Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 19, 2019

Going into a tailspin

in those days meant curtains.

No matter how hard you pulled back on the stick

the nose of the plane wouldn’t come up.

~~~

Spinning round, headed for a target of earth,

the whine of death in the wing struts,

instinct made you try to pull out of it that way, by force,

and for years aviators spiraled down and crashed.

~~~

Who could have dreamed that the solution

to this dreaded aeronautical problem

was so simple?

Every student flier learns this nowadays:

You move the joystick in the direction of the spin

and like a miracle the plane stops turning

and you are in control again

to pull the nose up out of the dive.

~~~

In panic we want to push the stick away from the spin,

wrestle the plane out of it,

but the trick is, as in everything,

to go with the turning willingly,

rather than fight, give in, go with it,

and that way come out of your tailspin whole.

 

~Edward Field~

 

~Corita Kent~

 

(Beyond the lovely words, I love it as a great early example of the remix “culture”, a case of additive worth, with Corita Kent taking the poem of Fields and rendering something extra beautiful with it.)

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 12, 2019

“Distinction” is a term that crops up again and again within the philosophical and ontological arts.  But what is distinction?  And why is it important?

A distinction separates something into its own category or concept.

A distinction lets us know/feel/understand/grok the difference or particularnless of a thing/feeling/thought/category/concept.

Once a distinction is created, it becomes a vessel into which we can pour our attention and inquiry and understanding into.

Distinctions allow us to see things in greater detail, bringing refinement and granularity to things or behaviours or thoughts that otherwise would be the same for us.

Distinctions, ultimately, open whole new worlds and perceptions and understandings and even realms of possibility, of being, and of living.

Before something is distinct, we can’t really focus on it, because, to us, it’s not yet a thing.

The same happens in the martial arts.  The distinction of “rooting” creates a new world to explore:  How do I root?  What does my body need to do to root?  How do I gain that stability?  How do I transfer forces into the ground?  What does it feel like?  What do I have to adjust?  Ok, what do I have to adjust now to make it even better?

As we practice, we use distinction between two states or positions to develop things further.  Feeling the difference in balance, power, and exertion between two different body positions lets us know which one is more in line with proper rooting.  “Here I have to struggle to resist an incoming force, but here I am at ease.  This is what it feels like to engage rooting.”

With that double distinction, we know what we’re aiming for, and we gain a better sense of when we’re on target, and when we are not.*

So too when we learn a philosophical distinction.  Whether it be about the stories we tell ourselves, or one of the logical fallacies, or about identity, or about the hilarious ways we continually subvert our rationality, whenever we gain a distinction in those realms we gain access to it.  Distinction turns it from being a blind spot that we can only ever inadvertently crash into it into something we not only can avoid but can also use to our ever-growing advantage.

Distinctions are the root power of transformation.  And from those roots grows a glorious life full of power, joy, and peace.

 

* And as we gain further distinctions, our idea of rooting improves, which improves our grasp of where we should aim, which we then refine through testing and feeling, and thus the cycle of growth in ability continues evermore.

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 5, 2019

“I can’t believe that just happened!”

It’s that moment.  Something has just gone awry.  Wrong.  Pear shaped.  Blew up real good.  Whatever plan you had in that instant is no more, now a mess (often literally) in front of you.  Broken, spilled, deleted, wrecked, goofed, faux-pas, plans shifted, expected occurrence didn’t happen, things cancelled, people stranded… Or maybe it just started raining.  “I can’t believe this is happening!”

If you’re anything like me, that phrase has escaped your lips more than a few times throughout your life.*  Or, perhaps, more than a few times in a week.  It does seem inconceivable, doesn’t it?  Everything smashed in an instant.  How could this be?  And isn’t this deeply personal too?

Lately, though, I’ve taken adding – after a moment and a few breaths – a follow-up statement: “Well, I might as well believe it ‘cuz… there’s nothing not to believe.  That just did happen.”

It is a statement to return myself to mindfulness, and to be deeply (and honestly) present with what’s so.

“OK.  Crud.  Not what I wanted.  Clearly.  Yet, here we are.  OK.  What’s next?”

It’s an interrupt statement that keeps the downward spiral from taking hold of me.  Prevents me from being completely thrown.  It grants me freedom and peace, even, and especially, when things have gone asunder.  It cracks open the doorway to possibility.

It allows new options to come forth:  clean the mess, change the clothes, make the required phone calls, enlist another’s aid, fix what broke, reschedule things, change the plans, choose a new path, do something different… above all it grants me choice and a chance to get things (and myself) back on track.  Maybe not singing and dancing the whole way, but for sure with a quicker return to signing and dancing than where the “can’t believe” frustration spiral would’ve taken me.

There’s no pretending or sugar coating.  Nor is there catastrophizing.  Just being clear, present, and creating in a way that leaves me, at the end of the day, without frustration, upset, or disempowerment.

And along the way I get to enjoy the rest of my day.

 

* My current favourite variation is “I’m sorry, but physics do not work that way!”

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 26, 2019

Often, we don’t really want the things we want.  The things we covet.  The things we obsess over.  All the various things, be they items or jobs or vacations or even fame or riches.  We don’t want the thing.

We want what we think those things will get us.  What those things will provide for us. All the ways of being that we can inhabit inside those fulfilled fantasies.

Unfortunately, things cannot give us that.  They may – quite usefully! – grant us a stage, an opportunity to generate it or have it show up, but it won’t get us it.  It does not come bundled in the package.  And it can never be the salve we are looking for.

