Principle 1. The Principle of Adaptation. First Week:
“To Go Against the Evolution of Things is to Go Against Oneself”
Last time: Principles and Platitudes
This time: A New Cycle Begins.Thoughts about our way of working. Daily Life as a Spiritual Path. And of course a story!
This week we will focus on the general structure and implications of the principle of adaptation.
Every week our weekly meetings highlights key touchstones to The Path that Silo showed us:
—The Passage of the Force, an experience that can put us in contact with the deepest aspects of ourselves
— The Asking which invites us to meditate deeper on our needs and desires.
— The directness to others that we consider every week in The Ceremony of Well Being
— And of course the work with The Principles.
All Communities of the Message work with the same basic orientation and procedures. The specific ways of working in any Community of the Message, what they emphasize and try to reinforce, is an expression of their particular interpretation and understanding of the Message and the Path. It’s a diversity of points of view that Silo asked us not only to tolerate, but to celebrate.
In our Community we place a great deal of emphasis on very focused and daily meditation and work with the principles as well as on the interchange about all this. This focus arises from the aspiration to transform these principles from isolated ideas, or ideals, into a dynamic, and living meditation.
It’s easy to imagine a kind of near-future psychotherapy that utilizes virtual reality technology to allow its subjects a way of interacting with representations of their internal contents (e.g. https://dzuckerbrot.com/
virtually-a-story/). Imagine the Guided Experiences (http://silo.net/collected_ works/guided_experiences) as interactive immersive movies. A step (or two or three) forward and we might arrive to the kind of technology that translates the subjects own sensations into a VR experience like we encounter in Silo’s novella Day of the Winged Lion. http://www.silo.net/collected_ works/day_winged_lion
What if you didn’t have to wait for such technology to reap the potential benefits? What if you could transform your daily life into that emerald path that unites the “external” and the “internal”, the “sacred” and the “profane”, the “worldly” and the “transcendental”.
Silo’s teaching makes such a thing possible. And the Principles of Valid Action then are not just tactics useful for confronting daily life, but the key to the transformation of reality.
Eyes Wide Open!
Some types of meditation require you to sit down and close your eyes. Some to dive deeply and intensely into your own unfolding life. When you combine the two then things really start to get interesting!
A Simple Exercise:
One of the basic suggestions we will return to often involves a ridiculously simple but effective technique for a very simple kind of meditation, reflection or contemplation. This can be carried out in many ways. Here’s one variant:
Twice a day, before getting out of bed, and before going to sleep, I carry out a brief meditation on the aspect of the principle proposed for that week and how I might apply it during the day. In the night before sleeping I review the day looking for how I applied the principle (or didn’t), and simply noting (not analyzing or criticizing) the moments of greater unity and those of contradiction.
It’s not a 20 minute practice or even a 5 minute one. That’s important. Just a couple of focused, moments. Keeping these reflections brief and centered on concrete examples from my daily life has helped me a lot in this work. The results have been out of all proportion to the simplicity of the exercise.
No big investment of time. No cost. No guru, life-coach or master. No fireworks as Silo used to say. Nonetheless, I suspect I’m not alone in finding that those few (very few) minutes can be life changing. Try it! Talk about big pay offs, and nothing to lose.
Here’s some raw material that I hope you will find useful in your own reflections.
Last week we discussed the need to think about, or even wrestle with, the principles — often, and a lot. For example, how do I know when a tendency is “the evolution of things” and when its just a possibility, an accident, or a fashion? How can I tell when my acceptance of this tendency is just weakness, laziness or simply a mistake on my part, and when it is really the appropriate course of action. Misapplying the principle by going along with something that does not really represent the “evolution of things” can be (at best) counterproductive. For example, if people had accepted pain and illness as inevitable, medical science would not have evolved.
These are important distinctions. It may not be an exaggeration to say that every major human advance has arisen as a rebellion against a supposed ‘inevitability’. And there’s where experiment, a sense of proportion and wisdom come into play.
For the first week of reflection on each principle we supplement our considerations with a story that might help in our understanding of some of its aspects.
Take a look at the following tale, versions of which appear in the folk-stories of various peoples East and West. Versions of this story can be found in Aesop’s Fables as well as in other sources. The one related here is loosely based on the version in the Indian Panchatantra. It tells of a poor turtle (aptly named, Turtleneck, or in that older version Turtleshell). Whatever the name the story always involves the reptile going to extreme lengths to escape from one situation into another. As the old saying has it the poor creature ends up going “from the frying pan into to the fire”.
Turtleneck, the turtle, lived in a beautiful and lush pond where he spent his days burrowed into the muddy bottom or floating about chatting with his good friends the geese who always summered there. Unfortunately for the visiting water birds a great drought had come, as it did every few years, and the pond was drying up. One day they said to their amphibious friend: “the water is disappearing so we must depart. We will return next year if the drought is over to pass the summer with you. If not we will certainly land to have a little chat before we fly on.”
Turtleneck responded: “I understand why you must go. I can easily live here, even if I have to burrow down into the muck of the small pond that will remain, but our needs our very different and it will not be enough water for all of you. However, life here will be very boring without you. I’m coming with.”
The geese answered: “But little wingless friend how can that be? We will be flying far and fast.” “I have a plan,” said the turtle, “two of you should pick up that stick over there and hold it tightly in your beaks. I in turn will bite it and hold it in mine.” They replied: “There are two problems with your plan, hard shelled one. First, leaving here is for us a matter of life and death, while for you it is more a matter of whimsy. Secondly, while we, your friends, find your habit of always needing to comment on everything endearing, in this case, if you forget yourself and start to talk it could precipitate a catastrophe and end your life. Perhaps it is better that you remain until we return since you can easily adapt to the coming changes.”
But Turtleneck insisted and his plan was put into effect and, with great effort, the two geese carried their friend aloft. As they flew low over the nearby village the people ran out to gaze at this miraculous sight. In their astonishment they turned to each other and asked: “what could this be”? “Can you make it out”? “Is that a chariot pulled by birds”? The turtle, remembering the stones that the village children had thrown at her as she lay in her pond wanted to impress the people with her ability to fly. Suddenly, she cried out loudly: “It is I, Turtleneck!”. Of course only the geese heard her words as she plummeted to her death. Some of the villagers who were very fond of turtle soup carried her home for dinner.
This week we begin a new cycle of reflection starting by focusing on this principle in general. Over the next three weeks we will focus on its relation to past, present and what we imagine future events hold in store. Next week we’ll consider what ramifications the application of this principle might have for our present situation.
Whether it’s accepting that you are stuck in a traffic jam, or realizing that the collapse of a civilization is not the end of the world, sometimes only deeply accepting one’s present situation offers a true path forward.
The point isn’t to conform to some external code or set of rules. Rather our focus is on the register that is produced in me when I act. Am I moved towards greater unity, or toward deeper contradiction? Has my action left me feeling more in agreement with myself, or more conflicted, more at war with myself?
General information about, the principles, materials, parks, etc can be found at www.silo.net or www.silosmessage.net
There are currently two Parks of Study and Reflection in North America. These are Red Bluff (www.redbluffpark.org) in California and Hudson Valley (www.hudsonvalleypark.org) 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.
These notes have been posted on Facebook and sent to our email list. You will also find them along with other comments, and reflections on my website: dzuckerbrot.com