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

My first introduction to Toltec knowledge and wisdom was through this book. The author is a Toltec teacher and nagual (master or shaman) from the Eagle Knight lineage of this ancient way of life that originated in southern Mexico. He was brought up by a curandera (healer) mother and nagual grandfather. After initially turning away from the teachings, he returned to them after a near-death experience forced him to re-examine his life and beliefs.

The author starts out by telling us that we are always in a dream state:

“Dreaming is the main function of the mind, and the mind dreams twenty-four hours a day. It dreams when the mind is awake, and it also dreams when the mind is asleep.”

The outside dream, which he calls society’s dream or the dream of the planet, is how people are “domesticated”. This is how we learn how to behave and what the social rules are. The author maintains that during the domestication process, we lose part of our identity and part of our soul. We cease to be who we really are, and are more concerned with fitting in and being accepted.

After awhile, going against our true nature causes distress and suffering. We feel a deep need to be ourselves but are afraid of being criticized or judged. The false belief system that was handed down to us by society, no longer serves us. At this point, the dream becomes a nightmare.

In order to regain our true nature, the author proposes that we break the agreements that we’ve made with ourselves and others that no longer work for us. Instead, we should create our own personal dream by replacing the old agreements with new ones that will bring us freedom and happiness. We have the ability to create heaven on earth.

And we can start by adopting the following four agreements:

The First Agreement:

Be Impeccable with Your Word

The Second Agreement:

Don’t Take Anything Personally

The Third Agreement:

Don’t Make Assumptions

The Fourth Agreement:

Always Do Your Best

The author devotes an entire chapter to each agreement and admits that they are difficult to practice and that he didn’t think he could do it at first. He failed many times but kept trying until it became easier. As with most people, I find some of the agreements more difficult than others, namely the second and third.

And what is the reward for adopting the four agreements? According to the author: “As the Toltecs teach us, the reward is to transcend the human experience of suffering, to become the embodiment of God.”

I also enjoyed listening to the audio version of the book which is read by actor Peter Coyote. I feel that the prayers at the end of the book are best experienced in the audio version.

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