There are two wolves. One is cruel. The other is gentle. Gentle in the sense of calm, attentive, and thoughtful. One day there is a war between these two wolves. A battle between wolves is vicious, bloody, ferocious; no holds barred kind of battle. These two wolves are equal in size and weight. Let me share one important thing: both wolves are under your care.
Which wolf do you think will win the fight?
Many of you may have heard this story before and know who wins. For those who do not know, the answer is: whichever wolf you feed.
What does it mean by “whichever wolf you feed?”
The two wolves represent the dual personalities in each of us. The Good and the Bad. The Sinner and the Saint. At any given moment, every one of us is on the verge of such a clash. Here is a metaphor: One hand is holding a box of matches and the other holds a matchstick. Just a simple thought, visual, or sound will trigger you to strike the match against the box. This impulse is in us all.
If you are a fan of Marvel Characters, Dr. Banner (the Incredible Hulk) says, “[inside of me] I’m always angry. [The Hulk comes out when I decide to react to the anger.] The character may be fictitious, but it is a universal truth. What you react to, materializes.
When we ask the question, “What makes us choose which wolf to feed?” We are asking, How do we control our reactions, impulses, and urges?
That How is Your Discipline!
The word “discipline” is from the Latin word disciplina, meaning “instructions and training.” Therefore, discipline is to study, learn, train, and apply a system of guidelines or principles to our daily routines and our lives. These behaviors are not conditional. Not subjective. It is not your truth or my truth.
Discipline is something we do for ourselves. Discipline is not just adhering to a list of rules set by others or mere obedience to external forces. Remember, discipline is studying, learning, and training. That makes it a choice. When there is a choice, we control the selection.
The thought on discipline led me to a discourse (or a lesson) from Buddha. The lesson is called Karaniya Metta Sutta.
Karaniya Metta is one of the most popular lessons in Buddhist circles. Karaniya means, “to do,” and Metta means, “loving and kindness.” Sutta is a lesson or words by Buddha. Therefore, Karaniya Metta Sutta means, To Do Lessons on Loving-Kindness. The lesson is a set of actions or behaviors that should be studied, learned, and practiced by each one of us. Practices that helps us better ourselves. Collectively, we can call these practices a discipline. The lesson applies to anyone. Buddha was a great spiritual leader. His lessons were geared toward helping people reach enlightenment. However, these practices are simple enough to lead ordinary people to discipline.
Discipline allows us to guide our lives efficiently. When you are disciplined, you don’t succumb to everything that comes your way; you learn to make sacrifices now, to do better in the future. Discipline creates habits and habits make us!
Jim Rohn said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”
So, what are the lessons in Karaniya Metta Sutta that teach us discipline?
Buddha’s words (or lessons) are always stated in an old Indian language called Pali. This is to preserve the originality (the meaning) of the words. For this speech, I used a translation by Venerable Piyadassi Thera. My aim is make use of the lesson for practices in our daily lives, personal or business.
Translation adaptation of Karaniya Metta Sutta by Piyadassi Thera: "Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Discourse on Loving-kindness" (Sn 1.8), translated from the Pali by Piyadassi Thera. Access to Insight(BCBSEdition),29August2012,http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.piya.html
Gold highlights are the translations. Words in black are my assessments of the lesson.
If you are well and able, you should be putting effort into your work. It is about becoming industrious. You should avoid apathy and unreliability. You should be resourceful. Being resourceful in both material and relationships (people). You should be committed, principled, and, respectful. You should be calm and modest.
You should not be a burden on others. In relationships, speak openly to those you associate and work with. Be authentic. Relationships are about trust, give and, take. Relationships are reciprocal partnerships. You should be fulfilled with simple livelihood. Simple as in not overworked. Think of it in terms of gluttony or over-indulgence – avoiding excess. Simple as in work smarter, not harder. Avoid addiction to work. Avoid being overwhelmed. Know what you can handle. Know what you don’t know. Ask yourself, are you taking a load in because it satisfies your ego? Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses? This awareness leads to, You should control your senses, be prudent and courteous.
Avoid all wrong doing. That is it!
Verses 4.& 5.
Do not oppress others. When you oppress people, you harm them. Harm could be mental, physical, or both. Inflicting harm or pain on anyone shows your callousness. Hurting anyone should not be a part of your character. Regardless of the type of people you associate with, you should treat them with courtesy. You should not create discord or disharmony among people. You may have to treat people differently but never mistreat anyone.
Never deceive another. When you deceive someone, you harm them. You may not see their physical scar, but you disrupt their peace. Deception may come through false information, omitting (key) information, or fabricated stories. Never despise another. Despising others only hurts you. Not others. Despising someone is a self-destructive mechanism.
Verses 7. & 8.
Nurture boundless love towards all beings. That doesn’t mean trusting everyone we come across. It is about cultivating peace and joy within you. The brain naturally takes in negative experiences more strongly than positive ones (Because a long time ago it helped our ancestors survive). Therefore, negativity, aggressiveness, doubtfulness are more pronounced in all of us. That makes it very easy for us to be discouraged and pessimistic. However, if we can be mindful of the joys, positivity, and peace around us, then those feelings will begin to arise in us. In a mental state of happiness, there is contentment and fulfillment.
Develop mindfulness. This is awareness of the present moment or living consciously. Not allowing ourselves to dwell in the past or the future. Remembering the past is not the problem, but living or being anchored in the past is a problem. Same with the future; there is too much fantasy and living in a make-believe world. To quote Fyodor Dostoyevsky; “The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he's in prison.” When we are aware, we know where we are, we see our actions, our thoughts, our responsibilities, and we hesitate to react to given impulses. It makes us think twice. To use my previous metaphor, let’s take a moment before we strike the match against the box.
Not falling into wrong views — being virtuous, endowed with insight. There are only a few things that we know for certain and there is so much more we don’t know. Knowing what we don’t know is a sign of great intelligence. Many times we find ourselves attracted to a certain aspect that we are reluctant to let go of. This opens up our minds to other people’s views without being properly vetted. So we align ourselves with views and opinions that support our aspect. This happens a lot in politics and business. A good example is the smartest person in the room syndrome; the thought that we know more than they. This is why we can't catch a break, even when things are going our way. We close ourselves from the correct view or analysis. The opposite is the imposter syndrome; the thought they know more than we know. Understanding this helps us not fall into the wrong view. It enhances our awareness and leads to honesty. It brings peace and joy to us.
Karaniya Metta Sutta is a remarkable way to discipline yourselves(from within). It helps us to tame and develop our minds simultaneously. It naturally heals us. The mind is our biggest hindrance. It is always impulsive and oscillates between two diametrically opposite states. Without proper methods, lessons and training, it can’t be controlled or shaped. Practicing the lessons in Karaniya Metta Sutta can help us remold our minds. An immediate result of discipline is self-respect. Self-respect leads to self-confidence. When we radiate within, when people see our discipline, it immediately makes us trustworthy. The internal strength that we develop means we don’t allow external factors, or circumstances, to dictate or guide our lives. Instead of headwinds, now we have tailwinds, propelling us toward peace and happiness in our lives.