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Resolutions vs. Mastery

I’ve realised that the word resolutions doesn’t work for me as a framework for a new year. 

I am more interested in orienting my life around the word mastery.

Resolutions are often to do with changes of habits. Mastery demands that we work towards a larger goal.

I hope the following teaching offers food for thought if you are inspired to consider what you will master in 2017.

New Foundations

During my years of practice of Chinese and Indian yogic (i.e. non religious) traditions, I have been deeply inspired by the wisdom of the Five Elements.

In the non dual Indian (and Tibetan) wisdom traditions, the Five Elements are Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. Space is the element from which the others arise as aspects. The Five Elements represent the building blocks of the entire manifested universe, including the human body, its thoughts and its emotions.

There is no good and bad or positive and negative applied to the body/mind in the non dual traditions. The orientation is towards either obstruction or flow.

As we enter a new year, we might be wise to reflect on the Earth element, which is associated with foundations. Here’s a short summary of Earth element associations. Check your tendency towards any obstructed orientations that could sabotage your journey of mastery.

Obstructions to an element are created by fear. The fear that underlies Earth obstructions is insubstantiality. This fear tends to arise after an experience of the ‘rug being pulled from under your feet.’ Of course, many felt this last year following the Brexit vote and the US election.

Arising out of these surprise results were feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. To counteract this the individual (and collective) fear based persona leans towards strategies that re-store a sense of solidity (individual) or solidarity (collective).

Pride, territorialism and solidification of a stance together with behaviours of entitlement or control or obsession are some ways in which humans attempt to counteract the sense of lack, impoverishment, and need that can accompany insecurity. Or it can be the opposite – pretence of no need leads to deprivation, retraction and maybe isolation/self sufficiency. Actions of unsolicited giving, giving away or hoarding may occur but do not provide the security or validation that is unconsciously sought.

Authentic generosity, the wisdom associated with the Earth element, requires a different type of self understanding and relationship to uncertainty. There will always be uncertainty and impermanence in the material world. But it is possible to remain grounded in a way that lessens the impact of the shifting sands and enables appropriate response.

The liberated qualities of the Earth element – equanimity, contentment and stability – become established with spiritual maturity. The embodiment of these qualities is no small achievement.

Resolution may start a journey. But, only a commitment to mastery can reach the finishing line.