pistons of the mind

I have had lots of ideas flowing freely through my head of late but I haven’t had time to get them all down. Time is the limiter, flattening the peaks of our imagination. I have also been music processing lately, and had an insight into how compression is the bowl to the porridge of sound recording. Reverb is the milk.  I’ll explain about these metaphors later.

Pistons in the mind – I thought of a metaphor from the industrial revolution to describe what could happen in our minds to develop as a species. In the same way that logic transformed thinking and lifted us out of fear and dogma into the enlightenment, we are now ripe for a new thinking process to lift us out of unfocussed thinking patterns. The metaphor of pistons captures the discipline of it, how our thoughts are like gasses wafting about in our head, but when captured as steam is captured in a cylinder, they can power real transformations. This focus comes about through meditation – but not in a very traditional sense.  Meditation is not quite the right word for it, loaded with spiritual connotations. Plenty of people practice this knowingly or not every day when the think deeply on something. But there is rarely a recognition for what it is, a truly transformative mental technique.  This is a shame especially in the fields of education, where it is all about stuffing the knowledge in, but we are left to our own devices in the use of deeper mental techniques.  We are usually so distracted by new shiny things, it is hard to take a different approach without labelling it and recognising it as a practical and powerful mental tool.  I also think a Rinzai approach, using paradoxes like the duck in the bottle* is useful to cut through knotted thought roots, allowing deeper penetration. In this respect the technique is very different to a logic based approach to the use of the mind as is cherished by platonists.

*Duck in the bottle – I tried to find a good description of this one online, but couldn’t so I’ll tell it myself. Well, a duck egg is placed in a bottle and when the duckling hatches it is fed but kept inside the bottle as it grows. When it has grown large and is completely filling the bottle, the question is, how do we get the duck out alive without breaking the bottle? The question cannot be answered without exiting the norms of logic, and entering the lovely world of paradox. Perhaps the bottle is on floor six and the duck is on floor seven and a half – but there is no doubt that however you solve this one, when you do, you will leap to your feet and shout instantly and without any hesitation “the duck is out, the duck is out!”