Principle 12. Third Week
This week we continue our reflections on principle #12, “The Principle of Accumulating Actions” which says: “If you repeat your acts of internal unity then nothing can detain you.” This week’s meeting will give us an opportunity to discuss thoughts, doubts, and insights into how we might apply this principle to our current situation.
In my reflections I’ll focus on discovering at least one situation where my old habits and accumulated failures might demoralize me. Then I will consider at least one situation where I can try to change my accumulated habits by doing something(s) in a new way.
Some Reflections (that might be useful raw material for your reflections)
Last week I repeated some phrases from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching (the Classic of the Way and its Virtue). It’s not the first time I’ve quoted him. I’m a big fan and I’d like to mention a few more of his verses this week. The first is probably the most well known line from this extraordinary text. As for the second, I feel it reflects the the same conclusion as this month’s principle, and I believe can perhaps can help us see this idea through eyes from a very distant time and place.
Here’s the first quote its just one it’s a few phrases from chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching. To my ears it resonates with the lines about water from last week’s quote from “the Ancient Infant” (one translation of the name Lao Tzu). This selection ends with a sentence that we have all heard in one or another variation. In fact we’ve heard it so often, or seen it on posters, or so many Facebook postings, that it’s probably become too familiar — reducing words of wisdom to just another empty platitude.
“A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.”
Probably you’ve heard it as “a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step”, either way I think if our ears are open we will recognize that it is potentially much more than a trivial banality.
The second quotation is a sentence from chapter 59 of the same work. It has been translated in many ways. Here’s a version I think catches its authors intentions, and matches our principle almost exactly: “If you repeat your acts of internal unity, nothing can detain you.”
“Caring for others and serving heaven depends on repeated accumulation.
With virtue accumulated all obstacles can be overcome..
Having overcome all obstacles there are no limits.
Knowing the absence of limits, one is fit to rule.
This is like a plant that has deep roots and a firm stalk.
The way of long life and eternal vision.”
This week we’re trying to see this principle in the context of our past situations. Over the following weeks we’ll look at how the principle could be applied to our present circumstance, and what it might mean for us in future situations.
Received these comments before? Then you probably don’t have to read the following:
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.
Every month we focus one of the 12 Principles. 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. 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 his commentaries on his Message Silo had this to say about The Principles:
Chapter XIII (of the Inner Look) 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.
Want to know more:
Remember, you can always just ask. Either send something to me or post it to our Facebook page.
You can also find The Inner Look and Silo’s Commentaries on the Message, along with the rest of Silo’s writings (in many languages) here And along with other activities, materials etc of Silo’s Message here.
Some of the English version of his works have been published and hard copies are available. See for example.
Parks of Study and Reflection:
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 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 here on my blog.
We’d all love to hear your comments, thoughts about, considerations of, or artwork inspired by, any of this.