Book Review: The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements was published in 1997 and has sold millions of copies.  It has been published in over 30 languages and spent seven years on the New York Times best seller list.  Don Miguel Ruiz writes from the wisdom of the Toltec. The Toltec were an ancient Mexican society who were spiritual and knowledgeable in science and the arts.  They believed it was the mind’s perspective of what is reality that caused all suffering. The Toltecs were known as “women and men of knowledge”. For centuries, the society were a secret society preserving their beliefs and passing it down through generations where it evolved slowly to become what it is today.  It is no longer a secret society and it’s teachings are becoming more widely known.  Although it is not a religion, it does arise from spiritual truths that many religions hold.  Mainly, the Toltec beliefs are about how one should live from the seat of love.  It is based on mastering awareness, intention and transformation.

When I first started to read The Four Agreements, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or get much out of it.  The language is rather simplistic as are the principles.  On top of that there is mentioned in the first chapter a rather odd Toltec belief that life is a dream.  I soon realized however that this is not quite in the literal sense but in the sense that our realities are what we make it.  In other words, our perception of life is not necessarily truth.  To quote the author, ‘Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art’.

The four agreements are agreements which you make with yourself.  The agreements are as follows:

1. Be impeccable with your word.

2. Don’t take anything personally.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

4. Always do your best.

I found that when Don Miguel Ruiz expands on these agreements that actually they are foundational principles for forming positive relationships, becoming more accepting of yourself and others and puts you on a road to both internal peace and peace with others.  The principles may not be new to you but the author lays it out in such a way that it inspires you further.  It is a book that I believe can be a guide to bring about healing in relationships and within communities.  The simplicity of the book means that it can be read by a wide audience.  I would love to see these principles taught in schools to students age 11 and over!   The agreements are easy to understand but challenging to live by.  It would take years of practice.  It would great if so many people could start learning this at an early age and see it practised all around them.

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