Outstanding, William. It's nice to see a well reasoned response to some slippery issues.
I'm hearing some echoes of Buddhism here. Are you familiar with the Four Noble Truths and associated Buddhist teachings?
Your are right, much of my thinking does align with Buddhism. Those disciplines are indeed wise if one is to find inner peace in the world. Buddha was a wise man, no doubt it so reflective in his noble truths. We do differ slightly, but not to such a degree that would signify argument. Such as the "discipline" it requires. Life should not require a discipline. One should be totally free to enjoy life participating in it with those meager or magnificent gifts and talents offered for all to benefit from and not be required to suffer as judge by what degree those talents are as all are a part of the finite mosaic that is mankind. Buddha and I would have been good friends. As a matter of a fact we share common physical traits. We are both "gravity impaired" and smile a lot. Ha.
I agree with the Caste system of India, but not from a point of royalty, but as for as a reward standard. In that a man's rewards will not be as a result of his own desire but as a gift from those who benefit from the intelligence and wisdom he offers. There by eliminating, animostiy, envy and greed. Something to think about.