A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

As children, you and I didn’t choose our beliefs but believed everything adults said.  As soon as we agreed, we believed it. That’s how we learned as children.  Our faith is so strong that this belief system controls our life.

The problem is as you and I grow older, we judge ourselves based on the belief system we never chose to believe. The writer says these agreements are a source of self-limiting beliefs that robs us of joy and create needless suffering. We need to find the courage to break these beliefs (agreements) and create new ones. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz provides four such agreements to do it. They are:

  1. Always do your best
  2. Be impeccable with your word
  3. Don’t take anything personally
  4. Don’t make assumptions

It doesn’t end here though.  It has two additional chapters that talk about:

  1. How to break old agreements. (Explained using the analogy of a warrior and a parasite.)
  2. The idea of heaven on earth.

The writer does a wonderful job to show the power of words. There were two analogies used:

The first was the analogy of magicians and spells. The writer says, “we are all magicians and our words are like spells”. We can remove or put spells on someone with our opinions.  Similarly, he used the analogy of computer and a virus to explain why gossip is the worst form of poison.

This book was incredible, reading experience – astounding. There were many instances that I could relate to and whispered to myself saying, “so damn true!!”

One such instance was when the writer asked a thought-provoking question – how many times we pay for one mistake. The answer was a thousand times.

When you and I make a mistake, we judge ourselves, find ourselves guilty, and punish. Since we have a powerful memory, we remember that mistake again and repeat the cycle. Similarly, how many times do we make our friend, husband, wife, etc. pay for the same mistake? Is that fair? Is that justice? The writer goes on to say that this is because the belief system is wrong.

Ninety-five percent of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies, we suffer because we believe all these lies.

This book left me amazed, satisfied, and with the hope that I could use it to change my belief system and transform myself to attain personal freedom. It gave me a new perspective and a guide based on Toltec wisdom.

The agreements are simple to understand but hard to implement. The writer says, “It’s a slow process. The old agreements you are living with right now is the result of many years of repetition and domestication. You can’t break it in one day.”

Some lessons and realization I’m taking are:

  • Take responsibility but don’t blame yourself and judge yourself.
  • You aren’t responsible for the action of others; you are responsible for yourself.
  • If a person tried to send poison to you and if you take it personally, you accept that poison and it becomes yours.
  • Your life is the manifestation of your dream. It is an art. You can change your life anytime if you aren’t enjoying your dream.
  • Word is a powerful tool we have as a human. It’s a tool of magic. But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream or destroy everything around you.

The Four Agreements is a two-hundred-page notebook-sized, intriguing, short, spiritual, and simple to read. I found some ideas like other self-help books I read but the approach and perspective differ because the ideas are from the ancient Toltec Wisdom. Likewise, it’s powerful enough to change the way you think, see the world around you, and transform yourself to achieve personal freedom.

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