Principle 3 Timely Action 2 – 2021

Principle 3. The Principle of Timely Action. Second Week.
Do not oppose a great force. Retreat until it weakens than advance with resolution
Last time: A Story or Two. 
This time: Battles Large and Small.
Illustration by Rafael Edwards
This Week:
We are continuing to explore the “The Principle of Timely Action” the third of the principles of valid action (chapter 13 of The Inner Look). It says: “Do not oppose a great force. Retreat until it weakens than advance with resolution.” This week we reflect on how we applied it or could have applied it in the past. At our next meeting we will have a chance to discuss these reflections.
Personal Reflections:
I hope these reflections might be useful raw material for your own meditations and they are being shared in that spirit.
So in trying to deepen my understanding of this principle and its applications, I started to ask myself questions. Simple things like, how did I know when a force was great? Is there some way, besides hindsight, that allowed me to reliably judge the strength of the opposing force? Did I sometimes misjudge and retreat in front of, what were really, minor inconveniences? How did that work out? After a moment I found I had lots of questions.
Last week I used some examples referred to the martial arts. I hope you won’t be troubled if I continue in that vein for a moment. Perhaps because of the word “retreat” when I think of this principle I immediately think of military tactics in general and a couple of famous battles in particular. The martial arts are full of examples where this basic idea is applied. Here are a few. I’m sure someone more knowledgeable could supply many more examples. You don’t have to turn to the Eastern arts of Jiu Jitsu or Aikido, both of which are famous for proposing turning the attackers energy against them. Western boxing for example has its famous example of Muhammad Ali’s “rope a dope,” where the fighter takes on a protected stance like lying against the ropes, which can then absorb some of the the punch’s energy while the opponent slugs away tiring themselves out.

Remember Napoleon in Russia? Military historians still argue about what mix of events beyond the military (the weather, disease, etc) tipped the scales. But in both cases the apparently stronger invaders pushed ahead while the Russian armies retreated, stretching the enemies supply lines, providing the opportunity for some combination of weather, disease, fatigue, and hunger to decimate the troops demoralize the troops. When the enemy weakened the retreat transformed into attack —with the help of General Winter and his colleagues General Snow, General Ice, General Cold combined with a willingness of the Russians to sacrifice themselves on a terrifying scale. Hitler’s armies later found themselves in similar circumstances when they invaded the young Soviet Union.

However it is clear that, “retreat” like the other key terms here will mean different things in different circumstances. For example, to wait things out, to go in another direction, to go along with something, etc. 
What has “retreat” meant for me in previous situations? Probably, it wasn’t about pulling my troops back toward Moscow. Did I find appropriate ways to retreat for the situation in which I found myself? Could I have been more  skillful in how I applied this? What was a situation where I retreated but I could have done it even better?
And lets not forget the second part! Then did I advance with resolution? Were there times where having retreated I then used that as an excuse to give up, or as a convenient way to forget that I had originally wanted to go in another direction? What about those situations where I advanced but only in a half-assed way (without resolution)? 
Can I think of three occasions where I applied or didn’t this principle successfully? What difference did it make?
Coming up:
Next week we’ll look at how the principle of timely action applies in our present situation. All of this is not just in order to deepen our understanding this particular principle, but also to begin to reflect more rigorously about our daily behaviour. 
Worth Repeating:
This principle suggests that when we are certain that we cannot overcome the opposing force head on, we can advance indirectly by getting out of its way for the moment, and then advancing.  
Do not let your life pass by without asking yourself, “Who am I?” 
Silo, The Path

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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There are currently 2 Parks of Study and Reflection in North America. These are Red Bluff ( in California and Hudson Valley ( 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.