Over the last two weeks we considered the principle in general terms, as well as seeing how it related to past situations. This week we turn to the present situations in which we find ourselves.
Behind, or perhaps more accurately “copresent” with this effort we are always trying to amplify our vision of how we can turn the principles into a dynamic and permanent meditation. That is to say, into a practice applicable at every moment of our lives. In that way we go on shaping a style of, or way of, engaging with life.
General Considerations and Personal Reflections:
Here are some personal reflections. I offer them in the spirit of dialogue and exchange, and look forward to hearing your thoughts about, and experiences with, this principle.
I found myself wondering about the phrases “Day and Night” and “Summer and Winter”. How literal are they meant to be? How metaphorical? A metaphor for what? For all opposites? How are they supposed to be “well” or if you prefer “fine”, “okay”, or “alright”? What does it mean for them to be well anyway?
In a previous meeting an interesting question was raised: “when it says that if these things are well with me I will have surpassed the contradictions — what are these contradictions I will have surpassed?” And of course that leads to an even more fundamental question: what is a contradiction?
The first thing that came to mind as I mulled that over was this quote from chapter 13 of the Inner Look: “Learn to distinguish a difficulty, a problem, an obstacle, from a contradiction. While those may move you or spur you on, contradiction traps you in a closed circle with no way out.”
I understand that contradiction traps me because it is an internal disagreement — me being at war with myself — and so I am left stuck between choices or possibilities. Finding a way out of my state of contradiction, a way to be in agreement with myself seems the most pressing task.
The book, The Inner Look, is the first part of a trilogy published under the title, Humanize the Earth. The second book of that trilogy is the Internal Landscape. Here are a few thoughts about contradiction and coherence from that text:
Chapter IX. Contradiction and Unity
“1. Contradiction inverts life. The inversion of the growing stream of life is experienced as suffering. Thus, suffering is the signal that warns us of the need to change the direction of the opposing forces.
12. I believe you will know how to distinguish a difficulty, which is welcome for you can leap over it, from a contradiction, that lonely labyrinth that has no exit.
13. Every contradictory action that you have done in your life, whatever the circumstances, has the unequivocal flavor of internal violence and betrayal of yourself. Why you found yourself in that situation will not matter, but only how—at that precise moment—you organized your reality, your landscape. Something shattered then, and changed your direction. And this, in turn, predisposed you to a new rupture. In this way, all contradictory actions orient you toward repeating them, just as all unitive actions seek to reemerge later on.
14. In daily actions difficulties are overcome, small objectives are achieved, little failures reaped. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, these acts accompany daily life like scaffolding accompanies a great building; it is not the structure itself, but it is necessary if it is to be built. It does not matter what material this scaffolding is made of, as long as it is suitable for its purpose.
15. As for the building itself, where you put defective material, the defect will grow; where you put solid material, you increase the structure’s solidity.
16. The essential construction of your life is built of contradictory or unifying actions. You must make no mistake at the moment you find yourself faced with your actions, for if you do you will jeopardize your future and invert the stream of your life—and how then will you end your suffering?
17. But it happens that at this very moment your contradictory actions are already many. And if everything from the foundation up is false, what can be done? Would you pull your whole life apart to begin anew? Let me tell you that I do not believe that everything you have built is false, and you should abandon any such drastic thoughts. They will only bring you greater misfortune than is already yours today.
18. A new life is not based upon destroying previous “sins” but upon recognizing them, so that from now on it will be clear how ill-advised are these mistakes.
19. A life begins when unifying actions start to multiply, so that by their virtue they compensate and finally favorably overbalance the previous relationship of forces.
20. You must be very clear about this: You are not at war with yourself. Rather, you must begin treating yourself like an old friend with whom you must now reconcile, for ignorance and life itself have driven you apart.
21. You must begin by making a decision to reconcile with yourself and to understand your previous contradictions. Then you need to make another decision—that you want to overcome these contradictions. Finally, you need to decide to build your life with acts of unity, rejecting those materials that until now have brought so much harm down upon your head.
25. If you want to build a new life, free of contradictions, a life that increasingly overcomes suffering, you must be aware of two false arguments. The first holds that “I need to solve my personal problems before I can undertake any constructive action in the world.” The second leads you to declare “I am committed to the world!” while forgetting yourself completely.
26. You may agree with me or not, but in any case I will affirm that this is the only way forward: If you want to grow, you will help those around you to grow.