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Week 3: Dowsing and Divining

Ramsey Dukes Aeon Books ePub


In Weeks 1 and 2 we explored the direct perception of sensory stimuli at the edge of normal conscious awareness, pushing the boundaries by looking for subtle information (such as slight acoustic changes or a feeling of place) that would normally be screened out by reason and convention. After all, who would want the embarrassment of being the only person standing up in a formal concert? Or who would go hungry rather than be seated in “someone else's place” in a restaurant? Rather than acting on such subtle preferences, we go along with the crowd and prefer to act normally.

The result is that we do not ask these questions, such as “Where do I really want to sit?” because the answer might be inconvenient or embarrassing. Have you noticed how awkward it can be sometimes when one person is over-helpful and, rather than simply letting everyone sit down as they arrive, they make a big fuss about, “Wouldn't you rather sit here with the nice view?” Mostly, we'd rather just move with the crowd than make a big thing about small preferences.

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The quick answer is that it isn’t “exactly” anything, because exactness has little place in personal interactions.

Having said that we can go back to first principles and raise the question in the light of what has been learnt so far about demons.


Having suggested that the sea of mechanical interactions and the sea of consciousness are equivalent, let us stick with the latter view in which we, as observers, direct our consciousness toward certain phenomena and choose whether to share our awareness with them.

What are these phenomena? I take the office copier and the office boss as examples. Both are experienced by us as patterns of interaction in our brains and nerves, patterns informed by data entering via our senses. These senses are themselves only experienced as patterns of interaction in our brains and nerves. So, in our subjective reality as experienced, both the copier and the boss are patterns of interaction within our brain.

We assume that these patterns somehow reflect another objective reality—i.e. that there really is a material copier and a material boss out there and they are more than just illusions existing only in our brain. But this assumption complicates matters, so will be addressed later. For now we concentrate on the subjective reality we inhabit and recognise that it contains a boss and a copier and that—until you read this book—most people would have granted that the boss is conscious like themselves whereas the copier is not.

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I am writing this book to help people tackle the problems of everyday life.

The book recommends one simple formula: treat life the way you would want to be treated yourself. Talk to your plants; empathise with the moods of your car, the office copier or your computer. Recognise the weather, the landscape, nature for what they truly are—mighty gods—and learn to read their expressions. Study all the patterns of success or frustration in your life, name them as demons and learn to work with them rather than simply suffer or deny them.

In place of a plethora of self-help books offering Seven Secrets of..., Ten Scientifically-proven Habits of ..., The Four-step Process to Complete and Utter... and so on, I am suggesting one simple solution as the answer to everything: do as you would be done by.

How boring.

But it’s surprising how a simple idea like that can ruffle people’s feelings. I will people your world with demons, angels, gods and spirits of all sorts and persuasions—if you really don’t mind that, then you may want to skip this first part. But I know that some people won’t be at all grateful for all this fun.

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Week 1: Softening the Boundaries by Tuning the Senses

Ramsey Dukes Aeon Books ePub


“Hark how the little birds sing of love,” sang the old lady on the park bench.

“That's aggression, not love! They're staking a territorial claim when they make that noise,” sneered the acne-scarred youth by her side.

Why did he say that? Was the fleeting intellectual triumph really worth the effort? See how quickly the old dear has forgotten his remark and returned to blissful contemplation! But does he look any happier for his knowledge?

They live in two quite different models of reality. Society would call him ”strong-minded', but he bears his reality like an irritating burden, whereas she has disciplined the world into a cornucopia of joy. Should we not then admit that, though not so strong in mind, she is at least the stronger in soul?

The above quote comes from a book I wrote called Thundersqueak (1979). It reflects a conflict between puritanism and sensitivity.


When, for example, I read some glossy magazine article extolling the fine difference between one sort of gourmet delicacy and another, or immensely flowery descriptions of the precise impression that a certain wine leaves on the refined palate, then something in me may protest that so much time and money is being spent on expensive delicacies when there are millions of people on this planet who cannot even afford enough food to stay alive.

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This chapter provides examples of demons that infect large numbers of people—especially those that infect our culture and maybe other cultures too.

And the end of the last chapter provided a good cue for our first class of demons.


My most powerful racist experience took place in a North London bookshop adjoining a restaurant. As I waited for my meal to be served I wandered into the bookshop to browse. All the usual labels were there that you would expect in any small bookshop: Travel, Biography, Fiction, Cookery, History and so on. But when I looked at the actual books I had a surprise. The cookery books were all Jewish cookery, the travel was all about Israel, the history was all Jewish history and the biographies were of great Jews and the fiction seemed all to be Jewish fiction and so on.

I wondered what someone who frequented this shop would learn about non-Jewish people and their behaviour. There were many books about the holocaust and anti-Semitism—would this shop not give a biased view of the rest of the world?

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