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Discipline without the Carrot & the Stick

(Yama & Niyama)



When we attempt to instigate discipline to the principles of the carrot and the stick, whether in other or in ourselves, we invariable move away from discipline.  What we obtain, instead, is a strengthening of the subjugation of the being to fear, ambition, and conformity.


If you “train” your child to behave well because he gets rewarded when you approve, and “consequenced” when you don’t, what are you really teaching the child?   Right, exactly.  She learns to be bribed, and learns to associate pain with not being in conformity.  Also, she learns from you how important it to attain approval and material stimulus every time you give her something because she obeyed or conformed.  Conversely, she also learns how she needs to retain as many privileges as she can.  For instance, every time you take their TV away because they did not behaved as required, she learns to value television as an end in itself and that she must strive to not be deprived by conforming to the wishes of others.


Of course, we are not giving child-rearing advice here.  We wouldn’t want to get the psychologist, teachers, and social workers angry here, or they could tell others not to read this book.  If you get the logic of what we are saying, though, you’d realize how absurd it is to think that someone will acquire self-discipline (and self-discipline is the only kind of discipline there is) by constantly acting out of fear to loose something idiotic or by ingratiating weak-willed adults who think they know how everyone should act and that children don’t know better.


Really, though, the idea here is not to tell you how to educate your children.  That’s impossible (and this sentence has at least three levels of meaning, see if you can find them all).  The idea here is to communicate the absurdity of that mode of achieving discipline.  It is just as absurd to apply them to ourselves.


Rewarding or punishing the ego achieves nothing.  That is, nothing that can be called discipline in the way we are using the term.  What you get is a sly ego who learns what a fake you are and knows how to get the best of you every time; or, you could end up with such a fearful personality that you’d always act as if “God is watching.”


What then, do we mean by discipline?  It could be illustrated by the following adage:


  • Do what you decide to do, and don’t do what you decide not to do.


Or better yet, it can be derived in a more visceral way by this other adage:


  • Dance as if nobody is watching, love as if it’s never going to hurt.


Only a disciplined person could do that.


Close the book and think about it for a minute.


(What are you still doing here?  We told you to think about it for a minute!)


So, if the carrot and the stick are more related to true slavery than the freedom brought about through discipline, how can self-discipline be achieved?


Well, that’s for you to find out.  In the meantime, you could avoid the issue by trying the following Experiments.





The first Experiment is called Yama.  Yama refers to the formation of the will through intent.  It is the tool the driver of the carriage uses to get the horses going.


This is what’s happening with Yama: if someone asks you to raise your arm, you may or not raise it.  If you raise it, who’s will was at work?  Who made the arm go up and down?  You could say that you decided to do it.  If the one asking you to raise your arm is your boss, your teacher, your guru, God, your wife (or any other being seen as having power over you), someone could say that it was that person whose will was at work—you were just obeying. 


Let’s simplify the issue.  Let’s say that you decide to raise your arm.  Whose will is at work?  Clearly, it is your will.  Right?  Let’s explore that for a minute.


Raise your arm.  Observe yourself raising your arm, and then lower your arm.


Now, what happened there?  How did you do that? 


“Easy,” you could say, “I just raised it and lowered it like this.”   


Yes, you did, but how did you do that? 


“I suppose my brain send electrical impulses that contract my muscles and cause the arm to go up and down”


Really?   And how do you make your brain send those impulses?


“I just decide to do it, and it is done.”


Hmmm.   You know what I’m going to ask, right?   How do you make that decision?  And how is that decision connected to what your brain does?   Where does volition or will come into play?   How can a decision activate the physical sequence of events that lead to your arm raising?


It is not thinking.  You can think “I’ll raise my arm now”, or even “Arm, go up!” and nothing will happen if you don’t raise your arm.  Conversely, you can say “I will keep my arm down”, and then proceed to raise it. 


Your thought about willing something does not equate willing it.  Thought is not the same as will.  That is why you can think something and not do it.


