The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

by Don Miguel Ruiz

Paperback, 1997

Call number

299 RIU



Amber-Allen Publishing (1997), 160 pages


Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML: In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. A New York Times bestseller for over a decade Over 10 million copies sold in the U.S. Translated into 46 languages worldwide "This book by don Miguel Ruiz, simple yet so powerful, has made a tremendous difference in how I think and act in every encounter." � Oprah Winfrey .

Media reviews

The Four Agreements are be impeccable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions, and always do your best, and are life-changing. There is no better self improvement guide and spiritual manual than this.............

User reviews

LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
A rehashing of basic New Age concepts, given a toltec spin. If you have read a lot of New Age literature, this will be old stuff. If you are new to the genre it might move you greatly. There are gems here, but he overplays his hand too often.
LibraryThing member Proustitutes
"Happiness is the lost paradise. Humans have worked so hard to reach this point, and this is part of the evolution of the mind. This is the future of humanity."

Alright, Don Miguel Ruiz. Attractive words but I still, somehow, don't think that humanity has a collective mind. Nor do I believe that
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this phantom collective mind is evolving in any which way, most of all not towards happiness. And I think you should have known this, considering that you were a surgeon before you went off into the woods, drank ayahuasca, and found the gods. I digress.

Ruiz's book presents ancient Toltec wisdom. Among large unavoidable stretches of general self-help guide-me-into-a-beautiful-vision bullshit that ignores both laws of science and historical reality, parts of his argument clarified and refreshed my perspective in a good way.

Ruiz argues that our "dream"/reality that we live in is created by our thoughts of what tangibly occurs around us. We are "domesticated" by society and grow up to participate in a world ruled by miscommunication. So far, so good. We can liberate ourselves from endless self-imposed suffering and experience resulting freedom by appraising the unconscious agreements that we have made between ourselves and society. And, with just twenty seconds of our time and ten small dollars a month, we can change our lives if we just live by four new agreements. (Clearly, I think Ruiz is somewhat out of his mind. But the following four "agreements" are what I came looking for in this book, and he delivered.)

Agreement 1: Be impeccable with your word. "Your opinion is nothing but your point of view. It is not necessarily true. Your opinion comes from your beliefs, your own ego, and your own dream. We create all this poison and spread it to others just so we can feel right about our own point of view."

Agreement 2: Don't take anything personally. "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. Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds."

Agreement 3: Don't make assumptions. "We make the assumption that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse. this is the biggest assumption that humans make. And this is why we have a fear of being ourselves around others. Because we think everyone else will judge us, victimize us, abuse us, and blame us as we do ourselves. So even before others have a chance to reject us, we have already rejected ourselves."

Agreement 4: Always do your best. "When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking action because you love it, not because you're expecting a reward. Most people do exactly the opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don't enjoy the action."

No good book is complete without bonus break-up advice: "If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn't walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don't need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices."

Ruiz even tackles the subject of abuse: "In your whole life nobody has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself. And the limit of your self-abuse is exactly the limit that you will tolerate from someone else. If someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person. But if someone abuses you a little less than you abuse yourself, you will probably stay in the relationship and tolerate it endlessly."

For full disclosure, my bedroom features both a hanging tapestry and a Buddha statue peering out from its highest vantage point. So I usually sort of buy into this kind of crap. This is another "sort of buy-in" for me I guess. But I really did enjoy these choice words Ruiz had to offer:

"The mind has the ability to talk to itself, but it also has the ability to hear information that is available from other realms. Sometimes you hear a voice in your mind, and you may wonder where it came from. This voice may have come from another reality in which there are living beings very similar to the human mind."

Thanks for the casual reminder that I have my sanity. But I think I'm gonna take my breakup advice and run. Peace out.
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LibraryThing member BookNookFairy
The language of this book is very simple and easy-to-read; likewise, the concepts are presented in a logical, natural-feeling fashion. Can be a little redundant at times. Ruiz teaches us that we are the master of our own emotional and mental destinies. Somewhat on par with the writings of Shakti
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Gawain and the ideas involved in The Secret and the Law of Attraction. (If you liked those, you'll almost certainly enjoy this.)
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LibraryThing member Fluffyblue
I read this today and have to say it's very thought provoking and inspirational. It wasn't the greatest piece of writing ever published admittedly but the reasons for trying to live in the spirit of the four agreements were well made.
LibraryThing member tulstig
According to this book all you need for a good life are the four agreements contained within. This book is an easy read and makes a lot of sense. The four agreements are simple sentences, but in truth may be a little more difficult to maintain.
LibraryThing member lyzadanger
I spent the first two-thirds of the book feeling prickly, resentful that Ruiz attached profundity to what I saw as simplistic, sometimes obvious self-proclaimed Toltec revelations. I felt that the second agreement of the four--never take anything personally--was especially difficult to swallow. The
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premise--nothing that anyone does is really about you, and you should never have any particular reaction to it--seemed to conflict his other arguments. Ruiz suggests that we should never Judge ourselves (his capitalization), never nitpick our motivations and berate ourselves, but act out of love and follow the other three agreements, which bolster this (admittedly very acceptable) notion.

