Posts Tagged ‘ontology’

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Philosophy Tuesday

May 9, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

A few years ago*, I wrote about what I termed “The Tyranny of Talent.”  A good (re)-read, and it still rings true for me.  Perhaps even more so now, in that I think it dovetails nicely into my more recently created “Olympic Distinction,” specifically in the area of the arts, hobbies, or other areas of self-expression.  Even more specifically, in the ways that we shut ourselves down from playing in those fields of self-expression.

Briefly, the Tyranny of Talent (ToT) noted that our wonton use of the word talent is problematic on two fronts, the second of which is of import here:  that because talent has the association with innate ability or aptitude, when we see someone performing something with great skill we all too easy can fall into the pitfall of “I wasn’t born with it like you were, so I’ll never get there.”

The thing is, where is “there?”  Is there an Olympic level of performance?  If so… why do we need to be in the Olympics?   Or on stage performing to millions of people?  Or in a prestigious gallery?  Or in a stadium chasing down a championship?  Or a bestseller?

It’s a double whammy we give ourselves.  “I wasn’t gifted with talent, so I’ll never be all that good,” and “I’ve got to be good, because this example here is what people expect/is right/is what it takes to look good/is the only endgame.”

Self-expression is self-expression.  It’s not about making a living (or just making money), it’s not about fame, it’s not about accolades**, it’s not about winning that prize.  It might be about putting something out into the world that you want heard, but it also might not.  At its core, self-expression means something that arises from your authentic self and manifests into the world in a way that lights you up.  It is a way of being and acting that calls to you and you put forth into the world.  An audience may be nice, but it isn’t always necessary.  Dancing alone in your apartment could totally be a self-expression.

I do get there is a dilemma if the self-expression does include sharing with or involve others, especially in this day of the internet.  For that is the most readily available and easy place to share, and many have gotten so used to sharing what they had for lunch that it’s automatic to post that which we want to self-express.  And certain folk on the internet are not always kind to beginners, to non-Olympians.  And it readily bleeds into daily life too.  Take up soccer late in life with little experience, and depending who you play with you may not be treated all that well. ***

Insults, harshness, recriminations, they all can all to easily push us back into the dual contexts of “I’m not talented (and I never will)”**** and “You gotta be an Olympian to do this “right” and/or to show your face” leading to the very logical “Since I’m not talented, I’ll never be an Olympian, and so should never show my face/work.”

There is mindfulness to cultivate here.  To remind ourselves that our self-expression is for us.  We paint because we enjoy painting, we practice kung fu because we enjoy practicing kung fu, we jam out beat poetry and elsewhere because we enjoy jamming.

There doesn’t have to be an end game beyond that. We can share our work within a small circle, we can practice and play only with those who share our unhindered fun, we can send work out into the world anonymously, we can dance in the dark.  We can practice, play, grow, learn, learn some more, and just enjoy the pure joy of the activity.

Does it make us feel alive and fulfilled?

If so, then we’re doing it right.

 

* Already??

** And boy, is the number of likes or accolades or comments ever seductive in its own right.  This too is a whole other inquiry, how we’ve collapsed likes/accolades with “I am loved and worthy of love and belonging.”

*** Why people are this nasty is a whole other interesting inquiry in of itself.  For here, though, it’s quite interesting to consider that the same tyranny and Olympic ennui can manifest itself as harshness to assuage the pain of repressing one’s self-expression…

**** More rightfully put as “I misunderstand how skill and aptitude is developed, and I fear it is magically assigned at birth and I got skipped over so I’m screwed.” ******

****** That’s not to say it will be quick or easy to develop the skill, of course.  We’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and there tends to be a lot more to do in a day now…

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Philosophy Tuesday

May 2, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Our lives are full of inflection points.

Life happens.  Things happen.

When something happens to us, or around us, we get very active.

We make decisions about things.

We make decisions about ourselves, about others, and/or about the world.

These are powerful decisions.

They form statements, certainties,  declarations.

They shape our view of the world and of reality.

In effect, they are reality.

We have little distinction otherwise.  They are the truth.

We therefore act and behave in a way that is fully consistent with that reality.

We touched a hot stove and we got burned: hot stoves are bad to touch.

Now we no longer touch a hot stove, and we’re even cautious around something that looks hot.

That’s pretty clear.  That makes sense.

We made a mistake on an art project as a kid and we didn’t do it right and kids laughed:  we are not good at art.

Now we no longer try to do art, and we avoid being creative.

Hmm.  Less clear.

“I suck at art.”  That’s one possible interpretation.

So we stopped practicing art, we avoided art, we never practiced, we don’t do it.

Today, if we try to create some art, sure enough, we continue to suck at it!

