Barefoot Zen?

Barefoot Zen?
Namaste, Y'all...

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Four Agreements, and then some...

So, I was sitting in a meeting at church Sunday AM, letting my mind wander because...I mean, come on, it's church. I was thinking about this piece of paper that hangs over the desk in my office, and how it's started to blend in with the scenery. You know how you stop noticing a magnificent painting or photo after a while because you've gotten used to its presence? Well, this piece of paper features "The Four Agreements", and I put it right over my head at my desk to remind me how I want to live each day, so taking it for granted sort of flies in the face of my goal.

For those not acquainted with the Four Agreements, they are from the Toltec religion, and were captured in a best selling book by Don Miquel Ruiz. The belief is that, by following these four guideposts, you'll lead a richer, more fulfilling life. Sounds like a plan, huh?

So, here they are:

1) Be Impeccable with your Word
2) Don't Take Anything Personally
3) Don't Make Assumptions
4) Always Do Your Best

There are detailed explanations for each, but that's the gist of it. And if you think it sounds easy, try it. If I ever go an hour without breaking Agreements 2 or 3, I think I should get an Eskimo Pie for my efforts, because I will have made major spiritual headway.

Anyway, as my mind wandered, I thought I needed a few more "Agreements" for my life (like these four aren't unattainable enough!) I quickly came up with four more proverbs to add to my own personal list.

1) Speak Less, Say More - I tend to give the encyclopedic answer when the Cliff's Notes version would do. And I explain myself more than a defendant on "Boston Legal". Brevity and a tad of stoicism would serve me well.

2) Be Ever, Ever, Ever Present - Ram Dass said "Be Here Now", but I like my buddy Matt Stanton's phraseology better -- "ever ever ever present" really hits home. Be where you are, completely. No where else. That I was breaking this fiat while I was coming up with this list is sorta ironic, no?

3) Leap, Don't Duck - Problems tend to come at us pretty hard and fast. You can either advance on them or retreat. Leaping toward them gives you courage and the momentum to tackle them. Ducking puts you in an awfully vulnerable position. "Yeah, life is hard," quipped Denis Leary, "get a helmet!"

4) Live Everything - the veneer we place between ourselves and our experiences gets thicker each day it seems. We numb ourselves to anything that is unpleasant. The internet, TV, food, alcohol - name your distractive weapon of denial. Alas, the only way to live is to live everything. Unbridled.

So, I've come up with what I think are four pretty challenging and rewarding additions to the Four Agreements. Add that to the Eightfold Path, the Ten Commandments, the Law of Attraction, and Martha Stewart's Rules for Living and I've got my work cut out for me.


  1. I'm adding these to my wall. I so wasn't surprised when you described where you posted the Four Agreements. I'm emailing you pictures I just took from my desk where I am sitting as I read your blog.

    I've always been a huge Philosophical Things To Do person, and I make a HUGE New Year's Resolution list every year. When I was a kid, it was hard to come up with original ones, so I always started with the 10 Commandments, then the Girl Scout Promise and Law, etc.


  2. i like matt's phrasing, too.

    it's a very important 'rule.' acting, improv, life.
    funny how so many of us can commit to it onstage, and even teach it, then not do it with loved ones, when it matters the most.

  3. we've been reading these lists since childhood. but as high as a person's reading comprehension skill may be, they still gotta figure it out on their own.

    btw, that phrase came from a neat little application made by a friend of mine, koby bryan. i punched in phrases and it produced a poetic manifesto based on my perspective.

    a personal haiku. saying less, with more meaning. like you said.