By Kuo Sun Peterson
Discipline might be divided into that which is internal and that which is external. External discipline is applied to an individual by others. Internal discipline is applied to one's self, by one's self. Early in life most discipline is external and with time evolves into the internal kind. Internal discipline is the stronger, and more operable of the two. "The man who governs himself governs the world." The world is only as we perceive it. By practice we can alter our feelings and perceptions to operate in a higher plane or realm. This practice includes a great deal of mindfulness; learning new modes of behavior, and striving to disengage old habits. This is not done at once. Cultivating the Way is similar to cultivating a garden. If a garden is planted and allowed to grow over wildly, one sees only chaos; no system, no organization; no plan, no design.
This analogy is the original nature or Buddhamind covered over by false thinking, which leads one to action governed by cause and effect. The results of this action create bad karma, birth, death, and rebirth. How do we make order from the chaos? We eliminate everything that is not as it should be according to our teacher. We see an object, know it for a weed and we remove it from our garden. We do likewise with thoughts, actions, habits of our mind. And our minds can conjure up false thinking infinitely faster than weeds can propagate.
One trains oneself to be ever mindful to eliminate the wildness and allow our garden--minds--to evolve into that which is pure--our pure original nature as it was intended to be before it was overgrown into chaos. By constant vigilance we perfect ourselves, not in fits and starts but by persistence and tenacity in the application of the principles taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. Just putting our noses down close to the dirt and eliminating each weed we see, confident of our ability—not seeking success or sudden perfection, pulling the weed before us, not congratulating ourselves on the weeds we've pulled, not worrying about the weeds to be pulled—that is our task. We do that which is to be done right now, not slacking off. We train ourselves to do this so that in time this striving comes as second (or first) nature. This is right discipline.