The present work is concerned with new ideas of potential value for solving differential equations. First, a brief introduction to particle methods in mechanics is made by revisiting the vibrating string. The full case of nonlinear motion is studied and the corresponding nonlinear differential equations are derived. It is suggested that the particle origin of these equations is of more general interest than usually considered. A novel possibility to develop particle methods for solving differential equations in a direct way is investigated. The dynamical functional particle method (DFPM) is developed as a solution method for boundary value problems. DFPM is based on the concept of an interaction functional as a dynamical force field acting on quasi particles. The approach is not limited to linear equations. We exemplify by applying DFPM to several linear Schrödinger type of problems as well as a nonlinear case. It is seen that DFPM performs very well in comparison with some standard numerical libraries. In all cases, the convergence rates are exponential in time.