Principle 8. Comprehended Action. Week 4.
Last time: Three Decisions!
This time: Learning, Contemplation and Doing
Over the last weeks we looked at the basic structure of this principle, some observations about, and illustrations of, the Principle of Comprehended Action in general. We also considered it in light of past events and how it might apply in the present moment. This week try to understand the principle in the light of pending situations.
Every month we focus on one of the 12 Principles of Valid Action. These can be found in Chapter 13 of the book, The Inner Look. Each week we look at a different aspect of that principle. This week’s Principle is #8, “The Principle of Comprehended Action, it says: “You Will Make Your Conflicts Disappear When You Understand Them In Their Ultimate Root, Not When You Want To Resolve Them”.
The weekly and daily reflections proposed here are meant to help us turn the principles into a dynamic and permanent meditation, and aid us in shaping a new style, or way, of engaging with life. The goal is to live with less internal contradiction and greater unity between our thoughts, feelings and actions, to live more coherently with ourselves and others.
This week I plan to take a short time each day to consider the future starting with the near future the conflicts I expect to encounter (whether internal, or external, whether with friends, family, co-workers or what have you). And I’m going to reflect on how I know from a lot of past experience that the events that I foresee unfolding won’t be resolved simply by my wishing that they would. And what about understanding their ultimate root? Will that resolve them? I’m not really sure that the principle necessarily says that.
I know that on occasion I’ve seen into the roots of an internal conflict and thanks to that new insight I’ve changed and the situation changed. It was like the knot of the conflict simply began to unravel. One of the first times I had the great pleasure of sitting in a cafe with Silo and a group of friends listening to him answer questions he spoke about a related theme. These dialogues were almost always overflowing with laughter and playfulness. I think there were very few occasions when any one of us left the table without startling new insights, the feeling that we were privileged to have participated in that encounter, and the sense of new paths opening toward the future.
Be that as it may, the “coffee” I’m thinking of took place in Mexico City in 1974. I had chanced on Silo’s ideas some months earlier and now I was attending a series of meetings, conversations and excursions with Silo himself. On this occasion, during a break in the stories, and jokes someone asked a question about attention, and the attempt, as some like today like to say, to be more present. Amid Silo’s response was an image that stuck with me. He was explaining how sometimes it seems that it’s enough to become aware of something for it to change. He used the analogy of a forgotten piece of food moldering in the back of a refrigerator. He spoke about how some things could only flourish in the dark and damp, and simply by opening the door exposing them to light and air their growth was disrupted.
On the other hand that involves some action, at least opening the door. I think there are also other cases where we see comprehension as a necessary, but not sufficient condition to resolve the conflict. In those situations when I understand the roots of these issues then I can figure out how to make them disappear.
Perhaps in the end both cases are inevitably (because of the relation between the inner and outer worlds) more about a simultaneous (concomitant) and mutual interaction of the conflict and my insight into its roots. That is, as I go on gaining understanding, I of course change my behaviours — whether this feels intentional, or spontaneous. And as I change my actions, my way of being-in-the world, I go on gaining new understandings that would not have been possible for me earlier. As Silo writes in The Internal Landscape; Chapter VI Center and Reflection:
“External landscape is what we perceive of things, while internal landscape is what we sift from them through the sieve of our internal world. These landscapes are one and constitute our indissoluble vision of reality.” And it is by this vision that we orient ourselves in one direction or another.
1.Yet it is clear that as you go forward your vision is modified.
2.There is no learning, however small, that you achieve through contemplation alone. You learn because you do something with that which you contemplate. And the more you do the more you learn, for as you go forward your vision continues to change.
3.What have you learned of the world? You have learned what you have done. What is it that you want of the world? You have come to want according to what has happened to you. What is it that you do not want from the world? What you do not want also follows from what has happened to you.
Learn to distinguish a difficulty, which is welcome for you can leap over it, from a contradiction, that lonely labyrinth that has no exit.
The path to learning lies through action and not solely through contemplation.
Next week we’ll continue our considerations around Principle 8 (Comprehended Action) but in the light of some related themes.
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General information about, the principles, materials, parks, etc can be found at www.silo.net or www.silosmessage.net
There are currently 2 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.