Posts Tagged ‘philosophising’

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

September 19, 2017

There are two types of “learning” in the world.*

The first is the kind that things like mathematics fall into.  There is a definite set of processes, rules, procedures, and methods that produce a solid and individual answer.  2 + 2 = 4.  Physics is like this.  Chemistry is like this.  And, in many ways, most of our schooling is like this.  Even the bits that aren’t, the bits that would fall into the second type, are generally taught in the same manner.  Spelling, history/dates, geography/lines on a map, algebra:  all quantifiable and capable of a right/wrong ranking.  You either know it, or you don’t.  You either have it, or you don’t.  And to learn it means memorizing, logicizing, and proper reproducing.**

Which is all fine and good.  Informational learning is important, vital, and can help us do a lot of things.  We want the engineer designing and airplane to know their equations and figure things through.  The brain surgeon should know the structures of the brain and how to diagnose problems, and what remedies to apply.  Statisticians can help us make sense of large sets of data through rigorous procedures.  It’s all great.

At the same time, this early instruction can create a strong context, feeling, and view (read: reality) that this is how learning happens, and that everything in the world can, and/or should, be known in this way.  Outside->In, knowledge based, right/wrong result type learning.  A context which then limits our access to, and comfort with, the second type of learning.

This second type is the kind of learning that is intuitive, fluid, and arises mostly from immediate, visceral, self-discovery.  It is gotten, but it is not fixed; it lives in the present.  It often bypasses the traditional take on what “knowledge” is.  This is the domain of the arts, of all kinds, the broadest casting of arts, the arts beyond that of just aesthetic pursuits.  It is the art of relating to others, the art of living, the art of movement, the art of the cosmos, the art of “emotional intelligence”, the art of mindfulness, the art of expression.   They are the arts that form our experience of life.

These are very important arts.

They also cannot be “learned” like math;  knowledge and examples and techniques can only be lighthouses to guide us towards the moment of personal discovery that makes it ours.  Trying to stick to the rote routines gained by knowledge only leads to stilted outcomes. ***

It can be hard to do the second learning when you’ve walled it off, forgotten and unknown, and haven’t used it for a long time.  Or maybe not.  Maybe all it takes getting and transforming the contextual trap we’ve been in, opening up to the ability we’ve had all along.*****   Let it out, let it exercise, play, explore, and get stronger.

Opening us up to new abilities, greater wisdom, and a plethora of new possibilities for our lives.

 

* Of course, we could probably create many more than two categories, or possibly there’s even a third or fourth category equally large to these two , but for the moment and for this exploration, let’s keep it at two…

** In later schooling, this tends to break open a bit more, such as with essay questions in English class, where a good teacher will allow for many modes of answers to be graded well.  In the flipside, though, even the most open, such as art, drama, music, etc, can get bogged down under the need to rank things.  The technique gets graded – something that feels as though it can be “learned” and demonstrated in a very right/wrong, have it/don’t have it kind of way (and which has much less to do with actual artistic expression).  This further creates the context that can limit being able to be in and play around in the second kind of learning.

*** This post arose from something I’ve been noticing in my kung fu practice recently, which has blossomed into a meditation on the nature of the art part of the phrase “Martial Arts”.  Especially as you delve deeper and deeper into the art(s), and, for me, as I teach others.  Some of my students are caught in an, for lack of a better term, “engineer’s mindset”, a very strong adherence to the first type of learning.  They learn the outlines of the forms quickly, but their progress hits a wall as the detail work comes along.  Trying to do kung fu from the outside->in, coming from memory and reproducing all the correct angles and tensions and body linkages and movements and etc doesn’t work.  The brain isn’t wired to do so, there’s too much there to keep track of and try to figure out or reproduce in the moment.  That first way of learning doesn’t work here. ****

**** This is also starting to intrigue me and make me wonder about those who are “not good at sports” – could this “not good” be caused by the context of what learning is (ie, caught in the context of the first kind of learning)?  It would be a barrier to  being in their body and learning intrinsically… *****

***** Interestingly, it’s the way we all did when we learned to walk.  We didn’t have language then, and thus no contexts and thus no idea of what “learning” is supposed to be… so we had to learn intrinsically.

