Open main menu

Read more about Discipline from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

What is Discipline?

Discipline essentially means to act according to a standard of Truth or a rule or law of action (dharma) or in obedience to a superior authority or to the highest principles discovered by the reason and intelligent will and not according to one's own fancy, vital impulses and desires. Outwardly, we are obliged to submit to a certain discipline to a certain extent, so that there may not be too great a disorder but inwardly we live in a marvellous liberty with no social constraint, no moral constraint, no intellectual constraint, no rule, nothing, nothing but a light which is there. By inner discipline; you can create your atmosphere by controlling your thoughts, turning them exclusively towards the sadhana, controlling your actions, turning them exclusively towards the sadhana, abolishing all desires and all useless, external, ordinary activities. [1] [2] [3]

Discipline plays a pivotal role in the functioning of our parts of the being. At the physical level, the physical should be disciplined, organised enough to be able to express the deep experience, in the movements of each day and each moment, and live integrally it.

Digestion, growth, blood-circulation, everything is a discipline. Thought, movement, gestures, everything is a discipline, and if there is no discipline people immediately fall ill.

For the external vital an outer discipline is necessary for the purification, otherwise it remains restless and fanciful and at the mercy of its own impulses. Also,the mind needs discipline for its development. The more the mind is educated and has applied itself to various disciplines, the more it becomes capable of proving that what it puts forward or what it says is true. [4] [5] [6] [7]

Why is Discipline Needed?

By discipline or positive practice we confirm in ourselves the truth of things, truth of being, truth of knowledge, truth of love, truth of works and replace with these the falsehoods that have overgrown and perverted our nature. [8]

It also helps us in living a more organized life. Without outer and inner discipline, one can achieve nothing in life, either spiritually or materially. All those who have been able to create something beautiful or useful have always been persons who have known how to discipline themselves. [9]

How to Cultivate Discipline?

It is important to understand that, before trying to discipline one's whole life, one should at least try to discipline one activity, and persist until one succeeds. Of all the domains of human consciousness, the physical is the one most completely governed by method, order, discipline, process. The lack of plasticity and receptivity in matter has to be replaced by a detailed organisation that is both precise and comprehensive. This is because the body is a being of habits. It is important to remember that these habits should be controlled and disciplined, while remaining flexible enough to adapt themselves to circumstances and to the needs of the growth and development of the being. Another method is to stand back detached from the movements of the mind, life, physical being, to regard their activities as only a habitual formation of general Nature in the individual imposed on us by past workings, not as any part of our real being; in proportion as one succeeds in this, becomes detached, sees mind and its activities as not oneself, life and its activities as not oneself, the body and its activities as not oneself, one becomes aware of an inner Being within us—inner mental, inner vital, inner physical—silent, calm, unbound, unattached which reflects the true Self above and can be its direct representative; from this inner silent Being proceeds a rejection of all that is to be rejected, an acceptance only of what can be kept and transformed, an inmost Will to perfection or a call to the Divine Power to do at each step what is necessary for the change of the Nature. [10] [11] [12]

Importance of Discipline in Integral Yoga

Inner experiences are helpful to the mind and higher vital for change, but for the lower vital and the outer being a sadhana of self-discipline is indispensable. The external actions and the spirit in them must change—one’s external thoughts and actions must be for the Divine only. There must be self-restraint, entire truthfulness, a constant thought of the Divine in all one does. This is the way for the change of the lower vital. By one’s constant self-dedication and self-discipline the Force will be brought down into the external being and the change made. [13]

The supreme discipline is integral surrender to the Divine and to allow nothing else either in one's feelings or in one's activities. Nothing should ever be omitted from this surrender—that is the supreme and most rigorous discipline. As this Yoga implies not only the realisation of God, but an entire consecration and change of the inner and outer life till it is fit to manifest a divine consciousness and become part of a divine work. This means an inner discipline far more exacting and difficult than mere ethical and physical austerities. The other side of discipline is with regard to the activities of the nature, of the mind, of the life-self or vital, of the physical being. Here the principle is to accord the nature with the inner realisation so that one may not be divided into two discordant parts. There are here several disciplines or processes possible. One is to offer all the activities to the Divine and call for the inner guidance and the taking up of one’s nature by a Higher Power. [14] [15] [16]

Content curated by Aditi Kaul

Read more about Discipline from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.