A book that opened eyes

The previous assignment was quite a challenge for me.  It was to recreate a single day with no backstory, flashbacks, or foreshadowing.   Imagining what may be ahead is part of my nature. To look beyond what I see in front of me is part of my writing style. Everyone has a backstory; sure some may call it baggage, but regardless it does affect our actions and who we are in present day. I was feeling boxed in by staying within the confinement of the day. Every time my mind wandered to the past or the future, I had to reign myself in. 

Today’s #everydayinspiration option: Tell us about a book that opened your eyes when you were young, or younger in my case.   I chose this option because I knew exactly which book I can effortlessly talk about.  It is “The Four Agreements” by Dr. Miguel Ruiz.  I have referenced this book in part in my previous posts, and today I decided to take the opportunity to tell you a little more. 

I was given this book many years ago by a new neighbor.  Her name was Nora; we had spoken a few times, and one day as I was checking my mail, she stopped me and said: “I think you’ll like this.”  She handed me the book and walked back to her apartment.   I took it upstairs, read the cover, rolled my eyes and put it down.  It read, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, The Four Agreements,  A Toltec Wisdom Book. 

After a couple of days, curiosity got the best of me, and I picked up the book and started reading.  After all, how many times had I heard that you couldn’t judge a book by its cover?  I read a few chapters that night, but quite frankly, I was not in the mood for the mumbo-jumbo about dreams and energy of the light and the stars, the earth and humans.  I put it away.  When Nora asked, I told her I had started to read it but got too busy with work and classes and family. 

Fast forward to a year or so later, and I was between flights at an airport looking for something to read because I had forgotten my book.  On display out front of the store I saw, From The New York Times Bestselling Author, Don Miguel Ruiz – Wisdom from The Mastery Of Love.   Bestseller? Well, whadda ya’ know?  I picked up a copy and started reading.  The four-hour flight was enough to get me hooked.  This seemed an easier read, or maybe I was ready to understand it.  When I finished, I dug out the other book and read it too.  It all made sense now.   I’ve read each book a few times, and when the author and son teamed up to explain the Fifth Agreement, I read that too. 

The “Wisdom” is not magic or beliefs of rituals with supernatural powers.  It’s actually common sense insights that we have heard before from our parents, teachers, and preachers or in this case, from Toltec healers.   The simple way the message is delivered is part of the charm.  This wisdom is broken down into an uncomplicated formula- The Four Agreements.  I will share my impression of what I’ve read.

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word: I take great care to make sure that when I speak, I speak with integrity. I think I show immense strength when I am honest in sharing my thoughts, and I try to be clear for others to understand me.  If I disagree, I am mindful not to attack the person but to address the behavior.  I think when one is conscious of how words are used, and the effect they can have on another person,  one demonstrates respect for the power of the word. 
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally: This agreement is one I find is particularly liberating for me.  You may have noticed that on my blog I often bring up the idea that each person is living his or her own story. Each one is dealing with issues that may be foreign to the next person.  The basic premise is that nothing the other person does is because of you.  They are wrapped up in their reality; each one is the “star” if you will, of their movie.  Sometimes we are hurt by someone because of their belief system.  Once we learn that their opinion does not define us, we are free.   
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions: You probably have heard the saying that starts – When you ass-u-me you make… .  The truth is when we assume; our imagination goes beyond the reality which can lead us to distress. Clear communication is such an essential part of our lives to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama.  When we make assumptions, our preconceived ideas make it almost impossible to move toward a solution.  Learn to ask the right questions that will get you the answer you seek. 
  4. Always Do Your Best: Our best changes from day to day or even from each moment.  Our best is different when we are in good health or when we are ill.  The important thing is to put in all your effort.  Don’t judge or abuse yourself in any way just because your approach is different from the mainstream.  When you do your best – whatever that means to you, be proud that you did it to the greatest of your ability –no regrets.
  5. Be Skeptical but learn to listen: This is another great truth that you’ve heard before.  Just because a leader sad so, doesn’t mean you have to jump off the bridge.  I have also written about listening to different opinions but in the end, research to confirm the truth.  Just because you are trying to be “impeccable with your word,” doesn’t mean everyone else is.  I remember a colleague used to say.  “There are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.” 

Revisiting these agreements at different times has helped me take another look at situations in my life.  I have found that they blend well with my belief system and at times I have felt “enlightened” when I am moved to practice them.  There was a time when I was giving this pair of books to family, friends, and colleagues.  I know some people were able to take it to heart and expressed gratitude.  Some even said it had changed their life by taking another look at some simple truths.

Day Fifteen: Take a Cue from Your Reader  #everydayinspiration   

This post is not a paid endorsement; just a response to an assignment as stated above.   I hope it was helpful.  Thanks for stopping by.

