Swamiananda and his disciple Ranga were strolling on the beach by the ocean. It was a cold day and the wind was blowing strongly over the ocean, raising very high waves. After walking for some time, Swamiananda stopped, looked at his disciple and asked: “What does the choppy ocean remind you of?”
“It reminds me of my mind. Of my rushing and restless thoughts”, answered Ranga.
“Yes, the stormy ocean is like the mind, and the waves are the thoughts. The mind is neutral like the water. It is neither good, nor bad. The wind is causing the waves, as desires and fears produce thoughts”, said Swamiananda.
“I wouldn’t want to be on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, in a storm like this”, said Ranga.
“You are there all the time”, responded Swamiananda. He continued, “Most people are on a rudderless boat in the middle of a choppy ocean, even if they do not realize it. The mind of most people is very restless. Thoughts of all kinds come and go incessantly, agitating the mind like the ocean’s waves.”
“Yes”, Ranga interrupted him, “You don’t have to tell me. This is the reason I am with you. I want to calm down the waves of my mind.”
Swamiananda looked at Ranga for a while, smiled and said: “You don’t calm the ocean by holding the water and not letting it move. What is necessary is to stop the wind. The wind is made of your thoughts, desires and fears. Don’t let them rule your life. Learn to control them by controlling your attention, and then the ocean of your mind grows calm.”
“And how do I do that?”
“Suppose it is possible for the ocean to disregard the wind, what would happen then?” asked Swamiananda.
“The waves would cease. But no one can stop the wind.”
Swamiananda looked at him with a mysterious smile and said: “Why not? The wind, the ocean, and thoughts are all within the mind. When you can control the mind, you can control everything within it. But first you have to control your mind, which means you have to control your attention.”
“Yes master”, said Ranga, “this is what I am trying to do. You say whoever controls his mind can also control the wind. Can you do that?”
“First learn to calm down the ocean of your mind, and then find out if you can calm down the ocean. It is better to learn to control the mind, than enjoying mental tricks. When you calm your mind, you can calm down everything.”
I came across this story while I was surfing the Net (successconsciousness.com) one day, and it really spoke to me about the concept of Mastery. There are far more things in this that we cannot master, than things that we can master. We can’t master or control the government, taxes, the economy, or the people around us. We cannot control nature, the stars, relationships, or many of the conditions around us. However, as the story shows, we can master and control our minds. And, we can always learn the art of mastering ourselves. Leonard da Vinci said, “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” Rather than using all the things we can’t master as an excuse to do nothing, let’s use all we can’t master as motivation to master the things we can! We can always master and control our minds and ourselves!
Keys to Personal Mastery…
- Believe You Can Do It: To develop mastery, we need to believe that we CAN! Many have tried and failed, and so we’re discouraged and don’t really believe we can develop mastery. Never allow the failures of the past to hinder you from moving forward in the future. You are “more” today than you ever have been before. You can do anything you set your mind and yourself to do, because the power is within!
- Take Personal Responsibility: We need to “train ourselves” in the area of Mastery. When I was young, I realized what I was passionate about and what I wanted to be seen as “good at”. This knowledge propelled me to strive to take personal responsibility and live a life of mastery. We must do it, and not expect others to. It’s our responsibility. And, we must not blame others if we have a hard time, or blame circumstances. There is an ancient proverb that speaks to this…
“Go to the ant… Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”
- Have The Right Priorities: I’ve found that the greatest problem that hinders many from a lack of mastery is wrong priorities. We need to learn the fine art of planning to neglect everything that is not connected to our personal priorities. We cannot allow the distractions of a moment or the priorities of others to derail us. Take regular time to find your centre and realize what is most important to you, and build your life around that. Stay focused. Michelangelo said, “If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
- Aim High But Start Small: When we start to learn mastery in a certain area, we need to aim high, but start low. We need to have a high goal of where we want to end up, and yet we need to start small! This makes it easier to reach instead of trying to hit so high! Rome wasn’t built in a day. By perseverance, the snail reached the ark!
- Create A Daily Plan: Until something becomes part of your daily routine, it won’t be part of your life. Look at your daily life and your daily schedule, and create a daily plan that works for you. Master the moments and eventually, you will master your life! Mastery grows when something we treasure becomes part of our daily plan.
- Just Do It, And See The Value In What You’re Doing: When we have created a plan, we need to simply do it. And, to be continually motivated, we need to continually remind ourselves of the value proposition. Remind yourself that though you are “paying” now, you will get to “play” later! Remind yourself that the benefits of mastery exceed the cost of the discipline involved in gaining it. When the journey of self-discipline begins, we often ask ourselves why we are doing this. It seems to be a waste. When you remember the value of what you are doing, it sure helps!
- When You Fail:
- Get Back Up – Keep on keepin’ on!
- Don’t Make Excuses – Simply accept responsibility
- Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself – What’s the point? No one gets better when they just beat themselves up a little more!
If we want to attain Mastery in anything, we desperately need to fight and win the battle with ourselves. Mastery is not our goal, so much as a means to our other goals. Our goal isn’t just Mastery, but to grow and develop through Mastery. Mastery is a tool and a pathway to help us grow. Mastery is always worth developing!