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.”
Over the last weeks we looked at this principle in a general way, we also considered its application in our past and present situations.This week we will be examining how we might apply it in the future. At our next meeting we will have a chance to discuss these reflections.
With few exceptions not much can be said about what the future holds with any degree of certainty. No surprise then that imagining the application of this principle in my future is an undertaking filled with doubts and guess-work.
Nonetheless, I worry and make plans so if nothing else I normally think and act as if I know what will happen in the future. It seems worthwhile then to think about one or two of the most pressing of these imagined situations and consider what fruit my application of this principle might bear.
General Considerations and Personal Reflections:
I hope these reflections might be useful raw material for your own meditations and they are being shared in that spirit.
Especially, in these perilous times — or times when the perilous nature of life is more apparent I think it is especially worthwhile to meditate, if only occasionally, and briefly, on a few of the future events that have a greater degree of certainty.
A First Approach:
Leaving taxes aside, we still have suffering, and death on our list of certainties. Fun right? Clearly, focusing on all that doesn’t sound like a meditation to lower your blood pressure, and increase productivity (see my blog entry selections From the Ultimate Self-help Book: No Self, No Help)! Among the more certain themes are those connected to the the central questions of “who am I and where am I going”. That is: illness (very probably), old age (if I’m lucky) and death (certainly). And if I’m
not planning to reach old age that seems like a bit of problem in itself.
I should note that Silo considered these questions as central to his teaching and he dealt with them directly but very gently, especially in writings or talks destined for an audience of nonspecialists.The axis of the book (The Inner Look) is the problem of meaning in the face of our mortality, and The Path asks us explicitly to think every day about where we are heading. Nonetheless Silo was careful to not push people to confront these themes as he felt that for many it is simply too painful and confusing. Instead as in so many things he counted on “the magic of the copresence” and a gentle approach. Like water the most yielding of elements wearing away the might mountain. And indeed for most of us our resistance to connecting to the deep registers around these questions (not necessarily to the abstract ideas) is indeed a mountain.
Is it too harsh, to point out that, ‘no one escapes alive’? It certainly seems that by the time I go, or with my going, I will lose everyone and everything I care about. Furthermore, everyone I love, and everyone I loath, along with all those to whom I’m indifferent — are all in the same boat. And it’s a vessel that way too often feels, very small and adrift without a map or compass on a vast uncharted, and stormy sea.
So, what does it mean to not oppose a great force when that force is relentless time itself with all the inevitable problems and questions that accompany its passage? In front of that force how will I find a way to retreat and what could it possibly mean to advance? How wonderful to encounter, in the face of that implacable future, a source of meaning that can ground the resolution I need to advance!