Self-Discipline

QA141 QUESTION: I have a frustration and I’d like to get out of it. It has been affecting me recently and has set me off to hate quite a few people. And it’s very exhausting, this hating. With me, it is a question of career, to put it bluntly. I feel inwardly I have quite a good career. I feel very satisfied. But certainly out of me I still feel that I have been either stagnating or vegetating. I feel that I have fallen, say, five times in trying to have a career. I feel very frustrated that some friends of mine attain this more easily.

Usually at this particular point, I get into a state where I think it’s about ambition. I think of an idea such as buying camera equipment, which sets me off – but then I see that this has a note of circleness, in that buying equipment might, you know, destroy me financially. I’ve never been able to know how to get out of this in a proper way.

ANSWER: Well, let me try first and very directly to come to the deepest level here. Perhaps we will work it the other way around and from there go to a more outer level. The reaction to the outer occurrences – in spite of the inner feeling of growth and progress which is based on reality – is due to the fact that there is one area, a certain nucleus in you, that you still do not want to give up or touch, and where you do not want to progress.

Therefore, you project that onto something where it is unjustified in certain ways or where you exaggerate it or where you distort it and where you begin to compare yourself with others – which is always illusory, for it is never possible to get reliable and realistic and truthful evaluation of anything, of any aspect, when one compares oneself with other people. This is a complete distortion.

Now, the conflict you are in is that on the one hand, you are trying to find your real self and be true to it – which is the only thing that can solve all problems, the only thing that can really give peace, the only thing that can bring realistic and valuable accomplishments, not for the sake of appearance but in a fulfilling and meaningful sense; this is the one desire you have. On the other hand, you suddenly are torn into comparing and measuring with others, into ambition in a wrong way.

This conflict exists because somewhere a little clue is missing, where you do not use initiative – let us say initiative rather than ambition, in order to avoid confusion – in a way that is realistic. Because initiative is self-activating. It is self-generating. It is not in order to accomplish something for the sake of proving or impressing others, but it is an inner need in order to establish your own strength and your own sense of integrity.

Where this is still overlooked and shied away from, because there is somewhere an area where you do not want to become yourself, you go overboard and in extremes of over-ambitiousness and under-ambitiousness on an outer level. Do you understand what I am saying?

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know, perhaps. Let’s say the area of painting, where I do it to please others. {Yes} I do remarkably well, but it’s not getting me a career – and not ever taking me away from anything else.

ANSWER: Yes. You see, the important thing is that you find that area in you where you still act only because you have to, and actually do not want to act. Where you want to hinge it onto others and not onto yourself. When this area is totally explored and seen and evaluated and understood, the conflict you are in will cease.

QUESTION: Yes. There’s also the question of discipline, isn’t there? For me discipline is unpleasurable.

ANSWER: Right. You see, this is exactly the point: as long as you summon discipline because you must, because life and authority demand it of you, it is unpleasurable. As long as you do it because you think there is no other way and you have to, you are constantly obeying some authority, but always with the brakes on.

Occasionally you then really rebel and do not do anything and let yourself go and become destructive. But when discipline becomes a freely chosen act, it is not a burden and it is actually pleasurable. It becomes pleasurable.

QUESTION: I still want to know if it can be pleasurable.

ANSWER: Yes. When it is freely chosen. Anything that is freely chosen is pleasurable. Anything you do because you must becomes horrible. Again, it is so relative. It is not the act in itself that is pleasurable or unpleasurable, that is good or bad, that is desirable or not desirable; it is always the auspices under which you are doing it. The supposedly most pleasurable act, if you are forced into it, will become distasteful to you. You know that.

QUESTION: But then if it becomes pleasurable, it’s no longer discipline.

ANSWER: Exactly. But at the beginning you choose it, even though it is at the moment not pleasurable. You voluntarily choose it out of fairness, out of reason, out of decency, out of your own self-interest and in the interest of others as well as yourself. You do not do it because it is imposed upon you, but because you choose it. And in that choosing, when you do it again and again, it ceases to be necessary to use discipline.

But you see, even while it is still discipline, it is a free act. As long as you act because you are forced, it must be distasteful; it must engender rebellion and hostility and hate, and this, in turn brings a further chain reaction of guilt and so on and so forth. So that you will fluctuate between obeying, and you hate the other person for having to obey, so that you will then rebel, and you hate yourself for rebelling. You will be in a constant conflict.

As long as you obey or think you have to obey, or rebel or think you have to rebel, all that – the must that exists in your life and which you hate so much – are exclusively the results, because you decide somewhere in you, you do not want to give up authority – and the parental responsibility that should be carried for you by them, therefore, must exist.

When you freely choose, there is no more must. But that can only be when you do not make your parents responsible for your life, when you do not expect them to arrange your life for you as you want it. Now, you may do this directly or indirectly with parents. The parents may not even be a conscious aspect, but when you analyze your feelings, this is what it amounts to.

Truly this applies to so many of you, in some ways – of course to all, but to some it is more strongly rendered at that moment. The whole question of discipline can only cease to be a problem when you freely choose it out of your own reasonableness, fairness, and acceptance that you are a grown-up person and no one else is responsible for you. Therefore you will never need to rebel or hate nor hate yourself.

QUESTION: Am I right in thinking that as a child, this plays or is used as punishment and as an end, and that perhaps as an adult discipline should be a stepping stone?

ANSWER: Yes. Exactly. Now, this is a step of recognition in the right direction. Exactly. Exactly. You must see that you do it for a certain purpose willingly, voluntarily, not as punishment but out of necessities which you recognize and want and choose, knowing, “Yes, temporarily it may be the line of least resistance if I do not do this, but then I will not like myself and I will not like the result. And no one else is responsible for the result but me; therefore I choose to do this.” It will not be a chore then. It will not be a punishment. That is it. Do you gain a glimmer there?

QUESTION: Yeah, I gain a glimmer. [Laughter]

ANSWER: That is wonderful, my friend. That is wonderful. That is growing in the right direction. All you have to do in such a moment is in a very calm, relaxed and unforceful way, say into yourself, “This is where I want to be. This is what I want to do. This is what I want to grow into – my recognition, my whole psychic planet will be conducive to this, will not rebel against this any more. I let it grow into that.” And then let go, let it be, let it grow.

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