Book Review: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Title: The Four Agreements
Author: Don Miguel Ruiz
Genre: Body, Mind & Spirit
Publisher: Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc.
This has been the most recommended book to me by people I am close to and some who are random but know I like to read and thought I would enjoy it. After reading the first few pages, I knew there was a major disconnect. I already felt like this book was going to skirt around ideals that are closely aligned to my faith. This book is called a wisdom book, and the people aren’t in a religion. It seemed like a quick read, so I was determined to finish it and see what it could teach me. I knew I had to be careful with what I received from this book and make sure it didn’t contradict my faith in any way and go against Biblical truth.
Ruiz is presenting familiar information under different terms like dream, light, and even using the term humans, and I wonder if this is the fascination with this book. He says that we are all God. I was always curious about this concept. My faith has me believing that I have God’s Spirit in me. But I don’t call myself or consider myself a god or God. When people do that, are they aligning themselves with God, or are they merely saying god like they used lord as a title for man in the Bible? Or do they feel that because God is in them, that they can then say they are God? It’s not something I understand enough to make an informed opinion on if others are right or wrong when they do it. I can speak for myself, and I shy away from saying I am God or I am a god. It doesn’t feel right to me, and I have learned to trust the Spirit in me.
Right away, I am connected with the idea that we are taught everything we know and our need for attention. A recent area of focus for me, I have been trying to understand why I believe what I believe. I realized that most of what I know comes from being taught by others. While that isn’t a bad thing and is mostly how our lives work, some of my beliefs, morals, and values really should be my own and foundational. Not something that has been passed down and therefore I automatically believe it. I do believe in sharing your beliefs, but we should share why we believe them and allow others to come to their own conclusions.
Things were explained very simply from being taught to say “mom” and “dad” to how children learn to say “no” by using a reward/punishment system. While the simplicity of this part was somewhat frustrating to me (I wanted to push past and get to the part of learning something), I am taking a moment to think about how some of these things are still true for adults today. We crave the reward, we don’t want to disappoint others, and we don’t want to be rejected. All of that can have us mimicking others or becoming someone we are not.
I do agree with the concept of judging ourselves over and over again. The fact that every time we think of a mistake that we made, many times we do feel the guilt again, which can lead to giving ourselves some type of punishment again. This leads to the self-abuse he speaks of. I also agree with some aspect of us allowing others to do what we feel should be done to us or what we do to ourselves. Although I don’t necessarily agree with what he says on physical abuse (it felt very much like victim-blaming, and that’s not okay), I get what he meant by saying we allow things to happen if we think it is deserved. But we can’t control and really shouldn’t have to be responsible for other peoples behavior but I understand this isn’t the case most of the time.
I’m also torn on his thoughts on hell. I believe that we all experience a version of our own personal hell, and I do believe that we are experiencing a type of hell on Earth. Do I think that it is the Hell spoken about in the Bible? Where people go to be punished when they don’t believe in Jesus? No. We are lucky enough not to experience that before Judgement. But the problems on Earth can have us feeling like we are experiencing Hell. Same with our mental anguish and feeling like we have our own personal hell.
I find it ironic that his solution to us forgetting the agreements that we have learned from others that are mostly false is to teach us…more agreements. Moving on to the first agreement, be impeccable with your word, by now, I thought the book was going to get better. But then he used scripture to justify this concept, and it was taken so far out of context that I couldn’t overlook it. Using John 1:1, he tries to explain how the word is responsible for creation, and because our words create, they are powerful. Except for the word in that verse is actually The Word…as in Jesus.
Then he used this quote, “Hitler sent out all those seeds of fear, and they are very strong and beautifully achieved massive destruction.” Beautifully achieved? I’m going to assume he is using the second definition for beautifully here (yes I had to look it up because I could not believe he used this word. The first definition: In a way that excites aesthetic pleasure; the second definition: In a highly effective or excellent manner.) Anyway, I do understand the power of words, but I also feel like he may be simplifying this concept a bit. While negative words can impact our thinking and how we live our life, only having someone say the opposite of that negative word usually isn’t enough to overturn that opinion. It’s more about the repetition of the negative or positive thought that has us believing it.
I also don’t agree with his definition of sin: “A sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself”. But I guess since he thinks I am God, then his definition may be correct in that aspect. I am struggling with the fact that he is giving me, as one person so much power specifically over other people. If I speak with love, the person I’m talking to will speak in love. Yes, that may happen but it also may not. You know why? Because that person is responsible for themselves. In my opinion, it’s best to speak in love, no matter the outcome. Shoot, prepare yourself that you may not get love back. That shouldn’t be why you are doing it anyway.
I had to give up on this book finally. I felt like it was honestly going to end up doing too much damage to my subconscious to continue to read it. I looked at the Table of Contents to see what the other agreements were. Just like the first one, I agree with the titles. But if the descriptions are anything like the first one, I can’t even deal with it. I very much wanted to like this book. Even though there are some good points here and there, in my opinion, it is covered with way too much fluff and ideals that I cannot agree with. Of course, he will probably say I am using agreements that are made up of lies to come to this conclusion. Either way, this gets 1-star from me, and I won’t be recommending it to anyone.
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