So much proof now…

Blam.  An inflection point that set our course of life.

Yet.

What happened was that we made a mistake.  That happened.  Plain and simple.

Nothing more.  Nothing less.*

That inflection point, however…

That was us.  All us.

Not the mistake.  The inflection was us.

We made the decision.

A decision that influenced our view, our experience, our capabilities, and reality.

“I suck at art.”  That’s one possible interpretation.  But only one of a million possible interpretations.

And for all these years, we’ve been living the decision we ourselves made.

How fascinating!

We can return to that moment and re-evaluate things.  Choose a different interpretation.

We can re-inflect.

We can refresh ourselves back to that point, clear the canvas, and start anew.

We gain freedom.  We can create.

We can transform, build forward, develop abilities, and become who we want to be. **

Let’s play.

 

* And what is a mistake anyway?  Who defined the failure?  In the arts (including life, which is an art), what is really a mistake?  Or error?  Or failure?  Or good?  Or bad?  Who sa(ys)(aid)?

** This does not mean new skills and abilities will miraculously appear***.  It will not wipe out 40 years of not practicing, developing, learning… the work still needs to be done.  But it’s work that now can be done.  The barriers have been removed, the road is now clear.  And, inside of that clarity, the speed at which the skill develops can be fast indeed.

*** And sometimes it will feel as though new abilities have miraculously appeared.  Freed of the constraints the decision and the resulting inflection imposed on your life, inside of that new freedom, new capacities of performance for existing skills get blown wide open.****  The true extent of your skill can fully be expressed.

**** This includes interactions, conflicts, relationships, courage, conversation, perseverance, productivity, excitement, wonder, compassion, empathy, creativity, joy, peace of mind…

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 18, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Reality is what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is what we believe.

What we believe is based upon our perceptions.

What we perceive depends on what we look for.

What we look for depends on what we think.

What we think depends on what we perceive.

What we perceive determines what we believe.

What we believe determines what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is our reality.

Quantum Physicist David Bohm

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 11, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

There’s a distinction that Sifu has brought up a few times in our training I call the “Olympic Distinction”.

Which is to say that at the Olympics, things are decided by the 1/1000 of a second.  That little extra oomph of training and effort often makes all the difference.

In that way it’s not an unfamiliar distinction, and one propagated on countless motivational posters. BUT!  In a very Niels Bohr-ian way, there’s an even more powerful distinction here, especially for those, like me, who can or readily do fall prey to streaks of perfectionism:

“1/1000 only applies at the Olympics.” *

There are many times in life when we can get caught in our own mental traps that drive us to over polished—and ultimately unproductive—excess. We push and prod and try to make perfect and fret and expend time and effort and sweat and oomph and get nervous and distraught and stressed and all riled up and lose sleep and then… either…

never finish the darn thing,

have to cut it short to finish on time thus parts are left ironically underdone,

have to make changes and the extra effort is lost,

or all that extra effort didn’t make a difference in the final result or even in quality.

It’s hard thing to grasp sometimes.  It’s even hard for me to type it out.  It sounds so much like “be sloppy” or “don’t try your hardest” or “everyone else is a fool they won’t notice anyway”, or “cut corners”  or “never improve” or…

But it’s not really that.  It’s a reminder that good enough is still pretty frikken good.  That perfection can be an illusion.  That not everything we participate in is the Olympics.  And above all to be simply present to the cost that comes with perfectionism.

Sometimes that cost is that we don’t even start.  We see the amount of work it would take to reach that level of perfection and we think, “I’m never going to be able to get to an Olympic level to do that, so why bother, it’s not worth even starting.”  And so we abandon all the joy we’d have in the learning, the doing, and losing ourselves deeply in that activity.

We can get trapped on both ends, never starting or never finishing.  We can hinder our enjoyment of the task, and we can hinder our time to enjoy other things as we burn it all into this moment of perfectionism.  And, in the most counterintuitive way possible, it can even hinder the work.

Finding that middle path, and walking it, is where we, and our work, can shine.  We can play full out and avoid the Perils of Perfect(ion).**

And turn out some quite frikken good stuff.

 

* In many ways, this sentiment is also captured in the more common phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good” (or the more original phrase by Voltaire, “Le  mieux est l’ennemi du bien” – “The best is the enemy of good.”)

** Hmmm… Beware the PoP?

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 4, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

We talk about great many things in the same way we talk about gravity.

The economy, cultures, institutions, regions, groups and sub-groups (and sub-sub-groups)…  even individuals.  And even about ourselves.

All like gravity.  All like a physical law of the universe that operates in a strict, and predictable and unbending way.

