Thursday, May 26, 2005

fun in class

OK, ya'll know I'm studying Tibetan Buddhism, right? We had an interesting exercise in class last night that was a great illustration of how our own brains create our own worlds....

We got into pairs and one person closed their eyes and held out a hand. The teacher then gave the seeing partner a small everyday object to place into the blind partner's palm. They were to hold it upright so that the holder couldn't feel any more than a small portion of the object in their palm.

Then the blind partner extended one finger only to further explore the unknown object. The point of the exercise was to go slowly enough to "watch" the brain collecting information until the breakover moment when the thing was successfully identified.

My object was one of those small plastic scoops that come in, oh, a tin of lemonade mix, for example. My partner held it on my palm by pushing on the little handle part, with the "back" of the scoop towards me. One finger does not provide a lot of sensory input (even for a massage therapist!), so it took awhile of slowly working my way around the sides until I found the handle sticking up. I still didn't know what it was until my finger worked around to the concave side of the scoop, and then in one "blinding" instant the object was "known" completely. From a collection of bits of raw data came a total picture, and the moment of crystallization was really--well, momentous! (lol)

I have to admit I had to battle with myself a bit....there was some frustration about not knowing and wanting to "figure it out" right away. It was challenging to make myself stay with the process, and revealing to find out how uncomfortable I was!

We are studying Buddhist logic and believe me, it's not a subject I warm to instinctively--run screaming in the opposite direction is more like it! We are discussing lots of ideas and ways that we categorize objects in our world: i.e., the concept of "car" vs. an actual car vs. MY car. Sets and what's the point?

Well, the point is that our minds do an incredible amount of labelling, all the time, and much faster than we can usually follow unless we take it to the extreme like we did last night, with one tiny little ordinary "thing." But it illustrated to me that if I were able to "see" without "labelling" that I might be "seeing" in a totally different way, which might in turn change the appearance (and therefore the reality?) of my world.

I know, this sounds like a bunch of gobbeltygook--and I can't do any better, so I'll stop for now....but here's your (my) question: does HOW we see affect WHAT we see?

ciao for now, bow wow brown cow (yup, no question, she's flipped)!


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