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Cogito Ergo Sum

I watched a programme recently, where one of the world's most eminent neurologists revealed a fundamental flaw in our understanding of consciousness.

Very simply, we don't think and then act. We act and then think about acting about 200 milliseconds later.

To be honest, I lost some sleep over this as it presents a neurological equivalent of the famous physics 'interference' experiment, which should have bands of light cancelling each other out but doesn't.

You see, if the brain makes a decision and mind only appears to offer a commentary on our actions and is in fact, not responsible for them, then what, one wonders is?

In fact, this led me to thinking on the Zen connection, Eugen Herrigel's 'Zen & The Art of Archery', because what appears to be being described is something that has been known about since the dawn of eastern philosophy. One is 'conscious' the unconscious, 'It', when studying the different martial arts, such as Japanese archery or Iaido or even calligraphy and flower arranging; involving rapid spontaneous movement of the hand illustrating intuitive rather than intellectual thought; 'cutting spiritually', an 'It cuts' feeling with a sword being something that I may never correctly achieve in Iaido without a lifetime of practise and patience.

Herrigel, whose picture is shown below and who both taught and studied philosophy in Japan in the thirties, wrote:

"If everything depends on the archer's becoming purposeless and effacing himself in the event, then its outward realization must occur automatically, in no further need of the controlling or reflecting intelligence."

Pondering the parallels between Eatern mysticism and the sub-atomic world, the great physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote:

The great scientific contribution in theoretical physics that has come from Japan since the last war, may be an indication of a certain relationship between philosophical ideas in the tradition of the Far East and the philosophical substance of Quantum theory.

Makes you wonder or perhaps it should?


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