Discipline comes from the energy of the third chakra. It has been shown statistically that those people who are capable of delaying gratification tend to show the most intelligence and score highest on intelligence tests. Recently in class, Advance Novel Writing at Lighthouse, a discussion came up about ballet dancers and how incredibly intelligent they are. One of the women in class is writing a novel about two ballet dancers who meet as children and grow up in the world of ballet together. She gave credit for their above-average intelligence to the fact that ballet dancers learn a strict discipline when they are very young and internalize it.
This is a little tricky because intelligence also requires that one can think for oneself. There is a difference between someone who is disciplined externally and always does what they are told and one who is intelligent because they think critically and creatively.
The idea of “delayed gratification” leads us to think that they are acting for some future outcome (in the form of a reward), but this is not necessarily true. In fact, “delayed gratification” is just a visible symptom of internal discipline. It’s just a by-product.
Paradoxically, people who have internal discipline are not really delaying gratification. Rather, they find pleasure and gratification in the practice of discipline itself. When people love what they are doing, discipline is easy. Loving what you are doing is its own reward.
The kind of discipline I’m talking about here is internal, not external. It is a form of intelligence. It is what don Juan called “the unbending intent of a warrior.” It is a skill that anyone can develop if they are motivated to do so. But the motivation must come from love. All of these things — love, discipline, intelligence, unbending intent — are internal, not external.
The rewards are intrinsic and exist in the present moment. In fact, this kind of discipline trains one to be very present and focused.
The term “delayed gratification” is a misunderstanding of this form of discipline and intelligence called unbending intent.
A biodynamic farmer who instructed me at Rudolf Steiner College once told me, “We must learn to love what is necessary.”
When your actions come from deep love and passion, discipline and being present become easy and gratifying, and bring their own rewards.
The question of “How?” is simply to set your intention and then proceed with unbending intent. The practice itself creates the discipline.