Philosophy Works (Class Four)

The Power of attention.

What you give your attention to grows.

All actions are driven by desire. How many different action have you engaged in today? How much rest have you had? In the space between actions we can come to rest, wake up and come into the present. We can be free of desire for a while. It doesn’t have to be intense or prolonged – bring your body into view and connect with the breath or one of the senses.

In the state of waking consciousness, the process of waking up, there are only two useful states of attention. Attention open where the attention is wide and open, not caught by anything in particular, but open to everything in general and attention centered, where the attention is focused on one thing with great clarity and precision. In waking sleep we do not have a choice, our attention is swept away like a leaf in the wind. Choice is only possible when we begin to wake up, when we practice giving our attention, rather than having it torn away by distraction.

Whoever or whatever is in front of you is your teacher.

Because of my blindness, I had developed a new faculty. Strictly speaking, all men have it, but almost all forget to use it. The faculty is attention. In order to live without eyes, it is necessary to be very attentive, to remain hour after hour in a state of wakefulness, of receptiveness and activity. Indeed, attention is not simply a virtue of intelligence or the result of education, and something one can easily do without. It is a state of being. It is a state without which we shall never be able to perfect ourselves. In its truest sense, it is the listening post of the universe.

Jacques Lusseyran, The Blind Society

Every individual has desires and we are plagued with these desires, but there is some time between each of them. Most of the time we don’t allow this interval to stretch at all; no sooner is one desire fulfilled that we let another desire spring up. If people understood this and allowed themselves the luxury of a little interval, however short it might be, they would find that they would recharge themselves without doing anything but just being quiet for a moment or two. If people could practice and enlarge this interval… they would find that they had great power within, and the potentiality of realizing themselves would not be far off if they could give themselves the luxury of two minutes of interval between one desire and the rising of the next.

Shantanand Saraswati

New knowledge – life with confidence, clarity, courage. When we are open to new knowledge, we are not just reacting, but dealing with every situation differently, because there is potentiality of realizing ourselves in a moment.

Seneca – how can a soul that misunderstands itself have a sure idea of other creatures?

Alice in Wonderland – I must have changed several times today. Who am I? I don’t know.

We are playing roles. What we are not? Are we the mind or the body? Attention is a bridge. We are all work in progress: body, mind and heart.

From Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of grass”, there is passing show and I. The unchanging observer within us watches and witnesses. Soul, God or Absolute Spirit?

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