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To Transcend: Observe Cause and Effect

--by Dan Millman (Jul 11, 2006)


Self-mastery involves recognizing what we are not responsible for -- the thoughts that enter our mind and flow out, and the emotions that pass like the weather -- and what we are responsible for, which is our behavior. My view of self-mastery focuses on acting with kindness whether or not we're in the mood, based on three principles: Accept your emotions; know your purpose; and then do what needs to be done -- whether or not you happen to feel like it at the time.

You see, we humans are filled with tendencies. We tend to be lazy or to overwork. We tend to let our emotions drive our behavior. We tend to indulge or to deny ourselves. We tend to be passive or aggressive, lackadaisical or obsessive, to act without thinking or to think without acting. We tend to deny or avoid dealing with problems until the eleventh hour or a crisis. We tend to be self-centered, defensive and resentful.

Daily life -- spiritual life -- tests us, teaches us, challenges us to transcend our tendencies by observing the consequences of our actions; it's a natural, evolutionary process of living and learning. And self-mastery occurs in those moments when we subordinate our little will -- our personal tendencies and preferences -- to the dominion of our higher will, higher self, higher integrity or higher ideals. It's a conscious movement from "What's in it for me?" to "What will serve the highest good of all involved?" George Bernard Shaw put it well when he said, "Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness."

--Dan Millman


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On Dec 15, 2011 Teo wrote:

I‘m intrigued - always wanted to know what people meant when they say ‘do what must be done’Dan Millman wrote: "Accept your emotions; know your purpose; and then do what needs to be done"

Bernard Shaw wrote: "Just do what must be done"

I hope those two gentlemen knew what must be done, and could help me to resolve the dilemma of how to know what is must for sure.
Mr. Shaw probably won't reply, but Mr. Millman could, if he remembers what it was about.


On Jul 26, 2006 Viral wrote:

when you're meditating leave your front and back door open ... let your thoughts come and go -- just don't serve them tea ... but in a way you are your thoughts, but the trick is to not see it as you ... thought of feeling like it's "me versus the world" ... realized that thoughts come and go ... dalai lama once said emotions are a very base motivation of action ... i think there's a deeper force than emotion ... so what role does emotion play? last sentence: it's not about your likes and dislikes, but rather doing the right thing ... dr. v passed away last week ... story of his life of service ... interesting press story: he was serving, so instead of memorial and shutting down the hospital, they kept it going, contrary to normal practice ... my aha-moment: smiling face of my grandson ... agreed with most of the things in the quote ... but the last line caught my attention: we talk about intentions, and you can do something good with bad inentions and vice ver  See full.

