Yama: Ahimsa & The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book

There is a sage little book out there by Don Miguel Ruiz, "The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book". These four agreements may seem common sense at first glance, and they are; 

  1. Be Impeccable with you word
  2. Don't take anything personal
  3. Don't make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

This week we will focus on the first two. In relation to yoga this harkens back to the very first limb, Yama, which can be thought of as moral or ethical guidelines for how we go about and conduct ourselves in this world. Within the first limb of Yama there are five guidelines, the very first and very paramount being Ahimsa, which is non-violence. In this way we first practice non-violence with ourselves. 

So how does this relate to being "Impeccable with your word"? Let's first breakdown the meaning of the word impeccable, deriving from the latin word "pecatus" which means sin and the prefix "im" which means without. Put the two together and you have without sin. Often times the word sin invokes the images of religious zealots reigning down on us with "Thou shalts!" This is not what we are referring to here. It is much simpler than that, to not go against the self, in essence Don Miguel Ruiz is saying do not cause violence to yourself. Practice Ahimsa. In this way we are reminded to practice ahimsa with our word. Our word stems from our thoughts, ideas, and opinions and are expressed through the voice. Choose to cultivate these sentiments from the heart, from a place of love, from a place of personal truth.

With the above agreement in place, we can add on, "don't take anything personally" we realize that most people are walking around caught up in their own dream, that perhaps they are using their word unconsciously from a place of negative patterns, behaviors, or learned ideas and outmoded opinions. We cannot assume to know what this dialogue is, but we must remember it is not about us. With this in mind we turn back to the Yama: Ahimsa practicing non-violence we remind ourselves that to take on someone else's opinion of us is unhelpful and is not something we need ascribe to. We know who we are. We love ourselves for who we are. We do not need someone else to validate or evaluate us, saying "you are good" or "you are evil". Likewise, we often believe everything we think. Learn to recognize the voice inside as true (coming from the heart) or false (ego, coming from the swirling mind). Whether this voice is internal or external we must pause, breath, take stock of the sensations in the body. Then we can identify the origin of this thought as a construct of the mind or of the heart. In this way we begin to recognize the source of love as the heart. This is where truth lives, in the heart.


Tessa Tovar