By Remez Sasson
Following the previous post, “Why You Need Self Discipline”, I would like to clarify several points, since it seems that are some misunderstandings of what self discipline is.
Some people believe that self discipline means being austere, severe and harsh on yourself and toward others. This is completely untrue! You can possess self discipline, and yet be loving, kind, considerate, open-minded and full of joy.
Self discipline is not some sort of senseless limitation that you put on yourself.
It is not an act of limiting your freedom of choice. On the contrary, doing whatever you feel like doing is not freedom at all. Acting on a whim, doing whatever you feel like doing at the moment is lack of freedom of choice, because this means acting in response to subconscious programming, and in reaction to external situations. It means that other people’s thoughts, words and actions move you to action, and not your judgment and common sense. This behavior doesn’t lead to inner and spiritual freedom.
The self discipline I am talking about is not a state of being cold, harsh, limited and conservative, as has been construed in various societies. It has nothing to do with self undoing, senseless suppression, bottling up feelings, being narrow-minded or lacking of freedom. It is a process in which your higher nature decides what to do and how to act. It is a power which everyone can develop to a greater or lesser degree.
Whom do you discipline?
This depends on who you think you are. If you consider your thoughts, feelings and desires, which constitute the ego, to be the real you, then you would most probably dislike the idea of discipline. You will feel as if you are putting brakes on yourself. If you recognize or accept that you are something more, something higher, then your whole attitude would change.
Meditation leads to freedom from restless and endless thinking, and to inner peace, and this awakens the awareness of something higher than your mind, thoughts, feelings and desires, which constitute the ego. You open up to a higher reality – consciousness, which you feel and experience to be the real you. Then you see that the ego is not you, but only an instrument, through which you interact with the world around you. You no longer feel that you are disciplining or limiting yourself. What you are doing is actually freeing yourself from the instinctive dictates of the ego.
You require some degree of this ability if you desire success in any area of life. It helps you get focused on what you are doing and grants you persistence, stickiness and the ability to go on with what you are doing, whether you are learning a foreign language, studying for a degree, working on achieving a goal, learning to swim, ride a bicycle or meditate, engaging in bodybuilding or doing anything else that requires dedication, action and time.