June 17, 2002
In time before Swans [pre 1996, ed.], I wrote a series of pieces under the rubric of "Thinking about thinking about. . . ."
The processes involved were rather simple: Given any subject and thoughts about that subject involved having stimuli, dealing with them, making selections, following threads, developing syntheses and so on and so forth. Necessarily involved, however rarely examined explicitly, are the many assumptions, many ways, many possibilities and much prior history which come to focus and result in words tracking across either page or screen.
In thinking about thinking about. . . new sets of patterns of thinking may evolve -- even if they rarely do. Patterns, in retrospect, evolve succeeding patterns all of which are the same and different than previously. Gradually whatever anchored thoughts in one context was slipped and way given toward quite atypical rather than typical expression.
None of this exposition is news to Sufis, Advaita Vedantists, Vajrayana Buddhists, Taoists, Christian mystics, Gnostics, et al., for whom these patternings are norm rather than exception. The simple formula: This is both that and not that or A is not A and A, so on and so forth. Also I recognize that pointing out something such as this tends to shut down Western minds. My point overall is that Western minds are much overdue for opening to many other possibilities which may, in actuality, be probabilities when known.
Hey, folks, there is so much out there and in here which is missed, overlooked and ignored. There is no need to go Asian to get at it, no need to find a cave on a Himalayan slope. No need to get spooky or fiddle with newage or occult ego trips. Just open up!
Everything known to the conditioned mindsets and indoctrinated belief systems which characterize Western mind and now epidemic is known exclusively through the quite limited categories perceived. If someone cannot "see" folks starving and dying in various places elsewhere, are there people starving and dying? We may believe it or deny it. In either believing or denying, we are basing our belief or denial not on personal experiencing or direct perceiving. We are more likely relying on some report or image selected by others to make a particular impression. In those instances, we may be thinking potato chips or popcorn but we are unlikely to be thinking starving and dying.
Who is making those selections? Who is directing those who make those selections? What is their motivation in directing and selecting? And so on and so forth. Imagine a vast control room with many monitors facing the console and an editor or producer sitting at the console selecting which images to broadcast at any given moment. Would that person or persons make the same selections you would make? In that context, selections are made according to the conditioned mindsets and indoctrinated belief systems as well as management instructions of the editor or producer. Will the owner of the facility select someone holding mindset or belief system contrary to his or hers?
In that situation and the myriad like it, it is easy to see that both other possibilities and other probabilities exist. To think about thinking about the output opens looking into those other possibilities and probabilities. For the moment, simply accept that at any given instant anywhere with anyone, there are infinite other possibilities, probabilities and actualities at play. Noticing which are being accepted and acted upon at any given moment is the core of thinking about thinking about. Good practice. Give it a try.
In the obvious categories of available sensing perceptions, it is easy to notice that any of the generally accepted five senses, if employed selectively and with awareness, produce a minimum of five other actualities. Simple mathematical extrapolations suggest further that the compoundings of five produce many more than five.
And, at this point, we are restricting ourselves to the generally accepted five senses and pretty much denying both probability and possibility that more dimensions, more senses, more planes are simultaneously at play.
An extension of thinking about thinking about leads to openings into more dimensions, more senses, more planes. And, let's be out front, let's be explicit: you don't have to be some nutcase to accept that there is more going on than meets the eye. Everybody accepts radio and TV and FM and AM and all the 3G software that invisibly runs the newest electronic gadgetry. Accepting the explanations for those quite unseen processes, if thought about, may also open acceptance to other unseen processes -- without giggling about them.
We are self-restricted to dimensions such as time and space as though there is something concrete about them. Somehow animals such as bats avoid running into buildings and trees while managing to snag insects on the fly. Other examples of animals with more acute sensory apparatus than humans abound -- dogs and sound, for example, if we pause to think about them. In a sound bite and photo-op world, who stops to think?
Think a moment about the images seen on TV and in movies. Scenes are now jiggled and jittered nearly incessantly -- microseconds. Seconds become eternities. Holding a point of view, an actor's perspective or a director's perspective is now rare. Reaction is constant to the point where there is no reaction, only a deadening into a designed perspective. Think about your participation, your choice, your understanding.
Being self-restricted, in itself, opens up possibilities and probabilities. If we recognize our self-restriction and then are able to release our self-imposed restrictions' we are opening to opening. Which, in turn, means acknowledging that our self-imposed restrictions are self-imposed rather than an inherent factor of actuality. Redundant? No way!
The actual has dimension beyond length, breadth and width. We have senses beyond five. The lists of self-imposed restrictions if released will open each of us who are thinking about thinking about to compoundings of potentials expanding into possibilities and probabilities. Choice is enhanced. Life is abundant.
Doing so, in a material sense, is what got us off our butts onto feet and into automobiles by way of oxen and horses. Doing so is what got us out of darkness by torches, candles, gas lamps and Edison fiddling with bamboo filaments on the way to incandescent lighting now yielding to numerous other ways to capture lightning and to control it.
I will suggest that more thinking about thinking about may lead us out of the very deep morasses in which we now appear quite trapped. How about newthink for oldthink? How about now?
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Milo Clark, a founding member of Swans, had it all: Harvard MBA, big house, three-car garage, top management... Yet, once he had seemingly achieved the famed American dream he felt something was missing somewhere. As any good executive he decided to investigate. Since then, he has become a curmudgeon and, after living in Berkeley, California, where he was growing bamboos, making water gardens, listening to muses, writing, cogitating and pondering, he has moved on to the Big Island in Hawaii where he creates thought forms about sunshine.
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