Friday, April 20, 2007

The Pleasures of Self-Discipline

In Kerala there is a type of ayurvedic medicine called Kashayam. It is very bitter. People used to sweet and dainty dishes will have a hard time stomaching this medicine. It has even become a kind of proverb to say “it is bitter- like kashayam”.
Certain kashayams have the effect of purifying your blood.

Discipline and any action aimed at improving our living conditions seem to be like drinking the bitter kashaya. You would rather relish the sweetness of languor.
Say for instance, you want to build up a muscular body. You have to work out a program of regular exercise and stick to it, every day. Every day at the same hour, you do the set number of pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, dumbbells, everything in your prescribed routine. And you take the special diet, protein enriched to add muscles to your frame.

In the first few days, your body will scream, “No!”, as you press it into this unfamiliar regimen. You do not give in. You press on.

Then you break though the layer of resistance and actually start to enjoy the work out session. And slowly, the reward starts manifesting …a muscular body.
It repeats at every attempt you take at improving yourself- be it your handwriting, learning to speak in public, overcoming the fear of rejection in socialization, learning to meditate….

After a few months or so, you start to reap in the rewards: a lean, muscular physique, a neat and tidy handwriting that immediately catches attention, a new found confidence to stand up and deliver your message to groups of people, an ability to enjoy the peace and joy of meditation…

The Bhagavad-Gita also says: “Those pleasures which are bitter like poison in the beginning but later are sweet like nectar are the best…” The Gita calls them Sattvic pleasures…the Pleasures of Discipline.

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