Fickleness, yet Discipline
Good evening. Welcome to today’s Live Service, and the first in this year’s theme of our Dualities.
Let us take a few moments to settle into ourselves : to meditate, to contemplate, to intro- and/or outro-spect, or to pray – to actualise our connexion to the Force and to come together in the spirit of our unity …
May the Force be with you …
This month we encourage you to contemplate the notion of dedication – not simply to the Jedi faith and its Temple, but to any and all things we may feel that we need to dedicate ourselves to.
Please do not yet make any value judgements; we’re just going to explore the (seemingly) polar qualities of fickleness and discipline to see how we might consider them with regard to our interactions with others and what attention we might give them.
We all encounter things which we cannot decide on. That is natural. We base choice on many complex factors in an interplay we are not always consciously aware of. As such, should we all be a little bit fickle, that would be quite reasonable.
Discipline, on the other hand, implies a certain rigour. Discipline means ‘learning’ or ‘training’ to act in a particularly reliable manner. It can be a beneficial tool for counteracting our indecisive, fickle natures.
Thus we come to feel that to be Fickle is a negative character trait, whereas it is good to be Disciplined.
This view may not be as simple as it seems.. So, let's take the time to examine these dichotomous aspects of our personalities (among which we will be exploring throughout the year) a little more closely. Let us examine what we think about on hearing/reading the words “Discipline” and “Fickleness” and how their interplay comes out in our actions.
First of all, when we constantly change our mind about things and cannot commit to anything, we call this ‘fickle’. Fickleness can, (and does) in many cases, make for someone that others cannot rely on. But for it to be true fickleness, the changes of heart must be frequent and radical. Just changing one’s angle on something does not necessarily make one fickle.
What is the difference between being fickle and being versatile ? or just being open-minded ?
Only self-knowledge can tell us this. How are we making our choices ? What is influencing us ? What is at stake (actually and in our worst-case-scenario generating imaginations) ?
At its best, Discipline (learning) can help us answer these questions ; knowledge of self and the nature of our involvement with others can lead us to better decision making and thus better dedication to the choices we make.
As with Fickleness (being the quality of versatility taken to an inappropriate extreme), Discipline also must be conscientiously attended to. Let us become aware of circumstances and the needs of others when applying our Discipline so that this ‘quality’ does not turn into Stubbornness or Rigidity.
And as with all phenomenon, one can become the other (Fickleness <> Discipline).
Quite some time ago, I had a colleague with whom I shared an office. He prided himself on his “self-discipline”, characterised by his impeccable desk, appearance and punctuality. He had an agenda which he kept to rigorously – every minute counted.
He even timed himself to know how many minutes and seconds it took to leave the office, descend the stairs and enter the doorway of his ground-floor classroom at the moment of the bell. Of course, everyone who arrived after him was counted as “late” (even if it were by only a few seconds).
This mechanical, clockwork efficiency may have resembled dedication quite a bit. It may have appeared to be exemplary serious-mindedness and some good solid “drive” (another ‘mechanical’ term). It certainly ‘showed’ resolve …
Discipline is “learning”. And the lesson that had not been well learnt was that people are not machines. A computer may be able to run the same programming without fail for decades on end, but a human being cannot. We crack …
My colleague ended up leaving the university to become a night-club prone gigolo in the greater St Louis area (a pretty expensive one too, I heard tell …)
So, while we may ‘learn’ to not let the slightest contrariety sway us in our consistency – especially commitments we make to others –, we would also benefit to not allow our Discipline to become rigid, unaware programming.
The key to this is mindfulness … So, let us take a few minutes now to settle into a meditation together, bringing our awareness to the present moment, and notice where our minds wander before bringing it back to the present …
*** (an unpredetermined moment of mindfulness meditation) ***
When your mind wandered, where did it go ? How many of your vagabond thoughts were about something you have committed to that you wish to escape ? How many of them tell you that you need to be doing something else ? That you need to stop doing this or be better at doing that ?
Let’s reflect on these things from time to time as they come up over this month of August. Let’s see where it leads us from here …
To close, please join me now in the recitation of our Creed, if you wish :
I am a Jedi, an instrument of peace ;
Where there is hatred I shall bring love ;
Where there is injury, pardon ;
Where there is doubt, faith ;
Where there is despair, hope ;
Where there is darkness, light ;
And where there is sadness, joy.
I am a Jedi.
I shall never seek so much to be consoled as to console ;
To be understood as to understand ;
To be loved as to love ;
For it is in giving that we receive ;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned ;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Force is with me always, for I am a Jedi.
May the Force be with you all …