****** For all of this, BTW, I had to break out of my own type-1 learning context (that, of course, I didn’t even realize I had) (And I still need to practice my type-2 more and more).  My kung fu training accelerated by leaps and bounds once I started my journey into transformation, as that type-2 learning suddenly became available to me.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

September 12, 2017

A while back, I was reading a review of an RPG game based on/created for a very popular and long-running set of sci-fi movies.  The review was doing quite the thorough job and examining and discussing the numerous flaws and oddities (as it saw them) in the rules.  The responses, in comments, were quite numerous, with more than a few written in very strong and strident language.

As I read those replies, I noticed two things, the second* of which being that many of the very “animated and assertive dissenters” (for lack of a better word) diverged quickly from discussing rules and instead began “defending” the idea of an RPG in that universe/story.  Their comments became about whether the story was a good one, whether you liked that story or not, and whether it was a good idea to play a game inside it.

Questions which the review never broached once, even as teasers.

My take on it all?  A nice example (and reminder) of identity survival hijack:  “I like this thing so much, I have made it part of my identity, and here’s this person saying something critical**about that thing, therefore who I am is at stake, and I must rise to protect and secure.”  The distinctions of the text are lost, as are both the specificities of the text and any nuance contained therein.  That the article was, in many ways, expressing the writer’s like of the sci-fi property (through them buying the game, running many games with it, and writing the article because they wanted to continue) was instead lost, all washed away under the spark of identity flailing.

We humans sure are funny sometimes, aren’t we?***

Besides what I got about the game itself, this little dive into the comments also gave me a nice window into seeing another way an identity hijack can play itself out.  And through that, a little more was added into my mindfulness cup.

 

*  The first was that many of the defenders of the game included phrases such as “if you ignore this…” or “if you just do this…” or “this is how we play…” (or included examples of rules interactions that were incorrect).  Effectively, despite their forcefulness and opening statements otherwise, they were agreeing with the thrust of the review:  that the rules, as written (which is the purpose of a review, to look at things as they are put out into the world and/or sold), were poor.  That to play the game well required rather major changes.  I think there’s a whole world worth exploring inside this disconnect as well…

** Which doesn’t mean “bad”…

*** No word if the many species in said sci-fi universe also suffer from the same funnyness – though I’m very much sure many do in their own way.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

September 5, 2017

Delving further into the realm of last week’s post and flipping the focus a bit, there is this great quote that is rife for exploration:

“To have great pain is to have certainty.

To hear that another person has pain is to have doubt.”

–Elaine Scarry

Perhaps we can never, ever, fully, know the experience of others, nor can we ever, fully, express our own.  Thousands upon thousands of poems and songs have been written about love or misery, each trying mightily to capture the entirety of even what may seem like the most uncomplicated of emotion.  Yet thousands more will still be written, ever trying more mightily.

And despite all those songs, when we first fall in love, or have our hearts broken, or experience loss, or victory, did it ever truly prepare us?

The real question to ask in our pursuit of being alive, is what is our default thought when we hear about the experience of another?  Or see their actions without further context?  What lens(es) do we bring to bear?  How much generosity to we bring?

More importantly, what do we want our default to be?

It’s easy to be dismissive, to try to fix, to explain, to deny, or, well, simply to doubt the experience and rich context and background of someone else.  Even if that someone else is a friend, or family member. *

And while we may never be fully able to fully know their experience, we can go a long way towards it.  We can turn on our listening and our imagination and empathy and play the game to understand and to know.  Whatever gap is left, we can fill with generous  consideration and dispensation.

It is, after all, what we ourselves want when we are in pain, are feeling thwarted, stomped on, rejected, overwhelmed, without agency, under duress…

We want to be heard and to be known.

In that space, we can all center ourselves, grow, and begin to create the future we all want.

“Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato

 

* I wonder if maybe it is even easier to dismiss if they are a friend or family, as it becomes easier to project onto them:  you are my friend/family = therefore we must share the same history = therefore we are the same = therefore your actions or feelings can’t possibly be right.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

August 29, 2017

I’ve been enjoying hearing friends and many more  share about their eclipse experiences.  What’s really stood out for me (beyond the complete excitement) is the near-universality of the sentiment of how absolutely mind-blowing it is, in a way that surprised each and every one of them.  It did not matter how much they knew about it, how much they researched, or even how much prep they did.  There, in that moment of totality, in that instant of being present to a world in an eclipse, it defied all manner of expression.  It defied, and still defies, description.

There is a (sometimes big) difference between knowing about something, and actually experiencing it.

