From On the Wings of the Swan, Volume VIII, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Discipline means to become responsible; indiscipline means to become irresponsible. It is as simple as that. If you are responsible and you act in a responsible manner, you are disciplined. If you behave in an irresponsible manner, then naturally you will be labelled as undisciplined. The problem is that people want ‘rights’. ‘This is my right. That is my right.’ People are more aware of their rights and less aware of their responsibility – the basic idea is forgotten. People want rights without responsibility. However, if you become responsible, then naturally you get rights.

Discipline is nothing but being responsible for oneself. Discipline does not mean that you have to act according to this time or that time, within these parameters or limitations, or in this area. All that can change: today you are here, tomorrow you will be some place else. However, if you become responsible for yourself, your development, your well being and your peace, then that responsibility will be seen as a discipline – in action, behaviour, attitude and mentality.

What is responsibility? I do not have to define that. You know what responsibility means. There is a greater sense of responsibility when you feel that you belong. For example, a piece of rubbish has been thrown on the path. Somebody goes and picks it up, and puts it in the rubbish bin. It did not tax anyone; it was a simple act. If you leave the rubbish and wait for somebody else to remove it, are you being responsible? If somebody tells you, “Please pick up that rubbish,” a reaction happens.

Discipline is not a structured method, system or lifestyle – that in the morning you do this, in the afternoon do this, in the evening do this. Routines change from place to place. In your home you also have a routine, but by following the routine you do not become disciplined; it is by becoming responsible for your development that you become disciplined.

When you are responsible all rights come to you naturally; nobody can deny you any rights. On the other hand, if you want rights and you do not want responsibility, you will struggle with everyone, whether it is your family members or the government. Therefore, take responsibility for your growth and development. That is the best form of discipline, which will also make you free from your own mental hang-ups, reactions and bondages.

8 January 2008