Discipline is the voluntary application of the Three Harvests to help us make difficult decisions when our immediate interests appear to be in conflict with the interests of others.

The Three Harvests

Our Own Benefit —ultimate liberation from the afflicted emotions and obscurations to wisdom, made manifest through observance of the Eightfold Noble Path

Right View

Right Intention

Right Speech

Right Action

Right Livelihood

Right Effort

Right Mindfulness

Right Concentration

The Benefit of Others —provisional satisfaction of needs and ultimate liberation and enlightenment of those sentient beings with whom we have current karmic connections, made manifest through the cultivation of the Four Immeasurables and the Six Excellences:

Four Immeasurables     Six Excellences










Great Benefit —provisional satisfaction of needs and ultimate liberation and enlightenment of all beings, sentient and non-sentient, made manifest as the Two Wisdoms and the Four Ultimate Truths.

Two Wisdoms       Four Truths  
Ultimate Reality as It Is True Being True Bliss
Conventional Reality as Appearance True Purity True Permanence

Discipline is not mere obedience to external directives, but rather is the manifestation of voluntary adherence to deeply held convictions or principles.

External Rules     Internal Principles
Fixed Flexible
Not Always Applicable Always Applicable
Lead to Conflict Lead to Right Conduct
Socially Imposed Personally Accepted

Discipline can be defined as the flexible application of firm principles. However, in order to cognize and voluntarily adopt such principles of conduct, it is necessary to purify the mind of gross afflictions. This requires the provisional acceptance of the Five Precepts as the foundation of discipline:

  1. Avoid Killing — Protect All Life
  2. Avoid Stealing — Practice Benevolence
  3. Avoid Intoxication — Cultivate Mindfulness
  4. Avoid Lying — Pursue Truth
  5. Avoid Sexual Misconduct — Respect Others

About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
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One Response to Discipline

  1. John says:

    Dear Tashi la,

    “Discipline is the voluntary application of the Three Harvests…”

    The crucial word here is not discipline but “voluntary.” We ask for precepts, we ask to receive the Triple Gem, and we follow discipline willingly because it is the path to liberation. It took me a long time to arrive at this simple insight.

    Thank you for the thoughtful writing.


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