Essentials for the Spiritual Journey: Self-Mastery (Part One)

Let’s get something straight right out of the gate: If you believe your situation is hopeless realize this: that is a perception that is both erroneous and self-defeating and further, it is from the very pit of Hell. God can and will help you if you ask and this is a reality that has been proven over and over again in countless lives. Does that mean you have nothing to do but plead your case before God and wait for him to fix your problem? No. What it does mean is that God will supply you with all you need in terms of perseverance, fortitude, and inner resources. You, however, have to do the leg work. James Allen, in his own straightforward, no-nonsense way, lays it out clearly:

However tightly a man may have bound himself round he can always unbind himself. Into whatever morasses of trouble and trackless wastes of perplexity he may have ignorantly wandered  he can always find his way out again, can always recover the lost highway of uninvolved simplicity which leads straight and clear, to the sunny city of wise and blessed action. But he will never do this by sitting down and weeping in despair, nor by complaining and worrying and aimlessly wishing he were differently situated. His dilemma calls for alertness, logical thought, and calm calculation. His position requires that he shall strongly command himself; that he shall think and search, and rouse himself to strenuous and unremitting exertion in order to regain himself. Worry and anxiety only serve to heighten the gloom and exaggerate the magnitude of the difficulty. It is a great day in the life of a man (though at the time he knows it not) when bewildering perplexities concerning the mystery of life take possession of his mind, for it signifies that his era of dead indifference, animal sloth, of mere vegetative happiness, has come to an end, and that henceforth he is to live as an aspiring, self-evolving being. No longer a mere human animal, he will now begin to live as a man…

 

I don’t know about you or your past, but speaking of my own history I can readily identify more than a few occasions when I found myself in a “morass of troubles” and even more often, discovered that I had lost valuable time and energy by wandering down “trackless wastes of perplexity.”

The only way out of this morass of confusion and perplexity is to gain some degree of personal mastery in general and mastery of the mind in particular. Let’s face facts and not seek to become overly intellectual or get bogged down in a mire and muck of philosophical sophistication. The reality of the situation is actually quite simple: until you establish control over your thoughts, feelings, and behavior you life is going to be characterized by instability and difficulty. Until you develop personal discipline, you will exist but never truly live.

 

Referring to an undisciplined person, James Allen states:

He does not intelligently reflect upon life, and lives in a series of sensations, longings, and confused memories which are unrelated to any central idea or principle. A man whose inner life is so ungoverned and chaotic must necessarily manifest this confusion in the visible conditions of his outer life in the world; and though for a time, running with the stream of his desires, he may draw to himself amore or less large share of the outer necessities and comforts of life, he never achieves any real success nor accomplishes any real good, and sooner or later worldly failure and disaster are inevitable, as the direct result of the inward failure to properly adjust and regulate those mental forces which make the outer life.

 

I still clearly recall the time I first read these words by James Allen, along with the above cited comments about taking a meandering route down “trackless wastes of perplexity.” If ever a message described my undisciplined nature, especially related to my thought life, this one surely did. Allen’s words hit me between the eyes with the impact of a 2×4. It was, in short, one of those personal epiphanies that we are blessed with from time to time. I’ll be the first to admit that at the time it didn’t especially seem like a blessing, but in retrospect, that is exactly what it was. It was this revelation, engineered no doubt by divine forces, that began the process of a profound change in my thought life. Did that transformation take place overnight? Of course not; but it did take place and I am forever thankful. Allen, in his remarkable little work entitled, Byways to Blessedness, continues by describing the necessity of getting a grip on our cognitive life:

Before a man accomplish anything of an enduring nature in the world he must first of all acquire some measure of success in the management of his own mind. This is as mathematical a truism as that two and two are four, for, “out of the heart are the issues of life.” (Here Allen is referring to Proverbs 4:23). If a man cannot govern the forces within himself, he cannot hold a firm hand upon the outer activities which form his visible life. On the other hand, as a man succeeds, in governing himself he rises to higher and higher levels of power and usefulness and success in the world.

to be continued………

(c) L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved

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