Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Tenth Man

One thing that stuck with me in this movie is "The Tenth Man" principle, that goes like this:

"If nine intelligence analysts came to the same conclusion, it was the duty of the tenth to disagree. No matter how unlikely or far-fetched a possibility might be, one must always dig deeper."

I see this as an antithesis to Occam's Razor, where one shouldn't overcomplicate things and try to find the simplest answer. The Tenth Man is supposed to find out the most unlikely answer.

I don't know of this is an actual principle in warfare or if this was just made up in the novel, this could be applied in think tanks and brainstorming sessions. This is actually a way to think out of the box. That's why opinions should not be immediately dismissed as there may be some merit in it.

When the whole team agrees on a conclusion, they could get blindsided. So there should be someone that could explore the other possibilities, even if that person doesn't believe it. 

If a decision was based on 99% certainty, then someone will need to explore the 1% uncertainty. In risk management they usually call this stress testing. But even with this, The Tenth Man must challenge the results and go further. A devil's advocate, if I may say so.

The Tenth Man is not actually economical in a business sense, because it could end up as a witch hunt or a wild goose chase on a theory that doesn't make sense in the first place. I guess not many will resort to this, but it is a good method of going beyond the normal thought process.

In budō, this may have relationship to shu-ha-ri (守破離), especially the ha (破) part.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

黙想 (mokusō) - silent thoughts

The generally accepted translation mokusō (黙想) is "meditation", but this translation confuses me as I can't get a grasp of what the word "meditation" really is. The first kanji tor mokusō is "silence" and the second part is "thought", so by looking at this I could take mokusō to mean "silencing one's thoughts" or "silent thoughts". Approaching it this way could give me a better idea of the goals of this particular practice (in this case, shugyō - 修行).

How do one silence one's thoughts? Is it by telling it to be silent? Forcing it into silence? A friend of mind did make a good point on this, suppressing one's thought is not the same as silencing one's thought. The reason being the action of silencing one's thought becomes another noise, so this noise becomes a suppressant because it's trying to be louder than the other thoughts, drowning them.

Of course, most people are familiar with Jedi Master Yoda's saying, "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try."

Don't try to be silent, don't force it, just be without being.

Though the understanding of mokusō is more of a process, as mushin no shin (無心の心), the mind of no mind, mokusō is also a state of being.

No mind does not mean the absence of mind or a mind that wanders. It is a state of mind that is not a relative mind, the true mind. As the silent thought is the true thought, immovable, uncorruptable.

Ideas such as this is a difficult concept to grasp and leads to over-thinking and over-explanation. This too only a theory of mine, as in taitoku, I have yet to truly experience this to have the right explanation and even if I did, I wouldn't know how to put it into words.

As I often close these types of blogs, I usually quote the following:

To think about not thinking, is already thinking.

It is better not to think about not thinking at all.

Friday, July 5, 2013

体得 (taitoku) - direct experience

My Japanese language class method of teaching is interesting. The teacher doesn't or is reluctant to translate words or sentences into our language (Bahasa Indonesia), instead they show it using graphics and motions or pointing it out and have us do the same.

At first it's a bit difficult, but then I'm actually picking it up faster than the Japanese language classes I had in the past. Then it clicked, this is taitoku (体得).

Taitoku literally translates to "(the) body getting (it)" or less literal is "learning through the body"; the dictionary translation is "experience" or "mastery".

Learning budō (武道) is the same thing... but I think much of how the Japanese teach things are pretty much using the same method, learning by doing. You have theories and classrooms, but in the end you will need to practice what you learn with a guidance of a teacher or senior. One can learn a lot from a classroom, make theories, etc. but if one doesn't practice, then it's pretty much pointless.

In budō, taitoku the meaning could be taken both ways. One uses ones own body to experience the techniques and movement, feeling it as they are applied through our own body. Theories are fine, musings are alright, discussions are allowed, but at the end of the day you have to "put your money where your mouth is". Talking about it won't make you understand the concept any better, you must do!

There are tendencies of over-explanation and over-thinking nowadays because these things look illogical to our somewhat "academic" mind. It is illogical because we haven't experienced it, the logic has yet to exist in our mind.

The same when learning language. We tend to discriminate with the logic that we know about our own language or other languages we know. We tend to try to identify one thing with another that have a different background. To avoid this, the teacher doesn't do much translating, instead have us practice using it immediately, regardless whether or not we understand at that point of time. With frequent use in the correct manner, we understand what it means and how to use it though we may not be able to correctly translate it into our own language.

With budō over-explanation or over-thinking of things will leave one with a cluttered mind. These explanations or thoughts are of other's personal experience put into words in manners the person know how, it may not be the actual experience itself. In order to know one has to go through the same experience.

In saying that, this blog is one of those over-explanations/thinkings mentioned above, so don't take my word for it as this is my personal experience.

If one has to explain what a rose is to a person that has never seen, smell, feel a rose, how could one do that? One could only try to make analogies using things that the person has experienced before, but it is still not the actual rose, just an analog of secondhand information. If the person wants to know what a rose truly is, then that person will need to see, smell, feel the rose directly.

This is taitoku, if you want to know then you have to experience it directly.