Psychology is the study of waste. So much of what we observe in ourselves is a form of eliminating energy. Physically, we spend excess energy in almost all our movements, lifting things using too much force, moving with unwarranted haste and fervor, even tensing muscles while sitting or laying down. Emotionally, we leak energy through anxiety, apprehension, keeping accounts, the perpetual judgment of others and ourselves, and our constant consideration of what others think or expect of us. Intellectually, we leak energy through daydreams, through internal argument, and through replaying in our minds past events or fantasizing over future ones. The deeper our self-observation, the more it reveals a remarkably wide spectrum of energy waste.
In so functioning, we conform to the greater pattern of nature. Nature at large abides by the principle of waste. Plants yield abundant pollen and flower, animals abundant sperm and egg, all in an ongoing bid to perpetuate themselves. Production is so large that the smallest odds suffice. If only one out of ten thousand acorns matures into an oak, or one out of ten thousand tadpoles develops into a frog, then nature has met its goal and the remarkable waste has been accounted for.
When the aim changes, however, so must the attitude to waste. Farmers who aim to produce wine can no longer allow their grapevines to spread wildly, as they would do by nature. The vine’s unbridled growth impacts the vitality of its fruit, as well as hinders its handling. To increase quality, the farmers must curb the vine’s natural tendency for quantity. Likewise, if we aim to develop a governing element within us that controls haste, judgment, or daydreaming, we can no longer permit ourselves our careless life of waste. We must study our habitual energy leaks, and begin plugging them.
This has been our labor for March.
In beginning to struggle with all these habitual sides of his life a man saves an enormous amount of energy, and with the help of this energy he can easily begin the work of self-study and self-perfection.