“If we start changing, like a miracle everything around us will start changing right away”
Don Miguel Ruiz is the author of The Four Agreements, a surgeon-turned-shamanic healer and one of the ‘grandfathers’ of the Self Help industry. He recently published The Fifth Agreement, together with his son Don Jose Ruiz. Excited to visit the Netherlands for the first time last October, Don Miguel agreed to do an interview with ABC.
We started off the three of us: Don Miguel in Quito, Ecuador (where he would deliver a presentation to the Secretary of Tourism the next day), Don Jose on a mountaintop in California and me behind my laptop in good old Dutch Haarlem. However, a Californian storm disrupted our Skype connection with Don Jose and soon Don Miguel and me continued the conversation on our own, talking about lies, truth and ultimate liberation of realizing our perfection is already established.
Don Miguel, could you tell our customers that haven’t read your books yet, what the four agreements are and why they are so important?
The Four Agreements is an introduction to a whole way of life. You know, the word “Toltec” means artist. From that point of view every single human is an artist. These four agreements help us to shift our attention from what we learned all of our life, and start seeing the beauty in everything that surrounds us. As soon as we start perceiving beauty, our whole life will change right away, because from that moment, all the judgements end, all the opinions end and we understand that every single human is here on planet Earth with one mission and one mission only for everyone. And that mission is to enjoy life, to enjoy the beauty of life. To really make a difference in the creation. Because we all are artists.
Once that we understand that, we are no longer searching for perfection, for perfection is just the biggest lie that we all learn. With that point of view, we understand that we are already perfect. We don’t need to search for perfection and from that point of view our whole life starts shifting. Because really we can enjoy every single moment of our creation, every interaction that we have in life is so enjoyable.
And these four agreements are an introduction to live our life in that way, and it’s extremely simple. The first one is ‘be impeccable with your word’, then ‘don’t take anything personally’, ‘don’t make assumptions’, ‘always do your best’. Four simple agreements that challenge everything that we learned in our lives. When we have that awareness, we can start changing everything and we can see how our life changes completely. Because if we change our own story, the benefit is not just ours, but is also for the people who surround us, like our beloved, our children, our brothers, sisters or society or parents, religion or country, etcetera.
These four agreements are the introduction to that way of life. And The Fifth Agreement is the conclusion, the end of that training.
What I read in the four agreements is that these agreements serve to break other agreements, agreements with illusions, with lies that we have made when we were very young. We were ‘domesticated’ as human beings, just like cats and dogs are. So how did we create or make these agreements, when we were very young, with ideas and beliefs that don’t serve us?
Well, we have to understand that when we were born, we had no knowledge. We didn’t choose where to be born, we didn’t choose the language, we didn’t choose the religion. But our parents hooked our attention and they started downloading to us what they believed. Every single word, everything that we learned, the whole language that we speak, is only true because we agree with the meaning of every word. It is only true because it’s an agreement, not because it is the Truth. But it’s working. We can communicate with each other by using the language. Then when we learn a language, we also learn a way of life of society, the way of life of our family. This is what we learn and what we practice all the time.
In certain points of life, we start searching for our own identity, what we believe we are, the way we love to be perceived, the way we express. We create a whole story – the story of our life, that is true for ourselves but for nobody else. When we believe in that story, we believe that that is the truth.
And on a planet where 7 billion people live, and every one believes that they have the truth and that everybody else is wrong, then we can understand easily the behaviour of humanity. We can understand the war, the injustice, the violence, poverty.. We can understand why society is the way it is. Because we really believe in the agreements that we made.
But with these four simple agreements we can challenge our whole way of life. It’s like Jose was saying, it’s nothing but common sense, and it’s extremely simple. But once we apply it, it looks extremely difficult. Like to be impeccable with your word looks almost impossible. Not to take anything personally also looks impossible. Not to make assumptions – wow..
But what we can really do is do our best all the time. And this is what I really like the most.
