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.