364 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
tion of self-sacrifice, to a readiness for renunciation, that we call matrimony the " blessed condition," although it is made up of obedience and self-sacrifice. The soldier, whose lot in life is to obey if it kills him is envied by the common people, while we consider anyone who tries to escape from obedience as a malefactor or a madman. Besides, how many people have had the deeply spiritual experience of an ardent desire to obey something or some person leading them along the path of life — more than this, a desire to sacrifice something for the sake of this obedience.
It is therefore entirely natural that, loving the child, we should point out to him that obedience is the law of life, and there is nothing surprising in the anxiety felt by nearly everyone who is confronted with the characteristic disobedience of little children. But obedience can only be reached through a complex formation of the psychic personality. To obey, it is necessary not only to wish to obey, but also to know how to. Since, when a command to do a certain thing is given, we presuppose a corresponding active or inhibitive power of the child, it is plain that obedience must follow the formation of the will and of the mind. To prepare, in detail, this formation by means of detached exercises is therefore indirectly, to urge the child towards obedience. The method which is the subject of this book contains in every part an exercise for the willpower, when the child completes co-ordinated actions directed towards a given end, when he achieves something he set out to do, when he repeats patiently his exercises, he is training his positive will-power. Similarly, in a very complicated series of exercises he is establishing through activity his powers of inhibition; for instance in the " lesson of silence," which calls for a long con-