Principle 12 Accumulating action – Week 1 – 2022

Principle 12. The Principle of Accumulating Action. First Week:

“Contradictory and unifying acts accumulate within you. If you repeat your acts of internal unity then nothing can detain you.”

Last time: Principles and Platitudes. 

This time: From Tiny Acorns.

Important Note:

It is here amid all the little joys, and daily crap that we can actually create a spiritual work (or ‘psychological work’ if you prefer those terms) work that can be practiced 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. 

Illustration by Rafael Edwards

Week 1:

Since this is our first week devoted to considering this principle we will try to get an overview of its basic structure and implications. 

Our weekly meetings give us an opportunity to compare notes, discoveries, questions, etc. about the principles, and related subjects. Just email for a link if you want to participate  online. If you are unable to join us you might find it worthwhile to find, or create, situations where you can engage others in conversation about these themes.

Keeping  Your Focus Simple:

Everyone has their own way of approaching these principles. Keeping in mind what I’ve said previously about keeping these works very brief I for one will spend some time in this first week focusing on at least one situation where I allowed small failures to accumulate and demoralize me. Then I will, just as briefly, consider at least one situation where I can see that my small efforts added up, or could add up, resulting in my being able to do something larger.

Personal Reflections:

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. 

Internal unity is thinking, feeling, acting in the same direction, it isunitive acts aimed at the well being of others, it is being in agreement with yourself. Contradiction is internal conflict, ignoring yourself or your environment. Our entire proposal can be understood in terms of moving toward unity and away from contradiction. This principle sums it all up.

Repeating your actions forms habits of behaviour that in turn reinforce your future actions. This is true whether these are acts that produce internal unity (i.e. agreement with yourself) or contradiction (internal conflict). In either case repetition produces a mental direction, and forms habitual ways of facing life.

This principle reminds us that it is not a matter of acting according to one principle, or even a few principles in isolation. Making the effort to incorporate the principles as a whole into our daily lives helps us shape a coherent way of approaching life. It’s about giving our actions a direction toward the well being of others and to our own internal unity.

The sustained attempt to apply the principles in this way turns them from catch phrases, or platitudes, into an integral discipline capable of transforming our life into one of growing internal unity, and therefore of growing happiness and liberty.

Sometimes an individual or group builds their entire life out of contradictory acts. This can apparently result in ‘success’ at least in the short term. A more careful observer will note that sooner or later the results will be catastrophic because the foundations of that life (individual or collective) lacks integrity. Many people, seeing only a moment in that whole process think that it is “successful”. Seeing it in process, observing how it evolves (or decays) over time, reveals a very different situation.

A Story:

The following story, translated from Spanish is a variant of a well-known biblical tale. It illustrates the results of accumulating unifying or contradictory actions.

In his vanity a prideful prince decided to build a tower whose heights would reach into the heavens. So he gathered fully one third of the able-bodied men, women, and even children of his kingdom and set them to work. 

The people of the kingdom, with the exception of a few who could be called the wise or the compassionate, were corrupted in the same way as their ruler. In their greed they preyed upon neighbouring kingdoms and were vain about their wealth. 

Over the years the immense undertaking grew. The building of the tower required more and more workers, and resources of all kinds. From the remaining population, that were not labouring day and night on this extraordinary construction, the prince raised a mighty army and sent it out to conquer more lands so that those people might be enslaved to work on the tower and so that their riches should refill his coffers.

And so it went; stone was piled on stone, and effort was accumulated on effort. The tower rose to astounding heights; taking with it all the wealth, effort and suffering. It was like those times that the waters rise to heavens but do not return as rain, those times when only drought descends on to the sad earth.

So the wise people gathered and they asked their spirits: “What unites these people?” And their spirits answered: “Their pride unites them.” Then they asked their spirits: “What divides these people?” And their spirits answered: “Their pride divides them.”

Then the wise ones, carefully calculating the consequences of their actions went among the builders labouring on the tower. And they said to them: “This tower which will be gazed on in awe and submission by all the nations requires its builders be seen in the same way. It is only fitting that the leaders be raised to the heights so all may see the merit they have earned and the lesser ones should struggle below so that they may earn merit and so ascend.

Immediately the people started to push and shove and fight for prominence. With the architects, engineers and other leaders far above the others could not hear their instructions. Soon they were all shouting and since no one could hear above the din all guidance was lost and chaos ensued. Contradictory and misunderstood orders brought rope to where mortar was needed, and mortar to where scaffold was required. Ropes frayed against projecting walls that were meant to be smooth. Baskets, tipped over. Ladders slipped, bricks and mortar were misplaced and soon the tower itself, no longer rising straight as a pillar, began to teeter. The building however continued without rest, until finally with a foundation that no longer anchored it the swaying tower crashed to the ground dragging with it all who had guided the work from the heights.

Then the wise gathered once more. They said: “Let us find some way to make use of all this so at least some benefit should return to our people.” And so the bricks and tools that now lay scattered were gathered and the people worked on new projects: homes were built, aqueducts were extended, and granaries repaired. The people laboured at peace with themselves and in friendship with their neighbours.

Coming Up:

Next week we’ll consider principle twelve in relation to our situation in the present moment.


The Principles  of Valid Action can be useful in developing a coherent life built on two basic internal registers: unity and contradiction.  

Worth Repeating:

Our goal is to weave these general ideas  into a permanent way of facing life. With time and application, the effort to understand and apply the principles will give all my activities a particular tone, mood, and mental direction. 


These notes have been sent to our email list, posted on Facebook and on my website