Question: How can we find joy in strict discipline?

Sri Chinmoy: What the mind calls discipline, the heart calls a process by which we achieve something or gain something. The soul does not even call it 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 takes 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. If we don’t accept the medicine, 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 anymore. We need somebody stronger than our present master who can overthrow him. We want knowledge to be our master. Knowledge comes in the form of discipline, which is like quinine. If we accept this discipline, then only can we conquer ignorance. So we have to allow discipline to be our new master, our new guide, our new saviour. Let us give the highest post to discipline.

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