However, this second agreement seems to set us up for grief and failure: in his worldview, we should never be offended or hurt by others' actions. If you are hurt or angered, he explains, that is your own "emotional poison" and you should overcome it. But I think there's a logical problem here, one that becomes an emotional one quickly. Say, for example, your spouse cheats on you. Sure, you can argue that he or she didn't do this because of you, but because of their own world. But how is this comforting? Is the notion really that this shouldn't affect me? And if it does--because, realistically, who wouldn't be at least gently saddened by this--it seems that Ruiz' argument is that you are full of fear and poison. Thus if I were to be hurt I'd start doing exactly what he commands against: judging myself for feeling hurt. Seems like a recipe for angst.

The last third of the book was the most valuable to me. It leaves the four agreements behind, or at least, softens focus on them, and discusses approaches to a life based on love and joy versus one of fear and darkness. Not the most novel ideas, but universal ones that appeal. I do appreciate his optimism and grace of storytelling here.

This book came highly recommended from people who I would in turn highly recommend, so I believe there is something to be had from it for most people. The other three agreements that didn't bug me are reasonable, and I'm especially fond of the first and the last ("be impeccable with your word" and "always do your best").
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LibraryThing member GeorgeForge
Written in overly simplified wording, but has important content...
LibraryThing member MarkBaumann
This book is essential. It's principles underly everything else involving human relations --self awareness, negotiation, mediation, self help, relationships. They all depend on your ability to apply the 4 Agreements.
The mythology is a method to put the Agreements in perspective, but it is not
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necessary to adopt or agree with.
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LibraryThing member lahochstetler
Ruiz has come up with four principles from ancient Toltec wisdom. If one adopts these four agreements, Ruiz argues, they will help bring a sense of peace and happiness to one's life. Generally the agreements sound reasonable enough: don't take things personally, say only good things about others,
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etc. So far, so good. But there's some serious theoretical problems that underlie Ruiz's plan. Ruiz seems to suggest that the self can determine the majority of one's experience outside of social context. He claims that society is composed of collective dreams. Even recognizing that Ruiz is infusing dreams with more importance than western culture generally does, it still strikes me that the message here is that if one has fortified one's spirit with these four principles, nothing anyone else says or does can strongly affect you. Maybe I'm too close-minded, but I just can't buy it. We all live in social and cultural worlds, and those worlds do shape our experience, whether we like it or not.
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LibraryThing member dannywon
simplistic, easy read. Universal in its Spiritual message; not much new here, but the "four agreements," do seem (I surmise) as reasonable doctrines as any other for embarking down a spirtitual path. Best practiced and obsorbed in conjunction with other meditational / spiritual complements.
LibraryThing member NinjaBitch
If you are looking for, or needing, somewhere to focus your thoughts, this is a good idea. If you are feeling off balance or out of focus, this is a good idea.

Like many good ideas, once you've found the next good idea, this one is easily, and possibly unfortunately, forgotten.
LibraryThing member rfewell
I read this one for a Reader's Advisory class. I picked this one for the topic of "self-help/spirituality". I don't remember much about it, but I didn't think it was as hokey as I anticipated...
LibraryThing member muddy21
The Four Agreements: a practical guide to personal freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz. The author, from a family of healers and shamans in rural Mexico, chose medical school and a career as a surgeon. A near-fatal accident caused him to rethink his career choice and he eventually
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returned to the traditional Toltec ways. He serves now as a Toltec nagual, or shaman, and argues that each of us lives a life inextricably tied to our perceptions of the external world, both people and events.

Ruiz's guidance is to make four agreements with ourselves:
1) Be Impeccable with Your Word
2) Don't Take Anything Personally
3) Don't Make Assumptions
4) Always Do Your Best

There is also a chapter titled Breaking Old Agreements addressing ways to break free from our old perceptions, allowing us to develop and live in a new reality.

There were some very good insights in this book. It's a little awkward to read in the beginning because the author assigns quite specific meanings to words that have more general connotations in common use. Once his vocabulary is familiar, the going is much easier. I think a re-reading will be valuable.

