Tag Archives: Logic

The joy of nothingness

As a small child, I used to enjoy watching the rain drops fall from the roof top in to the collecting water, make small bubbles that burst with a small ‘pop’, making concentric circles that travel outward to collide with countless others before disappearing in to the water. By then, several new drops arrive and the process goes on and on without an interruption.

As I simply watch this for a while, something strange used to happen. There was a strange feeling of peace and joy and there was nothing but the continuous birth and death of water bubbles, countless circles and the distinct ‘pop’ sound.

There used to be several small black ants that are caught up the sudden downpour, frantically swimming away to safety. The ant was definitely not enjoying this as I did. That thought made me feel different to be watching the whole thing as is, not affected by it. Strangely, watching these rain drops used to bring a sense of detachment in me; that I did not really bother to rescue the ants.

There was something serene and divine about this. If there was someone above who was watching over us, the humans, running around stressed, fighting, cheating, trying to find happiness, chasing fulfillment… wouldn’t he also have the same sense of detachment that I had?

After a very long time, I was in my hometown last month sitting in the verandah and watching the falling raindrops. At first it brought back the strong memories from my childhood and soon I lost myself again in it. Quite some time should have passed, when it occurred to me that it must have been very long that I indulged in something so trivial and useless; thanks to the industry that I am part of and the fast world that I live in.

The serenity was there, the peace was there and I was lost.

It was a message on impermanence from the heavens. It was pure perception – me, the bubbles- nothing more, nothing less

It was zen

Rain drops

Rain drops

I remembered this today as I watched this TED video the_world_s_most_boring_television_and_why_it_s_hilariously_addictive. This is about the world’s most boring television show and the concept of slow TV. This talk was delivered by Norwegian television producer Thomas Hellum who is behind some of famous ‘boring’ programs aired by the NRK Television. They did shows around very trivial things such as a live telecast of a 7hr train journey (three cameras –one at the front and one each at each side – There was no story, no commentary, just whatever the camera saw and heard), an18 hr fishing expedition and a 5.5day ferry voyage. The Norwegian president appears in the video stating that he has been glued to his chair for 5.5 days (btw, he is 82).Thomas Hellum says that they are planning to live telecast many such trivial things such as knitting, cooking etc etc.

There is something very beautiful about this. They are showing things as is and you see something as is, real time, with nothing to expect, nothing to logically process. If you can overcome the initial barrier of judgment and rejection, something wonderful happens. You begin to thoroughly enjoy and at some point all the noise in the head begins to settle down.

And every great religion has told you how nice it feels when that damn noise stops.

This is like a new age zen and I believe increasingly there is an absolute need for people to fully engage in something that is trivial, of no use as such, logically unconvincing…This might probably be the next booming industry, a technology powered zen at a very large scale.

This will be the new religion and spirituality of the world.

afterthought: I watched the film PK over the weekend. If you compare to all the great ‘alien’ films, this alien was terrible. The alien here looks like any of us, talked Bhojpuri Hindi, ate Samosa’s, feel jealous when he learns that heroine was in love with someone else..The film is one of the biggest hits in the history of Bollywood, I think primarily because there is not much of logic in there. Once the great burden to ‘understand’ is not there, there is real enjoyment.

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A lesson on creativity

Every day morning, I drive my daughter to the bus stop where she boards her school bus. This short drive and the subsequent wait at the bus stop is something I love because mostly what gets done or discussed does not make any sense (as far as adults are concerned).It is alwys amusing how simple these little children’s life is, yet so fulfilling.
This morning, I noticed in the car that she was holding a tube of glue in her hand. I suggested that she put it inside her bag; for she might spill it on her dress. “No dad, I will hold it”, she refused.
A while later, as we stood waiting for the bus, I make another attempt to persuade her to put the tube inside her bag. She refused again and then I decided not to push it further. Probably she wanted to show it off to her friends, I thought (which, I realized immediately may not true, because it was after all a tube of glue).

Girl holding a glue stick in her hand

Girl holding a glue stick in her hand


The bus was late today and as we stood waiting for the bus, I noticed that my daughter was holding the glue tube in her right hand like a mike and was silently singing. She was so involved in the act that I am sure she was singing somewhere on a grand stage to a very large audience.
Perhaps she wanted to play with it, I thought.

