Monday, August 07, 2006

The Four Agreements

Inspiration (the muses, answered prayers, intelligence, whatever you want to call it) is a funny thing.

Thoughts arrive like butterflies
But he don't know
So he chases them away

"Evenflow" by Pearl Jam

A little fun with numerology:

4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256

2 + 5 + 6 = 13

1 + 3 = 4

"The number 4 symbolizes the principle of putting ideas into form. It signifies work and productivity. The 4 is constructive, realistic, traditional and cautious. It is the number of system, order, and management." (direct quote from site linked above)

Four 1

The elements:

air - relates to the mind, thoughts, intellect
earth - relates to the force of place, environment, landscape
fire - relates to action, behavior, motion, movement, energy
water - relates to emotions, visceral feelings and perceptions

Four 2

The directions:

east - relates to spirituality, source, illumination, thought
south - relates to the material ("real") world, personal environment, physical perception
west - relates to 'life path', behavior, movement, action
north - relates to wisdom, integration, purpose, intention

Four 3

The intelligences:

intellectual (measured by typical IQ tests) Relates to the air element, east, thought, how one thinks
emotional (measured by 'maturity') Relates to the water element, north, wisdom, how one 'feels' about his world
perceptual/place (measured by 'common sense') Relates to the earth element, south, perception, how much one senses his world
behavioral (measured by 'success') Relates to the fire element, west, behavior, how one acts in the world

Four 4

A book I'd recommend to anyone who's interested in spiritual health is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz which discusses Toltec wisdom. These four 'rules' for living are complementary to other spiritual/religious teachings.

The Four Agreements are

1. Be impeccable with your word,

2. Don't take anything personally,

3. Don't make assumptions,

4. Always do your best.

I think these are good, but sometimes difficult, rules to live by. They seem to depend upon a reasonable level of intelligence, all four kinds, not just any one. But primarily these agreements require enhancing focus on emotional, perceptual, and behavioral intelligences. One might ask how these are really different from the 'standard' IQ and intellectual intelligence. Well, it seems pretty apparent by looking at people that just because someone has a high IQ it doesn't automatically mean that he/she is emotionally, perceptually, or behaviorally intelligent. Many 'smart' people have no 'common sense' (meaning they don't know their ass from a hole in the ground- sorry that's not too technical, lol) as evidenced by those geniuses who can't remember where they left their keys or whatever. (I'm flying by the seat of my pants today so forgive any blaring incongruities.) Likewise, many times very 'smart' people are very emotionally immature/underdeveloped. (I'm not sure how malleable these various intelligences are, but I'd say there is a similar threshold as with typical IQ.) They just don't know how to get along with others. And then there are those very smart people who just do dumb things. They make bad choices. This is evidence of lower behavioral intelligence.

'Don't take anything personally' means that what other people do or say is a reflection of their own reality and not yours. Even if someone kills you it isn't because of you. It is because of his/her own thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions. No one is responsible for anyone else's reality, only their own, so don't take it personally when someone conflicts with you. It's not all about you! This depends upon emotional intelligence (or the balance of the water element within one's spirit which translates to wisdom). Part of this worldview that might seem strange to Western thinkers is this relationship of emotion to wisdom. But the connection is in how one handles emotions that makes him/her wise. A person who isn't especially intellectually intelligent can be very wise, or emotionally intelligent.

'Don't make assumptions' means that you should pay attention to your surroundings and how they change or don't change. Don't think that because something is a particular way once that it will always be that way. You have to be perceptually engaged in and aware of your world to truly function in it. And this means actively questioning yourself and others in order to know what is real. Knowing what is real is a simple definition of 'common sense' or perceptual intelligence. (This is related to the earth element- where we are- and the southern direction and the power of place, or how we relate to our environment.)

'Always do your best' means making good choices in how to act/behave and is clearly dependent upon behavioral intelligence. It means making the choice to do your best under whatever circumstances. And if you've truly done your best (made good choices) then you can't harshly judge yourself. Behavioral intelligence means that you can reliably predict the outcomes of various actions and choose a path with the best possible outcome. (This is related to the element fire and how its energy is used for either constructive or destructive purposes.)

'Be impeccable with your word' means to always speak with integrity and requires the integration of emotional intelligence (wisdom), perceptual intelligence (common sense), behavioral intelligence (right action), and less so, intellectual intelligence (ability to think it all through). Personally, I find this Agreement the most difficult to consistently follow, but I think it is probably the one that depends on all the others. In order to be "impeccable with your word" you must first "not make assumptions" and "not take things personally" and "do your best." Being impeccable with your word is a reflection of the proper use of the air element. After all, we do speak by pushing air through our bodies, and in some world-views this is akin to sharing a part of your soul with the world.

Disclaimer: This is certainly not a comprehensive discussion of Toltec Wisdom or any other thing. It is basically an outline regurgitation (Did you know that honey is basically bee regurgitation? Honey and lemons go really well together. Oh, I just can't wait 'til those lemons are ripe!) of what I've absorbed from my own life's experience and studies. It is okay with me if someone thinks it is all Mumbo-Jumbo (their reality that I won't take personally). I'd like to close with some four dimensional lyrics that popped into my mind:

You put your whole self in
You put your whole self out
You put your whole self in
And you shake it all about
You do the Hokey-Pokey
And you turn yourself around
That's what it's all about!

(I just totally cracked myself up)


Kat said...

You cracked me up a bit at the end there too. lol. And you are starting to make me want a lemon tree!

Rae Ann said...

kat, I'm glad that you got the humor. I can't help turning goofy after too much seriousness. lol

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Rae, I did catch it,

but blogger was on one of its outtages or something, and I didn't come back.

Thanks for reminding me!

QUASAR9 said...

Hope you are having a nice Saturday and wishing you fun over the weekend - Q

QUASAR9 said...

"No one is responsible for anyone else's reality, only their own, so don't take it personally when someone conflicts with you"

You know we started almost in conflict at Lubos' till you put me straight, and been lovin ya ever since.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 21 06

Rae Ann:
Funny that. I have had that book on my coffee table for a few years, and still haven't gotten around to reading it. Even the author was at the Learning Annex in SF for a coupla seminars and I missed it. Too bad, he sure enough has something worthy to say. I think these are the most wonderful rules to live by period and remarkably they are not too different than some of the Christian rules I have seen, or Hindu for that matter. In the end, we may all have different religions but being a good person is something that can be universal.

This was a good post:)