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Discipline vs. Freedom III

(See also Discipline vs. Freedom II in OnlineLearningTeacher.)

Fr. Ron Rolheiser  -- borrowed this photo from the Western Catholic Reporter website.I BELIEVE THAT GOD OUR FATHER gives us (his creatures) lots of freedom. i also believe that out of love for us, He often disciplines us.

In biblical and Catholic texts, many inspired authors have written about the immense Justice and Mercy of God. For example, see the notable quotations and the Charity and Justice chart provided online by the Office of Social Justice at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Much also have been written on the need to Love and Fear him. For example, Psalm 111:10 exhorts: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...." (see commentaries by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., Fr. Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I. and Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.).


Psalm 103 says: "Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love" (verse 8) and "But Yahweh's faithful love for those who fear him is from eternity and for ever; and his saving justice to their children's children; as long as they keep his covenant, and carefully obey his precepts." (verses 17, 18).

And in 2 Samuel 7:14-16, the Lord said, "I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. And if he does wrong, I will correct him with the rod of men and with human chastisements; but I will not withdraw my favor from him..."

Applying these principles to real life: Aren't the Ten Commandments disciplinary rules that would grant us freedom from the wages of sin? Isn't the rigorous 'punishing' training that top athletes undergo a 'ticket' to the freedom of optimal performance? Ditto for the hard work put in by soldiers, academics, businessmen, and so on.

All have to accept the pain of discipline to enjoy the fruits of freedom.

Perhaps, one of the greatest practices of Discipline & Freedom is found in Matthew 11:28-30 (which Jesuits call the Sacred Heart passage): "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

How could the yoke of the meek and humble be easy, and the burden light? How could praying more (going to Jesus) make everything else easier? Wouldn't it make more sense that one who is actively doing something to improve his lot would achieve more than one who passively prays, and just be meek and humble? Yet, we can testify from personal experience the efficacy of prayer, and the popularity of the meek and humble.

It is probably in similar vein that Yabukoji wrote in The Zen Master Hakuin: Selected Writings (translated by Philip B. Yampolsky, Columbia University Press, New York and London, 1971, from p. 164):

"What is the Sound of the Single Hand? When you clap together both hands a sharp sound is heard; when you raise the one hand there is neither sound nor smell.

"Is this the High Heaven of which Confucius speaks? Or is it the essentials of what Yamamba describes in these words: 'The echo of the completely empty valley bears tidings heard from the soundless sound?' This is something that can by no means be heard with the ear.

"If conceptions and discriminations are not mixed within it and it is quite apart from seeing, hearing, perceiving, and knowing, and if, while walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, you proceed straightforwardly without interruption in the study of this koan, you will suddenly pluck out the karmic root of birth and death and break down the cave of ignorance. Thus you will attain to a peace in which the phoenix has left the golden net and the crane has been set free of the basket.

"At this time the basis of mind, consciousness, and emotion is suddenly shattered; the realm of illusion with its endless sinking in the cycle of birth and death is overturned. The treasure accumulation of the Three Bodies and the Four Wisdoms is taken away, and the miraculous realms of the Six Supernatural Powers and Three Insights is transcended."

Reading the above texts, one could infer that true wisdom is very difficult to impart. It is no wonder that 老子 (Laozi) began his 道德经 Tao De Ching with:

道可道 The Tao that can be spoken of
非常道 is not the enduring and unchanging Tao.
名可名 The name that can be named
非常名 is not the enduring and unchanging name."

To say so is an oxymoron in itself. It's not surprising therefore that 白居易 (Bai Juyi) wrote 读老子 Reading Laozi (source: Chinese Poems) in response to Laozi:

言者不知知者默 Those who speak do not know, those who know are silent,
此语吾文于老子 I heard this saying from the old gentleman.
若道老君是知者 If the old gentleman was one who knew the way,
缘何自若五千文 Why did he feel able to write five thousand words?

Ah, Discipline & Freedom, how does one achieve thee?

(See also Discipline vs. Freedom I in InfoGraphicsDesigner.)


by tree#138680 on Fri Aug 29 03 1:05 am | profile

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