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Life & Philosophy Poetry Tech

Flashes of intuition

A photo of person flashing a light in the dark

When we drop a coin in the dark, our first instinct is to look for the nearest lite brite (be it a streetlight or our phone) to find it. But the initial frustration of blindness provides enough luminosity.

We are victims of ignoring the obvious — the coin is often just below our feet. It is not lost. Sometimes, we’re even standing right on top of it.

Some things are not meant to be clear; obscurity is their clarity. We should not underestimate obscurity. Obscurity is as rich as luminosity.

Etel Adnan

It’s amazing the things we discover when just use our intuition pumps. Our predictive senses are immune to the best technologies.

On the grid, off the grid, curious what hides in the night. Yet we can imagine radiance all along. All we had to do was use our senses to look around first.

Categories
Psychology Science

Alien Hand Syndrome

giphy
via NPR

What if you woke up one day and had a brand new second hand that moved on its own?

This is what happened to Karen after she had brain surgery to help cure her epilepsy. After her operation, her left hand immediately took on a life of its own. For starters, it immediately began to unbutton her shirt on the hospital bed while the surgeon pleaded her to stop.

After she went home the hand started to do other things like slapping her, which reminded me of the self-beating Jim Carrey famously gives himself in the movie Liar Liar.

What caused her alien hand syndrome?

Apparently, the surgery had to split her brain and removed her Corpus callosum, which ties the left and right brain hemisphere together. Basically, the operation caused the opposing sides of her brain to switch roles.

Fortunately, Karen has come to appreciate the moral authority her left hand tries to impose on her decision-making. Any time she tries to smoke, for example, her left hand puts the cigarette out and even flicks the ashes around.

Karen’s come to appreciate the magic discipline of her hand. However, she still gets in a smoke or two. “I understand you want me to quit,” she tells her hand, “but cut the crap!”

Categories
Books Life & Philosophy

Alan Watts: The Story of the Chinese Farmer

Some of Alan Watts’s most influential lessons and ideas emerged from lectures he gave at universities across the United States, including his story of the Chinese farmer.

The story, recorded and transcribed below (after the jump), is also part of a collection of lectures entitled Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life: Collected Talks: 1960-1969

“You never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.”

Alan Watts
Alan Watts: The Story of the Chinese Farmer

The Story of the Chinese Farmer

Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.” 

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad — because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.

Alan Watts

‘Maybe’ we pick up clues as we go along, labeling situations as either misfortune or good fortune. But ‘maybe’ everything is the way it’s supposed to be: the yin can’t exist without the yang, the shadow depends on light and vice versa.

The nature of experience proposes a game of chance: the future is too unpredictable to force an outcome so everything must be perceived as neutral.

We never know the consequences of any event other than the one we can emotionally control. Just try to keep a good outlook.