Non-local Leaps of Thought

IMG_3134.jpgimg_2915-1So what is a Nonlocal leap of thought? The best way to describe this is to look at local linear thinking first, which is the primary operating system for most of us. One thought builds upon the other in a linear fashion, one idea yields insights to the next idea or insight in the progression that follows known cycles of reasoning. I am sure there is a better explanation, however, we are far more familiar with linear thinking so a better explanation is not necessary at this point.

The tricky skill to train is that of Non-local thinking. Non-local  thinking is thinking that starts from many places and moves outward in undiscernable cycles and patterns and the  idea that there can be multiple starting points and multiple places of exploration that can form a deeper image of the investigation of a topic.  One of the pitfalls of linear logic is that once a starting point is established there are a limited number of outcomes from that starting point.

The idea of group of blind folks describing and elephant illustrates the point. One person starts at the trunk, one person starts and the tail, one person describes what they find at the head of the elephant, one person who is the size of an atom describes the molecular structure of the elephant, one person the size of bacteria describes the living organisms in the elephant, one person describes the thoughts of the elephant. Each of them tells the story of what they are feeling or sensing in the darkness and telling the truth about what they touch. Each viewpoint is correctly describing the elephant and yet is that the elephant? Each description is valid yet incomplete no matter how you dice it, how you parse it up it can’t describe the whole elephant. Something else is needed to get a greater picture of the elephant.

Non-linear thinking is a global way of engaging a subject, whether is is a thing or a concept, whether it is something small like a flower or large like the interplay of yin and yang in all of the life around us. As a young photographer, I studied a lot of photographers work, one of them was Minor White. He did a series of photos called the sound of one hand clapping. One of them is below. He talked about using images as equivalents to describe an idea or concept. This is non-linear way of describing a non-linear Buddhist concept.


The Arts that I play all have aspects of life that they describe in a non-linear way. Yet to get at the information contained within them you engage them in a very linear way, at least at first. The original form of Tai Chi called the Nei Chia Chuang is an encyclopedic exploration of non-linear thinking. It utilizes specific movement, with specific imagery to explain a huge concept that from all ways to play becomes an intuitive exploration into the great wonders of the body/mind in motion. It is a memory peg to memorized the I-Ching, it has specific Chinese Medical information, it has poetry with each posture, it has calligraphy that goes with each posture, each of the different ways you can engage this huge tome of information and movement points at a greater picture that in the end can only be intuited as the body/mind engages lots of parts.This can only be done from a non-linear, or non-local approach to engaging the art of Tai Chi.

This morning I was playing a simple dance from the New Forest Tradition called Yin Fu Ching. ( it means balancing what is within you with what is outside of you) It is 12 easy postures, designed by Sifu Fey. A person can learn it in 20 minutes. And yet I have been exploring this set of postures for going on 28 years now. Once you learn the postures then you start to give the postures life. It is the same as playing music. there are just 12 notes and look at all of the music there is in the world. This morning  my goal was to play with  non-linear jumps of consciousness.To do this I have some keywords that put the form into little boxes. Remember that limits yield intensity. The different keywords that I bounced through were: slow, fast, cultured (or simple movement), tools, together, air, brains , chi, differently, creatively.  Each of the little boxes yielded an entirely new expression of the 12 different postures. I had different kinds of music inform how I played the form, then changed and played it like as some kind of animal like a bear or a hawk, then played it very slowly, or very fast, I played it for all of the people in my city, I played it for people that needed some prayers, I played it seated. The idea was to change my whole perspective from a very different point of view each time I played the form.  What happened was that when I looked at the world around me the world glowed as if it was the first time that I had seen it. I felt clouds moving inside of me, I could feel the wings of a bird pressing into the air as it flew. the light became a visceral experience and I felt connected to everything and everything felt connected to me.

The world was like this before I started, however since I was caught in a linear framework of looking at the world all I could experience was the difference from myself the life around me. When non-linear learning kicked in I was able to experience the truth that we all share the same chi. Can I prove it? No. Should I attribute an objective reality to the experience? No! Can I explain the experience fully? No! All I can say is this. The world became brighter, funnier, and more vibrant and I felt connected to all of it and it felt connected to me. I had a greater experience of the world around me. This was due to many non-linear jumps of thought and consciousness along with my body/minds intuition breaking down old familiar paths of thinking.

Though I was playing with Yin Fu Ching, this can be used to view anything, to engage any aspect of  life. You are only limited by your own creativity. Truly if you are bored with life it is because you are caught in years of linear thinking that has and continues to rob you of all of the wonders presented to you in every moment.


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