Principle 1 Adaptation 2

Principle 1. Second Week
This week we will continue with the first of the principles of valid action, also called  “The Principle of Adaptation” it is drawn from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It says: “To go against the evolution of things is to go against yourself.” 

King Cnute

Last week we focused on the general structure and implications of the principle. This week we’ll investigate how this principle played out (or didn’t) in our past. Can I discover situation where I applied or violated this principle? Did this have particular consequences? How would I characterize these results?

Some Reflections (that might be useful raw material for your reflections)
Here’s some personal reflections, I hope they’ll be of assistance in your own.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things that strikes me about the principles is, I have to think about them a lot. It’s wrestling with them that transforms them into something more than platitudes. We are used to “external” moralities. Here, is something totally different. It’s no a matter of whether I manage to adhere or not to some set code or set of rules. What guides me is the register produced internally: does this action move me towards greater unity or greater contradiction? Do I feel more in agreement with myself, or am I more at war with myself?

In this case the first thing I find myself “wrestling” with is how do I know when a tendency really represents “the evolution of things” and when its just a possibility, an accident, a fashion? How can I tell when my acceptance of this tendency is just weakness, laziness or simply a mistake on my part and when it is really the appropriate course of action?

Birds hatching out their egg; A child growing, and becoming increasingly independent’ Aging and death; The great cycles like the inevitably of day following night, and being followed again by day; The moon waxing and waning; The tides rising and falling. These are all examples that come to my mind when I think about the “evolution of things”. I can see that if I try to protect the sandcastles I’ve built on the shore from high tide, I may be wasting my time, my energy, or worse — since I risk getting wet or even drowning. However, if I believe every momentary trend or little breeze is a hurricane or the inevitable “evolution of things” I will be passive in many situations in which I should take action. It’s like in Rafael Edward’s silly illustration of the chick hatching from an egg and then trying to go back into it.

It seems there are these two serious potential errors here: How can I know if something arises from a greater situation and it makes sense to just get out of the way — or, maintaining our sea-side metaphors, learn to surf those waves? On the other hand perhaps, it is just a passing situation which I can, and should confront, or work to change. This principle also lead me to rethink the meaning of the famous story of King Canute usually told as an illustration of his piety and humility.

The great king Cnute (or Canute), irritated by the incessant flattery and ass-kissing of his courtiers, had his throne brought to the seaside. Surrounded by the members of his court and other hangers-on, he commanded the waves not to touch his shores. Ignored by the water he (apparently) pointed to this as proof that Earthly power was nothing and that “God in his heaven was the only king worthy of the title.” There are many other interpretations of this tale. But, as you might guess from my watery metaphors earlier, reflecting on this principle gave this old story new meaning for me.

You can find some other contemporary interpretations of this old tale here

Coming up:
This week we’ll consider this principle and we could have applied it in the past. All of this is not just in order to deepen our understanding this particular principle, but also to begin to reflect more rigorously about our daily behaviour. Over the next weeks we’ll look at how it might apply in my current situation, and how I imagine it might in the future. 

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 this website.

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

PS. Since they made these notes twice as long and always contained the same information I’m no longer including the general information about, the principles, materials, parks, etc that were included each week. You can find more info at the Silo Net website and here at The Silo’s Message website.