I got this book via BookRelay; I'd been interested in reading it for some time, but never picked up a copy before. I enjoyed it, although it took me a little while to get used to the author's "voice," and to make the paradigm shift into his terminology - life (and all consciousness) as a dream that we're all dreaming together. He also uses terms like "black and white magic" in a different way than I'm used to hearing them. He doesn't mean people actively casting spells, but he calls the way we treat one another a form of magic. Part of this dreaming is the fact that we make "agreements" with ourselves and the rest of the universe from the time we are born - things that we accept as true, whether or not they really are true. Some of these agreements cause us to judge or victimise ourselves, but we can replace harmful beliefs with nurturing ones, and change our experience of life from one of "hell" to "heaven on earth." There wasn't much content here that was really new for me - he talks about the two dynamics being love and fear, similar to what Gary Zukav says, and there is some similarity to work I did with the Life Training Programme (most notably that we need to take out negative "agreements" and replace them with positive ones). He also speaks of the need to actively go to battle with our negative beliefs, and become a spiritual warrior. He says it is possible to do this by committing oneself to the Four Agreements that will allow one to fight off the negative beliefs that cause us to suffer. They are: 1) Be impeccable with your word; 2) Don't take anything personally; 3) Don't make assumptions; and 4) Always do your best.
Like I said, not much was new here for me, but I did find it beneficial to hear things put in a slightly different way - sometimes a concept really clicks that way. I like the way he presented the four agreements, and over the past few days I have found myself remembering them. It's nice to have just a single phrase to bring to mind - for example, someone does something that makes me feel angry, wondering why they did it, and I can just remember, "Don't make assumptions (about the person's motive), and don't take it personally." So far, I have found it genuinely helpful. I'm passing this book along to someone else, via BookRelay, so I've put some of the agreements into my own words below, and also copied out a few passages that I found particularly resonant, for future reference.
(Quoted material is in italics)
Be impeccable with your word - Meaning, make sure that you always speak truth. Our word is how we create things in reality, and when the word is used from a space of love, it spreads peace and happiness; when used in fear, it creates envy, anger, jealousy and other types of suffering. Do not gossip, and take care that you always speak "without sin" - or, without doing anything that would bring harm to yourself.
Don't take things personally - There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally. You become immune to black magicians, and no spell can affect you regardless of how strong it may be. The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don't take it personally, you are immune. Someone can intentionally send emotional poison, you will not eat it. When you don't take the emotional poison, it becomes even worse in the sender, but not in you.
Don't make assumptions - This is another way to find peace. Rather than worrying about what people are thinking about you, make the effort to *ask*, or simply not to worry about it. It causes a lot of unnecessary suffering (I think his stand is that all suffering is, ultimately, unnecessary). Also, when we assume we know what people mean with their actions, we often respond by sending emotional poison out, feeling a need to make the other person wrong, so we feel right - this just makes everything that much worse.
Always do your best - This is a way of making sure you do not leave yourself being open to being judged - by *yourself* (not others). We are always our harshest critics, and harshest abusers, but when we do our personal best (which, of course, varies from moment to moment), we can eliminate the need to judge or victimise ourselves for not living up to our own (usually impossibly) high standards. He also stresses that it is not easy to follow these four agreements all the time, but that we should just keep doing our *best* in every moment, and when we break an agreement with ourselves, we need to just remember to recommit.
Here are some of the things he says about Heaven on earth:
I want you to see yourself living a new life, a new dream, a life where you don't need to justify your existence and you are free to be who you really are.
Imagine that you have permission to be happy and to really enjoy your life. Your life is free of conflict with yourself and with others.
Imagine living your life without fear of expressing your dreams. You know what you want, what you don't want, and when you want it. You are free to change your life the way you really want to. You are not afraid to ask for what you need, to say yes or no to anything or anyone.
Imagine living your life without the fear of being judged by others. You no longer rule your behaviour according to what others may think about you. You are no longer responsible for anyone's opinion. You have no need to control anyone, and no one controls you, either.
Imagine living your life without judging others. You can easily forgive others and let go of any judgements that you have. You don't have the need to be right, and you don't need to make anyone else wrong. You respect yourself and everyone else, and they respect you in return.
Imagine living without the fear of loving and not being loved. You are no longer afraid to be rejected, and you don't have the need to be accepted. You can say, "I love you" with no shame or justification. You can walk in the world with your heart completely open, and not be afraid to be hurt.
Imagine living your life without being afraid to take a risk and to explore life. You are not afraid to take a risk and to explore life. You are not afraid to lose anything. You are not afraid to be alive in the world, and you are not afraid to die.
Imagine that you love yourself just the way you are. You love your body just the way it is, and you love your emotions just the way they are. You know that you are perfect just as you are.
I found a lot of valuable information in this book. I would recommend it, although I also think it's a book to which some people (perhaps a lot of people) won't connect, mostly because of the style in which it is written.