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Humpty Doo | Litchfield Shire | Darwin Rural Area | Northern Territory | Australia

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Reflection on speed of thought

June 18, 2017

 

I just listened to an episode of the Minefield on ABC "Is speed worth the moral cost" and enjoyed the discussion. To a large extent it went to the heart of why we created Rakhi Retreat.

 

I recommend listening to it rather than rely on my reflections but for me it went beyond affirmation of preconceptions to deepening my insight and understanding of how we live our lives. 

 

From early childhood i have had an affinity with escaping a world full of social considerations to sit somewhere surrounded by natural beauty and let my mind wander between the passing birds and my own inner imaginings. My brother Drew has a favourite expression for such places "where there is no time and nothing matters".

 

The first thought that comes from reflection on this discussion is discerning between actually thinking or just going through the motions of received ideas. Various thinkers have expressed concern with an increased valuation of speed with the trade off being the quick turn around of ideas resulting in more reaction than reflection and freedom of thought the casualty. I think a recent episode of the same program also explored the 'still waters run deep' metaphor. 

 

Also discussed was that where we increasingly value speed, as for example how it relates to productivity in an industrial model, other things, like quality, integrity or truth are relatively devalued and become expendable as speed ensures they are quickly replaced anyway. They went back to Socrates talking about 'the wind of thought breaking up frozen thought' where the frozen thought 'come so handily that you can use in your sleep but when the wind of thinking has shaken you from your sleep' leaves you with nothing but perplexities. 

 

This is certainly part of my experience of letting the mind wander without providing it received ideas to react with and would not be an attractive option for practitioners of conviction politics but, to mix the elemental metaphors, i generally find after these winds of thought calm down again so do the reflective waters providing a clearer picture of things. This takes time and stillness not available in the day to day life, even without TV.

 

Waleed started with talking about our habitas, for me the word was immediately understood in ecological terms, especially when he later said that environment was too thin a word but approached what was meant. Maybe i would approximate it (with some received ideas) by saying that it constituted what conditioned our thinking. With our habitas containing such a high valuation and experience of speed it even effects what we desire with rapid banality holding our interest and the slow things of substance becoming perceived as boring and worthless. Waleed used the phrase faustian pact and indeed it does seem like that sometimes.

 

All the more reason to step out of the media vortex and stop. We don't have internet at Rakhi Retreat intentionally, apparently it is called tech detox. It takes a slow experience of time to genuinely have your own thoughts. One of our guest families had a teenage girl who was mortified to find how far it was to the nearest shopping mall. It took her half an hour to forget the desire and she enjoyed a weekend of being a care free child exploring the natural world. That is the freedom I feel so lucky to still be able to find when i make the time.

 

 

 

 

 

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