When trying to become a more True, Powerful, or Free person in any domain we are greatly aided by seeking out and aligning with Principles.
By going directly for underlying principles, we are getting the purest and most fundamental form of the thing to be attained.
This saves us an immense amount of time and effort because we are no longer attempting to attain an amorphous idea.
The typical method of change is to chase a vague image of what that change is, groping and grasping in what we think is the right direction.
By identifying the underlying principles, we can figure out exactly what we need to embody and train in order to become what we intend.
The more precise we are in learning and adhering to the principle the less energy we waste chasing fantasies. The more efficiently we move toward Truth, Power, and Freedom (or a perfect game of golf).
- If you want to be a ‘good person’, isolate the qualities or principles involved.
Rather than trying to be a ‘good person’, find what it is that makes someone good.
Figure out exactly what these qualities are and surrender your will to them. These may be things such as honesty, compassion, authenticity, love, kindness, thoughtfulness, etc.
- If you want to be a great meditator, figure out what meditation is, and what a great meditator experiences.
What does the great meditator do that you don’t do?You may find principles such as concentration, clarity, equanimity, and determination to be central to ‘great meditation’
- If you want to be a happy person, figure out what a happy person is composed of.
You may find underlying principles such as Self-mastery, emotional freedom, positive outlook, fulfillment, discipline, love, etc.
- If you want to be a professional golfer you may need to align with principles such as balance, relaxation, skeletal alignment, mind control, centeredness, and acute feeling sense.
All relative pursuits are like this. By defining the fundamental principles and working to align with them you are on the fast track towards mastery.
This way of learning makes the process more real. It grounds you in the truth of the event and gives you actionable standards.
Stop setting goals that are undefined. Stop chasing fantasies. Start learning and aligning with the actual way of things.
The more you operate on behalf of principles, the more you will see the effectiveness of this methods. You will begin to see the underlying principles within every event. Your understanding and skill will improve in ways subtle and gross.
How to discern and adhere to principles
You must actively seek out the experience of the principles involved in whatever you are trying to become. Do this by questioning the event and intending to become conscious of that which is true about it.
Intend to experience the Truth. Feel, see, and hear whatever is true of the event or activity.
What is a great golfer? What does it feel like to be a great golfer? What are the principles that tiger woods always adheres to?
Do research into the endeavor or pursuit of interest. Read books and articles, watch videos, and talk to people. Create a map of the territory. Make distinctions using information from others.
Allow this to accelerate your own direct insight by pushing you to look in new directions.
Apply the distinctions you make to your own thought and action. When you learn a principle, try it out.
Without practice the principles remain conceptual and for the most part, useless. If the golfer know that relaxation is essential to a perfect swing, but does not relax, he is missing the power of the principle.
Have a clear goal
If your goal is undefined, your seeking will not take you far.
Set a goal and allow that to direct your activities. “I will be able to hold unbroken concentration on my object of meditation for 10 minutes”
Seriously intend to discern the component principles of any given skill, field, technique, etc. Change your method of learning from vague movements to precise intentional activities. Learn the way and then hammer away at what you’ve learned.
Here are some examples of these principles. They are what I’ve found (through research, contemplation and practice) to be the basic principles that produce effectiveness in several different fields. Invest time in the discovery of principles in your field of interest.
Meditation- (from Shinzen Young)
- Concentration– The ability to stay focused on an intended object for as long as you want
- Clarity- The ability to see when and how things arise and pass away precisely
- Equanimity- The ability to be ok with all experiences
Body movement (from Peter Ralston)
- Calm– The absence of mentation
- Relax- The absence of physical tension
- Center- Movement is directed from the low belly
- Ground– Attention and feeling are lower, gravity and ground are in awareness\
- Feel the whole– The entire body is in awareness
- Listening– Actually hear and comprehend the speakers message as they do
- Honesty– Say only the truth, express what you actually experience
- Authenticity- Inflect the message as is feels to you, come from your experience
- Non-manipulation– Seek only to express your perspective, not to change theirs
- Letting go- Of perspectives, identities, and states
- Questioning– Asking, what is this?
- Allowing- Being ok with whatever may be regardless of implication or impact
- Open mindedness- Holding space for all possibilities
- Love- ….
- Acceptance- Be ok with yourself regardless of quality
- Courage- Be willing to advance regardless of quality
- Not knowing- Create space for new knowledge by not knowing
- Downloading– Be a downloader of knowledge
- Integration- Allow new perspectives to dance with the ones you currently have
Making it real
As long as the these “principles” (the word principles can be exchanged for the word rule, parameter, requirement, component, skill, knowledge- depending on the context) are mere abstractions, they are useless.
In order to derive benefit from the principles you must apply them, try to experience them in action, and make them part of your self structure.
I do this by writing them down, thinking about them, and explicitly training them.
Try writing the 3 principles on a piece of paper that if implemented would have a radical impact on your level of skill or quality of life.
Some of my favorite life principles are:
- Unconditional Happiness
Hurry up! You are going to die and there’s a lot of good stuff out there!