A young man had been caught in a daring act of theft and had been condemned to death by execution. When he was asked about his last wish, he expressed his desire to see his mother, and to speak with her before he was taken for execution. When his mother came to him, he said: “I want to whisper to you,” and when she brought her ear near him, he nearly bit it off. All the bystanders were horrified, and asked him what he could mean by such brutal and inhuman conduct. “It is to punish her,” the man said. “When I was young, I began with stealing little things, and brought them home to mother. Instead of rebuking and punishing me, she laughed and said: ‘It will not be noticed.’ It is because of her that I am here today.”
This popular Aesop’s Fable highlights the importance of discipline in the world. If we fail to inculcate discipline in children since an early age, they are likely to lead a miserable life later. The importance of discipline was explained by Gautam Buddha more than two thousand years ago as following:
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind, he can find the way to
Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him”.
Discipline means the practice or training to obey rules or code of behavior as required. Discipline can be achieved by using punishment to correct misbehavior and reward to appreciate good acts. This can be applied to self or to others, as the case may be. Hence, due to discipline, the conduct of people is transformed as they develop the habit of following the laws and rules of the society to avoid punishment and gradually develop good habits which earns them rewards and leads them to success and happiness.
It is no secret that we all wish to be successful in life and fulfill our dreams. Why do only a few of us accomplish our goals? Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker rightly said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment”. Success means the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. It means to achieve positive results that can make our life better. However, mere having a wish is not enough for success. For example, almost a million aspirants appear in Civil Services Examination, but less than a thousand finally succeed. In the same way, thousands of people want to play for their country, win medals, get fame and become wealthy, but only a few succeed.
It is not easy to achieve success in life because success is the result of long term hard work with focus; and, it is not easy to focus since an undisciplined mind moves in Brownian motion and reaches nowhere. It is only with discipline, that we can keep our mind focused and avoid distraction. Students need to be disciplined to study for long hours over several years to succeed in examinations and make their career. Good sportsmen train with great discipline for extensive hours a day over several years to give great performances on the field. It is only when the army is disciplined, that it can fight well in the battlefield and can defeat the enemy to protect the lives of the people. Only a disciplined professional can be punctual and focused on the job to produce the best results for the organization as well as the best prospects for the self.
Discipline is no doubt needed in all aspects of life. Discipline of body leads to discipline of mind, which in turn, leads to self-discipline and subsequently, change of personality for the better. Once we are self-disciplined, we can likely perform even the toughest of tasks with least external stimulus. However, if we fail to adopt self-discipline, we are made disciplined by social strictures and, at times, even punishment.
It is frankly not easy to discipline our mind which is as restless as a monkey. Most people want freedom and dislike discipline. They want to live their life their own way without giving due consideration to their duties and responsibilities towards others. However, if everyone keeps doing what they want to do, it will certainly lead to anarchy, or absence of order. Anarchy represents a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority. It is a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without any government. Such a society may appear to be wonderful in imagination and fiction, but it is the most undesirable form of society. Sophocles, an ancient Greek play writer said several thousand years ago, “There is no greater evil than anarchy”.
If discipline is not enforced, indiscipline becomes a social norm which leads to chaos, conflict and anarchy. When there is anarchy in the society, people have to fend for themselves and all their energies are spent in their struggle for survival rather than doing anything fruitful. This gradually leads to the law of the jungle and the survival of the fittest. No person feels secure in such a society where the brutes and tyrants take control. Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism, warned the people of the perils of anarchy when he said, “Tyranny and anarchy are never far apart”.
It is thus evident that discipline is the most important determinant for success. No society or individual can succeed without discipline. If discipline is enforced since early age, it transforms the nature of the children who grow up into self-disciplined, law-abiding and ethical people. However, we must also avoid too much of discipline which may as bad as too much freedom. We must learn to balance freedom and discipline.
When we are disciplined, we enjoy our freedom even more. However, the lack of discipline creates anarchy, which ultimately leads to the ruin of the society and snatches away all our freedom. In such a society, everyone is a loser. The American author Jim Rohn said rightly, “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment”.
Let us follow discipline in our life so that we can achieve success and happiness in our lives and avoid the pain of failure and unhappiness.
Source: “Mastering Essay & Answer Writing for UPSC Civil Services IAS/ IPS & State PSC Main Exam” by Dr Awdhesh Singh, available at