Principle 2 Action and Reaction 4 – 2021

Principle 2. The Principle of Action and Reaction. Fourth Week
When you force something towards an end you produce the contrary.
Last time: Going Deeper.
This Time: Our Meeting, More Meditation and a special treat
 Like last week this week’s posting is also rather long. Do you prefer shorter ones? It gets worse. Not only is it long but this week there are even end notes! 
To make up for the length I’ve added a special treat. This link takes you to a lovely and wise little animation on reconciliation. It was an international collaboration between friends in Argentina, the Philippines, and Hungary.  Thanks Boldy and friends:
This Week:
Over the last weeks we looked at the general structure and meaning of this principle. We thought about how this principle played out (or didn’t) in our past. We focused on situations where I applied, or violated, this principle in the present and reflected on the consequences  This week let’s imagine our future and try to imagine how this principle might apply, and what possibilities, or difficulties, it might hold in the situations we see facing us. 
Peace experience
Personal Reflections:
I hope these reflections might be useful raw material for your own meditations and they are being shared in that spirit.
It’s perhaps interesting to note how the principles can also be used in a constructive fashion — even when they are more usually seen as warnings, for example in this case as a warning about the consequence of pushing too hard. One positive use for this principle can be seen in the elementary relaxation exercises where, in order to cause muscles to relax I tense them to the maximum, hold and finally let go and focus on the sensations of unclenching. It’s a great way of familiarizing oneself with the registers of letting go on a muscular level. It’s a very effective technique. Try it out when you just can’t get to sleep. I think it will prove its effectiveness. It certainly has for me and I’d love to hear about your results. So next time you are tossing and turning, worrying about how tired you’re going to be in the morning if you don’t get some sleep, just gently and slowly tense to the max, hold as long as you can, abruptly let go and focus on the sensations of the muscles relaxing. It’s important not to tense, too abruptly or too much, it shouldn’t hurt, and shouldn’t cause pain afterwards.
Repeat three times. Sometimes I don’t even get to the third round.
More than Relaxing 
Last week we made reference to Simple Meditation, and Meditation on the Principle. Also we often refer to the experiential work we carry out in our weekly meetings as meditation.  I find that when I invite people to this meeting most of them respond with varying degrees of interest (and varying degrees of sincerity). They 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?”  On another occasion I wrote that 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 asked things like that. Perhaps that’s a good sign.
In that writing I was wondering about  whether the practices that touted for their ability to lower our blood pressure, or increase our productivity can really be the same as those that engaged people like the Buddha in arduous efforts, day after day for years (or lifetimes).  According to what those spiritual searchers have told us, they were aiming at very different results than those most often touted as the benefits of “meditating” . 
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, of 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, even when they are called by the same name or exist in a single tradition. Historically they don’t all have the same goal, they don’t all produce the same results — not to say that they all aren’t 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 which is the right one for me? Perhaps, by thinking (meditating!) on what I want. Where do I want to go? Perhaps not to Rome. Is this a path that leads in the direction I seek? Why in fact am I doing this exercise? What do I hope to attain? Those are simple but potent (and important) reflections.
There’s no reason a person shouldn’t use a certain practice to lower their blood pressure, or reduce anxiety if that works for them — even if that practice was originally proposed as a way of waking up and seeing reality in a new way. It is a shame though to settle for increasing our productivity if our hope was to plunge into the heart of reality; to discover the sacred; to live life more deeply; to wake up.
As I’ve pointed out back in November (Principle 11, 3rd week even in our short, weekly gatherings there are various kinds of “meditation”. 
Speaking of Our Weekly Meeting:
Each week, in a period of perhaps 45 minutes, we use a number of procedures. We meditate on one of the principles, and also use various procedures to relax muscular, emotional and mental tensions.  But the goal of central practices is twofold, as is explained in chapter XV of the Inner Look****. The first of these 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 force that gives energy to our bodies and our minds. Before we finish we turn our thought the needs of others and how we might better connect with them.
 At the end of the meeting we summarize the goal of these practices in the phrase: 
Peace, Force and Joy.
Coming up:
Next week we’ll look turn to principle three, The Principle of Well Timed Action (or if you prefer “Timely Action). It says: “Do not oppose a great force. Retreat until it weakens than advance with resolution.” 
Worth Repeating:
Much of the time when I’m supposedly awake, I am in reality in a state closer to dreaming. 
Attempting to apply the Principles of Valid action as an ongoing practice will produce something extraordinary — a new vital direction. And some of us believe that is the most important thing one can have in life. Not something perfected, or finally accomplished, but a moving towards — hesitantly or firmly —  directly or in a round about way — a finding one’s way towards the unity of thought, feeling and action oriented toward others.

These notes have been posted on Facebook and sent to our email list, and thanks to Fernando Aranguiz on my website

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