Reflection: “The word is not just a sound…The word is a force.”
don Miguel Ruiz
Born into a family of Toltec healers in rural Mexico, Don Miguel Ruiz was expected to embrace what was a centuries old tradition of healing and teaching and continue to share with others this esoteric knowledge (the Toltec were scientists and artists living in Southern Mexico, thousands of years ago, who formed a society to explore and conserve the spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones.) don Miguel chose to attend medical school and later teach and practice as a surgeon instead.
In the tradition of the Toltec, a Nagual (master) guides an individual to personal freedom. don Miguel is one such master and combining new insights with old wisdom, has dedicated his life to sharing the ancient Toltec wisdom, translating it into practical concepts that promote transformation through truth and common sense. His book – The Four Agreements – was first published in 1997.
In this issue of Silver Threads, I will share the First Agreement with you. As you know (hopefully, I have written a little book called “QAC – The Smallest Personal Strategy Book You’ll Ever Need.” It is a common sense approach for listening to the many questions we find swirling about in our thoughts at any given moment and awakening to the power we hold within to choose anything and everything in our lives. It is the common sense aspect that is most important. The Four Agreements is also written with great common sense.
Common sense - Is it common?…
Sound practical judgment and paying attention to the obvious are the foundations of the art of applying common sense. I would imagine at this very moment you could make a list in your head of the times when you watched a loved one, friend, or co-worker choose to do something that seemed void of a lick of sense to you and yet they were quite content in that moment with their thinking. It makes one wonder if common sense is learned or natural – does it not? In any case, common sense simply put makes sense! Simple, yes? Hmmm!
The First Agreement…
“Be Impeccable with Your Word.” How brilliantly simple – how delightfully complex! When you speak all you have to do is be flawless, faultless and unassailable or unquestionable. What a mouthful! How does one go about accomplishing this seemingly gargantuan task? Great question – even if I wrote it myself!
Thinking cap time…
Be honest, true, kind and considerate with whatever it is that you are going to say. Sounds easy! OK, let’s think about this for a moment. Have you ever uttered words that the moment they left your tongue, you were sorry that they fell on another’s ears? What about the expressions on the ever-playing tape in your head? Would all of them have a PG rating? Probably not. Thinking about what you are going to say and to whom you are about to say whatever it is - is a good beginning.
How aware are you of the power of your words? Have you ever watched them hurt or wound the person you were with? On the other hand, think about the many times your words have soothed and comforted, taught or uplifted another. Society communicates through words. The technology we have today connects the words at one end of the world with the other in an instant. Look at the nightly news broadcasts and how many people (in a moment’ of time) are subject to the words of an anchor person; and the stories that person tells. In the blink of an eye, the word ‘repeal’ can be changed to ‘reload,’ each one having a profoundly different effect on the listener. If one’s desire is to incite anger or retaliation, then reload is perhaps the most impeccable word of the moment.
So you can see thought as a precursor to anything said, is of the utmost importance. Some people will say whatever they are thinking because they desire a certain reaction, regardless of the long-term outcome. This is a form of manipulation. When you consider how you personally feel as a result of receiving such treatment, it makes you pause and reflect upon the words you choose to communicate with.
Another way of looking at it…
Once you understand the possible implications and interpretations of the ‘emotions’ of your words – were they delivered in kindness and light, or, were they soaked in negativity and darkness – it is time to reflect upon the exactness of your wording. Each of us has our own personal dictionary that has nothing to do with “Webster’s.”
Please allow me to use myself as an example of this theme: In a recent conversation with the love of my life, I mentioned I was going to transfer money from our checking account to our savings account. (In my mind, the place where you put your ‘savings’ is a savings account.) My loved one raised his voice more than a notch and said, “We don’t have a savings account, we have a Money Market account.” “Well, grumpf,” I replied quite taken aback at the heat with which he delivered his words. Perfect, I am not, so I quite abruptly ended the conversation with a mumbled insinuation of how like another my loved one was acting! The other, of course, one with whom easy conversation is a goal yet to be achieved! A dear and wise friend later pointed out that a savings account and a money market account really are two different things and that I was not being impeccable with my words. As you can imagine, that was quite the eye-opener for me! I was not being impeccable – was I! I felt slightly abashed for having so instantly judged my honey-bun as the bad guy!
The moral of this story is that being impeccable of word not only involves caring consideration for the one you are delivering your words too, but choosing words that correctly fit the mold. Trying to put a square peg in a round hole, just will not work. I learned a very important lesson that day. Just because I deemed where we put our dollars as a savings account, did not make it so. To be impeccable of word one must also speak concisely as to the subject. When able to accomplish this precision, there is not much left for interpretation is there! With such clarity, misconception, misunderstanding and as a result anger, cannot filter into a conversation. Would that the world might practice this way of communicating, there might actually be an opening to work out the differences that have driven mankind to war for so long.
A work in progress…
Being Impeccable with Your Word is not an overnight achievement - far from it. It is something one needs to choose to work on daily, to set an intention for upon awakening and to be conscious of the remainder of the day. I have always been aware of the power of words. In my life, some have been used to scold and punish; breakdown my spirit or cause me to question my own value. Others have been like a sweet and cool rain shower on a hot, dry day, cleansing me, lifting me to higher levels of thought and brightening my life.
It is with this last thought in mind that I share my words with you in Silver Threads and as always look forward to hearing your words in return!