Discipline is much valued in human society. We say it is important to be disciplined; that youth needs discipline as all people of all countries, even ourselves. And then we beat our chests, like apes, and are very pleased with ourselves and all the discipline.
Why do we believe that discipline is necessary? Can we truly say we know that it is necessary and beneficial, or is it perhaps sometimes harmful and hurtful for all of us, both the person who is being disciplined and society as a whole?
Discipline is often accompanied by punishment, which in turn leads to unwanted side effects, such as dislike of those who penalize and the circumstances in which penalty is imposed. Consequences of punishment are often unforeseen; people can adopt a new behavior, which is much worse and more destructive than the one they are to get rid of. Painful and heavy penalties can lead to serious aggression, which can cause a lot of trouble for everyone.1
According to various studies and theories, positive reinforcement is the most powerful way to achieve a change in behavior; it might be in the form of reward, or pay for desired behavior, or something the individual desire.2
But do we know for sure that positive reinforcement is desirable and beneficial for all parties. It may well be possible to achieve a change in behavior with positive reinforcement, but is it desirable to change us and force us to obedience, either by reward or punishment.
To mind comes all the discipline that we see and hear about from countries around the world, where all citizens obey the strict discipline of the government and have no other choice.
What is discipline and what is the manifestation of it in a modern and free society and why are we so willing to apply it and accept it?
It may be answered with few words, discipline is a pre-specified action or practice that consists of a series of activities that promise success. In other words, we do something by a certain method in hope that it will give us what we desire. We expect, of course, that the methods are both effective and successful, which they are rarely, if ever.
This applies to all societies, whether tyranny, dictatorships or liberal.
Whether it relates to ourselves or others, we have decided in advance how we and others should be.
If we, and others, then do not automatically fit into the pattern, we try to influence it and enforce changes with discipline.
We try never to discipline and change those whom we so admire, or what benefit us and may come in handy someday.
Discipline is always directed downward, parents against children, older children against younger, teachers against students, stronger against the weaker, so called better in ourselves against worst etc.
We say that within us is black versus white, evil versus good, causing us problems, we have to rid ourselves of, and so we apply discipline.
We try just to use discipline, when we come across something in our own and others behavior, we do not like.
In other words, we try, with discipline, to change what we dislike to what we feel would be better.
But what we dislike in ourselves does not disappear though we manage to restrain it, or suppress it down somehow, with discipline. All that happens is that we can perhaps hide what we actually are and thus we become prisoners of it. For once we relax, then is a risk that it will rise up again. So we must constantly be on the alert of what we are hiding.
It goes without saying that the only thing that happens, when we repress and hide, is that we focus on what we dislike and give it thus increased weight and more power.
Society, religion and various organizations urge in many ways to envy, competition, greed, and other forms of ill will. And as long as it gives us something and causes us no problems and pain then we maintain it.
As soon as it starts to cause problems we try to get rid of it.
Discipline is really an escape from reality. We want to change what is into what is not, and so we apply discipline.
The me does not know and cannot know peace. It is inherently scared, aggressive and selfish, and creates in us hatred, cruelty, greed, envy and other ill will, we would rather not know of, it causes us, for various and different reasons, hardship and pain, we want to get rid of. We do not like to be and have hardship and pain so we try to escape from it, or change what is into what is not.
The reason we want to get rid of what causes us difficulties and pain, is the same as what gets us to hold on to what gives us joy, we call it the me. This is always a question of our interests, what the me wants. And what the me wants the me gets, and it wants only what gives it pleasure and joy or benefits it in some way.
But do we change anything with discipline? Is discipline not only a status quo? We know well that punishment does not help and positive reinforcement is just buy a bargain and almost nothing beyond that. So what are we doing and what can be done?
Self-knowledge is the only solutions? We have to understand what the me actually is, how it is created and shaped. We must dare to be what we are, no matter how we and society judge it. We exist for ourselves so we should know ourselves and what is best for us, even though it gives us no pleasure.
The truth makes us free and there is only one way to it, we approach it with self-knowledge and not self-discipline, punishment and rewards. We cannot force self-knowledge upon us nor discipline us towards it.
We need to see and understand, all through and not only on the surface, that the me is in fact built up by knowledge rooted in the experiences we have gained through various events and reading books, everything that is stored in our brain.
The me is only a memory, nothing more. And memories are, only and always, what was and have nothing to do with reality. The only reality is the now, what is.
When we see the reality of the me, how it receives all new, based on the old, and breeds and maintains greed, envy and other ill will, which is hatred, then it disappears by itself. Then it loses its grip on us.
When we see and understand the nature of it, then is discipline no longer necessary.
Knowing oneself is to know the others. Because, we are all the same, we are all from the same earth and we are all one and the same life.
But to obtain self-knowledge, we must dare to stand alone and see ourselves as we are. Without judging it good or bad, without wanting to change it into what we are not. Just watch and see what is.
Creative mind is not a repetition of itself or others. Discipline is a series of repetitions, meaningless and stupefying, imitation.
Discipline is really fear and imprisonment of body and mind.
When knowledge, everything we feel, think, expect, want and know is gone, then and only then can the mind create. Then the mind is free and unlimited and free mind breeds and sustains freedom. Then we are free. Then we are peace. It can only be a good thing, for us, for everyone. Nothing more.
1] Atkison, Rita L. ofl. Sálfræði I, Rvk. Iðunn. 1986
2] Aldís Guðmundsdóttir. Sálfræði vöxtur og þroski. Rvk. Mál og Menning. 1992