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Conceptual Frameworks and Mental Models: An Introduction

It seems that every sight, sound and idea we experience is processed through a conceptual framework in our mind.

As you read this, the shape, colors, and contrasting black squiggles on white are being converted, via frameworks you and I share, into images, words, sentences, and connected ideas in your mind.

Imagine how confusing life would be if we had to categorize, name and evaluate the ideas of the letter S,  smartphone, windows, tree, and sunlight afresh every time we encountered them?  It is no wonder to me that babies are awake so little when they are first born, free of frameworks; all that uncategorized input to process! Continue reading Conceptual Frameworks and Mental Models: An Introduction

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Failure as the Death of the Illusion of Control

You’ve seen the t-shirt, “Pain is the feeling of weakness leaving your body.” Maybe the pain of failure is the feeling of being relieved of our illusions. But, where’s the gain in this pain?

The next time I find myself brooding over my failures, I will ask myself:

  • What failed exactly?
  • What assumptions was I making about the nature of the elements, the mechanisms and the processes I was working with?
  • Did I think I could control the outcomes based on that understanding?
  • What might I learn from the death of any illusions built into my assumptions?

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The Wisdom Movement

The Movement

We believe that a movement’s afoot and we resonate with these statements that seem to emanate from the movement’s ideals:

“I am on the track of a more essential thing: the compassionate uses of a mortal mind and body.”

–Czeslaw Milosz tr. by Catherine Madsen

“A man who has once perceived, however temporarily and however briefly, what makes greatness of soul, can no longer be happy if he allows himself to be petty, self-seeking, troubled by trivial misfortunes, dreading what fate may have in store for him.

Windows, Huntington Gardens

The man capable of greatness of soul will open wide the windows of his mind, letting the winds blow freely upon it from every portion of the universe. He will see himself and life and the world as truly as our human limitations will permit; realizing the brevity and minuteness of human life, he will realize also that in individual minds is concentrated whatever of value the known universe contains. 

And he will see that the man whose mind mirrors the world becomes in a sense as great as the world. In emancipation from the fears that beset the slave of circumstance he will experience a profound joy, and through all the vicissitudes of his outward life he will remain in the depths of his being a happy man.”

–Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness, 1930 p.227

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Invocation

What a glorious day!

Now that our rainy season has passed, I’d like to bring it gently back to your mind and possibly into your heart.

On a rainy solstice day in December 1964, a monk, named Thomas Merton, hiked up from the Gesthemane abbey to a little cabin.  He took out a pen and wrote these lines.

“The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with inconsistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.”

… he continued

“The night became very dark. The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, … What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.”

Let us pray:

God who speaks through rain; we listen; we lower the umbrellas of our minds, open our hearts, and listen to You, to each other, and to the miracle of this moment together.  May your gracious rain soak us through as we celebrate.