Principle 9 Liberty 4 – 2021

 “When You Harm Others You Remain Enchained, But If You Do Not Harm Anyone You May Freely Do Whatever You Want”.

Principle of Valid Action 9. The Principle of Liberty. Week 4
Last time: A Prisoner of Violence
This time: The Future and What is it that I Want?
 
This Week:
In previous weeks we have looked at the structure of the principle, and how it was, or could have been applied in the past, and the present.  This week we’ll focus on how we might apply this principle in the future. 

But what does it mean to harm? And what does it mean to be enchained? And where’s the future anyway? And shouldn’t we all just live in the present?

Personal Reflections:
What follows are my reflections. I make no greater claim for them but offer them in the spirit of exchange and dialogue.  

 

 Thinking about how I might apply this principle to what I imagine the future holds always gets me thinking about the special importance Silo gives to the future in general. That’s quite different than how we usually think about the times of consciousness. Normally we privilege the past. 
For example to understand our place in the universe we consider how we got here (the Big Bang, special creation, etc). When we try to understand ourselves we almost invariably look to the past and the events that have shaped me. When we look at the ancients we often find a great emphasis on the past and how much better things were back then. We might use as an example, the biblical story of Adam, Eve and the fall from Eden. It’s a story which places paradise in the past and explains all our woes by an action that took place back in that distant time.
 
Many of you are familiar with the phrase “Kali Yuga”, which refers to the Hindu notion of 4 ages (the Yugas) the first and most blessed (of course) was the Satya or Krita. Everything was good, there was no famine or disease, all people were saintly, devout and refined. This was followed the Treta Yuga and already things were getting worse. People and the Earth were not as perfect as they’d been. By the time of the Dvapara Yuga everything was, as you could have guessed, pretty screwed up. Of course we are living in the Kali Yuga which is a total shithole, the age of discord and degeneration. People are corrupt and barely human compared to what they were previously.
 
We find something similar among the ancient Greeks who their “history” into a series of ages. Way, way back in some long, lost, past there was the Golden Age, a time of peace, and prosperity. But of course, humanity began to lose its way and, according to this scheme inevitably falls into a Silver age, then a Bronze, ending in the present Iron, the most debased, age. Or something like that.
 
In the contemporary world a similar idea is found in both “high” and “low” culture. For example, not only ancient Greeks, but contemporary comic book collectors as well, talk about the Golden (1930s to 1950s) and Silver (mid-50s to 70s) ages of comics. Sci fi aficionados refer to the Golden age of science fiction (late 1930s to mid-40s), etc. And what about all those with short memories who look back to the fifties as a Golden Age for right thinking folks.
 
But as Silo pointed out while the past (or our interpretation of the past) certainly shapes us. what is decisive is the image we have of the future.
 
Forgive me if you’ve heard me use this example before, but imagine someone whose life today is not going so well, however our friend overhears a conversation that reveals that they are getting a big promotion and of course a raise to go with it. Though none of that has happened the (imagined) future changes how they feel and act today. But what if the conversation they heard revealed that they were going to be fired? Their experience of the present moment would change at least as drastically, but in a very different direction.
Their image of the future changes everything – despite them being the same person, in the identical present situation.
 
My father was a holocaust survivor who lived through WWII as a slave in various concentration camps, places devised to destroy, not just bodies, but the human spirit. I asked him once if there was something that allowed him to live through that hell and remain a kind and optimistic human being.
He said that one thing shared by those who survived is that they could imagine a future very different from their present reality.
 
This observation fits with the conclusions of Viktor Frankl a psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor who went on to found Logotherapy. He is perhaps best known for his book Man’s Search for Meaning.
The future is this way!
So if I don’t harm anyone, and I’m free to do whatever I want the question remains; what is it that I truly want? What will I choose.
 
II. Reality
1.What is it that you want? If you answer that it is love or security that is most important, then you are speaking of moods—of things that you cannot see.
2.If you reply that it is money, power, social recognition, a just cause, God, or eternity that is most important, then you are speaking of something that you see or you imagine.
3.We will be in agreement when you say, “I choose this just cause because I reject suffering! I want this because it brings me tranquillity, and I reject that because it disturbs me or makes me violent.” 
4.Is your mood, then, at the center of all aspiration, all intention, all affirmation, and all denial? You might reply that whether you are sad or joyful, a number remains the same, and that the sun would be the sun even if human beings did not exist. 
5.I will tell you that the same number differs depending on whether it is something that you have to give or to receive, and that the sun fills greater space within the human being than in the heavens.
6.The radiance of a spark or of a star dances for your eye. And though there is no light without the eye, on other eyes this radiance would fall with different effect.
7.Therefore let your heart affirm, “I love this radiance I see!” But may it never say, “Neither sun, nor spark, nor star have anything to do with me.”
8.Of what reality do you speak to fish or reptile; to gigantic animal, tiny insect, or bird; to a child or an old person; to one who sleeps or one who keeps watch in cold calculation or feverish terror?
9.I say that the echo of the real murmurs or resounds according to the ear that hears, and that for other ears what you call “reality” would play a different song. 
10.Therefore let your heart affirm, “I love the reality that I build!”
Silo_ The Internal Landscape
 
In any case these are some of my thoughts on this principle. I look forward to seeing you at our meeting on Wednesday or just hearing about your reflections.
 
Remember:
Sometimes meditation requires you sit down and close your eyes — but that’s less than half the story. 
Meditation in Daily Life/Daily Life as Meditation
The Principles of Valid Action are elements that can act as the basis for a kind of dynamic meditation. With time and application these efforts will give all my activities a particular tone, mood, and mental direction.  Our goal is to weave these general ideas together into a permanent way of approaching life.
 
Worth Repeating:
 The question remains; what is it that I truly want?
 
Coming up:
Next week we’ll turn to principle 10  “The Principle of Solidarity” it says: “When You Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You, You Liberate Yourself.”
Note
These notes have been posted on our Facebook page (Community of Silo’s Message Toronto Annex), sent to our email list, and are also on my webpage at  www.dzuckerbrot.com
 
We’d all love to hear your comments, thoughts, considerations, artwork, etc about any of this.
 

Want More:
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