Update

Update
Besides the latest blog addition you can now find on this website under stories/anecdotes those anecdotes that previously appeared on my blog in instalments. They include the illustrations by Rafael Edwards.
All except Deliverance: a meandering tale also have a Spanish translation. If I can interest someone in doing the translation of the afterward it will be posted as well.
Thanks for tuning in.


cup of coffee anecdote Rafa

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Update

update
I don’t know when you last looked but even if it was pretty recently I bet there’s a lot of new stuff up here. Besides the weekly blog entries on the principles there’s other stuff, including a rather too long entry under the menu heading stories and the sub-heading plot summaries you’ll find a rather too long summary of a story with the redundant title Virtually: A Story.

I’m not really satisfied by the story structure. I think it deserves a much shorter, more concise presentation. I say deserves because my feeling, so many years after writing my notes for this tale, is that the essential ideas are interesting and even important but I’ve sort of “buried the lead” as the journalists say. There’s so much going on that its essence might have gotten lost. Read More...
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Principle 3 Well Timed Action

This month we will take as a subject of meditation “The Principle of Well-Timed Action” it says: “Do not oppose a great force. Retreat until it weakens then advance with resolution.”

We will spend the next weeks considering, and discussing this principle and its implications, whether, and in what ways, it can be useful. We will look at how I applied it or could have applied it in the past, how it might apply in my current situation, how I imagine it might in the future.

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Illustration Rafael Edwards


The Principle’s in General
All of this is not just to understand this principle of valid action more deeply but also to begin to reflect more rigorously about our behaviour. Can I see how the Principles might be woven into a discipline that I can practice at every moment of my life, a kind of dynamic meditation.
At next week’s meeting we can compare and discuss our experiences of, and considerations about, this Principle and it’s applications. Perhaps that will lead to an interchange of points of view, or an enriching of our own perspectives. Either way, remember, the Principles are not “morals” or “laws”. They are not meant as external guidelines but as aids to configuring a way of approaching life based on registers of unity (agreement with myself) and contradiction. Internal unity is registered when my thinking, feeling and actions go in the same direction and aren’t warring with each other. That’s why the Principles are sometimes called Principles of Valid Action. A valid action, is unitive, ends in others, and is something we want to repeat.

Personal Reflections
Here’s some personal musings, whether you agree with them or not they are offered in the hope that they will trigger your own reflections. I hope you won’t be turned off by my “violent” examples but, perhaps because of the word “retreat” when I think of this principle I immediately think of military tactics in general and a couple of famous battles in particular. The martial arts are full of examples where this basic idea is applied. Here are a few. I’m sure someone more knowledgeable could supply many more examples. You don’t have to turn to the Eastern arts of Ju Jitsu or Aikido, both of which are famous for turning the attackers energy against them. Western boxing for example has its famous “rope a dope” where a fighter takes on a protected stance like lying against the ropes, which can then absorb some of the the punch's energy while the opponent slugs away tiring themselves out.
Military historians still argue about what mix of events beyond the military (the weather, disease, etc) tipped the scales. But in both cases the apparently stronger invaders pushed ahead while the Russian armies retreated, stretching the enemies supply lines, providing the opportunity for some combination of weather, disease, fatigue, and hunger to decimate the troops demoralize the troops. When the enemy weakened the retreat transformed into attack (with the help of General Winter and his colleagues General Snow, General Ice, General Cold combined with a willingness of the Russians to sacrifice themselves on a terrifying scale.

Here’s more examples of, and information about, the Principles of Valid Action in general, and this one in particular




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Principle 2 Action and Reaction

Principle 2, First week
This month we will take as a subject of reflection principle #2 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It is also called “The Principle of Action and Reaction” it says: When you force something towards an end you produce the contrary.”
We will spend the next weeks considering, and discussing this principle and its implications, whether it’s useful, and in what ways. We will look at how I applied it or could have applied it in the past, how it might apply in my current situation, how I imagine it might in the future. All of this is not just to understand this principle of valid action more deeply but also to begin to reflect more rigorously about our behaviour. Can I see how the Principles might be woven into a discipline that I can practice at every moment of my life, a kind of dynamic meditation, almost like learning a mental martial art – where the ability to get out of your opponents way (rather than how to punch them in the nose) is highly valued.

More information, stories and thoughts about the principles in general and this principle in particular can be found here.

Personal Reflections

Once again I must begin by recognizing that the principles are not commandments or simple rules. They require thought. But really thinking about them helps develop a new perspective and new behaviours. For example, in this case how do I know when I’m forcing things. If I use a hammer to brush my teeth it’s obviously disproportionate force. But also if I try to use a toothbrush to knock down a brick wall. I’m going to have to find a way of measuring the appropriate degree of force. How will I do that? One way to begin is to consider past errors and successes with judging these kinds of things. For example, situations where I tried way too hard, or not nearly hard enough.
Take a look at the principle and try to remember at least one situation where it was or could have been applicable. How did it change (or would it have changed) things.
The principles are guidelines, the indicator one is looking for is not agreement with some code or set of rules, it is in the register produced in me: does it move me towards greater unity or contradiction? Do I feel more in agreement with myself, or am I more at war with myself.

Below you will find more examples of, and information about, the Principles of Valid Action in general, and this one in particular. I hope you will find these considerations interesting and useful whether you agree with them or not.

principle 2 illustration
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Illustration by Rafael Edwards

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Principle 1 Adaptation

The Principle we will consider this month is principle #1 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It is also called “The Principle of Adaptation” it says: “To go against the evolution of things is to go against yourself.”

Here are some of the considerations about this principle. I’m drawing them largely from conversations with many people. Also from materials we created over the years to illustrate various aspects of the principles. I’m sorry that in most cases I can’t credit specific individuals for their contributions but if I can I will.

principle 1 illustration
illustration by Rafael Edwards


This principle, which is the first in the twelve presented in The Inner Look, makes evident something that we will find to be true of all the rest as well; they can’t simply be applied mechanically. Wisdom is required to put them into practice – wisdom and the effort to see each principle in light of the other ones.

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