The Heart of the Matter
May 26, 2023
The "D" Word


Most people who accomplish anything extraordinary in their life usually put in a lot of hard work towards that end. They know, from experience, that going beyond the status quo requires effort -- lots of effort.

Entrepreneurs, for example, often work seven days a week. They put in long hours, every day, to follow their dream and build something of value. Writers and artists spend countless hours, in solitude, in service to their muse. Moved to create something meaningful, they put in the work -- knowing, as they do, that the time they invest in themselves is time well-spent.

And the list goes on and on: Single mothers. Teachers. Nurses. Athletes. Long-haul truckers. Inventors. Recovering alcoholics. Monks. Immigrants. Each, in their own way, know that perseverance is required if they are ever going to realize their dreams.

Or, as Albert Einstein once said, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."

Each and every one of us, at some time in our lives, has had a dream -- an inspired aspiration -- something well beyond the status quo that called to us.

Maybe it was a book we wanted to write or a school we wanted to start. Maybe it was a business we wanted to launch or a cause we wanted to support. Maybe it was a pilgrimage we wanted to go on or a difference we wanted to make.


Often, our aspirations seemed to be "against all odds". And, quite likely, other people -- even those closest to us -- doubted our intentions and sanity.

Obstacles, frustrations, and disappointments came with the territory. Patience was needed. Clarity. And holding strong to the vision that moved us to make effort in the first place.

It took Tolkien 16 years to write the "Lord of the Rings". Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years. And countless monks spend countless years meditating in monasteries hoping to experience enlightenment, often with nothing to show for their effort than a sore back and a begging bowl.

Most people with bold dreams bail out along the way. Of every 100 aspiring authors who begin writing a book, only three complete it.

If you ask the average person trying to accomplish something extraordinary what quality they wish they had more of in order to put them over the top, almost always you'll hear the same thing: discipline. Indeed, when push comes to shove, that's what most people think is missing from their lives. The lack of discipline, they will confess, is their Achilles heel.

Logically speaking, this makes sense. The ability to be organized, focused, and persevering is essential to achieving results. No one, in their right mind, would dispute this. Discipline is required. Sustained discipline.

But here's where things get interesting.

When people bemoan the lack of discipline in their lives, their lament is often tinged with a dose of heaviness and dread -- how high school students often feel on a Sunday afternoon when they realize they haven't yet done their geometry homework. They know they have homework to do. They know it's important. But they just can't get up for it.

"You've got to be more disciplined," their parents tell them.

But no matter how hard those teenagers try to get their act together, the same drama plays out the next weekend and the one after that.

Yes, discipline is important. But discipline, per se, is not the really question. The question is: "What is at the root of discipline?" Or, put another way, "How can we access the kind of discipline that truly works for us?"

The dictionary definition of discipline sheds light on why so many of us bridle at the word: "The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience."

Ouch! Oof! Ugh! Who really likes obeying rules? Who looks forward to being bound by codes of behavior? Who enjoys being punished for disobeying?

The root of the word "discipline," curiously, comes from the Latin word for pupil -- "discipulus" -- a word that translates as "someone who wants to learn" -- the same root from where the word "disciple" originated.

Think about it for a minute. People who become disciples are people who are deeply committed to learning something. On fire with purpose, their subsequent actions towards that end are behaviors they commit to in response to what it is they want to learn. Their motivation is intrinsic. It comes from within. Their actions spring from their deep-seated recognition that there are is a specific kind of effort they need to make that will lead to the results they're looking for.

In other words, their discipline is rooted in choice, aspiration, and love -- not guilt, heaviness, and dread. Should is not their driver. Need is. Heartfelt need. They are, quite simply, responding to an inner calling and understand that the effort they need to make is a genuine effort -- one that is supported by the path they are on and the teacher or guide they are learning from.

Social scientists who study human potential have come to the conclusion. that intrinsic motivation, is the ultimate driver of extraordinary performance -- not carrots and sticks.

When a person is moved from the within to experience a particular outcome, their motivation is self-generated, authentic, and sustainable. They are not doing geometry homework. They are following what is calling them. And though, to outside observers, they may seem to be disciplined, their actions are inspired by fascination, will, and trust in the process they have embraced.

How much discipline does it take to eat when you're hungry? How much discipline does it take to look up when you see a rainbow? How much discipline is required to hug someone you love? Not much. And why not? Because you are intrinsically motivated to perform those actions. You are moved from the core of your being. Something inside of you is going for what it loves. Your effort is not forced. There are no shoulds, no guilt or self-recrimination -- just the natural expression of what genuinely moves you.

Is effort required to practice the knowledge that Prem Rawat offers? Yes, most definitely -- a daily effort -- one that requires focus, attention, and sustained commitment. Just like athletes train to master their sport, people who take Prem up on his offer to experience personal peace also need to make their effort. But it is not a heroic effort that's required, or a bang-your-head-against-the-wall kind of effort.

Prem understands the kind of effort it takes for people to plumb the depths of the experience he reveals. And, accordingly, he doesn't just talk about it or teach techniques for accessing it. He sees the big picture. He's in for the long haul. And he knows that he has a vital role to play for those who find value in his assistance -- encouraging, inspiring, and reminding people what it is that moved them, in the first place, to discover their true nature.
PEAK: Prem Rawat's Online Course on How to Discover Personal Peace
Hear Yourself: How to Find Peace in a Noisy World

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at May 26, 2023 12:41 PM

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Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

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