July 2021 Lessons – A Student’s Perspective

There are two types of discipline, one borne out of False Personality, and the other, out of Essence. Being able to discern between these two, means being able to either benefit from discipline, or suffer under it.
I have a strict morning routine. My day starts very early in the morning with a cold shower, irrelevant of the season. There are innumerable physiological and psychological benefits in taking cold showers, benefits which at times I have tried to share with my friends and family, but have never been able to discuss without feeling the taste of egocentric pride in what I do. No matter how I approached the subject, I was never able to speak without the feeling of vanity behind my words. So, I stopped talking about it altogether.
Lately I have struggled to take these cold showers. They are not difficult because it’s winter now, but because of something else that for a while I couldn’t figure out. In the morning the temperature can sometimes drop down to 5 or 6 degrees celsius, which makes getting into the shower a big challenge. So, I started tempering the cold water with just a little bit of hot water, not enough to make it warm, but so that the cold does not feel like a sledgehammer. It was this tempering that I started having a problem with. It began generating more friction than the cold shower itself, and after a few weeks the friction turned from frustration into strong negativity. Then one day as I was about to get in, feeling sharp negative emotions disturbing me, I realized what was happening.
It was Vanity that was struggling with the showers. Tempering the cold water, even if just a little, broke Vanity’s idea of how the showers should be taken, an idea founded on a sense of self-worth above other people. I am better than you because I have the discipline to take cold showers. I was not doing it for the benefits it afforded me, but because the discipline allowed me to judge myself better than other people. This is why I always tasted the flavour of Vanity every time I spoke about the showers, even if I genuinely wished to share their benefits. It was Vanity that was motivating the discipline, and gaining something for itself.
Discipline in virtue of False Personality is an imposition, a demand made whose benefit is only to feed a false sense of self-worth, feed the judgement of how I am better than others. It is not done for the benefit of insight or growth, but for the justification of I am better than you are, smarter, more disciplined, a better fourth way student.
Real discipline is a consequence of finding meaning. Once you find an activity or calling that imbues your life with meaning, discipline happens as a natural consequence of doing the work. By no means does it make discipline easier. It is actually harder, because the moments you falter, you realize that what you lose is meaning. Its benefits nurture Essence rather than False Personality. Our work should not be done because we are told to do it, but because it gives meaning to our lives.
The cold showers are still as difficult as before, but I do not feel the pull of negative emotions anymore, because I know why I am taking them.

“The fourth way differs from the other ways in that the principal demand made upon a man is the demand for understanding… The results of work are in proportion to the consciousness of the work.”
Gurdjieff