Discipline. I think this is quite a difficult one, it sounds easy, to think of it is easy, to say is easy but to do it, to do it temporarily is easy, the difficult part is to maintain it. The main part of discipline is constancy. Without constancy, there is no discipline; without discipline, you cannot benefit anybody. So, if you want to benefit, first you start with discipline. You start with your mind. So, it’s the mind that you can think of it like a monkey, or better, like a wild animal. A crazy wild animal can really hurt you and can hurt others. So, we must be able to tame it. It’s the first step for discipline. If you can’t tame your mind, then you forget about discipline, forget about helping others; you can just sleep until 4.00 in the afternoon, then you have back pain and you have headache, so discipline is very important.
For example, for some people it’s very easy to wake up early in the morning, I have friends at 7 am, they open eyes. They are very active, they do this and that, already making list of what they are going to do today, tac, tac, tac. And then people like me, eight o’clock, ho, a little bit more, 9 o’clock, 9:15, 9:20. And many times it’s 9:30, 10 o’clock when I get up, and then I feel bad: Oh, I wasted already three hours! So already, I start off with a bad foot. This is not discipline so then I can’t be of benefit. This must start from the beginning, you know. Sometimes hardship, difficulty, you can reap the best reward. That’s the nature for humans, it’s like that. The harder you work, the more difficult the challenge, the better the satisfaction, the happier you are with the result, more satisfying. It’s like computer games, you know, the computer games that are very successful, it’s because they are very difficult. The easy ones like pacman, after a while you are bored. But the difficult ones, you can keep playing, playing, and then challenge, challenge, then you enjoy because when you win, you are like: Ah yeah, I accomplished something. Even if it’s a two-dimension screen, you still get a little bit of satisfaction. So, then you are dissatisfied because you want to keep playing.
So, it’s a little bit like life also, but life is very different, it has many more dimensions and aspects. So, discipline for each person is different, you know. For example, like the people who easily wake up at 7:00 am, maybe they wake up at 7 am, no problem, but they may have an addiction problem, they smoke a lot of cigarettes, and they cannot stop. So, they don’t have the discipline to stop even if they want to. So, discipline comes in many different aspects. It’s not just a schedule that you follow every day. It’s up to you how you feel that the real discipline should be, but mainly for everybody it’s the same, we have to discipline, to tame our mind first of all, to understand the nature of the mind, discipline, then to control the thoughts, the intentions, the habits.
The habits are very dangerous; can also be very beneficial, depends on you – the more you do it, the easier it is to do. That’s the advantage and disadvantage of the habit, it’s the nature of the human: the more we do something, the easier it becomes to do that. You choose, when you see that you have a habit, if you are unhappy with the result, then you must discipline yourself. I think discipline can have very good result if you know what’s good for you and what’s not good for you. That’s up to you, even though the mind can sometimes fool you, try to play tricks on you. So sometimes you convince yourself, “Oh, I had no choice”, or “It’s too difficult”, “It’s not possible”, or “It doesn’t matter, it’s not so important”, “It’s OK”, or in Spanish way, “I’ll do it tomorrow!”, Mediterranean way, maybe, ” Domani domani,” but tomorrow never comes. Without discipline, it’s very difficult to accomplish anything because, I mean, we can learn small things every day, but the improvement, the learning is the constant. That’s why, I think, discipline is one of the strong pillars of one’s practice.
Without discipline, it’s very difficult and sometimes, I think, you know, -this is a different subject, OK – but I have a friend, he passed away, actually two years ago, he used to say animals are much more intelligent than humans; when they wake up, they don’t need anything, they don’t need toothbrush, they don’t need a bed, clothes or shoes or all these things that humans need. When they wake up, they already have their clothes on, they come out and enjoy, like that. So, it’s a joke. But sometimes when you think about it, you say OK, maybe, animals are much more practical than humans, even though the animal realm is pure suffering, constant suffering, fear of getting eaten, of getting attacked, looking for food, competition, all these things. So, the conclusion is that animals are cleverer and more practical than humans, because they adapt to nature unlike humans that force nature to adapt to them.
I have another Indian friend. He used to tell me, “I always pray. When I pray, I pray, please, let me be reborn as a human next life in the United States. If not, at least, let me be reborn as a dog in the United States”, because the dogs in the United States have a much better life than human beings. They live a five-star luxury life. They are taken care of and they have a bed and the best foods.
So, some people have that kind of concept but luckily, we know that the human rebirth is so precious. We can practice Dharma, that’s why; because we suffer and we’re able to enjoy at the same time. Because if it’s only enjoyment, then we have no thought to practice, because we are always in bliss. And if we don’t suffer, then we’re not aware that maybe, there is something wrong that we must do something. For example, you are a god, then it’s all complete bliss, and then you don’t practice until the very last moment, when it’s too late. So, when the karma finishes, you go straight down to the lower realm. So if you’re reborn as an animal or a hungry ghost, you are suffering so much, you have no time to practice, you can’t, you don’t have the capacity or even the thought to practice, so much suffering!
And the same case happens also in the human realm people who have so much material wealth, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, only when they get old, and they are about to die, they have the thought, “Oh, I wasted my time. I didn’t do anything for anybody.” And the same thing happens to people who suffer a lot: they suffer, suffer so much that, sometimes, in the human realm,, they create hate, and then they suffer, and they want to give suffering also, vicious circle. So, we are very, very lucky to be able to have a little bit of both, but at the same time, to have this perfect human rebirth. We can take the middle path, and evolve through that, and make a difference. So, we can help the people who are enjoying too much -temporary enjoyment- and help the people who are suffering all the time -even though it’s temporary suffering. We have this big opportunity, so don’t waste it. That’s what I’m trying to say. So, discipline is a pillar, even though I’m not an example, I ask you, please, don’t use me as an example; use His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Lama Zopa Rinpoche as an example. They’re the real living example, you know. So, discipline, OK.