I’ve heard this shared elsewhere too, around marriage, parenting, warzones, natural disasters, concerts, and more.  My own most vivid of these is when I planted my first garden.  I knew all about the biology behind plant growth, I understood about planting and watering and that food grows, I’d read accounts of other gardeners.  But putting that tiny seed in the soil and then a few months later being confronted with a 6 foot high plant bursting with produce was almost unfathomable.  “I didn’t do anything but pour water on it, and yet… blam, look at this!”

These are context-shifting and world-growing moments, a place where our consciousness can expand and we can inhabit more of ourselves and the world.  They are times to reflect on that we are never ‘done’, we never ‘know it all’, and we’re never not able to grow.  They are a reminder to not take ourselves, and our views, and our certainties, and our supposed knowledge, so darn seriously.

And, verily, they are times for pure, unadulterated wonder and bliss, being present to what’s so, and nothing else.

 

* Thus too this is why imagination and developing imagination is vital.  It may not get us all the way there, but even part way can be powerful…

** And I already have begun plans for travel to see the 2024 eclipse!

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

August 22, 2017

Often, when we say, “I could never do that,” what we really mean is, “I don’t want to do that…” which really in itself actually means “my attachments and identities don’t want to do that.”

The “I” has nothing to do with it.  Rather, the hijack is in full swing, leading us away from what the “I” truly wants.

Afraid for its survival, our identity goes on overdrive.

And, unfortunately, we end up the poorer for it.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

August 15, 2017

A couple of years ago, during a mindfulness and meditation panel I was co-leading, one of the participants raised their hand:

“If attachment, so suggests Buddhism, is the root of all dis-ease… well, how do you know when you are attached to something?”

Hmmm.  That was a good one.  It can be fabulous and very empowering in life to be committed to something, but at what point can we tell its crossed beyond a commitment into an attachment?

I paused for a moment to let this percolate.

“I’d say that… if you find yourself righteously hot, fixated, uncontrollably going on about something, and you’re gripped by it… then it’s probably an attachment.  There’s a visceral component to it, one of those ones that defies neat and accurate description but if you let yourself be sensitive to it you get to know that grip.  Actually, you can probably think back to a time when something was said or done or you learned that just had you react with such recoil and fury that seemed to come out of nowhere… well, bingo, that’s the feeling, that visceral reaction.  There’s something there beyond just a commitment.

And this is really good to notice, not only because attachments can cause us such distress, but because it robs us of our freedom and, perhaps counter-intuitively, kills our performance and our power.  It also means that maybe we should check that commitment, because I’ll bet ya if we have that reaction we’re actually attached to something other than what we’re saying we are committed to.  And if our authentic self wants us to embrace that commitment, authentically, then we’re going to want to deal with that inauthentic hidden attachment.

Once we’re out of the grip of attachment, we are free to play and be who we truly want to be.”

A great question that had me distinguish something for myself that day.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

August 8, 2017

One of the greatest things to learn as a human being,

I assert,

is the ability to be with yourself.

And to that I mean really just be with yourself.

You.

And your internal state.

No music.

No movies.

No conversation.

No email.

No task or goal or game.

No distractions.

No interruptions.

Maybe walking alone, maybe sitting, maybe lying down in bed,

But just you, walking with, sitting with, lying with, whatever comes up for you.

It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do;

And it is, very much, something that needs to be learned.

(And the earlier you are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn it,

the better,

Because if not, woah.

It’s like learning to walk when your thirty.

Every fall is going to hurt so much more,

And the discouragement will be so much worse.)

But it is vital.

Because in that space,

you,

we,

learn to,

be still

to observe

to listen

to know ourselves

and therefore to know others

to open up

to connect

to feel all our feels

to be at one with ourselves

and at one with the world around us

and to live in all of these worlds

simultaneously.

From that space,

comes birthed,

agency

creativity

awareness

emotional integrity

we learn to hear our authentic selves

and we learn to let go our inauthentic narration.

It is from here,

that we construct ourselves

design who we will be in the world

give voice to our genuine character

and step out into the world

well adjusted

well equipped

with peace of mind

and a full heart.

When we,

you,

can be with yourself,

you can be with whatever life brings

when it life’s all over you.

You can be,

just be,

no matter the circumstances.

And in every moment,

you get to be,

how,

and who,

you want to be.