(Laughs) Because we can see that everything that surrounds us, everything that we humans create, first exists in the mind, and with the action we make it real. Then we understand all the cultures that exist here on the planet since thousands of years, until now.
You call this state of being trapped in lies and trapped in confusion, you call this ‘mitote’. Is that right?
Yes, the mitote we could say is our knowledge speaking in our head. You know, knowledge has a voice that no one can hear but us. And we call it ‘thinking’. And in our thinking we create big dialogues. It’s like a thousand people talking at the same time, and nobody is listening. And that’s what we call ‘mitote’. Mitote is a word that comes from Nagual and means ‘big gossip’. When everybody wants to talk at the same time, and nobody is listening. This is what our mind is – a big mitote. A lot of thoughts. Like a wild horse that is going nowhere. But it’s a lot of noise in our head that only we can hear. Sometimes we cannot even sleep because we are thinking and thinking.. It’s incredible all the noise that exists in our mind. And that’s the reason why humanity is searching for inner peace for thousands of years. That’s how we created yoga, meditation, chanting, mantra’s.. music. Whatever can stop the mind is worth it, to find inner peace.
I really love the passage you wrote in The Voice of Knowledge about your not being able to sleep and going out into the desert. There you had the experience of feeling so alive, and so connected to everything you saw around you. It seemed like you shifted from the identification with Don Miguel to identifying with something bigger. It was a real expansion in consciousness, would you describe it that way?
Yes, what I found out, that wonderful, inspiring night, is that there is only one being and that it’s alive. I saw all the stars and I knew that all the stars are part of one being, and it’s alive. It’s something extremely interesting. I see all the stars, and I knew without a doubt, that the light that comes from one of these stars, they come from a different distance and a different speed. They come from millions of lightyears, far from my eyes. And every star sends a light in a completely different time. But I was perceiving all that light at the same time.
Then I understood completely that there is no real time-and-space. I understood at that moment that I’m part of all those stars. In the same way I perceive them, they also perceived me. And I looked around, and I saw the beautiful desert, I saw the Earth. And I knew it’s alive, and it’s part of the same being. And I look at my hands, and of course being a surgeon, being a medical doctor, I know that they are made by cells, and every single cell is a whole universe, and the cell is made by billions of atoms, just like the stars. And there’s 7 billion humans. And I understood the entire humanity is only one living being. And it is alive – that there is no difference between men and women. That all together, we are humanity. And I also understood that humanity is just an organ of this planet Earth, just like the atmosphere is another organ, the ocean is another organ, the forest is another organ.. well, every single species is an organ, and we all work together to maintain the equilibrium of the planet Earth, what I call the metabolism of the planet Earth.
Once you have that awareness, you start to feel an intense gratitude. So intense that the tears are coming out of your eyes. It starts to change right away into generosity. You want to share with whoever wants to listen, that experience.
What was the biggest lie that you had to unmask yourself, in your own life?
That of perfection. Because this is the biggest lie that humans believe. Since I was a child, I always feared that nobody’s perfect. I went to church, they say that nobody is perfect. I went to university, they say that nobody is perfect. Everybody around me says that nobody is perfect, and they use that to justify whatever mistake they do. They say ‘oh I’m just a human, I’m not perfect’. We are completely wrong! Everyone is perfect.. they just don’t understand their own perfection. Every single human is unique. There is no one like you, there never was any one like you and there never will be any one like you. You are unique. And that uniqueness is perfect. You’re perfect just the way you are. When you finally recognize that, then you find out that you respect everything, including yourself. You don’t try to impose your beliefs on anyone. Because they have the right to belief whatever they want to – it’s OK. It’s not personal. And life becomes easy.
So you don’t only free yourself to be who you are, but you also free others from the way you want them to be.
Exactly, you don’t try to control anyone. And no one really can control you.
To listen to the whole interview, click the audio files below, or visit ABC’s Soundcloud page.