Principle 8 Comprehended Action 1

Principle 8, first week

Every month we focus one of the 12 Principles of Valid Action. These can be found in Chapter 13 of the book, The Inner Look. Each week we look at a different aspect of that principle. This week’s Principle is #8, “The Principle of Comprehended Action, it says: “You Will Make Your Conflicts Disappear When You Understand Them In Their Ultimate Root, Not When You Want To Resolve Them”.

We take the time to think and talk about each principle, not just in order to understand it in itself, but also to begin to reflect more rigorously about our behaviour. These principles, or guidelines, or however you think of them are elements that we can form into a discipline which can be practiced at every moment and in every circumstance. They are a kind of dynamic meditation. With time and application these efforts will give all my activities a particular tone, mood, and mental direction. Our goal is to weave these general ideas that you can weave together into a coherent style of life.

In the next weeks we’ll look at how we applied, or could have applied, this principle in the past, how we apply this principle in the present moment, and how we have might apply it in the future. Here are some general considerations about this principle. In order to illustrate various aspects of the principles I’ve drawn ideas from conversations with various people, as well as from materials we created over the years. If I can know who to credit for these contributions I will.

Here’s some ideas about and reflections on this principle with the hope that they aid in your own reflections. I’ve drawn them largely from conversations with various people as well as 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.

It has been said that this Principle encourages us, when facing difficult or conflicted situations, to avoid actions that are not thought through. It doesn’t say we should do nothing about problems, but rather we should try to comprehend what we are doing or attempting to do. It’s normal to become anxious when facing conflicts and to compulsively attempt to solve it even before comprehending it’s roots. In this way problems are made even more complicated and generate more problems in a chain reaction.

Here’s an old story that illustrates the situation.
A young shepherd suffered through the cold nights because of his blanket. It wasn’t that the blanket wasn’t thick enough, or badly made. As the shepherd told himself: “Since I was a child this blanket has protected me from wind, ice and snow, but now the cold passes right through it. Sure it has some holes and tears. But I could patch it. After all if it kept me it served me as a child and it can serve me now.” So he patched the blanket and sewed up the rips.

The next night he noticed his feet were uncovered and almost froze. So he took the blanket and pulled it down. Of course, that left his neck and chest uncovered. Because the blanket was too short he passed night after night cold and uncomfortable, with either his chest or feet uncovered.

Now he thought to himself: “I had this blanket my whole life, and as a child it comforted me and kept me warm so it should keep me warm now since I fixed it up so carefully. I will just have to curl up when I sleep.”

The next morning found him tired, cramped and cold and he thought: “In all this time the blanket has not grown, nor can I make myself smaller. How then shall we continue together.”

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

We’d all love to hear your comments, thoughts about, considerations of, or artwork inspired by, any of this.