One of the paradoxes in spiritual life comes alive in the spiritual seeker reliance of something external to himself/herself. That same thing will become a hindrance later on in his spiritual development.
Support at one time. Burden at another time.
That could be a ritual. That could be a commandment, that could be anything that allows that person to change into something else, just to be able to see a different perspective, to shift the mind to another point of view, so learning could take place.
The issue comes when we are totally colored and “blind” by the belief that “everyone” has to be like us or everything that I am close to has to have a determined shape or form because that is the “right” thing.
This rigidity is expressed by the mind as thoughts.
Our inability to appreciate a different perspective. Our inability to acknowledge a different view just because that view has not mentioned the “key words” of spirituality according to our vocabulary.
God becomes one of those convenient keywords. Unless someone uses the same exact words, then I will not listen. I will not acknowledge their perspective. As a matter of fact, I will try to convince them and “prove” them wrong and give them the “right” keywords to repeat and memorize.
Any spiritual practice that we hold dear will divide us from the very same practice and then, we will consider that our life as spiritual seekers is dependent on that particular practice.
For instance, going to church every Sunday becomes more important than being benevolent with your neighbor. Going to church every Sunday is not the “end” of that practice but rather the “means” to practice that benevolence through receiving spiritual knowledge.
If someone decides to go to church every Sunday, hopefully it will be due to an inner motivation to hear further spiritual knowledge and not just as a ritual, as something to do every Sunday, which by the way; will get that person “points” with the priest or the “higher up” at the church.
Spirituality has nothing to do with a ritual like that.
Rigidity then, comes when the “form” becomes more important than the “substance.” It becomes a performance, and act just to belong.
We become “free” from that rigidity, when there is no difference between the “form” and that “substance.”
Let us say that I believe in some disciplines of life. That is great if I become those disciplines without looking for recognition, without needing someone to “check on me,” but at the same time, unless there is a recognition that someone else may not feel the same way about those practices as me; and be OK with it; then rigidity will take place.
Rigidity is not the way to go through life transformations, changes. Many times we set our selves up with an idea, just a belief and we are willing to die for that belief. That is we become two: Me and the belief.
Whenever there is a division like that, we have opened ourselves for suffering and different tests in life, which will show us that this belief was perhaps true for us at one point in our life, but is no longer that.
The reason is that until I have not become ONE with my belief, until there is no separation between “me” and my belief; then life will just show me that I am still divided.
It is great to think about God, There are 2 things, God and Me. That is the division.
Rigidity comes when I am merely defending concepts; the concept of God.
There is no longer that rigidity when there is that Oneness, that is the experience of being “combined,” or even the experience of “I” being out of the picture, so you can be.
In that experience, there is no need to defend anything. No one to fight against, for there is no “me.”
When there is no “me,” there is no “others.” Then we cannot have beliefs anymore to separate “US,” then; there is no place for rigidity to appear.
Rigidity is dogmatic. That means death in the long run. To survive in life challenges, we learn to be flexible, to accommodate; to yield, to become malleable as Gold.
In a hurricane, a palm tree is able to survive the ferocious winds as a non-rigid person will be able to overcome the obstacles in life. Discipline is good. We need to be firmly grounded, but flexible at the same time. A paradox.
Thank you for your question!
As the video below explains: “The purpose of discipline is to live fully.” That is what the “Code of conduct” means to me. You have the boundaries limited but within those boundaries you could explore. Discipline does not mean rigidity. It means to “reform” the self by following guidelines. I mention the word “reform,” because as you mentioned about the youth, if we do whatever “we feel” like, it is not really within the limits of “whatever we want,” but whatever we have learned that we want. For example, we know that water is good for you, but on any given day most westerners would rather have a glass of “Coke” than water. We have acquired a taste for carbonated water with sugar and caffeine, we need to “reform” the self; thus; discipline. Some people take up discipline for a weekend, some for their entire life, but there must be understanding as to why we are doing what we have decided to do, for otherwise; there will be repression.
