Have you heard of The Four Agreements, a book by Don Miguel Ruiz? It offers four guidelines for a personal philosophy to free your spirit. I think I liked it when I read it several years ago, but now I feel mostly annoyed with its messages. It's tempting to follow a simple set of rules, especially when they're helpful a lot of the time. But any philosophy or religion or outlook has its pitfalls. It's important to be aware that weakness is in all things.
That said, it's really two of the guidelines in particular that irk me: Don't assume and don't take anything personally. The other two: Be impeccable with your word and always do your best -- those are less annoying. Someone once said that I'm jaded against organized religion or groups. That could be, and I don't use that word, jaded. I look at it like this. If you believe in something, know that it has its weaknesses. Be prepared to understand and accept that holes exist in all forms of logic and rationale. It is possible to analyze all topics to a complete oblivion. Also, to not assume ever is a dangerous route to travel. Part of our intuitive abilities blur with what it means to assume. To cut ourselves completely off from assumptions is to stunt healthy development by calling it a word that seems negative. To never take anything personally is to leave part of ourselves empty from exploration. This can leave us open for abuse and manipulations.
Mark Brady discusses social neuroscience and why he disagrees with The Four Agreements on his blog, The Flowering Brain.
"If the brain didn’t make assumptions it would not be able to operate in any way other than in a kind of rudimentary state orchestrated mostly by our brain stems... every one of our senses makes assumptions – “grand delusions” – all the time. It’s one way that the brain conserves processing power... To simply tell me not to make assumptions is unfortunately mostly going to make me feel bad when I recognize my brain making assumptions all the time, assumptions that I seem to have very little control over."
It is helpful here and there to remember that things are not always personal, that assumptions are not always the truth. The Four Agreements offers some solid inspiration. Super necessary to take its messages with several grains of salt, though.
Well hello there.