Principle 12. The Principle of Accumulating Action. Second Week:
“Contradictory and unifying acts accumulate within you. If you repeat your acts of internal unity then nothing can detain you.”
Last Time: From Tiny Acorns
This time: Words of Wisdom From the Ancient Child
A Truly Radical Proposal:
You Can Transform Daily Life So That Daily Life Can Transform You.
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) 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.
This week we’ll turn to considering how we applied, or could have applied, this idea in the past. Can I notice how even small steps accumulated and formed a direction in my life? For example, can I recognize how developing a new or a different habit could have changed a later outcome? Among other things, our weekly meetings give us an opportunity to compare notes, discoveries, questions, etc. about the principles. 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.
Simple is Good:
Everyone has their own way of approaching these principles. Keeping in mind what I’ve said previously brevity, I for one will spend some time in this second week focusing on at least one situation in the past where I allowed small failures to accumulate and demoralize me. Then I will, just as briefly, consider at least one past situation where I can see that my small efforts added up (for example in learning a skill), resulting in my being able to do something larger.
Here’s a few thoughts related to this month’s principle. I hope you find them of some use in your own reflections. Please consider sharing your ideas with us at the meeting this Wednesday, on our Facebook page or by email.
It’s very easy in these turbulent times for the future to seem dark. That’s not news, nor is the fact that many of us feel we have no way to impact the destructive direction of the events unfolding all around us.
Some of us know the frustration of trying to produce meaningful change even in ourselves.
My small actions — even if they were positive or felt unitive— don’t seem even close to being on the same scale as the these destructive tendencies around me, and at times inside me. Considering all this I find myself returning to the image of a drop of water. That weak, tiny thing doesn’t amount to much in isolation. But, over time many such drops can wear away at even the strongest rock. In this way the relentless drips of water produce what is at first the slightest of grooves but which eventually might become a great canyon.
As that famous verse from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching
(Laozi’s Dao de jing) has it:
Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this,
Yet no one puts it into practice.
Therefore the sage says:
Only those who bear the people’s stain
Are fit to rule them.
Only those who can bear the people’s pain
deserve to be rulers of the universe.
Often straight talk seems like foolishness.
Chapter 8 of the same work has another relevant verses on water:
True good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things.
Yet it does not strive.
It flows in places that humans scorn.
In living dwell close to the land.
In meditation seek the depths.
In dealing with others it is kindness that matters.
In speaking, be true.
In ruling be just.
In business be competent.
In your actions watch the timing.
There is no room for conflict. There is no room for blame.
Well nothing to do with Lao Tzu but for what its worth…
“…The question remains then: “what’s to be done?” On a political level I’ve got no clue. However, personally I think the first step is to end the violence and discrimination in myself, and to work for peace in my world, i.e the concrete world I inhabit, that of my friends, family, co-workers, etc. That includes speaking up against intolerance, and hate but mostly means dealing with my own fears and seeing how they distort my vision, ideas and behaviour. I believe it’s necessary to cultivate peace in ourselves, and the world around us. Just as it is necessary to find the vital force to embrace life, and the joy that comes with having an open future. From my perspective that is not an alternative to, or the result of not finding, a political answer — rather it is the only real way forward”.
Among the final remarks in the chapter of valid action (Inner Look XIII) Silo says:
You will be like a force of Nature when it finds no resistance in its path. 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.
The Principles are the framework for a dynamic meditation, and the rudiments of a practice that you can explore in every moment of your life.
Next week we’ll consider principle twelve in relation to our situation in the present moment.
These notes have been sent to our email list, posted on Facebook and on my website www.dzuckerbrot.com