The Path of Mastery

Entering The Path of Mastery

There are countless ways in which an individual can grow.They are always different, and the order and depth of experience is never the same between two people. However, there are common aspects that unite all mastery experiences. These aspects form a certain "path", which is nothing more than a progressive sequence of unique experiences that shape the development of a person in a particular direction.

The first lesson comes in 3 parts which build on each other, but it is important to remember that it is still only one lesson, and that is: Presence.

A master is an individual who is highly skilled in something. For the purposes of explaining Presence what that something is is not important.
What is important, however, is that in order to be highly skilled, an individual must possess a strong foundation upon which all skills, experience, and achievement can be built.

This foundation is actually a pre-requisite before a person can even begin to enter onto the path of true mastery, as the acquisition of what might actually be deemed a "master level" of experience has certain presumptions built into it, such as:

That you are mature and capable of appropriately synthesizing your knowledge and experience into meaning;

That you have an understanding of your desired and/or destined direction and;

That you have the capacity to perform the tasks necessary to grow in that direction;

Presence, then, is the basic control function the master possesses; the function of his or her own personal being, without which it is a moot and unreliable point to attempt to control anything outside of the self.

This is not to be confused with "self-control". Without a doubt, a masterful individual will possess a certain degree of self control both in his person and vocation. However, here here we are merely discussing the entering onto the path of mastery. All further aspects of "self" such as: discipline, level of skill, specific mentality, education, experience, and wisdom, are separate and further continuation of that path. We are talking about a state of being that opens inside an individual the capacity for entering that path skillfully and correctly.

Part 1: Mastery of function in the present time

Note: If you have researched and applied the principles of this practice to your unique set of circumstances, skip this step and go to 
Part 2: Mastering

Before you do anything else, please take 1-2 minutes to think back on a time in your childhood or early adulthood, if even one day, when you were truly, deeply fulfilled in the most profound sense of the word.

There is a reason for doing this, so please try to not only remember the time but also to actually experience the happiness of that period of your life. What was it like? Try to remember the details of your life that added to and enriched your experience.

One PAF member described his experience in the following way:

"When I was a little boy, maybe 5-6 years old, I could not wait to get up in the morning and run down to the courtyard in front of the apartment complex where we lived. Often, it was so early that nobody else was there, and I would wait for hours until the other kids came down to play. Now, I cannot even remember their faces, much less names, but I remember their presence, and the bursting joy I felt when the first of them came down at last and the fun began. Tag, hide-and-go-seek, tug of war, tree climbing, and dozens of other games were all in the mix, but it wasn't the games that made those days what they were, it was the feeling of complete and utter wholeness, like nothing was ever missing. I would be so caught up that I would skip going home to eat because I couldn't break away... It was the most magical time of my life."

(Pause to reflect on your own experience of wholeness and joy, be it in childhood or earlier in life.)

If you took the time to think about it, you must agree that one of the biggest aspects of that happiness (especially if you recalled a childhood experience) was that there was a certain sense of "completeness". There was no expectation of the future, only the anticipation and excitement of what was happening in that very moment.

This is an inherently important lesson that we must comprehend fully if we are to make the leap towards conscious growth and mastery of our existence.

As children, we are already masters of this first and critically important lesson: the art of living in the present moment. During times of enjoyment and play, our attention was always on exactly what we were doing, and never on the responsibilities, challenges, and chores that awaited us in the future.

As we grew older, at some point we began living in expectation, and our happiness slowly became more and more contingent upon either the completion, realization, achievement, or attainment of certain things. We begin thinking, seeing, and living our life on a "if, then" basis.

If I make enough money - then I will be secure.

If I do enough - then I will be satisfied.

If I live the right way - then I will be happy.

These are all familiar arguments, but they are all inherently flawed in that they make one's internal (and inherent) wholeness, fullness, and completeness, contingent upon external circumstance, happenstance, and The paradox occurs precisely because one is making an effort to complete that which on a basic level, is already inherently complete. This leads to constant frustration and, often times utter despair, as a person continues to see less and less of that which is alreadytrue in their quest to find what is believed to be missing.

Do you understand how this trap can become dangerous, or have you yourself perhaps experienced feeling dissatisfied with your state of affairs despite the fact that in reality, nothing was actually terribly wrong or broken?

