The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

by don Miguel Ruiz, Janet Mills


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In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.

• A New York Times bestseller for over a decade.
• Over 8.5 million copies sold in the U.S. 
• Translated into 46 languages worldwide. 

"This book by don Miguel Ruiz, simple yet so powerful, has made a tremendous difference in how I think and act in every encounter." — Oprah Winfrey

"Don Miguel Ruiz’s book is a roadmap to enlightenment and freedom." — Deepak Chopra, Author, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

"An inspiring book with many great lessons." — Wayne Dyer, Author, Real Magic

"In the tradition of Castaneda, Ruiz distills essential Toltec wisdom, expressing with clarity and impeccability what it means for men and women to live as peaceful warriors in the modern world." — Dan Millman, Author, Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781878424310
Publisher: Hay House Inc.
Publication date: 11/07/1997
Series: Toltec Wisdom Series
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 538
Product dimensions: 9.60(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Don Miguel Ruiz was born into a family of healers, and raised in rural Mexico by a curandera (healer) mother and a nagual (shaman) grandfather. The family anticipated that Miguel would embrace their centuries-old legacy of healing and teaching, and carry forward the esoteric Toltec knowledge. Instead, distracted by modern life, Miguel chose to attend medical school and become a surgeon. A near-death experience changed his life. Late one night in the early 1970s, he awoke suddenly, having fallen asleep at the wheel of his car. At that instant the car careened into a wall of concrete. Don Miguel remembers that he was not in his physical body as he pulled his two friends to safety.

Stunned by this experience, he began an intensive practice of self-inquiry. He devoted himself to the mastery of the ancient ancestral wisdom, studying earnestly with his mother, and completing an apprenticeship with a powerful shaman in the Mexican desert. His grandfather, who had since passed on, continued to teach him in his dreams.

In the tradition of the Toltec, a nagual guides an individual to personal freedom. Don Miguel Ruiz, a nagual from the Eagle Knight lineage, is dedicated to sharing his knowledge of the teachings of the ancient Toltec. For more than a decade, he has worked to impart this wisdom to his students through lectures, workshops, and journeys to sacred sites around the world.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Domestication and the Dream of the Planet

What you are seeing and hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming with the brain awake.

Dreaming is the main function of the mind, and the mind dreams twenty-four hours a day. It dreams when the brain is awake, and it also dreams when the brain is asleep. The difference is that when the brain is awake, there is a material frame that makes us perceive things in a linear way. When we go to sleep we do not have the frame, and the dream has the tendency to change constantly.

Humans are dreaming all the time. Before we were born the humans before us created a big outside dream that we will call society's dream or the dream of the planet. The dream of the planet is the collective dream of billions of smaller, personal dreams, which together create a dream of a family, a dream of a community, a dream of a city, a dream of a country, and finally a dream of the whole humanity. The dream of the planet includes all of society's rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures and ways to be, its governments, schools, social events, and holidays.

We are born with the capacity to learn how to dream, and the humans who live before us teach us how to dream the way society dreams. The outside dream has so many rules that when a new human is born, we hook the child's attention and introduce these rules into his or her mind. The outside dream uses Mom and Dad, the schools, and religion to teach us how to dream.

Attention is the ability we have to discriminate and to focus only on that which we want to perceive. We can perceive millions ofthings simultaneously, but using our attention, we can hold whatever we want to perceive in the foreground of our mind. The adults around us hooked our attention and put information into our minds through repetition. That is the way we learned everything we know.

By using our attention we learned a whole reality, a whole dream. We learned how to behave in society: what to believe and what not to believe; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable; what is good and what is bad; what is beautiful and what is ugly; what is right and what is wrong. It was all there already - all that knowledge, all those rules and concepts about how to behave in the world.

When you were in school, you sat in a little chair and put your attention on what the teacher was...

Table of Contents


1: Domestication and the Dream of the Planet ..... 1
2: The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word ..... 25
3: The Second Agreement: Don't Take Anything Personally ..... 47
4: The Third Agreement: Don't Make Assumptions ..... 63
5: The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best ..... 75
6: The Toltec Path to Freedom: Breaking Old Agreements ..... 93
7: The New Dream: Heaven on Earth ..... 123

Prayers ..... 131



Three Masteries, Four Agreements

The word is like a seed, and the human mind is so fertile, but only for those kinds of seeds it is prepared for.

The first time you read The Four Agreements, some part of you knows that you have heard these concepts before or have experienced them in your life, though perhaps not as simply.

