November 2000: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2


I have extracted the subject of this article mainly from a book by the famous Psychologist, Dr. Scott Peck, MD entitled, The Road Less Traveled. This was on the best sellers’ list of books about ten years ago. I enjoyed reading it at that time, but as is usually the case, many of its salient features were forgotten or never registered in my mind. Recently I noticed my daughter was reading this book, and so I browsed through it and it had a very profound effect on me.

Most of Dr. Peck’s observations are already mentioned in the Holy Koran (Quran). I will try to point them out to the best of my knowledge and ability. According to Dr. Peck, life is difficult and this is a great truth. Life is a series of problems that most of us moan about, instead of trying to solve.

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline, we can solve nothing; but with some discipline, we can solve many problems with God’s help. For example, as a submitter (Muslim), we discipline ourselves by trying to observe God’s commandments in our daily lives.

What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Yet it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that

we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems. Just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve.

It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those things that hurt, instruct. It is for this reason that wise people learn not to fear problems, but to actually welcome the pain of problems.” As it is said, no pain, no gain.

Did we not show him the two paths? He should choose the difficult path. (90:10-11)

Most of us are not so wise. Because of the pain involved in confronting problems, almost all of us to a greater or lesser degree attempt to avoid problems. We procrastinate, hoping they will go away. We ignore them, forget them and pretend they do not exist.

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. These tools are techniques by which we experience the pain of problems in such a way as to work through them and solve them successfully, learning and growing in the process.

There are four tools of discipline:

  • delaying of gratification and pleasure
  • acceptance of responsibility
  • dedication to truth and reality
  • balancing.

These are simple tools and almost all children are adept in the use of them by the age of ten. Yet presidents and kings will often forget to

use them to their own downfall. The problem lies not in the complexity of these tools, but in the will to use them. For they are tools with which pain is confronted rather that avoided.

Delaying of Gratification

The first of the tools of discipline is delaying gratification. This is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. This means we should always do our difficult task first and then do the easy or the pleasant task next. We always want our children to do their homework first, before they are allowed to watch TV. Another example of delaying gratification is a student who takes the time and effort to finish school and college first, before he or she can get a good job and reap the fruits of his or her labor.

Good discipline requires time—time to pay attention to our children and loved ones; time to learn and time to solve problems. It is said that if we take the time to concentrate, we can solve many of the problems that seem difficult to us at first.


The second tool of discipline is responsibility. We cannot solve life’s problems except by solving them. This statement may seem self evident, yet it is beyond the understanding of much of the human race. This is because we must accept responsibility for a problem before we can solve it. We cannot solve a problem by saying it is not a problem. But many seek to avoid the pain of the problem by saying

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