Information contained: 4/5
Delivery: 3/5
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LibraryThing member subbobmail
This book was recommended to me by spiritually-minded people. The four agreements sound vaguely Buddhist and sensible. "Be immaculate with your word" is a lot like "right speech," while "Don't take anything personally" reminds me of the Buddhist idea of non-attachment. Then again, every once in a
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while the author will go off on a vague tangent about hell or angels and completely lose me. And when he says that telling someone that they look cancerous is enough to give them cancer, then I wonder how much yage went into the making of this book. Does this prove that I have no soul, or that I have a shock-proof bullshit detector? Still, a lot of the advice here could be very helpful, if studiously (and selectively) followed...
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LibraryThing member zurow
I read this book aloud to my mother and grandmother upon receiving the news of my grandmother's terminal illness. Reading this book aloud enabled group insight as to our own generational biases and interpretations. GREAT read for any age.
LibraryThing member Mrs.SmartyPants
Instead of putting this quote towards the end, Don Miguel Ruiz`s book should have started with 'I want you to forget everything you have ever learned in your whole life. This is the beginning of a new understanding, a new dream.' Reading 'The Four Agreements' is that beginning of a new
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understanding and a new dream - one of a life without fear. It is not just any fear that stops us from growing, but it is the fear that grows from how we allow others to control us, as well as fear we create within ourselves. Ruiz observes that human society is ruled by fear. Religions describe hell as a place of punishment, suffering, pain, and fear. However, when we allow fear to rule our lives, our state of minds put us in a living hell. We search for those bohemian ideals of truth, justice, beauty, and love, but because we are blinded by fear and lies we cannot see ourselves and our world for the loving place it is. While the terminology of the book embraces traditional religion, magic, computer terms, and profuse analogy; the wisdom in this book is sound. The book's premise is that everything we know is basically an agreement. We didn't choose our beliefs, but agreed - out of love or out of fear - with information we were told. 'As soon as we agree, we believe it, and this is called Faith. To have faith is to believe unconditionally.' Ruiz further explains that '95% of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies, and we suffer because we believe all these lies.' To better live our lives we must have the courage to challenge our beliefs, which is where the 4 Agreements come in. The agreements sound simple enough, however they are anything but simple. Ruiz deftly walks us through specific examples of how refusing to make these agreements with ourselves poisons our lives, and the lives of those around us. Following these simple steps will ultimately lead us to higher self-esteem, more effective communication, a greater insight into the motivations of others, closer relationships, and the ability to live a life filled with love. Here's to a new dream for all of us.
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LibraryThing member Elfpath
It's just a thin little book, but the message in The Four Agreements is a big one. In it, Miguel Ruiz tells us why we have so many self-limiting believes, and where they come from.

The wisdom of the Toltecs helps us to stop limiting ourself. Through breaking our old agreements and accepting four
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simple new agreements, this book explains how we lost our freedom, and how we can regain it. The four agreements, each described in a chapter, are:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word
- Don't Take Anything Personally
- Don't Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best

Considering its size, The Four Agreements holds a surprising amount of wisdom, and is very easy to read, understand, and use in your every day life. You don't need to be a scholar to get this little jewel. Definitely recommended. Google Books has bits of it.
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LibraryThing member Phoenixmedusa
One night at a party I heard a man speaking of this book. I was just mesmerized by his words and the next day went out and bought it. I can honestly say that this book has changed my life. The Four Agreements have become a central part of the way I live my life. At times when I struggle I come back
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to this little book that has totally changed the way I look at life. I highly recommend it.
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LibraryThing member Pippilin
Full of simple wisdom; to me, a condensed version of The Twelve Steps.
LibraryThing member Hazel66
Simplistic. Feels kind of like an episode of Dr. Phil. Repetitive. Good advice - no practical tips for working on core personality traits.
LibraryThing member dysmonia
I admit I was skeptical about this book, because I am not a spiritual person. However, it was recommended to me by someone I respect, and I need all the help I can get when it comes to self-improvement. Plus, it's flipping famous, and I was curious: the cover is burned into my memory from the years
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when I worked at Barnes & Noble.

Although, as expected, I did struggle a bit with the mentions of god and spirituality, I was able to look past those references to the techniques being suggested in the book for ways to live an authentic and meaningful life.

The "four agreements" referenced in the title are:

1. Live with an impeccable word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

I created the acronym "IPAD" in order to remember them (impeccable, personally, assumptions, do your best).

I did memorize the agreements and I repeat them to myself as I go through my day as part of my attempt to be a better person. I won't go so far as to say this book changed my life, but it was worth reading, and I'd like to work harder to implement its tenets. I think I could get more out of them.
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LibraryThing member herebedragons
#82, 2004

I got this book via BookRelay; I'd been interested in reading it for some time, but never picked up a copy before. I enjoyed it, although it took me a little while to get used to the author's "voice," and to make the paradigm shift into his terminology - life (and all consciousness) as a
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dream that we're all dreaming together. He also uses terms like "black and white magic" in a different way than I'm used to hearing them. He doesn't mean people actively casting spells, but he calls the way we treat one another a form of magic. Part of this dreaming is the fact that we make "agreements" with ourselves and the rest of the universe from the time we are born - things that we accept as true, whether or not they really are true. Some of these agreements cause us to judge or victimise ourselves, but we can replace harmful beliefs with nurturing ones, and change our experience of life from one of "hell" to "heaven on earth." There wasn't much content here that was really new for me - he talks about the two dynamics being love and fear, similar to what Gary Zukav says, and there is some similarity to work I did with the Life Training Programme (most notably that we need to take out negative "agreements" and replace them with positive ones). He also speaks of the need to actively go to battle with our negative beliefs, and become a spiritual warrior. He says it is possible to do this by committing oneself to the Four Agreements that will allow one to fight off the negative beliefs that cause us to suffer. They are: 1) Be impeccable with your word; 2) Don't take anything personally; 3) Don't make assumptions; and 4) Always do your best.

