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Mastery   (Suleiman Grosslight 10/94) 

Prayer to Quan Yin, Claudia L'Amoreaux 

Divine Mother of all Beings 
Great Goddess of Compassion and Mercy 
May my heart be home to you 
like your island in the sea. 
May I feel your presence guiding me in fear and rage. 
May the strength and balance of your grace-filled body 
be mine when I need them, 
And may I walk in your Bodhisattva Way with trust and gladness, 
Beyond time, beyond the end, beyond the beginning. 

Upanishads p 49:  Yajnavalkya 

Those who realize the Self enter into the peace that brings complete self-control and perfect patience.  They see themselves in everyone and everyone in themselves.  Evil cannot overcome them because they overcome all evil.  Sin cannot consume them because they consume all sin.  Free from evil, free from sin and doubt, they live in the kingdom of Brahman. 

From the Dhammapada Chapter XII 158, 159 

Let each man establish himself first in the way he should go, then let him teach others; (so doing) the wise man will have no cause to grieve.  If a man make himself as he teaches others to be, then being himself well-subdued, he may subdue (others);  one's own self is indeed difficult to subdue. 

From the Songs of Zarathustra XCII 

He who applies well his maind and sifts things better from things worse, 
He who applies well his mind to deepen his insight into Faith, 
His wish is in harmony with his charished and chosen ideals; 
His happy end, at the last, is indeed within Thy understanding, O Mazda. 

Proverbs 2: 1-10 

My son, if you accept my words 
And treasure up my commandments; 
If you make your ear attentive to wisdom 
And your mind open to discernment; 
If you call to understanding 
And cry aloud to discernment, 
If you seek it as you do silver 
And search for it as for treasures, 
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord 
And attain knowledge of God. 
For the Lord grants wisdom; 
Knowledge and discernment are by His decree. 
He reserves ability for the upright 
And is a shield for those who live blamelessly, 
Guarding the paths of justice, 
Protecting the way of those loyal to Him. 
You will then understand what is right, just, 
And equitable--every good course. 
For wisdom will enter your mind 
And knowledge will delight you. 
Foresight will protect you, 
And discernment will guard you. 

Tao te Ching:  Chapter 66 

All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are.  Humility gives  it its power. 

If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them.  If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them. 

The Master is above the people, and no one feels oppressed.  She goes ahead of the people, and no one feels manipulated.  The whole world is grateful to her.  Because she competes with no one, no one can compete with her. 

Matthew 4: 1-11 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."  But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him,  "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and, 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 

Again the devil took him to a very high mountain, and he showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them;  and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."  Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" 

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him. 

The Koran 24:55 

Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good works to make them masters in the land as He had made their ancestors before them, to strengthen the Faith He chose for them, and to change their fears to safety. 


He who fights his nature for his ideas is a saint; 
he who subjects his ideal to his realization of truth is the master. 

Sermon ideas: 

Two meanings of Ya Wali:  Master, the closest friend 

Pir Vilayat says that if you do not "have your trip together,'  it is because you do not have control of yourself, self-discipline.  You need to practice mastery. 
A good place to start might be in overcoming addictions of all kinds: drugs, money, power, sex.  Murshid says mastery is the ability to harness one's impulses instead of suppressing or denying them.  Impulses begin in the divine nostalgia that became the universe, but it gets distorted in man.  They Sufis believe that these human impulses can be transmuted. 
ie: rage into outrage. 

There are dangers along the way to mastey. 
Ego-trips, pride, the focus on and misuse of power, and the taking on of too great a challenges.  Useful stress vs. overstress.  It is better to build confidence and strength by starting on small endeavors and then building up to greater challenges. 

The antidote to the negative aspects of "Ya Wali", power, pride, is "Ya Hadi", Divine Guidance.  Pir Vilayat speaks of the balance to be found through going within and checking one's intention constantly. 

I wonder sometimes about the two qualities assigned to Wali--mastery and nearest friend.  I think of Abraham, who is the embodiment of Mastery, and who also was called the Friend of God.  Self-mastery led him to tat total faith which precluded no sacrifice as too great.  The Prophet said, "Tie your camel and trust in God."  One who imagines God can hope fervently, but not be certain.  The one who realizes God is face to face with his Lord, and it is he who depends upon God with certainty.    There is no greater trial of Mastery than faith.  It is a matter of struggling along the surface of teh water OR courageoulsy diving deep, even to the bottom of the sea.  Murshid remarks about the patience it takes, as well as the amount of faith it requires.  As he says in the Gayan, "He who subjects his ideal to his realization of truth is the master." 