Just like love goes together with detachment; true discipline goes together with flexibility.
Great question! Thank you for asking.
To answer your question I will share an article which was written sometime ago. It was about “Love and Law” and Dadi Janki’s words inspired me to do it.
When you finish reading it, I am sure you will get the point and will implement “law and love” practically in your life according to your circumstances and current set of sanskaras… 🙂
Here you go, Best wishes! 😉
“It takes a second to forgive. Be able to forget what happened so deeply that, even if someone reminds you, you cannot remember. Have a balance of law and love, not just law on its own. I do have to be firm following the laws of God, but this is easy in an atmosphere of love. Give love to yourself so you can follow God’s laws and give love to others so they can follow God’s laws. We have to move forward with forgiveness, compassion, honesty and love.”
Laws are black or white. There is no in between. However, laws are able to make a distinction between what is considered correct and what is not; this distinction has no ranges. It is an “all or nothing” approach.
When we read a law, for instance: “Do not swim in this lake.” What would happen if I see a creature in that lake needing help and I enter this lake and swim in it? Did I break the law? Of course, I did. Do I feel “bad” because of that? Not a bit.
The problem comes when our mind becomes settled in extremes and we pretend to fit any event which life throws at us into those extremes. That is the easy approach.
Let me put everything in convenient “boxes” in that way my intuition, my sensibility is completely out of the picture and only “reasonable extremes,” thoughts based on duality, “black or white”are available.
I recall the story of a young close friend of mine who wanted to become a “great athlete.” He took great care in doing all of his assigned workouts, rest, nutrition, etc. He was very disciplined in following his daily routine, however; he wasn’t happy even though he was pursuing his dream. Why? Because he wasn’t in balance. A Human being is more than just a “great athlete.” Due to his motivation to follow everything down to the “dot,” this young fellow wasn’t enjoying a social life, he needed to go to bed at 10 PM, “no matter what in order to get his 8 hours of sleep which is recommended by most physicians as a normal and healthy habit.”
In his young age when most social activities were happening at night, he wasn’t able to go. When faced with this decision he stuck with his “athlete dream” so faithfully, but painfully, his social life was missing and with that the wholesomeness of life.That is the consequence of an “all or nothing approach.”
In due time, this lack of balance started showing in his athletic performance. The pressure of becoming “great” was even taking away the joy of practicing his sport.
Success is not a straight line. Most of us believe that in order to swim passing the waves of the ocean, we need to walk straight, no matter what. Watch out! …others are watching you… or so we think. Rather, it is an easier approach just to go under the waves and emerge, safe and ready to swim with joy and liberty after “bowing down” to the circumstances in life.
The “great athlete” could have shown his discipline by only attending to his friends parties, let’s say twice a month rather than denying them altogether.
Here is when love is needed. In this path of knowing ourselves, we need to learn to know our current stage. Are we there yet? Give love to yourself, encourage yourself, and “train” yourself to reach where you want to be. Do not give up. Go under the waves of “hard circumstances” and reach the destination safely. Enjoy life. Love is enjoyable.
Discipline is not longer discipline unless we understand the concept of flexibility. Discipline without flexibility is tyranny to our own self. Lack of respect for the self.
Wisdom comes when we learn to understand when to use flexibility and when to stop so it does not become carelessness. Discipline is this drive which clearly knows about the destination and knows the direction even though the winds of circumstances maybe blowing at a different direction.
To live life fully, thinking is not needed. Sensibility, appreciation and gentleness are necessary qualities to develop. Then we can act without “understanding,” without thinking and “acting right.” Laws are needed when those qualities are lacking. Thinking is “black or white.” Life does not have any colors.
Many times we are so hard on ourselves that we take away the joy in our lives.
Love is the answer. It takes time to learn to love ourselves, because we don’t realize that love is not something to give to “others,” when there is nothing inside ourselves to give.
As love grows inside us, giving is a natural consequence when there is fullness. A tree full of fruits does not know the significance of “giving.” Its own fullness automatically gives. That is a law of life…