World Views and Religion

Once again I find it in myself to want to write about a mentally engaging yet to a certain degree taboo, but what I wrote in The Closing was rather raw. So I thought I’d write about this again, this time with much more clarity.

As human beings grow in discipline and love and life experience, their understanding and their place in it naturally grows apace. Conversely, as people fail to grow in discipline, love and life experience, so does their understanding fail to grow. Therefore, as a result of both, there exists an extraordinary variability in the sophistication and understanding of what life is about in people.

This understanding is our religion. Since everyone has some understanding – some world view, no matter how limited or primitive or inaccurate – everyone has a religion.

Without a doubt, we suffer from the tendency to define religion too narrowly. The people, community, and society suffer, I think, from a tendency to define religion too narrowly. (brb gotta book in)

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Random

Well due to certain factors I’ve found myself constantly losing motivation to persevere through National Service, but today I sort of found renewed motivation and I think this time it could probably stick around for a little. Before, it’s ideally been based on achieving things.

Well actually this one is also based on achieving, but it involves only myself.

Assuming we take success and failure to be absolutes, then you can only succeed and fail. Now assume that to succeed, you require will and growth, and to fail you require laziness and fear. But then again, fearing is the laziness to attempt to overcome that fear. K so there is only will/growth and laziness. So the only one impediment to growth (which = will, which = success) is laziness.

If I make an effort to overcome laziness (which means making an effort to overcome failure) then there is only growth (success). With this simple perspective I’ve come to realize that I am a terribly lazy person NOT only when I am being lazy but also when I am making an attempt to not be lazy. From this, I found motivation to overcome laziness, because the reward of overcoming laziness is a lifelong of success. And if I could begin right now, and grow gradually, what better way would it be than to begin with National Service? Seriously field camp + road march + all the other redundant orders and crap all in one shot.

It is in the will of everyone to overcome anything, and it is in the laziness of everyone to not do anything.

The reward of overcoming laziness is quite appealing, truthfully. I just I have enough motivation to make it last.

 

~

 

And then I thought about how I could prolong this motivation. What if I get unmotivated by unmotivated people? Laziness is a disease and it spreads like crazy and it’s in everyone. I’ll be surrounded by people, I’ll be exhausted and I will want to rest. How do I persevere and ensure that I would still have motivation? To this problem, I have a simple yet terribly hard solution.

Diffusion.

If I could motivate the people around me (bunk mates) and make them all motivated to overcome their own laziness then I would find myself constantly in the presence of self-motivated people. Laziness spreads, but so does motivation. The motivation would rub off from someone else and onto me, and perhaps with some will to overcome laziness I could keep going.

Crazy idea, doubtful it would work but it seems interesting enough for me to want to try.

Discipline (Sins of the father)

I think I’m on a writing spree I might not actually sleep at all tonight.

Post and some materials depicted from the book.

For this post, I’d be writing more towards discipline in a family, and some causes and factors that result in the behavior of each individuals. It is a continuation from the previous post, and the reason I chose to blog about this chapter is because I felt that the essential points of this chapter would give clarity to how our parents play significant roles in our making.

The causes of unself-disciplined children, as addressed by M. Scott, is not the homes or environment of these homes but the lack of parental discipline. Undisciplined children, despite average or better intelligence, tend to have poor grades simply because they do not work. There is a substantial amount of these adolescents, those who classes (like me) or skip school entirely on the whim of the moment. But more specifically addressed are those who are frequently and severely punished throughout their childhood – slapped, punched, kicked, beaten and whipped by their parents for even minor infractions. In a way it is a form of discipline taken by their parents, but this discipline is meaningless. Because this is undisciplined discipline.

Of the few reasons, one of the reasons that this is meaningless is because the parents themselves are unself-disciplined, and therefore they serve as undisciplined role models for their children. These are the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ parents. They may fight in front of their children without restraint, dignity or rationality. They may frequently get drunk. They may be slovenly. They may make promises they don’t keep. Their own lives are frequently and obviously in disorder and disarray, and their attempts to order the lives of their children seem to therefore make little sense to the children. If father beats up mother regularly, what sense does it make to a boy when his mother beats him up because he beats up his sister? Does it make sense when he’s told that he must learn to control his temper? Since we do not have the benefit of comparison when we are young our parents are godlike figures to our childish eyes. When parents do things in a certain way, it seems to the young child the way to do them, the way they should be done. If a child sees his parents day in and day out behaving with self-discipline, restraint, dignity and a capacity to order their own lives, then the child will come to feel in the deepest fibers of his being that this is the way to live. If a child sees his parents day in and out living without such traits then he would come in the deepest fibers of being to believe that that is the way to live.

