Friday, September 4, 2009

The Four Agreements - don Miguel Ruiz - a review

The Four Agreements - don Miguel Ruiz

Review by Jonathan Lockwood Huie

From Moses and the Buddha to the present day, the Wisdom of the Ages remains unchanged. What varies is how that wisdom is expressed. don Miguel Ruiz has reduced the essence of living a joyful and purposeful life to four short phrases. How well has he succeeded?

don Miguel Ruiz' Four Agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don't take anything personally. 3. Don't make assumptions 4. Always do your best.

1. Be impeccable with your word: "Impeccable" means "held to the highest standard." Ruiz first Agreement is not only about never lying, gossiping, or speaking ill of anyone, it is also a statement of the power of your Intent. You call into existence what you intend.

2. Don't take anything personally: That driver who just swerved into your lane isn't attacking you. He or she is just preoccupied - as most of us are, most of the time. Practice forgiveness if you do get riled, but better yet, wear an emotional raincoat to deflect any upset attached to the perceived offense.

3. Don't make assumptions: Much unnecessary suffering is caused by imagining that others intend us harm. You truly have no idea what anyone else is thinking. Training yourself to live in the present - without regretting the past or fearing the future - is a recipe for a happy life.

4. Always do your best: Like the first Agreement, the fourth has a double meaning. Not only is it important to your self-respect never to do less than your best, it is equally important to be fully satisfied having done your best - without suffering regrets over not having done even better.

Ruiz' The Four Agreements has entertaining and pointed stories to illustrate each of the Agreements, as well as a section integrating all four into a path for living well.

Click here to buy The Four Agreements. It deserves an honored place in your library.

Loving What Is - Byron Katie - a review

Loving What Is - Byron Katie

Review by Jonathan Lockwood Huie

No one can give you freedom but you. - Byron Katie

In August 2003, I spent a week in Brussels Belgium at Byron Katie's School for The Work. Katie's methods and the events of that week were one of the major turning points in my attitude toward life and toward myself.

I gained a new appreciation for how self-important I was and the extent to which that self-importance caused me to suffer. I had thought that I knew how things should be, relationships, religion, politics, world affairs, and much more. I discovered that I had my own opinions, and that was all. I had thought that I was open minded and acceptive of all people. I discovered how prejudiced I was. In one amazing week I came to know myself far better than ever before, and to gain a far greater ability to choose happiness regardless of circumstances.

Katie calls what she does "The Work," and central to The Work is Inquiry. Inquiry is the process of analyzing a resentment until it no longer creates suffering. Here is a quick peek at Byron Katie's Inquiry: The Four Questions and Turnaround...

Focus on a specific resentment in which you are angry with another person for something, especially something they continue to do. As an example, "Paul doesn't listen to me."

Now, ask four questions about the resentment...

1. Is it true? In the example, "Is it true that Paul doesn't listen to me?"

2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? (Or is it only true from my personal point-of-view?)

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? In the example, do you become upset and suffer when you believe that Paul doesn't support you?

4. Who would you be without the thought? Imagine simply not having the thought "Paul doesn't listen to me," would you have less stress and suffering?

Now "turn around" the resentment in several ways. Possible "turnarounds" are, “I don’t listen to Paul,” “I don’t listen to myself,” and “Paul DOES listen to me.” For each turnaround, ask yourself whether is is as true or truer than the original statement (resentment).

I can't even begin to do justice to the power of The Work in this brief glimpse. If you are interested in learning more, click here to buy a copy of Byron Katie's book Loving What Is. Katie has written several wonderful books since Loving What Is, but I strongly recommend beginning with her first book, Loving What Is.