Ten Spiritual Principles of Discipline

Wisdom I Learned from My Teacher, Avatara Adi Da


2. For discipline to work there must be

the pleasure of connectedness.

Friendship and loving care are the foundations of discipline, for if a child feels connected and safe, then the obligation to relationship can be given and received naturally. Care and safety empower discipline and, by such empowerment, the child's core and being grow.

In the spirit of connectedness, we remind those who are going into temporary exclusion to return as soon as they can, let them know we want them back; only their behavior has to change; they are acceptable and wanted, their inharmonic or unhappy behavior isn't. Emphasizing and expressing the pleasure of our connectedness empowers both relationship and discipline.

Let it be said again and again, the sign of intimacy for a child is not in things, but in time. Things can only remind one of the time spent together. For teachers and parents, this principle (usually) calls for intrinsic rewards (such as free time or liberties or the simple satisfaction of accomplishment), not extrinsic things or treats. This principle can be seen in variety psychological emphases, from "floor time" and meal time to quality time.

Parents: Observe the special time we spend with our children: how are we really with them, at their level, interested in them? When they are young, do we play their games, take their lead?

Teachers: Observe how we want to be liked and how we are exploited by that need: do students take advantage of your graces, do you want to be loved or loving? Observe how we do extend care and explicit appreciation.

This pleasure of connectedness as the empowerment of discipline has fundamental truths in it, not just psychological wisdom. For as we discern our behavior as our act and action -- distinct from our depth -- our behavior becomes visible to us in depth as an action we can become responsible for. As we enter into and deepen the obligation to relationship, we begin to choose another act and action. By acting in loving ways that are pregnant with relational force, we come to feel the unity of relationship, and then the unity of everything, the truth in everything, and our fundamental identity with the ground of being.