The Four Agreements
From Chapter 1: DOMESTICATION AND THE DREAM OF THE PLANET
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 spouse, 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.”
One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that make us suffer, that make us fail in life. If you want to live a life of joy and fulfillment, you have to find the courage to break those agreements that are fear based and claim your personal power. The agreements that come from fear require us to expend a lot of energy, but the agreements that come from love help us to conserve energy and even gain extra energy.
Each of us is born with a certain amount of personal power that we rebuild every day after we rest. Unfortunately, we spend all our personal power first to create all these agreements and then to keep these agreements. Our personal power is dissipated by all the agreements we have created, and the result is that we feel powerless. We have just enough power to survive each day, because most of it is used to keep the agreements that trap us in the dream of the planet. How can we change the entire dream of our life when we have no power to change even the smallest agreement?
If we can see it is our agreements which rule our life, and we don’t like the dream of our life, we need to change the agreements. When we are finally ready to change our agreements, there are four very powerful agreements that will help us break those agreements that come from fear and deplete our energy.
Each time you break an agreement, all the power you used to create it returns to you. If you adopt these four new agreements, they will create enough personal power for you to change the entire system of your old agreements.
You need a very strong will in order to adopt the Four Agreements — but if you can begin to live your life with these agreements, the transformation in your life will be amazing. You will see the drama of hell disappear right before your very eyes. Instead of living in a dream of hell, you will be creating a new dream — your personal dream of heaven.
The Mastery of Love
From Chapter 6: THE MAGICAL KITCHEN
Imagine that you have a magical kitchen in your home. In that magical kitchen, you can have any food you want from any place in the world in any quantity. You never worry about what to eat; whatever you wish for, you can have at your table. You are very generous with your food; you give your food unconditionally to others, not because you want something in return from them. Whoever comes to your home, you feed just for the pleasure of sharing your food, and your house is always full of people who come to eat the food from your magical kitchen.
Then one day someone knocks at your door, and it’s a person with a pizza. You open the door, and the person looks at you and says, “Hey, do you see this pizza? I’ll give you this pizza if you let me control your life, if you just do whatever I want you to do. You are never going to starve because I can bring pizza every day. You just have to be good to me.”
Can you imagine your reaction? In your kitchen you can have the same pizza — even better. Yet this person comes to you and offers you food, if you just do whatever he wants you to do. You are going to laugh and say, “No, thank you! I don’t need your food; I have plenty of food. You can come into my house and eat whatever you want, and you don’t have to do anything. Don’t believe I’m going to do whatever you want me to do. No one will manipulate me with food.”
Now imagine exactly the opposite. Several weeks have gone by, and you haven’t eaten. You are starving, and you have no money in your pocket to buy food. The person comes with the pizza and says, “Hey, there’s food here. You can have this food if you just do what I want you to do.” You can smell the food, and you are starving. You decide to accept the food and do whatever that person asks of you. You eat some food, and he says, “If you want more, you can have more, but you have to keep doing what I want you to do.”
You have food today, but tomorrow you may not have food, so you agree to do whatever you can for food. You can become a slave because of food, because you need food, because you don’t have it. Then after a certain time you have doubts. You say, “What am I going to do without my pizza? I cannot live without my pizza. What if my partner decides to give the pizza to someone else — my pizza?”
Now imagine that instead of food, we are talking about love. You have an abundance of love in your heart. You have love not just for yourself, but for the whole world. You love so much that you don’t need anyone’s love. You share your love without condition; you don’t love if. You are a millionaire in love, and someone knocks on your door and says, “Hey, I have love for you here. You can have my love, if you just do whatever I want you to do.”
When you are full of love, what is going to be your reaction? You will laugh and say, “Thank you, but I don’t need your love. I have the same love here in my heart, even bigger and better, and I share my love without condition.”
But what is going to happen if you are starving for love, if you don’t have that love in your heart, and someone comes and says, “You want a little love? You can have my love if you just do what I want you to do.” If you are starving for love, and you taste that love, you are going to do whatever you can for that love. You can even be so needy that you give your whole soul just for a little attention.
Your heart is like that magical kitchen. If you open your heart, you already have all the love you need. There’s no need to go around the world begging for love: “Please, someone love me. I’m so lonely, I’m not good enough for love; I need someone to love me, to prove that I’m worthy of love.” We have love right here inside us, but we don’t see this love.
What makes you happy is love coming out of you. And if you are generous with your love, everyone is going to love you. You are never going to be alone if you are generous. If you are selfish, you are always going to be alone, and there is no one to blame but you. Your generosity will open all the doors, not your selfishness. Selfishness comes from poverty in the heart, from the belief that love is not abundant. We become selfish when we believe that maybe tomorrow we won’t have any pizza. But when we know that our heart is a magical kitchen, we are always generous, and our love is completely unconditional.
The Voice of Knowledge
From Chapter 6: INNER PEACE — TAMING THE VOICE WITH TWO RULES
More and more, I kept exploring the whole dynamic of the story that humans create. What I discovered is that the story has a voice —a voice so loud, yet only we can hear it. As I said before, you can call it thinking if you want; I call it the voice of knowledge. That voice is always there. It never stops. It’s not even real, but we hear it. Of course you can say, “Well, it’s me. I’m the one who is talking.” But if you are the voice that is talking, then who is listening?
