आन्वीक्षिकी: The Science and Art of Thinking and Inquiry

Aanvikshiki is a term in Sanskrit denoting roughly the art of thinking or science of inquiry and it was recognized in India as a distinct branch of learning as early as 650 BC. However, over the centuries its meaning and import have undergone considerable variations.

Introduction

Imagine if you were taught the art and craft of thinking as a child. Instead of loading the child with information, the child can be taught the right methods of thinking — analysis, decision-making, prioritizing, planning, structuring, critical evaluation, logic.

Accept others’ views where it’s necessary. Think through all the consequences. Take calculated risks and, without a doubt, you will be far more successful. You will be successful not only at the end but also at every stage of your life.

Now, the good news is that thinking can be taught. People ask us to think, but when it comes to the process, no one talks about it.

The meaning

You may call it the science of strategic thinking. Some people call it critical thinking. It’s also logical thinking, scientific thinking, inquiry, and research. It’s a word with various meanings. One has the freedom to interpret, reinterpret, and even explore different meanings of the same word.

The only rule is that the meaning of the word should help us elevate our thinking. As long as this is taken care of, one can give new dimensions, depending on our understanding.

How to practice?

One needs to investigate with reason. It’s important to think logically and systematically. So, this kind of thinking isn’t an emotional explosion. It’s a well-thought process. Practicing it requires one to consider three things:

  • Good and evil
  • Material gain or loss
  • Good policy and bad policy according to the science of politics

Additionally, it includes the consideration of the relative strength and weaknesses of the three things mentioned above. So, while thinking about something, we need to carefully analyze the advantages and disadvantages. Is it spiritually good? Will it give any material gain? Is it the right policy decision?

Thus, when we consider various dimensions, we’ll be able to take the right and correct decision, weighing all the consequences.

The benefits

The best part is that it isn’t just a selfish way of thinking. It doesn’t consider only personal gain. It confers benefits to everybody. It keeps the mind steady in all situations. It leads to a better mental health and contribute to your mental wellness and positive psychology.

Keeping ourselves calm and composed is the reward that it brings to a person. Be it adversity or prosperity, loss or gain, good or bad times, sickness or health — in all circumstances, we find that the practice helps maintain the balance of the mind. It brings about proficiency in:

  • Thought: It gives clear thinking
  • Speech: Verbal communication
  • Action: There’s perfection in all activities

And finally, it’s ever thought of as the lamp of all sciences, as the means of all actions and as the support of all laws and duties. It’s the guiding principle for everything in life. It’s like a lamp guiding us in darkness.

Types of thinking

There’re various types of thinking. And we can choose from the choices available. When we choose the right kind of thinking, we can create wonders. The wrong type of thinking can destroy us completely.

There’re two broad types of thinking that most people are aware of — positive thinking and negative thinking.

We’re usually told by others to practice positive thinking. But in reality, positive thinking isn’t enough. We need to have practical thinking. Between optimistic thinking and pessimistic thinking, there’s something called realistic thinking. Therefore, let us not be either optimistic or pessimistic — let us be realistic, and learn some forms of thinking.

  • Critical thinking: It’s the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence. It’s self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.  
  • Both-side thinking: Only looking at one dimension can’t give us the full picture. We need to look at both sides of a coin. When you look at both sides of an issue, your thinking evolves. Knowledge of the other viewpoint only enriches your thinking. Good people will anyway give you good perspectives, but the wicked will show you the loopholes in your thoughts. You can consider both perspectives before making your move. Always take the opinion of both sides — the truth may lie in between.
  • Alternative thinking: There can be one solution to many problems. There can be many solutions to There can be one solution to many problems. There can be many solutions to one problem. The problem and the solution are both in our minds. Train the mind in the right kind of thinking, and you’ll always succeed, no matter what the problem. That’s why we need to develop a solution-focused mindset rather than one that is problem-focused. Either you become a solution to every problem, or you turn out to be the problem.
  • Leadership thinking: By taking responsibility for your leadership in thinking processes, you’re taking action to analyze and adapt your approach to decision-making and problem-solving. Bad leaders react. Good leaders plan. Great leaders think. And revolutionary leaders — the sort of leaders who transform not just companies, but the whole world — think differently.
  • Creative thinking: it’s the ability to consider something in a new way. It’s a new approach to a problem. It might mean devising new ways to carry out tasks, solve problems, and meet challenges. It means bringing a fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to your work.
  • Lateral thinking: It’s a manner of solving problems using an indirect and creative approach via reasoning that isn’t immediately obvious. It involves ideas that may not be obtainable using only traditional step-by-step logic. It’s the ability to use your imagination to look at a problem freshly and come up with a new solution.
  • Design thinking: It isn’t an exclusive property of designers — all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have practiced it. What’s special about it is that designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn and apply these human-centered techniques to solve problems creatively and innovatively — in our designs, in our businesses, in our countries, in our lives.
  • Spiritual thinking: It’s based on the concept of dharma which is a core of all Indian scriptures. There’s a common misconception about spirituality — that it’s meant for old and useless people, and that you become spiritual only when you’ve nothing left to do in life. The spiritual energy in them gives them the strength to do better than the ordinary. With a foundation of spirituality, even the ordinary will become extraordinary. It’s the highest form of thinking.

Conclusion

If at all we could teach our children in schools to think, inquire, ask, question, apply logic and then establish and have their conclusions, what a brilliant generation would come out of our schools, colleges and universities.

What we follow instead is herd mentality. Just do what others are doing. This kind of system rarely helps to get the best out of an individual. From a data-driven education system, we need to move into a process of investigation and inquiry.

Let us teach our children to think and wonder, to imagine, to construct, to create, to dream, to visualize, and to build their future uniquely.

आन्वीक्षिकी confers benefits on the people, keeps the mind steady in adversity and prosperity, and brings about proficiency in thought, speech, and action.

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