Mastery needs to be recognized for what it is if it is to be reached. Many terms and concepts such as empowerment, enlightenment and mastery are bandied about these days and it seems almost popular not to define them at all, but to simply use them as romantic concepts. This is fine if we are to remain passive listeners to stories of spirituality. If on the other hand we wish to develop and experience spiritual understanding for ourselves, then we need to exercise our brains and refine and analyze exactly what these goals mean.
Real Mastery is about skill and ability. This statement encompasses the necessity that strength and discipline are also part of the skill set. Part of the romance of the later parts of the last century were that mastery has nothing to do with skill, but has more to do with being alright with being where we are. This mindset implies that whether we are growing or not, “it’s all good.” This is not real mastery. This is just passive acceptance and a reluctance to engage with perceptions of struggle, work and fear.
Real mastery is about control of the self. It is through skill and ability that we gain the opportunities to control the self. Without skill and ability we have no choice. We are like puppets. It is like a car with a broken steering wheel hurtling along the highway. The passengers have no choice, they must go where the car goes. Ability and skill, is development of choices. It is directly linked to control. When we have control we can move and act as we will. Control in itself is a subject in itself, but suffice to say for now, that what many of us mistake for control, is not control at all. Control is not repression or “keeping a stiff upper lip” this is just a reflection of inability or lack of skill. Control is not rehashing the same emotional patterns or personality traits over and over again. Control is choice. It is the ability and skill to choose this action or that action. With control, the higher consciousness actually gets a choice. Without control there is only the choice that seeks to avoid or repress fear.
It has been said that all babies are masters, but while this is certainly a romantic notion, it holds no logic in universal law. Babies for sure have an ability to learn and adapt at a fast rate, but they do not have control over their environment or survival. If they were left alone for a few days without food or water they would almost certainly die. If they were left without physical contact for too long then they fall apart emotionally. Babies are not masters, if they were we would not need to be so protective of them. If anything, babies are masters in the making. They are developing the abilities and skills necessary to have choices and control.
The path of mastery ends when we decide that what we have is “good enough”. This is the reason why many people do not fully develop their abilities and skills. They simply believe that they are “good enough.” Mastery requires the cultivation of an extremely critical mind. This is not a mind that simply denigrates everything, rather, it is a mind that tests all things and searches for flaws. It does not stop here however, simply seeking flaws without also seeking solutions is what a pessimist really is. The true critical mind seeks flaws in order to seek solutions. It destroys in order to create something better. It is transformation with purpose and meaning. This is how ability and skill progresses, by seeing what is lacking or could be improved and making it better.
The mindset of mastery does not fit with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. The mindset of mastery fits more with the “let’s see if it breaks when I do this…and if it does, lets see if we can make it stronger.” Painful? More for the ego, than anything else, but it needs be understood that having regular scuffles with the ego keeps it in check. The ego needs to become accustomed to pain and bruising if it is to join the journey to mastery. The development of ability, skill and control will always be a thorn in the side of the ego, because it is only through being critical that conscious growth will take place. Denial makes many friends, truth is only interested in one. Luckily at the end of the day, this is the one friend that we will be able to count on to get the job done: our self. This is what mastery is about. It is about getting the “self” under control.