WeiQi Mind

Several times a week I sit down with a small glass of wine and play an on-line game of WeiQi.  More than I prefer, however, my games end with my heart pounding uncomfortably in my chest.   With this reminder, I vow at the next game to stay focused on playing without surges of feelings.

In martial art fighting matches feelings can surge in the same way.  But there is so much power to get from the pounding heart.  Yet there feels like there is also so much more power in the still heart.

After I played the above game, I laughed again at my failure both to win and to keep my heart calm.  OK, maybe that self-laughter is important too.  I will rejoice in compromised laughter and try again tomorrow to play skillfully while nurturing a still heart.

What are some of your little daily goals?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

22 responses to “WeiQi Mind

  1. Brandon

    I just thought this very thing as I sat on the bridge before getting to the cafe to play a game of Go. I checked my mail first and read this.

    A goal: I try to schedule my day on an hourly basis. I usually fail.

  2. Do the feelings that accompany the pounding heart detract from your ability to play well? Because a lot of games are fun particularly due to their ability to draw you in that way.

  3. haha. let us know how it goes playing without surges of feeling 🙂
    I confess to playing spider solitaire. It’s ridiculous how much I like playing that game.

    Today, my little goal is to get some schoolwork done! Catch up on the readings for this weeks classes, and do some research I’ve been putting off.

  4. I don’t do goals. Residual trauma from forced participation in football at school.

  5. @ Brandon :
    May your strength go on your resolve for hourly order.
    It is funny, one man’s (woman’s) mental medicine may be another’s poison. The important thing to understand ourselves and find the right cure. I have found that one of the most important sources for real understanding is others ( & Yuan).

    @ atimetorend :
    Thank you kindly for a question. It has been a while in the comment section since a question seeking understanding has popped up.
    I think that is part of the pondering in the post. Highly involved energy gives a lot of strength and fun in the fight. For me, though, I find being a slave to that feeling very unsatisfactory. If I can learn to turn on the fight and relax it at will, that seems like THAT would be even more “fun”. Over the years, I have gotten a bit better at that in some domains but I am a pathetic slug in most. 🙂

    @ alywaibel :
    What are you studying and to what end?
    Best wishes with it! Somehow I can’t imagine you doing anything but excellent in your studies.

    @ Petteri : I am assuming that was all about a pun. 🙄

  6. Temaskian

    My little new goal: to make good friends, and to deepen existing relationships.

  7. Temaskian

    I always assumed the heart-pounding inspired me to play better. It’s a battle, after all. Of minds and spirit.

  8. @Sabio – yes and no. It was a pun, but it’s also true. I have no goals whatsoever. I only realized quite recently that most people aren’t like this.

  9. I’ve played games where I had to calm myself in order to get past a certain part. I would get too frustrated and then lose focus.

  10. @ Temaskian:
    You seem to agree with atimetorun — I get the truth behind that. Your goal sounds superb — especially knowing your situation. Very best wishes with that.

    @ Mike
    I have had the same experience.

    Another important point is that many on-line games can now be played with chatting.
    I am ashamed of some snarky comments I have made to people after I loose. I am getting better. But the snarkiness accompanies the mind who has a goal of MY victory instead of watching both side do well. That third eye method is a very helpful one. Mike, do you chat on any of your games? You seem to have less of a snarky side that me, but make me feel better and share if you snark at folks occasionally.

    I have been criticized several times in my “WeiQi life” for not making progress because I have no goals. I think there is benefits to goals and lack of them — the “Middle Path” and all. That balance is hard — and more importantly finding the balance for a particular person in a particular situation is more difficult.

    I am sorry, I can’t belief you don’t have goals “whatsoever”. It sounds very Zen, but I am very skeptical. Your blogging about Zen hints deeply of Zen and Psychological goals as an ironic contradiction. I wager you have had and do have programming goals or you would not eat, of course. This is not a criticism. I feel goals are incredibly useful — it is a question of a goal being your slave or you being the slave of the goal.

  11. @Sabio I tend to act the same way in on-line game chats as I do in my blog comments. Now, face to face I tend to get snarky, but that’s just part of the fun. I have some rather competitive friends so it’s fun to try to get a rise out of them while we play. 😉

  12. @ Mike
    You sound like an evil Jedi , messing with weaker minds like mine.

  13. @Sabio Reminds me of a joke an old friend and I share. We swore to only use our super sarcasm powers for good. 😉

  14. @Sabio, I have been goal-less since way before I found out about Zen. That’s probably why I never managed to graduate from the university. I just… don’t. I just do stuff as it comes up.

    I have hopes, wishes, desires, dreams, compulsions, impulsions, pressures, and what not. I just don’t remember ever thinking of them as goals, unless compelled to do so from the outside. Naturally, I have to deal with goals in the workplace; sometimes I even set them. But I don’t think of them that way; they’re just more stuff that comes up and needs dealing with.

  15. @ Mike: Rolling of he floor !

    @ Petteri: Sound like differences in terms.

  16. @Sabio – no, I don’t think so. I think there’s a real difference in meaning.

    By ‘goal’ I understand ‘a definition or description of a future state you want to achieve.’ ‘I want to lose 20 pounds over the next 3 months.’ ‘I want to make $100,000 a year by 2013.’ ‘I want to graduate.’ ‘I want to make it through 2010 without completely losing my temper.’ ‘I want to run the marathon at under 3:45.’ ‘I want to get through a game of WeiQi without getting adrenaline-drunk.’

    Then you work toward this goal by breaking it down to means to achieve it, which usually involves subsidiary goals, and comparing your progress to it.

