I just googled the word ‘discipline’ and the result came compliments of the esteemed Oxford Dictionary of English “.. the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.”

That is heavy! I’m already being psychically thrown into jail. As a teenager I dropped out of the discipline of University in search of Utopian freedom and spiritual enlightenment. I ended up working six hours a day in an Ashram in India for a plate of food and spiritual guidance. Apparently, it was all part of the path to liberation. Surrender to the Guru and all that. Between you and me, the peace I was looking for was always there. I just thought that I had to walk an arduous path of suffering before I deserved to be invited through the golden gates of the spiritual elite. More fool I. What rubbish! It is simply our conditioning that makes it hard! However, changing a habit of a lifetime, now that’s where the work comes in and for that there does need to be a discipline.

Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that there is a beauty in discipline. The word disciple come from the same Latin root discipulus which basically means ‘One who takes from…’ 

I just thought that I had to walk an arduous path of suffering before I deserved to be invited through the golden gates of the spiritual elite. More fool I. What rubbish!

We discipline ourselves in order to fulfill a need. There are essential needs that we each have in common. To have a safe and loving home, to be healthy, abundant, loved, to love and to be creatively fulfilled. These don’t all show up on their own, we have to ‘realize’ them. I refrain from using the term ‘work’ for them. Let me explain. When I say ‘realize’, I mean literally realize them. These are external reflections of our essential states of Being. We own them already. If we were born in a perfect holding environment with no dramas or outside events that cause damage to our essential structures, our nature, then we would grow to be perfectly happy wee human beings.

So then How to realize these essential states? Let’s call it a ‘loving discipline’. Your Essential self will guide you in order to find balance. It’s a natural force, much like the way water flows down a hill. It will find a way and will follow the path of least resistance. Although sometimes there needs to be a push, a motivation. A great example was shared by the one and only Mrs Monk, I quote,

“In the morning when I wake up I do not wanna’ go for a run. But I KNOW I will feel 1000 times better right after I go out of the door and start running …. and will feel even better after I arrive home from my jog (endorphins and so on). But before I get my ass out of the bed, I struggle and resist, because I’m a lazy bastard. So… here you go… my wise Self ‘knows’ and it guides me to a discipline. A Loving one.”

Preparing, serving and drinking tea as part of a daily discipline by Zen monks

So here in the same way, we need a loving push for the practice of presence. The loving discipline to Awaken by responding to those impulses that surface from our nature, calling quietly to get our act together.

The core of our nature rests in the capacity to be present in our essential state. However, most of us are trained from childhood on how to function from the personality. Most societies are based on this approach. Without going into the psychological depths of this process, it is enough to say that the Observer is who we are, essentially. The personality is the conditioning we have learned from birth and that we observe.

A disciple, one who is disciplined, is one who has commitment herself to the reconnection to her Essential self. To be self realized. The discipline is to have the energy to keep going, to sustain a practice that supports this work. To keep the water flowing. And the practice? Of course there are many paths, schools, techniques yet the one thing that the ‘authentic’ teachings all share, is that of recognizing the part of you that is aware and observing the content of your experience directly. It is free from any resistance or judgment to what is the reality right now. It is simply just observing. From there comes understanding and from understanding comes transformation. Simple as that.

The more we ‘effort’ to change by resisting what is, the more division we create. Have you ever observed it for yourself in your own life situations? Perhaps a  restless undercurrent that never seems to be satisfied?

A disciple, one who is disciplined, is one who has commitment herself to the reconnection to her essential self. To be self realized. The discipline is to have the energy to keep going, to sustain a practice that supports this work. To keep the water flowing.

Discipline is a commitment to being present and responding to life situations from presence and being aware of when there is a conditioned reaction from the personality. It is this observation that leads to the understanding that transforms the restlessness to peace.

Do whatsoever you feel to do to stay present. Run, walk, go fishing, work, drive, cook, do yoga, read the paper. Be deeply committed to the discipline of presence, to Awaken. Be patient , observe and do it every day. You might feel the burn from time to time, but it’s worth it. Rinse and Repeat.

The more presence you have, the more understanding grows leading to more clarity arising guiding you as to what is the right action for you to take. It’s this inner freedom and empowerment that brings a deep inner sense of satisfaction to your daily life.

Be patient , observe and do it every day. You might feel the burn from time to time, but it’s worth it. Rinse and Repeat.

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