Question: How can we find joy in strict discipline?2

Sri Chinmoy: The mind calls it discipline; the heart calls it a process by which we achieve something or gain something. The soul does not call it even a process. The soul feels that what we call discipline not only embodies the reality-delight but is the reality-delight itself.

Whenever we want to do something, immediately the mind vetoes it. Even if the mind itself wanted it two days ago or two years ago, that same thing the mind is now ready to veto. This is our tricky mind. Even if it wanted something yesterday, today it has taken away its conscious willingness. With our heart or our vital we want something, but our mind immediately says, “No, don’t take it.” So discipline in our ordinary life is nothing short of punishment, precisely because of the mind’s unwillingness.

Here in America you have not suffered from malaria and I hope nobody ever suffers from that disease. In India how I suffered from malaria! Once my elder brother and I were attacked on the same day. You can’t imagine how painful it is. All the subtle nerves and gross nerves start dancing. Such pain! You simply shout and scream. Previously perhaps you did not know any acrobatics or special exercises, but as soon as you get malaria you become an expert. All our best acrobats you can challenge with your exercises. Pain compels you to do it. At any other time if you had asked me to do that kind of exercise, I would have said, “Impossible!” But when I had malaria, I was in such pain that I could do all kinds of acrobatics.

The only medicine for malaria is called quinine. It is extremely, extremely bitter. No other medicine is as bitter as quinine. But quinine is the saviour. Now if we don’t accept the saviour, then how are we going to get rid of our fever? Right now ignorance lords it over us. Ignorance is our master, but we don’t want this master any more. We need somebody stronger than our present master who can overthrow the present master. We want knowledge to be our master. It has come in the form of discipline, which is like quinine. If we accept this discipline, then only we can conquer ignorance. So we have to know that discipline is our new master, new guide, new saviour. Let us give the highest post to discipline.

Right now when you think of discipline, you feel that it is nothing short of punishment which you are facing all the time. But try to feel that it is your help, your guide, your inspiration, your aspiration, even your realisation. It is discipline that can and will conquer the undivine forces in you and around you. So think of discipline as a new master who is helping you to learn something new, meaningful, soulful and fruitful so that you don’t have to learn anything more from your old master. Your old master was lethargy, darkness, ignorance and all the negative forces. Now you have to give discipline the utmost value. It is your new master. It embodies light and it is more than eager to offer you light. Then only you will not be afraid of discipline. Think of what it is going to give you which you do not have right now. When you make this kind of comparison, you will see that you are swimming in ignorance-sea and discipline is telling you, “Poor girl, why are you suffering? I have boundless light, delight, peace and bliss. Come here; it is all for you.” So you go there where it is all light and delight. And who is giving you this light and delight? Discipline, your guide, your saviour.

The question was asked on 6 February 1977 at the New York Centre.