In reading The Four Agreements you discover that humans create thousands of agreements based mainly on making assumptions and taking everything personally, and by doing this, we are using the power of our word against ourselves. We are using all the power of our creation to create a dream that sets us up to suffer for the rest of our lives.

The Four Agreements are a tool for transformation, leading you to stop judging, mainly yourself, and to start practicing another way of life. They lead you to stop the guilt, the shame, and the self-rejection; they help you break the agreements that limit the expression of your creativity, and replace them with new agreements that facilitate the expression of your love.

With The Four Agreements, my intention was to create a messenger that can enter the imagination of readers and change their point of view. If you have practiced these agreements, you already know what they can do. They have the capacity to go directly into your belief system, into those thousands of agreements you made with yourself, and create a doubt. And just like magic, because they are magic, the Four Agreements slowly free the faith that is trapped inside your belief system. Little by little, you recover your integrity, and the real you starts to awaken.

The Four Agreements are like a map that tells you all the different ways to reach your destination. Their simplicity is what makes them so easy to use in so many directions. But the map is just one half. You are the other half. In any relationship, there are two halves. The book, the messenger, is one half of the relationship, but you are the other half, and that is the beauty of this relationship: your half.

If you have a goal and you use the messenger as your guide, you are going to reach your goal. With The Four Agreements, you can learn how to heal your emotional body. You can use it to change your belief system and create a brand new belief system. You can use it to heal your marriage, your relationships with your friends, and your relationships at work, and to improve your life in every way. But first, because it’s a map, you have to start with awareness of where you are and where you want to be.

Thousands of years ago the Toltec created three masteries to guide us out of suffering and return us to our true nature: happiness, freedom, and love. The Toltec encouraged us to see ourselves with truth, and they created a mastery just for awareness. The first mastery, the Mastery of Awareness, is the first step toward personal freedom, because we cannot be free if we don’t know what we are, where we are, or what kind of freedom we are looking for. In this mastery, we become aware of the fog that is in our mind. We become aware that we are dreaming all the time, and that everybody else is dreaming. The Mastery of Awareness can also be called the Mastery of Truth.

The second Toltec mastery, the Mastery of Transformation, shows us how to change the dream of our life. The goal of the second mastery is to put order into the chaos of the mitote – into all of the voices inside our mind – to face our fears, to transform our fears, and to get results. The result we want is the freedom to live our own life instead of the life of the Parasite or the belief system. The Mastery of Transformation is achieved by changing our agreements and reprogramming our own mind in our own way. The Four Agreements are a summary of the Mastery of Transformation.

The result of the first two masteries is a mind that is Parasite-free, and that is the third mastery, the Mastery of Love, or the Mastery of Intent. From the Toltec point of view, love or intent is that part of life that makes the transformation of energy possible. It is Life itself; it is unconditional love. Everything is made with love because everything comes from God or Life. When we master love, we master the dream of our life, and when all three masteries are accomplished, we reclaim our divinity and become one with God. Then every action we take is an expression of the One Being. This is the goal of the Toltec.

For those of you who want to explore the third mastery, I have written a book called The Mastery of Love, which shows you what a dream based on love looks like. The Mastery of Love is the result of the first two masteries, and it offers a better way of living our life with love. But for now, the third mastery is not what we will focus on. The first two masteries are the subject of this book.

In the first part of this companion book, before we talk about applying the Four Agreements, the emphasis is on awareness. What do we want to be aware of

In Part One, we focus on three things:

    1. Human suffering begins with domestication. When we are children, other people hook our attention and teach us to dream the way the society dreams. This is how our attention is used for the first time to create the first dream of our life.

    2. Humans are creators, but our power of creation is invested in our beliefs. The power of our word, which is the same as our intent, our will, our faith, and our love, is trapped inside a rigid structure of beliefs. This leaves us with little power to change our dream.

    3. The function of the human mind is to dream, but we have learned to dream without awareness. Once we are aware that we are dreaming, we awake from the dream and recover our power to change the dream whenever we choose. When we discover that we have the power to create a dream of heaven, we want to change our dream, and the Four Agreements are the perfect tool for that.

In Part Two of this companion book, we explore several ways to master the art of dreaming:
    4. Using your will and attention for the second time. In the dream of the second attention, you choose to believe what you want to believe, and that includes believing in yourself.

    5. Using the Four Agreements to change your actions—reactions. Every choice you make has a consequence or result. When you change the action, you change the result, and you change the dream of your life.

    6. Using attach—detach to surrender to the angel of death. The angel of death can teach you to live in the present moment instead of the past or the future. When your attention is in the present moment, you enjoy life more intensely because you are fully alive.