  • when you're meditating leave your front and back door open ... let your thoughts come and go -- just don't serve them tea ... but in a way you are your thoughts, but the trick is to not see it as you ...
  • thought of feeling like it's "me versus the world" ... realized that thoughts come and go ...
  • dalai lama once said emotions are a very base motivation of action ... i think there's a deeper force than emotion ... so what role does emotion play?
  • last sentence: it's not about your likes and dislikes, but rather doing the right thing ...
  • dr. v passed away last week ... story of his life of service ... interesting press story: he was serving, so instead of memorial and shutting down the hospital, they kept it going, contrary to normal practice ...
  • my aha-moment: smiling face of my grandson ...
  • agreed with most of the things in the quote ... but the last line caught my attention: we talk about intentions, and you can do something good with bad inentions and vice versa ... example of my mom: doing good because it comes form within ...
  • on topic of emotions: have gotten caught into patterns and reacting ... and i don't like it ...
  • i disagreed on the passage ... but thinking about tendencies was interesting to think about ... if i think about every moment being an opportunity to make a decision ...
  • i'm not sure how we know what is good ... and happiness is a good measure of whether youre doing the right thing ... hard to say without that measure ...
  • in the gita, there's a reference to "what's pleasant and convenient" versus what's "good and wholesome" ... that part i understand, but the other part about self-denial i disagree ... instead of dichotomy ... we need synergy -- your self-interest is aligned with interest of the world ... who decides what go
  • don't ask what the world needs. do instead what makes you come alive. because what the world needs are people who have come alive
  • transcend and self-mastery are contradictory ... brings up difficult points in my life, about identity and thought ... a tibetan teacher i went to see was talking about renunciation as transcending the need for what we're attached to ... and it starts with material things, but really goes to thoughts ... so i don't believe in self-mastery, but rather letting go ... get out of the way and do the right thing ...
  • goes back to conversation about taking versus making decisions ...
  • love and joy operate on different thoughts ...
  • when the trance ends, you transcend
  • when i got the news of when dr. v died, i was wondering what it would feel like to know that millions can see because of your efforts .. i'm sure he didn't think of it that way, and probably just did what was in front of him ...
  • one thing that struck me: things that influence us, when you think about it, are from the lifetime of collecting tendencies, and they're even beyond emotion -- an unconscious act ... and so focus more on what we do in our life ...
  • when you come from more present space, one begins to realize what the right action is ...
  • when i heard about dr. v, it impacted me in a way that i didn't expect, because i didn't know him ... i think it surrounds the fact that a few deaths have come in my own family ... i tend to think more with my mind than with my heart ... and so i'm
  • there is a power within that knows ...
  • the dalai lama once talked about bottled up thoughts being similar to a dam that is going to burst at some time ... so to me, a thought is something that can't be really stopped, but it's a question of how you channel that ... that's whayt i find to be quite important ...
  • a quote by dr. v: if the person who i'm treating has this kind of belief or faith in me, what should my reaction be to it ... i found that notion to be very powerful ...
  • thought wasn't one of my favorites, but having read the way of the peaceful warrior, i thought of it as saying that it's tough, but do it anyway ... i remember heng sure's analogy of thoughts being the root of every thing ...
  • i didn't like the greatness word. and felt that the thought was really attacking my ego ...
  • about dr. v -- anybody who has lived so fully for so long, helped me to see it in a very detached way ... i hope to be that way ...
  • this thought helped give me clarity ... found out this week that my brother was sick, and he was in a hospital ... and it was a jarring experience ... and sometimes your emotions take over, but this helped in still functioning through that .... so gave me clarity
  • felt happy reading it ... who doesn't want self-mastery ...
  • the part that resonates most: we tend to be lazy ... it's
  • hearing about dr v was the saddest moment of the day ... starting to distinguish between wants and needs ...
  • about unwanted thoughts: i think we can work with our thoughts ... neuro linguistic programming ... we don't always want to do things we need to do, but we can change the mood ...
  • i am actually from madurai, and both my grandparents had surgeries there, and so i feel very grateful ... i didn't know about dr. v, but i used to be fascinated to see hundreds of villagers who would be brought in all the way from the villages for a ten minute surgery ...
  • intelligence and capability are not enough ...
  • when i know what is right: if it's not related to any thought of emotion .. there's some kind of genuine honesty within me ... if i don't know what's right, then i'm not connected to myself ...
  • i have a friend who is seriously ill ... and so i called her and she was in great pain ... and i knew that i couldn't help ...
  • differing a little from george bernard shaw: as a kid, if i'm happy, i do things ... and so deep down inside, that can be a good metric ...
  • be selfish, be generous -- quote by dalai lama
  • ownership of thoughts and emotions didn't come till i was about 15 ... and recognized that the emotions of today become the actions of tomorrow ... i don't have to take complete ownership for everything, but there are things that i can see the cause and effect ...
  • spontaneity: context is important ... perhaps george bernard shaw has to be seen in the context of what he said this in ...
  • no satsang has the number of young people that i have seen here. i hope they continue and don't get disappointed. i am 73 and so far till today, i have never sat down for one full hour. i managed 55 minutes. but last five minutes was hell. you are training yourself early. good. my mind started with the thought of g. venkataswamy ... and it made me think of the happiness of the poorest of the poor ... and everyone got their happiness got their happiness from attending to their duty ... gave a bertrand russell book: the conquest of happiness to a teacher ... happiness is our birthright
  • so many times, i think, "why am i thinking of this?" this passage lightens the burden! thoughts arise from mind, and to stop the generation process, in order to give a break, we have to remain present in the current moment ... the process of mind is to either generate thoughts which are related to protecting the ego, based on the past, or trying to build the future ... so the only way to break out of that, would be to try to live as many moments as possible in the current moment ... regarding dr. v, it illustrates very clearly both the impermanence as well as the permanence ... impermanence of body, which all of us have to let go, and permanence of the momentum of inspiration ...
  • i have a lot of dr. venkataswamy stories, but this story is from two weeks ago, as i was there: a year ago, i have seen infinite vision ... and so i went to order it at seva, then showed it to several hundreds as i'm a professor ... one of my dvds got scratched in the process and so i called seva, and they told me their credit card machine was broken and so they couldn't send it to me in time ... and i have these dalai lama quotes in front of me and so i sent them an email while on the phone: "learn the rules so that you can break them properly." this dvd, any time you want to inspire soeone, show infinite vision!
  • this thought today was so powerful, that i wanted to open the discussion ... this was the best thought that i have ever heard ... this morning i had a little experience where i realized how if you can take emotions out of any act, how it can lead to a spiritual act or a service act ... i have seen so many inspiring people, in this house, in dr. v ... and so emotions are habits of interpretation -- and i had the biggest realization of my life today: if any one would take emotion as a habit of interpretation, it would lighten up the burden and make it a truly spiritual experience ... my introduction to dr v was when nipun was taking a trip to the south of india, when he was quite young. and so he said, don't worry, i have a friend, dr v. later i could see that it was in the same spirit ...

