The Fifth Agreement

The Fifth Agreement

In prior posts, I’ve spoken about The Four Agreements, an excellent book by DON Miguel Ruiz. Released in 1997, The Four Agreements taught: to be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best.

In a later post, I outlined the agreements with video clips of the author and his son DON Jose speaking about them. They touch on the principle that leads us straight to the Fifth Agreement, their new book.

“Don’t believe yourself, and don’t believe anyone else.”

More succinctly, the Fifth Agreement is: “Be Skeptical”

They discuss this in an interview.

“That’s what the fifth agreement is — to be skeptical of our own lies and be in truth at all times. Then we can begin to listen with the heart — the heart and common sense. It’s a big opportunity for one to become both his own teacher and his own apprentice.”

“The result of practicing the fifth agreement is the complete acceptance of yourself just the way you are, and the complete acceptance of everybody else just the way they are. The reward is your eternal happiness. The fifth agreement is made with words, of course, but its meaning and intent is beyond the words. The fifth agreement is ultimately about seeing your whole reality with the eyes of truth, without words.”

This was notable.

“Many years ago, I began teaching the more advanced concepts in this book to my apprentices, but I stopped because they didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to teach them. Though I had shared the fifth agreement with my apprentices, I discovered that nobody was ready to learn about the underlying teachings of this agreement. Years later, my son, DON Jose, started to share the same teachings with a group of students, and he succeeded where I had failed.”

This points more to the change in time than DON Miguel’s ability. People are becoming more willing to see the story. And see through it into what is. As he says, the reward is eternal happiness. And a much smoother life.

[NOTE  – for more, see Comments]

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  1. Davidya

    Got an email summary from Hay House:

    The Five Agreements:

    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.

    Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

    Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

    Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are tired as opposed to well rested. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

    Don’t believe yourself or anybody else. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear: Is it really the truth? Listen to the intent behind the words, and you will understand the real message.

    The Four Agreements slowly helps you to recover your authentic self, and the real you starts to awaken. With The Fifth Agreement comes the complete acceptance of yourself just the way you are, and the complete acceptance of everybody else just the way they are. The reward is your eternal happiness. The Fifth Agreement is made with words, of course, but its meaning and intent is beyond the words. The Fifth Agreement is ultimately about seeing your whole reality with the eyes of truth, without words.

    As don Miguel says, “By practicing the Five Agreements, what you are really doing is respecting everything in creation. You are respecting your dream; you are respecting everybody else’s dream. If you use these tools, your effort is really for everyone, because your joy, your happiness, your peace, and your heaven are contagious. When you are happy, the people around you are happy too, and it inspires them to change their own world.”

  2. carm

    I have been practicing the four agreements on and off for several years now…Whenever I wonder away from them I find myself reverting back to a low in my life. Keeping the four agreements in mind is very freeing and enables me to achieve a piece of mind that is uplifting. I just read about the fifth agreement and what a “coincidence”, I have started to practice more acceptance…I know soon, Just like when I practice letting go of judgement, I stop judging myself, I believe that when I start accepting others, I accept myself…

  3. Davidya

    Thanks for the feedback. This article has been one of the most popular here and gets many hits every day. But little feedback.

    It is quite a profound approach and nice way to reflect on how we’re being in the world.

    You might also consider the inverse of your last sentence. When I accept myself, I accept others. 😉 You are the source of your experiences.

  4. Ann

    I cannot believe how much peace was added with the fifth agreement. It adds balance and strength. My life is so genuine and natural; I proceed without conscious thought – like breathing!

  5. Davidya

    If you’re ready, it can move you past the stories your mind tells you and others speak to you. Without that noise, you see the truth of the situation much more easily. Sounds great! Thanks for sharing Ann.

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  7. Davidya

    Right. Coincidentally, I heard a talk yesterday on the 5th Agreement and they used Katies Work as an example.

    The essential idea is that we’re always telling stories about ourselves, others and circumstances. This helps us make sense of the world but the stories can also get in the way of seeing whats in front of us. We can also use them to justify almost anything. Hence, if we’re skeptical (not dismissive) and question our assumptions, we’re more likely to see things as they are and thus respond more appropriately.

    This is key as it’s how opportunities come to us.

  8. Marianne

    I’ve tried to practice the 4 agreements for over 10 years. Sometimes I’m successful sometimes not but each attempt has been better and made me feel better. There was always a nagging feeling that something was missing, now I know what it was. Thank you Don Miguel!

  9. Davidya

    Hi Marianne
    Thanks for the comment. Patanjali was an Indian sage in Buddhas time. He wrote the Yoga Sutras. What we know today as meditation, yoga, and so forth originate from these precise and oft misunderstood aphorisms. Key is the 8 limbs of yoga which suggest not only guidelines for living like the above, but the importance of knowing who you are.

