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 Capaciousness2002-10-05 16:58
pictureby Flemming Funch

A simple concept that can be useful in trying to understand people is what we could call "capaciousness".

Capaciousness is simply how much "room" somebody has for new or different ideas in their mind. Or, more precisely, it is how able one is to contain multiple, possibly conflicting, views in one's mind.

A person with a lot of capaciousness is able to listen to and consider several very different ideas at the same time, without feeling compelled to accept or reject any of them.

A person with low capaciousness is not able to do that.

A lot of people are only able to contain one idea at a time. Thus, if they already have one idea about something in their mind, and somebody comes along and gives them a completely different idea, they have to either:

1. Reject the idea, without really examining it, because they already have a view on that matter.

2. Accept the new idea and reject their old idea, again without really comparing the two, but the new idea sounds good.

In other words, such a person is incapable of putting two ideas, two views, two concepts, next to each other and comparing what the pros and cons or the truth or the usefulness of them are. The only choices are to reject it, or to accept it and reject your previous idea.

That's more common than you might think. It might sound like somebody is evaluating your proposed idea, but they're really just restating their existing idea in a few different ways. Or they're just accepting your idea because it sounds nice, and instantly forgetting what they believed previously.

If you believe that the earth is round and I come along and tell you that it is flat, and I give you some good arguments for it - are you able to contain that idea at the same time as your current belief, or do you feel compelled to reject it right away?

One of my history teachers in school did exactly such an experiment. He came into class and insisted for a whole hour that the earth was flat, and he was full of explanations and reasons for it, and drew diagrams on the blackboard, and refuted just about any argument we came up with for why it was round. That taught up a few things about how we think we know things, and about the difficulties involved in introducing new ideas in the world.

To ever be able to question or revise your own assumptions, you need more than a minimal capaciousness. You would have to be able to juggle around several assumptions and their logical corollaries at the same time, and then choose the ones that correspond best to your experience or your intentions. A person who has room for only one idea at a time can not do that.

A person who has a lot of capaciousness can live with uncertainty. He doesn't have to instantly decide one way or another. He can be quite comfortable with not knowing, while he's working on finding out.

A good scientist should have a lot of capaciousness. A fundamentalist has none.

The world is full of possibilities, and full of different approaches, different beliefs, different concepts. People who are able to contain these possibilities are invaluable in guiding us to new and better places.

People with low capaciousness might very well be skilled and effective in some specialized discipline, particularly some kind of manual labor. But electing low capaciousness people as leaders in any field is a catastrophe.

One's capaciousness can grow simply by paying attention to it. Notice what happens when people present foreign ideas to you. Notice what you do. Notice what assumptions you're operating on. Consider alternatives.

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5 Oct 2002 @ 17:53 by martha : New Style thinking
Enjoyed your capaciouness explaination. New style thinking, which Patrica Sun talks about requires a capacious mind. I wish more of it was taught in school.

I believe, in order to have a capacious mind one needs to be centered. I mean centered in the sense of aligning with your body-mind-spirit self. Than all sorts of unusual experiences occur if you can drop some filters.  

5 Oct 2002 @ 19:21 by shawa : I agree with Martha...
You have to be real sure of who you are, centre-wise, self-wise. And then you have the space to let different scenarios run through your mind.
That´s an "on the dot" entry, Ming. It makes real sense, to explain a lot of interactions in here. :-)  

5 Oct 2002 @ 19:48 by ming : Centered
Hm, so one would have to be centered, sure of who one is. I suppose so. Or one would have to be distant from everything, so none of it really matters anyway. I'd much prefer the centered scenario, though.

So, how does one get people there? By helping them being more clear on who they are? By helping them feel their own center?  

5 Oct 2002 @ 20:14 by bushman : Hmm
Finding out I was a devine being, worked for me, to find my center.  

6 Oct 2002 @ 04:55 by istvan : Expanded
To me Capaciousness means an expansion of counsciousness, the ability to observe more than one or few aspects of a phenomena. Multidimensional sensitivity and and the simple practice of not taking things for what they appear on first impression as the only thruth about them helps toward capaciousness.
Since the meaning of the word implies expansion and spaciousness, it should relate to words, souch as religiousness,lovingness,graciousness,peacefulness and perhaps all other attributes of that elusive new man that will make a New Civilisation a Dinamic function of aliveness.  

6 Oct 2002 @ 06:55 by shawa : Hehehe...
Old Zen masters have this wonderful method of pushing people right into center; like, cutting the arm of a would-be disciple, things like that. Or slap someone hard in the face, and watch how quick they get to their center! (This is only for people who want shortcuts to enlightenment). I´m not saying that we should do that. Only in certain circumstances. Getting a car rolling over your feet works as well, lol.  

6 Oct 2002 @ 08:36 by martha : Centered
ming- The only way you can help people find their center is by being centered yourself. The problem with helping others is that everyone has their own path to center. Each of us can talk about what keeps us centered but it is different for each of us. The real problem comes when one claims that their way is the only way.
I also belive that in being centered you are in the moment so you live the experience and not be distant from it. That's not to say you can't observe your reaction and notice how it pulled you from center. And as we all know when that happens and we see it, the greatest learning occurs.
Being centered and capacious is an on going process of evolution. You never just get there and stay there. If one is ever expanding than one's center is also shifting with the growth.
And finally I love the sound of the word "capacious" or capaciousness" as I say it in my mind.The sound seems to roll in the brain and soften the edges.  

6 Oct 2002 @ 14:35 by ming : Great advice all
So, I paid my son for slapping me hard every five minutes, and I still don't feel centered. ... just kidding. Yeah, being centered and capacious oneself is probably the best foundation for teaching it. And, aside from the shortcuts, I'd say that what makes the biggest difference in getting there is the intention. If it is what one is aiming for - half the journey is already done. And it sort of isn't a journey anyway, but more the way one relates to the journey.  

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