By cyclistmike On September 8, 2015
Spirituality is a very energetic word, and it inspires notions of peace, understanding and compassion. Discipline is a similar such word but it’s lacking any sort of excitement. Discipline however is the foundational principle of true spiritual practice. However we could separate the two, because discipline is it’s own practice. The discipline we are talking about is self discipline, born and practiced internally, it is a very personal thing
This discipline is not a punishment and is not a coach or anyone else telling ushow to be. This discipline is the desire of our highest intelligence to be the best we can be. This is the discipline that hears the suggestions how we should practice, and takes that initiative. This discipline is not re-iterating the words of another about how we should be, it’s being those words and trusting that will be enough. This discipline is boring.
Now if spirituality is a serious thing, it’s kind of funny how serious people make their spirituality, when it should be a simple expression in itself. Unfortunately the idea of having comes into play. People aren’t practicing, they have spirituality. It becomes a thing and we use it to identify who we are. “I am a ‘spiritual person’ and I would never do any sort of thing that would compromise my spirituality” is a humorous idea. Unfortunately a lot of us do this. We are spiritual and we dogmatically avoid certain things because we have begun to practice a personal religion.
This is to say, we avoid certain situations because that would taint our personal identity, we are so serious about maintaining this identity. We forget that we are not just what we think we are. Instead we go through all the hard work to maintain and secure the idea of what we think we are! Then if we get anywhere near perfection of this identity we also have to defend it, this leads to more avoidance, and even stronger avoidance of compromising situations. This is a certain kind of intolerance.
Spirituality is like a boat sitting at a marina. Let’s call one boat ‘Spirituality’ and one boat ‘Discipline.’
Spirituality is the vessel that doesn’t go out in rough conditions, it has a beautiful well manicured crew, and it’s a nice looking vessel. It is kept and used on nice days, pleasant weekends and it generally keeps everyone happy. Guests come and guest go from Spirituality and no one’s feelings get hurt. People drink alcohol and carouse of course, but if anyone starts to become trouble their generally shipped off somewhere else and not invited back. Spirituality is a pretty soft place and it’s a somewhat exclusive club. It’s not that you have to try really hard to fit in, it’s that you either fit in or you leave. This is the vessel Spirituality, without a core practice of discipline.
Now “Discipline” is another type of vessel entirely. Most importantly ‘Discipline’ isn’t perfect, it is very well used. The crew of ‘Discipline’ show up, sometimes they’re hung over, sometimes sleep deprived. Sometimes they are bright eyed and bushy tailed. The crew understands that whatever their mental state they will be asked to perform, and it’s not necessarily going to be easy. The boat goes out in most conditions, and tests itself. Sometimes things get pushed to far, parts get broken and sometimes feelings are hurt. Discipline understands that we’re not always going to be winners, and we’re not always going to be losers. Discipline is interested in open communications, as a tool for improvement. The vessel discipline brings those aboard her into greater understanding and acceptance of themselves and their environment. Discipline naturally grows, and is an intimidating vessel to board as it’s participants may face seemingly impossible circumstances. This is not because discipline goes looking for danger, but danger automatically finds those who are willing to practice discipline.
So here we have two vessels on the same dock, with a few obvious differences between them. This creates a certain degree of tension and maybe uneasiness, but there can still be friendship and mutual respect. After all, neither true discipline or true spirituality need to convert. One world is not particularly better than the other. A spiritual person will have some practice of discipline, and a disciplined person might have some spirituality. However you may find one lacking without the other.
It is a conundrum that spirituality talks about growth and simultaneously creates a club environment where it’s participants can become more comfortable. Discipline is lacking. However both vessels are tied to the same dock in the same marina. When we become bored with the routine of modern spirituality, all we have to do is adjust our vision and we will see the boat of discipline.