Principle 5, fourth week
This week we are focusing on summarizing our thoughts on principle 5 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). This Principle of Valid Action is also called “The Principle of Acceptance ” it says: “If day and night summer and winter are well with you, you have surpassed the contradiction”
Over the last weeks we have considered this principle in light of past, present and future situations. We’ve also looked at what it might mean that day and night, etc. are well with me and whether this is truly desirable or not. We discussed what we mean by contradiction (as opposed to other sources of suffering), and why it is important. We tried to see all this in dynamic, in terms of a process of change rather than static situations. And as always we tried to set these thoughts in a framework of developing a permanent approach to life where the principles permit a discipline that I can practice at every moment.
I hope that the attached document may prove useful as a resource for summarizing those diverse meditations. It contains some background about the Principles of Valid Action as well as a few ideas, stories, etc to aid in your reflections.
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.
It has been said that this Principle explains how apparent opposites can be reconciled when you change your point of view about the problem or situation. The extreme heat of summer makes us think of the cool of winter and then the extreme cold of winter makes us think of the warmth of summer. Every difficult situation takes us to remember or dream about its opposite. However, when we are in this other situation discontent again sets in. The new compensation leads us back to the opposite point. Whenever there is a difficult situation (that is, when we suffer) a new compensation begins but the compensation cannot in itself help us resolve the problem or allow us to surpass the suffering.
Compared to someone who does not have a sense of direction, a person who has a defined meaning in their life, will have a noticeably different point of view, attitude and behaviour when faced with problems. A person who has a clear meaning in their life can see difficulties as things that can serve that meaning, or can be useful as tools, or lessons, or as a means for self-transformation. That’s a very different attitude than trying to avoid or compensate for difficulties. A person with an interesting direction faces problems and accepts them and tries to transform them or find something useful in them. If the heat of summer and the cold of winter are both useful for me than how can they be opposed to each other.
There’s a tale that illustrates some aspects of this Principle. Many of you might know in some form:
There was a man named Job who was upright and fearful of the lord. He had many sons, and daughters. He had many camels, oxen and Asses, sheep and goats. Job’s wealth was great as was his righteous heart. All through the lands of the East he was known as a wise and just man, always obedient to the will of God.
One day all the sons of God came to present themselves to him. Among them the was Satan, the adversary. And God said to Satan: “Where have you been?” And the adversary answered him: “I have been going to and fro on the Earth and going all about it”. And the lord said: “Have you seen my servant Job. He is a just and upright man, without equal in that world.” Satan replied: “Yes, so he seems, but you have blessed him with good health, and family and cattle and riches of all kinds. Stretch forth your hand and take what he has and see if he does not blaspheme you to your face.” So the lord told Satan that he may test Job in every way but to not to touch his person.”
No sooner were the sons of Job killed by highwaymen than his sheep lost in a fire, and the Chaldeans stole his camels, and a mighty wind destroyed his home. Hearing this news Job fell to the ground and mourned. “Naked I came into the world and naked I will go from it. The lord gives and the lord takes away; blessed be his will. And in all this, Job neither sinned nor cursed God.
So Satan asked God for permission to touch Job’s person. And God agreed, saying only “you must spare his life”. And Job was covered with itching sores from head to foot. So sitting in the ruins of his house he took a roof tile and began to scratch himself. These afflictions and others plagued him for years. And finally his wife said: “How do you remain so simple. Curse God and die. He replied: “We accept God’s goodness how shall we not accept his evil. Blessed be his name and his will.”
Job’s friends and his neighbours drew away from him. And those he had comforted in their times of need said to him: “Good and evil are distributed to all. But who but a great sinner could receive such woe. Who suffers from heaven so much evil for his good deeds, or is the lord unjust?” To this Job answered: “Who am I to judge the designs of God? He has given to me and he has taken from me. Blessed be his decrees”.
And in the end the lord descended to them and he told Job’s erstwhile friends that they unjustly accused Job who was the most righteous of men. And though he never explained his actions he restored Job’s health and doubled his wealth. And Job lived 140 years and had many children and saw his grandchildren’s grandchildren and their children live and flourish. And Job said: “The lord has taken from me and the lord has given to me. Blessed be his will”.
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
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.
These notes have been sent to the email list of The Community of Silo’s Message Toronto Annex, and posted on Facebook, as well as on my blog at www.dzuckerbrot.com
We’d all love to hear your comments, thoughts about, considerations of, or artwork inspired by, any of this.