Discipline without force

Brother Saruul
14 min readNov 10, 2020

When you want to be discipline, you are trying to be a disciplined person which creates a contradiction. When you say to yourself that you want to be disciplined that means you are undisciplined right now. But this notion of you being undisciplined is an illusion, it is something that is created out of thin air by you saying to yourself that you want to be disciplined. And, the more you feel undisciplined, the more reality and power you give to the illusion of yourself being undisciplined, the more force and will it require to beat the resistance of being undisciplined to be disciplined. You put yourself in a bind that cannot be broken. It cannot be broken because the source of the bind is an illusion, something that doesn’t exist. So, how can you break something that is not real? You can’t.

Or, you can go on with this bind and try to force and will yourself out of it to force yourself to be disciplined. And this is what we do knowingly or unknowingly. This is what we have been taught to believe. Yet, it doesn’t last long enough. It lasts for a few moments, hours and days and then you say to yourself “fuck it” and go back to your old self.

Naturally, things that are forced do not last long. It usually lasts until there is no more force to keep things together. Because there is always the resistance to your desire to be disciplined because of the desire to be disciplined, the resistance piles up and becomes something insurmountable. Then you get stressed about you not being able to be disciplined. Then, the stress piles up and becomes depression.

You know what happened to Michael Phelps. Probably, the most legendary athlete who has the greatest number of Olympic medals in the history of the mankind in sports. Yet, afterwards he was depressed and contemplating suicide. Here is my theory why he felt that because I had that same feeling, I have gone the same path as him to depression. He was probably always in the gym or the pool training everyday with strict routines and training plan that he must always adhere to for however many years. He was being strict on himself to reach the goal of being the best Olympian ever thinking that all the sufferings of his trainings and strict rules would be justified when he gets where he wants to be. He achieved his goal but then all of that mental baggage and suffering still persisted despite him becoming the best athlete ever. He thought the suffering would be over but it still existed. His training and competition were his escape route from all of his sufferings induced by his strict rules of his training. Imagine how many times and how much force he needed to exert on himself whenever his inside didn’t want to train but do something else instead. The mental baggage piled up for however many years and when he retired, he had no escape route anymore. He had to face the darkness lurking inside him. But I think, he tried to ignore or suppress the dark feelings inside him to the point he couldn’t bear all of that pain anymore and wanted to commit suicide.

That is what happens when someone commits suicide due to depression. The sources of the depression may vary but they all happen due to spending too much time, energy, focus, force, will or you name it, in the bind that one creates for oneself without one realizing it. That bind is like a riddle, very subtle and impossible to pinpoint because it is an illusion. Only seeing or realizing that the bind is an illusion is the way to “get out of” it. Well, in reality, you don’t get out of it because it doesn’t exist, but it vanishes when you actually experience that the bind is an illusion, when you see that it doesn’t exist in reality. Even committing suicide won’t help you with the bind. Life doesn’t end when one commits suicide, it continues just without the physical body. I am just trying to explain that forced discipline isn’t possible to achieve or even if you do achieve the things you wanted like fame, gold medals..etc, you would still end up big mess inside.

So, how do you get out of this bind? How does one get out of one’s illusion of the mind that doesn’t exist at the first place? Getting out of it would be a wrong phrase here, logically, because it is impossible to get out of something that doesn’t even exist. How can you get out of something that doesn’t exist? To get out of something, that something must exist at the first place, mustn’t it? This desire to get out of the bind then puts that person in another bind that cannot be solved, treated, defeated or do something about it. So, then what must we do if we can’t do anything about it? Obviously, we can’t just leave it like this and be forever depressed in the bind. If we can’t do anything about it, then the next logical thing we can do is just give up on the idea of getting out of the bind, isn’t it? Surrender the idea, let go of the idea and the desire to get out of the bind. But then, magic happens. When you finally fully commit yourself to surrender your idea of getting out of the bind, the illusion vanishes because the source — the desire to get out of it, doesn’t exist anymore. Finally, when you realize that not just mentally but experientially to your deepest core, the bind that has been prisoning you finally vanishes and the rest of the whole world opens itself to you. Well, in reality, the whole of the world was always open to but you were just blinded by your fake bind. Just knowing it or thinking logically about it won’t be enough.

Like I said earlier, it is one of the toughest riddles there to solve because the solution isn’t the solution that we think supposed to be. Well then, what is supposed to be and what is not supposed to be? According to the norms? Well, who creates the norms? The mass of the people. But the norms are not hard cemented facts, they change with time. Thus, the source of the things we think that are facts are actually just norms created in flux. The answer to the bind, the solution is surrendering but nobody thinks it in this way. We are always taught to believe that to achieve something we must do something, we must force it, we must force our will, we must grab it, take it; even in cartoons, the hero must kill the dragon to save the princess and the process of the defeating the dragon is always projected as suffering, pain, hard shit. Then, we automatically assume that we must always suffer to get something we want or something like that. Some work like this and some not. The truth is there is no one single formula that dictates everything. If there is the theory of everything then it would be something like this: the true theory of everything is that there is no single theory of everything. Even Newton’s fundamental laws stop working when the situation in which the laws are being used, operate through a speed more than the speed of the light or the object that is under some kind of force is too small. In these cases, different laws regulate the behaviors of the “stuff” in it. Just like this, each unique situation demands its own theory and law. It may seem annoying if you think about it but this diversity is what gives life its spices. If there was only one law that regulates everything of the whole cosmos, then how bore it would be to exist in such cosmos. It would be same as watching a same movie over and over again and there is only this one movie and nothing else.