    Ruiz does go into this but it’s worth mentioning again. If we make the above a personal guide, they may remain as intellectual concepts about shoulds. But if we look within and discover who we are, it’s much easier to step out of our story about the world and live these truths.

    At their best, the agreements are guides for those awakening to the reality of their being, who need a new message that’s better than the old stories of pain and victimhood.

    I’m not suggesting this is what you were doing, only that your comment reminded me to mention this to readers. 😉

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  12. derick

    I have always tried to lead a life principled around 3-virtues : Truth, Thust, Judgement – where the 1st two are “white-virtues” or enlightening-virtues and the 3rd a dark “black-virtue” … and from which most of my life-experiences can be explained … and it was only when I read the 5th agreement did I truely understand the confusion – yet clarity of the destructive power of the 3rd-virtue !! – that judgement had manifested in my life. Only now have I had the confusion resolved by : Listen to the intent behind the judgement – be skeptical in a positive manner, allows the 2 enlightening virtues overcome the dark-virtue… and put back the imbalance that most of my life-conflicts had been dominated by judgement. Thankyou Don !

  13. Davidya

    Hi Derick
    Thanks for sharing your excellent observations.

    What you may wish to consider is the difference between judgement and discrimination. Discrimination allows us to notice differences and thus make more informed choices. Judgement however tends to fall into what is right and wrong. Judgements of right and wrong are based on the story we tell ourselves about the world, so we can get into trouble with that. If it doesn’t agree with our story, it’s wrong and is rejected. However, if we simply notice differences and don’t discount (believe/disbelieve, #5), we’re able to discriminate the truth more clearly. ie: rather than comparing our experiences with stories about the past, we’re able to better see what is true now. This also relates directly with Making Assumptions (#3) and Taking it Personally (#2).

    It’s also worth noting to be careful about “truth”. Truth is indeed a high standard and virtue, but we must remember that few truths are absolute. Almost all truth is relative. For example, we say the earth revolves around the sun. But the sun is moving through space at over 220 km per second. So we’re not orbiting a fixed object but rather spiraling though space after it.

    This means that your truth may not be the same as anothers, nor the same as your past or future truth. It doesn’t make other truths wrong, just different. If we try to make our truth fixed, we fall into judgement again. Better we follow the 5th and not believe our story so much. Then we’ll be more accepting of others truths and more open to the evolution of our own.

    (ps – I’d call him Miguel. don is written lower case or all caps as its a Spanish prefix sort of like Mr.)

  14. derick

    Thanks Davd – apologies in that I’ve been remis in getting back to this site, but in reflection, have discovered much of what you so eloquently sumarised here in my embracing of the tenants of #5 & very predominantly #3, which has free’d me of a lot of the past, to currently realising much of my original hopes and objective expectations of those I am finding I now collaborate with. :{) thanks again … perhaps one verse is not so clear that you might reflect apon similarly via the 5-agreements : Matthew 13 – parable of the weeds ?

  15. Davidya

    Hi Derick
    Well – I’m not a Bible expert but I’ve heard it said, and this makes sense, that this relates to the readiness of the student. Ruiz himself spoke of how he was unable to teach the 5th Agreement at first. The students didn’t seem to understand. ie: they had not the ears to hear.

    This makes more sense if you see people as evolving. The “truth” for someone entrenched in material things, who sees only what he can touch as real, will not be open to concepts like “belief”. Something is real or it isn’t. The 5th Agreement would thus be meaningless. I’ve met people who had no conception of what a thought is.

    Others who have become aware of and explored their inner life are familiar with such ideas and can take it in.

    Teachers often use analogies, parables and stories to get points across. It gives the student conceptual ways to relate to concepts and put them in context. Otherwise they just remain easily forgotten fragments of ideas.

    It’s worth noting that if you study childhood development, we process and integrate our experiences from the outside in. This corresponds directly to how the brain develops. First, sensory impressions, then at around 2 desires/impulses (the terrible 2’s), mind, intellect, feeling/intuition, individual self, and cosmic Self. Due to lack of examples, past development and other factors, most people stall somewhere along there. As Loevinger and other behavioral scientists have observed, we may not even reach a sense of self-awareness (past the Mind stage). That’s required if we’re to make use of any of the Agreements. (note: the cosmic Self is not recognized in most such models)

    If interested, here’s a brief overview:

    “See Also” down the page links to other similar models that chart different aspects of human development.

    Hope that answers the question.

    A favorite singer has a song she titled her second album with. “For Those Who Hear”. Same thing. Some people are deeply moved by her music. Others find it ordinary.

  16. derick

    Hi again David – my life lessons / journey continues to be stimulated by the subtleties of the Fifth agreement, and I’d like to enter into some discreet discussion with you on this topic !! Please could you advise how I undertake this, as I’d like to yet recognise the demands this appraoch may expect ? Thanks :{)

  17. Davidya

    Hi Derick
    I’m no expert on the Agreements but I do understand where he’s coming from. Several of the Agreements, including the 5th, focus on being conscious of the ego-minds dynamics. The mind is a very useful tool but many of us have come to believe the stories of our mind a little too much. This obscures the deeper reality and identifies us with our problems rather than our richness, reducing quality of life.

