose; most probably just going along with society’s views of what a 20 year old should do: attend college, visit your family, keep in touch with friends, etc. In the background I heard Oprah address Don Ruiz, “tell us a little about your book”. I don’t quite remember his exact words but I remember the words that caught my attention, at which point I clicked the guide button on the remote to exit the channel summaries and focus on the current channel, Oprah’s show. Don Ruiz begins to list his four agreements:
- Don’t take anything personally
How many times have I been hurt because I believed what others thought about me? I didn’t think too much on it though because before long he was onto the next agreement.
- Don’t make assumptions
Ok, I knew that one because when I was younger I was told that to assume makes an ass out of u and me.
- Be impeccable with your word
Ugh, what does impeccable even mean? I looked it up on my phone and found out it was to be flawless, faultless, sinless. In other words, Don Ruiz’s third agreement was to be true to your word. I knew I had a lot to learn here.
- Always do your best
Chuckling to myself I thought “we all knew THAT!!”.
Let me repeat, I was 20 then and quite naive I admit. I had a lot to learn and oddly enough I stood up from that couch, which I’ve probably been on for hours. I took a shower and urged my dad to go on a drive in search for that book. I didn’t even finish the show and was too impatient to sit through the commercials. So off we went, in search of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. We went to several book stores, I was in Falmouth, Maine, USA at the time. Barnes and Nobles? Nope, they just sold their last copy. Seriously?? Falmouth Bookstore? No, they’ve never sold any books by Don Miguel Ruiz. Ugh, Goodwill? No, that would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. All hope was lost until we went to Bull Moose which I thought was a video game store but they also sold books. Rapidly, I went to the non-fiction section and found a copy of the book. Yes! Score!! Then of course other books caught my attention. Being a psychology major and minoring in philosophy, I found Freud’s Analysis of Dreams, Plato’s the Republic, among others though I didn’t buy any of them. Instead as I was glimpsing through the line of books on the shelf I came across a trilogy by Don Miguel Ruiz. There were others?? The Four Agreements, The Mastery of Love, and The Voice of Knowledge. So I bought the trilogy instead and that moment changed the way I lived my life.
Still, there is so much work to do, the self is continuously developing, changing, susceptible to giving up on a journey that’s so exhaustive: a journey that yields intangible results.
Three years later, I’ve read Don Ruiz’s books over and over again, learning something new each time. His words are to be reflected upon not just to memorize and repeat to others. I realized that when you’re sharing knowledge with others, you had better know what you’re talking about. Here’s what I learned.
- Don’t take anything personally: We are so ego-centric hence we are all protagonist in our life story. Therefore each person understands the world through their subjective realities; your opinion of me is nothing but a reflection of you which may not accurately describe me. Whatever ideas, opinions, views that people have of you is incorrect unless you make it. Once you take things personally, you’ve incorporated them into your life story. Again, you have the control here. This had a profound impact on my life because I began to admire my personality and my body. I started to feel comfortable in my own skin and I learned to love my hair: my long, beautiful, curly hair.
- Don’t make assumptions: When you’re making assumptions, you’re attempting to read the future which is quite an impossible task. There is a reason why we use words for communication, so that we can ask questions for clarification and express what we really want. Assumptions are often incorrect which can lead to undesirable consequences. Assumptions also create false expectations which when not met lead to disappointments and self judgment.
- Be impeccable with your word: Speak intentionally and truthfully. Your words reflect who you are as a person so use them wisely. Speak positively about yourself, don’t debase others and don’t engage in gossip. This is unhealthy, essentially what you’re doing is speaking negatively about others to make yourself look good. Gossip is a waste of your words, your breath.
- Always do your best: Yes, we all know that we must always do our best but how many of us actually attempt to do it. This is a classic example of things that are easier said than done. Though your best changes with your health and your mood, what doesn’t change is your effort. When you do your best, you leave no room for criticism or self-judgement and you witness your potential.
These are simple agreements but quite difficult to practice. However, with time they become good habits. Here are a couple links if you’re interested in Don Miguel Ruiz’s work and the Four Agreements.