The art of living in the present moment is the first part of the answer to this gnawing feeling of lack beneath the simple blessings and abundance that can be found in our daily lives, even today. This is because by living in the future, we abandon that which is true in the now for sake of something we wish for or desire. We forego our life today to expectation. But by living in the now, we embrace that which is our; however it is today, and then carry on building our tomorrow.

Desire is good. Wishing is good. Dreams for the future, goals, and accomplishments are all good things, as long as they do not come at the cost of your present life.

When your life is full and real (even if it is difficult, discouraging, or painful), your actions and desires for tomorrow are also full and real. When your life is empty and unsatisfying, then the actions and desires for tomorrow will also be empty and unsatisfying, which is exactly why achievements and goals that are created out of dissatisfaction are never very fulfilling for very long.

You may have felt this when you really desired some material object or perhaps money, thinking that once you have that you will certainly feel satisfied and not require anything else for the time being. Then, upon receiving it, you only marginally felt happier for a brief while before desiring the next thing.

And it's just it, an art, not a skill. To master it means to understand how this paradox manifests in yourself, and to continue to apply yourself in the unique opportunities that daily life, with its tasks and duties, presents you.

The How

By now, you might be asking how to do this practically. A word of caution is in order: the "how" is in the understanding of the significance of this lesson. Like so many things pertaining to mastery, the how is not particularly complex or difficult. What is, however, is the proper perspective. Please take care to bookmark, re-read, and most importantly, reflect on the above theory before you begin to apply this principle in your daily life.

And now, for the simple essence of the "how":

Do not act out of dissatisfaction or desperation. By doing so, you ironically create more of what you are trying to escape, and as a result perpetuate the cycle.

Instead, begin by practicing (the word "practice" does not imply an end, it is an ongoing, continuous habit of trying for its own sake) taking 1-2 minutes before doing something to reflect on the nature of the action itself, and to understand why you are doing what you're doing, but (and this is the most important part); to be in the action, without the expectation of "if, then".

Practical example:
Let's take something simple we can all relate to. Let's say that I am frustrated with my dirty kitchen, and I want it to be clean. I am sick and tired of the mess, and I cannot be happy until it is fixed.

In the old example, "If the kitchen is clean, then I will not be frustrated", I have once again made my satisfaction contingent on a physical outcome. Natural enough, we do it every day. But consider that by seeing things in this way, we reinforce a pattern of thinking that translates into much bigger aspects influencing our happiness. If you are frustrated and put off by a dirty kitchen, consider what financial problems, difficult relationships, or unfulfilled desires will do to the fabric of your daily life...

In the new example, "Ah, the kitchen is dirty... That's ok, I will just clean it," we allow everything to be what it is without attaching our internal happiness to the external circumstance and creating a contingency. "Ah, the kitchen is dirty..." notices what is, the way it is, right now. It reinforces our presence in the moment in which we are. "That's ok," allows what is, leaving our internal state of wholeness perfectly intact and unaffected, and "I will just clean it" resolves, in a simple way, to make the change necessary to go from where you are to where you want to be without harboring the frustration and dissatisfaction, without allowing it to be the driving force behind your actions.

We will come back to the example of cleaning the kitchen in Part 2 of this important lesson. For now, let us recap on the pattern of thinking necessary for remaining present and undisturbed.

In doing so, remember that whatever pattern you choose for yourself is entirely up to you, provided that it follows the principle described in this section.

"Here I am, and this is what I am doing, and this is why."

Notice that when you state things in this way, you allow for everything (you the way you are, the action you are taking, the reasons for why you are taking it) to exist on one plane together, and in harmony.There is no "if, then" in this statement, and gradually, after you do this over and over and over and over again, your habitual "if, then" pattern will begin to fade to the background, and the true joy of doing things for the sake of doing them and expressing yourself in the process will begin to take hold.

Try it, give it a chance. Allow your skepticism to be on hold until you have read part 2 of this section, for you may not yet realize the full significance of

This leads us to the second part of this lesson, which has to do directly with the taking of action. As you read this section, please try to keep fresh in your mind the perspective of being present in the moment, as covered in Part 1.

Elements of Mastery