“Gravity,” as the old* humorous saying goes, “is a harsh mistress.”

And perhaps it’s no surprise.

We know things like gravity (including gravity):  inviolable,  primal,  prone to landing us flat on our keister with no hesitation.

But the thing is, that’s just gravity.  It’s not all things.

If we look through a microscope, we can detect no influence of, for example,  “the economy” on the cells or molecules within.

If we look through a telescope, we can detect no influence of “the economy” on the movement of the planets, the stars, galaxies, or anything in the universe at large.

It’s not like gravity at all.

We’ve collapsed something.  We’ve made a mistake of classification and equivalency.

Many things are not as figured out as we speak them to be.

Many things are not as rigid as we speak them to be.

Many things are not as inviolable as we speak them to be.

How fascinating!

When we distinguish between that which is our own construct, and that which is a true law of the universe, things open up.

We gain freedom, and we grant others freedom.

We open the door to possibilities, to connection, and to creation.

And we get to land on our keisters a lot less often.

 

* Ok, not that old, it was from an episode of the Tick… but it was inspired by a classic Heinlein story “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” in which gravity did play a big role

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 28, 2017

This is a philosophical post, intended to spark thinking and examining.

Often, things are talked about like they are a light switch.

Either on, or off.

With each side paired off against the other:

You’re either an introvert or an extrovert.

You should always be assertive, otherwise you will be a pushover.

All boys should act and are like X.  All girls should act and are like Y.

You either have to be a complete shut in, or be a wild exhibitionist.

You must follow this precept, else be cast forever in sin.

You’re either with us, or against us.

It’s all you are/it is X or Y.

Whole worlds of divisions.

Light on.  Or light off.

Here’s the thing about lights, though.

They have things called dimmers.

Gradients are possible (and normal).

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 14, 2017

Years ago, I helped edit Sifu’s first book (on Iron Palm training).  As I was passing along my comments to the team I said, “The description of the four strikes used in the exercise seems a bit thin to me.  I think they could be explained more.”

Sifu replied, “Ok.  Go ahead and write it.”

After mentally freaking out for a moment*, I agreed.  I wrote the expanded section, it was reviewed by others in the editing team, and into the book it went.  Boom, published, out into the world.

Fast forward a number of years.

We’re in class, having a conversation with Sifu, and the subject of Iron Palm and the training comes up.  “The palm strike is the most internal of the strikes,” Sifu says.  “Wait…” I interrupt, “isn’t the backhand the most internal?”  “No, it’s the palm strike.”

Cue more mentally freaking out.  This time because I was positive I had heard it was the backhand.  My understanding was that it was the backhand.  Which means… did I write it into the book wrong?  Did I screw up horribly, confuse and mislead everyone who bought the book (and maybe cause injury!), and above all that, make Sifu look bad?

I raced home as soon as class was finished, dropping all my stuff unceremoniously at the door to rush and grab the book from the shelf.  Flip, flip, flip, find the page and….

Sifu was, of course, right.  The palm is the most internal strike.  The backhand has more of an external component to it.  That’s exactly what it says in the book… and thus exactly what I wrote.

I was relieved.  And, at the same time, a whole mess of perplexed, angry, and weirded out.  How did I get it so wrong?

But in the next moment, I realized what a great example it was of just how fallible, of how malleable, of how downright unreliable our memories are.  I literally wrote (part of) the book on the darn thing!  And yet, somehow, somewhere, I’d twisted it around in my mind until I was rotely spouting something incorrect.  I let go the worry and laughed.

Ca-razy.

We like to think our memory operates just like a superdimensional audio/video recording system that perfectly and forever captures sights, sounds, our feelings, our views, and, if we really tell the truth to ourselves, we also think it captures other people’s moods, thoughts, and even intentions.  All accurately and that can play it back anytime with perfect fidelity.

Alas, no.

In that moment, book in hand, I got just how even something as straightforward as a simple piece of instruction or information could get miss-remembered so much that I’d built an entire body of understanding around it.  This freakout-inducing potential-mistake opened a whole world of inquiry for me, because if I was capable of doing that with such a simple event, what did that mean for my other well-held beliefs based on much more complicated events in my past… ?**

The answers to this question have been most fruitful, almost always leading me to greater freedom and peace of mind.

And, as a bonus, I now have a much deeper understanding of Iron Palm.

 

* I freaked out because I was still young at the school and didn’t expect to be brought into this important a project even as an editor, let alone asked to write what amounts to generations of distilled knowledge (and this was all before I got my start down my path of mindfulness, transformation, and ontology, so I was waaayyyyy more prone to freaking out).

** This has been made even more profound as modern neuroscience research continues to show us just how hilariously not-fixed our memory is