Monday, May 12, 2008

Dancing In The Liquid Fire

I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I am a very disciplined person. This is actually pretty funny to me because I’ve never really considered myself to be so. But if I step back and take a look at myself from the outside, as much as that is possible, I guess it is fair to say that I am relatively disciplined. If this is indeed true, it’s worthwhile to look at the why behind whatever self-discipline that I may possess. It is not something that was forced or even necessarily taught to me (though in come cases it was). Really it is impossible to impose this kind of thing onto another person against their will for any length of time and even if you do, the unwilling participant will lack the necessary sincerity to get much use out of whatever discipline is in question.

Now with that being said it’s not to imply that I’ve never once tried to impose my opinions on how someone should live their life or what they should believe. There was a time period where I fell into this trap and it is indeed a trap because it’s nothing more than the ego creeping back in and trying to use anything it possibly can to make itself feel superior to someone else. This happens to all of us. It especially happens when one discovers something new that is wonderful to them or is introduced to some new idea or system that they resonate strongly with and perhaps have a genuine wish to share it with others with all the best intentions.

You cannot impose discipline on to another person because if that person is to derive any real benefit they have to discover the need and usefulness of it for themselves. It has to be their idea. I don’t think that I have personally ever been the sort to just believe something or go along with it because an authority of some sort told me I had to or that I should. I always asked “Why?” as far as I can remember except in those cases where the ‘why’ was obvious or because I had a certain respect for the person giving the information. I think this is one of the reasons I was drawn so strongly to Buddhism at one point because the Buddha essentially said ‘hey, don’t believe any of this stuff that I am telling you, go find out the truth of it for yourselves.’ That is a philosophy that I can respect.

I’m not Buddhist but at one time I sure thought I was. I also did some Bible thumping for about a three or four month period in my life. That’s pretty funny to think about now but I had my reasons. I’ll probably talk about that here at some point. I’m much more an advocate of direct experience than “faith” but I realize that faith plays an important role also and cannot be dismissed entirely.

Maybe it is true that I am a disciplined individual but we are all disciplined in some sense of the word. None of us are willing to press our hand against a red hot burner on the stove. Discipline? You’re probably saying “no Ben, that’s just common sense”. But it wasn’t common sense at some point along the way. Maybe you found out the hard way or maybe you believed your mommy or daddy when they warned you, but either way you eventually got the message. Really that sums up any ‘discipline’ that I have in my life. This may or may not be pertinent to the topic but incidentally I did just about literally blow up an entire kitchen before I was five years old…

I’m at a point where I feel like there is a lot of good in my life, a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be happy about. This is how life is, there are upswings and downswings. In a lot of ways I am enjoying an upswing at the moment, though ever conscious of the fact that things can and do change at a moment’s notice. I’m comfortable with that. It’s possible that some of the good that is appearing right now is the result of discipline on my part. The fact that I am comfortable with life’s ever changing nature is most definitely a result of discipline on my part. I should also add that I will never be able to take personal credit for so much of this good that is in my life. Much of it is the result of grace and something that I don’t fully comprehend but nonetheless, I try to cooperate with it. I acknowledge it constantly and give thanks constantly also. Call it “God” if you like but keep in mind that I’m not referring to any white-bearded sky daddy. That’s a concept that, like bed-wetting, I had to outgrow. (Sorry, it’s my blog and I get to be a smart ass here.)

I find life to be a beautiful, wondrous, and mysterious experience. I also cannot help but notice that it is an intensely precarious one too. It is this precariousness that inspires the ‘discipline’ that I have. Learning that the red hot stove burns your hand is a metaphorical way of stating something that actually occurs throughout ones entire life. The danger gets less obvious as we get older and hopefully smarter and also because certain things become taken for granted and accepted, as if there were just no other way. Sometimes this is true but often it is not. Again, there is no requirement to participate in something just because everyone else is, whether that be a way of thinking or way of eating or spending or whatever.

A human lifetime can be looked at as a purifying experience. Spiritually speaking, we might just be going through a giant celestial car wash right now. The mud is being wiped away, the obstacles – one by one – being removed. Some of those stains are in there pretty good, requiring a great deal of heat and pressure. This whole thing can be quite painful at times and exquisite at others.

I’m running out of time and words to get into the specifics but I’d like to try to do so in another post or two. I’ve had some people close to me say some very nice things to me lately about stuff that I didn’t realize was that obvious. I’m thinking that what they are referring to is in large part the result of self-discipline which in my case basically consists of the following things: meditation, exercise, dealing with money, diet, and some other stuff that I’d like to maybe talk more about next time.


A said...

Great post! Discipline has always been a hard one for me....I manage though. It absolutly does pay off when applied. It is worth getting good at for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Great write Ben.
Genetics is in play in what you say with all of us Ben, always.
I need and exhibit very little externally and am unorganised visually however in my head all of my ducks are lined up and each has a pigeon hole.
(Like nobody I too like birds)
My preference for me is understatement rather than overstatement (I think that’s an ego thing).
I am very aware that I am less than a grain of sand yet understand how brilliant a grain of sand really is; encompassing all the major laws of the universe.

Ben There said...

Good to see you Tony. I was about to ask about you on Les's blog because you have been conspicuously absent there lately.

It's funny you use the grain of sand example. I said almost that exact same thing to someone in a conversation last week.

Genetics...I'm really thinking that genetics involves alot more than just physical characteristics. I think we inherit collective mindsets; certain psychological tendencies are passed down from generation to generation. I'll even go one step further and call it collective karma.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! Ancestral karma comes with each birth (rebirth, for Les), I'm sure of that.
ps. been tripin' (in the nicest possible non-chemical way) 'round the countryside.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben. Howyakeepin'? Well I hope.

Ben There said...

Hi Tony,

May was an unusually busy month for me. I regret that I haven't been able to put up a new post in so long. I'm doing well though. Have a neat new job opportunity that I'm considering, big decision though. How are things on your end?