It is not just awareness of the act.  You don’t just see the arm going up and down.  You will it.   But how?  In fact, there are many times in the day when you have raised your arm up without thinking, desiring, or even deciding to raise it.  It just went up to grab something you wanted, or to say wave goodbye, or even in your sleep to relieve the pressure.  In those cases, who was moving your arm up?  Was the arm doing it by itself?  Did your brain decided to do it?  If so, whose will is at work?  If it is your will, how can the will operate independent of your awareness or it, and without even deciding to do it?  If it is not your will, who or what is moving your arm when you are not looking? 


Will, then, is independent of volition.  That is, will is not subordinated to the decisions you make or don’t make. 


Have you ever wondered why the alcoholic cannot just decide to stop drinking and stop?  Or why you break the solemn promises you made yourself as a child?  Or why you betray those you love the most, including yourself and your gods?  Where is your will?  It is not in your arm, not in your thoughts, not in your words, not in your decisions, not in your desires, not in your awareness.  Where is it?  What is it?  Who is it?  How does it function?  What law does it serve?


Sometimes, you have a clear intent to do something.  “I will work on that chapter today”, or “I want to go to bed early today”, or “I will be a good Christian and follow God’s law from now on”.   Sometimes you have a clear intent at heart, not just a thought or a decision, but intent.  A decision comes from the headbrain, while intent comes from somewhere else.   Where does intent comes from?  How is it related to will?  Aren’t they the same?


Let’s say that you a clear and simple intent, like the intent of loving everyone as you love yourself.  Let’s even take a slightly simpler objective, something like the intent to grab something.  Your eye sees the object, and your hand comes slowly toward it.   You end up knocking it down because you were distracted at the last second by someone coming in the room, or a passing thought in your head.


Intent is closely related to will, but the intent can lack the will to accomplish the task at hand.


This Experiment, Yama, has two components:


  1. Raising the dead.  Which is done to explore and examine the location and nature of will.  It will help by beginning to uncover the true identity of your will.
  2. Aligning the will with intent.  Which is designed to align your intent with your capacity to will.  When your intent can invoke your will, then you can be called a person of true will.  You can decide to do something, and do it. 


Experiment 1: Raising the dead


For this Experiment, you will need a watch, paper to write on, and a pen or pencil.  Follow the instructions below, doing the Experiment for ten minutes.   Follow the exact sequence.


  1. Look at your arm, the one you don’t use for writing.  See how it stays there most of the time, inert unless you need it for something.  Right now, it is just lying there.  It will not move unless you direct it.  It is your will that will move the arm, and nothing else. 
  2. Write down in your paper the following sentence:  “It is my Will to raise my arm.”
  3. Now raise your arm.
  4. Lower your arm.
  5. Read the sentence you wrote out loud.
  6. Raise and lower your arm.
  7. Now, close your eyes, and say to yourself, in your thoughts, “It is my Will to raise my arm.”
  8. Raise and lower your arm.
  9. Now, visualize your arm going up and down.
  10. Raise and lower your arm.
  11. Write again: “It is my Will to raise my arm,” but this time DO NOT raise your arm.
  12. Read the phrase out loud, but do not raise your arm.
  13. Read the phrase silently, but do not raise your arm.
  14. Close your eyes, and think to yourself, “It my Will to raise my arm,” but do not raise your arm.
  15. Now, visualize your arm going up and down, but do not raise your arm.
  16. Decide to raise your arm, but do not raise it.
  17. Make a firm, definite commitment to yourself to raise your arm, but do not raise it.
  18. Now, do not say anything to yourself, do not make promises or visualizations, simply look at the arm and find in yourself the intent to raise it.
  19. Raise your arm.
  20. Finally, repeat 18 and 19, trying to find out the move right before you move it that corresponds to your intent.  This is the exact moment when Will is invoked.


Experiment 2: Aligning the Will with intent


  1. Pick something to do for the next seven days.  It should be something easy, clear, and exact. 
  2. Formulate in yourself the will to do it. 
  3. In order to formulate in yourself the will to do it, all you have to do is find the intent to formulate the will to do it. 
  4. If you are wondering how to find the intent to formulate the will to do it, all you have to do is decide to do it and do it.
  5. Write down, in exact and precise terms, what you will do.  For instance, it could be “It is my will to smell a flower every afternoon for the next seven days,” or “It is my will to say “By Golly!!!” every time someone says “Have a nice day” in your presence.  It doesn’t matter, just pick something that you will DO for the next seven days.  Do not pick something that you will NOT do.
  6. Make a written record of every time you fail to do what you have chosen to do.