This companion book will give you more information about the first two masteries, but information is not enough. Information is merely the seed in your mind. What will really make the difference is action.

If you practice the Four Agreements, you will master the Four Agreements. Eventually, after many repetitions, these agreements will become a habit, and you will see how your life is transformed.

There is a beautiful story about Jesus telling his disciples that his words are like seeds and he sends his seeds everywhere. Some seeds land on rock and never grow. Some seeds go into land that is fertile on the surface, but hard underneath; these seeds start sprouting, but soon die. Then there are the seeds that go into land that is very fertile, and they grow strong and become big trees. And you will know the tree by its fruit.

I love that metaphor. It is wonderful to see how many people who have practiced the Four Agreements have already grown into trees that bear fruit.

Just imagine if you could live in a society where the Four Agreements were a habit for everybody, where this habit was the way they expressed life. Imagine living in a society where everybody practiced love until they mastered love. It will happen; it is just a matter of time. There is already a new dream in this world that is ready to be dreamed by humans, Parasite-free. The sun has already changed; the light has changed. We just need humans to dream the new dream.

By using the Four Agreements in our own life, we modify our personal dream, and soon our new dream will modify the outside dream. There is no need to actively try to modify the outside dream. This happens naturally as a result of our own transformation.

Deciding to focus on our own freedom isn’t selfish; it is the greatest gift we can give to humanity.

