Don Miguel Ruiz‘s book “The Four Agreements” is a compact text full of practical wisdom that can transform our lives. I often recommend it as a resource to those wishing to lead a conscious life. Don Miguel Ruiz subsequently added a single “Fifth Agreement” and wrote a separate book on that as well.
Here, I simply list the Agreements and then share some reflections around them:
The Four Agreements
- Be Impeccable With Your Word
- Don’t Take It Personally.
- Don’t Make Assumptions.
- Always Do Your Best ( and know it will change from time to time)
The Fifth Agreement
Be Skeptical, But Learn To Listen
While the above are quite self explanatory in themselves, Don Miguel Ruiz’s teachings bring out the nuances and are astute pointers as to how unconscious we usually are and how much we function from the past. The Agreements provide useful guidelines on how to conduct ourselves and how we can better receive the world. For those interested in better understanding and applying them as intended by the author, please see his books.
Here, I would like to extend their application.
I believe they also imply how we can be sensitive to where others are coming from. As we attempt to implement the Agreements with reference to ourselves on a consistent basis, it is easy to see that old patterns can be challenging to break. So it is helpful and sensible to remember that the person in front of us may also be struggling with their own challenges.
Below are some suggestions as to how we can be conscious of the Agreements in context of where others are located:
Be Impeccable With Your Word
Be cognizant of the possibility that the next person may not be fully mindful.
- Most of us often say what we don’t mean and don’t say what we do.
- Look for their underlying intent and try to understand the space they are coming from.
- While their words may wound, they may not intend to. So try to forgive the person, even if the behavior cannot be condoned.
Don’t Take It Personally
Avoid making it personal
- Support what you say with data and facts.
- Whenever possible focus on the larger issue or principle, instead of making it about an individual.
- Look for the pattern or other influential causes and address those instead of initiating a blame game.
- Don’t bring in the history. You may be relying on reactions and conclusions that were made when you were in a less mindful space.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Minimize the possibility of the other making assumptions
- Do your part by expressing yourself as clearly as you can, in a timely manner.
- Deliberately withholding information can also lead to communication problems.
- Learning to say a clear “Yes” or “No” can go much further than ambiguity.
Always Do Your Best
Remember that the other is also doing the best he/she can
- And their best will change from time to time, just as yours does.
- If they could do better, they would. There is always a reason behind the apparent behavior. While one may not know or understand it, being aware of this can help one to be more patient and compassionate.
Be Skeptical, But Learn To Listen
Don’t make it a formula
- Rigid points of view or habitual application of the best of guidelines can be counter productive.
- Being present and listening to your heart goes hand in hand with the helpfulness that broader guidelines (such as these) provide.
Would welcome your comments and if you find any of this useful, please do share it with others.