Just like this, we have so many binds that we try to operate ourselves through in our every day lives. Those binds aren’t necessarily lies, they do work if they are used in the proper context but the problem is that we think that these binds are the only facts or the truths, or the things that are “supposed to be.” And, these binds are the result of information accumulation in our memories. Then, our unwillingness to let go of these binds due to our selfish desire, the sense of self and ego, create all these illusions that ultimately hinder our progress to become wise enough to have a fun life. When I say fun, it doesn’t mean fooling around, doing whatever the hell one wants to do while completely neglecting the responsibilities of the daily human lives. You can still do the chores that you have to do but if you would change your perspective and see those chores as something inherently fun activity, then you will be doing the chores for the sake of doing it but not for the gain you would have from doing it. This turns the life completely around and makes it possible for you to see the fun side of the chores that are considered boring as per our perspectives. What I mean by fun is that realizing the illusions and the truth, liberates one from the shackles of these binds and which ultimately renders one’s lives as something spontaneous process always happening in the NOW which is the true nature of life. But this also doesn’t necessarily mean you forsake the past nor the future. You are still responsible of your future; you are still aware of the possibilities of the future but not attached to them. Your main focus is in the now, the play at itself. The past and the future are also one of the widespread illusions of the life that puts people in a bind too.

Then, there are many other dominant binds that we all live by but don’t realize because their nature is subtle. The illusionary nature of these binds can only be detected when one finally sees and experiences the truth of the whole cosmos, the life. The reason why you can’t see them unless you understand the truth is that when you try to detect the nature of these binds, you are still thinking through the same pattern, the very same bind you want to extinguish. Such action is similar to trying to bite your own teeth or trying to clap your left palm with your left palm. These can’t happen. But then, when you forsake the bind, give up on the bind, surrender the bind to the trash bin, the wall these binds had created in front of you disappear and you see the truth which give you a different perspective. In other words, surrendering in a sense, allows you to see that you are trying to bite your own teeth. Then, when you realize the futility of such action, you completely surrender then the curtains disappear and you see the world as a whole. I have written these to explain how and why forced discipline won’t work in the long-term yet it is what we are doing with our lives every day, knowingly or unknowingly.

Additionally, I see articles, books, and video essays on tricking your brain to do hard stuff, creating a routine or habit that would ensure discipline or any of this kind of nature. I will tell you this now; these are utter nonsense. These stuffs are still trying to force or instill something and they may work or may not but they won’t last long, even if they are forced until one’s death, the individual would be amazed how he/she wasted his/her life following these stupid advices. When Aristotle said that “Excellence is not an act but a habit,” what he really means is that excellence or whatever you call it, can only happen after many repetitions which is obvious in nature. Just look at the buildings the ants build as their home. The working ants repeatedly do the same stuff over and over again until their homes look as a finished product. Same is true when we, human beings, build a house. We don’t just place one brick and say “Aiight, our house is finished.”

Let’s consider the idea of habit. Habit really means doing something without consciously invested in it. That’s it. Then we have “bad” and “good” habits. If the habit is helping us to achieve the things we want to achieve, then they are considered “good.” If the habits that are sabotaging us, then those habits are considered “bad.” Sure, an action that has become a habit has no resistance, you just do it and it is good but really though? Aren’t you missing out on something such as the joy of the moment when you are too much indulged in the supposed “good” habits? Let’s say, just like Michael Phelps you create a routine that you just follow without consciously aware of it and win bunch of gold medals at the Olympic games. Once you get them, then so what? You will realize that you have missed on every opportunity of spontaneity, the joy of every moment when you were just doing the same thing over and over again like a robot. You are a living organism that keeps changing and evolving, not a mechanical robot that has set and fixed hardware and software, just doing the same thing. The greatest gift of being a human is the joy of the moment, the spontaneity, the adventure, the thrill, the unexpected occasions, the diversity but trying to create a habit and routine to follow destroys all of these spices that life offers. It is the same thing as consciously and knowingly killing your manhood, isn’t it?

But then, without consistency we won’t get anywhere, do we? We need to be consistent to achieve the things we want. If we would just jump to everything we see like a toddler, we wouldn’t be able to function properly in our society. We wouldn’t be able to cook, work, or do something that we must do until completion. So what do we gotta do? On one hand, too much habitual stuff, then the juices of the life would sapped away from us; then, on the other hand, if there is too much diversity, adventure going on, we won’t get anywhere, we would waste our lives, we would drift and would have no meaningful life at the end. What is the answer to this paradox, riddle?

