NOTE: All unbolded text is taken directly from either “The Four Agreements” or “The Four Agreements Companion Book” by don Miguel Ruiz or Pema Chodron’s book, “Practicing Peace'“, and all credit extends to the authors. Bolded text is my personal commentary.
The first agreement, impeccability of the word, is completely aligned with our integrity.
The second and third agreements, don’t take anything personally and don’t make assumptions, give us immunity to the Book of Law and to everybody else around us. With that immunity, we can be assured that the outside dream will not choose our beliefs for us again.
And the fourth agreement, always do your best, is the engine that moves us forward; it is the action.
To understand the second agreement we must have a strong understanding of the Book of Law and how it operates in our life and the lives of all humans. If you are not able to realize that others are blindly following the rigid agreements in their personal Book of Law, you will always take what they say and do personally. Likewise, if you are not able to recognize and challenge the agreements in your personal Book of Law, you will blindly project your beliefs unto others and create conflict and drama.
The Book of Law is immensely powerful and the only way to break its power is to be aware of its rules and begin to re-write them.
Only then can we even begin to touch the second agreement, don’t take anything personally!
Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me.”
Nothing others say and 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 understand this, we begin to see that the hurt we feel by someone’s words or actions is the result of old wounds being touched. With this awareness, we have the opportunity to look at the wounds and uncover the beliefs we agreed to a long time ago, and to choose to direct our attention to a new belief - only then can we begin to understand how nothing anyone says or does can actually hurt us.
When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do. Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid. They are afraid you will discover that they are not perfect.
Wherever you go you will find people lying to you, and as your awareness grows, you will notice that you also lie to yourself. Do not expect people to tell you the truth because they also lie to themselves. You have to trust yourself and choose to believe or not to believe what someone says to you.
If others say one thing, but do another, you are lying to yourself if you don’t listen to their actions. But if you are truthful to yourself, you will save yourself a lot of emotional pain. Telling yourself the truth about it may hurt, but you don’t need to be attached to the pain. Healing is on the way.
You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.
As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do and say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices.
A conversation with don Miguel Ruiz:
Question: When I first read The Four Agreements, I was so excited about using these principles in my life. But now I look around and see the people around me living in their own hells, and its discouraging. How do I keep my enthusiasm when I am surrounded by so many people who are in an old dream?
don Miguel: If you know the Four Agreements, by now you know that you don’t have to take personally the way other people dream; you know that their dream has nothing to do with you. But if you really want to help people, you can share the Four Agreements with them. If they know your personal mythology, and if they agree with you, very soon you can share that awareness, and have agreements to support one another. But if they don’t have awareness, they never will try to change, and it’s not up to you to try to change them.
The Second Agreement also relates to the Tibetan Buddhist concept of shenpa. Shenpa is usually translated as meaning “attachment”. But, as Pema Chodron writes, it is more akin to trigger, stickiness or “getting hooked”.
To not take anything personally is to not bite the hook. And both Miguel Ruiz and Pema Chodron advise to go easy on ourselves if and when we get hooked, take something personally and end up making a big mess.
There are times when the hook is so sharp that we can’t help but bite. When this happens, we return to the fourth agreement of always do your best. With self-reflection and awareness we will learn to catch ourselves before getting hooked the next time.
AND, perhaps most importantly…
Just as you have a choice of what to believe and agree with in the dream of the planet, you also have a choice whether or not to believe the voices you hear within your own mind.
You don’t have to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.
Our closing meditation:
If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes, or you can say no - whatever you choose - without guilt or self-judgement. You can choose to follow your heart always. You can experience inner peace and happiness no matter where you are.