A ship was sailing on the sea. The first mate was a drunkard who often got dead drunk. Under his operation, the ship often staggered like a drunk. However, the captain was always upright and rigorous. He had never drunk a single drop.

One day, the first mate was drunk again and lost his consciousness. The captain was so angry that he made a record in the logbook: The first mate got drunk today. The next day when the first mate woke up, he happened to see this record and was extremely angry. He also made a record: The captain did not drink today. Then after the ship landed, the manager of the cruise company read the logbook, and assumed that the captain must have been drinking everyday. He severely reprimanded the captain; however, nothing happened to the first mate. Why? Was the manager stupid? Actually, with limited information, people are liable to take information for granted and draw an absurd conclusion. Isn't it a trap that many ordinary people fall into?

Whether it is a thought or an action, it will gradually become fixed and feel natural after a certain period of time. Therefore, when we receive a piece of new information, we would usually compare it with what we have learned or experienced in the past. If the new information relates to what we already know, we would interpret the new information within the parameters of our past experience. However, if it does not comply with our experience, we would be likely to discard or misinterpret it, or attempt to make it fit with the knowledge from our past, ignoring the value of the new information. Thereupon we would shore up our hearts against anything unfamiliar that would stretch our comfort zones and make us aware of totally new concepts, and we would become complacent in our existing frame of reference. Instead of feeling restless and seeking new horizons, we would establish our life in an obsolete framework of thinking and become stagnant in it.

It is just the "habit" that causes trouble. Inseparable from us like the body and the shadow, it allows us to be satisfied with the current situation and stick to the established ways. The more of a so-called "expert" one is, the more one would easily fall into the trap of the "habit," rejecting the new information, new methods and new ideas, so as to defend one's vested interests and sense of superiority.

To break the limitation of the "habit," we must stretch our mind to explore new ideas, listen to information different from our experience, study what our naked eyes cannot see, and check for rigidity in our thinking. As a human being, one should objectively examine oneself, and have the courage to change one's mental or sentimental prejudice accordingly.

March 18, 2001