Thoughts on Self-Control
Self-control is pure blessing. It is the power of intelligence and love expressed in human behavior. By the power of Self-control we are able to perform any action that is truly beneficial to us. We can literally bring ourselves any and every good thing we desire.
The average person is dominated by his self-centered likes and dislikes: food, drink, sex, fame, money, and “power”. He is controlled almost entirely by the short sighted pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain. He eats what he likes and avoids what he doesn’t. He prefers to stay up late and rise late after lounging in bed rather than awakening early to a daily regimen of exercise and self-reflection. He feeds his mind with television, newspapers and gossip rather than philosophy, science and art. He avoids vigorous mental exercise just as he does physical. Rather than relationships that inspire his best he chooses those that appear to be comfortable and not challenging. Illness, financial problems, meaningless work, troublesome emotions and painful relationships seem to track him down. He knows no way to avoid them.
His unexamined actions bleed him of personal power as surely as if he took a dagger and stabbed his physical body. In bleeding his own life blood, he drains himself of his only power: that of governing his own actions. By squandering the only power he has to carry out his noblest desires he becomes controlled by weaker, sick desires and fears that cause his physiology and psyche to degenerate and become ill. His immune system, hormone levels and digestion as well as his moods, concentration, memory and attitude go awry.
By relinquishing control of himself he condemns himself to a life of illness, unhappiness, confusion, and conflict. The only way to stem his ongoing energetic hemorrhages is by regaining control of his own actions, a feat our spiritual literature tells us is equivalent to an all out war.
There is nothing harder than taking back the power we have given away. “Refined” tastes for chocolate, coffee or wine become screaming, vulgar tyrants when denied their daily tribute. Freeing our self from our enslavement to bad habits is a challenge so formidable that it has strikes fear into the hearts of every one of us. There is no more frightening opponent than our own selves.
Buddha himself taught that to master the tyrannically selfish aspects of one’s nature is supremely difficult; whereas surrendering to immediate self-gratifications couldn’t be easier. His words “supremely difficult” indicate Self-mastery is accomplished only by the Supreme, the true Self. He also taught that Supreme expressions of our humanity are love and wisdom; the universal medicines.
In summary, healing our disease means healing ourselves which means healing our actions, mastering our behavior, gaining Self-control. Self control is the natural result of the application of our compassion and intelligence. By Self-control we restore ourselves to harmony with the supreme wisdom and kindness that dwells within us. We ARE that wisdom and kindness. Compassion expressed wisely through human action is the experience of Peace, of union with God. There is nothing more or greater to be done or attained.. relative to that particular action. When we do it, we are completely fulfilled.
Compassion is the most passionate of all passions. That is precisely why it overcomes all else.