So we try to get more.  It’s never enough.  We try other things.  Not enough.  We change things around.  Still not enough.  We may get distracted, amused, or even entertained, but only fleetingly.  And never those ways of being we crave.  We get trapped in the hamster wheel.  Always searching, never receiving.

It is not by having that we can generate being.  Or even generate doing.  It is from deeper within.  It is from intention, building upon a clear slate grounded in mindfulness and being present.  The creation is internal, not external.  The being begets the being.

From that starting point, things then become an amplifier.  We truly can enjoy the things we have, do, or partake.  Rather than being sought for mistaken purpose, things now can build on and further support the ways of being we have generated.  We appreciate the things for what they are.

With our being in the lead and our things at our side, we can lead ourselves to joy, fulfilment, love, excitement, and gusto.

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 19, 2019

The spear is the third weapon taught in Northern Shaolin kung fu.  Before you begin learning the set proper, there is a basic drill to practice that familiarizes you with the feel of the weapon as well as ingraining an effective and basic technique.  It’s three motions:  circular snap to parry by your leg, circular snap to press onto the opponent’s hand, stab forward to the full extension of the spear.  Pull back, and repeat.

Once you get the hang of it, you drill it with speed.  Swoop, press, stab.  Swoop, press stab.

“Now, practice it 100 times a day,” Sifu instructed.  When Jay learned the drill, he was way more eager than that.  “I’m going to practice a ton, get good real fast.”  And so he’d go into the kwoon to practice well before class, he’d practice after class, practice on days he didn’t have class.  Any moment he had.  Swoop, press, stab.  Swoop, press stab.

Several weeks later while Jay was practicing in the kwoon, Sifu walked by and noticed that his form was really suffering.  The movements were slow, the trajectory all off, and the energy all erratic.  “You seem to be regressing,” he called out.  Jay could only nod unhappily.  “Yes Sifu, I don’t know what it is.  I’m practicing, but it’s just not getting better.”

“Let me see your left hand,” asked Sifu.  Jay held it out.  The web of flesh between his thumb and index finger looked as though someone had attacked it with a belt sander, all raw and split and bloody.  “How much have you been practicing?”

“Oh I’ve been real good,” said Jay.  “I’ve been doing it around 300 times a day!”

A silence hung in the air.  Sifu looked from Jay back down to his bloody hand then back up at Jay again.  He mock smacked him upside the head.  “That’s why I said 100 times a day!”

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 12, 2019

Ever gain an insight, create some new possibilities, choose to take a different path… and no one seems to notice?  Or care?  Or they seem “determined” to keep you hemmed in?  Or even if you’re fine for a while, one little slip and it all comes back?

Not surprising, really.  After all, we’d trained all those people to relate to us in a certain way, trained them on who we “are”.  Even inadvertently – our identities sure are sneaky in that way.  And so we’re trying to express something into a space that’s already filled.  They already “know” us.  (And maybe they already know of all the times previously that we tried to change things up, or made noises about shifting, that, like so many New Years Resolutions, survived for about 2.2 weeks before slipping right back…)

One of the least noted yet most powerful steps in possibility is in sharing.  Letting those around us that hey, we’ve noticed something about ourselves!  And it doesn’t work for us!  And probably hasn’t been working for you!  We need to clean up our past, step up and make those deep apologies, acknowledge what’s been so, how we’ve been, and then share what we’ve gotten.  The realization, the insight, the rough stuff.  And our new commitment.  Because when we do so, we go from trying to inject our new self into an environment that is set up and expecting the same old same old and instead create an environment of people who are at least open to seeing something new and are more likely ready and even pulling for your new ways of being and acting.  Instead of resistance, there is support.

And to further tie this into last week’s post, the “bad news” nature that accompanies so many of our insights totally can hamper us from sharing them.  We look bad!  Who wants to tell others about that?  Wouldn’t it be better to just step into the new me and try to sweep it under the rug and hope no one noticed how things were before?  Well, for one, spoiler alert… they noticed.  They ALL noticed.  For two, alas, it doesn’t work that way.  We need to do the work.

We need to step up, own our lives and own our foibles, because only then can we also own our insight, own the transformation, and clear away a space into which we can express that something new.

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 5, 2019

Transformational insights are rarely as awesome looking in reality as they are in our heads.  In our imaginations, they are all filled with radiant light shining from above, accompanied by an angelic choir as we hover gloriously in mystical comprehension.

Alas, not so much.  More often, transformation comes in the form most commonly labelled as “bad news insights.”  Bad news, as in, “Wait, I’m the one who put that barrier in front of myself?” or “So I’m the one who sentenced myself to all those years of torment?” or “Nuts, I did that, didn’t I?” or, even worse, “Crud.  I’m the one who is the jerk.  Not them.  Damn.”

This is usually accompanied by some not so great feelings.  And plenty of self-recrimination:  stupid, ass, bad, wrong, moron, fool…  all leading to a whole bevy of downward thought spirals.

I have been wrong.  I have been in the wrong.  That’s bad news!

And – it’s also quite the good news.

Because, if we were and are the cause of it, then we are the cause of the end of it as well.  We have the power.  And we know we have the power, because we’ve already done it.  Which means we also know we can undo it.  We can complete what’s there, create new contexts, clean up the messes we made with others, apologize, and lay the foundation for a different path forward.

Sure, it sucks that we spent so long in a world of poo, but here we are.  We get it now. 

And from here, now, we get to choose new futures of joy, peace of mind, and love for ourselves, our lives, and for those around us.