Being a Master

by Maria Illo Phd

This article was first published in Celestial Voyage Magazine 'Summer of '96 issue'.

We are no longer taught to be masters. We are carefully taught to be victims, to be unempowered, to be dependent. For us, the idea of 'enlightenment' is something remote and exotic, a kind of weekend high or a myth. We have forgotten that manuals for enlightenment are actually manuals for living, and that myths of great teachers facing their demons in silence are examples of what we all must learn to do everyday of our lives.

We have lost the practical context, the life-and-death context of meditation practices. When we suffer the onslaught of anxiety, depression, loneliness or unhappy relationships, we must empower ourselves to refuse dominion to these enemies of our rightful happiness. Because we are not aware of the beauty within, we seek an insatiable path of escape in external diversions, 'spiritual' or otherwise, or we continue to blame some person or circumstance, or we indulge in endless inner or outer talk that keeps us forever running in place.

Yet at this very moment, we all have the power of the masters, to sit quietly down, like the Buddha, and say to the demons: Do Your Worst - I have a greater truth than you, and to you, I will not succumb. We must confront and change the very nature of thought. We must recognise and dis-identify with our voices of self-destruction and self-hate. At this very moment, we can stop blaming our past for our present, and focus instead on loving ourselves in the present. We must stop seeing ourselves as uniquely singled out to suffer.

With the Buddha, we need to view suffering with compassion as one aspect of life on earth. Then we can act with clarity to bring healing into our lives. To act with both insight and compassion, we must look within for our answers, without expecting those answers to be easy, one-time panaceas. We need to become as watchful as any warrior for the signs that our territory of inner strength and joy is being invaded. Indeed, consciously or unconsciously, it is so often we ourselves who invite the forces of destruction in the name of drama, romance, or diversion, instead of choosing simple happiness as the true measure of our success.

Then, acknowledging life's uncertainties, and with the knowledge that our physical being is only the vehicle of spirit, we must refuse to be held hostage by the fear of death. We must dare to look into the face of death and smile with our knowledge of eternal life. At each moment, we can choose to live as masters or as hostages to our moods, our physical challenges and our fears. Above all, we need to learn to love and enjoy our own company, to revel in our unique essence and to base our relationships, not on the fear of knowing ourselves, but as an enhancement to the precious and worthy identities which we are.

In other words, enlightenment is not just for the sages; it is a path, a way as well as a destination. It is the way of the master, a way for people of every age and background, based on a determination to awake and be empowered in the midst of all life's adventures or assaults.

Maria Illo Phd lived in St Petersburg Beach, Florida, USA.
Although we never met her, Maria wrote several articles for publication in our magazine Celestial Voyage. She sadly died recently, we will miss her and her articles of enlightenment!

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