Thursday, June 12, 2008



We Filipinos have high regard to arithmetic. As early as we could, we inject arithmetic in the learning stages of a child by getting them accustomed to the basic arithmetic challenge of all times:

1+1 = ?

Though most of the kids that were confronted by that challenge would automatically answer 2 as programmed by their "mentors", it is also amusing to note that we have our ways of yielding to the clutches of our funny spirits with this entertaining arithmetic show off:

1+1 = Magellan
2+2 = Lapu-lapu
3+3 = Krismas Tree
4+4 = Bagong bapor
5+5 = Voltes 5
6+6 = Matematiks
7+7 = 7 Up
8+8 = Chocolate
9+9 = Lucky 9
10+10 = Ututen

Dare ask a child and be surprised to what his/her answers could be. Nyahahaha.


So, you do believe that 1+1=2?

Gather around.. Math enthusiasts. While we hail Mathematics to be an exact science, let's see some areas of learning where basic math goes out of the window.

In Zen, 1 + 1 = 1. Also, 1 + 1 + 1 +1 = 1. You can add as many ones as we like and the asnwer will still be 1.

According to Zen Buddhism, we are all part of a great, big ultimately complex system. We are all one, everyone is different , but we are all part of the same thing, all waves in an ocean, blades in a grass field, air molecules in the atmosphere. Every living, breathing thing and every non living, non breathing thing are all part of a unified whole, and every parts depends on every part. And so no matter how many figures you all add up to, the summation will always be a single figure "one". We are all one, we do not live in isolation. (from Complete Idiots Guide to Zen Living by Gary Mc Clain and Eve Adamson)

On the other hand, Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, justifies the equation that 1 + 1 = 3. And he calls it Synergy. He uses the equation to explain the core values of synergy and this is what is written in his book:

What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It means that the relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of itself. It is not only a part, but the most catalytic, the most empowering, the most unifying, and the most exciting part. The creative process is also the most terrifying part because you don't know exactly what's going to happen or where it is going to lead. You don't know what new dangers and challenges you'll find. It takes an enormous amount of internal security to begin with the spirit of adventure, the spirit of discovery, the spirit of creativity. Without doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness. You become a trailblazer, a pathfinder. You open new possibilities, new territories, new continents, so that others can follow. Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together, the roots commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. If you put two pieces of wood together, they will hold much more than the total of the weight held by each separately. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One plus one equals three or more.

While both views differ in the equations used, i find them both at parallel with the idea that you don't know exactly what's going to
happen or where it is going to lead. Zen learning mentions that of Chaos theory that completes the notion of cause and effect and with that, we can't possibly know what will happen or control what will happen in any given situation.


I also encountered another technical discussion about Desargues' Theorem which explains 1 + 1 = 0. But my nose couldn't take so much bleeding so i decided to couch this arithmetic paranoia in coy for the mean time :D

Numbers populate every nook and cranny of our lives. No matter what equations we do use in living a life, it is in the summation of our existence that puts us up to the real challenges.