Your Better Self > Primal Injunctions > Review


The Story So Far

Bodhidharma famously noted:Closed All know the Way but few actually walk it.

L Primal Injunction Core Expression Oscillating
Oscillating Inquiry Egotistic Repudiation How it
Goes Wrong
R"L7 See Unity Recognize everything connects. Get a grip. Discover unity amidst diversity. Egocentric splitting with paranoid distortions of reality. Avoidance of conflict, or denial of difference.
R"L6 Heed What's Right Perceive and value what is right. Pay attention. Invent your duty. Do whatever you can get away with.
Moralizing and imposing, or following orders.
R"L5 Do Your Best Put your heart into the task. Get a grip. Discover a suitable challenge. Dehumanization of work, deterioration of the social milieu. Becoming mediocre. Being lazy.
R"L4 Care About Others Relate to others whoever they are. Pay attention. Invent an appropriate response. Rudeness or indifference based on self-absorption or dissociation. Intruding; interfering.
Projecting personal needs.
R"L3 Become Aware See beyond appearances. Get a grip Discover what you need to know. Gullibility, recklessness, mindlessness. Fishing without a specific focus. Falling into decision traps.
R"L2 Hold Ideals Sustain conceptions
of goodness.
Pay attention Invent your personal version. Mediocrity, expedience, devitalization. Do-goodism, PC.
Confusing ideals with ideology.
R"L1 Get Enjoyment Live positively. Get a grip
Discover what gratifies you. Misery or boredom. Pessimism. Over-indulging. Preferring excitement.


All the Injunctions are, at least superficially, observable. However, even judging something as obvious as whether a person is getting enjoyment may be difficult. Deceptive or fraudulent self-presentation is common. It is so common, and so necessary, that we can even deceive ourselves.

As a result, it can be hard to know whether you, yourself, are adhering to one of the Injunctions; and it can be difficult to be sure about someone else. Over time, you should be able to get the measure of another person, and if you reflect and welcome feedback about your own behaviour, you should learn about yourself too.

ClosedSee Unity—R"L7

This Injunction provides a continuous restraint on egocentricity. An emphasis on unity, integration and wholeness has numerous benefits: it sharpens observation of differences, fosters acceptance despite differences, and enables concern for the system as a whole.

Recognizing that everything connects is not completely natural for many. It demands that you get a grip on things, and actively discover unity amidst diversity.

There is a perversion when the Injunction is used to avoid conflict, suppress dissent and deny differences. At the extreme, where the injunction is ignored or repudiated, there is a paranoid distortion of reality which tends to release hostility and harm.

ClosedHeed What's right—R"L6

This Injunction requires that you actively perceive, reflect and value what you conclude is right. It therefore provides for voluntary restraint in both everyday social situations, and also where obligations are conflicting or unclear or are being ignored by others.

It requires you to pay attention to yourself and your situation and then consider appropriate responses. This may permit moral certainty even when this seems logically impossible due to chaos or complexity. At the very least, it forces you to assess the conventionalist pressure to do what everybody else does.

There is a perversion when the Injunction is used to moralize and impose on others (over-valuation of self), or if an appeal is made to «following orders» (denial of self). Repudiation shows up as an attitude of doing whatever you can get away with.

ClosedDo Your Best—R"L5

This Injunction requires that you put your heart into your tasks. That means taking pains and being dedicated in your endeavours, irrespective of your personal agenda.

While being creative and losing yourself in your work is enjoyable, not all tasks fit this mould. Because you are dependent on circumstances, you have to get a grip on the situation and discover what is worthwhile. Even under ideal circumstances, a large element in doing your best involves accepting what is routine and handling work for which you are not necessarily most suited.

There is a perversion when the Injunction is used while disconnected from the context or any larger purpose. Prevention or suppression of creativity by mechanizing or dehumanizing work is profoundly harmful.

ClosedCare About Others—R"L4

This Injunction requires that you actually relate, at least in some minimal fashion, to everyone that you interact with. This means exhibiting politeness, cooperativeness, consideration and more (as appropriate) in any of your interactions.

What you say or do will vary with the situation and the quality of your relationship, but you must pay attention and invent a response that is fitting. This means putting your own needs into second place. It is necessary to master feelings of superiority or entitlement, and fears of enmeshment or rejection.

There is a perversion when the Injunction is used to intrude or interfere with others. The most extreme case is a persistent projection of personal needs on to another, so as to use them for personal gratification. Repudiation is about treating others instrumentally and indifferently. It often leads to rudeness and is based in narcissistic states like self-absorption, disconnection or dissociation.

ClosedBecome Aware—R"L3

This Injunction requires that you see beyond appearances. While it is impossible to take everything into account, it helps you restrain impulsive responses, be more attentive and avoid decision-traps like over-confidence, anchoring, recency bias &c. Often it enables you to stop blinding yourself.

You have to get a grip on your situation in order to discover what you need to know. You must get real and refuse to accept superficial appearances as sufficient. In practice, this entails direct questions, investigating and being willing to learn.

There is a perversion when the Injunction is used for fishing about without any specific focus or goal. Repudiation leads to gullibility, recklessness or mindlessness and either acting stupidly on your own behalf or negligently in relation to others.

ClosedHold Ideals—R"L2

This Injunction requires that you sustain chosen values and be willing and able to articulate them, at least to yourself. Values that you hold will automatically guide your approach to discussions and to those activities that will be fulfilling for you.

Ownership of conceptions of goodness is not easy or automatic. You must invent your personal version of ideals by paying attention to your society, yourself and your potential for participation.

There is a perversion when the Injunction is used to press an ideology, or as an excuse for «do-goodism» that ignores responsibilities and practicalities. In the absence of ideals, there will be mediocrity, poor quality, expedient solutions, and a general devitalization of activities.

ClosedGet Enjoyment—R"L1

This Injunction requires that you live positively i.e. as well as you can in the circumstances. What is enjoyable for you should feel natural and you may well differ greatly from others.

More specifically, you must not let yourself be overwhelmed when circumstances become painful, unpleasant, disappointing or difficult. As well as addressing the situation, you also need to get a grip on yourself and discover what would gratify you. That way you can sustain yourself, and get refreshed and re-energized.

There is a perversion when the Injunction is used for excessive self-indulgence or avoidance of responsibilities. Repudiation of enjoyment means tolerance of persistent misery or boredom, often with a loss of energy and motivation. It opens the door to a persistent negative mood and pessimism. Such a mood spreads and a killjoy can spoil the pleasure of others.

Originally posted: 7-Dec-2012

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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