Principle 11 Opposities 3 and our meeting

Principle 11, second week
This month we are focusing on principle #11 It is also called “The Principle of the Negation of Opposites” it says:

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“It does not matter in what faction events have placed you what matters is for you to understand that you have not chosen any faction.”

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Principle 4 Proportion

We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts and reflections on this and the other principles (and related matters) please post your comments here, to our Facebook page or write to me and I’ll include your point of view in the upcoming mailings, etc.

Principle 4, first week

In keeping with our practice of considering one of the 12 Principles of Valid Action each month, we will spend the next four weeks considering various aspects of principle #4 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It is also called “The Principle of Proportion” it says: “Things are well when they move together not in isolation.”

Over the next weeks we’ll consider 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. As always we should remember the Principles are not meant as isolated bits of wisdom, any more than they’re meant as morals. They are part of a dynamic meditation, a discipline that you can practice in every moment of your life. They are principles, general ideas that you can weave together into a coherent style of life.

Here’s some background about the Principles of Valid Action as well as a few ideas, stories, etc to aid in your reflections.

Below you’ll find some of my personal thoughts about this principle I hope, whether you agree with them or not, they will be of some use in your own reflections.

If you don’t get around to opening the linked document so here’s one of Rafael Edward’s illustrations of this principle.

principle 4 illustration

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Principle 3 Well Timed Action 4th week

Principle of Well Timed Action Week 4
The Principle of Well-Timed Action” says: “Do not oppose a great force. Retreat until it weakens then advance with resolution.” Over the last weeks we have considered how we understand this principle in particular and the principles in general, how this one applies in retrospect (or could have been applied to past events) and how it could be applied in my present circumstances. We’ve also discussed how one might go about a daily meditation on the theme, even to some details of what has proven best (for some of us) in terms of when and for how long such considerations should be carried out (see the notes for Principle 2 week 2). In the weekly meeting people have shared very interesting and insightful examples about situations as diverse as those at work, in relationships and in terms of personal “evolutionary work”. Hopefully, we’ll see those extended to our Facebook page and our mail list. Read More...
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Principle 3 Well Timed Action 3rd week


Principle of Well Timed Action Week 3
This week we continue our meditation on “The Principle of Well-Timed Action” it says: “Do not oppose a great force. Retreat until it weakens then advance with resolution.” We are focusing on the present, and on the possibilites and implications of trying to apply this principle in my present circumstances.

Like last week I start by asking myself some simple questions… Read More...
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Principle 3 Well Timed Action 2nd week


Principle of Well Timed Action Week 2
This week we have 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 are focusing on the past, on how I applied or could have applied this principle.

So in trying to deepen my understanding of this principle and its applications, I started to ask myself some questions. Simple things like, how did I know when a force was great? Did I sometimes misjudge and retreat in front of, what were really, minor inconveniences? How did that work out?

After a moment I found I had lots of questions. 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 3rd Week

This week my email about the weekly meeting was very short. Read More...
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Principle 2 Action and Reaction 2nd Week

Principle of Valid Action 2, Second week
This week we are continuing with our considerations about principle #2 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It is called the “The Principle of Action and Reaction” and says: When you force something towards an end you produce the contrary.”

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

We will turn our attention to our present situation and try to see how this principle might be applied, what utility it might have, and what possibilities or difficulties it might hold.

All of this is not just to understand this principle of valid action more deeply but also to begin to reflect more deeply about our daily behaviour. Can I transform these principles from platitudes into a way of encountering my life, into a dynamic meditation that I can practice at every moment.

Last week’s post had some background about the Principles of Valid Action as well as a few ideas, stories, etc to aid in your reflections. Here’s a few personal reflections I hope will be of some use whether you agree with them or not. Read More...
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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, 3rd Week

This week I'm trying something different.

Principle 1 third week
The Future 

As you will see my approach will be a little different this week. These considerations aren’t directly connected to the principle but they may illuminate it in interesting ways (or at least so I believe) if only indirectly.  Instead of focusing on the principle itself I want to take this opportunity to make two points about how we understand the psychological importance future.
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Principle 1 Adaptation, 2nd Week


Principle 1 second week
The Present

This month we are considering 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.”

Each week this month we will consider another aspect of this principle and reflect on its implications, and applications. This week we will examine how I can apply it (or not) in my present situation.
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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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