This week's material explored the principle of Dama - control of the senses, self-control.We started by examining the idea that the information we receive directly from the senses is highly manipulated by the brain before it reaches the conscious, registering mind. This was illustrated by quotations from Chris Frith's book "Making Up the Mind", and from an 18th century book on sculpture. One person remarked that although it is easy to understand intellectually that everything we see is an illusion invented by the mind, it had never become 'real' for him until he became ill with a virus infection that affected his middle ear and made the room appear to keep turning round and upside down, even though he knew rationally that everything in the room was still.
We went on to discuss identification. An excellent example of a very powerful and unstoppable identification was given by someone who had been put on a very strict diet as a result of illness. Then after a while she was told she could eat fish. This was a wonderful prospect and she went straight out to the fish shop. Her entire consciousness was taken over by 'fish', and she was so intent on acquiring some that she turned her back on a friend who was walking over towards her, and instead she headed straight into the fish shop.
The shocking idea of actually 'becoming' something you desire (so that while that desire is active it takes over and 'becomes' you and your whole world) was seen as helpful in persuading us that identification is something we really don't want. Watching people walking through a shopping mall, looking for something to desire, convinced one member of the group that we need to have fewer desires. So when he is tempted to buy something he asks himself "will this make me happier? Will it make me happier in a month's time?"
Meeting reports, papers and discussions from Cheltenham Group. All Society members are welcome to join in the discussion here.
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