Principle 1 Adaptation Week 4 – 2023

Principle 1. The Principle of Adaptation. Fourth  Week:
“To Go Against the Evolution of Things is to Go Against Oneself”
Last time: Is it sunrise or sunset?
This time: The weight of the future, and a link to a short film.
Illustration by Rafael Edwards

Last week I mentioned an exercise of renaming and rephrasing a principle. Those who read Spanish you might want to check out Mani’s app for more along this line:

https://humanismus.wixsite.com/principios/post/cuestionario-adaptaci%C3%B3n

A Great Force or Evolution

I mentioned before how, when I was playing around with coming up with other names for this principle, I found myself drawing relationships between the first three principles. Later I got stuck on the difference, if any, between this principle (Adaptation) and principle 3 (Timely Action). Clearly from one point of view evolution is a case of a great force. But It took me some time to focus on the idea of inevitability as the key difference between the two. 

It seems that the great forces principle 3 addresses are things I can get away from, avoid, or out wait. However, evolution is not like that. It involves the system as a whole and is not just one more situational factor inside that ambit. That answer proved very fertile for my further meditations. I’d be interested to know if that proves true for you also.

Inevitability is something central to the following quotations most of these I found while exploring Mani’s postings about this principle. The first one is a sort of prayer often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and 12 Step Programs. It’s actually taken from the US theologian Rienhold Neibur — though of course it has much earlier antecedents. Neither its familiarity, nor its apparent source should stop us from taking another look at it. Here’s the first few lines of his “Serenity Prayer”:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference. 

The US analytic philosopher W.W. Bartely put it more playfully:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

While the 11th-century Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol put it this way:

And they said: At the head of all understanding – is distinguishing between what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.

The 8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar, mystic and monk Śāntideva, wrote in his famous text The Bodhicharyavatara (The Way of the Bodhisattva): 

If there’s a remedy when trouble strikes,
What reason is there for dejection?
And if there is no remedy
What use is there for dejection?

And finally, here’s something along the same line from Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’:

When we are no longer able to change a situation-we are challenged to change ourselves.

This Week:

Over the previous three weeks we focused on the general structure, and implications of the principle, we also investigated how this principle played out (or didn’t) in our past, as well as in the present. This week we turn to considering how we might apply it to what hasn’t yet happened, to what one believes will happen in the future. 

What are the problems, pressures, challenges, or difficulties that I think I will have to face? How might this principle apply? What light does it shed on these circumstances? How might it change things and so on? Equally I might consider what the consequences might be of misapplying or ignoring it. 

Finally, I ask myself: What suggestions would I give to someone interested in applying this principle to their future situations?

 

At our next meeting we can discuss our discoveries about, and our difficulties with this week’s reflections.

The weight of the future:

Looking to the past for explanations of the present seems to be a reasonable approach. It certainly is a common one; whether it is the therapist trying help me find the roots of my current problems in my childhood, or the astronomer explaining the shape of the universe around us as the consequence of the big bang. Nothing seems more natural than to understand the circumstances around us (or what we are) from what has happened previously. 

Silo however, gave priority to the future, pointing out that what we believe will happen shapes us as much, or even more than what already occurred. Take a person with a difficult past who believes that tomorrow will be great, compare them with a person whose life has been wonderful but who believes tomorrow is a disaster waiting to happen. Consider all the changes that could occur in someone who believes they are about to lose their livelihood – how they suffer even though the event hasn’t occurred. Compare that to the situation of a person who believes that they are about to get a great, high-paying job. Obviously, their internal states are very different. In the second case their suffering recedes, their preoccupations vanish, they feel stronger and confident.  

However, in both cases nothing has really happened, the only thing that has changed is an image of the future – a future that may turn out very differently than imagined. No doubt what has happened in the past influences the present situation – that’s widely understood but – in these examples, what is producing changes in the present is to be found in the future. It is something that has not happened, and in fact, may never happen.

Back to our principle: 

This week rather than share more ramblings and reflections I am including a video courtesy of Rafael Edwards (who also did the illustration at the top of this page). I hope you enjoy it and find it as interesting as I did. 

If you speak Spanish, you’ll find that the song that accompanies the silent drama supplies a narrative. I think that those who don’t speak Spanish will have no problem following the story. The opening title is simply this month’s principle in Spanish.

https://youtu.be/O3Bl3FOySzY?list=UUQ0q_lNxhNVZN-Z7S6XWNwg

Coming Up:

Next week we’ll turn to Principle 2 — Action and Reaction

Remember:

The point isn’t to conform to some external code, or set of rules (even if I call these principles of valid action). Rather, our focus is on the register that is produced in me when I act. Am I moved towards greater unity, or toward contradiction? Has my action left me feeling more in agreement with myself, or more conflicted, more at war with myself?

Worth Repeating:

What suggestions would I give to someone interested in applying this principle to their future situations?

Want More:

Join us at our weekly meeting. Every Wednesday at 6:30 PM ET. 

Ask me for a Zoom link, or find it on our Facebook Page 

Note:

These notes have been posted on Facebook (Community of Silo’s Message Toronto Annex) and sent to our email list. You will also find them along with other comments, and reflections on my website: dzuckerbrot.com

 

Until next time…