Trump is a man of action: he’s doing just what he said he’d do – so his supporters say approvingly. What they fail to do is think about the word ‘action’ or what it means to be ‘a man of action’.
There are many different kinds of action. For instance, the action involved in writing a poem is by no means the same as the action of lighting a bonfire; the action needed to help a sick person is not a bit the same as inventing a new weapon of mass destruction – not one of these four things is the same as another in terms of what kind of energy is involved yet they are all called ‘actions’. A likely result of confusing one mode of action with another is the world’s misery: the action involved in persuading is not the same as sorting things out with a machine gun; teaching is not the same as punishing somebody when they resist learning; to think in terms of yes and no is certainly not the same as seeking understanding.
A small majority of the people of Great Britain voted to quit the EU on a yes/no basis (action without understanding); they might have asked what the total consequences would be instead of choosing to be brainwashed by the few distorted consequences that were presented to them and the meaningless idea that they would regain what they might have thought of as their ‘sovereignty’. Where is that ‘sovereignty’ now?
Action is the result of setting out to do something; behind the action there’s belief, aims, intentions, self-image, motivation, multiple agendas and so on; these things may be what might have had some kind of hand in determining the differences but in themselves they are just abstractions. The need is to recognise different kinds of action purely as action: banging a nail into a fence post is not the same as debating an issue in parliament though it’s often treated as the same thing by the participants.
We know the difference between wood and metal, says PDOuspensky in Chapter 13 of The Fourth Way – they need different tools and fixing methods – but we don’t appreciate that one kind of action is quite different from another: there’s just the single word ‘action’ for the event we think of as ‘doing something’ so we imagine that all ‘doing’ is the same – just getting on with it, whatever it is. It has the same label.
Ouspensky points out that all action consists of triads. He says there are six different kinds of triad but his method is never to present his material against neat bullet points. We have to work things out for ourselves otherwise we run the risk of simply taking somebody else’s idea on board without digesting it.
The Law of Three (a triadic process) works like this: (1) we have an idea for action; (2) it meets with resistance (internal or external); (3) we work towards a resolution. This is quite accurately expressed by means of the image of a pendulum:-
Confronted with an issue, we literally swing between one initial state and another getting more and more frustrated as things don’t work out as we think they should. We focus on the two states at the top of the swing without settling at the bottom where, as a matter of mechanical fact, kinetic energy is at its strongest; as a matter of mechanical fact energy is lost on either downward swing. Identifying with action and resistance (for example) prevents us from considering the whole triad; Ouspensky says we are Third Force Blind.
I have just re-read Chapter 13 of The Fourth Way. I sense that it would be worth while sorting out for myself what the six different kind of triads might be without much expectation that Ouspensky will do anything other than float a few ideas; I bear in mind that there may be many more than six kinds of triad – ‘it all depends on what you mean by action…’
So here I am working with a triad:-
When one stops working the process at swinging between the two initial opposites a kind of mental fog descends; it requires some purposive synthesis of an intellectual grasp of Ouspensky’s words with the desire to sort things out. So I reach for my notebook and start making random notes in the expectation that, together with my own triadic examples, they will gravitate to some kind of order eventually.
It’s no good just staring at the book in the hope that a solution will wave cheekily at you; it needs something else:-
In this way the whole of my being is engaged: intellect, emotion, action to eliminate confusion. I must disidentify from the idea that intellect on its own will clarify things; must disidentify from a purely emotional response (‘this damned book!’) and even decide to reframe ‘confusion’ as a good place to be because having analysed it it’ll be easy to find a way out; after that there’s a kind of faith or intuition that just doing something will dispel cognitive dissonance.
By this time I’ve convinced myself (as if I didn’t know it before) that I’m on my way to knowing why the idea ‘Trump is a Man of Action’ is ludicrous and meaningless and moreover downright dangerous. By all accounts he’d have as much ability to distinguish between different kinds of triads, or appropriate modes of action, as my son’s toy Action Man would have had fifty years ago: machine-like behaviour, mechanical action, steam-roller, lawn-mower, combine harvester – take your pick. Like many a Power Possessor he seems completely oblivious to the systemic nature of all actions.
So Trump signs an Executive Order banning immigrants:-
Pursuing the nailing activity one must disidentify from sweaty hammering and the hardness of the oak stump and shift into a sense of bold muscular effort. Trump identifies totally with Executive Orders and quick fixes without taking into account the consequences. He loses himself in identification with executive orders – you can easily tell this because he spits blood when one of them is defined as illegal. His Third Force Blindness is beyond reproach.
Ouspensky: ‘We cannot murder successfully using the same triad, the same kind of energy, as we use for writing a poem…’ This makes it clear that we must consider the energy in a triad in order to distinguish between different types
Unless we have the concept of ‘triad’ we will not be able even to begin to make a choice about the right one to follow as appropriate to things that require a different mode of activity. Cockups are the result of using the wrong triad.
So what different kinds of triad are there?
From my own experience, in order to write a poem a certain harnessing of energy is required – it’s a subtle business but this might go some way to illustrate the process:-
This is the common format of the last two examples:-
And triads link up
A lofty conversation is no use to somebody who just wants to talk to be understood. The outcome of one triad always becomes the starting point for further action.
There is also simple blind effort:-
And a temporary end to exploration:-
All action is a setting out to accomplish something; it works out better when you choose the right triad to operate with. A provisional list might emerge from all this.
That’s ten possible triads… How many would Trump come up with apart from the following?
Blasting away and Getting what you want