Tag Archives: Zen

Entering and Sustaining Flow by How Much of the Mind Is Cooperating At One Time II

Volume 3, Issue 5

This continues the conversation we started last week on the oneness of being in the Flow state.

We were talking about mindfulness, which Buddha combined with comprehension as the desired end state. Yet as reported in earlier posts, Zen Buddhists do not esteem mindfulness, which as a term they associate with splitting the experience of natural oneness into two illusory parts — an inner manager dealing in concepts and abstractions, and a theoretically outer world, with the inner part using up effort to focus its attention in an unnatural and counterproductive way. We have said in recent posts that mindfulness is useful to get to Observer state and then it is jettisoned in the final move to Flow state, which is undivided and where the subject and object are merged.

Zen is one branch of the perennial psychotechnology that is least disposed to verbalization. Zen aims at Flow not at Observer state, and therefore leaps over mindfulness. Actually, given the state of preparation of the student, he or she may not be able to make that leap directly, and might appreciate being given techniques to attain the Observer state, which in my experience facilitates the transition into Flow. But that is not Zen’s concern. Zen seeks to dispose of the abstractions and concepts that distract and divide the mind against the outer world. Distraction is in fact the world’s main problem — Acceleritis is distraction, distraction is Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP). Flow state is getting the mind and the brain in perfect harmony so that everything disappears except the experience happening by itself perfectly.

One can be mindful without achieving comprehension, as Buddha pointed out. While comprehension is a result of mindfulness, comprehension can be blocked not only by distraction but also by preconceived notions or models. We can walk into a closet and not see something in plain sight because one’s wife has moved it into a place it couldn’t possibly be, according to the invisible assumption the mind uses to blind the senses.

One knows that one has comprehended when one can predict accurately. This is science. Verifiability.

Distraction can be reduced by taking notes. The mind wants its output to be comprehended — it wants in effect to give us notes to comprehend. If we do not take notes, those thoughts keep swirling around in our head distracting us. Notes must be taken and organized and put away to clear the mind.

The mantle of EOP needs to be taken off. This includes ditching the normal sense of time pressure, the list of to-do’s, slave mentality, worry, attachment, guilt at not doing the many things one has to do. One clears a space to NOT DO. To not ask the question “what is the next logical action”. To put a hold on all action.

Takeaway suggestions:

  1. Make a list of the highest priority gnarliest problems/challenges you currently face, long-term as well as short-term (they will be octaves of each other).

  2. For each one, on a single piece of paper, dump whatever your mind wants to dump about that challenge/opportunity, using pictures, circles, arrows, doodles, words, whatever — be lazy and don’t get into long-winded sentences and paragraphs, leave that for later. Some pages might stay totally blank if there is nothing you hear or see in your mind that wants to come out on a particular topic. Not to worry, blank is fine if that’s what the mind wants.
  3. Each day look at these pages once, even if only for a couple of seconds per page — just take as long as you feel like on each page.
  4. Make no effort to solve any of these things unless and until your mind starts to tug your sleeve with any intuitions that start by themselves to rise up and which you have a gut feeling are relevant to a specific page. Then take dictation from your mind and jot stuff on the relevant page. Just let it flow. By not striving to solve, you leave it to natural process. It is certainly more relaxing and less stressful.
  5. Sometimes what you jot down will be a piece of research you need to do to find out detail where it is currently lacking. The mind has a natural process to detect situations where you need to get more info.
  6. The main thing to do with your mind when you are focused on one of these pages is to recognize and discard any preconceived assumptions, to release the hold of the past, and come at what is on the page as if with a clean slate, a fresh new mind.
  7. Turn away from these problem opportunities and go have fun. It is when you are having fun that sudden molecules of connection will be made and you will get intuitions of creative breakthroughs. Write those down, write those down — use a napkin if that’s what’s available! These intuitions can slip away in the welter of distraction or lose detail otherwise. Those “Aha!” moments are moments of Flow. Go with it. Write it down the way it came to you. Don’t slip into wordsmithing mode. You can always seek to improve it later.

Best to all,


PS: Our daily video today just happens to be on hidden intuition. It’s called Intuition vs. Distraction. You can find it just next to this post in the right column or if you missed it on Thursday, click here to watch the video