A while later when I looked at her, she had stopped singing and was holding the tube horizontal right in front of her right eye, like a binocular and looking around through it.

Something went shattering in me. What was a simple tube of glue that did not matter, had to be kept inside the bag because it might spill, as far as I was concerned was NOT a tube of glue at all for her. It was a mike that took her to some imaginary stage somewhere, it was a binocular (probably she was imagining her to be in army or so). And I am sure by the time she reached her school today; the glue tube would have assumed many other forms.

Here was I, the intelligent and rational, who is familiar with several techniques for creativity and Innovation and who is proud that he has understood the fundamental mechanism behind creative thinking. And here was this little girl, with all innocence, had the least idea about any of these concepts was simply creative.

The difference was striking. For her the world was not what it was, it was what she wanted it to be.
And this small difference explains why all the techiques for creative thinking simply does not work.

Spiritual Marketing

There is no dearth of festivals and auspicious days in India. 13th of May was one such. It was the auspicious “Akshaya tritiya”, the third day of the bright half of Vaishakh month (April-May) important for both Jains and Hindus. The belief for ages has been that any activity initiated on this day is bound to meet with success and it has been a custom to perform pujas, make charity or worship Lord Ganesha or Lakshmi on this day.

Until some years back when an idea struck some marketing genius. The news quickly spread that it was very auspicious to buy gold on this day. Indians love gold and any reason to buy gold is always welcome. But this connection was even irresistable; two birds with one stone. Indians caught on to this idea and now Akshaya Tritiya is almost synonymous with buying gold (in tonnes literally)

This is a collage of ads that appeared in Times of India on the May 12th, reminding you that buying gold was the most important thing to do the next day.
Akshaya Tritiya

For those unfortunate people who can’t afford to purchase gold on this special day, the paper also offers some pieces of wisdom that they can try with their wives (the only issue being that this is on page 5, that is generally r read only by those who have nothing much to do than reading newspapers)
The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith – Confucius
The most pitiful among men is who turns his dream in to gold and silver – Khalil Gibran
The desire for gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit – Ralph Emerson

While the genius who came up with this brilliant idea (hats off to him) remains unknown, there is definitely a magic formula that he invented. If you want to sell anything in India, you can apply this magic formula and that is sure to work. Here are the basic rules
1)Create some mystic feel around whatever you are offering. It should have a benefit in the spiritual dimension that is incomprehensible and unquantifiable. And most importantly you shouldn’t spell out what the benefit is. Indians prefer to have their own interpretations
To add to the mystic effect, you need to spice up the matter with lot of things that sound totally illogical (More in the example below)
2)Indians love special days and occasions. (If you are doing something every single day, what is so special about it?).Make your product look special by attaching it to a special occasion ( For the activity to look special, the minimum frequency is weekly)
3)And you should never say when the benefit will come. Again Indians like to fill up that part on their own. It is also acceptable that the benefit will come after death or in the next life. More mystic it is, more the fun

For example, if you want to make Indians drink your cola, this is what you need to do.

First you make up a story like this:

Every Wednesday (Tuesday and Wednesday are generally the only the days of the week to which an average Indian has no rituals attached to) you should drink this brand of Cola 3 glasses on empty stomach along with a neem leaf and Tulsi leaf (that give more effect) and walk to the nearest temple of ……..god (choose from the widest collection of 33,000 crores) barefoot. You should be carrying a lemon, red flowers, camphor and a coconut in a basket. Offer them at the temple. (More rules make it more attractive, so spice it up with many of them. But none of them should make any logical sense). Do not eat rice on the entire day (rice in the south India, wheat in the north). Drink about 10 cans before noon and then again start drinking after sunset. Remember do not drink between lunch and Sunset. It is very auspicious to do this every Wednesday. (You can add a quote from some scripture saying that the Gods drink some nectar. Then you say that that nectar is your Cola. That makes it even more easier to sell)
You can add some hints about the benefit if you choose to. Anyways if people drink so much of cola, they may not live long enough to verify them.
If you package it like this, Indians will gulp down any stupid drink, eat any junk food, or use your soap or shampoo. All you need to do is keep repeating this till people believe it.

There is only one important point to note here. There should be nothing logical at all about the whole thing. Being overwhelmed is the key; logic spoils it

Logic

It is commonly believed these days that ‘logic’ is what prevents one from thinking creatively. Strangely, if you were to ask a spiritual master what is the obstacle on the way to freedom or realization, you might get the same answer. We have a villain and since ‘logic’ is an abstract concept, it is easy to blame it. I too have made fun of the ‘logical mind’ in several posts in this blog.

