Over the previous two weeks we focused on the general structure, and implications of the principle, and we also 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? What suggestions would I give to someone interested in applying this principle to their present situation.
Some types of meditation require you to sit down and close your eyes. Some require you to open your eyes wide and dive head first into the midst of life.
Last week we touched on the use of The Guide to the Inner Road, not in the context of particular works, but in daily life. This kind of approach is rooted in one of the opening sentences of The Inner Look. It says: “Here the Worldly is not opposed to the Eternal”. And, more technically, perhaps, in the The Internal Landscape where it discusses the inner and outer worlds (or more properly, landscapes). Chapter V of that book concludes: “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”.
(I’ve added the bolding for emphasis)
And it is possible from that perspective to understand, and more importantly to live, treating the world around you as your internal world. In that way all your actions become part of an on-going meditation. Then every encounter with another person, creature, or aspect of the world, is also potentially an intimate encounter with the deepest part of yourself.
Sometimes we know that.
We also know how to guide ourselves in this landscape since our behaviour in this seemingly “external” world produces growing contradiction or unity, increasing balance and happiness, or on the contrary, disequilibrium and violence, within ourselves and those around us.
Here’s some raw material that I hope you will find useful in your own reflections.
Last week in our discussion there we touched on the idea that when it seemed that circumstances were changing in a way we didn’t like but were on such a scale we couldn’t change them (immediately at least) than this principle required us changing ourselves (our plans, our perspective, etc). Not that this implies accepting the direction events have taken. All that puts us in mind of principle three, “Timely Action” with its advice about how to deal with great forces. Not surprising I suppose since the evolution of things is, no doubt, a very great force.
In any case, the first three principles seem to require measuring the forces at play. “Am I”, for example, “applying the right amount of effort or am using too much and forcing things?” “Is this force I’m confronting really a great force or can I manage it?” Or in the case of this principle: “Is this the evolution of things, or simply a passing tendency?”. 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 past situations, like those that were the subject of my daily meditations 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.