University Congregational Church
Jan. 10, 2016
“The 4 Agreements: Be Impeccable with your Word”
Matt. 7:12, John 1:1
I was recently introduced to a small book of great wisdom: “The Four Agreements; A Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book is based on Toltec knowledge, one of the sacred esoteric traditions found around the world. Though it is not a religion, it honors the spiritual masters and is consistent with our own Christian tradition. Toltec knowledge embraces spirit, but is (like Buddhism) more about a way of living than a set of beliefs and is distinguished by the ready accessibility of happiness and love.
The next several weeks I will be preaching on this book and the 4 principles it espouses. To give you a sneak peak, let me tell you the 4 principles:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best
Some of these sound as if they came from our parents and we may think we have already incorporated these principles into our lives. However, Ruiz is a brilliant thinker and he has defined these words and the concepts behind them to a whole new level. You will want to hear each principle as he teaches it!
Today’s principle – or what he calls an agreement is “Be Impeccable with your Word.” To set this idea into context, we must first understand what Ruiz means when he speaks of agreements.
He says that there are thousands of agreements each person has made with him/herself, with other people, with God, with society, with parents, spouse and children. In these agreements, you tell yourself who you are, what you feel, what you believe, and how to behave. The culmination of these agreements makes up your personality and your moral code. It is:
• Who you are
• What you believe
• What you believe you can do
• What you believe you cannot do
• How you perceive the world and your reality.
Some of the agreements we make with ourselves are ones we are consciously aware of. Others are so deeply ingrained that it takes a lot of self-discovery to get to the depth of that particular agreement. Each person’s agreements are a part of their personal history and life events.
Ruiz suggests that there are agreements each of us have made that zap our personal energy – because we spend so much energy trying to make them work. While some of our agreements are healthy and positive, others may be based in fear. The fear-based agreements we have in our minds do not serve us well and should be eliminated.
In their place, Ruiz suggests these four agreements we must incorporate into our lives to be happy and live fulfilling lives. They are hard work and require our full attention. But, he says, adopting these new agreements has the effect of moving from a living hell into a life like heaven.
Ruiz writes that the 1st agreement is the most important one and also the most difficult one to honor. The 1st agreement is to be impeccable with your word. It sounds very simple, but it is extremely powerful.
The Gospel writer of John believed it was such an important concept that he chose this concept for the very first sentence in his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
My Bible commentary says that the Greek use of “Word”, which is capitalized, is not simply a spoken word, but is the divine principle of reason that gives order to the universe and links the human mind to God’s mind.
Ruiz defines “word” as the power each person has to create. Our word is the gift that comes directly from God. It is through the word that we express creative power and our reality. What we dream, what we feel, and what we are, is all manifested through our word.
That means that the word is not just a sound or a written symbol. It is a force; it is the power we have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in our lives. The word, says Ruiz, is the most powerful tool we have as human beings. It can be used to create beauty and love or it can be used to destroy all that is around us.
Let me offer an example that is not in the book. There was an experiment conducted by Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto who published his findings in a book called Messages from Water. Emoto was studying the effects of music on water molecules. He found that water molecules seemed to take on different shapes depending on the music they were exposed to. This is interesting when we consider the effect of music on plant growth and the effect of Mozart on milk production in cows in other experiments.
Emoto then began experimenting with the effects that words, prayer, thoughts and blessings might have on water molecules. Again, he showed that the molecules took on different shapes depending on their labels and affirmations offered. Some of the labels consisted of simple words or statements such as “thank you” and “peace”. Emoto’s published results indicated that water crystal formation was sensitive to these words and he concluded that molecules of water “are affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings”. Although there are scientists who dispute his work, there is still much to learn about how our words literally change the biological structures – including our bodies which are made up of 60% water.
Our words matter. When we speak words, we are creating reality in our own minds and in the minds of our listeners.
Ruiz reminds us of the power of the word by citing the powerful destruction caused by Adolph Hitler. By what he said, he was able to manipulate a country and countless people to commit the most atrocious acts of violence. He activated people’s fear with the word.
Because the human mind is fertile ground, we are susceptible to the words we hear. The ideas, opinions, and concepts spoken can be planted in our minds and they can grow. We must prepare our minds and the exposure we give to words that develop into unhealthy fear. It can ruin our lives, literally. If our minds are developed for seeds of love and grace to be planted, we will have a completely different experience.
The other important element of this agreement “be impeccable with your word” is the definition of impeccable. Impeccable actually means “without sin”. It comes from the Latin pecatus, which means “sin”. The prefix im, means “without”. So impeccable means “without sin”.
This is what Ruiz says about impeccability: “A sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself. Being impeccable is not going against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we find these words: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matt. 7:12
Christians often call this the Golden Rule. There is a variation of this spiritual truth in most world religions. It gets at the truth of being impeccable with your word. If we limit what we say about others to what we would want them to say about us, wouldn’t we all be happier?
If we use the analogy of the human mind as a computer, gossip can be compared to a computer virus. Computer viruses are simply harmful computer language. After this harmful computer language is inserted, your computer doesn’t work right and sometimes it doesn’t function at all. It stops doing what it is intended to do and it can infect other computers too.
Human words can work exactly the same way… even words not meant to harm. How many of us heard from our siblings about a teacher who loved one of us as a student and then put a similar expectation on another one of us. The words of expectation and judgment became painful reminders that we weren’t what we were expected to be.
The words others speak can change our lives, but the words we speak to ourselves are the most damaging. We talk to ourselves constantly and much of the time our words are not impeccable.
“I’m getting old.”
“I’m too fat.”
“I wish I were smarter, or prettier, or more like that other person”
“I should” or “I could” or “I wish”.
We use the word against ourselves. When we are impeccable with our word, our minds are no longer fertile ground for this negative self talk. Instead, it is fertile for the words that come from love. In fact, Ruiz writes, “you can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-love. How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself is directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word. When you are impeccable with your word, you feel good; you feel happy and at peace.”
Let’s all work this week on the words we say to ourselves and to others. May our words build up and create love. Let’s all be impeccable with our word!