Week Two: Gevurah - Discipline
If love (Chesed) is the bedrock of human expression, discipline (Gevurah) is the channels through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Take a laser beam: Its potency lies in the focus and concentration of light in one direction rather than fragmented light beams dispersed in all different directions.
Gevurah -discipline and measure - concentrates and directs our efforts, our love in the proper directions. Another aspect of Gevurah is respect and awe. Healthy love requires respect for the one you love.
Chesed of Gevurah – The Love Aspect of Discipline
The underlying intention and motive in discipline is love. Why do we measure our behavior, why do we establish standards and expect people to live up to them - only because of love. Even judgment of the guilty is only to express love. In other words punishment is not vengeance; it is just another way to express love by cleansing anything antithetical to love. Tolerance of people should never be confused with tolerance of their behavior. On the contrary: love for people includes wanting them to be the best they can and therefore helping them be aware of anything less than perfect behavior.
Chesed of Gevurah is the love in discipline; awareness of the intrinsic love that feeds discipline and judgment. It is the recognition that your personal discipline and the discipline you expect of others is only an expression of love. And that comes across when disciplining. It is the understanding that we have no right to judge others; we have a right only to love them and that includes wanting them to be their best.
Ask yourself: when I judge and criticize another is it in any way tinged with any of my own contempt and irritation?
As soon as there is judgment and criticism, the love is gone and whatever feedback you wish to give will be lost in your negative attitude.
If you find yourself giving feedback that is rejected without thought or met with defensiveness, then you should be reflecting on your level of judgment and criticism. It is not ours to judge; we can express that an action would be harmful, but everyone is entitled to their own choices even if they are mistakes from our point of view.
Is there any hidden satisfaction in his failure?
“It serves him right. She made her bed, now she can lie in It.” may be true, but that’s between them and their God. Those kinds of statements show a secret pleasure in the failure of others. Perhaps there’s a smug feeling that you didn’t make that mistake.
Or is it only out of love for the other?
When you discipline with love, the other person feels this and is happy to learn their lesson – which is the whole reason behind discipline.
Before you criticize someone today think twice if it is out of care and love.
Gevurah of Gevurah – The Discipline Aspect of Discipline
Is my discipline disciplined or is it excessive?
Whether it is too much or too little, each have their negative effect and both undermine what you’re trying to teach. Too much discipline can
border on being sadistic and can either break the other’s spirit or push them into angry opposition. Too little discipline allows the other to be self centered and unreliable. There are consequences for our behavior and all consequences should be in line with the lesson that needs to be learned.
Do I have enough discipline in my life and in my interactions?
The fruit of discipline is self control. This means having an even temper and being reliable and competent.
Am I organized?
Disorganization creates chaos, the result of which is ineptness and incompetency. It takes discipline to keep yourself organized and efficient. Organized is not to be confused with obsessive; this is all about self healthy control.
Is my time used efficiently?
Part of discipline is being able to prioritize how we use our time. If we allow a minor need to dominate a more pressing need, we are
undermining ourselves in our ability to perform our best.
Why do I have problems with discipline and what can I do to enhance it?
We tend to make excuses for why we don’t do the things we know we should do for ourselves. We even neglect to take care of important things because of lack of discipline.
Do I take time each day for personal accounting of my schedule and accomplishments?
This can be simple or complicated, depending upon your time and the complexities in your life. What’s important is that, at the end of the day, we acknowledge the blessings we had that day and give thanks to God for everything that we have.
Personal accountability is paramount to discipline. I must know what I did or can do and the consequences of my choices to make informed choices about what I’m going to do next. We also can’t change something if we’re unaware that it’s causing a problem.
Does my discipline include the other six aspects (love, endurance, compassion, humility, bonding, and sovereignty), without which discipline cannot be effective and healthy?
If your discipline is balanced, then you are practicing effective discipline. If those you have to discipline love you and accept it, then your discipline is healthy. The best judge of how we’re doing is how others are relating to us.
Tiferet of Gevurah – The Compassionate Aspect of Discipline
Tiferet -compassion - blends and harmonizes the free outpouring love of Chesed with the discipline of Gevurah. Tiferet possesses this power by introducing a third dimension - the dimension of truth, which is neither love nor discipline and therefore can integrate the two.
Truth is accessed through selflessness: rising above your ego and your predispositions, enables you to realize truth. A clear and objective picture of yours and others needs. The imbalance of love and discipline (and for that matter, any distortion) is a result of a subjective, hence limited perspective; introducing truth, by suspending personal prejudices, allows you to express your feelings (including the synthesis of Chesed and Gevurah) in the healthiest manner.
This quality gives Tiferet its name, which means beauty: it blends the differing colors of love and discipline, and this harmony makes it beautiful. For Tiferet to be complete it needs the inclusion of the following seven facets: love of compassion, discipline of compassion, compassion of compassion, endurance of compassion, humility of compassion, bonding of compassion and sovereignty of compassion.
