Once a student of a college came to me. In the course of the discussion he asked: “Of freedom and discipline which do you consider to be the more important”?
“Both freedom and discipline are equally dear to me”, said I. “Hence it is difficult for me to say which of the two is more valuable?”
Student- Do you not see that the two are opposed to each other?
I- No, I do not see any conflict between the two.
Student- How can you say that? Discipline aims at curbing one’s freedom. The former is undoubtedly opposed to the latter.
I- No one can achieve freedom without discipline. Both of them are as identical as the pitcher and the earth. Can one think of a pitcher without the earth? Can one attain freedom without discipline? My answer is ‘No’..
Student- Do you hold that discipline in not the results of one’s helplessness? Do you suggest that it is not the outcome of compulsion?
I- We are social beings. It is impossible for one to enjoy unrestricted freedom. Mutul limitations bind us to one another. Hence compulsion and helplessness are inevitable in the life of a man.
Student- Then, should I take it that complete freedom is impossible.
I- The world itself is incomplete. How then a person born in it acquire perfection? can do nothing without cooperation from the other This state of interdependence binds one to the other. Hence it is unlikely for one to encroach upon the other man’s rights.
Student-This means that as I have to depend on my parents, they are free to direct my course in the way they like.
I-If you depend on your parents now, do your parents not depend on you for their old age?
Student- Certainly, they do.
I– Then they are duty bound to direct you not in the way they choose but in a way that suits your tastes and abilities and is necessary in your own interest.
Student- A son who defies the instructions of his father is dubbed as an indisciplined child. But what about the father who defies the law of the land and works contrary to its spirit? Do you not think he himself is indisciplined?
I- To act in obedience to the orders of others is not the true meaning of discipline. It is its one meaning in the broader sense of the term. Its real meaning is to awaken a sense of inspiration in one’s heart towards one’s duty and refrain from such acts as are against the norms of conduct. As the directive of a person more experienced than us is conductive to it, it also comes under discipline. But as a matter of fact discipline comes from within and it is the characteristic of an Individual. Is discipline of the self not the freedom of the self?
Student- This is what we call self-discipline. It is not opposed to one’s freedom. The discipline that is imposed on others is opposed to freedom.
I– The imperfect state of self-discipline or its complete absence necessitates from one’s superiors in the form of a command. This is subservience to others to a certain extent but it is always the indisciplined person who gives rise to such an occasion.
Student- May I know the factors that con- tribute to the growth of self-discipline?
I-The noble aim to make one’s life sublime, universal viewpoint, motives devoid of selfishness, self-restraint, tolerance, ardent desire for freedom and curiosity to know the truth are the qualities that kindle the flame of self-discipline.
Student- Is there any relationship between concentration of mind and discipline?
I- Inconstancy of mind is just the other name of indiscipline. One who practises steadfastness of mind is unlikely to turn unruly. The philosophy of discipline was propounded by those who had achieved steadfastness of mind and only the people imbued with this quality are able to practise discipline in their life. Only the people with constancy of mind will be able to derive benefit from it. Without it a man will find it impossible to develop his knowledge of humanities or science or any other branch.
Student- Constancy of mind is necessary only for a Yogi. What is its use for a student?
I- One of the interpretations of Yoga is the attainment of efficiency in one’s work. He who is adept in his work is a Yogi. According to it everyone who is adept in his profession is a Yogi As a student aims at acquiring knowledge, he undergoes a natural process of the practice constancy of mind. The numerous inventions that we see nowadays owe their origin to the persons known for their steadfast perseverance.
I noticed in the end that there wasn’t any difference left between the views of the student and my own views. To me self-discipline is necessary and he too considers it indispensable in one’s life. Both of us agreed that discipline is a must for the orderliness of society and purposeless control is undesirable. He concurred with me on the point that a man should never attempt to bring another man under his control. However if circumstances compel him to do so, his aim should be to awaken a sense of self-discipline in him. He should never do so with a view to suppressing his independent personality. A student should also subject himself to discipline in order to awaken a sense of self- discipline in him. He should never allow his independent personality to be subdued.
1. Do you regard freedom and discipline as one and the same or two different aspects? Eluci- date the relationship between the two.
2. Give the definition of discipline in your own words.
3. Why has the steadfastness of mind been con- siderered necessary for a student?