The quest of a spiritual warrior is for personal freedom. Personal freedom means freedom from fear, illusions and the fear-based beliefs that the spiritual warrior battles within – the beliefs of the mind that are limiting, conditioned and self-imposed.
It is with personal freedom that we are free of the human condition of emotional suffering.
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Moksha, or emotional liberation, is essentially living your life with an undercurrent of unconditional love, grace, ease and greater appreciation and gratitude for yourself and others.
The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz has been a powerful tool for thousands of individuals – and for good reason. It holds the power of truth, wisdom, and practical application. These agreements work and I use them everyday:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
The Four Agreements shares four simple truths to commit to and practice to create more love and happiness in your life. The process is transformational, ultimately evolving the way you think! Yes think, speak (your vocabulary will shift) and act.
It sounds pretty profound, but these four simple agreements are powerful change agents and require diligence in the early days of the practice. Sometimes it’s really tough because you feel like you’re going against everything you’ve ever been taught, but the results happen quickly, and powerful shifts begin in your life at a rapid pace.
Don Miguel speaks about domestication – our personal domestication. He says that from the time we emerge from the womb, we begin making agreements, in other words domesticating ourselves. We become defined by our agreements even when they are first time reactions. And we pay such close attention to everyone’s opinion in our world that we ultimately become the compendium of what everyone we value in our life would like us to be – or at least the areas where we faced greater rewards.
This isn’t just about your parents. Think about it for a bit – think of your childhood – the first fifteen years of your life as you figured out or tried to figure out – the most appropriate responses to parents, teachers, siblings, friends, relatives, girlfriends, religious leaders, even total strangers you were meeting for the very first time. There was no guidebook or owner’s manual. It was the influential people around you from whom you built most of your opinions, perceptions and ideas about life. And your approved-of behaviors elicited the emotional and physical rewards of attention, affection, appreciation or acceptance while your disapproved-of behaviors generated some sort of punishment like the removal or denial of attention, affection, appreciation or acceptance. Whatever they were, it is from this fabric that we were woven.
We actually domesticated ourselves and as we grew, we engrained those responses over and over again to people and things that happened around us or to us. From there, we wove the fabric of our ever-flowing personal dream. From every direction, parents, teachers, friends, siblings, strangers, we responded to their actions or their presence (or even their existence) and we projected our previous responses with like-kind responses until we became conditioned bundles of behaviors.
Due to all these agreements, we have bent and sculpted and massaged our very being to conform to all those people’s opinions and their reactions to us, which has become a powerful trajectory in who we have crafted ourselves to be – our styles, our vocabulary, our priorities in life, our personal codes of behavior, how we express ourselves. Then we began living our life according to all these agreements based on the opinions of others.
This is your domestication: Subliminally making choices based on the opinions we learned from others rather than pure ones we would make from our core to awaken instead a life filled with unconditioned ease of expression.
Over the years our mind has filled with beliefs that generate a running parade of thoughts. In all that thinking there are many assumptions that we are not aware of. We even make the assumption that what we think is true. We imagine and assume what others think of us and how they will react. We also assume that the judgments and self-criticisms we have are true. We have learned to make so many assumptions that we aren’t aware of. These assumptions are not the truth. These assumptions and the faith we express in them is just one way that we are not impeccable with our word.
Through our domestication we have also learned to take things personally. We assume that other people’s opinions about us are valid, and when those opinions don’t agree with ours we either dislike that person or change our own opinion. Their opinion becomes our belief about our self. We end up having an emotional reaction to our own belief because we assumed their opinion is true. We can also take personally our own opinions. Our own self-judgments are also simply assumptions. Even though we have made them up and they are not necessarily true, we make assumptions and take them personally. This is another example of our domestication.
I encourage you to further explore The Four Agreements, and take this time to change the fabric of your life and shift – in stages – to a life of greater peace, freedom, authenticity and happiness.
davidji is a certified Vedic Master and a teacher of stress management, emotional healing, and conscious choice-making. He is the author of the best-selling Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation and the creator of the award-winning guided meditation CD Fill What is Empty; Empty What is Full. Visit davidji.com for free tools, tips, and techniques to take your practice to the next level and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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Image courtesy of Don Sutherland.