Both kinds of discipline are integral to civilised

Both kinds of discipline are integral to civilised society. Without the former it would be impossible to run a family or any organisation effectively; and without the latter, individual development would come to a standstill.

There is an inherent discipline in the functioning of the universe. The sun does not rise in the east one day and on the west on another (of course one can maintain that the sun does not rise at all, but we are not going into all that); and neither does a stone, once it is thrown up, keep travelling upwards one day and on another, come down. The rose always smells like a rose and never like a dahlia.

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When one is disciplined within oneself, it is like one is in step with the rhythm of creation; and from that subliminal oneness arises peace, contentment and a feeling of fulfilment.

A cynic might point to natural calamities like floods and earthquakes to show that Nature is chaotic and whimsical as well, but the fact remains that despite the presence of such destructive forces, the universe is sustained by certain immutable laws on the basis of which all the sciences have been built. Anything that is law-abiding by nature is disciplined. At the bottom, the universe is disciplined. If one wants to get along with it, one had better be so too!

Socrates taught that all good conduct was conduct controlled by the mind and that all the virtues took their cue from the victory of mind over emotion. That is another way of saying that discipline is the mother of all virtues. Visit any school, small or big. Unfailingly, discipline will be one of its main ideals, irrespective of how far it has been able to achieve it. Talk to the coach of any sport anywhere in the world. He or she will tell you that where there is no discipline there are no champions.

Sometimes discipline can be so subtle that no one notices it, as in the case of a housewife who quietly puts her house in order every day year after year.

If is true that there are places where indiscipline seems to be a way of life, and people seem to muddle through despite it; but muddling through is quite different from excelling, and in no way undermines the value of discipline.

Talent can, on its own steam, carry a person a long distance; but the biographies of the famous are also full of examples of those who burnt themselves out or eventually went to waste because of a lack of order in their personal lives. It was the lack of discipline that spelt their doom.

The contest between the temptation to indulge oneself, and the resolve to fight it down and assert one’s will, is what the romance of living, and its challenge and adventure, is all about.