Agreement #1-” Be impeccable with your word.”
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
In my post last week, 10 Ways To Nurture Soulful Living, I listed telling the truth at #1.
In spite of the remarkable achievements of human beings, there is a universal experience of a deep, essential part of ourselves that feels unattended. I assert this unattended part is the soul, calling out to be nurtured, aching to tell its truth.
Telling the truth gets top billing, because without it, nothing else in your life has legs on which to stand. Your truth, as you see it, know it and speak it, constitutes the pillars on which your life is built. Withhold it; shave it, trim it, and you’ve sold out your soul. Since the soul seeks the truth, anything less is a compromise. To the soul it’s a lie. The ego tells a story to cover it up from the mind, a justification to placate the conscience. But the soul never forgets a lie.
Consider Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, based on the ancient Toltec wisdom tradition of the people of southern Mexico, who believed that science and spirit are both part of the same entity and governed by the universe.
Agreement #1: “Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
This instruction assumes you know and understand the power of your word and how to use it. Yet we live in a society that not only does not value speaking the truth, it rewards deceit.
We’re conditioned to lie, though we rarely call it that when the truth has been breached. “Mistakes were made” is how the media and politicos spin lying. The world economic collapse is the outcome of a system of lies that finally unraveled, bringing down an entire country (Iceland), investment institutions (Lehman Bros, AIG) and companies that have formed the backbone of our country’s manufacturing sector like GM and Chrysler.
What’s more important than telling the truth?
If the truth is so powerful, why do people resist telling it? Frankly, because there are more tangible rewards for “spinning” than there are for being courageous. When our founding father chopped down that cherry tree and proclaimed, “I cannot tell a lie,” we should have stamped those words on every coin in the land. Perhaps we might have learned. Instead, here’s what we settle for:
1. Looking good and having others’ approval
We worry if we tell the whole truth, we might offend someone. We worry they’ll think badly of us or we’ll hurt their feelings. We worry they’ll withdraw their approval, which would suck because we depend upon these people to give us our sense of self worth, affirm our identity and justify our existence!
This is the result of faulty thinking, conditioned over a lifetime of wanting to fit in and appear normal. Underneath this is an inner conversation that fears you’re not really normal. Everyone else is normal, but not you. So to appear normal you need to play the game like everyone else plays it. And guess what? Everyone else is playing it just like you!
We end up being inauthentic and dishonest, which becomes the standard for normal. All this takes place below the level of our conscious awareness. We’re living a lie and lying to ourselves about the fact that we’re living a lie! Here’s the lie: It’s not other people’s feelings we’re concerned about. It’s our own!
2. Staying Safe and Avoiding Pain
Telling the truth can be very uncomfortable. But better to own up before the cosmic bank starts to charge interest on your dishonesty. Sooner or later, the truth will out. The interest rate is high for prolonging the inevitable. You rob yourself of courage and integrity by playing it safe. Money will not buy it back.
3. Being in Control and Being Right
Withholding the truth is a way of manipulating others and maintaining control. You tell yourself others can’t handle the truth. I assert we’re really not all that concerned about other people when we withhold the truth. It’s our own feelings we’re protecting. We simply can’t tolerate witnessing other people be uncomfortable in the presence of our honesty. So we dress it up to make it more palatable.
“OK,” you say, “but do I have to go around like a jerk telling people what I really think? Am I supposed to sound off on people, read them the riot act? Do I just go home and vomit the truth all over my spouse? What about the aftermath? How do I handle that?”
Good questions! Consider this:
Life’s too short to live it as a lie.
What if you could learn to tell the truth in such a way that those on the receiving end feel they’ve been served? What if you could deliver the truth, as you know it to be, and the other person thanks you for your honesty? It can most definitely be done and I recommend you learn how to do it before your final breath.
Learn to tell the truth in a way that it truly does set you free. Be a responsible, humble, servant to the truth. Own it as yours. Claim it. Telling the truth is a humbling experience. Be humbled by it. When you surrender your ego to being in service to the truth, everybody wins.
We are living in a time when the lies of the past can no longer be tolerated as we move into a new stage of our collective consciousness. The old system is collapsing under the weight of its untruths and we are here to sweep up the wreckage and begin again. The truth is often very painful to tell and to receive, but it will set us free. From the wreckage, new possibilities arise.
Our job is to be guardians of the truth that is aligned with the values on which we seek to build the future. We must settle for nothing less than the truth that serves the highest good for all, not just for a few.
Honor your word as your sacred bond. Tell the impeccable truth, without compromise. If you do, your soul will reward you with a sense of peace, satisfaction, freedom, lightness, aliveness, and completion. And that, my friend, cannot be purchased at any price. All the riches in the world cannot buy you what telling the truth provides. This then, is what your soul came to have you learn.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this week’s topic. How does telling the impeccable truth live for you? What gets in the way for you? What happens when you have the courage to do so?