I Aspire to Agree
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz align very positively with the Four Aspirations. There may be a connection, but aspirations are easier to live with!
The first of the Four to catch my eye, "Don't Make Assumptions," is a very strong statement. By all means, however, I invite you to make assumptions about me and then check in with me if you feel the need. But when I read on, in particular: "Communicate with others as clearly as you can," I feel echoes of the Aspiration to Clarity that began the Four Aspirations, or, my update to Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. "Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want," is a message from the Agreement that resonates with me.
"Always do your best" is an Agreement that is more observed in the breach, than in the honoring thereof! And I'm misquoting Shakespeare not just because I can, but because it points out how hard it is to be doing your best all the time. As I read this particular graphic, I'm seeing that there is acknowledgment of doing your best, saying "you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret." But how? I think Aspiring to Positivity as inspired by the teachings of Buddha, but related in the present, provides hope in the presence of judgment and abuse. Of the Four Aspirations, Clarity and Positivity are diametric opposites, in some ways, balancing each other out when in harmony, as both are needed. For example, how should you assume what is your best?
Buddha said (I think) that words that are positive, as well as true and necessary, have the power to change the world. As Aspirations, they certainly have had the power to change me!
"Don't take anything personally," is one of the Four Agreements, except, as I would amend the graphic, when it is meant to be. But, again, I can see the value in Aspiring to Lightness, the second of the Four Aspirations, where you can make fun of yourself, and not take yourself too seriously. Knowing one's limitations relative to other's, and vice versa, are necessary to be able to respect both. It's not easy to become "immune to the opinions and actions of others," and it takes a lot of work if one has been the subject of suffering, needless or not. But that work can drag us down, even as we try to build ourselves up. Lightening up, we can continue the work with renewed energy.
And as a source for energy, I find Aspiring to Groundedness to be the best way to find and invest in more. "Be impeccable with your word," the last of the Four Agreements, proclaims itself boldly, and one that really does need to come first. Integrity is the very first topic that speaks to the "power of your word" in this Agreement. And a Grounded History is the outer-facing path (of the Noble Eightfold variety, of course), that is as important as aspiring to a Clarity of Perception with an equal amount of Lightening up and Positive Temperament, for example, of a well-rounded life.
A well-rounded life is possible, even in the midst of chaos, by aspiring to agreements, or agreeing upon aspirations. Let's meditate on that…