Like I said, not much was new here for me, but I did find it beneficial to hear things put in a slightly different way - sometimes a concept really clicks that way. I like the way he presented the four agreements, and over the past few days I have found myself remembering them. It's nice to have just a single phrase to bring to mind - for example, someone does something that makes me feel angry, wondering why they did it, and I can just remember, "Don't make assumptions (about the person's motive), and don't take it personally." So far, I have found it genuinely helpful. I'm passing this book along to someone else, via BookRelay, so I've put some of the agreements into my own words below, and also copied out a few passages that I found particularly resonant, for future reference.

~ Be impeccable with your word - Meaning, make sure that you always speak truth. Our word is how we create things in reality, and when the word is used from a space of love, it spreads peace and happiness; when used in fear, it creates envy, anger, jealousy and other types of suffering. Do not gossip, and take care that you always speak "without sin" - or, without doing anything that would bring harm to yourself.

~ Don't take things personally - There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally. You become immune to black magicians, and no spell can affect you regardless of how strong it may be. The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don't take it personally, you are immune. Someone can intentionally send emotional poison, you will not eat it. When you don't take the emotional poison, it becomes even worse in the sender, but not in you.

~ Don't make assumptions - This is another way to find peace. Rather than worrying about what people are thinking about you, make the effort to *ask*, or simply not to worry about it. It causes a lot of unnecessary suffering (I think his stand is that all suffering is, ultimately, unnecessary). Also, when we assume we know what people mean with their actions, we often respond by sending emotional poison out, feeling a need to make the other person wrong, so we feel right - this just makes everything that much worse.

~ Always do your best - This is a way of making sure you do not leave yourself being open to being judged - by *yourself* (not others). We are always our harshest critics, and harshest abusers, but when we do our personal best (which, of course, varies from moment to moment), we can eliminate the need to judge or victimise ourselves for not living up to our own (usually impossibly) high standards. He also stresses that it is not easy to follow these four agreements all the time, but that we should just keep doing our *best* in every moment, and when we break an agreement with ourselves, we need to just remember to recommit.

Here are some of the things he says about Heaven on earth:

~ 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. Your life is free of conflict with yourself and with others.

~ Imagine living your life without fear of expressing your dreams. You know what you want, what you don't want, and when you want it. You are free to change your life the way you really want to. You are not afraid to ask for what you need, to say yes or no to anything or anyone.

~ Imagine living your life without the fear of being judged by others. You no longer rule your behaviour according to what others may think about you. You are no longer responsible for anyone's opinion. You have no need to control anyone, and no one controls you, either.

~ Imagine living your life without judging others. You can easily forgive others and let go of any judgements that you have. You don't have the need to be right, and you don't need to make anyone else wrong. You respect yourself and everyone else, and they respect you in return.

~ Imagine living without the fear of loving and not being loved. You are no longer afraid to be rejected, and you don't have the need to be accepted. You can say, "I love you" with no shame or justification. You can walk in the world with your heart completely open, and not be afraid to be hurt.

~ Imagine living your life without being afraid to take a risk and to explore life. You are not afraid to take a risk and to explore life. You are not afraid to lose anything. You are not afraid to be alive in the world, and you are not afraid to die.

~ Imagine that you love yourself just the way you are. You love your body just the way it is, and you love your emotions just the way they are. You know that you are perfect just as you are.

I found a lot of valuable information in this book. I would recommend it, although I also think it's a book to which some people (perhaps a lot of people) won't connect, mostly because of the style in which it is written.
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LibraryThing member anapoletan
.... a book that everyone should read!!
LibraryThing member delphimo
A relative told me that I should read this book, and that maybe my life could improve. The book is short with less than 140 pages. Ruiz asks the readers to adopt four agreements to build a better life and leave the present hell for a future heaven. Ruiz repeats many of the four points to drill the
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words into your mind. The concept that four plans can change your existence and make you the master of your ship is not unique and at times, simplistic. I enjoyed reading these ideals and may try to develop this philosophy.
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LibraryThing member aimelire
This book is easily read. Gives great simple advise on how to live to your best potential and to become a better person. I read this book every couple of years.




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