A Matter of Principle

Because we are committed to having spiritual awakenings and to ‘practicing these principles in all our affairs’, I offer a fragment on the nature of principles.   The more clearly we see how things work essentially, the more powerfully we can cooperate with the powers that give birth to our wills and our lives.

In the world of spirit, everything is connected to its opposite.

In Being, everything is connected to its opposite.

In Essence, everything is connected to its opposite.

In Existence, all the opposites seem to come apart.

This is important to state because in existence it appears that opposites can be dealt with separately.    I call this—looking for a one-ended stick.  It is as if we became enamored by the positive pole of a stick magnet and didn’t notice that we felt an equal and opposite repulsion towards the negative.  We might break the positive end off—thinking to liberate it and ourselves from everything unwanted.  We are nonplussed to find a new negative has joined us and we totally fail to notice the old negative end has been complemented by a new positive.  We think we can have the long end of the stick without the short end being attached.  Likewise, we are deathly afraid of getting the short end of the stick with no blessings included.

Spirit doesn’t work that way. Being doesn’t work that way.  Words don’t work that way.  Language doesn’t work that way.  Not even sticks work that way.

It is not immediately obvious that fat and thin are rigorously united.  We think we can focus on getting thin without paying attention to the nature of being fat.  We think we can focus on being successful while ignoring anything related to failure.

This is why I keep quoting Nietzsche’s statement that, “Health is the amount of disease we can transform.”  The opposites are always interacting.

In spiritual kindergarten we learn to unite the opposites.  We gain sobriety by honoring its connection to drunkenness.  We gain power by accepting powerlessness.

In the realm of spirit, before opposition occurs, desire and aversion complement each other, attraction and repulsion dwell together, love and hate are at one.  Atonement is the way things are before they are separated by existence.  In existence this essential unity comes apart or ceases to appear.

It is so collectively obvious that pleasure is infinitely preferable to pain that we can hardly even begin to help each other to a larger, more fruitful perspective. How will we learn to touch the stone (“pain is touchstone of all spiritual growth”) if all our lessons teach us to avoid it?

A huge part of this insanity is perpetrated by the fact that we are not trained to examine our principles.  We may not even know that we have principles; but it is the job of our principles to make sure we prefer some things to others.

The word principle is made up of two roots 1. Prince (which means first—like the prince is the first son) and 2. Cept (which means to seize hold of—as in fore-cept or per-cept.)  Aprin-cept tells us what to seize before what.  So the pleasure prin-cept tells us to seize pleasure before pain.

Who doesn’t prefer feeling good to feeling pain, or being right to being wrong?  Or being smart to being stupid?  These things are so familiar to us that it is very difficult to get our attention on them.

We will continue to examine this play of opposites but for the moment it would be fruitful to develop the habit of noticing what is connected to what and what are our principles.

In the world of spirit everything is connected to its opposite.

Originally Posted February 22, 2013