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Principle 1. The Principle of Adaptation. Third Week. The Present.
Last time: King Canute This time: Can you tell dusk from dawn
Principle 1. The Principle of Adaptation. Third Week.
“To Go Against the Evolution of Things is to Go Against Oneself”
Over the previous two weeks we focused on the general structure, and implications of the principle, and we investigated how this principle played out (or didn’t) in our past. This week we turn to considering how I might apply this principle in my current situations. What are the pressures, challenges, or difficulties that I face? How might this principle apply? What light does it shed on these circumstances? How might it change things and so on? Equally I might consider what the consequences might be of misapplying or ignoring it?
Here’s some of my thoughts about all this. I hope you will find it useful, at least as raw material for your own reflections.
Last week, examining past situations where I had tried to apply the principle I reflected on the consequence of mistaking a fad for a real evolutionary tendency, or vice versa. Imagine the result if I believe every momentary trend or little breeze is a hurricane or the inevitable “evolution of things”. A misjudgment like that would leave me totally passive in front of every situation. If I’m wrong, and I confuse something positive and inevitable for something negative or something that’s only a momentary blip than I really will be like the bird trying to crawl back into its shattered egg. And if I do the reverse, and take some minor fashion for the direction of history itself, who knows what disproportionate actions I might take?
In the past situations I was reviewing last week I at least had the advantage of hindsight. That is, looking back in the past I can discern, to some extent, the path that events followed. That allows me to say that what I thought of as inevitable direction was just a hiccup, or what I thought was just a fad was the first stirrings of a historical trend. Looking at my present situation it is much more difficult to make those judgments. How can I know when a tendency is “the evolution of things” and when it’s just a possibility, an accident, a passing fashion?
For example, given the ecological, political and social chaos of our times it’s easy enough to believe that the world is inevitably heading toward destruction. Regardless of what the statistics might say it’s hard to believe there is less war, less violent crime and a higher global standard of living than ever. Hard to believe, but what does it mean, if it is indeed true?
What looks like we are falling head over heels into the apocalypse can just as easily be understood, not as the fall of humankind but, as the much overdue fall of outgrown institutions and ideas making room for something new. Certainly civilizations run their course and people outgrow their ideologies but that’s not the end of the world… perhaps as some of us believe it signals, on the contrary, the real birth of the human being.
The consequence of mistaking the end of certain institutions for the end of history could prove ridiculous, or even tragic.
Evolution or Apocalypse?
Is it the end or a new beginning? Is it dusk or dawn? Is the cat going up or down the stairs? Look again you might break wrong.
What about the people In M.C. Escher’s drawing?
Next week we will look at what it might mean if we apply this principle in the future.
The point isn’t to conform to some external code, or set of rules. Rather our focus is on the register that is produced in me when I act. Am I moved towards greater unity, or toward contradiction? Has my action left me feeling more in agreement with myself, or more conflicted, more at war with myself?
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There are currently two Parks of Study and Reflection in North America. These are Red Bluff (www.redbluffpark.org) in California and Hudson Valley (www.hudsonvalleypark.org) 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 respective websites.