Episode Eighty Five, The Prettiest Mule
Hafiz talks about using corporal punishment in this poem as a way to keep students attentive to their higher service. Taking control of the situation by forcing the student to comply, therefore instilling fear to get a result is a common practice. There are other ways to motivate and move beyond lassitude. Hafiz foregoes the whip for an alternative tactic in using his understanding of human behavior to get the student's attention. He uses a lighter touch in allowing the student to be the master by understanding their choices and, possibly, the consequences.
Corporal punishment is so prevalent a motivator that it is the default in how we talk to ourselves to get ourselves moving on something we deem necessary or staying the course. We scare ourselves into it. "If I don't do this, then THIS will happen!" Which it often does because we energetically emphasize that end is what to expect as a self-fulfilled prophecy. While this conversation could be about fixing the porch step because [...] it could also be about not courting an inspiration or a new idea because [...] In either case, forcing the self to do things because of fearful results is not the only way to move oneself through the world. Things still get done using wit, kindness and understanding for those who choose to use it.
Knowledge of human behavior is power. It is a safe bet that a person will respond to instruction using kindness and enjoyment unless they are scarred deeply with a punitive history. Then they require twice as much kindness and patience to hold space for them so they can choose differently. Results do not depend upon a whipping from others or ourselves. We have a choice in these matters.
Thank you for listening.
Music: Here is Suzanne Vega narrating a story of Luka. This is someone who has been punished violently who must now go the distance to heal as a result. Violence assures a long journey on a road to better choices that must be traveled before a sense of security settles in. The price for healing from believing one needs to be mastered with punishment is steep in time and effort.
The original post in this series of poems by Hafiz (including an addendum regarding the authenticity of these poems) can be found here.
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz and translated by Daniel Ladinsky can be purchased here.