What the Toltecs Taught about Choosing Love not Fear

What the Toltecs Taught about Choosing Love not Fear

The concept of choosing love over fear in how we conduct ourselves is actually one that is rooted in ancient history. A great place to start understanding how to change our mindset into one in which our baseline is sourced in feelings of love, emotion and compassion, rather than on assumptions, suspicions or insecurities is to learn the lessons in Don Miguel’s Ruiz’s masterpiece bestselling book “The Four Agreements”.

Based on Toltec wisdom, Miguel outlines four basic ways to act and think that serve as a roadmap for resetting the way we function, perceive situations and interact with others.

Who were the Toltecs?

Known in history as “the men and women of knowledge”, the Toltecs were a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilization that ruled in Mexico during the 10th and 12th centuries. The Toltecs were shamanic worshippers of the feathered serpent deity Quetzalcoatl and known for their pursuit to preserve ancient spiritual beliefs and practices. Their cultural and artistic achievements left a lasting legacy and influenced many Mesoamerican civilizations to follow including the Aztecs and Mayans.

In “The Four Agreements”, the Mexican author and spiritual teacher Don Miguel Ruiz shares four principles to live by that while truly standing the test of time are based on Toltec wisdom. These four agreements, which you make to yourself, are guidelines for personal freedom and spiritual insight and thus living a more authentic and fulfilling life.

These four principles serve as practical guidelines on how to make choosing love over fear an automatic habit leading to happiness. What Ruiz aims to show is that to act or think otherwise,is the source of so many people’s unnecessary mental anguish. 

What are “The Four Agreements”?

What are “The Four Agreements”?

The Four Agreements are the Toltec principles to live by that Ruiz suggests can lead to personal freedom, spiritual insight and a deeper sense of well-being. The Four Agreements and how they are applied to choosing love not fear are as follows: 

1. Be Impeccable with Your Word:

  • This means speaking to yourself and others in the best way possible. This means avoiding self-judgment and gossip and talking with integrity and accuracy. This is done through not using certain words such as “try”, “should” and “have to” and avoiding exaggerating phrases. It is also done through active listening and not seeking to be right but understood. In essence, it is choosing to always use words to spread love and truth.
  • Choosing love in this context involves using your words to uplift and empower yourself and others, rather than for spreading fear, negativity, or falsehoods.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally:

  • This agreement advises against taking things personally and understanding that other people’s actions and words are a reflection of them, not you. While there are always two sides to every story of interaction, we tend to conjure up what is the most hurtful account and believe it to be true. But in most situations there could be a number of other situations that have transpired based on conditions that are entirely unrelated to you. 
  • Choosing love means not internalizing negativity or criticism, recognizing that others’ behavior is often a result of their own struggles, and responding with compassion.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions:

  • This third rule emphasizes the importance of clear communication and avoiding making assumptions about the thoughts and intentions of others. Don’t assume the most negative scenario, which is an inherent trait of ours, but instead consider all of the possible options and understand that it is nonsensical to establish a belief or bias based on an unknown.  
  • Choosing love involves seeking understanding, asking for clarification when needed, and approaching situations with an open heart rather than assuming the worst.

4. Always Do Your Best:

  • This agreement encourages individuals to do their best in every circumstance. If you always act as your best self then there is a lot less to grieve or wallow in. We cannot control external situations, but we can control how we act, react and exert effort in response. Regret becomes eradicated and you can take solace in knowing that you gave your all despite what the outcome may be.
  • Choosing love means approaching each situation with a positive and constructive mindset, putting forth your best effort, and being compassionate with yourself and others in the process.

The principles outlined in “The Four Agreements” guide individuals toward choices rooted in love, compassion, and understanding rather than fear, judgment, and assumption. Adopting these rules as guidelines to live by promotes a mindset that fosters personal freedom and supports relationships and the cultivation of a more harmonious and authentic life.

There is also a “Fifth Agreement” which is: Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen. Ruiz enlightens readers of this concept in his subsequent book “The Fifth Agreement”.

This principle is founded on how the process of our education and cultural environment can rewrite the wisdom we inherently have and it is in our power to determine which is what. Yet another book by the bestselling author entitled “Mastery of Love” shares Toltec wisdom on how to switch our fear-based beliefs that undermine love and cause suffering in our relationships. 

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Leyla Ergil