A converstation with Abraham (A poem by Suleiman Richard Grosslight) 
"Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven...
do not raise your hand against the boy...." 

"Isaac says he saw it in your eyes- 
the gleam of love that wasn't 
meant for him." 

"So young a boy could hardly understand 
that 'yes' to God 
was what I had in mind." 

"You mean you really would have 
plunged the knife?" 

He paused and shrugged-- 
"I can no longer say; 
it's like a dream I heard 
the angel's voice." 

"You had no problem 
offering up the ram. 
Could it be your heart 
had changed its mind?" 

"My heart belongs to God- 
And Isaac too. 
Perhaps, the time had come 
to change the way." 

"At any rate," I said, 
"You passed the test 
and now He'll make your seed 
like stars and sand." 

"The Father of a multitude," he mused; 
"I think I'd rather just be called His friend." 



 There are three things which we must master during our everyday life and three ways of achieving them.

 Consider the power of half an hour concentration compared with the weakness of giving in all day. We must use concentration during the whole day. Then we can control ourselves in all the requirements of the body and of our senses, and the mind must give permission to every demand on their part without being confused in the matter. There is the beginning of the act, there is the act itself, and there is the result of the act. These three stages in the life of self-mastery or self-control bring increasing happiness and satisfaction. There is satisfaction in the thought of granting some particular desire, there is satisfaction during the time it is being granted, and there is satisfaction after it has been granted. When there is no confusion, or depression, or despair, or remorse, or repentance, then the happiness increases. There is no other proper way of directing one's life.

 The various practices recommended by the mystics all have the same purpose, whether it be fasting, or stretching out the hands, or clasping the fingers, whatever it be. The mystic holds a posture for a moment, perhaps for half a minute or for fifteen minutes. Nature wants to set in motion; so, when we stop that desire and sit straight and erect, the mind at once sets a grasp on the whole body, because the whole body is now under discipline. When the body obeys the mind - that is discipline. That is why all through life our mind should be in control of all things.

 The next thing to consider is the character. We must take care never to do anything that we consider a mistake, or undesirable, or actually foolish when we see another person doing it. If it is something of which we do not approve, something we cannot tolerate if another person does it, we must resist the inclination to do such an undesirable thing ourselves. This resistance to impulses is the way to control ourselves.

 A more perfect way of behaving is the religious way. We must realize that the essence of every religion is to regard the God whom we are worshipping as our goal. He whom we seek is nowhere else than in the human heart. Reflecting on this thought, we come to recognize that whatever kind of person we meet - be he foolish or wise, weak or strong, poor or rich, wicked or virtuous - we are in the presence of the Lord, before whom we all bow; for if He is anywhere it is in the human heart, even in the heart of a wicked person.

 Say to yourself, "My ideal, my religion, my desire is to please my Lord before whom I bow my head. So when I am before anyone I am before my Lord, my God. I must take care always to be considerate and thoughtful, lest I hurt my God". That is the real religion. If you take care not to hurt a loved one, a friend, but do not mind hurting a servant, or a wicked or foolish person, that will not be real religion. Love will recognize the ideal of love, the divine ideal, in every heart, and will refrain from using words which will make another unhappy: words expressing pride, thoughtless words, sarcastic words, any word which will disturb a person's peace of mind, or hurt his sensibilities.

 Therefore, when developing fineness of character, we learn to consider another person's feelings. You may consider yourself very sensitive and so you do not wish that another person should hurt or insult you, or be rough with you. You think, "That person talks too much, he annoys me", or you think, "How badly he dresses". There is a person whom you know to be sensible and understanding, whereas of another person you think that he is not so. But you must forget what you yourself think, and bethink yourself of what another person thinks. It shows a great fineness of character not to give grounds for offence to another person, but it is very difficult to attain this state.

 There is no benefit in making your own life so regular and orderly that it offends every other person. It is in the consideration of another's feelings that lies the real religion.

