The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

Posted: April 25, 2010 in Book Notes
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The Toltec

  • The Toltec were scientists and artists who formed a society to explore and conserve the spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones.
  • European conquest , coupled with rampant misuse of personal power by a few of the apprentices, made it necessary to shield the knowledge from those who were not prepared to use it wisely or who might intentionally misuse it for personal gain.
  • Though it is not a religion, it honors all the spiritual masters who have taught on earth.


  • Everything in existence is a manifestation of the one living being we called God.
  • I am made of light; I am made of stars.
    • Everything is made of light and the space in-between isn’t empty.
    • Light is the messenger of life – it is alive and contains all information.
    • Human perception is merely light perceiving light.
    • Everything is a mirror that reflects light and creates images of that light.
    • The world of illusion, the Dream, is just like smoke which doesn’t allow us to see what we really are.
    • The real of us is pure love, pure light.
  • He could hardly wait to tell his people what he had discovered. But there were no words to explain it.
    • He could understand everyone very well, but no one could understand him.
    • The wall of fog was made by the interpretation of images of light – the Dream of humans.

Domestication and the Dream of the Planet

  • Dreaming is the main function of the mind, and the mind dreams 24-hours a day.
  • The ones before us create a dream of the planet – the society’s dream.
    • This dream includes all of society’s rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religion, its different cultures and ways to be, its governments, schools, social events, and holidays.
    • Attention – our ability to discriminate and to focus on that which we want to perceive.
    • The outside dream uses mom and dad, the schools, and religion to teach us how to dream.
      • They hooked our attention and put information into our minds through repetition.
    • 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 – all that knowledge, all those rules and concepts about how to behave in the world.
  • Every letter, every word in each language is an agreement.
    • You did not choose to speak English – nor your religion or morals.
    • We never chose event the smallest of these agreements.
    • We did not even choose our own name.
  • If we don’t agree with the outside dream, we don’t store that information.
    • As soon as we agree, we believe it – and this is called faith – to believe unconditionally.
  • This process is the domestication of humans.
    • Children are domesticated the same way that we domesticate a dog, a cat or any other animals.
      • Using a system of punishment and reward.
      • The reward feels good, and we keep doing what others want us to do in order to get the reward.
      • We start pretending to be what we are not to please others because of fear of punishment and rejection.
    • Our whole belief system is learned through information from the outside dream.
    • And we learn to judge – ourself, others.
    • We create an image of perfection, but we don’t fit this image – we are never going to be perfect from this view. Never!
  • We are an autodomesticated animal.
    • The domestication is so strong that at certain point of our life, we are so well trained that we are our own domesticator.
  • The belief system is like a Book of Law that rules our mind.
    • We base all our judgments according to the Book of Law.
    • Even if the Book of Law is wrong, it makes you feel safe.
  • Why we need a great deal of courage to challenge our own beliefs?
    • The agreement is so strong that even if we understand the concept of it not being true, we feel the blame, the guilt, and the shame that occur if we go against these rules.
  • True justice is paying only once for each mistake – yet the human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistakes.
    • We judge and punish ourselves and others again and again. Endlessly.
  • Fear is controlling the Dream.
    • The result is anger, violence, war, injustice, suffering, revenge, addiction.
  • Humans resists life. To be alive is the biggest fear humans have – not death.
    • Our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive and express what we really are.
  • We reject ourselves because we are not what we pretend to be.
    • 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.

Prelude to a New Dream

  • The most important agreements are the ones you make with yourself.
  • Our personal power is dissipated by all the agreements we have created, and the result is that we feel powerless.
  • If we can see it is our agreements which rule our life, and we don’t like the dream of our life, we need to change the agreements.

1. 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.

  • The word is not just a sound or a written symbol.
    • The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.
    • Word is powerful but like a sword – has two edges.
  • Impeccability – without sin
    • Sin – anything you do which goes against yourself
    • You take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.
  • Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system.
    • As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you.

2. 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 options and actions of others, you won’t be the victims of needless suffering.