Book cover
The Four Agreements by Dr. Miguel Ruiz courtesy of Barnes and Nobles

12 thoughts on “A book that opened eyes

  1. Hi Lindi,
    The advice in the above books can look amazing, if you want to believe everything you read. I notice you said somewhere you like to research things you have read, so I am wondering what kind of research you did on these books.
    Now, please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t read these books, there is wisdom in them. My problem is, as you say, every person has a backstory, and you cannot know other people’s experiences. For this I give you full credit, for no one can know others’ experiences, for example I cannot know your experiences, and you cannot know mine. Therefore, though you have asked your readers to give the titles of a book they read when younger that changed them–instead of answering your question I am going to give you a poem I “wrote” when I was in my late teens, many many years ago, that helped change me:

    EPITAPH AT BIRTH
    Please,
    Allow no person
    To be my teacher
    For they cannot live
    Mine life for me

    Therefore
    Allow me not
    To be their teacher
    For I cannot live
    Their life for them

    But
    Let them help me
    Where’er they can
    And I shall help them
    Where’er I can

    Because
    We are siblings
    Let us remain that way…

    Now, I realize this is very much what you believe, if I read your words correctly, but yet, is that a true statement? You might think it so. Some others might think it so. But I know it is not so.
    My backstory is this: I believe only that which I find in my self, in my mind, in my spirit, and in my gut. I take everything I am told, everything I read, everything that comes to me from OUTSIDE myself, with a grain of salt, which includes anything I read for the purpose of research and confirmation. I find nothing trustworthy but I can come to it by exploring who I am.
    You might find this behaviour drastic, dangerous, and even threatening, but yet it is the way I live, the way I survive in this chaotic world. This does not mean I throw the baby out with the bathwater, no! If I read something I have not thought about before, I try to understand it, and I weigh it against my experience. If I agree with it, deep down inside my spirit, I adopt it. But! And that is a big but, if I find it wanting in any way, I take it apart, to see what part or parts of it are acceptable, and which part or parts (or maybe the whole thing itself) are unacceptable, and those I get rid of. Garbage in, garbage out, in effect…
    I write you this in not any way to upset you, or to try to change you, but merely to say, there is another way…
    I could go on to describe my method to life more, but I do not think that necessary at this point. This is just me, describing myself to you.
    Thank you for describing at least a part of yourself to me. You are an incredible person…
    PS: When I first wrote that poem, it was worded a bit differently. Times were different then. I have changed it to be more politically correct.
    PPS: I am absolutely in love with the term “backstory.” It is a beautiful word, and if you are its coiner, I would like your permission to adopt it into my vocabulary. Many thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree with you. To answer your question, yes I have read the author’s own story. The reason I was so impressed with these two books was that once you get past the “mumbo-jumbo” all he is saying is what we have heard all our lives. He provided different visuals which made it click for me at a time I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. His bio says he was trained as a medical doctor in this country and then went home to learn what He describes this as “ancient wisdom” past on through his generations. While that maybe true, I saw is as basic common sense that we sometimes are too wrapped up to see it. As you say, I could go on but let me tell you that some call me a skeptic, thats why I try to research from different angles. I usually find the truth, outside of myself lies somewhere in the middle. Great feedback. I love that you reached because in blogging, I try to limit my content and not evrything gets put out there. And no, I did not coin backstory, it was part of the instruction for one of my writing assignments and I thought it was a great word. Feel free to go ahead and use it often. Thanks again- all the best.

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      1. Being a skeptic can be a good thing IMO. Too many people listen to what they hear or what they read without filtering it through their own sensibilities or their philosophy of the world. And having said that, many people don’t even see they have a philosophy of the world, philosophy being a big scary word. Meanwhile, philosophy is just another way of saying their idea of how the world works.
        This actually scares me, because I have met people who are too “lazy” or too “scared” (their words, not mine) to try to determine what their own philosophy is, so they are willing to take other people’s words as gospel. (As in, believing what Trump says without checking it to see if it is reasonable for them.)
        But who am I to say anything to them, being lazy or scared seems to work for them…
        It could never work for me, or, I suspect, for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahhh but I believe we all have a philosophy whether we give it a name or not. Its what moves us or causes us to stand still. Choosing not to look further than one’s nose is a comforting place for some people.

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      3. Believing in someone else’s pholosophy can be a comforting place for those who do not wish to exercise their brains, but for the rest of us it scares us that people can shut theirs eyes, thus becoming the blind being led by the blind. Everyone does have a philosophy, I agree. And few people have exactly the same philosophy, because we all have different backstories (experiences). So when we run into people who do have the same philosophies, we can undestanding that something is amiss. The question then becomes, is it us or is it them? And this is the game Trump loves to play, because it is yet another game that divides us, one from the other. Division is his strength, and not in the sense of arithmetic. Dividing people from each other! Like the parting of the Red Sea, the more he divides us, the easier it becomes to walk between us. It doesn’t matter that we all have different philosophies, what matters is that everyone knows what their philosophy is. Until then, Trump keeps getting closer day-by-day, to calling himself king. And isn’t that why white people first came to America, to get away from the monarchies of Europe?
        Now they seem to be inviting a brand new monarchy back… This is NOT what the founding fathers envisioned?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Once I gained the ability to understand that everyone was circling their OWN orbit and barely aware of mine, life became so much easier for me. I rarely experience anger or disappointment anymore with anyone in my life. I am now aware that I have zero perception what drives anyone and it is isn’t mine to even be cognizant of.
    Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 2 people

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