Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

January 8, 2019

“If we come here and say, “Well, I didn’t intend to cause global warming on the way here,” and we say, “That’s not part of my plan,” then we realize it’s part of our de facto plan, because it’s the thing that’s happening because we have no other plan.”

— William McDonough

I love this quote for how well it ties back into the notion of systems and the path of least resistance.

When we don’t make a plan, the system makes one for us.  And the easiest is to just do what the system says to do.  Because to us it feels like that’s just how things are; we’re surrounded by it.  Its reality.  And so we punch our ticket and get swept along.

That system, though, may itself have never been planned, and rather came together by either accident, happenstance, or, often, by the messy collision of several other (perhaps/likely themselves unplanned) systems.  It’s system-ception – systems begetting systems begetting systems.

Everything we do has an outcome, a result.  And when our de facto plan spits out outcomes, whether personal or global, that aren’t as fulfilling a result as we’d like, we can be very accurate when we note that it was unintentional.  Because they’re the result of actions taken with literally no intention – just automatic engagement.  We’ve slipped into the path of least resistance.

Oops!

But our systems are just systems.  Unlike the properties of physics, they don’t have a force in reality.  They may have arrived by happenstance, but we can tweak them.  Replace them.  Transform them.  We needn’t get caught up in blame or shame or fault.  We can step up with intention, create from first principles, and be mindful of and design towards all the desired outcomes.

Until our de facto plans line up with our intended ones.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

January 1, 2019

You are whole and complete

~

You always have been

~

And you always will be

~

You may not experience it

~

And you may sometimes take actions that don’t reflect it

~

But it doesn’t change the truth of who and what you are

~

There are just barriers to your experiencing it

~

Welcome to the New Year

~

Whole and Complete

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

December 11, 2018

There is great power in learning to “have” various states rather than “being” them.

Much in the same vein as the distinction between sadness and suffering, when we can be with and have our (often intense*)  feelings, emotions, and even thoughts, rather than automatically thinking that they are “me” and thus automatically being them, new spaces open up:

Having fear rather than being afraid.

Having uncertainty rather than being paralyzed.

Having nervousness and butterflies and tingly legs rather than being anxious and spooked.**

Having annoyance and frustration rather than being angry and enraged.

Having guilt rather than being shameful.

Having envy rather than being hopeless.

It isn’t a matter of resisting or pretending they’re not there; again, much like the distinction between sadness and suffering, it’s a matter of taking ownership and honouring them and being with them.  We are human, after all, and we humans have all those kind of things.  And they can be downright useful things to have.

To have; not to be controlled by.  Let them be, and peace of mind emerges.  Choice rises.  Everything steers away from suffering.

Let them be, and the authentic self can step to the fore, guiding things forward as we want them to be.

 

* …but even more powerful when we can notice and be with and own and have our subtle and background feelings, emotions, and especially thoughts (which are almost born from our calculating rather than authentic self) without immediately becoming them.

** I am very familiar with this before I go up on stage.  So intense!  Being with it all and essentially embracing it, as in, “I knew this was going to come, so hey, here it is!” is what gets me ready to go up and perform my heart out.  (And, depending on where I am, I’ve also at times done strings of jump kicks and other drills to burn off the nervous energy…)

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

November 13, 2018

If you want to draw water,

You do not dig six one-foot wells.

You dig one six-foot well.

Variations on this phrase have been attributed to many great philosophers and thinkers over the years (be it Sufi or Buddha or some other), but no matter its origin (which I’d wager is more likely to be pedestrian rather than profound), it remains a lovely little didactic parable that nicely encapsulates a number of philosophical hooks to leap from.

For one, it can be taken as a tale of intention and perseverance: “To flit about and abandon things quickly may not always yield that which will slake your thirst.”

It may also be taken as a tale of collaboration and unity: “When we dig only for ourselves, we come up short; when we dig together, we can reach rewards of superabundance.”

And for me, the most profound comes when I take it this way: “Remember that there are many valid paths, and everyone ends up drinking from the same water.  We don’t need to divide ourselves based on the specific well.  The important part is that we are digging our well, that our well aims true, and that we dig deep enough to reach the water of spirit and enlightenment.”

In both martial and philosophical arts, I have found that any “style” or “method” or “philosophy” developed to a high level begins to sound the same.  They start talking about the same things.  They have to.  Because we are all the same human body, and the same human being.  They may talk about things differently, or have different conceptual frameworks, but ultimately they are all pointing to the same thing.  The same water.

Search to find a good spot for a well.  Set yourself down.  And start digging.

When you find another drinking from a different well, revel in the water below.  Look down their well to see what new things might reflect back for you.   Share the experiences of the waters you have reached.

When we cease our flitting, begin our digging, work together to bore downward, and support each other in our well building efforts, we can all reach and revel in that sweet, cool, water below.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

October 2, 2018

At the Monterrey Design Conference last year, one of the principals from OMA (Rem Koolhaas’ firm) gave a talk.  They began by noting all the famous architects and firms that had emerged from their office: BIG, MVRDV, FOA, JDS, REX, Zaha Hadid, Buro Ole Scheeren… just to name a few.  And we all cheered.  For they are some great designers (many of whose projects I’ve posted about on this very blog).  Clearly a great achievement for OMA to be such an incubator for great talent.

