It has been said that this Principle explains how the characteristics and behaviour of each thing, system and person, facilitate or resist our projects – and this depends, not only on the events but at least in part, on what we do. When we are upset, unbalanced, or agitated we tend to overreact. In those situations we are moved by irrational impulses and compulsions that can be hard to resist. It’s then that we are most likely to pressure situations or force things against their natural tendencies and behaviours. At first the things, or situations may yield to our demands, but in the long run they turn back on us. The results can be very far from what we originally set out to achieve.
Everyone sets goals, some big and small small. Everyone has plans, or projects — even when they don’t use those terms. We all want certain things, and want to avoid others. But the key question here is: how should I approach those goals? How can I best move in the direction that interests me? I want someone to behave in a certain way but perhaps they don’t see things the same way I do. What do I do? Should I try to force them to comply, to try “nudge” them or manipulate them? Or perhaps through direct communication try to get them to see the advantages of what I’m proposing. What ever way I choose I can try to get my way, but obviously the long term results – the situations I’ve created – will be very different. It’s a very different perspective than the one that says, “the ends justify the means”.
Of course what we mean by “forcing” will vary according to the specific situation. If you have to lift a heavy weigh you’ll need to exert yourself more lifting a heavy weight than you would lifting a feather – what is forcing in one case is just the right effort in another. It takes discernment to apply this, or any of the principles, in a useful way.
Two Stories to illustrate Two Related but Different Situations:
This principle refers to at least to two types of situation. In one the goal is reached but the consequences are not what one had hoped for. In the other, the forcing produces a negative “rebound”.
To illustrate the first case, here’s an old story of which there are many versions. It is a tale that is deeply embedded in the legends of the western world. To illustrate the second, the situation of “rebound” a teaching with an Eastern flavour is given.
An example related to the idea of unhappy consequences
The Legend of Old Silenus
Silenus was a satyr, half goat and half man. He was the wise counsellor of Dionysius, the god of wine. While Silenus spirit was deep and wise many found his physical appearance grotesque. He was often so drunk that he couldn’t walk and had to be carried on the back of his donkey or by a group other satyrs. Some say his wisdom was more evident the drunker he become.
One day some peasants came upon him sleeping in the woods. They quickly tied him up and brought them before their king whose name was Midas. Some versions of this story say that Midas had drugged a fountain that Silenus liked to drink from in order to render him unconscious, and that it was no accident he was captured. Perhaps that’s true, but let’s continue with our version…