    I don’t do any of that, unless compelled to do so from the outside. I do make resolutions—”I resolve not to miss zazen two days in a row”—but I don’t turn that into a goal (“My goal is not to miss zazen two days in a row for the next three months.”)

    And, just in case you’re wondering, I’m not trying to be cute here; this really is how I function. I just don’t do goals. This has confused lots of people, because goal-oriented thinking is everywhere, and people tend to assume that everyone works this way, or equate goal-lessness with being a lazy slob doing nothing but smoking weed and watching TV. Ain’t necessarily so—and I don’t do either.

  17. Ben Finney

    Glad to see a fellow enthusiast of the greatest strategy boardgame.

    How in the world did that big vertical strip of dame points in the upper right not get contested during the game? Both players seem to have happily built walls as if that part of the board weren’t there.

  18. @ Ben Finney
    Wow, great to find another enthusiast — hope you pop in occasionally. Yes, weird wall, eh? Filling Dame at game end is necessary in Chinese counting but not Japanese. But as to how it evolved in the game, I can not remember. BTW, I am only an 8K — a mere grasshopper.

    @ Petteri
    (1) “resolving” not to miss zazen for more than two days in a row and making a “goal” not to miss zazen for more than two days in a row is an interesting distinction (albeit it seems artificial an nit-picky). You contend that the “goal” would require, as you said, an endpoint and measuring method. But your “Resolve” would have that since at any 3 days, you could measure if you missed 2 sitting and then the goal would be lost. It is just a smaller, simpler goal.

    That said, I have absolutely no desire to argue about a word. Please feel free to have no “goals” however you want to define the word or whatever variant of the many uses of the word you choose rely on.

    (2) But I get that you may not complete tasks well. I imagine that a part of your behavior varies greatly from those around you and that this word “goal” somehow touches that difference as you have tried over the years to articulate it or rationalize it.

    Some linguistic fun (since you and I both love languages):
    The Chinese or Japanese “word” for goal is: 目標 Moku-Teki (Japanese) (also translated “purpose”) Breaks down as:
    Moku=Eye + Teki=Mark == so, what the eye has marked !
    The character, BTW, is a tree next to West on top of a table or shrine-alter. Don’t know why those three. WEST, btw, in ancient Chinese was a bird roosting, suggesting a sunset and thus the direction of West.

  19. @Sabio –

    (1) Except it’s not the same. There’s no comparing or measuring, it’s just deciding to do something. Either I stick to my resolution, or I don’t. It’s not a target I hit or miss, and not something I keep track of. If I fail to stick to it, then I fail; the resolution is still there, and I still try to stick to it. I just resolve to sit every day, or commit to pay down my mortgage every month, and then I do it, without looking forward or back to compare how I’m doing relative to the goal. I have no idea when I’m going to run out of mortgage, for example.

    This is more than a semantic difference.

    To illustrate (and there may be a blog post about this): some years ago, I found myself in poorer physical condition and weighing more than I liked to. The usual advice in that kind of situation is to set a goal—say, lose 20 pounds in six months—then figure out how to reach the goal—say, start counting calories and tracking your progress at the gym—and then do it. I did not do so. Instead, I simply resolved to make some changes to my diet and some changes to my daily routine, and figured that the weight and physical condition would take care of themselves, whether I tracked them or not. Some time later—and I honestly couldn’t tell you now whether it was six months, a year, or two years—I was 20 pounds lighter and generally a good deal fitter, *and* I had an overall healthier lifestyle that kept me there. No goals, just resolutions, no feeling of “Cool I’m done, let’s break out the potato chips again.”

    It doesn’t work for everybody, but it works for me, and there’s no way in hell I could’ve made those improvements in my lifestyle by setting goals and following a program.

    (2) Actually, I complete tasks just fine, if they involve other people. My external behavior isn’t much different from my peers, except for some idiosyncracies, like not graduating, and being happy to stick to doing what I know rather than chasing after bigger salaries or more power and prestige.

    If you’re not interested in talking about this, just say so. But you did ask.

  20. @ Petteri
    Great, fun distinctions.
    For me, my post’s final question could have easily read:

    What are some of your little daily resolutions?

    And I would have meant the same. I think the two commenters, Brandon and Aly, would have had no trouble substituting resolve in their comments.

    Leaving words aside I think I understand your preference and your point.

  21. Okay, cool. Perhaps it’s me, then. I certainly see these as deeply different. Could even be a language issue; the vocabulary is different and carries rather different connotations in Finnish, some of which may have carried over to my understanding of the English terms. Or it really could be something from my childhood that really, really turned me off to ‘goals.’

    Little daily resolutions and commitments, then? Well, there’s already the zazen. Walking the dog, cleaning the house every week, not eating when I’m not hungry, going to bed by 11 pm, keeping my desk clean, cycling to work weather permittin’, not buying stuff unless I have a clear and definable need for it, sorting my garbage, buying organic food whenever it’s available, not eating industrial meat products unless there’s nothing else available, brushing my teeth, buying a bag of dogfood every other Thursday, hosting a session of D&D every other week except on vacations, not losing my temper especially with a friend and colleague of mine who’s a great guy but who occasionally drives me up the wall, blogging only if I feel like it and have something to say (instead of letting external pressure affect it), telling my wife that I love her when that thought occurs to me, not drinking more than two glasses of wine at a sitting (or the equivalent), not lying (pretty good at this), not speaking when it’s not called for (lousy at this), doing the dishes if my wife cooked, cooking if my wife will do the dishes. That sort of thing. I’m sure there’s more if I excavated in my head.

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