The Seven Principles Of Mastery
(that work for me)
© 1998, Bob King, all rights reserved.
Permission to reproduce, with attributions intact, is granted.
Comments are solicited, obviously. : )
Within this document I use the term "subject" to indicate someone on the "s" end of some form of a D/s power-exchange curve. As there are several valid models to choose from that indicate both different degrees of power exchange and different natures of power exchange, I want to avoid implying that this document is biased towards one form of D/s. Now, since I AM a Master/Dominant, I use the term Master to show where MY biases are coming from, rather than to imply that that is the only valid paradigm.
1) I understand that in any variety of D/s relationship, the issue of consent becomes less and less meaningful as the amount of power exchanged rises. Under ordinary circumstances, with D/s dynamics that fall well within the negotiated boundaries, it does not matter whether or not a subject "consents", that is to say, whether or not their obedience is truly willing. It may or may not be, at the time, but in these cases, meta-consent applies, recognizing that there are times that obedience is difficult, but it is nevertheless necessary to maintain the relationship.
Having said that, it is the responsibility of all subjects to communicate their needs so that I can make intelligent decisions as to what might be a reasonable expectation at the moment. I recognize that all subjects are different, with different needs, reactions and abilities. I know that what I can ask and expect of one may be damaging to another and not challenging enough to a third, and that in turn, all of these things vary due to circumstances and mood.
2) I believe that it is in my own best interest to concentrate on enhancing the capabilities and reinforcing the self image of my subject, rather than concentrating on crushing their self-image and self-respect.
While I understand the reasoning behind this and the attraction it has to both some types of subjects and some types of masters, if it is done well and faithfully by both sides the end result is still a carrot that walks, not a valuable, intelligent and largely self directed subject.
The first approach results in a person that needs constant attention to function at all and has no limits or hesitations, so they have no great fascination for me as a sadist/Master, unless I should be interested in reversing the condition. The second approach is not self limiting, so it means I get to play with the same toy for as long as circumstances and life permit, which is a far better return on emotional investment.
3) I believe in increasing the level of responsibility that a slave or submissive has as a reward and recognition of progress.
Many subjects are initially incapable of handling responsibility in any great sense, but this, to me, is a problem that needs addressing. It may be that by working with them, they become capable of independent function and choose to leave service. This is to be considered a good result and a fulfillment of the relationship, not a loss.
Others may choose to concentrate to great depth on narrow areas of responsibility, knowing that the more general life responsibilities are covered by the Master. This is what I call Slavery; a state whereby the slave, freed of routine life challenges, is freed to fulfill their full potential in their best areas, to the betterment of themselves and their Master.
4) I am responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of my subjects, however bound to me, to the degree they are bound to me, even as they are responsible for mine.
A) I will not play with them in ways that exceed my skills or knowledge.
B) I will not play with them in ways that tend to weaken, damage or harm them.
C) I will, to the best of my abilities, keep my play as safe as possible under the circumstances.
i) "Edge play" is not safe, by definition, but I pledge to keep the risks manageable, should I choose to indulge them, myself or see the need.
ii) While the ordinary boundaries of the relationship may be negotiated to permit such play without formal consent, I recognize that it is not appropriate to undertake edge play without dynamic and explicit communication during the scene.
D) I will hold myself responsible for the consequences of choosing to accept risks on behalf of my subjects, if the negotiated boundaries and nature of the relationship make ordinary consent a questionable issue.
5) I understand that the degree of power exchange is something that must be individually negotiated with each subject.
Furthermore, I understand that the exchange must be of equal value. In other words, I cannot accept power or service without returning something the subject finds just as important. What that will be measured in depends on the subject, but I will not undervalue the relationship, even if the subject permits, as this will inevitably lead in destructive directions.
I also recognize that needs change over time and that relationships must be continually renegotiated in order to maintain their balance.
I recognize the absolute right of a subject to withdraw consent to any part of a negotiated relationship, with or without notice or explanation. They, in turn recognize that
I have the right to reevaluate the relationship based on the new implied dynamic and the information at hand and if in my judgment, this requires a cessation of the relationship, I have the right to make that choice.
6) I am responsible for understanding, exploring and criticizing my own motives, ethics and boundaries. I will not violate my own ethics and I will respect the ethical boundaries of my subjects.
To the extent that a subject has ceded the responsibilities for respecting their boundaries to me, I acknowledge that I am responsible for considering those limits and boundaries as being as important as my own, and being no more eager to "push" them than to have my own "pushed."
I am as responsible for the consequences of pushing a subject's boundaries as I would be for pushing my own, or allowing them to be pushed.
As a consequence of this, no matter what degree of negotiated permission I may have for the boundaries of another, I will always carefully consider the reactions of my subjects when I am exploring limits and deliberately elicit full information on their honest reactions to it.
7) I recognize that I am not God, that I make mistakes and that I am perfectible. I consider it my subject's duty to correct me in cases where I am about to make a mistake that will affect them, myself, or our relationship.
A) I will not give orders I know will not be obeyed.
B) I will not place my subjects in double bind situations.
C) I will not set them up to fail.
D) I will not create excuses to punish them.