Not just love but compassion has to drive discipline. Love comes from recognizing one's merits and positive qualities; discipline channels and directs those strengths and weeds out the negative. Compassion is unconditional love. It is love just for the sake of love, not considering the others position. Tiferet is a result of total selflessness in the eyes of G-d. You love for no reason; you love because you are a reflection of G-d.
Does my discipline have this element of compassion?
Discipline isn’t supposed to hurt, it’s supposed to teach and guide. If you envision what you are doing as something that will help the other develop and grow and also believe the other will not feel chastised, then you are showing compassion of discipline.
Can you be compassionate to someone you have reproached?
Sometimes we have to correct others, but it should never be done in an aggressive or hostile manner. Often the message gets lost in the tone; at that point you’re just venting. The goal is to be compassionate in your reproach; to kindly tell someone what they did wrong and what they need to do to fix it.
Netzach of Gevurah – The Endurance Aspect of Discipline
Endurance and ambition is a combination of determination and tenacity. It is a balance of patience, persistence and guts. Endurance is also being reliable and accountable, which establishes security and commitment. Without endurance, any good endeavor or intention has no chance of success. Endurance means to be alive, to be driven by what counts. It is the readiness to fight for what you believe, to go all the way. Without such commitment any undertaking remains flat and empty. It is an energy which comes from within and stops at nothing to achieve its goals. This, of course, requires that endurance be closely examined to ensure that it is used in a healthy and productive manner.
Effective discipline must be enduring and tenacious. Intermittent reinforcement is the most difficult to extinguish; that’s why you keep playing the slot machine, you never know when you’re going to get your next pay off. We can allow ourselves to get into bad habits with ourselves or others and then decide it’s time to stop the non productive behavior and that’s when the real trouble begins. Children ask for candy and other items while waiting at the checkout and parents often say yes just to keep the child placated. After a while, it may become apparent that it wasn’t such a good idea to buy their child candy every time they went to the store, so they now need to say no. Of course this creates a
problem and the need for extinction arises. If the parent says no every time, always, the child will soon stop asking. If, however, the parent gives in even one time in a hundred, the child will increase and emotionally escalate their requests.
Is my discipline consistent or only when forced?
Consistent discipline of self is necessary to succeed and comes from an inner desire to accomplish a task. When we find it necessary to discipline another, it also needs to be consistent. You can’t tell someone not to do something one time and ignore it another; this gives the message that you really don’t mean it when you say no or that the rule isn’t that important. Your response should also be consistent. Some people tend to collect stamps and then cash in when their book is full. The resulting lash out seems out of context and capricious.
Am I perceived as a weak disciplinarian?
Yelling and screaming may be feared, but it is weak and evident to even young children. You can’t respect someone who is not in control of themselves and then ignore or punish erratically. If you can’t say no, you will build resentments and that will come through in other behaviors. Weak disciplinarians are weak people and the reverse is true. Discipline is always more about enduring self control than correcting others.
Hod of Gevurah – The Humility Aspect of Discipline
If endurance is the engine of life humility is its fuel. As Gevurah (discipline) gives Chesed (love) focus, Hod gives Netzach direction.
Humility is the silent partner of endurance. Its strength is in its silence. Its splendor in its repose. Humility leads to yielding, which is an essential element of Humility -and the resulting yielding - should not be confused with weakness and lack of self-esteem.
Humility is modesty; it is acknowledgement (from the root "hoda'ah"). It is saying "thank you" to G-d. It is clearly recognizing your qualities and strengths and acknowledging that they are not your own; they were given to you by G-d for a higher purpose than just satisfying your own needs. Humility is modesty; it is recognizing how small you are which allows you to realize how large you can become. And that makes humility so formidable.
Endurance draws its energy from the acknowledgement of humility. Human endurance goes only as far as your tolerance level. Acknowledging that your strengths come from a higher place gives you the power to endure far beyond your own perceived capacity. It gives you part of G-d's enduring strength.
A full cup cannot be filled. When you're filled with yourself and your needs, "I and nothing else", there is no room for more. When you "empty" yourself before something which is greater than yourself, you allow in much more than your limited capacity. Humility is the key to transcendence; to reach beyond yourself. Only true humility gives you the power of total objectivity.
Humility is sensitivity; it is healthy shame out of recognition that you can be better than you are and that you expect more of yourself. Although humility is silent it is not a void. It is a dynamic expression of life that includes all seven qualities of love, discipline, compassion, endurance, humility, bonding and sovereignty. Humility is active not passive. Not a state of being but an interaction even in its calm and inaction.
The results of discipline and might without humility are obvious. The greatest catastrophes have occurred as a result of people sitting in arrogant judgment of others.
Am I arrogant in the name of justice (what I consider as just)?
