The Principle we chose to consider this week is #10 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It is also called “The Principle of Solidarity” it says: “When You Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You, You Liberate Yourself.”
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.
In his commentaries on his Message Silo had this to say about The Principles:
Chapter XIII sets forth the “Principles of Valid Action.” It deals with the formulation of a behavior in life that is presented for those who wish to develop a coherent life built on two basic internal registers: that of unity and that of contradiction. In this way, the justification for this “morality” is found in the registers that it produces, and not in particular ideas or beliefs tied to one place, time, or cultural model. The register of internal unity that is being sought is accompanied by certain indicators that should be taken into consideration. These are: 1.The sensation of internal growth; 2. Continuity in time; and 3. Affirming that one would want to repeat it in the future. The sensation of internal growth appears as a true and positive indicator that always accompanies the experience of personal improvement. Regarding continuity in time, it means that through comparison with later, or imagined, or remembered situations, one is able to confirm that the validity of the experience does not change, even with changing circumstances. Lastly, if after the act one wishes to repeat it, we can say that the sensation of internal unity affirms the validity of this action. On the contrary, contradictory actions might have some of the characteristics of unitive actions, or none of them, but they never have all three.
There exists, nevertheless, another kind of action that we cannot strictly call “valid,” but neither can we call them “contradictory.” While such an action does not prevent our development, it does not produce great improvement either. These actions can be more or less disagreeable or more or less pleasurable, but from the point of view of validity they do not add anything or take anything away. These types of actions are the everyday actions, the mechanically habitual actions. They are perhaps necessary for our subsistence and coexistence. But according to the model of unitive and contradictory actions that we have been examining, such an action does not in itself constitute a moral act. The Principles, referred to as “Principles of Valid Action,” are classified as: 1. The Principle of Adaptation; 2. The Principle of Action and Reaction; 3. The Principle of Opportune Action; 4. The Principle of Proportion; 5. The Principle of Acceptance; 6. The Principle of Pleasure; 7. The Principle of Immediate Action; 8. The Principle of Comprehended Action; 9. The Principle of Liberty; 10. The Principle of Solidarity; 11. The Principle of Negation of Opposites, and 12. The Principle of Accumulating Actions.
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.
The so-called “Golden Rule” is at the center of many moral traditions. It is however, one of those things that we have heard so many times and in so many variations that we don’t usually pay attention to what it might mean, let alone try to apply it. There’s no doubt that the sustained and honest attempt to apply this principle has important consequences. Among the most important of these, is that it leads to a certain openness, positive climate and increased communication. We know that isolation and self-enclosure can cause serious problems for people. Selfishness can be understood precisely as a problem of self-enclosure and isolation.
This principle encourages us to open our selves to others and to approach them in a positive manner. While there are great differences between the two, this principle is an important complement to the previous one which speaks of not harming anyone. It is also an important reminder that the principles can be understood (and more importantly transformed into a lifestyle) by taking each principle in the context of the other ones.
In some ways this principle is the key to all of them. However, important as it is, there is no doubt that like all principles it can be misapplied and distorted. On one hand there are situations where it is more, or less, intentionally reduced to a slogan, a banner under which I can cause suffering to another by claiming for example that, it’s for their own good, or that’s how I would want to be treated. Leaving those cases aside, there is still a lot of room for misunderstandings about what the principle is suggesting.
Our version of the famous moral edict makes very clear that the idea isn’t that to treat others well so that they will reciprocate and treat you well. Though perhaps there is nothing wrong with that approach we are seeking something else. We say that by acting in this way “you liberate yourself.” This is a result independent of the others’ response to my actions.
Versions and commentaries of the “golden rule” can be found in the most ancient teachings and in every part of the world. You’d think that might have got our attention…
Here’s some comments on the theme. These are attributed to Confucius (often called K’ung-fu-tzu or Kong-zi) around 500 years BCE.
A disciple asked Confucius, “What is a good person?” The master replied, “You can tell a good person by their good actions. If a king does his utmost for the people and lives only for them you can call him good. However, more than good, they are saintly who first strengthen themselves in knowledge and later give that to others, who treat others as they would have themselves be treated. In this way without being a ruler, any subject can become a saint in their own measure. And this depends neither on rank nor possessions.
Remember you can find The Inner Look and Silo’s Commentaries on the Message, along with the rest of Silo’s writings (in many languages) on www.silo.net
And along with other activities, materials etc of Silo’s Message at http://silosmessage.net/index.asp?LANG=EN
Some of the English version of his works have been published and hard copies are available. See for example: www.latitudepress.com
There are (so far) 2 Parks of Study and Reflection in North America. These are Red Bluff (www.redbluffpark.org) in California and Hudson Valley (www.hudsonvalleypark.org) in New York. The Parks of Study and Reflection are projects built and paid for by individuals inspired by Silo’s teachings. More information is available on their websites.
The Principle we chose to consider this week is #10 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It is also called “The Principle of Solidarity” it says: “When You Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You, You Liberate Yourself.
This note has also been posted to the Facebook page and the mailing list for The Community of Silo’s Message, Toronto Annex.
We’d all love to hear your comments on, and thoughts about, considerations of, or artwork inspired by, any of this.