The Human form of life is meant for self-control, and that’s how it is distinguished from the animalistic way of life. The art of discipline is a highly defining factor in building self-control. Rather, this art has its scientific way of approach. If one can’t measure something, then he can’t improve on it. The practice of discipline is intertwined with its level of progress. To determine all these, defining discipline is mandatory. Some practical drawn from Bhagavad Gita gives us a clear solution to this.
Art of enjoyment
Before sowing seeds, one needs to pluck out unwanted creepers in the field. Likewise, before breaking down the art of discipline and its various types, understanding fickle human tendencies towards the subject of “Art of enjoyment” is necessary.
The natural tendency of a conditioned soul is to be out of control and swim in a state of chaos and disorder. This allows the mind and senses to run wild. To let this happen is easy but the real deal is to control them through some order. A classic example is Arjun. One of the prime reasons he got bewildered by the Kaurava army was his attachment to enjoy the results of war along with all his family members which were impossible.
Why is it important to control the mind and senses from gratification when they derive enjoyment through material activities? This enjoyment born of temporary pleasure objects are indeed going stay temporary and once they’re gone, the senses and mind get easily bewildered. Now the mind and senses oscillate between pleasure and pain, losing their ability to function with resolute determination.
What is Discipline?
Discipline is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason.
One can do the wrong thing at the right time for the right or wrong reason. Sometimes the time is not always appropriate. Likewise, there are various permutations and combinations formed according to the games played by three modes of material nature. But when a righteous action is performed at the right time for the right reasons, then it results in a greater good. Discipline is to bring these three in alignment to propel a higher purpose within to become an instrument of superior cause. Krishna was instructing Arjuna to act on this principle by triggering his duty consciousness. If not used at the right time for the right reason, Arjun’s years of discipline over his skills of warfare would’ve gone to ashes.
Discipline is a refining fire by which talent becomes ability.
Everyone is blessed with potential talent. Yet, unless that talent is put through the fire of discipline, the transformation doesn’t take place. A lump of coal put under intense pressure to become a diamond or gold melted under fire to become a valuable ornament work under this principle The laws of nature are designed this way. As humans, we’re not special in the eyes of nature to be given any concession.
An interesting anecdote from the life of Isaac Newton reveals to us his disciplined efforts to reach his goals. A neighbour of Newton always found him spray bubbles every morning for 8 hours in the hot sun. She thought he was childish and jobless. However, later she came to know he was writing his theories on the Law of Physics through such experiments. Thus, although sometimes such acts appear foolish or simple compared to others’ extravagant endeavours, the consistent effort can bring the best abilities in man. Newton was highly talented but one of his strengths was he coupled his talent with a lot of diligent effort. Without that effort of refining fire, the talent cannot become an ability.
Discipline is doing what you don’t want to do so that you can do what you want to do.
While beginning a new task, it is extremely difficult to perform. One lacks proper skills to perform efficiently and particular characteristics to naturally fit in that category. However, one would’ve entered into those unfamiliar rings with certain goals in mind. How to do that? Begin by doing things you wouldn’t like to do. Nobody likes studying but good results in exams are earned by consistent effort to learn the subjects. Even Arjun didn’t want to fight the battle of Kurukshetra. But he had to do so by following the instructions of Gita with great tenacity to achieve desired results.
Another personality to note is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous Hollywood star, Former Governor of California, and 7 times International bodybuilding champion. He wanted to become a bodybuilder and suddenly his father put him into a regime. Although bitter in the beginning, he could taste the results of the transformation this training brought him. Interestingly, he noted that despite being able to lift only a certain amount of weight during his practices, when standing amid millions of spectators during the championship, he lifted more than he had imagined. This is proof that drastic advancements could be made when we’re monitored by the right authorities.
Any practice, spiritual or not, the progress is gradual and casual when done alone. Naturally, spiritual discipline requires doing what one don’t want to do, like waking up early, sitting in a place to recite the same mantra for two hours etc., but when done amid seekers of the same goal there are excellent benefits of being motivated and pushed to perform activities out of comfort zone.
The tendency of a conditioned soul in material life is to take the easy way out. Still, the easy way is not the happy way. And good things never come easy. Therefore, discipline is doing what you don’t want to do so that in future you can do what you have been wanting to do.