  • The cause is personal importance – maximum expression of selfishness – the assumption that everything is about “me”
  • It is not important to me what you think about me, and I don’t take what you think personally.
    • I know what I am and I don’t have the need to be accepted.
  • Trust yourself to make responsible choices.

3. 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.

  • We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything – what we believe are the truth.
  • Making assumptions creates problems in our relationships.
    • Do not assume other know what we think and vice versa.
  • We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe.
    • We make assumptions because it is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself make us feel safe.
    • Assumptions fulfills our need to know and replaces the need of communication.
  • When we believe something, we assume we are right about it and we defend it.
  • Assumptions of ourselves create inner conflicts.
    • We overestimate or underestimate what we can or cannot do.
  • Real love is accepting others the way they are without trying to change them.
    • It is much easier to find someone who already the way you want him or her to be, instead of trying to change that person.
    • By the same token – why be with someone who is trying to change you, someone who does not love you just the way you are?
  • Find your voice to ask for what you want.
    • Everybody has the right to tell you yes or no, but you always have the right to ask.

4. Always do you best.

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

  • You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy, and to love.
  • Live intensely, fully – make it a habit, a ritual.
  • Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you are expecting a reward.
    • It does not feel like work, because you enjoy whatever you are doing.
  • Expressing what you are is taking action and taking action is being alive.
    • Story of Forrest Gump – He did not have great ideas but he took actions. He was happy because he always did his best at whatever he did. He was richly rewarded without expecting any reward at all.
  • Love God by living life and doing your best. Thank God by letting go of the past and living in the present moment, right here and now – become fully alive in the moment.
    • You are alive, so take your life and enjoy it.
    • We don’t need to know or prove anything – just to be, to take a risk and enjoy your life.
    • Just your existence proves the existence of God – the existence of life and energy.
  • Respect your body, enjoy your body, love your body, feed, clean, and heal your body. Exercise and do what makes your body feel good. This is a puja to your body, and that is a communion between you and God – for your body is a manifestation of God.
    • I do my best to fulfill the needs of my body and to receive what my body gives to me.
  • If you break an agreement, do not judge, simply begin again tomorrow, and again the next day.
    • Repetition makes the master.

Breaking Old Agreements

  • True freedom is the freedom to be who we really are, to express ourself.
    • We are our own obstacles.
  • A child is free – he does what he wants to do – he is wild!
  • Awareness is the first step toward personal freedom. We need to be aware that we are not free in order to be free.
  • Toltec is a way of life – a Toltec becomes wise, becomes wild, and becomes free again.
  • Toltec path to freedom:
    • Mastery of Awareness – who we really are, with all the possibilities.
    • Mastery of Transformation – how to change, how to be free from domestication.
    • Mastery of Intent, Mastery of love.
  • From a Toltec view, all humans who are domesticated are sick. They are sick because there is a parasite that controls the mind and controls the brain. The food for the parasite is the negative emotions that come from fear.
  • Every human mind is infected with emotional poison and covered with infected wounds.
    • We create distance between us because it is too painful to be touched.
    • Forgiveness is the only way to heal – feel compassion for ourselves and others.
  • The war in our mind requires discipline.
    • Not the discipline of a soldier, but the discipline of a warrior.
    • Not the discipline from the outside to tell us what to do and what not to do, but the discipline to be ourself, no matter what.
  • The spiritual warrior has complete control over one’s own emotions, control over one’s own self.
    • To refrain not to repress – to refrain is to hold the emotions and to express them in the right moment, not before, not later.
  • Initiation of death – embrace the angel of death.
    • Be open and know that there is nothing to be afraid of.
    • Love because this may be the last day I can tell you how much I love you – I don’t want to fight with you.
    • Angel of death teaches us that nothing is not ours, but for now, we could use it.
    • Angel of death takes the past away in order to make it possible for life to continue – we keep living in the present.

Heaven on Earth

  • You have the power to create heaven.
  • Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.
    • The only reason you suffer is because you choose to suffer.
  • State of bliss – perceive love from everything, including yourself and others.
  • Life can be very easy when love is your way of life.
  • You can be loving all the time. This is your choice. You may not have a reason to love, but you can love because to love makes you so happy.

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