Principle 10, first week
This month we are focusing on principle #10. It is also called “The Principle of Solidarity” it says: “When You Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You, You Liberate Yourself.”
First time here? Then you should know:
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 month’s principle.
Paraphrasing Silo’s commentaries on his Message, we can add this about The Principles of Valid Action: they deal with the formulation of a way of approaching daily life. They are useful for those who wish to develop a coherent life built on two basic internal registers: that of unity and that of contradiction. That means, 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. This register of internal unity that we are seeking is accompanied by certain important indicators. These are: 1.The sensation of internal growth; 2. Continuity in time; and 3. And the feeling that one would want to repeat that action in the future. The first, the sensation of internal growth is something that always accompanies experiences of personal improvement. The second, continuity in time, means that the validity of the experience does not change, when I think about it later, or if I consider the same action applied to other remembered situations, or imagine it in the future. Finally, that later on one wishes to repeat that action. On the other hand, while contradictory actions may have some, or none, of the characteristics of unifying ones, they never have all three.
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. 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” as usually understood. 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.
Here are some of the considerations about this principle. I’m drawing them from conversations with many people and from materials we created over the years to help illustrate various subjects related to “valid action”. I’m sorry that in most cases I can’t credit specific individuals for their contributions but I will when I can.
Thoughts about this months Principle:
The so-called “Golden Rule” is at the centre 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, selfishness, and self-enclosure can cause serious problems for people. This principle encourages us to open our selves to others and to approach them in a positive manner. There are great differences between this principle and the one we considered last week which spoke of not harming anyone. But they complement each other in important ways. This is also a useful reminder that the principles can be understood, and more importantly transformed into a lifestyle, by interpreting each principle within 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 it 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 that has little to do with 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.
In previous weeks we have looked at the structure of the principle, and how it was, or could have been applied in the past. Last week we reflected on how we were, or could be applying it in the present, and what the consequences were, or might have been. This week we’ll focus on how we are applying, (or could apply) this principle in the future, especially the immediate future.
And in Conclusion:
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 here on my blog.
We’d all love to hear your comments, thoughts about, considerations of, or artwork inspired by, any of this.
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) here. You can also find information and materials about Silo’s Message and its activities around the world at www.silosmessage.net
Some of the English version of Silo’s works have been published and printed versions are available. See for example: here.
There are (so far) 2 Parks of Study and Reflection in North America. These are Red Bluff in California and Hudson Valley 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 respective websites.