Live The Four-Fold Way – Angeles Arrien


This last week the world lost a great teacher, Angeles Arrien.  An author, educator and consultant, Angeles was a cross cultural anthropologist and brought the concept of wholeness to all her work. All indigenous cultures see and honor wholeness.

Angeles was one of my favorite teachers. She believed in the relentless power and drive of the human spirit toward wholeness.  I do too.

She taught her students a way of being and living called the Four-Fold Way. It honors the four directions and offers us the responsibility of the Ways of the Teacher, Warrior (or Leader), Visionary and Healer.

A few years before my introduction to Angeles’ work, I was attending a Mind/Body conference in Santa Fe, NM.  At the bar, the night before the conference was to start, I got into a conversation with one of the speakers.  I remember repeating some snappy little ditty I had heard about the “Five things every business owner needs to know” or something like that. The gentleman I was talking to smiled at my cleverness and said he had only four rules for life and he shared them with me.

Show up.  Pay attention.  Tell the truth.  Don’t be attached to the outcome.

My jaw dropped, my heart skipped a beat and I actually shut up.

In that very moment, I understood that a path had been revealed. I went home with those words in my mind and on my tongue as I went about saying them to myself, almost as a little mantra, they started to ground in my being.

Several years later I discovered the wondrous work of Angeles Arrien.  Off I flew to a retreat in AZ and I learned that her work was all about learning to walk the Mystical Path with Practical Feet. I dove into the study with both feet and whole heart and mind.

Angeles studied cultures all over the world and looked for commonalties.- ideas, beliefs, practices and even dance steps that were shared by indigenous peoples all over the globe. She had a special way of combining ideas – and thinking in the “whole.”

One day she plotted out the Four Ways on a Medicine Wheel with the four directions and as she did that she told us another way we could sum up the direction and the way. My jaw dropped open. This was only the second time in my life I had heard these words spoken and I knew without a shadow of a doubt they were for me.

Show up and be present. (The Way of the Warrior/Leader)

Pay attention to what has heart and meaning. (The Way of the Healer)

Tell the truth without blame or judgment. (The Way of the Visionary)

Be open to (but not attached to) outcome.  (The Way of the Teacher)

She called it living the Four-Fold Way. I’ve found it to be a perfect way to understand the ways I can step up and take responsibility for living the best life I can. Even when I don’t come close to achieving it, this way of living gives me structure, gives me room, and gives me plenty of challenge.

Having a positive credo for your life is a sound foundation for creating more happiness and being more fulfilled.

We are all on a journey. For some of us the path is easy and for others, it’s hard, winding, and painful. Our lives are often restricted by patterns of the past and even our very genes hold us back from the happiness we seek.

Angeles taught me that it’s through conscious choice that we shift the shape of our experiences. Our choice creates a new reality.

One night many years ago in the high desert, I chose to take the words of a wise man. I felt them resonate at my core and make me smile. I never had to write these words down, my body drank them like a potion and they became part of me.

Years later the source of those very words showed up in my life to teach me how to break the old patterns and dig down deep to find the seeds of my authenticity and power. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from the magnificent Angeles Arrien.  Her word has given my life shape and meaning. She helped me expand who I was and learn to connect to the wisdom inherent in other cultures and the wisdom in my won heart. I am grateful.

MONDAY, MAY 12, 2014

Remembering Angeles Arrien 1940-2014

Yesterday I picked up the May/June issue of Common Ground, an alternative magazine I sometimes read here in northern California, and turned to the final page, Last Words. I found a quote by one of my great teachers, Angeles Arrien, and below her name, two dates with a dash between them. It took my mind several seconds to process what this meant. NO! Angeles can’t be gone; she was only 74. She was in the midst of a teaching schedule for her newest book, Living In Gratitude. She’s a pillar of wisdom. And now, she is an ancestor.

While so many have transitioned already this year, including my own mother, Angeles’ death hits me hard, because it’s out of the blue. Judging by the events planned for later in 2014, I imagine it must have been sudden. But though I’ve scoured the web, so far I’ve only discovered the date, (April 24th) not cause. Not that it matters. She was obviously complete here.

What a gift this woman was, and what a gift she had: the extraordinary ability to meld anthropology, psychology and comparative religions to help those of us privileged to study with her learn how to live a practical spirituality, or as she referred to it, to “walk the mystical path with practical feet.”

I took her Four-Fold Way Foundational Training at Esalen, on the ruggedly beautiful California coast, in January 1994. I’d read her book, The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary the previous summer, and the talk I attended then convinced me she had much wisdom to share. I enrolled in the weeklong training, though by the following winter I was deep into my awakening odyssey (disguised as serious illness), and could barely function on the physical plane. Nevertheless, I made the 5-hour journey, and my emerging state of unreality probably enhanced my absorption of her teachings.

What I learned is how deeply Angeles embodied what she taught. The tenets of the Four-Fold Way are:

Warrior: Show up and choose to be present

: Pay attention to what has heart and meaning

: Tell the truth without blame or judgment

Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

I internalized these truths into a little sing-song: “Show up, pay attention, tell the truth and let it go!” It’s a credo for living that serves us well throughout our lives.

What Angeles brilliantly modeled transcended the personal growth community. Her books and practices have found a place in corporate, academic and medical milieux, as well as the non-profit sector. When I think of her, some of the words that come to mind include authenticity, generosity of spirit, wholeheartedness. And joy.

Heaven has gained another angel, so aptly named. Thank you for shining your Light in my life, dear one. In boundless gratitude, blessings.

Posted by Amara Roseat 1:02 PM

Labels: Angeles Arriencomparative religionscross-culturaldeath,Four-Fold Wayhealermysticalpsychologyspiritualteacher,visionarywarrior


cintra ann harbach said…

Angie died from complications from walking pneumonia. It was unexpected thigh she had the WP for sometime …take care.

May 16, 2014 3:00 AMAmara Rose said…

Dear Cintra Ann ~

Thank you so much for this information! Angeles was a treasure, and I’d planned to keep the notes from my training for the rest of my life. They were lost in one of many moves, but/and, her brilliant teachings are integrated into my life in so many ways. Synchronistically, I had planned to read Living in Gratitude when I found out she had transitioned, and am just starting it now. Her work will live on in us for generations to come.


May 18, 2014 4:31 PMConnie Nelson Ahlberg said…

Dear Amara Rose, Here it is 12/28/2015 & I am only just learning about the death of Angeles Arrien. / I may have close to every book she had written.

I first became introduced to her through her Troth tarot book which is so wise and has taught me so much!

I am so sad to hear she is no longer on the planet. But thankfully her work lives on. I, too, wondered how she died. Thank you for this tribute. I always wanted to take her wonderful workshops but I never did.

I am so grateful for her life! To me she was and is a giant!

December 28, 2015 12:03 PMAmara Rose said…

Dear Connie,

And thank you for taking the time to read and comment (which I’m just seeing now, as I don’t blog nearly as often in the last few years). Angeles was one of the pivotal teachers on my awakening journey (along with Louise Hay), and her work is embedded in my very being, as it sounds like it is in yours. The great ones do live on in all those they touch.

Blessings and love,

January 11, 2016 12:31 PM

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