True mastery is being insulted by someone in front of a group of friends while maintaining the clarity of mind that what he’s saying is all a reflection of him and not a reflection of you.
Imagine someone telling you some insulting comments, straight to your face they just insult you; imagine they are insulting you in front of a group of people, a group of friends, so it could be embarrassing, and you have the clarity of mind to understand that the words he’s saying are entirely a reflection of him and not a reflection of you.
The way we engage with other people and with the world around us makes all the difference in how we experience life and how we experience this world.
There are common ways of engaging with the world where the world overwhelms us, over takes us, dominates us. But there is a way for us to be engaged with the world without getting lost in the world. And this is really the key to true mastery of life.
Generally speaking, there are two approaches to dealing with something which is a challenge. Let’s take food as an example. We all have weaknesses when it comes to certain foods and there are certain foods which are not healthy for us and, yet, we have a desire to eat them. So what do we do about that? Well, the simplest way to deal with that is to keep the food out of your house. If it’s not available to you, then you can’t engage with it. Very simple. The risk of keeping the food in the house is that you will indulge. So when the food is present, it’s very difficult to control ourselves. So one way of dealing with that is just out of sight out of mind.
But that’s not the most powerful way of dealing with it. Even though that is a smart thing to do, keep the food out, that’s very smart because we know the reality of this challenge of engagement that I’m talking about. However, the truest level of mastery is having the food present and not letting the food control me but me having a very clear focus on why I eat and why I shouldn’t be eating that particular food.
Let’s look at this in the context of relationships. Certain people bring up pain for us. We go to an event or to a celebration and let’s say there’s some family member there who we have some bad history with and just seeing them brings up emotion. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So what do we do? Well, there are a number of things to do. Some people don’t even go to the celebration, they just stay away. Some people will go to the celebration but they will always stay on the other side of the room. They’re living totally at the affect of this other person. Some people go up to the person, but what ends up happening is they lose it and they give the person a mouthful and they say things that they shouldn’t say. And we are engaging with the person but we are not engaging properly.
So either we disengage or we engage inappropriately. Just like the food, either we disengage with the food or engage with the food but in an unhealthy way. The true master is walking into a situation where a person who brings up painful emotions is present and staying above the situation. So a true master is someone walking into a situation while staying above the situation.
And so it’s the ability to learn how to go into a situation, meet a person who raises a lot of emotion, but be so conscious beforehand of who it is that you’re meeting and the situation you’re putting yourself in that the emotions don’t get raised. That is true mastery.
Imagine someone telling you some insulting comments straight to your face, they just insult you; imagine they’re insulting you in front of a group of people, a group of friends so it could be embarrassing, and you have the clarity of mind to understand that the words he’s saying are entirely a reflection of him and not a reflection of you. And so you don’t personalize the insulting comments that person is making to you.
Then that is being in a situation while staying above the situation. That is you mastering the situation, not the situation mastering you. That is the most powerful way to engage.
We are spiritual beings in a physical world. This presents an enormous challenge. Because as spiritual beings in a physical world, we can easily get lost in this physical world, which inherently presents a challenge to spirituality. And so we can do one of two things. Either we can climb a mountain and meditate on high somewhere, avoid all of the challenges of being engaged in a physical world, or, we can become a Hedonist and just indulge in the temptations of the physical world against the mission and pursuit of spirituality.
The true master of life does neither. The true master of life engages the world and influences the world instead of becoming influenced by the world.
That is the most powerful way to engage. And, of course, the question is, but how? How do we engage? How can we have that food on the table and still not eat it? And this is a major challenge which all of us deal with.
Here is one major step we can take. And if we have the desire, this step will make the difference. And this step is having a strong awareness or a very strong conscious presence to the things that we do in life. And this can transform our life in so many ways. When we become much more conscious of why we’re doing everything we’re doing and we become much more aware of everything that we engage with, we don’t become mindless but we become far more mindful.
So if we are aware of what this particular food does when we eat it, and we are aware that the reason why we want to eat is to make ourselves healthy and nourish ourselves and strengthen ourselves and that this food is going to weaken me and in an hour or two it’s going to actually make me feel bad, if we can think about that and remember that bad feeling we had the last time we ate such a food, that awareness itself can help us being engaged with the food in the sense that the food is there but actually not letting the food control us.
If we’re aware of a particular person who is a problematic person and that’s the reason why we don’t like to be in a room with them, but there’s a circumstance calling us for us to be in the room, a greater circumstance than the relationship we have with that person, so then just being aware and reminding ourselves, okay, this person is going to be there and this is the type of person they are and this is probably what they’re going to do and don’t get caught up in it, that itself is one of the most powerful things we can do. Simply to remain mindful and not get caught up in it.
I have advised people numerous times when they have these conflicts with other people or they have to engage with someone but that other person classically brings things up which then divert the focus of the conversation to a very unhealthy place, and I tell them, memorize exactly what you need to tell them and no matter what they respond to you, repeat the same thing over and over. So you’re walking in, you’re prepared. You can engage the person and you’re prepared so that the person cannot engage you in a direction that you don’t want to go.
Whenever we engage in the world, we can ask, what’s my higher purpose in engaging with this worldly thing? Why am I engaging with it? And before we engage with it, we ask that question. And by doing that we can actually transform our entire engagement with whatever it is that we’re interacting with.
We have to remember that our goal isn’t to attain perfection and to become a true master because we cannot attain perfection and true mastery. But it is our goal to do our best and move closer and closer towards perfection and true mastery. And the only way to do that is by engaging while staying above what we are engaging with. So that what we are engaging with doesn’t control us, is not a master over us, but we remain a master over it.