Obsessed or Focused?

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Speculum
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Obsessed or Focused?

Postby Speculum » March 29th, 2005, 12:54 pm

Here's a line from the movie Pi: When your mind becomes obsessed with anything, you will filter everything else out, and you will find it everywhere.

The movie is about finding numerical patterns in everything from the stock market to the creation stories of the Torah. It’s an interesting idea, and could have been a good movie; but it’s too “theatrical” – filmed in black and white, weird photography, and so on; in a word, it's a difficult movie to enjoy.

Anyway, in the movie, the quotation above is offered as if obsession is a bad thing. And, of course, I suppose it is.

But as seekers, are we not all “obsessed” with God, Truth, the Way, Self-Realization, etc. and so on? If we weren’t, would we still be struggling along our path? Does not the Gita say, “Fix your mind on me ...”? And is that very lesson not echoed by virtually every Teacher in virtually every spiritual tradition?

And isn’t it also true that precisely because, as seekers, we have become “obsessed” with, say, God, we do in fact find God everywhere in our lives! And isn’t that a good thing?

Maybe it’s the word “obsessed”? Maybe it's crazy to become obsessed but okay to become focused! As the Bard put it, what's in a name. Or, maybe after watching the movie Pi, I have become obsessed with the word “obsessed”.

Just a thought, just for fun. :frog:

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zoofence
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Postby zoofence » April 4th, 2005, 8:12 pm

The current issue of Discover magazine has an interesting article “What Do Animals Think?” about Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University, who has discovered that autistic persons (she is one) and animals view the world, and react to it, in a manner that is significantly different from the way normal humans view and react to the world.

From the article: Normal humans are good at seeing the big picture but bad at what Grandin calls “all the tiny little details that go into that picture”. For normal humans, the big picture isn’t created by accumulating lots of sensory details. It’s created by filtering out detail. “The price human beings pay for having such big, fat frontal lobes,” Grandin writes, “is that normal people become oblivious in a way animals and autistic people aren’t. Normal people stop seeing the details that make up the big picture and see only the big picture instead”. The result, as she puts it, is “that normal beings are blind to anything they’re not paying attention to”. And the parameters of our attention can be incredibly narrow. ... Humans appear to have evolved the brain to handle the interconnections and associations that produce what we happily call thought and the conscious mind. The only way to keep the association area of the human brain from becoming overloaded is to strictly limit our access to raw sensory data. Like animals, we see everything. But unlike animals, we process only a fraction of what we see.

At the risk of overstating (not to say misunderstanding) her point entirely, that really sounds like: We see what we want to see, we hear what we want to hear, and all of that is determined by what we already believe. That is, we manufacture a view of the universe (Universe) out of the stuff we inherit from parents, teachers, priests, doctors, friends, and so on, and then we see and hear (perceive) accordingly.

Until – by the Grace of God – one fine day we say, enough is enough, and we wake up, and we begin to see what is as it really is.

Of course, I am admittedly, even shamefully reading far too much into the Discover article. Oh well. :|

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Bhakti
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Postby Bhakti » April 6th, 2005, 11:47 am

Stefan, it's very interesting what you and this article say:

Normal humans are good at seeing the big picture but bad at what Grandin calls “all the tiny little details that go into that picture”. For normal humans, the big picture isn’t created by accumulating lots of sensory details. It’s created by filtering out detail.“


A while ago, I came across a book by Gregory Batson called Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Batson is an anthropologist who talks about metadialogues, art, schizophrenia, and many other topics that have to do with grace, consciousness, and relationships.

He quotes Aldous Huxley who said that humans have lost "grace," which animals still have. God resembles the animal rather than the human because, like the animal, God is unable to deceive and is incapable of internal confusion.

Bateson believes that through art, humans quest for grace. By this, I believe that he means that art (not only art works but the art of the heart) brings out the animal or autistic nature of humans. He says that it's impossible to be totally conscious. Consciousness can see only short arcs of brain circuits that we purposely direct. "Consciousness unaided by grace must always tend toward hate, not only because living by unaided consciousness is good common sense to exterminate the other fellow, but for the more profound reason that, seeing only arcs of circuits, the individual is continually surprised and necessarily angered when his hardheaded policies return to plague the inventor.

"If you use DDT to kill insects, you many succeed in reducing the insect population so far that the insectivors will starve. You will then have to use more DDT than before to kill the insects which the birs no longer eat. More probably, you will kill of the birds in the first round when they eat the poisoned insects. If the DDT kills off the dogs, you will have to have more police to keep down the burglars. The burglars will become better armed and more cunning . . . and so on.

"That is the sort of world we live in—a world of circuit structures—and love can survive only if wisdom (i.e., a sense or recognition of the fact of circuitry) has an effective voice."


I'm not explaining what Bateson says very well, but I believe that we do narrow our attention and tunnel our vision to direct what we want to hear and see. Until we, as you say, Stefan:

By the Grace of God—one fine day we say, enough is enough, and we wake up, and we begin to see what is as it really is.


In grace, Bhakti

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Neo
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Postby Neo » April 6th, 2005, 6:46 pm

i think that some one like ug krishamurti is probably "is unable to deceive and is incapable of internal confusion", dont you?. The problem with normal humans is that we're only think that we are normal, but we aren't really. THe ego is not our normal state. Nisargadata teacjes "the natural state" which he says is our normal state!

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zoofence
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Postby zoofence » April 6th, 2005, 9:38 pm

I agree, Neo and Bhakti. Clearly, the ability to deceive is egoic. Who else would want to deceive -- to deceive others, to deceive ourselves? And the same must be true of the tendency to confusion. After all, the ego is confused by definition. Can you picture Nisargadatta being confused? Or Gautama and Jesus arguing over whose way is right? Or Ramana and Rumi arm wrestling over the definition of "God"? The image is ludicrous, the stuff of Monty Python. But we do it all the time, and feel good about it!

The Teachers know that the Way is Single, that there is only One Teacher, and It is they. They know it because they are It.

It's all about the choices we make. Whom we listen to. How we listen. Most of the time, all we are interested in, and so all we hear, is confirmation of our already existing beliefs. Everything else, we filter out or make light of. What a waste of Divine Energy! What an extraordinary Dance!

Here's something I came across the other day, from the Anguttaranikaya, one of the books of the Pali Canon, considered in Buddhism to be the authentic Teaching of the Buddha:

There are, monks, these two conditions for the arising of wrong view. Which are the two? Another's utterance and improper attention. These, monks, are the two conditions for the arising of wrong view.

There are, monks, two conditions for the arising of right view. Which are the two? Another's utterance and proper attention. These, monks, are the two conditions for the arising of right view.


Or, as Da Free John used to say (in his better days), Use Me rightly.


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