On the Agreement of Miguel Ángel Ruiz

respite2

He tells me not to take anything personally.

It is so important that he carved it into stone using only the pinpoint precision of poetry.

At least it reads like poetry:

Do not take anything personally.
Nothing anyone does is because of you.
What others say and do is a projection of dreams.
Their own dreams.
Be immune – to opinions and actions.
To suffering.

I fold his prescription into origami and hang it from golden thread around my neck so it taps gently against my heart when I walk.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?

Do not take anything personally.

Why is this so hard to remember?
Why do we suffer the slings and arrows?
The sticks and stones that hurt — and they do hurt.

If you take them personally.

If you let them pierce your skin,
punctuate your heart with too many commas,
deflate your voice to a whisper.

Your heart deserves exclamations points!
And your voice should be a thundering
that shouts the message from rooftops:

Do not take anything personally.


WORDS ©2014, Jen Payne, with gratitude to Miguel Ángel Ruiz and The Four Agreements.

9 thoughts on “On the Agreement of Miguel Ángel Ruiz

  1. Personally, that photo relaxes me.
    I see it says WORDS 2014 and your name. I’m dense. You wrote this? I’m not real good at reading these types of ‘WORDS” and making out the meaning. Sheltered life? Limited education? Not smart enough? Whatever the reason, this one I really like, but don’t ask me why.

    1. I did write the poem, yes. Not the agreement. Have you ever read THE FOUR AGREEMENTS? Pretty powerful book! (I hate that you always talk about yourself not being smart enough – quit it!)

  2. I’ve read THE FOR AGREEMENTS, and I’ve always had a hard time following them. I own his other book THE VOICE OF KNOWLEDGE and here’s what he defines that as: “The voice of knowledge can also be called the liar who lives in your head. A beautiful Tree of Knowledge lives in your head, and it’s the home for guess who? The Prince of Lies.” IN other words, the LIAR is your own self defeating thoughts that you keep saying over and over to yourself. YOU are the liar!

    1. I like the FOUR AGREEMENTS. They always help to re-center me when I read them. Love the concept of the “voice of knowledge.” I know that liar very well, it shows up more often than I would like!

  3. As David Foster Wallace points out in “This Is Water” everything that happens to you is immediate and raw. It takes discipline and ultimately making a strong decision not to take things personally. Nothing about that decision is easy!

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