Self Mastery-What it Means to Me


In my personal mission statement, my first priority in life is self mastery which I briefly define as ‘an endless journey in completely refining my character‘. Almost everyone I come close to comes to know that I have a huge desire to achieve self mastery even more than the desire for professional mastery. Of recent, due to interactions with some people very close to my heart, it has become necessary to define expansively for myself what self mastery is. This necessity stems from the fact that these dear ones think it is selfish to desire and seek self mastery the way I do. It really hurt me to hear that but it could mean one of two things – they either don’t understand what self mastery is – from my perspective, which means that maybe I haven’t taken the time to communicate clearly to them (and perhaps to myself?) what it is and what it entails or it could be that from the way they see me living my life in pursuit of self mastery – the means are wrong so they question the end.
First, what is self mastery? Self mastery for me is the ability to live a full, wholesome life in every single moment. When my responses are spontaneous but not reckless, when I make the right decisions effortlessly, when I can love unconditionally and when my decisions are guided by a well developed and continuously developing conscience instead of my ego, I consider that ‘living in the moment’ or as is better rendered in French ‘la vie dans chaque soufle’ i.e. ‘life in every breath’. Self mastery means that I have learnt to be driven by my emotions under the guidance of my conscience and this happens transparently through my intellectual/rational mind.

Why self mastery?
Right now, I believe that my purpose in life is to live the full potential of all the unique characteristics that God gave me and in doing so, contribute to the realization of a world governed by virtue. I want to know the Truth and I want to know God because these two are one to me, I desire to be excellent in everything I choose to do and achieve such excellence naturally and effortlessly. The problem is this –

  1. What are those unique characteristics that God has given me?

  2. What are my talents? How many of them have I identified?

  3. What is the vision or visions that align with this purpose? What does wanting to live ‘the full potential of all unique characteristics given to me by God …’ translate to from day to day, from relationship to relationship, from home to work?

  4. How can I be sure that I have chosen the right professional track to follow and I am not being driven within by greed or some version of the social mirror?
These issues essentially stand in my way to living the life I desire – the life of effortless perfection, of selfless service to other human beings, of loving unconditionally – one woman romantically or on an unromantic level, the people I come in contact with. I have come to accept that as long as I am driven by my ego, I will always be too selfish to give myself to anyone else – either in love or in service to humanity, I will never know Truth and God because my ego will keep me focused on ME – not even the divinity within me but on the pettiness, on satisfying the short term needs of my body, on my vanity etc. In a nutshell, to the extent that all my resources have been freed from under the grip of my ego and its petty wants and desires, to that extent can I give of myself to serve selflessly, to love unconditionally and to seek Truth. To that extent can I see myself not as THE centre of reality but as A centre or node in the mesh of reality, to that extent will I not fear uncertainty and to that extent will I really succeed as a being created in the image of God. I believe that the little of myself I can give now is that part that I have torn off from the grip of my ego. So self mastery is that journey – never a goal or objective that will liberate more and more of ME from the vicious grip of my ego and its petty needs so I can focus on listening to the voice of my conscience, of empathizing and listening to others within their own frame of reference, of seeing myself as a player on a team and in so doing be more accessible to SEEING reality [that part of truth that I can and have experienced or am experiencing] – that which is a fusion of my perspective and other people’s perspectives.

What does self mastery entail?
In practice it starts with continuously refining my vision and defining my reality – the disparity between these two offers creative tension which I must overcome in making the vision my reality and as I approach that vision, to refine and set another one according to the feedback that I get on my quest. First, I want to take full responsibility for my life, my actions, I want to choose and refine my own value system, one that I can live with but that as much as I can understand is aligned with right principles. This value system will be the framework by which I deal with the world and reality, in essence the code that can be said to some extent to dictate what I will do in every single circumstance. Self mastery entails unravelling layer upon layer of my ego and replacing those layers with my conscience. It entails learning to be humble, to respect other people and give them the right to be – to accept them as they are now in this moment. Self mastery also entails mastery of whatever it is I love to do in life – teaching executives in Kaduna Business School, developing new modules for executive education programmes, analysing and designing computer networks, cultivating a garden or even making love. I dream of making every act I do a creative one that gives me utmost satisfaction and in which I can lose myself.

To ensure that my quest for self mastery does not become some vain pursuit of a mere dream that is ultimately doomed because of its narrow perspective, I maintain self-awareness – being here in this moment at all times, I also proactively seek feedback by really listening to other people, to the circumstances around me and trying to put them in perspective with what I already know. Humility guarantees that when I come across Truth, I will bow to it and abandon all the values I used to have a strong conviction of.

Now the big question:

What will I sacrifice on this quest for self mastery?
well at a personal level, I have and continue to sacrifice my ego and right now, I have no regrets about my quest. I will sacrifice everything and everyone in this quest because it is the only thing I know now that I must do. I won’t be so arrogant as to say this quest, this journey is THE right quest/journey – I can’t say that because of how little I can know or understand but I can say here and now with total confidence that given what I do know and understand, it is what I must do. Even if it is wrong, I believe that it is a lesson I am meant to learn and learn it I will. Perhaps those dear ones, those values that I will sacrifice along the way – the pain that will result when I do may well bring a new perspective of life that will make me change the journey but until then – I am happy to make this journey. I must make this journey because I and the journey, like the dream or goal are one. To dream is an expression of my divinity – it means I can create in my mind the world I want – without the dream, there’s no journey from my reality towards it. I chose my journey after a deep reflection and I keep refining it every moment I get new understanding – my journey reflects my values, my principles and in essence my journey is more an authentic representation of me than what I do which is a snapshot in time and space. I and my journey are one and so without a dream, without a journey leading to that dream, there’s no functional me. Right here, right now, I believe this with all my heart, mind, body and spirit – that is why I am willing to sacrifice everything for it. May God’s grace be upon me.

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