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          Thus far, we have enlightened ourselves to a number of wisdoms that strengthen our way of thinking.  Today, let’s create a dynamic image of how a newer way of thinking transforms us from helpless, self-centered “takers” into powerful creators of our own destiny.  Let’s understand that we ourselves are the work-in-progress of a powerful creative force.  Indeed, we are not only the growing edge of change; we have made ourselves the most significant agent of change.  We have a mission and a purpose that began with simplicity and we are continuously growing in complexity and sophistication. 
          Our life span is characterized by three stages, whereas other earth inhabitants experience one or two.  Each stage may be identified with its own master who creates the rules that govern the experience of life within that stage.  The most important way that we stand out from other life is that we have been provided a sophisticated portion of our brain that invents language, the cerebral cortex, or “freedom organ.”  Humankind alone has been given the gift of naming.  Naming enables us to collect, store, share, and pass knowledge forward.  Knowledge of cause and effect is power.  As successive generations collected more knowledge, we have become such increasingly powerful creators and destroyers that we now influence our destiny and we have assumed responsibility for the future of our loved ones and mother earth. 

          Learning starts with labeling.  In prior strens, as a practical matter to convey meaning, I have labeled the first forces that are the masters of the way we think instinct and tradition, whereas self-mastery identifies the self-programming that frees us from instinct and habit.  Some prefer to call the first controllers of our life nature and nurture, others fate and circumstance, and some identify a supernatural force which is commonly called “God.”

          Stren #3 identified the three masters who together direct our life’s experience:

  • Instinct (nature) consists of the inherited operating system that is predetermined by our genes.  Instinct links us to our earliest ancestors.  A long chain of adaptations for survival, proven by trial-and-error, have been passed forward over billions of years and innumerable generations.  Instinct includes those patterns that were successful in getting us this far by being effective in a primitive, savage environment.

  • Tradition (nurture) consists of the innovations our more recent ancestors have added to nature’s perspective and thereafter pass forward.  They mainly consist of the common sense solutions that were effective for yesterday’s problems based on yesterday’s knowledge.  We are assigned allegiances: a tribe, a native language, a country, a religion, a political ideology, sports teams, how to dress, what is masculine and feminine behavior, and how to interpret the world.  Wow!  We get quite a lot from our nurturers.

  • Self-mastery appears in the third phase of our life cycle.  It is the most interesting phase because in it we can assume direction of who we are and what we are to become.  It is the process whereby we mentally free ourselves from dictators to assume the opportunity and the burden of personal responsibility.  Unlike the passively received inscriptions of instinct and tradition which we cannot refuse, self-mastery is an option that requires our active participation.  We attain self-mastery by inventing word-switches that create a newer way of thinking.  Word-switches serve as signals that inspire common sense problem-solving; they replace established trigger words that turn on instinct and tradition.  The rules of instinct and tradition are not designed to wisely manage the problems new knowledge creates – for example, our discovery and proliferation of weapons with ultimate destructive power.  Our current generation has reached such a level of power that we have already assumed responsibility for who and what survives.  We are the first and only life to have reached such godlike power.