Even more important than role modeling is love, for even in chaotic and disordered homes genuine love is occasionally present, and from such homes may come self disciplined children. And not infrequently parents who are professional people – doctors, lawyers, club women and philanthropists – who lead lives of strict orderliness and decorum but yet lack love, send children into the world who are as undisciplined and destructive and disorganized as any child from an impoverished and chaotic home.

As said by M. Scott, ultimately love is everything. The mystery of love is one that he has examined in some portions of the book, portions where I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. I may take the time to blog a bit about it, but for now I am going to add a bit on love, for the sake of coherency, because it is in a way related to discipline at this point.

When we love something it is of value to us, and when something is of value to us we spend time with it, time enjoying it and time taking care of it. Observe a teenager in love with his car and note the time he will spend admiring it, polishing it, repairing it, tuning it. Or an older person with a beloved rose garden, and the time spent pruning and mulching and fertilizing and studying it. So when we love children; we spend time admiring them and caring for them. We give them our time.

Good discipline requires time. When we have no time to give to the children, or no time that we are willing to give to the children, we don’t even observe anything close enough to become aware of when their need for disciplinary assistance is expressed subtly.

If their need for discipline is so gross as to impinge upon our consciousness, we may still ignore the need on the grounds that it’s easier to let them have their own way – ‘I just don’t have the energy to deal with them today.’ Or, finally, if we are impelled into action by their misdeeds and irritation, we will impose discipline, often brutally, out of anger rather than deliberation, without examining the problem or even taking the time to consider which form of discipline is the most appropriate to that particular problem. This, usually, develops from youth. There are times when I too find myself in such cases and I just walk away from it and let it subside. What have been mentioned, and will be mention, would be the consequence if we allow such problems to continue and pay no attention to them.

The parents who devote time to their children even when it is not demanded by glaring misdeeds will perceive in them subtle needs for discipline, to which they will respond with gentle urging or reprimand or structure or praise, administered with thoughtfulness and care. They will observe how their children eat cake, how they study, when they tell subtle falsehoods, when they run away from problems rather than face them. They will take the time to make minor corrections and adjustments, listening to their children, responding to them, tightening a little here, loosening a little there, giving them little lectures, stories, hugs, kisses, admonishments and pats on the back.

So it is that the quality of discipline afforded by loving parents are far more superior to the discipline of unloving parents. But this is just a beginning. In taking the time to observe and to think about their needs, loving parents will frequently agonize over the decisions to be made, and will, in a very real sense, suffer along with their children. The children are not blind to this. I am not blind to this, really – as a child to my parents. We will perceive it when our parents are willing to suffer with us. ‘If my parents are willing to suffer with me, then suffering must not be so bad, and I should be willing to suffer with myself.’ This is the beginning of self-discipline.

The time and quality of the time that our parents devote to us indicate to us the degree to which we are valued by them. Some unloving parents, in an attempt to cover up their lack of caring, make frequent professions of love to their children, repetitively and mechanically telling them how much they are valued, without devoting any significant amount of quality time to them. As children before, we are never totally deceived by such hollow words. Consciously, we may cling to them, wanting to believe but unconsciously we know that the words of our parents do not match up to their deeds.

On the other hand, children who are truly loved, although in moments of pique may consciously feel or proclaim that they are being neglected, unconsciously they know themselves to be valued. This knowledge is worth more than any gold. For when children know that they are valued, when they truly feel valued in the deepest parts of themselves, then they feel valuable.

I am a result of loving parents and loving teachers. Honestly, my life, while full of failures and whatnot, has never truly affected me – only in moments of pique, as mentioned. My mother is the most self-disciplined woman I have ever known (I don’t really have time to get to know other woman anyway). Her love and self-discipline is beyond anything in this world and I will not be here, writing or thinking of such nonsense if not for her. My dad on the other hand, not as disciplined, but still very loving and disciplined enough.

The feeling of being valuable – ‘I am a valuable person’ is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline. It is a direct product of parental love. Such a conviction must be gained in childhood’ it is extremely difficult to acquire it during adulthood. Conversely, when children have learned through the love of their parents to feel valuable, it is almost impossible for the vicissitudes of adulthood to destroy that spirit.

To my parents, if you do read this I’d just like to add the strength of my spirit is, quite unbreakable. You know that you are the reason for most of what I am right now.

This feeling of being valuable is a cornerstone of self-discipline because when one considers oneself valuable one will take care of oneself in all ways that are necessary. Self-discipline is self-caring. If we feel ourselves valuable, then we will feel our time to be valuable, and subsequently we will want to use it well. Most youths tend to grow in the absence of such presence of self-care and self-love, which is one of the reasons that nudged me towards the direction of psychiatry as well. If you could present this to people in it’s most sincere form, it would, in return, naturally, be presented onto others. And this will continually spread, and spread, and spread.

