Discipline redefined

Discipline doesn't mean living by rules of the society

fish going opposite to the school of fish

‘Discipline’ is a beautiful word, but it has been misused as all other beautiful words have been misused in the past. The word ‘discipline’ comes from the same root as the word ‘disciple’; the root meaning of the word is “a process of learning.” One who is ready to learn is a disciple, and the process of being ready to learn is discipline.

The knowledgeable person is never ready to learn, because he thinks he already knows; he is very centred in his so-called knowledge. His knowledge is nothing but a nourishment for his ego. He cannot be a disciple, he cannot be in true discipline.

Socrates says: “I know only one thing, that I know nothing.” That is the beginning of discipline. When you don’t know anything, of course, a great longing to inquire, explore, investigate arises. And the moment you start learning, another factor follows inevitably: whatsoever you have learned has to be dropped continuously, otherwise it will become knowledge and knowledge will prevent further learning.

The real man of discipline never accumulates; each moment he dies to whatsoever he has come to know and again becomes ignorant. That ignorance is really luminous. I agree with Dionysius when he calls ignorance luminous. It is one of the most beautiful experiences in existence to be in a state of luminous not-knowing. When you are in that state of not-knowing, you are open, there is no barrier, you are ready to explore.


Discipline has been misinterpreted. People have been telling others to discipline their life, to do this, not to do that. Thousands of shoulds and should-nots have been imposed on man, and when a man lives with thousands of shoulds and should-nots, he cannot be creative. He is a prisoner; everywhere he will come across a wall.

The creative person has to dissolve all shoulds and should-nots. He needs freedom and space, vast space, he needs the whole sky and all the stars, only then can his innermost spontaneity start growing.

Your discipline has to come from your very heart, it has to be yours—and there is a great difference. When somebody else gives you the discipline, it can never fit you; it will be like wearing somebody else’s clothes, which might be too loose or too tight, and you will always feel a little bit silly in them.

Discipline is an individual phenomenon; whenever you borrow it, you start living according to set principles, dead principles. And life is never dead; life is constantly changing each moment. Life is a flux.

Heraclitus is right: you cannot step in the same river twice. In fact, you cannot step in the same river even once—the river is so fast-moving! One has to be alert to, watchful of, each situation and its nuances, and one has to respond to the situation according to the moment, not according to any ready-made answers given by others.

Do you see the stupidity of humanity? The whole world is being driven crazy by disciplines given by someone thousands of years ago! They are out of date, they should have been buried long, long ago. You are carrying corpses and those corpses are stinking. And when you live surrounded by corpses, what kind of life can you have?


I teach you the moment and the freedom of the moment and the responsibility of the moment. One thing may be right this moment and may become wrong the next moment. Don’t try to be consistent, otherwise you will be dead. Only dead people are consistent. Try to be alive, with all its inconsistencies, and live each moment without any reference to the past, without any reference to the future either. Live the moment in the context of the moment, and your response will be total. And that totality has beauty and that totality is creativity. Then whatsoever you do will have a beauty of its own.

Excerpted from The Goose is Out; Courtesy: Osho International Foundation; www.osho.com

Osho was never born never died. He only visited this planet earth between 11 December 1931 and 19 January 1990. He was a charismatic and gifted speaker who became the leader of a worldwide new spiritual movement.


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