Three Eastern Techniques for Building Temperance


  1. Surrender Self-Righteousness
    The first of these techniques is giving up your attachment to having always to be right. Right in your opinions, judgments, or interpretations. You know this inner experience of attachment to being right; you are all puffed up with judgment and rigid in your convictions. You get indignant, defensive, or feel martyred when confronted with varying opinions.  This practice means renouncing the need to be right in your interactions with those around you-your significant other, colleagues at work, even your children. It also means giving up your attachment about being right about your story, which may involve having been wronged or not receiving proper care or recognition in the past. Release your attachment to that story, even though you know it is the truth. Remember, you don’t always have to be right.
  2. Stop Measuring Your Worth
    The second technique is giving up measuring how successful your life is by how well your desires are met. Most people measure the success of their lives in this manner-are they getting what they want in material objects, relationship, recognition, or personal health? It takes so little reflection to see for yourself that this is an unreliable manner for measuring the worth of your life. You should measure the success of your life by how well your actions work to build relationships with others.  We are all subject to conditions beyond our control. This is a fact of life yet it is so hard to accept. You generally cannot control outcomes, but you can be responsible for how you react to them. To assume more is not only unrealistic, it is absurd.
  3. Give Up Being the Star
    The third technique is to give up being the star of your own movie. Without ever thinking about it, most people experience each arising moment from the point-of-view that the whole world revolves around them. Have you ever noticed that when you get on the freeway at rush hour that it is everyone else who is the traffic, never you? This perspective leads you to take personal much of what is in fact impersonal. It causes you to make small things important which you later realize were not important. It adds tension and drama to many moments of your daily life that if you hadn’t believed that you are the star of the show, things would have been a lot more peaceful. Life is like a movie, you are definitely in it, and it is critical that you play your part, but you are not the star of the movie.  You have a small part in a much greater theatrical performance about family, country, fellow man, culture, time, and circumstances. When you start to realize that there is a “star” feeling in you, you realize that much of your anxiety about what might happen is self-induced pressure that comes from thinking you are the star of the movie and you are somehow supposed to make everything turn out just right….save the day, create a happy ending for everyone. Each moment of life really weighs almost nothing, despite how heavy we often make ourselves feel. The heaviness comes from delusions about our-self and our role in the world. Lose the drama!
Temperance is simply a disposition of the mind which binds the passion.Thomas Aquinas