Fanatics have done many things in the name of justice, but they are projecting their own negative qualities onto others and standing in arrogant judgment of them. Be careful of being too vehement in your beliefs.
Do I ever think that I sit on a higher pedestal and bestow judgment on my subjects below?
I once heard a sermon about soap operas and the priest said we like soap operas because we aren’t making the same mistakes as the characters in the show. The implicit message is that makes me better because I’m not as bad off as this or that person. We should be humbled that God has given us the wisdom to make better judgments or has just bestowed us with better luck.
A judge has to be the most humble of creatures, recognizing that he sits in judgment not by his own merit but only because G-d gave the right to judge His children. Don't judge anyone unless you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias.
We really can’t judge anyone; we don’t know what their life lesson is and what they need to suffer to learn that lesson. Perhaps they are purging past offenses. Everyone has their own personal deal with God and none of us know what that is. It’s difficult enough to discern what
God wants with me. Every one of us needs to make our own mistakes.
Yesod of Gevurah – The Bonding Aspect of Discipline
Bonding is the ultimate emotional connection. While the first five qualities (love, discipline, compassion, endurance and humility) are interactive, they manifest duality: the lover and the beloved. The emphasis is on an individual's feelings, not necessarily on mutuality.
Bonding, on the other hand, is a complete fusion of the two. Without bonding no feeling can be truly realized. Bonding means connecting; not only feeling for another, but being attached to him. Not just a token commitment, but total devotion. It creates a channel between giver and receiver. Bonding is eternal. It develops an everlasting union that lives on forever through the perpetual fruit it bears. Bonding is the foundation of life. Bonding is the emotional spine of the human psyche. Every person needs bonding to flourish and grow. The bonding between mother and child; between husband and wife; between brothers and sisters; between close friends is affirmation and it gives one the sense of belonging; that "I matter", "I am significant and important". It establishes trust - trust in your self and trust in others. It instills confidence. Without bonding and nurturing we cannot realize and be our best selves. Bonding channels all five previous qualities into a constructive bond, giving it the meaning "foundation". Whereas all other human feelings are individual emotions, separate stories of a building, each a necessary component of human experience, bonding channels and integrates them all into one bond which creates a foundation upon which the structure of human emotions firmly stands. Bonding is giving all of your self not just part; it is not one emotion but all of them. So Yesod completes the spectrum of the first six emotions.
For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and bonding. Both in disciplining yourself and others there has to be a sense that the discipline is important for developing a stronger bond. Not that I discipline you, but that we are doing it together for our mutual
Sometimes it can be quite a trick to convince someone that the discipline you are suggesting they put upon themselves or that you may be imposing on them is really for their own good. The secret is that the other feels your love and forgiveness even as the discipline is enacted. If you are truly bonded with someone, their pain is your pain and your pain is theirs. That’s why well bonded mates are steadfast true to each other. If you cause someone you love pain, it will come back to you.
Demonstrate to your child or student how your bonding with each other is an essential ingredient in discipline and growth.
Sovereignty - the last of the seven attributes - is different than the previous six. It is a state of being rather than an activity.
Leadership is a passive expression of human dignity which has nothing of its own except that which it receives from the other six emotions.
On the other hand, Malchut manifests and actualizes the character and majesty of the human spirit. It is the very fiber of what makes us human. When love, discipline, compassion, endurance and humility are properly channeled into the psyche through bonding -the result is Malchut. Bonding nurtures us and allows our sovereignty to surface and flourish. Malchut is a sense of belonging, knowing that you matter and that you make a difference and that you have the ability to be a proficient leader in your own right. It gives you independence and confidence and a feeling of certainty and authority. When a mother lovingly cradles her child in her hands and the child's eyes meet the mother's affectionate eyes, the child receives the message that I am wanted and needed in this world. I have a comfortable place where I will always be
loved. I have nothing to fear. I feel like a king in my heart. This is Malchut: kingship.
Malchut of Gevurah – The Sovereignty Aspect of Discipline
Discipline, like love, must enhance personal dignity. Discipline that breaks a person will backfire. Healthy discipline should bolster self-esteem and help elicit the best in a person; cultivating their sovereignty. That does not compromise the discipline; on the contrary it fosters and enhances it.
When disciplining my child, student, or mate, do I foster their self-respect?
If you are not fostering self respect, you are not disciplining, you are punishing. Harsh words said in anger may make you feel better for a minute, but they do nothing to teach the other what you expect.
Does my discipline weaken or strengthen me and others?
Once you have lost your temper, you can no longer effectively discipline and whatever lesson you wanted the other to learn has vanished.
You weaken the other by your outburst, but you also weaken yourself. No one respects a person who allows their emotions to control them.
Does my discipline cripple the human spirit?
If you think that discipline should hurt in some way, you are confusing it with vindictive punishment. Once you cross into vindication, you have lost the privilege to discipline. It is best to apologize for your outburst and retreat to regroup and reestablish the bond you have broken.