Chapter XII

 What counts most in the path of truth is self-discipline, and without this our studies and practices cannot produce great results. This self-discipline can be distinguished in many different aspects. By studying the lives of the ascetics who lived in mountains and forests, in the wilderness, we learn that those who have really searched after truth have done their utmost to practice self-discipline; without it no soul in the world has ever arrived at the realization of truth. No doubt it frightens people accustomed to the life of the world even to think of self-discipline and, when they think of it, they imagine it in its extreme forms. It is not necessary for us to go to the caves in the mountains, the forest, or the wilderness in order to practice self-discipline. In our everyday life we can do so.

 The different ways in which self-discipline is practiced are chiefly four. One way is the physical way: the practice of standing in the same position, of sitting in the same posture for a certain time. When one begins to do it one will find that it is not so easy as it appears to be. A person may sit in a same posture or stand in a same position without knowing it, but as soon as he begins to practice it, he finds great difficulty in doing so. When this is achieved then there are different positions of holding hands or legs or eyes or head; these practices develop the power of self-discipline.

 Then there is another aspect of self-discipline which is connected with eating and drinking: to avoid certain things in one's everyday food or drink, and to make a practice of being able to live without them, especially things that one feels one cannot live without. So you will see that there are adepts who live on a fruitarian or vegetarian diet without certain things that one is accustomed to drink, and are without these for days or weeks or months.

 Another aspect of self-discipline is the habit of thinking and forgetting: to be able to think of the same thing of which one wishes to think, to continue to think of it, to hold that thought - and to practice to forget things, that the thoughts may not get a hold over one's mind. By doing so one becomes the master of one's mind, in the same way trying to check thoughts of agitation, anger, depression, prejudice, hatred. This gives moral discipline.

 After one has practiced these three aspects of discipline, one is able to arrive at the fourth aspect which is greater; it is greater, because in this way one arrives at spiritual experience. That discipline intends to free one's consciousness from one's environment. This is the experience of the adepts who have worked at it for a long time in order to achieve it. In the old schools of the Sufis, and even to-day, there is the custom that, when they arrive in the room of meditation, or when they go out of it, one of them is there to suggest this idea in words. He says, "Solitude in the crowd", which means: when you are in the midst of the crowd, even then you can hold your tranquillity, your peace; you are not disturbed by the environments. It is this which enables one to live in the midst of the world and yet progress spiritually. It takes away that necessity which compelled many souls in ancient times to go to the wilderness in order to develop spiritually.

 It is difficult no doubt, yet at the same time it is simple and in a small way everyone experiences it, but automatically. A person engaged in something that interests him most or that occupies his mind altogether, often is not conscious of his environment. A poet, a writer, a composer, a thinker, when he is entirely absorbed in something he does, is for that moment not conscious of his environment. It happens very often that one is so absorbed in something one is doing or thinking about, that one is not conscious of one's own body or one's own self. Only that which a person is conscious of, that alone, exists, not even his self. This is the stage which is termed by Sufis fana. The word nirvana, of which so much has been spoken, is simply to be understood in this manner: it is only an experience of consciousness. In other words it is freedom of the soul, it is being able to arrive at a stage where one is not thinking about oneself, where one is not thinking about environments that surround one.

 One might ask: is this not dangerous in any way? And many may think so. But I should say: everything is dangerous in this world. If we think of it, there could be a danger every moment: in eating, in drinking, in going out and coming in. It is dangerous to go into the water, but when you can swim, that acts against it. It is even dangerous to walk in the street, but if you can walk and run, that acts against it. It is in being able to meditate and to raise the consciousness above environments that lies the secret of spiritual development. 

 The practice of self-discipline no doubt will seem difficult in the beginning, but later it becomes easier and, once a person is accustomed to it, it does not take long to experience its beautiful results. It is a complaint of everyone that the person who stands by his side does not listen to him. Every soul complains, "The others do not listen to me". One rises above this complaint, because one begins to realize that "it is myself who does not listen to me". Then the thief is caught, one finds the mischief-maker; it was not the other person, it was the self. As one begins to get power over the self one begins to feel a great mastery, a mastery over one's kingdom. It is a feeling of kingship. Then, naturally, one begins to experience in life this phenomenon that little by little all things begin to be easy.

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