It is time to come to the acceptance that we live in a soft world. Imagine the state of luxury that surrounds us, that out of an inconsolable boredom and lack of suffering, we create for ourselves the means to master self created problems, and conquer self created enemies. The challenges of life that would once beset us on all sides have not held power over mankind for centuries now, and their lack of influence of has marinated us all, as a species in our own filth.
But it is no surprise to us when we read this kind of talk. It is typical social commentary; breathed out with conviction in voice by those who would see themselves as, and would wish to be seen as warriors of the upright and true. This commentary is no different to the one sang in high praises by those who make the enemies, and those who fabricate suffering to give themselves some kind of honour in life. I count myself among them, in fact, for this has become one of the defining features of "modern" man; to say what we wish we were, and to act as that which we know we are, but do not want to be.
What need would we have to worry about the colours of each other's skins, if all of us were starved? What need would we have to paint our brothers as enemies, if we knew and had experienced his suffering? All sides of a war are at fault, for those who are forced to choose one are guilty of that which the other convicts them of, but there is no pride or honour in being a flaccid neutral, an undefinable middle dweller.
But what we have slowly come to lack in strength and will, we have gained in intellectual fervor, and in openness to the arts. The problem is, we lack the wisdom to appreciate the opportunities around us for a creative and meaningful existence, and we crave and repress the power and dynamism we once had. The
animal in the soul of humanity is tamed, but not trained. It remains as a youngling, whimsical and, most importantly, undisciplined. Unhardened and unwaveringly naive, humanity continues its pursuit of meaning, unaware of its own contributions to the lack thereof. We blow our problems into universal proportions, forgetting that there is an entire world of people who would give away their souls to have them for their own; we enjoy the comforts of technology, using it for material and psychological gain, and yet there is a major part of the world's population who finds it distasteful and meaningless. We too, feel this meaninglessness, deep in our heart of hearts, in the places where we would not dare shine the light of conscious thought and reveal what parasites have grown and festered in our souls. We do not lack conviction. We do not lack opportunity, nor means nor even the will for mastery of our own lives. What we lack as a people, is discipline.
And oh how the reader might recoil at such a statement. How tender and sensitive are we that we would frown at the suggestion that we lack discipline. But wait, dear reader, do not be so quick to draw conclusions, for I am but a gentle fool who would see the world bettered through its own acceptance of spiritual discipline.
What we need is not discipline of the mental kind, nor the physical, nor the psychological or stoic, nor the stoic or even the religious kind; what we are in desperate need of is spiritual discipline. Long gone are the times where we would pursue, not material wealth or physical beauty, not religious piety or social
acceptance and "points", but instead the acquisition of wisdom. We have confused discipline for a military and ham-fisted approach, the kind a general might train into a soldier; and it is true, that kind of discipline certainly has its place, but in a climate where the bodies and minds of the undisciplined are too soft even to be shaped into machines of war, another approach is probably best. Perhaps we should do as the Greeks, and pursue the discipline of both mind and body? To face the unknown with steel calmness, and not to turn away in the face of one's own inadequacies is yet another military shaping; this time not of the body, but of the mind instead. But this; like the general training the warrior, is another form of beating oneself into shape, an approach that is not enough to reverse our softness, but instead leads only to damage. What must be done is not an enforcing approach, but one of wise encouragement and restraint. To shape
oneself into the kind of person which may actively create and pursue that which they personally find meaningful, regardless of the consequences and of the work involved, or the suffering which it might entail; this is the ultimate form of discipline. The kind of discipline which must be employed by all those who would call themselves artists is what we need to continue to move forward in our collective psychological development.
Instead of mastering oneself as a general would, by organizing and placing our psychologies in their "proper places" and by structuring one's mind and soul like one would build a building, we can approach self mastery as a gardener would approach tilling his flowers. The seeds must be planted, tilled and watered, fed and given sunlight every day, with care and restraint. Not too much and not too little, no extremes of any kind to unbalance the development of our minds, but instead just the right amount. To dance with the
development and growth of one's soul is the key to disciplining it, it is the key to shaping a small sapling into a great tree, who by bending in the wind of life's suffering may endure it. Long gone are the days of the savage power needed to conquer nature. Long gone are the days of the softness and yielding nature needed to allow the intellect to grow and flourish. The days have come where what we need is the transcendance and nourishment; an integration of the parts of ourselves we refuse to look at, and an acceptance of our humanity, rather than the dogmatic striving of that which we would consider perfect.
If we decided all at once to develop ourselves, and till our own gardens rather than look on jealousy at the trees of others, humanity would be a sea of well grown trees, not too wild and not too civilized, and old and wise beyond compare.
Change your approach to discipline to that of restraint and growth, and you will see the results therein. No great person ever abused themselves by repressing that which they felt they must do, nor have any great people been lost to doing only that which they want; sinking into a sea of pleasure from which there is no return. T
he greatest people of all remain nameless, for they have achieved the the balance and ability to live without recognition, to live with and for themselves.