Law vs Principle

Law vs Principle

principle by angela c
principle by angela c
“The principle business of life is to enjoy it.”

Recently, I was reading a description of 7 fundamental laws. However, some were laws and some were principles.

This may seem a pointless debate on semantics, but using the right terms makes a difference. The point of words is to share meaning. There’s already lot of variation in how we individually associate meaning, so a precision in terms is valuable.

We define the word Law as a rule or procedure.

A Principle is a basic truth or standard. It also relates to ethics and morality.

Thus, a principle is a more fundamental framework from which we derive laws. Good laws are based on good principles.

For example, a law banning jaywalking is based on the principle of pedestrian safety.

Laws become problematic when they’re based on principles that are not in the collective’s interest. For example, when politicians apply their personal beliefs (principles) to laws that unnecessarily impinge on the rights of other citizens. The principle is based on dogma rather than safety, freedom, or similar.

This is surprisingly common, even in a democracy, where they’re supposed to be representing the people as a whole.

Further, just as the world develops in layers (as does our development), so too are principles layered. We can say there are higher and lower principles. The lower ones are often branches of the higher ones.

For example, a principle of personal freedom can lead to many secondary principles like freedom of person and freedom of ownership. However, unlimited freedom is anarchy. Personal responsibility for oneself, family, and society are a higher principle than freedom. This ensures our health, society, and culture are sustained for us to enjoy freedom in.

For another example, growth happens in a cycle, always returning to balance. As a result, we get the law of karma (and physics) that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The field of action is always seeking balance and resolution.

The flow of the Divine creates the highest principles.

In the dynamics of creation, principles are the structures in intelligence, whereas laws are the implementation of those principles by the devas.

For example, Divine qualities like alertness and liveliness are principles. The devas enact them. Shiva embodying alertness becomes the Observer in consciousness.

Devas need the organizing intelligence to operate properly, but that intelligence is inert without laws to enact it.

Principles become laws which guide our actions and experiences, both natural and man-made.


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  1. George Robinson

    Hence, we have the “letter of the law” vis-a-vis the “spirit of the law,” where “letter” is the rule and “spirit” is the root principle or standard…as long as there is no personal corruption, as you explain.

    1. Right, George. Yet that stands, even with corruption. It’s that the letter gets distorted by corrupted spirit.

      In an ideal society, the spirit is driven by source itself and is thus in tune with natural law. They work together, much as we personally enjoy natures support when we’re not grasping and resisting.

      Modern laws vary widely in quality. Ideally, they’re drafted by wise elders but so often, other agendas are in play. Like our language itself, laws are often driven by ego. And then the letter of the law supports all sorts of human folly and suffering. That in turn creates collective karma and a cycle of pain.

      Happily, we’re gradually moving toward restoration of a society we’ve not seen in a very low time.

        1. Hi Bojan
          It depends. Some places do have heavier shadows and greater karma. But if they do things to raise the collective or the karma completes, they can rise faster.

          On the other hand, we still need places for people to experience difficult consequences. We’ll see how nature organizes.

          We don’t need to go somewhere else to experience heaven and hell.

    2. Lew

      When I first saw this I thought you were going the other way meaning principles come from laws…. like the laws of nature.. When society is in tune with the higher laws of nature, things flow more smoothly, like a symphony totally in tune and in sync. The practice of transcending is based on the law of following a sound to its finest levels and going beyond to pure awareness. The 4 Noble Truths and Eightfold Path of Buddhism may be principles but they are principles that arise out of the lived higher experiences of consciousness, not necessarily a gateway to them. Higher consciousness creates higher principles and brings people along with them. When people meditate in large numbers and hostilities go down it means that higher laws are being implemented.
      Look at the laws of economics, for example. When I first took economics the first lecture was about supply, demand and scarce resources. This was after becoming a teacher and the first thing that popped into my mind was that there are unlimited resources in the field of consciousness, creative intelligence can make the most out of available resources or create new resources…. Implementing a higher law of nature leads to the creation of higher principles leading to higher economic growth and the satisfaction of higher demand, especially in ways that lead to higher standards of living physically, spiritually,morally, and ethically…..

      1. Hi Lew
        Right – I do mention that there are higher order principles and laws. In some ways, we might say lower principles come from higher laws. But beyond the laws of nature are the Divine principles. Principles come first.

        And agreed, when human laws align with natures laws, then scarce resources are no longer a limitation. Sufficiency is a higher truth than scarcity. More is found or higher ways of doing things arise.

        Our economy is currently driven by need and desire. As consciousness rises, demand changes a lot as we no longer look to the surface world to find happiness. Life tends to simplify. We recognize we’re all in this together so everyone has enough.

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