Tag Archives: Suffering

Your Choice

Yoda make good choices

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink is exactly the right medicine for me right now. It might be for you too.

Here’s the amazon.com summary of his credentials:

Jocko Willink’s methods for success were born in the SEAL Teams, where he spent most of his adult life, enlisting after high school and rising through the ranks to become the commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq. In Discipline Equals Freedom, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Extreme Ownership describes how he lives that mantra: the mental and physical disciplines he imposes on himself in order to achieve freedom in all aspects of life.

JW’s perspective is radically different from that espoused in Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life. As described in If You Love Your Children. . . and . . . Tell Them How the world Works:

Essentially, [12 Rules] advises people to “man up.” All of us have the potential to be much better than we are. Before criticizing the world, our first responsibility is to improve ourselves with discipline, carving out meaning in our lives as a bulwark against the chaos of life’s inevitable hardships.

But the two approaches are, each in its own way, complimentary.

Now – JW’s background is far different from mine.

I’m a woman brought up as a musician. As a college/university-educated scholar majoring in world history-philosophy-literature, much of my later years have been dedicated to unlearning and relearning.

As a violinist and yoga practitioner, my practice disciplines focused on harmony, balance and unity.

In school administration, I looked to the ultimate decision-making manual: the ancient Chinese I Ching — The Book of Change.

JW speaks of fighting. And aggression. I approach self-improvement in terms of transcendence. Our goals and results, however, are much the same. So my approach to discipline is also, in its own way, complimentary.

I find JW’s approach to discipline almost devotional. Similar to Chinese Taoists – including the Shaolin monks who based kung fu martial arts on the I Ching — he refers to The Way of Discipline. He writes:

Discipline: The root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: Not today, not now, I need a rest, I will do it tomorrow. . . . .

There is only one way.

THE WAY OF DISCIPLINE.

What inspired me to write this post was his chapter on NATURE VS NURTURE. He asks, What is more important? And he answers, Neither.

In the military, I worked with every type of person:

Ivy League kids with silver spoons, kids from blue-collar families, kids from strong families, and kids with no families, kids who were pampered and kids who were abused. And everything in between. Everything.

And with all those different types of people, there were good and bad. Successful and unsuccessful. And in working with businesses, I see the same thing: People from every walk of life. From the bottom to the top – and I have seen every type of person be successful.

His conclusion:

It is not about nature or nurture.

It is about choice.

He continues:

The people who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice. And they make other choices. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home. They decide they are going to take on the hard jobs. Take on the challenges. They decide they are going to lead when no one else will.

They choose who they are going to hang around and they choose who they will emulate.

Ultimately:

They choose to become who they want to become they aren’t inhibited by nature or nurture. They overcome both.

I totally agree. Choices and consequences hang together. And as pointed out elsewhere in describing the natural Law of Karma, failure to choose is also a choice — one with heavy consequences.

 

book header bird

There are two directions I could take from here. One is to share with you the post called What’s More Important – Nature, Nurture, OR . . ..

This subject is especially relevant in the context of answering ideologues who use the seeming unfairness of life and suffering as excuses for rebellion and destruction of social order . . . rather than discipline.

The other direction I could take is to share is the Essay on Discipline which give a balancing, complimentary perspective to JW’s military approach.

Here’s my choice. First I’ll offer a few snippets from the blog here. You’re welcome to click on the link if you’d like to see more.

Then I’ll post the Essay on Discipline below.

So. First. From What’s Most Important:

I’ll give one example here using the Positive Paradigm Wheel of Change. This picture talks to the right brain to balance the left-brain discussion which follows.

It places the relationship of nature, nurture and “much more” in prioritized context.

PPoC gold

The surface level that corresponds with MASS includes everything tangible and measurable. It’s the realm of empirical science. That would be “nurture.”

The middle ENERGY level corresponds not only with electricity, but with subtle but measurable energies that yogis call “chi” or “prana.” It’s the level associated with DNA, emotions and “gut” feelings. That’s “nature.”

The innermost level of LIGHT is associated with intangibles, including conscience. That’s the “. . . and More.”

My conclusion:

. . . leaders who intentionally live true their conscience and succeed in linking the levels of life are key to a viable future. The rest of us will depend on them to out-think, out-maneuver and succeed long after pretenders with no substantial connection to the center of life have been blown away like dust in the wind.

Phoenix - sized

And here’s the Essay. Hope you enjoy. Your comments are welcome. If you find this resonant, please share to magnify the effect.

ESSAY 26. DISCIPLINE

Tai ji is a discipline that can help you settle into the experience of your body and your surroundings and re-establish contact with what is happening now. — Chungliang Al Huang, Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain

Obstacles and problems are a part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn. — Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When our emotions hijack us into overdrive, we react to others without the benefit of reason. By managing our emotions more effectively, we are able to dissolve distressing emotions, which allows us to think more clearly and use our emotional intelligence to make better decisions. — Lambrou & Pratt, Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions

THE FRONT

“Discipline” comes from the same root as “disciple,” meaning “learner.” Webster’s first definition is a branch of knowledge or learning.

