4 Experiments from 101 Experiments in Philosophy I'm watching a spider. Patience is another name for a spider. It waits and waits in the centre of its web unable to think yet poised for ambush, triggered by the slightest twitch. Its life is circumscribed by a billion years of practice as are the trees, sharks, mosquitoes and my own tabby cat. Stopping thought is impossible (although neither trying to think nor trying not to think is possible) but if it were possible maybe we'd tumble into a state of stupefaction (into animal consciousness) or else we might fall into the bottomless abyssal silence of infinite compassion. In this state we might row between eternity and the instant in an instant or we could be the blue sky watching the clouds go by. A ray of sunshine slants through a window; thousands of minuscule dots, bits, flecks, fluff and sparks dance within a cube of light, a universe of dust suddenly made visible, spiralling, turning, crossing; each infinitesimal smut passes from light into darkness like Bede's sparrow flying in and out of a room. Instead of trying to be serene experiment a little: cultivate a little terror. What if you can't stop thinking that thinking can't be stopped what's to stop you thinking the next person you meet has murderous intentions and you're her next victim or that some bright spark (he's a chemist) has what he thinks is an original thought, he's thought up a silent killing spree scenario but he doesn't know he's simply terrorising himself and he chickens out when it comes to acting on the thought and anyhow on second thoughts you realise this is all in your mind and the chemist and the murderer appear and disappear there like vaporous clouds or froth. 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life, Roger-Pol Droit
Eric Nicholson is a prize-winning poet (Opossum 2020) and a retired art teacher. He is a Zen practitioner and this may influence some of his poetry.