In his impactful book titled “The Four Agreements”, the Mexican writer Don Miguel Ruiz had succeeded in making a worldwide impact with the simplicity and directness of his proposition that we can live a richer, fuller inner life by
- being impeccable with our word
- not taking anything personally
- not making assumptions
- always doing our best
I read the book many, many years ago, and may have even made a few agreements with myself at that time. On the face of it, each of the four agreements is simple, but not always easy to implement in our daily lives. In fact, each one of the above agreements could form an entire #SpiritChat conversation on its own, and we may perhaps do that in the future. For those of you who have not read the book, or would want to revisit it, I would strongly encourage you to do so. It is full of practicality and actionable wisdom from the ages.
For this week’s conversation, I will be presumptuous to suggest a few more agreements that I have been making recently. These are inspired by the wisdom offered by the many realized masters who serve as my guides, and I am sure that you will in some way relate to all, if not most of these agreements. So, in no particular order, here goes. Some spiritual agreements, that we can make with ourselves…
- Kindness and gentleness – an agreement in thought, word and action. While kindness invokes, implores and invites us to lead with the heart, gentleness walks alongside it softly. Who are we to offer kindness to? Should we offer it those who are unkind towards us? Patanjali offers an answer with the advice that we can always offer kindness, empathy, compassion and gentleness to those who are in pain and suffering. And that includes our own selves… The practice of Tonglen also suggests that we can be the conduits for great healing by breathing in their pain, breathing out empathy…
- An attitude of friendliness – an agreement to make it our default response. It is easy to develop this attitude towards those who are friendly towards us. But can we (or should we) offer kindness to those who harbor evil intent towards us (or towards the world) and act in evil ways? To be friendly to all that cross our path, unless they prove to be incapbale of being friendly to us, is perhaps a good starting point. One test of the quality of our friendly attitude is – are we happy for them in their happiness and success?
- An agreement to maintaining inner-peace and joy – regardless of the outer ‘circumstances’. This agreement follows from the agreements of kindliness and friendliness – joy is an increase in the depth of our heartspace, in which peace can find a warm and safe haven. Another word for this agreement is equanimity – the depth in the lake of consciousness that remains undisturbed by the strength or direction in which the surface winds of the world blow upon it. Make no mistake. This agreement is not a call to insensitivity or inaction. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
- Working with diligence and self-discipline – an agreement to learn, practice, correct – and repeat the cycle. Without diligent work, peppered with self-discipline, and a few goals and mileposts along the way, most of us will just flounder on the path or walk around in circles… Work and discipline, even ritual and routine, can develop persistence, consistency, resilience and endurance. It can keep us motivated to stay on the path, avoid distractions, and give us strength to stay committed to our agreements of kindness, friendliness and inner-peace. So, yes. An agreement to work with self-discipline and laser-like focus. But let us not forget to be kind and…
- Agree to give forgiveness, and ask for grace when necessary – it will often be necessary. We will make mistakes, and so will others who we meet on the path. With the gentleness agreement, we can agree to forgive without prejudice. With the kindness (to ourselves) agreement, we can agree to ask for help, for grace. Asking for grace is essentially asking for time and space for our higher Self to blossom, to merge into the light that shines equally on our lake, and the waters of all those who make the same agreements with their own selves too.
This is the framework for spiritual agreements that I have been working with. What other agreements can you think of for yourself? There is no one-size-fits-all framework, just like there is no one-flavor-fits-all cookie 🙂 Feel free to take the ingredients suggested above – either from Don Miguel’s original four, or the five suggested by me, and create your own cookie recipe of agreements. The more you work with your own recipe, the more you will perfect it, the more you will own it, and the more chances that you will actually enjoy implementing it into your own walk in life. Is there a more effective spiritual agreement than that?!
In closing, I invite you to come share your agreement recipe with us – starting this Sunday, Decemeber 6th 2015, at 9amET/2pmUTC on twitter, with the #SpiritChat community. You bring the cookies. I will bring the tea.