    If we’re conscious enough to be able to take a step back and observe rather than be caught in the mind’s drama, it can be very useful to culture that. Katie’s The Work, non-dualist inquiry and other similar techniques do this. Spiritual awakening makes this observer permanent.

    If you’d like to have an off-line discussion, you can contact me via the link on the About page. The little form reduces spam.

  18. Peachy Prophet

    Hello, fellow Learners. I am a young man of just seventeen years, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity that we all share in this lesson called Life. I had been actively participating in addiction to countless substances from the time that I was thirteen years old, up to very recently. My second felony arrest led me to a 12-Step Recovery program, where I finally forced mySelf to take an honest look at the way I was living. The participation in a 12-Step group, as well as reading the books “Siddhartha” and “Man’s Search for Meaning” (Hermann Hesse and Viktor Frankl, respectively) with an enlightened guide were experiences that jump-started my process of awakening and Self-Actualization. I then read parts of a book titled “Conversations with God” and learned some more about my Self. It was after truly comprehending my own definition of enlightenment that I heard the song “The First Agreement” by an artist called Dizzy Wright. This experience led me to look into the “Agreements”, where so much of what I had been learning was expressed so clearly by Don Miguel. I greatly respect, appreciate and applaud Mr. Ruiz’s work. That being said, I believe there always is and always will be room for progress. In my opinion simplicity is a virtue. When I ask mySelf how I could possibly simplify Truth, the answer I find is in two words. Absolute Honesty. I find that if I strive to be completly Honest with mySelf as well as others, and if I accept nothing but Honesty from the world around me then I achieve absolute serenity and gain a divine sense of empowerment. I also believe that every one of Don Miguel’s “Agreements” is a specified, channeled path of Honesty. I also find that the “Agreements” overlap one another, and the fifth seems to be a consolidated rewording of the second and third agreements. While I respect each of the currently existing “Agreements” as a channel of Truth/Honesty, I also believe that the Truth is as infinite as our physical universe so these “Agreements” could continue to be unnecessarily channeled and restated limitlessly. For a divided soul these channels may be helpful stepping stones, but I do not personally find any True purpose for constricting Absolute Honesty. The word absolute requires a completely open mind (NO reservations), and the practice of Honesty with a Truly open mind will allow you to find inside yourSelf all that Don Miguel Ruiz has agreed with and infinitely more, should you continue your Loving journey along Life’s open path of potential. To ensure clarity, I am in no way condemning or disrespecting Mr. Ruiz or his work, rather encouraging progress upon it. I would Love to read any constructive responses, critical or additional.

    Thank you for your time and energy spent reading my comments.

  19. Davidya

    Hi Peachy
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You mention some good books.
    I agree that any given teaching will be very useful for a time, then outgrown. But some teachings have a depth that can sustain us longer. Ruiz teaches a deep tradition that has that. As such, you’ll find its value comes in layers. There are layers of not believing.

    For example, you use words like Absolute and Truth. Concepts in the mind are never absolute or steady truths. As you grow, they will evolve. Thus, any concept is another form of belief. The hundreds of articles on this blog are a reflection of my own adding and shedding of concepts/ beliefs. (laughs) Certainly you’ll add more subtle and potent than superficial ones, but they’ll remain a belief nonetheless. It is the nature of our mind. Some ideas can be stepping stones forward, then become barriers as we discussed in the first paragraph. Others only barriers. The spiritual or hero’s journey is one of progressively recognizing the barriers (beliefs) we are throwing up in our way, usually in an attempt by the mind to control life. Thus, it is a journey of letting go of all that does not serve us. And holding lightly what does.

    Honesty is an excellent virtue. However, I would note that we can only be honest in what we see. And boundaries to seeing (blindness) are often in our beliefs. But yes, we could say the essence of Ruiz is radical honesty. We could say that about Byron Katie’s The Work also.

    You are finding your own words and your own way of relating to the teaching. Ruiz would be pleased. It’s not about being a sheep but finding your own way. All true teachings are pointers not the way. The way is for you to walk.

    As a small note, while the term “enlightenment” is used to mean various things, it is not meant here to be a concept about a personal understanding but rather a change in being. This is where words like absolute have reality. I explore the stages here, if it’s of interest:
    I’m also preparing an article related to this for a magazine which will be posted here as well, in parts.

    Consider the growth you’ve been through in the last 4 years. Consider what the next 4 years can bring you. And the next. And the next. We live in quite a remarkable time when such teachings and living embodiments are readily available. Glad to see you’re making good use of the opportunity you have. 😉

    Have fun and thanks again for sharing!

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