The voice of knowledge can also be called the liar who lives in your head. A beautiful Tree of Knowledge lives in your head, and it’s the home for guess who? The Prince of Lies. Oh yes, and this is the problem because the voice of the liar speaks in your language, but your integrity, your spirit, the truth, has no language. You just know truth; you feel it. The voice of your spirit tries to come out, but the voice of the liar is stronger and louder and it hooks your attention almost all of the time.
You hear the voice — and not just one voice, but an entire mitote, which is like a thousand voices talking all at once. And what are these voices telling you? “Look at you. Who do you think you are? You will never make it. You aren’t smart enough. Why should I try? Nobody understands me. What is he doing? What is she doing? What if he doesn’t love me? I’m so lonely. Nobody wants to be with me. Nobody really likes me. I wonder if those people are talking about me. What will they think about me? Look at all the injustice in the world. How can I be happy when millions of people are dying of starvation?”
The voice of knowledge is telling you what you are and what you are not. It’s always trying to make sense out of everything. I call it the voice of knowledge because it’s telling you everything you know. It’s telling you your point of view in a conversation that never ends. For many people it’s even worse because the voice is not just talking nonsense; the voice is judging and criticizing. It’s constantly gossiping in your head about you and the people around you.
That voice is usually lying because it’s the voice of what you have learned, and you have learned so many lies, mainly about yourself. You cannot see the liar, but you can hear the voice. The voice of knowledge can come from your own head, or it can come from people around you. It can be your own opinion, or it can be the opinion of somebody else, but your emotional reaction to that voice is telling you, “I’m being abused.”
Every time we judge ourselves, find ourselves guilty, and punish ourselves, it’s because the voice in our head is telling us lies. Every time we have a conflict with our father, our mother, our children, or our beloved, it’s because we believe in these lies, and they believe in them, too. But it’s not just that. When we believe in lies, we cannot see the truth, so we make thousands of assumptions and we take them as truth.
One of the biggest assumptions we make is that the lies we believe are the truth! For example, we believe that we know what we are. When we get angry we say, “Oh, that’s the way I am.” When we get jealous: “Oh, that’s the way I am.” When we hate: “Oh, that’s the way I am.” But is this true? I’m not sure about that. I used to make the assumption that I was the one who was talking, that I was the one who said all of those things that I didn’t want to say. It was a big surprise when I discovered that it was not me; it was the way I learned to be. And I practiced and practiced until I mastered that performance.
The voice that says, “That’s the way I am,” is the voice of knowledge. It’s the voice of the liar living in the Tree of Knowledge in your head. The Toltec consider it a mental disease that is highly contagious because it’s transmitted from human to human through knowledge. The symptoms of the disease are fear, anger, hatred, sadness, jealousy, conflict, and separation between humans. Again, these lies are controlling the dream of our life. I think this is obvious.
My grandfather told me in the simplest way, “Miguel, the conflict is between the truth and what is not the truth,” and this was nothing new. Two thousand years ago one of the greatest masters, at least in my story, said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Free from what? From all those lies. Especially from the liar who lives in your head and talks to you all the time. And we call it thinking! I used to tell my apprentices, “Just because you hear a voice in your head it doesn’t mean that it’s speaking the truth. Well, don’t believe that voice, and that voice won’t have any power over you.”
I compare the voice of knowledge to a wild horse that is taking you wherever it wants to go. You have no control over that horse. But if you cannot stop the horse, at least you can try to tame the horse. I tell my apprentices, “Once you learn to tame the horse, you will ride the horse, and thinking becomes a tool that takes you where you want to go. If you don’t believe that voice, it becomes quieter and quieter, and speaks to you less and less until it stops talking to you.”
If you have to talk to yourself, then why not be friendly? Why not tell yourself how beautiful and wonderful you are? Then at least you have someone to talk to when you’re alone. But if the voice in your head is nasty and abusive, then it’s no fun at all. If that voice is telling you lies, if it’s letting you know why you should be ashamed of yourself or why your beloved doesn’t love you, then it’s better to be quiet.
If you don’t like a person, you can walk away from that person. If you don’t like yourself, you can’t escape yourself; you are with yourself wherever you go. This is why some people try to numb themselves with alcohol or drugs. Or maybe they overeat or gamble to make themselves forget who they are with. Of course this doesn’t work because the storyteller judges everything we do, and this only leads to more shame and self-rejection.
Long ago I stopped listening to the voice of knowledge. I remember that I used to go outside and tell myself, “Oh, look at the beautiful clouds, the flowers, mmm, they smell so good” — as if I didn’t know that! I no longer make up stories for myself. I know what I know. Why tell myself what I already know? Does that make sense? It’s just a habit. I don’t waste my time and energy by talking to myself. I no longer have that ongoing voice in my head, and I can assure you that it’s wonderful.
You don’t need internal dialogue; you can know without thinking. The value of cultivating a silent mind has been known for thousands of years. In India, people use meditation and the chanting of mantras to stop the internal dialogue. To have peace in your head is incredible. Imagine being in an environment where there is a constant sound — bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz. The moment comes when you don’t even notice the noise. You know something is bothering you, but you no longer notice what it is. The moment the noise stops, you notice the silence and feel the relief, “Ahhh . . .” When the voice in your head finally stops talking, it feels something like that. I call it inner peace.