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Three consecutive pictures and the solution


January 15, 2013


Long time ago I worked for an American who was my boss. Once I was carrying a heavy container, walking toward him. He stood impeded my way. I stopped walking next to him without asking him to step aside for me to pass. For a little while he realized that he needed to move a little bit for me to walk past him. My boss told me that if I wanted him to do something, I needed to tell him because he will not know what I wanted. He told me later that he had some Asians worked with him in the past and that made him understand that Asians didn’t like asking for something but they often left a puzzle in the way that he supposed to understand it by himself.

Similar to this incident, it happened at a store. A plus-sized woman stood between shelves. I walked toward her; she looked toward me for an instant then continued shopping. In my mind, I thought she should know that the space between shelves was very narrow so she supposed to move aside a little bit but she didn’t. I had to squeeze myself to pass her. Then I heard lightly as she muttered—“why doesn’t she ask?”

Similar to taking an IQ test, it gives you three consecutive pictures then it asks you that ‘what the fourth picture should be?’

In this case, the first picture is—you see someone walk toward you. The second picture is—you see yourself impede the way. The third picture is—you see the space behind you isn’t enough for the person to pass. Then what the fourth picture should be? Asians’ brains are practiced to process these pictures automatically then the final picture comes up right away to be the solution. If I impede the way, I will move even before that person approaches me. In Asia, we don’t need to ask about this; if that person doesn’t move for you, it means s/he doesn’t want to move. It would not be that s/he doesn’t understand what you want him/her to do.

However, this does not mean that Asians have better IQ than Americans or Americans are smarter than Asians. Like animals, such as dogs; each breed has different characters.

When I studied in school, sometimes I hear Americans say that going out talking to other people to get inspiration for an idea. In contrast to Asians, to get an idea, they have to be in a quiet place to do meditation. There are different ways in creating ideas: Americans take information from ‘outside in’; for Asians, however, an idea is created from ‘inside out’.

Long time ago I lived with an American roommate. He was a gay man and he often bought flowers from a supermarket and put them on the dining table. Apartment was decorated with nice furniture; in contrast to the furniture in my room, most of them are from yard sales, second hand stores or some students who move out after graduation left their furniture on street. Flowers and nice furniture (the information from outside) made inside him happy. I watched his flowers everyday but I felt nothing.

Many years ago I lived in a town. During spring and summer, every house grew flowers on their yards. Except one house, there were plenty of vegetables. I guessed this house would belong to an Asian family and I guessed it right. One day I walked past that house I saw an old Chinese woman watering her vegetables—let me have a second guess and believe me I must be right again that she doesn’t need flowers to make her happy but what to eat is more important.

Americans may think that the living and working condition in Asia is bad, based on the comparison to the condition in America—and of course, it looks bad. However, I think Asians may get used to with it. The information that they take from outside: the environment, living and working condition, may not affect their minds as much as if Americans have to live in that same condition. For Americans, the information taken from outside is much influential and powerful to their minds; in contrast to Asians, ideas created from inside are more influential and powerful to sometimes be able to block the information from outside in.

Studying in America and Thailand is different. American teachers want to see students participate in classes (American’s class discussion is Asian’s culture shock!). Asian students are normally the quietest and American teachers often have to push them to speak out. Studying in Thailand, however, a good student normally comes with a ‘good listener’. When I studied in sixth and ninth grade, my teachers told students that if they see any student open mount to speak, that student will be duct taped to the mounts. And the teachers really meant what they said because I saw a duct tape and a scissor on their desks. Every time you open your mount to speak, your brain will stop thinking—and that might be why Buddha teaches Asians to do meditation.

In Thailand, a student asks too much questions and often discusses in class with the teacher will be ‘booed’ by the classmates and be considered as trying to show off because most students don’t believe that talkative students would do good job on the exams.

Good Asian character is calm and quiet. Being quiet in this case doesn’t mean being mental health problem. Being quiet in the case of mental health problem means, for example when you ask a question, the person doesn’t respond, s/he never shows sign of happiness and being isolated. Asians are not talkative in class but if you ask them a question, they respond to your question; they show sign of happiness such as smiling and greeting to classmates and they don’t isolate themselves as Asians never go out alone but they often hang out with lot of friends.

However, now there are many Thai students continue their studies in America. They have learned (and employed) American ways (speak more than usual) to combine with their calm and quiet character. When they go back to their home country, many of them are successful in their careers. I think it’s good to learn things from each other. The combination between Asian and American ways should also benefit American kids. So, American kids should learn doing meditation.

Why you need to do meditation?

You receive too much information from outside both good and bad and it sometimes makes you crazy so once in a while you need to release it out. Meditation is a way like trashing out. When you are angry at someone, you close your eyes and sit quietly for a moment then you will find that although the anger isn’t completely gone, it is lessen and calm you down.

Imagine, in the office, your boss is angry at one of his employees. Then you walk in his room to discuss about your work, his mood is also laid on you. Anger can make one situation happened at one person continue to another.