As a result of consistent parental love and caring throughout childhood, such fortunate children will enter adulthood not only with a deep internal sense of their own value, but also a deep internal sense of security. All children are terrified of abandonment, and with good reason. There are some parents, for instance, who in their desire to enforce discipline as easily and quickly as possible, will actually use the threat of abandonment, overtly or subtly, to achieve this end. ‘If you don’t do what I want you to do I won’t love you and you can go figure out for yourself what that means.’ It means abandonment, clearly, and death. Love is sacrificed in exchange for the need for control and domination over their children, and the reward is children who are excessively fearful of the future. So it is that these children, abandoned either psychologically or in actuality, enter adulthood lacking any deep sense that the world is a safe and protective place.

For children to develop the capacity to feel valued, appreciated and loved, it is necessary for them to have self disciplined role models, a sense of self-worth, and a degree of trust in the safety of their existence. These ‘possessions’ are ideally acquired through the self-discipline and consistent, genuine caring of their parents; they are the most precious gifts of themselves that mothers and fathers can bequeath. When these gifts have not been proffered by one’s parents, it is possible to acquire them from other sources, but it is often an uphill struggle, and often unsuccessful. But it is possible, and the best way is through psychotherapy.

Now, a highly irrelevant yet rather relevant point – get 2 children. The first are usually the most developed. The second becomes the semi-developed, because by then the first would have been rather well developed and thus the parents can afford to pay slightly lesser attention. The third, quite often, tend to be neglected a little. This is of course, just generative and highly mathematical.

There is a lot that I would like to blog about, so I might just try to blog 1-2 posts a day (posts in relation to the book)

Discipline (Hardship from The Closing)

One of the few things covered by M. Scott Peck in the book The Road Less Travelled was Discipline and I thought I’d write about it because I rather passionate about sharing this. Also because the process of transference involves a stage of information retaining as well as a stage of processing, thinking and more thinking.

In a previous post I wrote on The Closing, I wrote about growth, and how everything we do only becomes good when it is done with effort and growth oriented. As of now I am still unable to write drastically well on the credit of my personal set of skills and ability so I’ll be adopting the book as a reference material. This post is sort of a rewrite of the post on Hardship that I’ve quite recently written and decided to hide on The Closing.

“Tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

– Problems and Pain

Life is difficult.
The first of the ‘Four Noble Truths’ which Buddha taught was ‘Life is a suffering’, which equates to ‘Life is difficult’. M. Scott Peck presented this as a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. And when we truly know that life is difficult -once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer becomes difficult. Because when we accept it, then the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most people do not quite fully see the truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan about incessantly, noisily, or subtly about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties, as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their beliefs or opinions, subtly or noisily, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be or has been especially visited upon them, their families, their community, their class or their country and not others.

But, do we want to moan about our problems or do we want to solve them? Do we want to teach our children to solve them?

In the words of M. Scott Peck, “Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing, with some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems. What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Problems, depending upon their nature, evoke in us frustration or grief or sadness or loneliness or guilt or regret or anger or fear or anxiety or anguish or despair. These are uncomfortable feelings, often very uncomfortable, often as painful as any kind of physical pain, sometimes equaling the very worst kind of physical pain. Indeed, it is because of the pain that events or conflicts engender in us that we call them problems. And since life poses an endless series of problems, life is always difficult and is full of pain as well as joy.

Yet it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has it’s meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Those things that hurt, instruct.’ It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome pains of problems.”

Sadly this very part diminishes the validity of my claim that success and failure are one. It can only be one when we truly seek to learn.

Most of us are not so wise, however. Fearing the pain involved, almost all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, attempt to avoid problems. We procrastinate, hoping that they will go away. We ignore them, forget them, pretend that they don’t exist. We attempt to skirt around them instead of meeting them head on. We attempt to get out of them rather than suffer through them.

Admit-tingly I am going through the exact same thing in National Service. My awareness and discovery of it now, thankfully, have rewarded me with renewed motivation and I’m quite looking forward to the harsh few weeks to come. I’ll write more about this in another post – one with a different purpose.

This tendency to avoid problems and difficulties, and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill, lacking complete mental health. Some of us would go to some extraordinary lengths to avoid our problems and the suffering they cause, that we proceed far afield, away from what is sensible and clearly good in order to find an easy way out, building stories, plans, and the most elaborate fantasies in which to live, to the extent of total exclusion of reality. In the words of Carl Jung, ‘Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.’

