Tag Archives: visual thinking

Lord Ganesha and the Rat

In the last post, we discussed about the two qualities of thinking – focusing and expanding, and their role in creative thinking.  These two qualities in fact represent two movements in the mind. These movements are like channels through which the thoughts are channeled.

It is possible to make the mind experience this movement and hence train it. But it is not possible to do this when the logical mind is active and dominant. When the logical mind gets out of the way, the creative mind is exposed and it is then possible to experience this movement without the commentary. In some traditions of meditation they do this. One you are in deep meditative states (when the thoughts stop and the logical mind quiet) you can alternatively become aware of something very big (like a mountain) and something very small (like a grain of sand). If your meditation is deep enough, you can feel both the expansion and focusing of the mind. Note the term ‘aware’- in meditation we only become aware. It is the logical mind that thinks and the creative mind is just aware.

When the creative mind experiences this movement, it learns.

In Hindu spiritual tradition, symbols are used extensively to make such movements in the mind. It is also woven in to the daily living so as to help people think better. One such example is of Lord Ganesha. For those who do not know, Lord Ganesha is a fat, elephant-headed god with rat as his vehicle, who is worshipped to remove obstacles before an activity is undertaken (see a picture here)

See the brilliance of the people who designed this. When you pray to the lord, that is a moment where thoughts stop – which means the logic stops. Now the gross form of Ganesha gives you that expansion in the mind and the rat creates the movement of focus. And this is what you need when you begin any new activity – ability to think big and ability to pay attention to details.

It is in fact a great idea to use visuals (like statues or photos) to create these movements in the mind, because visuals are perceived by the creative mind.

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The muted TV

Over the last weekend, I was watching a film on the TV, when the phone rang. I muted the TV and picked up the phone; and it was a call for my wife. As she came walked in to the living room to attend the call, I returned to the sofa to resume watching of the film.

Not to disturb her, I didn’t turn the volume ON, but continued watching the picture.

This was interesting. I was trying to make sense of what’s going on without the audio part. I had to concentrate hard. It occurred to me that I haven’t watched something so attentively for a long time. And it was not easy.

The telephone interruption ended, but I continued to watch the film without the audio. I looked at people more closely (in to their eyes, lips..) and I could understand most of what is going on clearly. When there was audio, it was taking most of the attention and I paid little attention to really the whole experience (I think I paid real attention to the visual part only when there was no background clutter..)

I am all the more convinced now that language (or speech) disrupts our perception process by drawing our attention to it. Or may be there is an unnecessary urgency in us to ‘understand’ things..

When I look back at this, I also get a feeling that most of our primary needs and emotions can be expressed easily without any language. Then what we need the language for? – for all that mess that we have been building around us which is creating a false identity for us

Try listening to someone intently without processing what they say or without trying to interpret or even respond. You are in for a great revelation….