Take a Moment and Consider this Truly Radical Proposal
It is here amid all the little joys and daily crap that we can actually create a practice that can be applied at every moment and in every circumstance. This is a dynamic meditation, requiring neither particular postures, nor special conditions. With time and application these efforts give all my activities a particular tone, mood, and mental direction.
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Last time: Even Other Species.
This time: My beliefs, your beliefs.
And a couple of stories, a poem, and a song.
Next Wednesday (November 2nd ) falls in the 11th month of the year. We will use that occasion to discuss this first week of considerations and our meditations about the 11th principle of valid action.
Principle 11. The Principle of Negation of Opposites. First Week:
“It does not matter in what faction events have placed you what matters is for you to understand that you have not chosen any faction.”
This week we begin our investigation of a new principle by considering its overall structure and general implications.
What follows are my reflections. I make no greater claim for them but offer them in the spirit of exchange and dialogue.
I hope you find these of some use in your own meditations. I find sharing my thoughts on these themes useful because it forces me to give them some order, but of course I’m also very happy to think this sharing might help to clarify, inspire — or infuriate others — even that last can be useful.
Silo explained that this principle is not suggesting that you abandon your ideas, ideals, religion culture, politics, etc. In fact, it starts by acknowledging that we all belong to particular groups. The points of view, and values of those factions we identify with of course seem correct to us, if not inevitable, this seems to imply that we are opposed, in greater or lesser measure, to other factions with other values and perspectives.
This principle points out that our points of view, approaches, religions, political perspectives and so on are given to us by our circumstances. They have little do with our choices and are more about educational, environmental, and economic factors etc. Even if I believe that I choose my beliefs still I understand that I was born in a particular time and place, in particular conditions, and that means that I choose within the possibilities that I’m presented with – even when I choose in reaction against particular values or beliefs.
I think it is critical to note that while the principle doesn’t ask us to abandon anything it does ask us to shift our point of view, at least for a moment, and consider that perhaps what is important is not my position, opinion or faction, but my understanding that I haven’t chosen any of it. Simply trying to apply this principle encourages an attitude that is an antidote to fanaticism, and self-righteousness (of course not that any of us have those tendencies, these are things that other people suffer from!). At the same time the application of this principle makes it easier to understand other people’s beliefs and positions. It’s not hard to see who this could contribute to mental and emotional flexibility, as well as helping create bridges of mutual understanding between people – even where their ideas and beliefs are apparently in conflict.
This principle asks us to recognize a lack of freedom in situations where we did not, or do, not have real choice. However, it also places us in front of a different dimension of freedom; a freedom to affirm our commonality with others in situations that they also did not choose – and even when their positions apparently oppose mine. At first, and perhaps even second, glance it may seem to be a strange position. Trying to apply it will confirm that it’s a powerfully liberating one as well.
An illustrative tale:
Here’s a couple of old tales that you will likely have heard but which puts us in mind of this unusual principle.
The enemies of Jesus tried to trap him by getting him to choose between positions where either choice would get him in serious trouble. They approached him and said: “Master, we know you are a truthful man and one whom with truth teaches the path of God. You who have no preference for this man or that and bow before none, tell us therefore what you think. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or should it be for the Temple of the Lord?”
And Jesus replied: “Why do you try me you hypocrites? Show me the coin of tribute.” So they handed him a dinar and he held it up and asked: “Whose profile is upon this coin?” They told him: “It is the figure of Caesar.” And he replied: “Then I say to you render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” Hearing this they were ashamed and went their way.
Another tale worth considering in the context of this principle is the famous story of the blind people and the elephant. Here’s a version of that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Don’t miss the 19th century poetic version by John Godfrey Saxe
referenced in that article. Or this rendition of that tale by Nathalie Merchant https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Meditation isn’t Only for When You Close Your Eyes.
For as long as we just leave the principles as words on a paper we overlook the way to this wonderful spiritual path. That path that lays closer at hand than we might imagine.
One thing that helps me is to try to make sure that every morning before I get caught up in my daily life I take a moment or two (less than two minutes) to reflect on the current principle and its application to the day ahead. I’ve found that this almost ludicrously simple work ends up being a powerful and life changing tool.
This week we looked at the general form and implications of principle 11 “the negation of opposites”. Next week, we will reflect on this principle in relation to the past.
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
Until Next Time …