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Be Impeccable With Your Word
An interview with Don Miguel Ruiz


The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz from Amber-Allen Publishing, is a little book that packs a big wallop!

I read this gem-filled compilation of lyrical and practical wisdoms, and then spoke with the author – what a soulful treat to hear his voice!

From humble roots in rural Mexico, Ruiz was born into a family of healers – shamans. Initially he began his career as a medical doctor, a surgeon, but eventually returned to the century-old traditions of his family as a Nagual – a guide to esoteric Toltec knowledge.

In February of 2002, Don Miguel Ruiz survived a near-fatal heart attack that left him limited in his ability to make personal appearances. So, it was with rare anticipation that I spoke with him by phone at his home in San Diego.

I told him his writing had a poetic quality, much like Martin Prechtel’s work. http://journal.mkp.org/back_issues/December05/index.html

“I love beauty, and the way I express myself is as beautiful as possible,” he began, “not just to give a message, but to make it simple to understand. Simple is beautiful – for every human in the world - from the most intelligent to those without education.”

The keystone of his wisdom is based in the first principle, or agreement: Be impeccable with your word.

There are thousands of agreements you have made with yourself, with other people, with your dream of life, with God, with society, with your parents, with your spouses, with your children. But the most important agreements are the ones you made with yourself. In these agreements you tell yourself who you are, what you feel, what you believe, and how to behave. The result is what you call your personality. In these agreements you say, ‘This is what I am. This is what I believe. I can do certain things, and some things I cannot do. This is reality, that is fantasy; this is possible, that is impossible. – from The Four Agreements

Ruiz reminds us that we cannot choose where we are born or what language we are taught in childhood. In the beginning, other people determine our reality.

“The first step in our progress is to always be aware,” he told me, “be aware we are dreaming. The second step is to see that we are creating a story about others. The third is to remind ourselves that people are also dreaming and creating a story about us. Whatever they do is from their personal dream and has nothing to do with us … they don’t really know us. And we only know what we believe about them - the image we create.”

Don Miguel Ruiz said the issue of trust is not about the other person, it’s about ourselves.

“It’s up to us to trust ourselves or not,” he continued. “If we do not trust ourselves, we will ultimately become victims and blame everyone else.”

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. – from The Four Agreements

At the time of this interview in July 06, Mexico was struggling through a contentious presidential election.

“Political strife happens all the time all over the world, in Mexico, in the U.S. … and yes, a lot of people were upset because we don’t have awareness … injustice, war … we believe in all those lies - lies we create with ourselves and we share with others. After we share so many lies, it seems normal. If we are aware, we can play a better game. If we don’t take it personally, we will not have personal reactions that blind us and make us unhappy.”

The second agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

“Impeccability of the word will also give you immunity from anyone putting a negative spell on you. You will only receive a negative idea if your mind is fertile ground for that idea. When you become impeccable with your word, your mind is no longer fertile ground for words that come from black magic. It is fertile with the words that come from love.” - from The Four Agreements

In dealing with the cruelty of life, our Toltec teacher tells us that mutual respect begins with self respect. And, we don’t have to be in interactions with people who don’t respect us.

“The world we live in is not impeccable,” he said. “Many times words are overwhelming; it’s the story of humanity. Many people have died as a result of words.”

This Mexican shaman believes in a hopeful future for mankind, if we can but silence all the voices talking at the same time.

“Your whole mind is a fog which the Toltecs called a mitote. Your mind is a dream where a thousand people talk at the same time, and nobody understands each other.” - from The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz said there are many ways to create our “inner silence” including meditations, prayers, chanting, and actions.

“When we reach that inner silence we don’t have to tell ourselves what we are experiencing. You already know it’s a wonderful day because you are experiencing it – you don’t have to tell yourself it is. The biggest accomplishment is where you don’t waste your time talking to yourself. You simply enjoy perceiving the beauty.”

According to the author, once you find inner silence, something interesting happens … “all those voices have no power over you; you have power over them.”

Even if someone got a gun and shot you in the head, it was nothing personal. - from The Four Agreements

Using warrior energy is how “one controls beliefs - and those beliefs controls one’s attention.”

“A warrior has the awareness that it is a war, the war not outside, but inside. You get the inner silence when you win the war in your own head, when you finally reach peace.”

These words are reminiscent of Carlos Castenada’s writings.

The third agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions.

Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption. - from The Four Agreements

According to the author, to exist successfully in society, there are two main rules: #1) Don’t believe anything you tell yourself, but learn to listen to yourself. #2) Don’t believe anybody else.

“They live in their own story so you need to learn how to listen. When they say something about you they are telling you the truth about themselves.”

The fourth agreement: Always do your best.

Don Miguel Ruiz told me it is important for a man to master his own dreams.

“… that is why the Toltecs became dream masters. Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art … your best comes from controlling the dream … by making different choices.”

I immediately recognized the Magician, the Lover, and the Warrior in Ruiz’s writings. I asked him about the King archetype. He responded quickly.

“You can see we live in our own dream and that dream is our kingdom! With that dream you create a story, only true for you and nobody else. In that world you are the king! It’s been said that ‘every head is a world.’ A world is not necessarily a planet, it is everything you can perceive - you have your personal way to perceive everything. You create a key of what you believe you are … to rule over your kingdom by stopping those lies you tell yourself. The magic is in your word. Everything depends on how you use the words to tell your own story about heaven or hell. Remember that your word is magic – if it’s impeccable, your world will be heaven.”

The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic… depending on how it is used, the word can set you free, or it can enslave you even more than you know. - from The Four Agreements

The author’s second, third, and four agreements really stem from the first, he said.

“The real shadow is what you believe you are, what words you use to define yourself. We live in a world where there is no mirror. You never see your own face, but everybody else tells you what you are, and you can tell them what they are, but you can never see yourself. So, you have to believe or not believe what they tell you. Everybody has a way of seeing you through love or hate. Everybody will tell you what you are, and then you grow up believing what everybody else tells you that you are.”

It helps me to have had some of my own personal revelations to understand the mystical nature of Don Miguel Ruiz. Also, it helps me to be an initiated man.

Awareness is always the first step because if you are not aware, there is nothing you can change. If you are not aware that your mind is full of wounds and emotional poison, you cannot begin to clean and heal the wounds and you will continue to suffer. - from The Four Agreements

How do we heal – or transcend - our wounds?

“Be aware the wounds are also dreaming and creating their own story,” he said. “They carry the past with them. It’s not easy to let them go. It’s easier to be what we are than become what we are not. We agree with everybody about our wounds and what we are. Awareness is the key to transcending our wounds. It happens in moments of inspiration from everywhere on the planet. By living in the moment we feel the freedom of possibilities of our own life. You are free when you no longer have to be yourself.”

Your humble editor resonated with this because I was initiated in 1995 as “Free Racoon.”

Whoever survives the initiation of the dead receives the most wonderful gift: the resurrection. To receive the resurrection is to arise from the dead, to be alive, to be ourselves again. The resurrection is to be like a child – to be wild and free, but with a difference. The difference is that we have freedom with wisdom instead of innocence. - from The Four Agreements

Although Don Miguel Ruiz had a major heart attack and was in a coma for nine weeks, he said he currently “enjoys every moment” of his life.

“I enjoy my own transformation. I used to kind of force myself to have certain practices and rituals years ago. I don’t do anything now but share what I am … I am myself because that is the only thing I can give.”

The author’s works have been translated into 36 languages, and include other books: The Mastery of Love, The Voice of Knowledge, Four Agreements Companion, Wisdom from the Four Agreements, and Prayers.

His two sons, Jose and Miguel, carry on the Ruiz legacy by making personal appearances and giving seminars.

The Four Agreements are a summary of the mastery of transformation, one of the masteries of the Toltec. You transform hell into heaven. - from The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz is a man of hope for our civilization’s future.

“We’ve seen history really evolve a lot,” he noted. “The question is how fast we’ll change. It just takes time. Imagine yourself waking up 700 years ago in Europe knowing what you know now … seeing the way they believed then with the superstitions and inquisitions. Imagine being a woman even 100 years ago, you can see we have changed a lot … maybe not as fast as we wish … but I believe with the four agreements we can heal ourselves in this culture.”

Don Miguel Ruiz ended with a blessing for mankind.

“I bless everyone to be authentic, to be themselves – not like anybody else. To really be yourself you become like God. You are God. You become not what you think you are but what you really are. Create your life the way the Toltec ancestors did … by being your own artist. Toltec means artist. I hold a place for all the artists in the world, in Mexico, in the U.S., in Japan … may we always live in beauty, taking joy in beauty and our ongoing creation. Vaya con Dios.”

Click Here For More Info: www.miguelruiz.com/index.html

© 2006, Reid Baer

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.



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