Second, it’s training that develops either

  • self-control, character, or

  • orderliness and efficiency, or

  • strict control to enforce obedience.

Third, it’s the result of such training or control, specifically either self-control and orderly conduct or acceptance of or submission to authority and control.

Fourth, it’s a system of rules, as for a church or monastic order.

Fifth, it’s treatment that corrects or punishes.

The pristine word means love of learning. In self-actualization traditions, discipline refers to the process by which ignorance is decreased and wisdom is increased.

In balanced measure, incorrect ideas and behavior are recognized, corrected and put away, while correct ones are introduced to replace them. This entails digging deeper than cultural conditioning to reconnect with innate potentials and inner aspirations.

The word “correct” is intrinsic to the concept of discipline. Webster’s defines correct as to change from wrong to right, removing errors. The word is also means to make conform to a standard. Further, it means to scold or punish, or to cure, remove or counteract a disease or fault. Correct also means conforming to fact or logic, to be true, accurate or free from errors.

Whether discipline is a joyful privilege or painful punishment

is decided by the motives of involved participants.

If the learning and correction are imposed externally upon unwilling parties, it’s onerous. The subjects can perhaps be forced to alter behavior. No positive inward change results from coercion, however. If anything, force breeds the opposite of intent: resentment and rebellion.

Societies that fail to inspire and foster internal self-discipline therefore pay a high price in the form of escalating crime rates, overburdened judicial systems and costly prisons.

If, however, through the power of example, a sage attracts students hungry for wisdom and self-improvement, then the condition for positive change exists. When the teacher is motivated by compassion and generosity, and students with respect and love of learning, then innate potential for transformation can be actualized.

Negative emotions can be healed and self-mastery achieved. Mutual consent and willing compliance set the stage for improving oneself and, by extension, society.

As correction agents, coercive prisons impose external discipline on people perceived as threats to society. Those capable of inner discipline, however, remain free to use even external confinement to advantage.

For example, during the time he was imprisoned by a political rival, King Wen turned apparent defeat into the opportunity to order the hexagrams of the I Ching and write commentaries. Upon release, he helped found the next Chinese dynasty. The legacy of his steadfast resolve during dark times and ability to transcend adversity remains with us even today.

Nelson Mandela used thirty years of incarceration to carefully examine and correct his character. When the time was right, the extreme revolutionary became South Africa’s most responsible elected leader. His extreme isolation changed to an opposite and equal status of unparalleled international influence.

THE BACK

Absence of discipline is of the opposite of discipline. Though the immature may regard disorganization and irresponsible disrespect for worthy seniors as a measure of freedom, it isn’t. Without self-discipline and self-correction, there is no self-improvement or sustained achievement.

External regimentation can be a perversion of discipline. In the extreme, it suppresses creativity and initiative. Coercive military conscription, slavery, or other involuntary work are violations of free will that degrade the value of life.

 

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JBP at His Best

On September 30th, I found two particularly endearing tweets posted by JB Peterson Quotes. I thought, I owe him a post showing him at his very best.

The first one shows Dr. Peterson outdoors, sun shining on his brow, hugging smiling students from a surrounding crowd. There’s actually a broad grin on his face! It made me want to smile back at him.

The quote assigned to this photo: “Make at least one thing better every single place you go” – JBP

jbp w friends

The second shows Dr. Peterson gesturing in the professor mode, pronouncing a noble set of maxims. My first response: “What a great heart this man possesses!” It warmed my heart.

jbp Stumble Forward

But then, my rational mind took over.

After the warm fuzzy feelings he stimulates subside, clarity arises. What’s left is this: At each step, his reasoning is based on false assumptions. More fundamentally, the paradigm he’s operating on is incomplete and incorrect.

Life is suffering” is what Mephistopheles (Satan) argues to Faust. This is pure irony, of course, because Satan’s lies are the primary cause of human suffering.

Christ’s example taught us quite the opposite, that Life is Eternal. Suffering exists on the ephemeral surface of the Life Wheel, in large part due to poor decisions based on false beliefs that lead to catastrophic mistakes. Suffering does not exist at the unchanging Center of the Wheel. I’ve dedicated an entire post, Life is Eternal, to support this alternative premise, from which very different results follow.

Further, however obscured by deception, humans are made in the image of God. They suffer terribly because they have forgotten who they truly are and don’t know how to re-member what they sense they’ve lost and dearly long to recover. Insufficiency is a surface illusion, though a very persistent one. (In the context of mortality, Einstein said the thing about time.)

