It was final exams for batch of about 100 students of philosophy. All students assembled and were seated anxiously to get the question paper so that they could start answering them. Examiner comes, instead of handing out questions papers, he writes the question on board. This time the exam was different. One questions only.

The question was ‘Prove that this chair does not exist’.

Everybody started scrambling on their answer sheets. They all had 3 hours to present their arguments on their answer to this single question. Still all of them tucked their heads down and started scribbling out words after words. Except one. Let’s call him John. John wrote something, quickly, got up. Handed his answer sheets to the examiner and walked out. The entire class was astonished and also convinced that John didn’t make it.

Couple of months later, results were announced. To even greater astonishment of the all the students, John stood first in that class. When John arrived, everybody was curious as to how did he do it. What did he write, what was the secret.

John asked them, ‘what was the question my friends’. They replied ‘Prove that this chair does not exist’. John replied, ‘… and I wrote… What Chair?’

I had read this piece somewhere on Internet and it had such a great impact on me. Initially it may look like one of those smart, funny, sort of joke type passage. However, what I saw was another meaning in it.

It showed me how we are all engaged in thinking in one particular direction. How we are trapped within our own belief system and established school of thoughts. We have simply lost the ability to imagine. Throw in a keyword and angle all those around you into it. How we lead our life simply driven on auto pilot. We are living a parametric life. Conditional. Similar idea is also made popular by Dr. Edward De Bono, in his famous book, ‘Lateral Thinking’. In that book he has given some exercises for the readers. With answers in the back. For best fun, one must honestly try to answer his questions and see how miserably one fails. I failed in all 8.

Over past many years I was teaching this aspect to my friends and followers and yet, could not drive the point home. I did feel frustrated. Then came the above passage. ‘What Chair’. It is not exactly the same thing but it delivers the message. The message of thinking outside the box. Thinking creatively. Thinking differently. I sometimes say, ‘Thinking’ in the first place. Most of other time, you are just passing parameters to arrive at result. Doing a check list or following that decision making flow chart. You are not ‘Thinking’. Even worst, you are not feeling. That is another story for another blog another time.

There is another story I have, that will demonstrate what I am trying to say. I am not sure of the source of the story nor the characters involved. Still I will present it here, the way I remember. It’s called ‘White Polar Bear’. Aparently it is an excerpt from a lesser know book of Einstein’s last few years, when he was strongly arguing against his own theory of relativity. Probably that is the reason that book is so ‘missing’. He was convinced by his brother, who was fond of philosophy and esoteric sciences, in modern days its called as ‘Quantum Physics’

The story goes something like this. One day Einstein and his brother were chatting. His brother asked him, ‘Do you really believe in your own theory of light as the fastest object in the world and thus the most powerful?’ Einstein said,’Of course, I have proved it already, to the scientific community.’ His brother said, ‘What if I prove you wrong?’ Einstein was willing to learn something more so he accepted the challenge.

His brother asked him to sit in the corner, facing the corner and NOT to think of While Polar Bear for 5 minutes. Einstein got up, took the position and in just few seconds got and returned to his seat. Accepting his defeat.

You see, even when you say ‘I am not going to think of white polar bear’, you begin doing everything whilst very consciously engaged in avoiding to think about ‘white polar bear’. Thus white polar bear is existing in your thought all the time.

A little side story here. In my college days, I had invested a nice tag line, never got to use it, till arrival of Internet and emails. It read, ‘Love me, Hate me, whatever you do, do it from bottom of your heart. So I am always in your heart.’ Ok some of you may call me cheeky, as if you were not cheeky ever?

Back to topic, the point I am trying to make is that through whatever source, be it our schooling, our family, our environment, our cinema, literature, religion, leaders…all have basically hard code trained our minds to be reactionary. We get engaged in the keyword. We get tangled in minor details, we are diverted from seeing the truth. It is very nasty.

Try this for a change. See what difference it makes. I am going to give pairing examples of phrases that we use and how both mean the same but only one shows the result.

Don’t forget to do what I asked you to do. (sure thing it is forgotten)
Remember to do what I asked you to. (any guess? Yes it is remembered)

I don’t hate you. (Really?)
I Love you. (Really!)

With kids:

Don’t do that (sure)
Let’s do this (how exciting)

In relationship:

You are not my type
We are incompatible

Think for a moment, pause before you open your mouth to utter. What is it that you want to convey. That should be your flow. What you do not wish to convey should never feature in the phrases.

It is simple. You will get it with practise. Trust me. Then you will realise how language is always misinterpreted and all the hell let loose from it. A dash refreshing thoughts and pinch of heart salt is all that is needed to speak truly. To touch peoples heart. It all beings with right way of thinking. Not the binary way but the lateral way. Thinking outside the box. Remember the white Polar Bear.