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Chapter 51 - We do not learn from wars but repeat brutality and bestiality
Intelligence is not the consequence of discipline. It is not a by-product of thought. Thought is the result of knowledge and ignorance. The discipline of thought, though it has certain values, leads to conformity. The way of discipline as it is generally understood is conformity, to imitate and follow a pattern. Discipline really means to learn, not to bow down to a standard. There can be no discipline without love.
From childhood we are told to mould ourselves according to a religious or social structure, to control ourselves, to obey. That discipline is based on reward and punishment. Discipline is inherent in every subject. If you want to be a good golfer or tennis player, it demands that you pay attention to every stroke, to respond quickly and gracefully; the very game has its own intrinsic natural order. This instructive order has gone out of our life, which has become chaotic, ruthless, competitive, and in which we seek power with all its pleasures.
Doesn't discipline imply learning the whole complex movement of life-social, personal and beyond the personal? Our life is fragmented, and we try to understand each fragment or integrate the fragments. If we recognize all this, the mere imposition of discipline and certain concepts becomes rather meaningless, but without some form of control most of us would go berserk. Certainly inhibitions hold us, compel us to follow tradition.
One realizes that there must be a certain order in our life. Is it possible to have order without any form of compulsion, without any pressure and, essentially, without reward or punishment? The social order is chaotic. There is injustice-the rich and poor, and so on. Every reformer tries to bring about social equality, and apparently not one of them has succeeded. Governments try to impose order by force, by law, by subtle propaganda. Though we may put a lid on all this, the pot is still boiling. So we must approach the problem differently. We have tried in every sort of way to civilize man, to tame him, and this, too, has not been very successful. Every war is barbarism, whether it is a holy war or a political war. So we must come back to the question: can there be order that is not the contrivance of thought?
Discipline means the art of learning. For most of us learning means storing up memory, reading a great many books, being able to quote from various authors, collecting words so as to write, speak or convey other people's ideas or our own, so as to act efficiently as an engineer or a scientist, a musician or a good mechanic. One may excel in the knowledge of these things, and thus make oneself more and more capable of having money, power and position. This is generally accepted as learning-to accumulate knowledge and to act from that; or, through action, to accumulate knowledge, which comes to the same. This has been our tradition, our custom, and so we are always living and learning in the field of the known. We are not suggesting there is something unknown, but to have an insight into the activities of the known, its limitations, its dangers and its endless continuity. The story of man is this. We do not learn from wars, we repeat wars; and brutality and bestiality continue with their corruption.
Only if we actually see the limitation of knowledge-that the more we pile up, the more barbarous we are becoming- can we begin to inquire into what order is that is not imposed externally or that is self-imposed, which both imply conformity and so endless conflict. Conflict is disorder. The apprehension of all this is attention, not concentration, and attention is the essence of intelligence and love. This naturally brings order without compulsion.
Now, as educators and as parents, which are the same, isn't it possible for us to convey this to our students and children? They may be too young to understand all that we have just read. We see the difficulties, and these very difficulties prevent us from grasping the greater issue. I am not making this into a problem; I am just very much aware of what chaos is and what order is. These two have no relation to each other. One is not born out of the other; and I am not denying one or accepting the other.
The flowering seed of perception will bring correct action.