Self-mastery: the battle towards God and inner peace
The world is in chaos. Truly, because many of us are in chaos within (our inner world) our local, regional and international contexts (the outer world) present ourselves disjointed, broken, unfair. Unsurprisingly, our leaders do not lead. More accurately, our leaders represent our lack of direction. Why? Because many of us have settled for external approval rather than inner truth. Something I have recently read about heroes and superstars says it all:
“Henry Kissinger expressed it unusually well in his book review of Churchill, and I quote: ‘Our age finds it difficult to come to grips with figures like Winston Churchill. The political leaders with whom we are familiar generally aspire to be superstars rather than heroes. The distinction is crucial. Superstars strive for approbation; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future they see it as their task to bring about. Superstars seek success in a technique for eliciting support; heroes pursue success as the outgrowth of inner values’.” (“Heroes vs. Superstars,” Ziglar, available at https://www.ziglar.com/motivation/heroes-vs-superstars/ ).
Although it seems we lack direction, accurately, we are longing for inner peace. Puzzling as it may sound, however, we seek for the answers beyond ourselves. There are those who delude themselves with quick fixes such as drugs, alcohol, sex and toxic relationships. Yet, there are others who are subtler and appear to have a reasonably balanced life but depend on arguably “healthier” options like constant company and different kinds of compulsions (e.g. sports, religion, nutrition). Able to see past the apparent, the wise Bulleh Shah and Jesus express what in reality happens:
“Yes, yes; you’ve read thousands of books but you’ve never tried to read yourself; you rush into your temples, into your mosques, but you have never tried to enter your own heart; futile are all your battles with the devil for you have never tried to fight your own desires.” (Bulleh Shah)
“…you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition … These people honor me with their lifes, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.” (Matthew 15:6-9 conf. Isaiah 29:13).
How do we gain inner peace? you may ask. How do we avoid these addictions and dependency on the external, whether a situation, a person, an object, and action or omission? The answer is as simple as hard to achieve. The answer is (has always been) within. It is high time we stop blaming God, Allah, the Universe, the Source, the Eternal, the One, the Many (like in every post, the name we use here is irrelevant. It is just a man-made label for communication. Therefore, I use them interchangeably). In a similar vein, it is time to stop pointing the finger at our Mum, Dad, neighbour, president, prime minister, etc. Inner peace and, consequently, outer peace, starts in, with and through ourselves. St. Benedict and Rumi give us a clue:
“The ladder erected is our life on earth, and if we humble our hearts the Lord will raise it to heaven. We may call our body and soul the sides of the ladder, into which our divine vocation has fitted the various steps of humility and discipline as we ascend (The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 7:8-9).
“At times the holy warrior feels expansion, at other times pain, torment, contraction. Our earthly bodies try with all their might denying and then stealing our soul’s light.” (Rumi, The Masnavi, Book Two, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, 173).
Indeed, it takes our own self to attain inner peace. Firstly, to own the fact it is our choice and it is within our grasp (the “no excuses” motto applies here). Secondly, to set the intention to work for it. Thirdly, to bring that intention to reality: to actually do the work (aka less preaching, more doing). Finally, to stay consistent. Every change requires time and effort. The bigger the challenge, the more discipline will need. A proviso: it is a daily battle within, I must caution you. Hence, do not rely on motivation.
Mmm, it sounds like hard work, I am certain at this point many may think. You are completely right. But, if you are not willing to work hard for yourself and for your inner peace, at least be content in acknowledging that you accepted willingly the chaos within and without. After all, the world cannot give the gift of peace (conf. John 14:27).
For those who want to join the change, both inner and, as a result outer, I leave you with St. Paul and Buddha and their wisdom about the mastery of our body and our mind.
“Do you not realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
“A man’s mind makes him a Buddha, or it may make him a beast. Misled by error, one becomes a demon; enlightened, one becomes a Buddha. Therefore, control your mind and do not let it deviate from the right path.” (The Teaching of Buddha, Tokyo, Japan: Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai, 2012, 12).
Christ Consciousness. 7: The solitary hero and the false prophets
Saturday 07th July 2021
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez