The Hidden Power of The Four Agreements

The Weekly Word ~ August, 2007

It has been ten years since Miguel Ruiz, author and Toltec Nagual, released his famous book, The Four Agreements™ - A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Oprah has raved about it, movie stars quote it, and it is read in 32 languages around the world-- and yet many people miss some of the profound depths of this teaching.

Miguel Ruiz begins The Four Agreements by describing how each of us has been "domesticated" by our parents, relatives, siblings, teachers, church leaders, and others. We were expected to agree with their beliefs and agreements about good and bad, and right and wrong - and we did. We had no choice. It was "their way or the highway."

We agreed never to take the last cookie, to always put other people's feelings ahead of ours, to follow the rules, and not talk back. We agreed to stay inside the lines, not be too happy, and always be nice. Following their rules helped us fit in and get our needs met.

Following their rules also had a price: We were required to abandon our truth and the freedom to express ourselves freely. We stopped looking inside for our direction, and learned to look outside to know what "they" wanted us to think and feel. This was a big price to pay for safety and belonging. We had no choice.

The Four Agreements have the power to break thousands of the limiting agreements that you made during your domestication, and set you free to be yourself. They are a wonderful gift. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand the deeper meaning of the agreements, or deny their power by imagining they are like some other philosophy or teaching. Let's take a brief look at each agreement here, and make sure you are using them as the powerful tools they are.

Agreement #1: Always be impeccable with your word. Miguel Ruiz clearly explains that to be impeccable means to be "without sin," and he defines sin as "going against yourself." Therefore, to be impeccable with your word is to not use your word against yourself. Many people seem to miss this definition, and believe the agreement means they should always tell the truth, keep their commitments, and not cheat.

How do we use your word against yourself? The most common way is to judge yourself. Can you imagine living without ever judging yourself for anything you say, feel, want, or do? Imagine your freedom to take action, to create, and to love with your heart wide open. Keeping this one agreement is all you need to go all the way to personal freedom.

The other three agreements are given to us as support for the first.

Agreement #2: Don't take anything personally. The danger here is using this agreement as an attitude, rather than a ticket to freedom. The Toltec wisdom teaches that we are all distorting reality based on our unique beliefs and agreements. If someone is dreaming you they are not seeing the real you, so anything they say to you is a description of their dream of you, and truly has nothing to do with you. The universe is not personal, and actually doesn’t care about you. Be yourself.

#3: Don’t make assumptions. What a powerful invitation! Stay in the moment. Don't second-guess life. Don't assume you know what someone needs or is thinking. If you want to know, ask. This agreement will break all those lies that it is bad to ask questions because you might embarrass or hurt someone, and you should know what other people are thinking and meet their needs before they have to ask. Many people think this is a minor agreement, but don't be fooled. Big power resides here. Stay in the juice of Life in this moment-- after all, that is the only place Life is happening!

#4: Always do your best. This agreement is often misunderstood to mean you should try harder, do more, and be better. Nothing could be farther from the intention of the agreement. Every choice you make is based on your programming, your previous experiences, and the information available-- and every choice is the best you can make in the moment. If you find out ten minutes or ten years later that you have other options, use them, act, change, and grow.

This agreement will break your belief in all the lies your inner and outer judges tell you about your failures, what you should have known or done better, and the grim prospects for your future. Without the voice of your inner judge you are free to be you. What a beautiful thing to behold.

Yours IN love and The New Dream of Peace Within and Without.

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Allan Hardman is an author and expert on personal and spiritual transformation, relationships, emotional healing-- and a Toltec Master in the lineage of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements.™ Allan teaches in Sonoma County, CA, and from “The House of the Eagles,” his winter home in Chacala, Nayarít, Mexico. He guides Journeys of the Spirit to sacred sites in Mexico, and hosts wellness vacations in Chacala. He is the author of The Everything Toltec Wisdom Book, and co-author of two books with Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss, Dr. Andrew Weil, Prince Charles, and others. Visit Allan’s extensive website at, and TACO, his online spiritual membership community.