Growing ceaselessly until our death, we have to shed the old so we can grow anew. This idea gives credence to the zen story of emptying one’s cup.
“A professor who focused on religious studies went to visit a Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen and its relations to other religions. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself, “It’s full! No more will go in!” To this the master replied, “This is you. How can I show you Zen unless you empty your cup.”
There are many ways we may empty our cup whether it be emotionally or mentally. We empty our cup via exchanging information with our environment. When we do so, this dissipation becomes a sense of order which allows us to learn and further adapt to our environment. Closed systems do not interact. When we close ourselves off in any manner, we insulate ourselves from the diversity in our environment. We lose our complexity and distinctive nature. The effect of this process of atrophying may be minor as in the form of stress and strain or it can be as extreme as depression and suicide. We often do not intend to close ourselves off, but we do nonetheless. If we reflect on our situation, we will find that the tightening up of our system occurs as a result of focusing on emergent properties where we have little to no influence. When we separate our variables into emergent and manageable elements we come to an understanding of what we are able to do and what change we can elicit in our lives. We give ourselves leverage points.
As Archimedes alluded to in his ideas, if we give ourselves a big enough lever, we can move the world. There are certain leverage points when dealing with systems that are critical to enabling ourselves to manage the business of ourselves. The first leverage point is our system paradigm.
Do you know what the core of your belief system is?
Do you know the premises that your beliefs our founded on?
Do those premises align with your actions?
Do you know what the assumptions are of the system you are integrating with?
Does your mental model align with those around you?
These are questions to ask ourselves at regular intervals in order to manage our mental models and operating paradigms. Creating dialog between our future and current selves enables us to learn and use our leverage points to lighten the load we carry day to day.
Tomorrow’s post will be about our second major set of leverage points.