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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (Four-color Illustrated Ed.) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 311 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not a 'how to' reader, but I love this book and frequently give it as a gift. I am also a Christian, while at the same time being open-minded and willing to hear other people's points of view. The basic 'agreements' do not infringe on my beliefs. Those that are offended should try not to 'take it personally' (one of the 4 agreements). If all religions could apply these principles we would be much better off.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm in recovery for Bulimia and my therapist actually recommended this book and I'm so glad she did! I thought it was amazing and everything seemed to hit so close to home. It all seems so simple but he elaborates on all the agreements and really makes you want to follow them. One person wrote that he says if someone else is angry w/ you or whatever it's their problem, etc. And the reviewer said maybe sometimes it is your fault. I interpreted it differently. He definitely makes it clear that you are in control and if you judge someone or are angry w/ someone, it has to do with you and your beliefs. So he was saying if someone is angry with you it has to do w/ their beliefs, so it works both way. I like how he really makes you feel like you are in control. Other reviewers have said it's self centered, but the only thing you can truly control is indeed yourself! So if you life isn't going right, etc then it's most likely you and not any of the things you're blaming.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many people seem to like this book, but I am not quite sure why. This book is full of very common platitudes and dangerously self-centered ideas. The main premise of this book seems to be that each person should treat themselves like the center of the universe. He states that if someone criticizes you or is angry with you, it is because of their own issues, and not you, and therefore you have no responsibility to address it (he terms their feelings and words 'black magic' and 'poison'). Well, sometimes you ARE the problem, and pretending that you are not will not lead you to any sort of 'heaven on earth,' especially for the people around you. He also contradicts himself (i.e., we are all God but there is also a Creator who is separate - how does that work?), misquotes the Bible to support his statements, and has a tough time staying on topic. Do not waste your time reading this - find something substantial that will move you to exhibit real love to those around you and to yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing how many christians are made about this book This book is about how we how the self is the source of our own happiness All the author is saying is that our thoughts drive our beliefs and actions When we stop judging and hurting ourselves then we can enjoy life even when other people try to hurt or obstruct us You need to look inside u for answers It is not about giving up ur belief in God it is about giving up beliefs that cause u to suffer by ur own hand of the hand of others Stop reading into this as turning against the Bible The book is about finding and attaining inner peace That is it The book was helpful to me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, I read this 2 years ago. I love books like this
Atticablue More than 1 year ago
I recently bought this book again because every copy I've ever owned, I've given away only to realize some months later that I no longer have it when I need to review it for myself! Anyway , this is a wonderful little treasure and a concise way to regain focus and self esteem when the world becomes overwhelming. Life is hard and sometimes we all need a review or a new perspective on how to handle the challenges we face as human beings. Sometimes, the most important relationship we have is the one with ourselves and this book focuses on that and how we all sometimes have mistaken beliefs that effect our daily life in a detrimental way. I think this is a must read for just about everyone and as I've said, I've given away quite a few of these but I always end up buying a copy just for myself to have so I can go back to it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first time I rate a book here. I bought this book and read it in three days. It does contain some good advices, but I think its lessons are just repetitive. The message of this book is well known by most of us. Be careful when you talk, don't take everything so serious, ask questions before doing something, and do your best at what you do. I was a little disappointed with this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a 2 year spirituality class and received much more out of it that is practical for people of all ages. I have kids and have found I can simplify the lessions and help them deal with peer pressure and social situations. It's also helped improve communication in my marriage. What interested me is that as I was reading it, several parents called to talk about things that were upsetting them or their kids and I could pass along the insights of Don Miguel Ruiz. It helped me realize that when people get frustrated and say something that sounds hurtful, it's more about what they are going through and not really aimed at me. They've had a tough day, they are stressed about someone in their family, they're running late. Be impeccable with your words, don't take things personally, don't make assumptions and do your best. I also think you'll enjoy his follow-up book The Fifth Agreement.
bookfan27 More than 1 year ago
When I bought this book years ago - I thought it was poorly written (couldn't get beyond that point), for the simpletons in life, not for the intelligent (me), boring, too easy of a read, and strange (I wasn't buying the whole Toltec BS). So I gave it (gladly) to the library or other suckers to read. I just re-read it on my Nook. I had gone through enough pain and trauma since I first bought it - that I was now ready for it. My life before was a fairy tale and I didn't know it, I was living a lie. Of course I was not able to see the extreme life truths in the book. When living a lie you only see what you choose. Now I see my life as it is - the whole truth: the sadness, the mourning, the joys, the realities. I am now older and wiser. And now I see the truth in the book - it is meant for the wise. It is meant only for people who are ready to read it's truths - no matter how simple (keep it simple, stupid), no matter how easy a read it is (not poorly written), no matter how strange the Toltec BS might seem (so what? We are all strange.) Read it - but if you think it is dumb - it is because you simply are not ready. It's ok, it took me years to wise up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many spiritual authors and after reading the reviews of this book I decided to give it a try. The book has a lovely cover and a lovely premise I just found that it did not ring true for me. I ordinarily do not leave reviews but I thought it might be helpful to give a counterpoint to the lavish praise of this book. I found this prescription for happiness not only simplistic but also a denial of the human condition. I don't even think I'd like living in the heaven that Ruiz describes. Some of his ideas are thought provoking, perhaps even disturbing if a person was to take them to heart. Not for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ruiz has produced a masterpiece. Simple and straighforward.