[From: Bruce Nevin (Wed 921230 15:52:04)]

(Ed Ford (Wed, 30 Dec 1992 13:18:04) ) --

Once Mohandas Gandhi was asked by a reporter what he thought of
Christian civilization. "I think," he said, "that it would be a
very good idea."

Here is the Chesterton quote:

        "The Christian ideal," it is said, "has not been tried
        and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left
                _What's Wrong with the World_ (1910)

Re beliefs and imagination, a twist with a holiday theme:

I just heard with half an ear on NPR something about a recent
study of obesity at Columbia and Cornell. Those who failed to
lose weight turned out not to be reporting accurately either how
much they actually ate or how much they actually exercised--and
they appeared not to be registering these perceptions accurately
themselves. They were eating roughly twice as much as they
recorded themselves eating. The added calories and reduced
exercise accounted quite well for the differences in weight loss
(or gain) with respect to those who did well on the test diet.

Is it simply a matter of not attending? Or of attending to
imagined perceptions at the expense of actual ones? Or some
combination of phasing out at critical junctures, and then
substituting imagined perceptions that are comforting? (Perhaps
"comforting" means "satisfying control of higher-level perceptions?)

Simply paying careful attention when one finds oneself indulging
in a "bad" behavior (you're trying to quit smoking, say, and
suddenly become aware that a cigarette is somehow in your fingers
and that you have just lit it). Simply paying careful attention,
without judgement or emotional reaction, seems often to be a
prerequisite to subsequent change. Maybe we can now explain this

All the "religious" practices that seem to me to be serious (as
opposed to being mere social and cultural institutions) have at
their heart some form of individual practice that could be called
meditation. Coming to one's senses, in place of customary
fantasies. The distinction between religious experience and
religious institutions is fundamental. Ideally, the latter
support the former. But given the former, you don't need any of
the latter. And in the absence of the former, the latter are
worse than empty shells.

When we pay attention to our active perceptions, it seems to me
that there is a lot more going on than our philosophies or
imaginations dream of. It does make sense that imagination would
simplify things by leaving levels below the imagination loop out
of account.