A great deal of suffering comes from ignorant fear of death. Many have been deceived into doubting the existence of the immortal structure that supports the mortal frame. Sages act on the belief that the consequences of their actions inevitably return. They know of a certainty that upon physical death the immortal part continues on to complete whatever has been left unfinished in future life cycles. So they behave very differently from those who mistakenly believe they can get away with murder or that suicide puts an end to suffering forever.

So what’s the problem? Certainly it’s not lack of intelligence or sincerity. Dr. Peterson is looking for Love and Truth using the limited tool of reason to fathom what exceeds and transcends it.

The rational mind cannot fathom or encompass super-rational realms. Further, he’s looking in the wrong place, on the surface. According to an old saying, “It is futile to hunt for deer in a forest in which none dwell.” Even religions as codified, institutionalized teachings, though speaking to direct experience of the Center, partake of surface limitations.

Nor is truth to be found in the duality of human relationships. That’s an especially hard sell. Not very likely. Actually, it’s the other way around. To the extent individuals align with the Center, the more wisdom, compassion and competence they bring to their relationships. If more of us aligned our personal lives with the Center, increasing numbers would find ways to overcome interpersonal conflicts.

Nor do we need to “stumble” towards the Kingdom of God. As Christ confirmed, the Kingdom of God is already present. It rests within. Getting there, for most of us, however, requires a leap of faith.

He says, “To learn is to die voluntarily and to be born again, in great ways and small.” This is the Phoenix response, of which I’ve written at length.

Nor is any of this a quibble, because a great many people right now are influenced by Dr. Peterson’s logic.

book header bird

I felt compelled to address this quote one word at a time.

SUFFERING. To repeat, stating categorically that life is suffering is misleading. While Buddhists equate human experience with suffering, they also teach that the root of suffering is IGNORANCE. And the primary way to ameliorate suffering is to dispel ignorance. In this case, false, incomplete and incorrect paradigms perpetuate ignorance and generate suffering. As he has also made clear, there’s a direct correlation between beliefs and outcomes.

Whereas Dr. Peterson looks to Goethe’s Faust to explain suffering, I prefer the Old Testament:

And then there’s Job, the model of faith enduring to the end and being restored, even better than before. The phoenix image.

Here’s the secret to be gleaned from this story, illumined by the infinity symbol that links the levels of the Life Wheel. Job says, “The Lord giventh.” This is the outward, materializing movement from center to surface of the Wheel. “And The Lord taketh away.” This is the receding path of return to center. In all, “Blessed be the NAME of the Lord.” The Logos.

LOVE. “Love,” Dr, Peterson says, “is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.” To answer that one, I had to write an entire post to reply, Yes. And much more:

[Love] can be an expression of one’s affection. It can mean a feeling of brotherhood and good will towards other people.

It can be strong liking for or interest in something (a love of music). It’s a strong, usually passionate affection, partly based on sexual attraction.

In theology, love refers to God’s tender regard for mankind, or mankind’s desire for God as the supreme good. Love is the ultimate mystery. It sparks and keeps the life process going, more to be accepted and honored than psychoanalyzed.

Further,

Plato described seven stages of love. Each is a rung on an evolutionary ladder which leads from a child’s love for parents, to erotic love, to friendship, and eventually the pinnacle of divine connection. These seven steps correlate exactly with the hierarchal seven energy centers of yoga anatomy.

Plato traces the attraction between males and females to jealous gods who split a complete, content person in half at the navel. Ever since, each part has chased after the other, longing to become whole again – another yogic priority.

Tai Chi Tu

Next, he says,”TRUTH it the handmaiden of love. Dialogue is the Pathway of Truth.”

WOW. What a partial truth. Again, it takes another post to even come close to addressing it.

I say, “Dialogue in good faith may be the instrument of coming to common understanding between individuals and amongst groups. But Truth has many levels.

So, truth meaning what? Facts? Data? Axiomatic laws of nature? Absolutes? All of the above.

What does it mean to tell the truth? About what one is doing? Thinking? Feeling? Believing? Layers and levels of truth. How do they hang together?

I even supplied a picture, put together early on in my blogging years before I’d acquired photo-shopping skills:

TruthLevels021713

A Rare Opportunity

Immediately after posting Be Harmless, NOT Defenseless, a twitter message from JBP came to my attention. He will be speaking in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday, November 16th. Small world. This happens to be a day when I’m already scheduled to be in town.

The event will take place on the UW-Madison campus in the building where I worked two years as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Administration. My office on the eleventh floor was so high above ground that I could watch incoming weather changes in the sky, far above the railroad tracks and coal yard below.

Since meeting face to face is the only way to answer inevitable questions on both sides, fate seems to be offering us an unlikely and rare opportunity.

Certainly he has many reasons to avoid it. But I have a hunch the best part of him will push past excuses. The opportunity may seem strange, uncomfortable and inconvenient. But on the opposite side of the coin, uncommonly valuable gifts might emerge from a “. . . dialogue . . . so that we can all humbly learn . . .”

Angel Calling