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The basic premise behind this book is conveyed through the book. The problem with this book is that it is overly repetative. The author begins discussing great personal tips, then goes outside of the plain of common sense into a world of non-sense. A prime example is within his chapter on Don't Take Anything Personal', he discusses not to even take it person if someone shoots you in the head! What is he talking about? There are better examples to use of than being shot in the head. This book is really good at times and then meanders into repetative mumbo jumbo. Recommend you look elsewhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I brought the book for extra credit for a class and was hesitant to read it at first. I was surprise to find it useful and educational. I started applying these four agreements to my daily life and found it to be true. It was hard to change, but I took it step by step and found that I started being more positive about my future. My job and studies started to improve and don't get in as much trouble as I use to. I see why the professor wanted us to read the book and I want others to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very inspirational to me. I liked it and I will read it again next year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I browsed through the book, it seemed very thought-provoking. However, when I sat down to read it cover to cover, I found the writing style a bit simple for me and occasionally repetitive. Still, there are some interesting lessons to be learned from this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heard some good things with regard to Ruiz's novels, so I decided to read this one. I can honestly say that I genuinely enjoyed this book a lot. It wasn't bland and boring; it was just really inspirational and motivational. It's simple but complex and nicely written. It's a quick read if you become immersed in it and can't put it down. Frankly, I find it really annoying that there are people rating this book poorly and criticizing the author for "going against your religious beliefs" — specifically, where he discusses sins and sinning. Ironically, you're going against some of The Four Agreements by failing to promote love and TAKING THINGS PERSONALLY. Put your religious beliefs aside for just a moment and read this book with an open mind and a simple spiritual mentality, and you're guaranteed to close the book with newly acquired clarity and inspiration. I recommend this book to everyone, and I'm definitely checking out his other stuff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just had to buy this, I loved every part of it. I also Love MYSTIC by R.E It has a great focus on a diversity of topics
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I personally loved this book. If you think about it, the four agreements are common sense and we have always known about them but after reading this book I've started to put them into practice. If you do that your life will change. I have to say the readers that have given bad reviews based on the content of the book mostly likely misunderstood the four agreements. Someone said that "it teaches you to be self centered". That is absolutely not true. It doesn't teach you to not care about others when they are angry with you; it teaches you to understand where they are coming from. It helps you respond better to conflict. The four agreements will help you become a stronger person. What is really great about this book is that you can apply what you learn from it in your every day life it will do wonders at the work place if applied correctly. If you are thinking about reading this book then please just do it. I couldn't believe this book had any negative reviews!
lovethesun More than 1 year ago
When I saw don Miguel Ruiz on Oprah I knew I had to order this book. I ordered one for each of my children. This book has some wonderful, thought-provoking ways to live your life in a way that makes sense - lots of common sense. An easy read without having religion pushed down your throat. With these four agreements it is more the way the universe allows you to live your life if you so choose. Very uplifting read.
CarolW More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book contains a number of truths. It should not be considered the 'end all' of wisdom though-- the acquisition of wisdom is not something one can complete by reading 138 pages. 'Wisdom Literature' was a specialty study of mine when I was earning my master's. Solomon, Confucius, Plato and the other 'great ones' are still the best, even after thousands of years, but Ruiz isn't bad.
nikkirome More than 1 year ago
Great book, but not for those who are set-in their ways, think they know it all, extremely religious, bias, overly opinionated. This book is at the top of my list for personal development. Repetition is good if you are determined to learn something, so I don't see why repetition is an issue for some people. If you are like me and enjoy enlightenment and universal truth as oppose to religious debate, then you will not have any issues with this book.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
This book is difficult to categorize. Is it a book: about a philosophy, a member of the “Self-Help” genre, a “spiritual” basis for Bowanian Theory, a mythological history of Mexican enlightenment or a memoir of a man’s recollections of a beloved Grandfathers teaching?  Any of these designations would be correct at points and all of them (plus a few more) would be needed to accurately describe this slim, non-fiction “booklet” that is right at home in a New Age library. Don Miguel Ruiz survived a near-death experience that led him to study the “wisdom teachings” of his ancestors.  As his grandfather was a nagual (teacher/leader/shaman) of the Toltec, one could say he was drawn into the family custom and has followed the teaching of the Toltec tradition since the early 1970’s.  At the root of that tradition are four agreements, but the reader is given background and is given a short tutorial in the language of this discipline before being exposed to those “agreements.”  The author suggests that the adherence to those four “agreements” will bring internal direction and peace, calmness to one’s household and would lead to world peace (if enough people followed those teachings).  Mr. Ruiz does an excellent job of quickly familiarizing the reader with a long tradition that lead to the development of the agreements. The 1st Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word – as the words one speaks become powerful (“magical” is how the author describes them) speak only truth, let only positive things be spoken and live by what you say.  The 2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally – what is spoken to you is about the speaker, not you, unless you “make it about you” (take it personally).  Practice detachment in relationship, allowing others to know you without a need to be accepted by them.  The 3rd Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions – “The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth.”  Everyone makes assumptions and, once they are pronounced, they must me defended.  Real love is accepting others and self as “they are” not needing to change others and changing ourselves as we desire.  The 4th Agreement: Always Do Your Best – perfection is a delusion whose pursuit only leads to misery.  Life is fluid and ever changing, learning to do one’s best and accept that limit opens one to the “magic” of a more full life. None of these agreements is earth shaking, new revelation nor are they limited to the Toltec teachings.  They are also words that merit repeating, as most (all) major religions (and many effective psychological treatment modalities) use these teachings, in some form, as the basis for personal peace and healthy community living.  Having them gathered in a volume such as this one causes these “reminders” to be freshened and a point for reminding caring and “loving” people how one is to act that will affect one’s community in a positive way.   Reading this book straight through will take a matter of an hour or two; READING it will require: a fresh highlighter, space for reflection, a sounding board for “spouting off” against and a willingness to hear truth without surrendering one’s Self to another’s opinion.  
Hendriq More than 1 year ago
Serious? Rather read these This book could have been one chapter. The teaching is profound, but the theory that substantiates or develops it is a bit light and open to being hijacked by the very traits these teachings seek to liberate one from. If what you want some theory, this is your book. Serious students of self-development will know one will need practical tools to develop the SKILLS needed to even implement these teachings effectively. For those willing to put in the work, I recommend: Whisperings of the Dragon, and Shadows in the Twilight by Lujan Matus -which should be shown below. Aspiring shamans and healers will benefit greatly as well as those interested in Qigong.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A friend let me borrow the book and I loved it. So i wanted my own copy and found it on Amazon for $7 but I did not buy it because I thought it would be less expensive through B&N Nook. I was wrong and it doesn't make sense that a digital book is more expensive than a paperback. Amazon will be getting my business.