This life is such an interesting experience. We are all participants in a vast game which we all agreed to play before we got here. The game consists in trying to thread our way between two worlds, each with a different set of rules. On the one hand, we have this three-dimensional physical world wherein we have to find food, shelter, clothing, companionship, and to confront other players of the game struggling to comprehend and cope. On the other hand, we have a, let us say, four-dimensional world which shows this reality to be a product of our own minds, an illusion, a "dream-world" from the fourth dimensional point of view.
What is the good of knowing all this? It depends on whether you want to be a slave of life or its master. To be a slave of life is to accept everything around you as the ultimate reality and to act as if you have no control over it at all. It is to identify with the waves of energy that pass through you from time to time, which we call emotion, to think that they are you, that they are yours; and to let them condition your thinking, when in reality the energy was colored by your thinking in the first place. It is like a puppy chasing its own tail. Then there is the problem of other people. Everything would be great if only they all did what you wanted or expected them to do. But other people are such contrary beings. Often they would rather do what they want, rather than what we want, even when we "know" that ours is the best way. So when they don't act according to our expectations and desires it upsets us terribly, causing emotional (energetic) trauma and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. But--and consider this very carefully--when others don't act according to our desires and expectations, then perhaps something is wrong with our desires and expectations, and not with their behavior.
A slave of life is also terribly bound by material possessions--money, land, goods. Their loss or lack causes emotional trauma and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, too. We may seek such "tangible" objects out of a need for security, but such a fragile and ephemeral type of security it is. The Bible parable of the man who worked his tail off for years and years to fill his barns and granaries with riches, only to find out on the very day that he thought he had attained material security that he was to depart this life the same night, reflects a fundamental truth. We are only passing through this life. The material world is only a tool for our experience. We are bound to suffer if we try to base our security on swirling atoms held in a temporary pattern, and to think of the pattern as the only reality.
The master of life--and it is the here-and-now potential of every human being to be such--knows that three-dimensional experience is a reflection of thought and not more. As a master of life you realize that you choose what you experience through your basic beliefs about life. You realize further, that to change your experience you have only to change your beliefs, and you understand the difference between desire and belief. You know that you, and only you, are responsible for all your happiness or unhappiness. And you also know one of the most important truths: that the way in which you experience life depends on how you choose to react to what happens to you.
For this is an inborn, inalienable power that each of us has. We choose to be happy or sad, disgusted or overjoyed, impatient or understanding, bigoted or tolerant, inflexible or flowing. The slave chooses, too, but he lets his choice be determined by the will or acts of others, thus putting his power in their hands, and then he tries to blame others for his failure or unhappiness. The master of life chooses the way he wants to feel, to react, in terms of what will be the most effective for him, regardless of what happens. You are all, at all times, masters of your fate, insofar as your power to choose your reactions goes. The difference is that the slave refuses to accept responsibility for his choice, and remains a slave, while the master of life chooses knowingly, and is free.
People speak of the courage it takes to choose effectively, and of the struggle to choose one reaction over another. Actually, the only courage involved is that of risking someone else's displeasure at your choice. And the only struggle is against your own fear and doubt. Of course, it is easier to float than to swim; easier to go with the flow than to direct your course, but floating brings you up against sharp and unpleasant rocks, while swimming brings you to safety.
To carry on the swimming analogy a bit, let us conceive of a particular experience in life as a rip tide. A rip tide is a strong current running from the shore out to sea a hundred yards or more. Let us use it to demonstrate a life experience over which you apparently have no control. Caught in the rip tide, a slave of life either panics and tries to struggle against the current, in which case he quickly loses his strength and drowns or he gives up all hope and floats out to sea with the current, in which case he drowns anyway. The master of life, however, flows with the current until he feels its power weakening, and then he swims around it and back to shore. Both slave and master undergo the same experience. The difference is in how they react to it. To master life is not to control it; it is to master your relationship to it. A master surfer does not control the wave. He masters the art of riding it.