Principle 12. Fourth Week
This week we continue our reflections on principle #12, “The Principle of Accumulating Actions” which says: “Contradictory and unifying acts accumulate within you. If you repeat your acts of internal unity then nothing can detain you.”
In my last postings I left out the first sentence of the two-part principle. I’ve corrected that here. This week’s meeting will give us an opportunity to discuss thoughts, doubts, and insights into how we might apply this principle in future situations that we feel we will find ourselves.
In my reflections I’ll focus on the future and on discovering at least one situation where my old habits, and accumulated actions could lock me into self-defeating patterns. Then I will consider how in at least one situation I might avoid that and do things in a new way.
Some Reflections (that might be useful raw material for your reflections)
These following lines are excerpted from Chapter 9 of Silo’s work The Internal Landscape and follow the numeration used there.
The Principle of Accumulated Action highlights the consequence of storing up contradictory as opposed to unifying actions. Here, Silo points out some registers that can help us distinguish contradictions from, difficulties, unpleasantness, challenges, etc. After some comments on the registers that characterize contradictory actions he points out something of the nature or mechanism of the accumulation itself.
12. I believe you will know how to distinguish a difficulty, which is welcome for you can leap over it, from a contradiction, that lonely labyrinth that has no exit.
13. Every contradictory action that you have done in your life, whatever the circumstances, has the unequivocal flavor of internal violence and betrayal of yourself. Why you found yourself in that situation will not matter, but only how—at that precise moment—you organized your reality, your landscape. Something shattered then, and changed your direction. And this, in turn, predisposed you to a new rupture. In this way, all contradictory actions orient you toward repeating them, just as all unitive actions seek to reemerge later on.
Later he gives some very useful advice about the attitude and kinds of actions required if one wants to “create a different kind of destiny”.
20. You must be very clear about this: You are not at war with yourself. Rather, you must begin treating yourself like an old friend with whom you must now reconcile, for ignorance and life itself have driven you apart.
21. You must begin by making a decision to reconcile with yourself and to understand your previous contradictions. Then you need to make another decision—that you want to overcome these contradictions. Finally, you need to decide to build your life with acts of unity, rejecting those materials that until now have brought so much harm down upon your head.
Finally, he presents what he sees as the essential key to advance toward internal unity.
24. All these suggestions will be of value if you are prepared to create a new landscape in your internal world. But you will be able to do nothing for yourself if you think only of yourself. If you want to move forward, you will one day have to accept that your mission is to humanize the world around you.
25. If you want to build a new life, free of contradictions, a life that increasingly overcomes suffering, you must be aware of two false arguments. The first holds that “I need to solve my personal problems before I can undertake any constructive action in the world.” The second leads you to declare “I am committed to the world!” while forgetting yourself completely.
26. You may agree with me or not, but in any case I will affirm that this is the only way forward: If you want to grow, you will help those around you to grow.
This week we’re trying to see this principle in the context of challenges we foresee in the future. Next week, we’ll end this cycle and begin a new one by ushering in the new year with the first of a series of reflections on Principle 1, The Principle of Adaptation.
Stop. Read no further!
Received these comments before? Then you probably already know 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.