Way of Wisdom
with Regina Sanders
Chesed of Gevurah
Chesed is Love. Gevurah is discipline; so today we will discuss the discipline of love. 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. 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.
Examine the discipline factor of discipline. Is my discipline disciplined or is it excessive? Do I have enough discipline in my life and in my interactions? Am I organized? Is my time used efficiently? Why do I have problems with discipline and what can I do to enhance it? Do I take time each day for personal accounting of my schedule and accomplishments?
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 other position. Tiferet (compassion) is a result of total selflessness in the eyes of God. You love for no reason; you love because you are a reflection of God.
Effective discipline must be enduring and tenacious. Is my discipline consistent or only when forced? Am I perceived as a weak disciplinarian?
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)? Do I ever think that I sit on a higher pedestal and bestow judgment on my subjects below? What about my children? A judge has to be the most humble creatures, recognizing that he sits in judgment not by his own merit but only because God gave the right to judge His children.
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 benefit.
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 his sovereignty. And that does not compromise the discipline; on the contrary it fosters and enhances it. Does my discipline cripple the human spirit; does it weaken or strengthen me and others?
In closing, ask yourself, "when I judge and criticize another is it in any way tinged with any of my own contempt and irritation? Is there any hidden satisfaction in his failure? Or is it only out of love for the other?" Before you criticize someone today think twice if it is out of care and love. Make a detailed plan for spending your day and at the end of the day see if you've lived up to it. Ask yourself, "does my discipline have the element of compassion?" Be compassionate to someone you have reproached. List short-term and long-term goals and review and update it each day, and see how consistent you are; if you follow through. Don't judge anyone unless you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias. Demonstrate to your child or student how your bonding with each other is an essential ingredient in discipline and growth. And finally, when disciplining your child, foster his self-respect.
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