When circumstances begin to crumble around you, look to these two things for consolation and strength: your Secret Center, or Ruling Principle, and Universal Nature. Keeping close to these twin forces can preserve the mind from pressures of anxiety and fear. Looking to no one outside of your own inner soul for comfort and living in accord with the dictates of nature, the greatest of calamities may befall you, but you will maintain your seat, your tranquil mind, and observe the natural world within and without you with a blend of dispassion (apatheia) and organic affection.
Circumstances and events, both creative and destructive, are the course of nature; it is up to our Secret Center and Ruling Principle to ascribe judgement and opinion on the happening. In other words, we have the ability to descend into our Center and choose whether or not to panic, strongly react, or become overly passionate about any given experience. If we want to maintain inner stability, we must look to nature to see the most enlightened way to respond to a threat. When a deer is startled, for instance, it responds with immediacy and then, with the same immediacy, it returns to grazing in the meadow as if nothing happened.
We should live, then, as if today could be our last; we should live, then, as if we will persist for another 100 years. Clearly aware that each day we are one step closer to our finality, we must remember that life, living, is a verb. What might we DO if we thought this was our final hour? By the same token, how are we making choices for good or for ill which could benefit us and our loved ones should we persevere for a century? The very memory of our names will one day be erased; what actions of kindness, beneficence, courage, and virtue will follow us immediately, and what might carry on after us? How many of us joyfully plant a tree that we know another will benefit of the shade therefrom?
One method of living completely with what IS is by transforming the senses. All experience is received and colored by our senses. If you dwell close to your Secret Center you will notice the subtle transition and transmutation of your vision, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting into more purified versions of themselves. These elevated senses can then perceive the logoi, or inner essences and principles within and underlying all of nature and the entire world of “things.” Suddenly, the simplest of pleasures, such as the fresh buds on a dogwood tree, reveals life’s basic truths and philosophy’s highest aspirations.
We know, deep down, that in fact, we ARE nature, yet we all live as if our organizations, our systems, our treasured institutions define who we are at the core. Listen to your Ruling Principle which reminds us, not only of the transience of our very lives, but the absolute effervescence of our systems which can be observed in the same way as instant evolution can be observed in microbiology all the way up to experiments with fruit flies. It isn’t simply that these systems~political, educational, labor-related, or otherwise~do not define us, it is that we are wiggly, organic creatures that cannot and should not be boxed in by anything. But when the systems suddenly breakdown beyond our control, what is revealed is our dependence and attachment to them. All of the major spiritual traditions teach us to drop these attachments, but how do we deal with these systems disappearing before us before we elected to drop them internally? Our Secret Center will be tried by fire when our dependence on things outside of us becomes apparent. It is a test of faith in our innate capacity for magnanimity. What core values reside in our heart? There is only one path to understanding that portion of us which is impenetrable: it is the way of silence. We absolutely MUST silence our chattering minds, our running narrative of ourselves, and look to the willow tree for guidance as it bends to the “ten thousand things” rather than breaking in its rigidity.