As you do this Experiment, be mindful of all the times something inside of you plots to distract you from your Experiment.  It can be forgetfulness, it can be embarrassment, it can be any emotion, it can be procrastination, it can be anything.  There is a mob in you trying to force you to not follow through. 


Also, try to be conscious of the moment the Will is aligned with intent.  That is the moment when the Experiment strengthens the Will.




The disciplined Will needs a tuning dial, something that helps point the manifesting energy in the proper direction.  The previous Experiment provides this tuning element.  By aligning Will with Intent, we acquire the tool by which we can modulate the flow of energy into our invocational circle and produce a result in accordance with our higher and most conscious intent.


However, the path of Will must be cleansed.  The Intent can be equated to the scepter of the magician.  It collects the higher creative energies of Will and brings them into our invocational circle, but if the scepter is not clean, the resulting invocation or manifestation will also be contaminated.  Put in simple terms, the disciplined Will has to do not only with doing what you intend to do, but also with not doing what is your intent not to do.  The least thing you want to do in an invocational chamber is bring out the nasty aspects of your personalities, those that you so diligently hide from even yourself.


Yama is the feminine or creative aspect of discipline.  It has to do with doing and accomplishing, manifesting and creating.  Niyama, on the other hand, has to do with denying, saying “no”, choosing one path over the others, pruning and eliminating some branches so that others might grow.  It is the masculine aspect of discipline.


Experiment 3: Cleansing the Intent


This third Experiment cleanses the Intent, and aligns it with your Will even further.  In the end, your Intent and your Will act as one. 


  1. Pick something you decide to avoid doing for the next seven days.  It should be something easy, clear, and exact. 
  2. Formulate in yourself the will to not do it. 
  3. In order to formulate in yourself the will to not do it, all you have to do is find the intent to formulate the will to not do it. 
  4. If you are wondering how to find the intent to formulate the will to not do it, all you have to do is decide not to do it and don’t do it.
  5. Write down, in exact and precise terms, what you will not do.  For instance, it could be “It is my will to not say the word “I” for the next seven days,” or “It is my will to not use my left hand when drinking or eating”.  It doesn’t matter, just pick something that you will NOT DO for the next seven days.  Do not pick something that you will do.
  6. Make a written record of every time you do what you have chosen not to do.


Experiment 4: The Powers of the Sphinx

It is said that the four powers of the Sphinx are the pillars of magick. These powers are: To Know, To Will, To Dare, and To Be Silent. Once you learn to work with these, you develop a powerful will, a magical will. Here is an experiment where you can experience these four powers and learn to apply them later to bigger things.

1. Pick a project completely familiar to you, something well within the range of your normal abilities. If you are a writer, it could be writing a chapter on a book you are already working on. If you are a student, write a page or two for a paper using this experiment. Make a new song. A love poem. Do a small piece of furniture if you are a carpenter. Draw the sketch for a summer dress if you are a designer. Cook a meal if you know how to cook. Send an email. You get the idea.

2. On a piece of paper, write the headings for the four powers of the Sphinx.

3. Under the To Know power, write everything related to the project. Consider every aspect of the project.

4. Will it. Write down a statement of will. “It is my Will to…” Commit to it in writing.

5. Dare. Take the necessary steps to do it. You can include in this section a checklist of things to do. Do them. Check them off as you fulfill them.

6. Be silent. Make a commitment not to tell anyone not directly involved with it about the project. Go on with your activities as if you are not doing a special project.

Do this experiment several times, try using it in something that is slightly outside your area of comfort. Once you get the hang of it, this technique can be applied to accomplish a big project. You can apply it to write a book, build a house, start a new career, finish a degree, etc.




Freedom Intro ] How Freedom Collapses ] The Mood of Freedom ] Freedom - Purgatory - Shamanmusic ] [ Discipline without Carrot and Stick ] Breakdown of Personality and its Bonds ] What does movement mean? ] The Corridors ] The Rooms ] Resistance - It's not a bad thing! ] How The Personality Hides ] Personality Hiding Tricks ]

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