Self-mastery begins with self-enquiry. It’s only after one gains awareness into who we are and what we are that we can begin to have the ‘material’ to work with, to shape and mould towards the best version of what we could be.
We are in charge
Buddhists believe no one else but ourselves are responsible for the quality of our lives, our happiness, and our resources. In order to achieve a meaningful life wel need to learn to transform our emotions and feelings (that eventually shape our behaviour) as this is seen as the most effective way to bring about future happiness and harmony for ourselves and others.
No one can force us to transform our minds. We do so by our own choice and volition. We do so by our own effortful choice, to be more accurate.
Choice begins with awareness
And it starts with awareness that for instance, harbouring annoyance will soon lead to ill-will and before you know it, bad behaviour or sniping at the person every chance we get. And if we are not wise enough, things can get to the point where the relationship is beyond repair. How many times have our displeasure with someone led to a cold war?
How then can we develop a peaceful and calm mind that no matter what others do or say to us, we can maintain our equanimity? I think the answer lies in compassion and the readiness to forgive at all times. It can be one of the toughest things to do because it’s the natural thing to feel self-righteous and to hit back. Yet, I have also known how consistent hard work has helped to make the forgiving a little easier.
And so indeed we are our own masters by the fact that we are always free to choose our end results by choosing that which cause it. This is the concept behind self-mastery in terms of Buddhist teachings – the concept of dependent origination. In short, take care of the origin and you would have influenced the end effect. By instilling the discipline of meditation, we could reap the fruits of peace and calm. By watching our behaviour, we bring about cordiality and respect.
And so dependent origination does require us to be mindful from moment to moment, to be aware of the world and within us and – by our thoughts, feelings and action – determine whether our future will be a happy one.
~ ॐ ~