When I was asked by Roz to do a sermon on this subject, I had to laugh at myself. It is almost a cosmic joke that my insight was sought for such a thing. Though I often mention my desire to be more disciplined and the activities that I take to improve that area, I think the reality of it is, I’m as fickle as they come. I often have trouble concentrating on one thing at a time, and with-out the steady hand of discipline, all sorts of things sprout and grow in the fertile soil that is my mind.
I suppose that would be the best point that I could make from my own experience. Your mind is fickle enough, but to truly master it, you exercise discipline. The idea that fickleness is a bad thing, or completely negative in every respect is one that confounds me. How can a variety of interests, found and enjoyed in the moment, be so harmful? Is not one of the main interests of our meditations to come closer to the moment, to enjoy it for what it is and what it presents? Wouldn’t a fickle mind be especially well suited to handling such a world perspective? No, fickleness itself is not bad. It is the product of immersing yourself in the here and now as a character trait.
So what of discipline? Does it take the polarizing stance? Is it the harmful one? We go about our day imposing our will on ourselves and our environment everyday (and night, for that matter). We cannot help it. It is part of our make-up, part of what we are. By virtue of our very existence we effect the world around us and the mind we have will work to benefit us, which in its self is a form of wild, natural discipline. Where we able to think about more, we would bring more under the blanket of discipline. Our minds would do all the work for us if we broadened them to take in as much as possible.
We all know that what we spend our time doing, where we spend our time, and with whom, directly affects our character. It can bring out the best…or the worst. If that is true, then I suggest we use our discipline to put ourselves into environments where our fickleness will best serve us. Find the appropriate place to be in order to become the person you want to be. Associate with the people to look up to, who are wiser and more learned or more healthy. If you want money, get a job at the bank and make friends with CPA’s and spend your time reading the financial papers. Plant those seeds and weed out the things that choke them away. If you want to master your body, join a gym or martial arts school and get a job that requires labor. If you want to cut back on drinking, don’t keep it in the house, don’t go to bars, and avoid hanging out with friends who drink excessively.
The concept is universal and everyone shares it. Your fickleness will maginify who you are and your discipline will decide what that will be. It is not about focus, it is about environment, input, and influence. Use your discipline to choose the person you want to be and let your fickleness make it so.
May the Force Be With You.