In recent times, I am fascinated by philosophy and its approach to solving problems from business to parenting to relationships. One thing that is common across problem solving is the use of frameworks. As a MBA student, I was taught various frameworks from 4Ps to balanced scorecard to 5 forces etc. When I was a consultant, I was using the disruptive innovation framework, BCG Matrix or any new age innovation frameworks so on and so forth. I loved frameworks at that time because it helped to quickly size up a problem and come up with a model that helped everyone to understand my approach to framing and solving a problem. While these frameworks help at a certain level, these frameworks are a synthesis done by someone studying a problem in some context. While the synthesis is explicit knowledge which can be adapted to some extent in other contexts, it doesn’t tell anything about the ‘tacit knowledge’ that went behind creating it which includes moods, contexts, combination of ideas, interpretations to name a few. I realized that these frameworks are affecting my ability to go to the root of any problem and to come up with my own structure to solve it.
The famous spiritual teacher J Krishnamurti had summed it up beautifully long ago saying ‘Truth is a pathless land’. If we want to pursue the truth around anything, it cannot be pursued through anybody’s path. Whether it is individuals pursuing truth or organizations pursuing the truth around a problem, the path has to be created by themselves.
Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist and film actor suffered a big injury in his lower back in August 1970 as a result of an improper warm-up while lifting weights. He was at the peak of his prowess during that time. The injury forced him to be bedridden for 6 months and doctors feared that he may never be able to kick again. All through his life, Bruce Lee was pursuing different styles of martial arts – he had a fascination for gung fu and later was working hard to create the perfect martial art form ‘Jeet Kune Do’ when he was downed by this injury. Bruce Lee studied philosophy in college and during this time, he was reading lot of books related to philosophy and psychology. He was especially inspired by J Krishnamurti’s works and got a powerful insight from JK – ‘Truth cannot be organized or confined. It needs to be invalidated to make it valid’. Armed with this insight, Lee began to battle back and to everyone’s surprise, he came back stronger than before. He realized that there is no help than self help and even rejected his own ‘Jeet Kune Do’. According to him, the ultimate truth doesn’t reside in styles or techniques because these styles constrained self expression and required expressions that fit the style. He dismissed all styles and had famously said I experienced this recently when I was writing a blog about my own MBA experience. This platform suggests to its writers that the blogs need to be crisper and if you communicate the idea in fewer sentences, it will get the reader interested to read it. I wanted to challenge that and I was asking myself ‘Can’t I engage people if I write long? How do they know that short form is the best form? I wanted to express myself totally and completely. I ended up writing probably one of the longest Linkedin posts ever but it was the one that was received so well among all my posts. I got countless messages, ‘likes’, appreciations and only two or three people told me that the blog was long. This is not to say that the Linkedin suggestion was wrong. It is a good suggestion but had I followed it,I would have worried about how to communicate myself crisply and would have got lost in the style. My true self-expression might not have come out in the way it came out and I am glad that I didn’t follow any style.
One of the things that I have been trying to learn for a long long time is Meditation. After I moved out of my hometown for work, I lived in several cities. I started exploring meditation. I went to several centres that taught meditation techniques. Each centre has a framework – Kundalini technique, Sahaja Yoga technique, Ashtanga Yoga technique etc. Each technique had one approach – focus on the breath, focus on the sensations, focus on the chakras etc. I never understood why I have to focus on anything and I was not able to follow them also like how I did when I was young. The one common answer I got when I asked ‘what is meditation’ was that it helps to reduce stress, it improves focus and it improves concentration. These are answers to a question ‘What are the outcomes of meditation?’ and not ‘What is meditation?’. I decided to find out what it is on my own and dismissed all these techniques. In recent times, I am getting closer to the understanding of meditation and I have come close to defining it for me. It is a process of trial and error without blindly following some framework.I am figuring out a structure that is working for me and this structure came after dismissing several structures/frameworks/techniques. It has taken a long time but when I learn it, it would have been much deeper and much richer than any of the frameworks that are in existence. Again, it may be good for me but may not work for others.
Every road has an end and if we want to go beyond the road, we need to create our road. Also, the road changes from context to context. It is important to travel through some roads but for pursuing truth about something, it is better to pave our own road since truth is a pathless land. No way is the way!
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The opinions expressed are those of the author and have nothing to do with his organization or any affiliation.