In another situation, your wife is angry at you as she finds out that you hire many prostitutes. When her anger doesn’t relieve, suddenly your kid walks in and asks his mother for money to buy a new video game. Then his mother says with anger—“ask your dad. Take all his money so he will not have money to hire prostitutes.” Refer to the IQ test—the three consecutive pictures give the fourth picture to be the solution. However, in this case the two situations: husband philanders and kid asks for money to buy a video game, are not consecutive situations but being put together by the power of anger. And that is why anger needs to be stopped at one situation before taking another situation in.

You play a video game about a war zone. When you are not angry at somebody, you play with fun. The fun time makes you understand that the game is for your entertainment.

However, another person has compressed the anger inside him for long. Now he is going to find a way to release it out. So he doesn’t play with fun but he is searching for an idea to release his anger.

When I was a kid, I used to play with other kids in my neighbor: someone pretended to be a cop chasing criminals. We had fun running around chasing each other. I knew I couldn’t play alone (and it was never fun to play alone); I really needed other kids to play with me.

Imagine you watch an action movie with joy. If someone asks you to reproduce that movie into the reality, you may say that you can’t do it or it’s very hard to reproduce all the scenes. This is because when you watch the movie, you pay attention to all characters and scenes equally (missing one character, it may change the entire story and the movie will not be fun). To reproduce it, you need many people to perform this character and that character and build up many scenes …

However, another person watches the same movie with a lot of anger packed in his memory. He doesn’t pay attention to every character equally; perhaps he doesn’t see any character, except one character—the bad guy. If you ask him—can he reproduces the movie into real life, he would say—why not, it’s very easy—only he carries a gun to shoot people in public, people will run around crazy, and that will happen exactly like in the movie.

When you watch the movie with joy, like the IQ test, you see all the scenes are consecutive. The end of the movie gives you the final picture for the solution of the story.

For a trouble kid, however, he doesn’t care of all the consecutive scenes in the movie because he already has his own story in his head (the angry memories have packed for long in his head). He only wants to find the final picture for the solution—then the bad guy in the movie just gives him the (final picture) idea. Like the story of the wife who is angry at her husband who hires prostitute and kid asks for money, the two stories are not necessary to be related. One story happens first, then with anger you simply grab the second story which accidentally happens at just about the same time to be your solution for releasing your anger--that is how you want your story end. The story that a trouble kid has in his mind is also not necessary to be related to the story in the movie—when the problem happen, the inside him can’t create the solution by itself—the idea for the solution need to be taken from ‘outside in’.

See another situation—‘your love one is hit by a car and dies; the drunk driver is a man who is an illegal immigrant. Although many years have passed, you still keep your anger in the memory.’

The question is—what exactly you keep in your memory so it causes you to never stop angry?

As the drunk driver is a man, if you choose to hate a man, you may also have to hate yourself (or some of your friends and your family members)—so the gender of the drunk driver is never in your memory.

If you choose to hate drinking alcohol, sometimes you also drink alcohol and perhaps being drunk too—so you also have to hate yourself which you never want it happen, (or if you don’t drink, you may know someone who drink).

If you choose to hate driving car, you may also have to hate your friends or your family members who drive car.

Because you don’t want to hate anyone you know, including yourself, you try to find the information who doesn’t relate to people you know—finally, you find that illegal immigrant is the perfect information to remember because no one you know: your family members, friends and relatives, has this information/status. Although the drunk driver already takes responsible: he may now in jail, or he may already commit suicide, you are still angry because when you walk outside your home, you still see illegal immigrant everyday. If you see that person as individual, the anger will stop at that person. When you try to search for his (unique) information/status and tie it to others, the tragic scene will keep continuing and it never ends. It is like a pin point stabs in your skin everyday—then you just hurt yourself. The tragedy which happens many years ago never goes anywhere but keep you stuck at the same place.

Finally, instead you protest drunk driver, you protest illegal immigrant. Instead, one person takes responsible for the tragedy, now the entire community have to take responsible.

Not only does bad memory keep you in the same place, for some people good memory is as well. I know someone who we studied together in high school. He had a very happy life at the young age as his parents spoiled him. They gave him a lot of money; he could buy whatever he wanted.

Now his parents are so sick with him. He has graduated from a university for years but doesn’t want to find a job. He keeps saying to his friends all the time that he wants to go back to be a teenager again. “Why have to work”—he said one day, “My parents give me money more than salary I would receive if I go to work.”

Tragedy, mayhem or bad luck happens to everyone, in different ways. In the dark of a night, a female tiger tries to protect her young cubs from a group of coyotes. In the morning, she finds out that her cubs are dead. As she can’t admit the reality, she carries one of her cubs in the mouth to go with her. Until she realizes that nothing is better to keep the loss with her, finally she drops her cub, look back for the last moment and keep walking forward.

If this happens to me, I would cry to almost die. King of the wild is killed by ugly coyotes. I know I don’t need to shake hands with the person who hurt me and my love one, but what I can choose to do is to not give a damn that person and walk forward for better things come to my life.



© 2013, by ½ Lady Lisa. All Rights Reserved.