"During the process of domestication, we form an image of perfection in order to try to be good enough. We create an image of how we should be in order to be accepted by everyday, but we don't fit this image.

ALL THE SUFFERING AND DRAMA IN YOUR LIFE IS the result of what you have learned. Whatever you learn is alive. The image that you have of yourself is alive, and it lives in your mind. That image is not you, but it will use everything it perceives to justify its own existence. It is not you, but it is eating you alive and destroying your happiness.

The voice of knowledge inside your mind controls the dream of your life. The Toltecs call it a Parasite; the Bible calls it evil. It is a living being that exists in your belief system, and lives by eating your faith, your intent, your happiness. What is sad is that you believe the knowledge is you; you believe the image is what you are. The program, or Parasite, is really the one who is living your life, not you. But this program was not there when you were born.

When you were born, your mind was completely innocent. You had no concepts about good or bad, right or wrong, beauty or ugliness; you had no concepts at all. You had no idea what it means to be a human. to be a man or to be a woman, but you saw other people outside of you, and you recognized them as your own kind.

When you are one, two, or three years old, you cannot see yourself. The only way to see yourself is to look at your image in a mirror, and other people act as that mirror. You don't know what you are, but your mother tells you what you are, and your father tells you what you are, and your brothers and sisters do the same thing. The other humans around you have the capacity to project an image onto you, which means they tell you what they believe you are.

What your mother tells you is not exactly what your father tells you that you are, or what your siblings, or the television, or the church, or the whole society tells you that you are. Every human in your life projects a completely different image onto you, and none of these images are accurate. What you believe you are is a distorted image of yourself that came from other people - from mirrors that always distort images. Because you cannot see yourself, you believe them and you agree with them. As soon as you agree, the image is programmed in your memory, and now you believe this is what you are."

Excerpt from
The Four Agreements Companion Book
by Don Miguel Ruiz
with Janet Millz