But most of the times the substitute itself ultimately becomes more painful than the suffering it was designed to avoid. The neurosis itself is the biggest problem. Many will attempt to avoid the pain, and the problem in turn, building layers of neuroses. Fortunately, some develop the courage to face their neuroses and begin – sometimes with the help of psychotherapy – to learn how to face and experience the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems. It is precisely because of this that in chronic mental illness we stop growing and we become stuck. And without healing, the human spirit begins to wither.

Therefore there is a need to inculcate in ourselves and in our children (future) the means of achieving mental and spiritual health. By this I mean let us teach ourselves and our children the necessity for suffering and the value thereof, the need to face problems directly and to experience the pain involved. When we teach ourselves discipline, we are teaching ourselves, as well as our children how to suffer and also how to grow. There are plenty of tools to be used to bring about self-discipline, tools I’ve found in the book but cannot be bothered to share here. But desire itself is not enough, for action must come. As M. Scott Peck as said, the will to put to use such tools*, the force that drives such tools beyond our boundaries is love – something i ‘might’ progressively blog in more details as compared to the raw, disoriented post I wrote on The Closing.

*The tools can be found in the book The Road Less Travelled.

My form of psychotherapy came from reading, the support of my family., some close friends, and extensive thinking. It is for this reason – the desire to encourage and develop the growth of spirituality and mentality in myself and in others – that I have decided to dedicate a life to learning the field of thinking and psychology.

Psychiatry

My reasons to pursue psychiatry and psychology have not been highly influenced by the brilliance of M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled. I’d say the book’s actually given me a new perspective.

Before, I’ve been trying to think of a profession to field in, but – ever since secondary school – I’ve barely had any luck. Only until recently have I actually figured out with rigid reinforcements and passion what I want to profess in. Being a psychiatrist was actually an idea before, but I never felt strongly for it due to certain reasons. Next up was teaching, and I thought I’d try to teach because through this profession I could envelop and make use of spirituality, creativity, wisdom, intelligence, passion, love and thinking – all on a daily basis, concurrently. And while I may be limited to teaching only certain things, and be grounded by certain rules and regulations, teaching offered much more freedom and space as compared to practising psychiatry.

What M. Scott Peck has done – through his books – discredited my ideology of psychiatry. I’ve always taken psychiatry and psycotherapy to be governed by stringent ‘main’ rules, criterias and limitations – one of such being the inability to discuss religion or sexuality or any highly sensitive topics. Never have I imagined the depth of freedom and possibility of being able to use anything that could help in psychotherapy. M. Scott Peck has roleplayed my single, most ideal dream. He is a psychiatrist, as well as a writer, with wisdom and depth of spirituality and mentality far beyond anyone I have ever read about/met. While his work may not be uncommon at all – that other psychiatrists just don’t write and make themselves known -his work, words and books have convinced me that the ability (or inability) to practice freedom lies not in your profession or the work you choose to do, but yourself. Psychiatrists today choose to draw lines simply because crossing the line would result in a conflict between personal life and work, but M. Scott integrates these two.

And I think, to dedicate a life to a pursuit of human spiritual development would be ideal.

 

While at it, I thought I might just add a bit about my life and my decisions (just generally).

So what is a life with no concrete direction? What is it like to live not knowing what you want to do, or not knowing how or what you’ll end up as? I think, most of us know the answer to that.

There are fortunate people who have found passion to pursue what they want at the right time. As such they hoist their sail towards the direction (diploma, degree or A levels – stepping stones towards their dreams) and they excel and do really well, while we – those with interest but not passion – study the things we study in school, which for most people end up being the decisive force that decides what they should end up being.

I lived through primary school, secondary school, and polytechnic life with no passion at all for the things I learn. The only things I’ve ever truly really enjoyed studying are history, critical thinking and reasoning, and english – some of the subjects I’ve truly excelled in because of a degree of passion and pure interest.

My diploma was a choice I made from my fascination with the brilliance of Prison Break (not kidding), and from time to time for the past 4 years I’ve been asking myself – what am I doing? What am I going to be? However, the extent or intensity of those questions were mostly always devitalized by the fact that I was young and I had time to figure things out, so I procrastinate because I can.

Now, at the age of 20, while serving National Service I’ve figured out what I’ve truly wanted to do, something others have been able to do at the age of 12-15. I have lost critical years of my youth, but it does not matter. 20 I think is quite late an age to figure things out, but I think – better late than never right?

So to those who have yet to realize what you want to dedicate your life to, I hope that you be patient about it – it’ll come. And when it comes, I hope everyone (including myself) be courageous enough to pursue it, no matter how late.