“And so,” they continued, I paraphrase, “we had to ask ourselves a question.  Why are so many of them leaving our firm?”

Murmurs filled the hall.

“Who are we being such that they feel their future is brighter outside of our company?  Who are we being that they feel the need to leave to fully express themselves?”

Silence.

It was not where we expected the talk to go… nor was it something most of us would have considered.  But there it was, honestly stated and expressed with vulnerability.  It was an inquiry, posed to us all.  And one that was clear OMA was taking on with vigour.

It’s a great inquiry.

Ben Zander, in his amazing TED talk, finishes off his presentation with a similar question, describing his definition of leadership and success:  shining eyes.

“So if the eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. And this is the question: who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining?”

He then ups the ante quite beautifully:

“We can do that with our children, too. Who am I being, that my children’s eyes are not shining? That’s a totally different world.”

When things keep going a certain way, be it in our lives or all around us; when we get that realization that maybe something is off; when we notice that our progress is stymied; when we grasp our strategies are bankrupt; whenever the barriers stop us flat we can ask ourselves that very great question:  “Who am I being such that it is going this way?  Who am I being such that these are the results I’m having?”

The answer often surprises us (in that “bad news” insight kind of way).

Once we get over the shock, we can complete it, clear ourselves, and begin to design who we do want to be.

And keep that stable of fabulous designers to make great things, together.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

September 11, 2018

I blame Descartes.

Natch, in actuality it likely involved way more dimensions and people that just Descartes, pulling on various conversations and directions of thought that had been already developing, the general thrust of the renaissance, and, given the hundreds of years its been since his death, many more people have continued it and even reinforced it… so really it’s a much more involved thing than just one person.  That statement is not entirely fair.

But it’s more fun and attention getting* to just say, “I blame Descartes.”

For what?  For “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am”… for the idea and elevation of “rational thought” as the pinnacle, in western philosophies, of what makes a person a person.  Thought is truth.  Reason is truth.  Emotions are suspect.  Feelings are bad.  To be a great human is to be a being of pure detached thought.**

And wow, I assert, did society ever take that and run with it.

In many ways, we are taught to be Vulcans.  Since emotions aren’t “real” and can’t be “tested in the physical world” and can “lead us astray”****, we’re told to ignore them or, even more so, resist them.

Now, in no way will I be saying that rational thought is itself bad, or useless, or even that we shouldn’t engage it.  Far from it, thinking is great.

But the thing is, there’s a huge deleterious effect to all this shaming and vilification of our rich, emotional life. *****

We aren’t robots, and our emotions do influence us.  They do.  And the more we ignore our emotions, the more we discount them, the more we do not develop our emotional intelligence/health/awareness, then the more at their effect we are.

In other words, the less we integrate ourselves as a whole being of emotions, feelings, and thought, the more we’re actually controlled by our emotions, without realizing it.

We are great rationalizing (not necessarily rational) creatures – we can get pushed down a path by that invisible internal world and our “perfect” logical and thoughtful minds will come up with darn good reasons and evidence and justifications for this path we’re barreling down.

We think we’re so smart.  And that’s the problem as well as the punchline… our hubris blinds us and robs us of the very agency we’re trying to attain.

Like many things, there’s a middle path here that has gotten missed.  A wholistic embracement of all of the amazing things that constitute who we are as human beings.  It isn’t a matter of being emotional or rational, of being governed by every feeling that arises or to be the perfect android, it’s a matter of listening to all of the above:  emotions, feelings, thinking, imagination, logic, moods, deductions, and so on.

Emotions and feelings can be great indicators.  They are a signal.  And when we embrace them, we get to use those signals rather than be thrown by them or have them sneakily dictate our actions.  The signals become just that, signals, that we can merge with our active mindfulness to give us presence from which we can then choose.  Agency becomes ours and, as a bonus, we get to enjoy the glorious experience(s) of being alive and the vast catalogue of feelings and emotions.

We end up making the better choices we’re aiming for.  We gain freedom and we love our life more.

Sorry Descartes.  We think therefore we are, but we also feel, and together we do more than just exist, we blossom with relish.

 

* and truth be told in many ways it is completely irrelevant to the true exploration of this post…

** This, of course, is why women were relegated as lesser people, for they are more emotional, “governed” by their feelings, and prone to hysteria… true great humans are all men, and men are the thoughtful, reasoning type.***

*** Which, doubly of course, is all absolute caca.****

**** It gets extra silly and super double standard-y when you realize the accolades and admiration that are lauded onto a guy who “follows his gut” as some sort of honest strong paragon when, well, what is “following your gut” other than being guided by your emotions/feelings?

*****  Which come on here everyone, we’re all seeking love and pleasure and happiness and excitement and aren’t those all emotions and feelings?  Further, why are we being taught to suppress our emotions, yet love is supposed to be a first-sight-head-over-heels type thing and that we should blindly follow our emotion in that instance?

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

September 4, 2018

By three methods may we learn wisdom:

First, by reflection,

which is noblest;

Second, by imitation,

which is the shallowest;

and third by experience,

which is the bitterest.