Well, paradoxes don’t exist, you just have to check the premises. The underlying premise, the hidden bind that is there as an illusion is that you can’t have both of these simultaneously. But is it though? You can still be playful and spontaneous while staying on the track. Or, in other words, I like to call it Playing Responsibly. Hence, the Yin-Yang; the, so called opposites existing together. That’s how life is in reality. You can’t have a door that only has the front but no back. The front and back, inside and outside, black and white, the head and the tail of a coin, hate and love, peace and turmoil, they always go together. You can still play with any kind of task given but at the same time do it sincerely and stay on the track consistently. We don’t have a control over the portions of each of the opposites in a given situation but we can play with them sincerely. Then, when the one side becomes too much, you can introduce more of the other side to it. The good and bad always depend on the situation, these two are always subjective. After many rainy days, sunny day feels good and vice versa. So, it is kind of immature to classify some facts into good and some into bad and then say that is how it is in life all the time, isn’t it? Or, you can completely transcend yourself from the dualities of life so that you won’t be bothered by the things you don’t like. You will achieve peace and bliss but living in eternal peace would be soo fucking boring to me, personally. I would need some chaos, turmoil in my life if my peace gets too much.

When you accept this duality of life, then you won’t be bothered by the misgivings, the failure of life anymore because you have already accepted it. Rejecting and ignoring these so called “bad” happenings create stress and depression. But it is impossible to have fun without the bore, to have success without the failure. These two always go together. Accepting it, also helps you vanish the bind of always seeking the “good” stuff and not accepting the “bad” stuff. Then, you can sincerely enjoy the both, you stop only seeking the “good” stuff which in turn make the desire to escape from the “bad” disappear.

Then, there is the notorious illusionary bind of time. (Jeesus Christ, how many binds have been operating subtly without us knowing?) The past had already happened, it doesn’t exist in the now. The future is yet to happen, so it doesn’t exist in the now. What we only have is the now, the moment, don’t we? The past had already happened, so it doesn’t matter in the now, and the future is just the approximation of the past projected, so it doesn’t matter as well. Yet, it would be wise and responsible to think of what may happen in the future and manage our actions accordingly. Also, it would be wise to learn from the past so that you as a living organism can grow into a fine tree, metaphorically. If you don’t, then you would be stuck at your current growth height and level. When you have to do these contemplations of the supposed past and future, do them and in the rest of the time, be fully in the moment, the NOW. Focusing too much on the past or future which are not real robs the joy of the moment, the NOW. Now is the only time that exist and the past and the future are just the extensions of the now back and forth. What is really happening is always in the now, not in the past or in the future. What is actually happening ins the only reality we have. So, the idea of time is an illusion. We just learned to believe it in this manner because it kind of gives a sense of structure of the world and how we should manage our time. As a result, we cling to this illusionary idea too much to the point that is so difficult to think and feel otherwise. Time doesn’t really pass and progress toward the future. There is no time. We just came up with it so that we can make sense and figure out the space and time. We needed an idea of time so that we can explain how to get from A to B. We are in the eternal now. Because the day comes and goes, and we grow old, it kind of gives us a feeling of passage of time. But in reality, it is just happening to be a day in the moment, then it is happening to be a night in the moment, and since human beings are living organisms, all organisms physicality start at some moment and live their lives in many moments and then the physical appearance goes away at some moment later. And this moment is the flow of life. You can’t define moment. Moment is just a moment, it doesn’t divide the flow of life into separate moments, rather it is a wave, continues forever and ever.

Why do we get bored? Because there has been too much routine stuff in the past and the stronger you believe that the future would be exactly the same, then you get out of your moment, the now and become too attached to the illusionary projection of your “boring” future. The outside stuff that is outside of your control may or may not stay the same but you control your inside. No matter how beautiful your wife would be, if you don’t see her as if you are seeing her for the first time every morning you wake up, you will be bored from your wife because you are projecting the past into the future. But if you would let go of this time bind, then you will come back to your now and see your wife as if it is your first time seeing here every day, every moment.

You might think I digressed from the topic of the article but I am not. Explaining all of these binds was necessary so that you can see the whole picture we are dealing with here. If you can realize all of these illusionary and subtle nature of the binds that we have and operate through without being consciously aware, then you can finally liberate yourself from all of the habits of anxiety, habits of depression and stress, habits of addiction, habits of self-sabotage, habits of wasting one’s life, habits of drifting, habits of autopilot mode and so on. Once you are free of all these binds-habits, then it is much easier to be in the moment and less resistance to stay on the track and find the routine tasks actually as something new every moment and have fun playing with it!

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Brother Saruul

A man shall be a Warrior, a Scholar, and a Monk. Warrior faces his enemies. Scholar cultivates sharp and clear mind. Monk is the master of self.