Principle of Valid Action 2. Fourth 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” it says: “When you force something towards an end you produce the contrary.”
Last week we were considering the present and trying to imagine how this principle might apply today, what utility it might have, and what possibilities or difficulties it might hold in the situations we currently face.
The ongoing meditations on the principle are not just, or even primarily, about getting a handle on the principle in question. The greater goal is to turn the principles into a way of life. Rather than seeing them in terms of objects (or objectives) perhaps it is useful to understand them as guideposts that can help to give our lives a certain direction. It is that intangible, but vital, direction that some of us believe is the most important thing one can have in life. Not a “having” or an accomplishment but — hesitantly or firmly, directly or in a round about way — a finding ones way towards.
Some Personal Reflections
This week: Meditation for what?
Last weeks email/posting made reference to two different meditations (Simple Meditation, Meditation on the Principle). Often we also refer to the experiential work we carry out in our weekly meetings as a meditation. I often invite people to this weekly meeting and most people respond with varying degrees of interest (varying degrees of sincerity) and usually say something like: “Oh I’ve been thinking of starting to meditate” Or perhaps, “I’ve been thinking of taking it up again”. And not uncommonly, “Can I come sometime?” It’s a situation I’ve written about this before though from a slightly different angle. When I wrote that earlier piece no one had ever asked me: “what’s meditation” or “what kind of meditation is it?” That’s no longer quite true and since then a couple of people have.
In those considerations, I ask whether the practices that will give us lower blood pressure, or greater productivity can really be the same as those that engaged people like he Buddha in arduous efforts, day after day for years (or lifetimes). According to what they’ve told us they were aiming at very different results..
In any case, when people use this term what do they actually mean? It’s pretty clear there’s lots of very different things that go by the same name. Since the 14th Century the word, in ordinary usage, has meant something like “to calmly think about something”. Often however the word is used to refer to one of a number of particular practices, very likely associated with the East (certainly Westerners generally seem to know less about similar practices in their own traditions).**
At the present time, when people mention meditation they are more often than not referring to what is called, “insight, or mindfulness, meditation”. If you delve in a little more deeply however you will find that even in one current, say Buddhism for example, not only are there many different kinds of meditation, but many different ideas about what is apparently one specific practice, e.g. mindfulness.*** We have to conclude that there are lots of things called meditation and they don’t all have the same goal, they don’t all produce the same results — not to say that they all may may be beneficial in different ways.
So do you meditate? Like a Theravaden monk or a Tibetan lama? Like a Stoic philosopher or an Orthodox elder? A Hindu yogi, or a post-modern one?
And if the many roads do not all lead to Rome how do I know what is the right one for me? Perhaps, by thinking (meditating!) on what I want. Where do I want to go? Is this a path that leads in that direction? Why in fact am I doing this exercise? What for?
As I’ve pointed out back in November (Principle 11, 3rd week) even in our short, weekly gatherings there are various different kinds of meditation. (You can find that reference here. Just look for the picture of a two-headed monster puppet.) Each week, in a period of perhaps 45 minutes, we meditate on one of the principles. We also use various procedures to relax muscular, emotional and mental tensions. Later in the meeting we meditate on the needs of those around us. But the goal of central practice (that uses the visualization of the sphere) is, as explained in chapter XV of the Inner Look twofold. First is the “experience of peace” aimed, as the name suggests, at producing a profound internal peace. The second is the experience of the “passage of the force” aimed at the circulation of, contact with, or increase in, the vital energy — the force. We are reminded of the overall goal of these practices in the phrase we conclude with: Peace, Force and Joy.
Next week we’ll look at Principle 3. The Principle of Well-Timed Action. Or as some people say: The Principle of Opportune Action.
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.