Why is ethical self-discipline often presented (explicitly or implicitly) as a first step of the spiritual path? And aside from merely behaving with self-discipline, how might one use ethical self-discipline to adjust one’s mindset? Thanks. — John

Ethical self-discipline, the yamas, is considered important because it involves our relationships with others and then our relationship to things and objects in the world and in the environment. Our relationships are a function of our perception and understanding and the spiritual path is a gradual clarification of perception and understanding so that we perceive and understand reality and each other. Relationships trigger the strongest emotions and emotions affect our ability to concentrate, breathe, plan, and function. If your relationships and emotions are not good other practices are not effective and might even be harmful. Ethical self-discipline automatically adjusts one’s mindset because in meditation practice, asana practice, or even just in daily living consideration of others causes us to see our own intentions, desires and schemes honestly for what they are. – Richard

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