Friday, December 11, 2009

Divining the Self: the Requisite to Self-Mastery

“He cannot make himself understood who does not himself easily understand.”

—Balthasar Gracian.

Notwithstanding the gender bias, this quote is a wonderfully liberating truth for us. We see in it the key to the mastery of life as much as it can be masteredcertainly to unravelling the mystery of our intrapersonal consciousness. We can, with this, become ourselves with ourselves and almost all others.

Imagine the scenario; the person in your midst who’s frustrated by their lack of being able to be understood. They’ve got a point and they’ve tried numerous angles to get it across to you, but it’s still lost on you and anyone else thereif only the right words or the right image could spring up into their conscious minds.

I mean, we’ve all had these times. Indeed, our children have had these very experiences with those of us who’re parents. It’s like the wheels of thought fall right off the axles of the moment. We’re at a loss to know why.

We’ve all had these times when we’ve struggled to get our meanings across. At these times we’ve fallen for the folly of not collecting our very own thoughts before expressing them to others—we’ve rushed ourselves thinking the time’s right­—‘Oops, the production’s running… get on stage now,’ is the mental sentiment.

Yet we’ve birthed some pretty rough diamonds where the smooth facets are hardly seen for the gigantic irregularities; pimples all over its surface. And people seem to note the pimply irregularities in this life far more often than they do the beautiful facets underneath, for instance, the intent behind expression.

And no wonder we can’t convince others; we ourselves remain unconvinced and this only frustrates us more, and because others haven’t backed our imperfect ideas or proposals we blame them. But, in truth we more ought to blame ourselves.

The common gift of self-mastery is knowing oneself so intimately and so routinely in our day-to-day that we’re always keeping such a tight reign on ourselves, both with the overtly positive and caustically negative things that happens to us (and those many in-between). This is borne from self-discipline, a positive form of self-judgment, and a prudent self-care or self-interest. (Read that right; it’s not selfish-interest!—self-interest is an entirely introspective exercise­—it’ll seek the best outcome we can produce for all involved.)

In this we divine the self in the moment, always. We become our own judge and a fair judge at that. If there are positives to pat ourselves on the back for we do it just as equally as we would if we needed to chastise ourselves—and in the chastising we are, again, fair. We let up once we’ve taken the lesson on board. We don’t keep beating on ourselves.

The cost is a little effort to get the ball rolling. Maintaining the thing is the easy part. Once we’re away nothing will stop us maintaining, even improving, our reign on and over ourselves.

The benefit... if we deem the cost to be relatively small, is so the benefit? No chance! We have done this favour for ourselves that no one else could ever do. And the silly thing is it was so ridiculously easy when we looked back to consider it. We marvel at its simplicity, we really do.

Oh, the power… of the person who truly masters themselves. It’s an intoxicating effect but in a purely good way; for all tend to benefit—all who wish to that is.

It’s the biggest favour anyone could truly do for themselves—the wisest investment. This particular favour will lead us to the truth, and it’s only the truth that will inevitably set us free (John 8:32).

© 2009 S. J. Wickham.

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