What is the 'Way of the Woo'?

Do you remember trying to count to infinity? It's a pretty hard thing to do and if you were in bed, you probably fell asleep before even getting close. Later, you learned that infinity is boundless and could never be reached by counting. After trying several times, I tend to agree. But I've since thought about it quite a bit and it strikes me that the problem lies in the destination. In simple terms, you know your starting point, but you have no idea about what your destination is. So naturally you feel helpless and lost, and you give up trying. I've been there. I know.

I now realize that the solution means you must forget what you've been taught and rephrase the problem to one you know how to handle. Think of it this way: to count from zero to infinity, you ultimately find yourself in a sleep state and have to start over upon waking. But how do you know that you didn't reach your goal? That is, how do you know that, while you were asleep, you didn't complete your task of counting to infinity? You don't know. So maybe you did. Are you starting to get the sense of where I'm going with this?

In your sleep state, your destination is infinity. In fact, your mind is so consumed with this task that you can logically conclude that the sleep state itself is the destination. The sleep state is infinity and, with infinity, all things are possible. This is so important that I have to say it again. The sleep state is infinity. I know that there must be a few raised eyebrows out there and I wouldn't ask you to believe me if I couldn't prove it. But we'll get to that part in a minute.

Let me get back to the core problem of counting to infinity, which is: counting to infinity. To be more precise, the problem is counting from zero to infinity. Can you not see that this is the same as starting from home and going to some mysterious destination? This is known as 'thinking on the cone'. This mode of thought is all too pervasive in today's world, and it imposes such severe boundaries on what we allow ourselves to think of as possible that we entirely miss the impossible. However, it doesn't have to be this way and all it takes is a little loosening of some mental restraints.

For example, envision the cone. It is a well-defined geometrical shape with a circle at one end and a point at the other. But what is a circle? Or more importantly, how many points exist on a circle? I know it may seem counterintuitive, but a circle is actually comprised of an infinite number of points. So the cone is the simplest three dimensional shape that leads you from an infinite number of points down to only one single point! And from one, you can easily make the leap to zero, which is not a part of the cone. Therefore, to get from infinity to zero, you have to think off the cone. The conclusion is unassailable.

But how does this really help you to count to infinity? Here is where I will offer my proof. If you've stayed with me so far, I hope you will have picked up on a subtle paradigm shift introduced with the cone. As I've said earlier, I don't think it is possible to count from zero to infinity. However, it is possible to count from infinity to zero!!! Here's where you have to really get off the cone. Recall the analogy of counting to infinity as being like one starting from home and traveling to a mysterious destination. Recall that I also noted that, no matter how hard you tried, you ultimately arrived in a sleep state, and that the sleep state is nothing more than infinity itself (technically, it is not limited to being infinity, but for our purposes here....) The key insight: start at your destination and go home. And if you think about it, this makes more sense, because ultimately where would you rather be than at home? Home evokes feelings of warmth and comfort, and is a far cry from engendering feelings of helplessness and loss (unless you're a teenager, haha).

But how do you start from infinity? You must start in your sleep state. That is, you turn the tables on the traditional method of counting to infinity. Instead of counting upwards to infinity and eventually falling asleep, you start counting downwards from infinity while you are asleep. Although your conscious mind is not aware of the numbers whizzing by (after all, you only ever remember just a few things from your sleep, if any), when you wake up, you will immediately think of a number. That is the number you reached from infinity while asleep. All that is left for you to do is to continue the countdown to zero. It should be noted that the rate of "sleep counting" varies from time to time, so your waking number may be significantly different from the time before. And if you don't immediately think of a number, then it is likely that you completed the count in your sleep so there is nothing left to do.

Try it some evening and see if it works for you. If so, you will have done what everyone has said couldn't be done. And you will have taken your first steps off the cone.

This is the Way of the Woo.

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