Thread: Discipline

  1. #1
    Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner talks briefly about discipline in Zen practice. (approx. 6 minutes)




    Any thoughts about what he said?

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  2. #2
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    A bit simplistic. It's a subject that really needs teasing apart and discussing. For example, the world in one sense needs people who take on board discipline, but not if that discipline leads to dystopian societies typified by Hitler's Germany. Discipline there led to murder and torture and undermined our common humanity. On the other hand, the path requires the kind of discipline that sees you through the rough times when you just want to go away and do something else.

    Those who take to the kind of discipline Brad was talking about in Zen practice and Zen retreats will undoubtedly make more progress than those who give up at the first few hurdles. However, I think that this is a shortcoming of Buddhism, if it cannot provide other ways into the self-discipline you most certainly need if you are to bring about changes to yourself. I lost track of the number of people I met at the Buddhist center who really did't like meditating, when it should be as natural as breathing and the one thing in life you can't do without, even if it's for a couple of minutes.

    Like the discipline needed to play an instrument, you have to get over hurdles when times get rough until it becomes fun again. As a teacher of 35 years I know that everyone is different and needs a different approach at different times. At its best, I merely had to step in as an enabler when a child was absolutely stuck, and to create an atmosphere of relaxed discipline for them to enable them to get on with it the rest of the time.

    Some years we had outside music teachers coming in teaching violin to the whole class. Those who relied on imposed discipline fared much worse than those who made learning fun, and understood the steps needed for individual children to gain enough skills to have the self discipline to carry on practicing by themselves. From what i have read the Buddha had just such an approach to individuals, which is why they made such good progress when he was around.

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