Soft Discipline

The taming of the mind is similar to taming a horse. Large, wild, and powerful, it has the capacity to do tremendous good if it can be gently engaged and patiently trained. If frightened or brutalized by an unskilled trainer, it can be extremely dangerous, reactionary and frighteningly impulsive. Many of us were trained in childhood with brutal and arbitrary violence as punishment, or perhaps with shaming, mind games and manipulation designed to make us mindlessly submissive to authority.

Our parents were also trained in this way, and unless and until we become conscious we generally do the same. Often, by the time we begin to understand this we do the same, and deal with the implications. Even when we improve upon it, unresolved 'stuff' is carried down to our children.

Bruce Lee said to 'be like water', and he was not the first to express this concept. Harsh, forceful energy is often identified as yang in Taoism. The soft, yielding approach is called yin. With our children and with our own minds, we must begin to train ourselves with a soft discipline. The warrior's way, committed to respect, is grounded in power - and gives us direction in the most challenging of life's circumstances.

Kindness is all important, and change without it is brittle. We may become our own harsh 'parent' in adulthood. Even if successful, there is no joy, only endless unpleasant effort. No one wants to be forced to do something. If someone twists your arm behind your back, you will resist - even if they tell you it is for your own good. No one respects a tyrannical authority figure, even if it is you being the authority to your own self.

Chart your course. Whether you begin today or two weeks from now, intend a slow progressive path from here to January 1st. Focus in calming and in being conscious of where your edge is. When taking a trip, you must begin where you are - not where you wish to be. Be kind. Find the discipline of the willow that bends and flows in the wind, soft and yielding. Balancing  yin and yang energy, we will change the world.

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