Better a Life of Discipline
“The deepest personal defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming, and what one has in fact become.” – Ashley Montagu
Can you put your finger on your mind and say this is mind? How about free will? Can you say definitely that you have it, and then demonstrate it? After this exercise, you will be able to answer yes…
The point of this exercise: Who is in control, and what is mind.
This exercise only takes a few seconds, but it will strengthen your free will, and at the same time give you a vantage point with which to regard your mind and emotions.
Part of being the Man in the Arena, is to be able to detach from your emotions and objectify them, and this exercise will help you with that. All it takes is a radio.
It is done like this, on your radio have a favorite music station and a different news station. On the one, they are usually playing music, and on the other, it is news with a political slant. Hopefully, these are your two favorite stations. Now suppose you are driving along and your favorite song is on the radio. Your emotions are being swept up and the good juices are flowing, perhaps you are singing along.
Change to the news channel. Jarring isn’t it? Perhaps it is not so difficult when you set out to do it just as an exercise, but in your normal day to day life this won’t be easy. For some, this will be as difficult as an alcoholic only drinking half a beer.
It is an act of discipline. To be able to overcome your emotions that are being aroused is noteworthy.
Just as having the discipline to shut down your favorite news channel. This doesn’t make much sense until you try it. It doesn’t cost you anything. You know you will hear that song again. You could download it to your iPhone, but you are in the grip of an emotional sequence. The good juices are flowing. So who is in charge? Same with the news or talk show. There is nothing going on that you don’t already know, or will not hear again and again. Perhaps what you are hearing is feeding into your political hate, and that feels good. Can you switch instantly to the music station?
So we are talking about control and discipline, and it somewhat feeds into one of my favorite sayings, “Better a life of discipline than one of regret.” But there is something else going on here I want you to tune into.
And that is “Mind,” itself. This is apart of that. In the more erudite text on Musashi we learn that he used the word kokoro for Mind, which is closer to heart-mind, or perhaps emotion-intellect-mind? But what we have here is an easy way to experience it.
There is no risk, you are not facing a well-trained man with a three-foot razor blade, and there is no cost. There is only; Will, Intent, Kokoro. Experience it directly when your will and intent overcome your weakness and lethargy. And then look for other places to apply this technique.
Are you slow getting out of bed? Spend a lot of time reading garbage? Just tiny spaces in your life that wouldn’t be too hard to sweep up, but once done, and added up, you have almost an extra life.
We have already suggested that you can master much of what is in this book during the 30,000 hours you might waste driving. Most will spend three times that watching TV or similar video pursuits that don’t enrich you. You can harvest this time. All that is needed is that first act of discipline. When in the grip of a music-inspired orgasm, switch to news. When hearing a news narrative that confirms one of your prejudices and fills you with joyous hatred, switch.
Better a life of discipline than one of regret.
…This is the exercise that starts it all. If you can’t do it…Good-bye. No matter how brilliant or relevant the narrative, without discipline it’s worthless.