September 2nd, 2016 by Jan

Four or five years ago, Art Baner and I co-taught a Yang Intensive. At the end of it, Art was given a beautiful pipe as a gift from the students. Not because Art smokes, but because, Art is a great thinker of our age, and enjoys a good ponder.

Art and I have going, what I like to call the 10 year conversation, that we are about half way though at the moment.

Right now, I have some food for that conversation. I’m thinking (out loud) that it could feed our conversation for a few more years.

In the book, This Will Change Everything – Ideas that will Shape the Future, 125 leading thinkers write a page or two about what they think will…uhm… Change Everything.

This is another great bathroom book, except some of the ideas take too long to read (for me) so I keep this book by the bed side.

The essay by Barry C. Smith caught me wishing I had Arts pipe. Some serious pondering began after reading the following sentence.

“Here I am reminded of a huge change that occurred in the Middle Ages, when humans transformed their cognitive lives by learning to read silently.”

Up until then, Monks and such, people who were lucky enough to be able to read — read out loud. They also chanted and prayed out loud. Those monasteries must have been noisy. It is weird to think (did they think out loud too?) that no one understood, that what goes on in your head, actually stays in your head until you speak it.

Smith goes on to say, “With this simple adjustment, seemingly miraculous at the time, a great transformation of the human mind took place, and so began the age of intense private study so familiar to us now.”

Ponder, ponder, ponder — get out the pipe, it is time to ponder!

I love a private lesson and in my martial arts study I had loads of them. I’ve also always said, almost every private lesson I had, took place in front of 20 people! Most of my private lessons have been quite public!

Imagine thinking thoughts and not knowing your thoughts were private?

What if we knew, that others knew what we were thinking? Okay, not everyone, that would be too much, but if we knew what our loved ones were thinking and vice versa, a lot of problems could be addressed before they became real problems. Just think, addiction could be thwarted, suicide, fear, and aggression as well.

All too often we save our horrible thoughts for ourselves and even if we didn’t want to share them — what if someone who loved us — knew?

Ponder, ponder, ponder, get out the pipe, it is time to ponder!

On the other hand — knowing that what I think is all mine – I am free to study anything! That is why the perfect private lesson took place in public all the time.

The fact that I know my thoughts are my own, has been a gift and a hindrance all my life.

Secrets are not my friend. Sometimes what goes on in my head that others cannot know, is pure hell. Yet, private jokes are the best, and nothing beats private time, or private study, or I’d be hitting that pipe much more often!

And as much as I love being read a great story… the ability to read quietly AND have others do the same — pure bliss.

Now, forgive me my privacy – I’ve got some pipe pondering to do!

1 thought on “Pisforprivatepipepondering

  1. Laura B

    I first learned this interesting fact from Alberto Manguel’s “The history of reading”, and had many similar thoughts.

    For me, it has also been important to remember that I don’t have to believe everything I think.


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