Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rhett Butler on controlling the mind

Does it matter that there is so little awareness and interest in control of the emergence or existence of thoughts in our minds?

We are living in an age of fear and illusion. Fear because our mortal vulnerability and the deep appreciation of the scarcity of time we have to live have been dramatically heightened in the ‘public mind’ from events in the last 6 years. Illusion because our attempts to cope have come in the form of false belief in control. A tremendous industry – both businesses and our own duplicitous cooperation – has sprung up to feed this beckoning call.

We can postpone death (by controlling aging, or just the signs of it). We can control birth (when it happen contraception, if it can happen infertility and even what happens offspring gender). And almost everywhere in between, control comes from a plethora of devices that permeate all aspects of our lives and instantly respond to our command:

* The originally humble but now much more complex TV remote
* The cell phone
* DVRs and Tivo
* Blackberries/Treos
* Remote home lighting and heating systems
* The multiplicity of security devices
* The ubiquity of the internet which allows us unprecedented reach to manage the many areas of our lives.

These ‘tools’ foster the sense not just that we are can influence but control the direction of our day, the situations we find ourselves in.

It makes us feel good but that it missing the point. The fact that it is not working is becoming increasingly evident through the dysfunction that occurs when people find themselves not in control. How quickly people lose their composure nad become hostile is only one expression. In airports, on aeroplanes, in cars, in hotels, In fact, any place where our day and time is not unfolding how we think it should and we are unable to direct it otherwise.

With all this abundant focus outward on mastering all we survey, OFD suggests that greater success lies – where it does with happiness – which is through an inward journey, of understanding, development and progress. Jung and Csikszentmihalyi are in agreement on this matter.

The closing line of Gone With The Wind is an apt sentiment. Frankly, society doesn’t give a damn. It requires too much effort of the wrong kind where the result does not meet our instant gratification craving. We our indifferent to the one true and sustainable domain we have an opportunity to guide: control over internal phenomena rather than external ones.