I am going to dig deep in this post and, hopefully, reopen eyes that have slammed shut in an effort to escape the horrors of how the gift has been used to sow seeds of discontent, perpetuate hate and maintain a draconian status quo.
What is this endowment I speak of so fervently? It is what you are reading right now. Some of you feverishly type it every day via the various electronic devices at our fingertips, while we all use it to articulate our thoughts to other people. Since the time we began creating symbols on cave walls, the written and spoken word has influenced us to do acts of great compassion and vile cruelty.
In his book, The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz expounds upon four principles to practice in order to create love and happiness in one’s life. His book was given to me as a gift by a mentor and it changed my life in a way difficult to articulate. For those of us who find solace and inspiration in our writing, I know the profoundness of my statement hits home. I want to be clear about a few things before going further:
- I am not a spokesperson for don Miguel Ruiz’ works. I am merely one who has been transformed by them.
- I will be using material directly from his book to illustrate my point in this blog and will note it properly to ensure proper credit is given. A link will be provided at the end of this post to his website. He is also listed in the Links section of this blog.
- Lastly, I am by far not the most knowledgeable regarding this wisdom. There are those who have studied with don Miguel Ruiz and understand it much better than I.
This blog post in not designed to be an exhaustive study of the Toltec Wisdom from where the agreements sprang. Several bloggers focus specifically on this content, one of which I will list below for additional reference. Mine is a broad approach to help link this philosophy to those of us who use the written word to bring our creations to life.
The agreement applicable to this piece is Be Impeccable with Your Word. Trust me; it is not like hitting the Staples, Easy button and calling it good. For simplicity’s sake it does mean to speak with integrity and say only what you mean. Avoid using your words to speak against yourself or others; use its power to craft truth and love. If some of you regard this sentiment as too lofty or touchy-feely, I would ask for you to take a step back and evaluate why your mind settled on such an emotion. More appropriately, where did it come from or did someone else teach it to you?
In an effort to avoid potential repetitiveness, I would suggest reading don Miguel’s books on the subject or visit the blog I listed below.
You are probably wondering, what does all of this have to do with writing, creative or otherwise? In my readings related to Zen Buddhism, especially those from Thich Nhat Hahn, there is a very familiar quote from the Buddha; We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
Our minds create realities based specifically on our perceptions of the world around us. We articulate those realities in a variety of ways; verbally, facial expressions, body language, and through the written word. In turn, we as creative writers place characters in situations of strife and construct environments to challenge their beliefs, often mirroring the real world. Through cause and effect, our hope is they evolve to not only become better living beings but also change their own world for the good. Everything I just described is driven by what we say and how we say it.
I understand to some this may come across as an obvious sentiment; however, if we are not careful our personal biases can color our perceptions, which directly affect what we put on paper or in digital form.
What our parents told us was true; if you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all but let me take it a step further. If you find yourself in a situation where what you wrote or spoke came out wrong, take accountability for it and make amends; not just to those affected by your words but to yourself as well.
Feel free to post your questions, comments or concerns. I will respond, if need be, when I able.
The Four Agreements: http://www.miguelruiz.com/
Toltec Spirit: http://www.toltecspirit.com/
Thich Nhat Hanh: https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/