Principle 12 Accumulating actions – Week 4 – 2022

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

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

Last Time: Memory, and Actions, The Internal and The External

This time: Changing Your Destiny.

This Week:

Since this is the fourth week devoted to considering this principle as is our custom we will focus on the future. We’ll try to understand how this principle applies to things that haven’t happened yet, but which we see or imagine taking shape. And we’ll consider how things might change if we find ways to apply the principle of accumulating action in an appropriate fashion. 

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.

Illustration by Rafael Edwards
 

Another Simple Exercise:

I’ll take a moment to focus on discovering at least one situation where my old habits, and accumulated actions could again lock me into self-defeating, or otherwise unwanted patterns. Then I will consider at least one situation where my previous coherent actions could help me repeat that unitive pattern —  producing a situation where my feelings, thoughts, and actions are all in agreement, and working together. 

All of that is apparently about my internal unity. However, it is interesting to note that when such behaviours are meant to end in others, and to treat others as you wish to be treated, the feeling of internal unity takes on an additional dimension and is accompanied by the certainty that you’d like to repeat such actions. 

Perhaps, that’s why in last week’s quote from Laozi he places this question of “accumulation” in the context of “caring for others and serving heaven”? 

Is it too much to say that this “mental direction”, of acting to maximize coherent actions, might in fact be more important than the specific actions, or even the specific outcomes?

It is easy to put off these mediations for a more suitable moment when I have more time or a more ideal environment, free of distractions or potential disturbances. As I’ve previously mentioned a few times, it’s my experience that these kinds of daily meditations seem to benefit from being very brief. That seems to help them stay as focused, as possible. I mention it again because I’ve found it a useful approach and one that many seem to find counter-intuitive. 

M.C. Escher

Personal Reflections:

Here’s a few thoughts related to this month’s principle. I hope you find them of some use in your own reflections.  

 The Principle of Accumulated Action highlights the consequence of storing up unifying, as opposed to contradictory actions. In the lines below Silo points out some registers that can help us distinguish contradictions from, difficulties, unpleasantness, challenges, etc which can be useful, at least, as incentives to change. After a few brief comments on the registers that characterize contradictory actions he points out something of the nature, or mechanism, of the accumulation itself. 

The following numbered lines are excerpted from chapter IX of Silo’s work “The Internal Landscape” and follow the numeration used there.

12. I believe you will know how to distinguish a difficulty, which is welcome for you can leap over it, from a contradiction, that lonely labyrinth that has no exit.

 13. Every contradictory action that you have done in your life, whatever the circumstances, has the unequivocal flavor of internal violence and betrayal of yourself. Why you found yourself in that situation will not matter, but only how—at that precise moment—you organized your reality, your landscape. Something shattered then, and changed your direction. And this, in turn, predisposed you to a new rupture. In this way, all contradictory actions orient you toward repeating them, just as all unitive actions seek to reemerge later on.

Later in the same chapter he gives some very useful advice about the attitude and kinds of actions required if one wants to “create a different kind of destiny”.

20. You must be very clear about this: You are not at war with yourself. Rather, you must begin treating yourself like an old friend with whom you must now reconcile, for ignorance and life itself have driven you apart.

21. You must begin by making a decision to reconcile with yourself and to understand your previous contradictions. Then you need to make another decision—that you want to overcome these contradictions. Finally, you need to decide to build your life with acts of unity, rejecting those materials that until now have brought so much harm down upon your head.

The next three paragraphs present the key that allows us to advance in our growth and liberation. In these lines he adds to that idea of internal unity by introducing the notion of “valid action” though he does not name it here.

 

24. All these suggestions will be of value if you are prepared to create a new landscape in your internal world. But you will be able to do nothing for yourself if you think only of yourself. If you want to move forward, you will one day have to accept that your mission is to humanize the world around you.

25. If you want to build a new life, free of contradictions, a life that increasingly overcomes suffering, you must be aware of two false arguments. The first holds that “I need to solve my personal problems before I can undertake any constructive action in the world.” The second leads you to declare “I am committed to the world!” while forgetting yourself completely. 

26. You may agree with me or not, but in any case I will affirm that this is the only way forward: If you want to grow, you will help those around you to grow.

The final part of our principle says: “If you repeat your acts of internal unity, nothing can detain you.” 

This quotation is from chapter 59 of the Dao De Jing. It has been translated in many ways. It complements this month’s principle wonderfully. It seems to me to be Laozi’s take on a principle of accumulation. It not only reflects the the same conclusion as this month’s principle, it seems to to so in almost the same words. I believe that it can be very helpful to see the principle through these eyes from a very distant time and place . 

“Caring for others and serving heaven depends on repeated accumulation.

With virtue accumulated all obstacles can be overcome..

Having overcome all obstacles there are no limits.

Knowing the absence of limits, one is fit to rule.

This is like a plant that has deep roots and a firm stalk.

The way of long life and eternal vision.”

Personal Reflections:

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.

Coming Up:

Over the last three weeks we focused on the principle in general, its relation to past and present events. This week we consider it in relation to what we imagine the future to hold. Next week we begin a new cycle of reflection.

Remember:

I can see that repeating certain actions formed habits of behaviour that helped bring me to my present situation. In turn these habits make certain future actions more likely. This is true whether these are acts that produce internal unity (i.e. agreement with myself) or contradiction (internal conflict). In either case repetition facilitates a mental direction, and forms habitual ways of facing life.

Worth Repeating:

Do not let a great joy pass without giving thanks internally. 

Do not let a great sadness pass without calling into your interior for the joy that you have saved there.

Silo_ The Path

Until later…