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On Jul 12, 2006 Jesse wrote:
Great point, Arzu!

On Jul 11, 2006 Arzu wrote:
I think this discussion seeks an answer to what we consider a "thought". Depending upon that definition, all are right.

On Jul 11, 2006 Greg wrote:
I agree with Anona that we are responsible for our own thoughts. That we can shape and choose positive ones and therefore have positive emotions and actions. And I agree with Dan Millman that thoughts "enter our mind and flow out and the emotions that pass like the weather."

You can control them. You can overcontrol them. You can under control them. And they often have a mind of their own!

On Jul 11, 2006 Anona wrote:

I strongly disagree with Dan Millman's notion that "we are not responsible for the thoughts that enter our mind and flow out and the emotions that pass like the weather" Thoughts are words we choose to think, emotions do not come or go, they are simple reactions to what we are thinking about. Change what we choose to think about and our emotions will change. We are responsible for what we choose to think, feel. The only place he is correct is we are responsible for our behavior. However, before each behavior is a thought to act it out. Our emotions are produced computer quick, so much so that we THINK it's a thing that arrived, but it's only a REACTION. It is so much easier in life to choose your thoughts well so that you won't have to deal with unpleasant emotions. Phillipians 4:8 tells us what to fill our minds with (or to think on) and if you notice here they are all POSITIVE thoughts. This teaches us that WE choose our thoughts and that we are able to choose good ones,REGA  See full.

I strongly disagree with Dan Millman's notion that "we are not responsible for the thoughts that enter our mind and flow out and the emotions that pass like the weather" Thoughts are words we choose to think, emotions do not come or go, they are simple reactions to what we are thinking about. Change what we choose to think about and our emotions will change. We are responsible for what we choose to think, feel. The only place he is correct is we are responsible for our behavior. However, before each behavior is a thought to act it out. Our emotions are produced computer quick, so much so that we THINK it's a thing that arrived, but it's only a REACTION. It is so much easier in life to choose your thoughts well so that you won't have to deal with unpleasant emotions. Phillipians 4:8 tells us what to fill our minds with (or to think on) and if you notice here they are all POSITIVE thoughts. This teaches us that WE choose our thoughts and that we are able to choose good ones,REGARDLESS OF WHAT OUR CIRCUMSTANCE MAY BE

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On Jul 11, 2006 sue wrote:
How true that most people think of themselves and their world first, (the 1980s has a lot to answer for!)And the current 'celebrity' frenzy, where shallow people prostitute themselves for their 15 minutes of fame is sickening. It's all 'what's in it for me', good old GBS.....if we could only think like that all the time...what a wonderful world it would be!

On Jul 11, 2006 SHIVAM wrote:
its awesome