Principle 7, fourth week
This week we continue with “The Principle of Immediate Action” says: “If You Pursue An End You Enchain Yourself. If Everything You Do Is Realized As An End In Itself You Liberate Yourself.” It is #7 in chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look).
Since we are revisiting the principles in the same order (i.e. one a month for 12 months) I am once again sending out a revised and updated version of the notes I sent out a year ago. For the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the overall structure of this principle, how it applied in the past, and how it might be applied in the present. Speaking of applications in the present, one of the comments that came up in our weekly discussion that I found very interesting was about applying this principle to the internal work that we do, the meditation, relax, the experience of peace, work with the force, the ceremonies in general, etc. Trying to apply that insight proved immediately, and notably useful for a number of us. Our focus this week is on how we might use the Principle of Immediate Action the future.
Some Personal Reflections
My personal considerations in this note take a different turn. I hope they prove useful fodder for your own reflections.
It seems to me that one reason pursuing an end leaves me enchained is that, as most of us soon learn, often what I think I want, is not what I want at all! If that’s true, no wonder I suffer not only when I don’t get what I want, but even when I do.
This is made clear when I try to pay attention. “Try” being the operative word. If you’ve done this experiment (of trying to simply pay attention) than I suppose that, like me, you quickly discovered that normally you don’t. Worse than that, if you are honest and persistent, you may have found —like I did— that you can’t. Or at least it takes a very long time and very consistent work to get any closer to that goal. But I’ve found that the main point is to simply get clear registers of these varied states, and degrees of attention, or inattention.
I can hear the objection. Of course, I pay attention! How else could I do my job, or even cross a busy street. But in those situations I pay attention automatically. It’s as if the attention is called out of me by the stimuli. It’s a very different proposition when I propose that it should be the reverse: rather than the stimuli reaching me, I want to go out toward the stimuli. Not because they demand my attention but because I wish simply to be attentive — to be present if you prefer. Personally, I prefer the term attention though it is misleading in certain respects (more about that another time).
Sleep and Awakening.
I think that it’s only with such attempts that gradually the idea expressed in Chapter 6 of the Inner Look really starts to make sense. It says: “Only rarely do I perceive reality in a new way, and it is then that I realize that what I normally see resembles sleep or semi-sleep”.
That verse concludes:
There is a real way of being awake, and it has led me to meditate profoundly on all that has been said so far. It has, moreover, opened the door for me to discover the meaning go all that exists.”
Step 1. The theory of reverie becomes more than a theory.
Paying attention in this way — without strain but gently focusing on what is going on, simply trying to be aware, you discover very quickly that stray images, ideas, internal dialogue, etc intrude. A stray thought or image initiates a chain of associations that take me, and soon I’m lost in full blown day dreams. Let us call those images (with the underlying climates and tensions which they translate) “reveries”. Perhaps that’s why in the first step of what we call the Mental Discipline one tries to “Learn to See” and as a consequence discovers the reveries.
In Hot Pursuit of the Veggie Burger
If I study these reveries, as Silo taught us (see the book of that name by Luis Amman), I discover that some are just passing images. We call these situational, or secondary reveries, because they compensate a temporary situation. For example, I’m hungry and an image arises to compensate the situation — in my case perhaps I find myself thinking of a veggie-burger (à chacun son goût) and jump to my feet to go out and find one. In this way resolving the sensations of hunger.
On the other hand observation and study reveals that there are images that are more persistent and not so easily resolved. They are the primary reveries and often last for years or even decades. These unnoticed images drive my behaviour (as images do). Like secondary reveries they attempt to compensate a system of climates and tensions but more permanent ones. Sadly, they often don’t do this successfully. For example, consider a case more complicated than that of my veggie-burger.
Sensations —> Reveries (Images) —> Actions (Behaviours)
A small child for the usual reasons develops a feeling, a mood, or climate, of isolation. The images that arise to compensate that loneliness will certainly change over time. The reveries of a 5 year old are not the same as a 15 year old — even though the climate they compensate might be. In this case the child imagines herself surrounded by friends and putting down the kids that (she feels) make fun of her. As she grows the scenarios become more sophisticated. Trying to move toward those images of being surrounded by many people affirming her — the child now grown — finds herself pursuing a career in politics. Now, she’s enchained herself to that end. She’s invested a lot of time and energy in this pursuit. If she looses this big election, she’ll be very unhappy. And if she wins? Since what she’s pursuing (political office) is not what she really wants (to feel loved and accepted) even winning will be a hollow victory leaving her disappointed for reasons she doesn’t quite understand.
It’s a sad tale. But somehow it’s the story of all of us. But it’s not all sad, I got my veggie-burger!
Free Bonus: Some Practical Advice and A Link to an Old Joke.
-This is important. When it comes to “attention” you don’t want to try too hard, or not hard enough. It takes experience to develop the adequate “touch”. Hold firmly but not tightly.
– Here’s the link:
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
As always: if you no longer wish to receive these mailings or if you know people who would like to be included in them just let me know and I’ll remove or add to the list as needed.