But one level deeper, do we really understand what exactly is this demon called ‘logic’? How does it influence our thinking? How to get over it? Or are we too busy inventing techniques to overcome ‘logic’? (It is like the concept of ‘sin’ in some religions. Once you can make people buy in to this belief, it’s easy to create a whole industry out of it)

Here is an insight that came along on this.

 The mind made up of thoughts. In the absence of thoughts, there is ‘space’ which the mind is uncomfortable with. Therefore the mind needs something to be going on continuously. In order to achieve this, mind has devised a mechanism which consists of two distinct things:

  1. There is a process that keeps dumping thoughts continuously in to the mind (to the next empty space to be really precise)
  2. There is an ‘algorithm’ that chooses what will go in to that space from a choice of millions of possibilities These two together keeps the mind engaged and active.

The second one follows and supports the first. And the second one is what is called the logic.

Contrary to what many say, the ‘logic’ might actually be good. The issue comes from the fact that at some point both the above acts become unconscious. This is where the problem lies. Even before you see something fully, you have already named it, categorized it and may be made an opinion on it, because in the little space that follows the act of seeing, the mind fills the details from your past experience.

When we talk of a creative thought, we are actually talking of that one which is unconditioned by your experience, memory, perceptions etc. It’s almost like the thought is not yours. And just because of the fact that it comes not from the conditioned mind, it can be anything – a new insight, a new poem, a new solution, a new dimension, a new potential or may be God himself.

In order to go beyond logic or transcend thought, there are two ways. One is to look in to the second act – to see how the logic can be refined to produce the best output. This is what most of the creative and innovation techniques try to do. There try to define frameworks and techniques which can orient the mind in a particular direction. This definitely might produce thinking that’s superior to normal, but then you aren’t really talking of that idea that’s born beyond the mind.

The other approach is to tackle the process of filling the mind with thoughts. This is what many spiritual traditions attempt to. This is done by the simple technique of being comfortable with space or nothingness. And the moment you are comfortable with the space, the need for the logic is gone. Space where there is neither thinking nor the need for thinking exists.

 Then in this space might arise that new insight or the thought that is not stained by the logic..

Tell stories to overcome the logical barrier in the mind

(Continuing from my pervious posts on Right Brain and Left Brain and a technique for coordinating them)

In my view we were all creative and imaginative as children and as we lost it to a good extend as we grew up. Thanks to our education system and the demands (at least as we perceive) of the world around us. 

Look at this scenario. You are in a team meeting in your office where your boss presents a problem and asks you for ideas to solve it. There is silence for sometime. Suddenly you have an idea. You are about to open your mouth and then you hold back. Because you are not sure if it is ‘not illogical’. What happens if others laugh at my idea? You decide to wait. Others start giving their ideas. All of them making perfect sense. The boss doesn’t seem to be happy yet. Then suddenly a colleague blurts out exactly the same idea that you were pondering on. The boss is jumping up in excitement and your mediocre colleague has stolen the show. You feel a lump in your throat as you leave the room and you are asking you this age old question- why did I hold back? I just lost an opportunity.

Reason is simple. As we become more logical, we are so particular that everything that comes out of our ‘mouth’ (I wouldn’t say mind) has to make sense for us as well as to others. Which is like the logical brain putting a gate or a filter for any information that comes in or goes out. It’s then, you look at a great painting of Salvador Dali and wonder – what’s this stupid thing all about?

So, the point is you need to re-train your brain to overcome the logical barrier. Here is a simple technique to do that.

If you have a small kid at home, start telling him/her stories. Not the ones you have read or heard. Create stories for your own. Make them as illogical as possible. Don’t have to worry; your kid is not sitting there judging whether you make sense. He/she is enjoying every ‘illogical bit’ of it. The more ‘weird’ the story is, better they enjoy.Don’t hold back your imagination and don’t try to make sense of what you say. Add effects by appropriate postures, gestures and sound if you like. Do it whenever you find time to spend with the little ones.

Two things will definitely happen:

  • Your  rating as a parent will shoot up
  • You will soon have someone making a comment on you that ‘you really have those out of the box ideas’