Principle of Valid Action 2. Third week
This week we are continuing with our considerations about principle #2 from chapter 13 of the book (The Inner Look). It is called the “The Principle of Action and Reaction” and says: “When you force something towards an end you produce the contrary.”
Last week we focused on how this principle played out (or didn’t) in our past. We tried situations where I applied, or violated, this principle and about the consequences This week let’s consider present situations and try to imagine how this principle might apply, what utility it might have, and what possibilities or difficulties it might hold in the situations we currently face.
Remember: These are not just exercises to understand this principle of valid action more deeply. They are also a way to start and reflect more deeply about our daily behaviour. It would be interesting to transform these principles from platitudes into a real way of encountering my life, into a dynamic meditation that I can practice at every moment?
Some Personal Reflections (that might be useful raw material for your own meditations)
*This week: reflections on reflecting!
The big question is how can I deepen my reflection on the questions at hand? To apply the principle to the present situation means that, as a minimum, I’d need to know what is that situation that I’m living through. How could I not know that? Easily! Most of the time when I’m supposedly awake, I am in reality in a state closer to dreaming. These daydreams and reveries, whether simple or elaborate, cloud my consciousness through almost all of my waking hours.
So the first step is to simply pay attention, to notice what’s happening, to wake up — at least a little. In fact it is exactly in trying to do that is what makes me aware of the fact that I live most of my time asleep. There’s been a lot written in recent years by “experts” of all sorts about attention, and mindfulness. A lot of words, but little insight. Look through a few of the popular books (websites), or listen to some of the blogs and you’ll notice a host of contradictory claims and explanations.
Here’s some ideas based on a note I sent to a friend a while back that touched on some of these issues:
I hope you are doing well in the chaotic and difficult time in which we find ourselves. I have not forgotten I said I’d write with some suggestions on works that are easily done on one’s own. I will, but I’ve been trying to find some time to compose an explanation of context, approaches, etc. That’s proven difficult and unfortunately it will be delayed a little longer. For the moment then in the briefest of terms:
Deep Relax: there are numerous techniques to help one learn to let go. We teach 3 simple exercises. One for the muscles, another for emotional tensions, and one specifically for mental tensions. For the moment any relaxation technique will do, or try this. Close your eyes. Breath in and exhale deeply a few times. Focus on the sensations of your body. This isn’t to think about them but just to gently, softly, without forcing, become aware of what your body feels like. Stay with those sensations for a few minutes. You will become aware of tensions, thoughts, etc. Don’t try to do anything about them. Be aware of them and focus on your bodily sensations. If you start to exert yourself, struggle with thoughts, etc. Let go and refocus on the sensations.
A Simple Meditation: this is not a matter of sitting down in a certain posture, or breathing in a particular way. It’s an attitude to be cultivated in daily life, an exercise to apply wherever and whenever. It can be called simple attention. It’s the beginning of the kinds of very important work now marketed so widely under the mindfulness “brand”. It is also the culmination of those varied and sometimes elaborate exercises. It’s not thinking about what you’re doing. It’s not a tense attitude in front of the world. It starts with the sensation of letting go you’ve been cultivating in your relaxation exercises above. Then you simply do what ever you are doing but do that, and not something else. If you are eating, eat. If you are laughing, laugh. Try to simply be in whatever activity you are doing. It’s a deceptively simple idea. But you don’t want to think about the idea. You want to be deeply into whatever you are doing. At the beginning even a few moments of that every day is a big accomplishment.
Meditation on the Principle: Before opening your eyes in the morning think about what the day holds for you. How how you want things to go. What do you want to focus on? Where will you need to be more attentive, or more sensitive, or communicate more clearly? Before falling asleep review the day that is concluding. Don’t judge what you did, or didn’t do. Briefly and quickly review the day. Note where you felt very good (unitive), or felt in conflict with yourself (contradiction). Try not to fall into the trap of wallowing in guilt, self-recrimination, neither into the trap of patting yourself on the back, and self-satisfaction. You want to maintain an attitude like you might have watching the trailer for a movie. You watch with interest but not as if it’s something you are responsible for. Think about the principle of the week, how it could be applied or not…
Next week we’ll look at how the principle of action and reaction might apply in our present situations.
These notes have been sent to the email list and Facebook page of The Community of Silo’s Message Toronto Annex, as well as here.
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.