Here’s a conundrum that has the potential to help you do some cognitive stretching. Its attributed to the Bhagavad Gita so I’m guessing that it’s been around for a few thousand years:
“It is never born. It never dies. Weapons cannot cut it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it
and wind cannot dry it. It is immortal, imperishable.”
Bhagavad Gita: Ch 2: V.23.24
Let’s get this clear. Contemplation is not navel-gazing. Navel-gazing is for the lazy thinker. Contemplation on the other hand, is a satisfying cognitive practice. It involves thinking with greater depth and thoroughness. These processes activate and nurture plasticity.
Contemplating a problem, brain-storming a solution, and studying phenomena, are all cognitive processes that involve greater in-depth thinking than your average observe and report behaviours. They evidence several neural aspects of contemplative cognition.
Conundrums such as the one above however, can help you develop contemplative cognition to a higher level. There is no problem to solve. There is no solution to find. And yet, it is a wonderful tool and ally of mind- training.
Through contemplating such conundrums (kōan in Zen practice) you open the door to a whole new world of self-knowledge and mind-training. Inevitably, you begin to tame and transform reactive thinking. With practice you develop the ability to transform and transcend old patterns of thought that are not exactly in your favour.
Could this foster wisdom?
Wisdom is tricky to define. Somewhere deep down within, you and I know that wisdom is more than the definition attempted in various dictionaries. So, I’ll leave you with a quote rather than a conundrum that will help you contemplate and arrive at your own definition of wisdom:
“We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves,
after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us,
and effort which no one can spare us.”
Happy weekend, happy mind-stretch!