We started with a review of last week’s exercise. (Sorry no meeting report last week - I was snowed under with other tasks):
How do we escape from thinking we are the 'doer'?
- “It seems to be about Self-remembering, giving attention and not being identified.”
- “It seems to be associated with the Observer. It happens suddenly and automatically, like the flick of a switch and the Observer is there. You can’t force it, but by increasing periods of stillness, it happens more often.”
- “I have a friend who sees everything that happens as being God’s will. She feels there is never any need to get upset about things. Is that the same thing?” Another group member thought it was a bit different. Not being the doer applies to everything in one’s life from getting up in the morning to making tea.
- “Sometimes when I’m doing a crossword puzzle which has a difficult clue, an answer suddenly emerges, and it seems to come from outside. It arrives in a moment of stillness, and there is always a spark of quiet happiness.” It was suggested that if this stillness and happiness could be extended for a bit longer the feeling of not being the doer would strengthen.
One person commented that if just one potentially annoying thing happened, he was able to avoid getting agitated. For example, he could see in advance the potential for agitation when phoning BT and so he sat quietly for a few minutes remembering the need to stay calm. But by the 9th or 10th call to BT and after a useless engineer’s visit, he was getting quite angry. But all the anger disappeared when an engineer came and climbed a pole in the wood and fixed the line. He was so happy that he went out into the wood and told the engineer (who was still at the top of the pole) how clever he was and what a wonderful job he had done.
Another felt it was difficult not to get agitated because of all the negative things going on in the world which we hear about on the news. It was suggested that he stopped listening to the news on TV or radio and instead used the BBC website. Then he could just read the positive stories and ignore everything else.
The group enjoyed the Sufi story about the boy with the drum. One person felt that the reason Mulla Nasrudin had been able to solve the problem is because he was not attached to any one point of view. It was a matter of seeing things from the boy’s viewpoint rather than just adopting the neighbours’ attitude of anger and frustration. We wondered why no-one had thought of taking the drum away from the boy, but the teachers in the group explained that he would just have found something else to bang. But there was some concern about what the boy might do next with the hammer and chisel ... unless Mulla Nasrudin took them away again.
On the subject of repetitive thoughts, we concluded that this included positive thoughts as well as negative ones – ‘what a wonderful job I did …’, ‘I really am excellent at …’
One person thought that most of the time it was impossible to stop repetitive thoughts because he is often under the influence of rajas and tamas. It is only possible if one is sattvic. But someone else pointed out that the fact that the thought has started to repeat suggests that one is not under the influence of sattva. So we are all in the same situation – we need to remember why it’s so important to turn away from the thought and then act on that knowledge. If we are lucky, sattva will arise.
A question was raised: does a tune that goes round and round in one's head count as a repeating thought? We thought that it probably does.
There followed a discussion on righteous anger. Two members of the group had previously been teachers and both had experiences of needing to use righteous anger with a class of students who were behaving badly. One of them had had to leave the class and go for a walk to help her remain calm inside. The students regretted their behaviour and apologised to her. Another group member found it very hard to avoid righteous anger turning into real anger when it involved another person. However, it was quite easy to get angry with a cat who was stealing cheese and still feel love inside.