The Art of Self Mastery

Art of Self MasteryTrue leadership is the art of self-mastery. We all have some understanding of what self-mastery is. A broad definition is the process of mastering and developing the human and spiritual natures. It is a process that involves self-awareness, self understanding, and self-control. We all engage in self-mastery for different reasons, some because they want a better relationship with their family, others because they want to sharpen their skills, and still others because they want a better relationship with God. For thousands of years religious and spiritual leaders worldwide have envisioned a better community and world as a result of individuals growing in self-mastery. Let’s go back in time to discover some of the wisdom that these leaders shared.

Today we have over seven billion people in the world, and most of these are followers of one religious leader or another, all following the spiritual practices these leaders recommend. The question that keeps coming up for me is why we have not collectively progressed spiritually. Yes, we have progressed some; in my lifetime I have seen increased interest in spirituality and increased concern about the welfare of the planet, but our efforts have not had the spiritual power to truly reform individuals. In our society the family unit—the crowning glory of the evolutionary struggle—is disintegrating. This year has been the first since statistics have been collected where families with the original parents living with their children are in the minority. We live in a society where children are killing children because they have no role models to follow and where our leaders lack integrity and in some countries are even violent towards their people. We live in a society where there is gross indifference towards others and a lack of sensitivity. Why?

When I consider that ethics is the external social mirror that faithfully reflects the inner unseen development of individuals, I wonder what we are missing in our understanding of self-development. For leaders of The Urantia Book, the answer is particularly important and I want to explore it.

SheilaI turn to the Publication Mandate for guidance: “An early publication of the book has been provided so that it may be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers.” The Urantia Book is here so that we may learn its truths, disseminate the teachings, and  foster study groups. But considering the great vision of religious leaders, including Jesus, there is a new meaning to discover. What is it that the world needs most? The answer is found in The Urantia Book. The seed of theoretical truth is dead, the highest moral concepts without effect…[Paper 34:6, page 380:7]

In other words, our world is in philosophic chaos, and this does not support moral growth. The world also needs “first hand religion.” It needs the experience of spirit-born mortals who effectively reveal the Master to all men.[Paper 195:10, page 2084:1] The world needs more people like Jesus to inspire others to be the best that they can be. But when we consider that there is a relationship between philosophic chaos and our ability to live up to our highest ideals, it is no wonder that there is spiritual stagnation As I discover new meanings of these relationships, I realize that The Urantia Book was published early to assist leaders and teachers in consolidating and stabilizing their religion; to break through the philosophic chaos and spiritual stagnation.

But what do we have to do differently from what others have done already? The Publication Mandate states:“[you] will do well to diligently study the order, plan, and methods of progression as they were enacted in the earth life of Michael.” Re-reading the Jesus papers, I realize that Jesus, unlike other religious leaders, has a complete perspective of the universe. Jesus knows the Universal Father. He knows his personality; though he could not explain this adequately to people when he was here, he could reveal the love of the Father, which he did.  Jesus knew the difference between soul and spirit; he knew about the heavens and the vast celestial hierarchy; he knew that the universe was gigantic and friendly, but he could not explain it to the minds of those days. It was this complete perspective that nourished the desire of Jesus to do the father’s will—to dedicate himself to self-mastery so that he could be of maximum usefulness to the children of his creation.

Jesus learned languages and instruments; he took every opportunity to learn and grow. It was this complete perspective that as a young man enabled him to appreciate the truth and recognize error as he perused the pages of the ancient Book of Enoch. It was this complete perspective that enabled him to be grounded among his critics and not be swayed by his disciples when they talked about reincarnation—a popular concept at the time. And it was because he exuded the harmony of truth in everything he said and did, that he continues to inspire people to be the best they can be, even though his gospel in Christianity is only a shadow of what it truly is.

And what does all of this have to do with leaders of the Fifth Epochal Revelation? We have in The Urantia Book the perspective that Jesus had over 2,000 years ago—a perspective that he could not share fully with the people of the time. We have that knowledge, but how many of us truly represent this revelation faithfully and accurately?

The Urantia Book tells us that revelation provides a technique for achieving unity in the comprehension of the reality and relationships of matter and spirit by the mediation of mind. [Paper 101:2, page 1106:1] It has the potential to unite the fragmented philosophies that exist in the world today. But are we truly leading the way? We are all readers of The Urantia Book, but do we share the same united philosophy? We may be seeing glimpses but we still have a long way to go. In our community there is fragmentation; there is misunderstanding between groups and people. Truth is harmony, and only when we attain unity in the intelligent comprehension of the universe will we begin to experience the spirit unity that leads to united leadership. This is important because without it we will continue being part of the fragmented society that cannot attain its spiritual goals.

An example of united leadership is found in the Navy Seal raid that took down Bin Laden. The team was made up of a group of people who had different functions to perform. They trusted each other because they were united by their training and their purpose, and this unity of spirit was reflected in the perfect execution of their mission. We can achieve this united leadership, but we must be willing to challenge ourselves, to do our part to attain a united comprehension of the universe.

Are we adjusting our philosophy of the world to cosmic truths, or are we adjusting cosmic truth to our world philosophy? Do we use the book to validate our own beliefs or to adjust our beliefs to cosmic truth? There are certain habits we might consider breaking, like cherry-picking in order to remain comfortable. The religion of the spirit means effort, struggle, conflict, faith, determination, love, loyalty, and progress. [Paper 155:5, page 1729:6] We are often inflexible in our beliefs and over-confident in our understanding. To grow in spirit unity we must seek new meanings in our understanding of spiritual development and move beyond our comfort zones.

I have gathered over 40 fundamental concepts from The Urantia Book, each clarifying, expanding, or challenging contemporary philosophy. [These are available in English on my Website.] My challenge to the leaders of the Fifth Epochal Revelation is to go through each of these concepts with the intention to discover new meanings in each of them. For each concept, move through recognition, to realization, to appreciation, to love; explore rather than discard. As each of us makes the effort that it will take to ensure that our beliefs are truly aligned with the truths in The Urantia Book and that we are growing in our appreciation of revelation as the truly harmonizing influence in our lives, we will go about our business of disseminating the revelation, teaching the truths, and fostering study groups. We will also inspire others to elevate their own religion. This is what being a leader is about.