monks are given a "koan" to contemplate. Koans are apparently
impossible puzzles, problems without solutions. One we are familiar
with is, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Another
is "What was the appearance of your face before your ancestors
point of the koan is to push the trainee beyond linear "thinking."
Normal thinking tends to go round and round in circles, looking
in obvious places for obvious answers. Normal thinking also depends
upon association to find solutions. When no apparent associations
are found, the puzzle is considered impossible.
Zen master knows though that the answer is "in" the question.
There is no such thing as an impossible problem or enigma. The only
thing that makes a solution "impossible" is the route
used to find it. If you're going off on circuitous paths that lead
nowhere, then nowhere is where you'll end up.
leads us back to our question of, why do puzzles? The most prominent
reason is that it takes different kinds of "thought" to
find the solution to different kinds of puzzles. Most of us rely
exclusively on "figuring it out." We ignore our intuition
and the insight that is showered upon us daily from our deeper minds.
O.K., so what is our deeper mind? Well this has been given many
names by many schools of thought. The subconscious, higher self,
unconscious self, the Id, psychic self, etc. No matter what you
call it, we're all aware that there is a level of mind within each
of us that lies in the background of our daily conscious thinking.
This is the mind that keeps our heart beating, our lungs breathing,
our blood flowing, and all those other biological functions that
keep us alive.
deeper mind is available to us whenever we call on it. Many branches
of psychology are now studying the different ways we can access
this portion of our consciousness that lies below the surface. Even
religions and spiritualists are using different mechanisms to bring
to light this aspect of self. At Enchanted Mind we are proposing
that one very simple and fun way to access this deeper mind is by
presenting the conscious mind with puzzling situations that can't
always be reasoned out. In doing this, we come to the end of our
usual methods of determining solutions. We are forced to turn it
over to the level of mind that can handle the problem. Like any
exercise, the more you practice this the better you get at literally
"groking" the answer.
takes a certain kind of attention and recognition to be aware of
intuition and insight. So many of us have these insights all day
long, but we dismiss them, usually because they are not "rational".
Western culture tends to "educate" this insightful kind
of thought out of its students because it isn't logical. There is
a place for logic. In fact, logic taken to its highest form is pure
reason. We aren't throwing out logical thought here. But what we
are doing is learning to exercise and discern the other kind of
thought process that goes beyond sequential, rational and logical
thought. This analogical thought pushes us out into the unknown.
highly unused analogical portion of our mind can see the entire
picture of any given situation. It knows the answer. It knows that
the answer was in the question. Pure analogical thought doesn't
rely on time or space, so it whispers the answer to our conscious
mind almost instantly. The problem is, most of us are so entrenched
in our usual step by step linear modes of thinking, we ignore this
simple tiny whisper. And, if we do hear it we discount it.
a good example of the kind of thinking that most of us learned in
school and have taken for granted as normal. Years ago some experimental
psychologists were investigating the ability of chimpanzees to solve
problems. A banana was suspended from the center of the ceiling
at a height that the chimp could not reach by jumping. The room
was bare of all objects except several packing crates placed around
the room at random. The test was to see whether a lady chimp would
think of first stacking the crates in the center of the room, and
then climbing on top of the crates to get the banana.
chimp sat quietly in a corner, watching the psychologist arrange
the crates. She waited patiently until the professor crossed the
middle of the room. When he was directly below the fruit, the chimp
suddenly jumped on his shoulder, then leaped into the air and grabbed
moral here: a problem that seems difficult may have a simple, unexpected
solution. The chimp followed her instincts. Man was hoping for her
to use the logical sequential approach that he would have used to
accomplish getting the banana. Standing on the crates and reaching
up. Not only does this show that there are a number of ways to solve
any problem, but that the approach to the problem can be critical
to a simple elegant solution. The chimp wasn't stuck on sequential
logic. She knew the answer, different from the one they had hoped
for, and seized it in the moment.
is where Zen comes in. The solution to the koan is the simplest
most elegant approach. Amazingly, most of the time that is an answer
that will be intuited, perhaps after some contemplation. Contemplation
is different than "figuring out." When you contemplate
something you ponder it from all sides. If you're skilled at this,
you become the problem that you're working on. Once you become it,
the solution will reveal itself almost as if by magic. As you do
this more and more the simple, elegant solution becomes immediately
apparent to you.
the purpose of this web site is to get people to challenge their
minds daily with simple puzzles. Many of these puzzles will defy
their usual thinking' processes. This gives them an opportunity
to practice using higher reasoning when necessary, or learning to
listen to that small intuitive voice that whispers the solution
in their ear. This is the "Aha" voice. Listen to this
voice. The more you do, the louder it will become. The louder it
becomes the more you realize it is there all the time to help you
see the solution to any problem you may have.
true that we're all beset with a myriad of little problematic challenges
every day. Anyone working with computers certainly has this happen
frequently. Hardware and software just don't want to cooperate sometimes.
And, sometimes human beings don't want to give computers the keystrokes
the computer needs to perform properly. In any case, I personally
have learned to pause, contemplate the problem, and more often than
not, a little internal voice will whisper a solution. Since I haven't
been to computer school, I haven't had these illogical solutions
bred out of me as ridiculous. 90% of the time the solution is simpler
than it first appeared. The other 10% of the time it helps to get
out the manual and read it, because I don't have enough information
to understand what the little voice is saying.
any case, experience is the test of any proposition. Something doesn't
become wisdom until it's experienced. Eloquent philosophies are
useless unless they work in daily life. I created this site because
this method of challenging myself daily with various puzzles was
helping to open my mind to new ways of "thinking". What
I learned is that often this turned out to be "non-thinking."
I pass it on as a simple, lighthearted method to expand and strengthen
your ability to get solutions to any enigma life may present you