Many spiritual paths incorporate an element of daily practice, exoteric examples include the Hindu Puja and the Muslim Salat. In the Western Esoteric Tradition daily ceremonial ritual has become ubiquitous, whether it be the solar adorations of Liber Resh vel Helios or the Lesser Ritual of The Pentagram, I am sure the reader can think of countless other examples. Lyam Thomas Christopher states in “Kabbalah Magic and The Great Work of Self Transformation” (my chosen curriculum) that “Daily ritual is the central most activity in your life that will generate change”. My own ritual work seems to have confirmed this, only when I got out of my armchair and started committing to daily practice did I see real personal growth. I often see posts online from people asking how to stay motivated for daily practice. This is a problem I think we all face, I’ve personally been feeling a wane recently. Early on, when an Aspirant has committed to a new path we are practically incandescent with motivation. Nothing can stop us from getting into our temple space and we frantically read everything tangibly related to our new obsession. However, the issue, as I see it, is not one of motivation. The framing instead should be centred around discipline.
Motivation is our spark of ignition, without a drive to undertake a new spiritual endeavour we simply will never take those first intrepid steps towards The Great Work. Unfortunately, motivation does not bloom eternal, life gets in the way, we may get ill, work might become even more hectic, or our passion can just erode as the days go on. Enter discipline. The picture above this article is of the floor in one of The Shaolin Temple’s practice rooms, the indentations you see in the cobbles have been formed by the successive strikes from the Warrior Monk’s knees. Nobody talks about the motivation of the Shaolin Monks, it is their discipline that allows them to achieve such an awe inspiring feat. Think of the sheer volume of strikes it must of taken to forge a pit like that. This is the attitude we as Magicians need to cultivate.
So how do we forge discipline? Well, we begin as before with motivation. We need to burn with a desire to complete The Great Work, to progress through our chosen tradition. Next, we need to use this energy to engrave in ourselves the habit of daily ceremonial ritual, and what really is a habit? It is the repetition of a task with such frequency that we train our unconscious mind to handle it for us. When you were an infant learning to walk required all of your will, but you were sufficiently motivated by the goal of free perambulation. Now as an adult you walk without effort, you command your legs to walk and the unconscious does the rest. If we cannot programme our unconscious mind to perform the mundane task of putting on a robe and going to our temple space, what hope have we of instructing it to influence the world around us through magick. Habit is the vehicle by which we can transmute motivation into discipline.
However, we still have a problem. The hierarchy of our mind is such that our conscious mind can countermand many of the actions of the unconscious. Just like we can choose not to walk in a certain direction, or to take control of our breath, we can choose to not pay heed to our wonderful new habit. This usually happens when our motivation changes, instead of a burning desire to meet your Holy Guardian Angel you have a burning desire to go to sleep or go to the pub with your friends. This is the final step, instead of bending to your new motivation you must grip your unconscious by the reins and let it carry you off. Every time you produce a thought, by making a choice or taking an action, you strengthen the neural circuit responsible for that thought. Every time you allow your habit to lead you it will grow (and vice versa), soon you’ll feel uncomfortable and out of alignment if you don’t do as your unconscious instructs. Once the ball is rolling you’ll overcome some pretty major excuses, “I’m too ill for ritual” or “I need to sleep otherwise tomorrow will be rough”. This stokes your discipline, are you really going to fob off tonight’s practise when last month you were purging your guts up and you still hauled yourself into that temple. I don’t think so. Don’t sit there wishing you had the motivation, take action and cultivate discipline.
I hope this post has given you something useful to try and apply to your life. On a final note remember not to beat yourself up or wallow in your failings. Nobody is infallible, we can only try to be better than we were yesterday.
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