Friday, December 30, 2011

Do we have Too Much Processing Power?

OK, you would expect a title like that from a geek like me but I’m applying the geek computer stuff to the human brain stuff. While reading Everyday Zen by Charlotte Beck, it occurred to me that maybe we humans have too much processing power upstairs. All that extra processing power gets us into trouble and at times can make us miserable. But at the same time it’s responsible for propelling humanity forward, allowing us to walk on the moon. Much time is spent in Beck’s book and other Zen books trying to explain “zazen”, Zen meditation, with the goal being no real goal other than non thinking. This is harder than it sounds. Brad Warner explains it best in “Sit Down and Shut Up” as grabbing onto those spaces between thoughts (this is simplified, just read his book). To me, it helps to quiet the brain down and discard some of this extra processing that’s always going on.

Our brains are constantly whirring around like crazy while at work, on the drive home, during dinner, and at night. We start to obsess over shit, or worry about what might happen in the future due to events that haven’t even happened (or past stuff that doesn’t really matter) and that’s when we get into trouble. What’s interesting about Zen is the focus on getting back into reality and the philosophy that a lot of what we obsess about (all this past or future stuff) is total crap. All of this thinking is not real in any way other than by our pure invention, it’s not reality and in many ways it keeps us from enjoying what’s going on right this minute.  (It's also without all the deities, sin, etc so it's not really a religion.)

Do we do this because we have too much processing power between our ears? I don’t think my dog Sulu worries about much at all. She’s pretty much in reality all the time. She may be a little concerned if she misses dinner or the chance to fetch the ball but that’s pretty much it. She’s lives in reality all the time, and therefore, she’s my Zen master. And given total processing power is somewhat less than mine, I’ll play with the idea that it’s due to the concept that Sulu has adequate but not excessive processing power between her floppy ears.

For me the balance, I think, is to calm our brains to a degree, use the excess power to invent things, go to mars, etc., but be at peace and de-prioritize all the non-reality crap that gets us into trouble. I wish I had tried this zazen stuff a long time ago, it’s hard. I have no idea if I will benefit, but what the hell, I’ll give it a go and see if it results in an upgrade to Chris 2.0. After reading the mind of Dogen, Beck, Warner, and doing zazen, maybe I’ll be Chris 2.5 or ... not. Not all upgrades go according to plan (there I go getting my geek on again). That’s Zen too, no goals, no particular outcome other than things might be a little less shitty and I’ll spend a little more time in reality enjoying the universe.

BTW there is some strange cool shit that Dogan has to say as well as some of the theories that is Zen. Although I haven't read Dogan directly, I've channeled him through ex-punk base player and Zen master Brad Warner.  Warner riminds me of Jack Black in "School of Rock" as he teaches about Zen and Dogan.

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