“Attending to the Self means attending to the work. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think that work is done by you. But the body and its activities, including that work, are not apart from the Self. What does it matter whether you attend to the work or not? When you walk from one place to another you do not attend to the steps you take and yet you find yourself after a time at your goal. You see how the business of walking goes on without your attending to it. So also with other kinds of work.” Ramana Maharshi
Eskimo story — In the eternal darkness, the crow, unable to find any food, longed for light, and the earth was illumined.If there is a real desire, if the thing desired is really light , the desire for light produces it. There is a real desire when there is an effort of attention.
One of the great ironies of life in a world that is almost wholly preoccupied with the profit margin of any business transacted within its context – which in more personal terms equates with the degree of personal happiness that is the intended product of any action that one performs – is the fact that most people squander the greatest natural resource at their disposal for procuring the bounty of contentment they seek.
Duped by maya and suffering an innate condition of ignorance, the vast majority of people remain so preoccupied with the alluring objects calling for their attention in the surrounding world that they fail to realize that they themselves – i.e. the quality and texture of their own mind – are the source of the peace and happiness they experience through their acquisition of items, accomplishment of ends, and/or achievement of ambitions. They fail to see that it is not the objects themselves they desire, but rather the sense of fulfillment they feel so sure these objects will afford them. Instead of reveling in the joy that is their inherent nature as the limitless self, they dissipate their inner tranquility by training their attention upon objects – both subtle and gross – that they believe are the founts of satisfaction.
However, as Lord Krishna, speaking as the self, says in the Bhagavad Gita, “Fixing your mind on me, you shall pass over all difficulties, through my grace; but if, through egoism, you will not listen, then you shall perish” (18.58). Rather than an ultimatum issued by a jealous god, this assertion is simply an appeal to practicality. As long as the mind is distracted by objective phenomena it will be incapable of discerning the true nature of reality and remain unable to discriminate between the real and the apparent, the self and the not self, that which is inherently limitless, free, content, and blissful and that which is inherently limited, bound, agitated, and to a greater or lesser degree anguished.
Therefore, if such discrimination – i.e. atma-anatma-viveka – is the heart of self-inquiry, we might say that attention – and more precisely the ability to turn one’s attention “inward” and train it on the self – is its backbone. It is no arbitrary coincidence that samadhana, the ability to sustain concentration on a given topic for a long period of time, is one of the fundamental qualifications for a seeker of self-knowledge. Focused attention is indeed the foundation of all three aspects of the process of self-inquiry – i.e. hearing (shravana), reflection (manana), and meditation (nididhyasana) – that leads to the assimilation of self-knowledge and ultimate inner freedom (moksha). It requires a mind with a unique form of OCD – a mind whose attention is characterized by the qualities of openness, critical thinking, and determination.
Inquiry 6: What is the Purpose of the Apparent?
And even if reality is non-dual, why this seeming duality? Why does this mithyA of life exist?
As has already been established, there is no creation. The word “creation” implies that something that previously did not exist has been somehow brought into existence, that something new has entered the arena of the old or already-previously-established. Since, however, there exists nothing other than consciousness/awareness and therefore such is the sole substratum of the entire field of manifestation and all the objects inhabiting it, it is not possible for anything new to arrive on the scene. All apparent objects, including those making their first appearance in a given form, are nothing other that a reconstitution and/or reconfiguration of the same one substance of which the entire apparent reality consists.
From perspective of both the apparent individual and God/Isvara/the macrocosmic causal body (though it should be understood that the latter is not a personal entity) there is, nevertheless, an apparent creation. There is, however, a difference between the apparent individual’s projected interpretation of reality (i.e. jiva shrishti) and God’s appearance as “creation” (i.e. Isvara shrishti).
The word “Attention” is derived from two Latin words, ad tendere, meaning “to stretch towards.”
Rupert Spira explains very clearly how attention turning towards itself is the ending of the mind.
1. Attention Falling Back to its Source (From Rupert at Parmoor in Dec 2013) – 8:35 min: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJzIz31rt4I
2. Attention and Awareness (From Rupert at Santa Sabina in Oct 2013) – 8:38 min: http://non-duality.rupertspira.com/watch/attention-and-awareness
3. The Sinking of Attention into Itself (From Rupert at Santa Sabina in Feb 2014) – 13:07 min: http://non-duality.rupertspira.com/watch/the-sinking-of-attention-into-itself
4. Attention is Awareness Plus an Object (From Rupert at Mercy Center, CA in Apr 2013) – 14:53 min: http://non-duality.rupertspira.com/watch/attention-is-awareness-plus-an-object
The message in these Videos is beautifully crystal clear and truly meditational, I submit.
Attention pays attention to a lot of things, but when attention pays attention to attention, then there is a stillness, and that stillness introduces you to your Self.
1. “At any given time, a massive flow of sensory stimulation reaches our senses, but our conscious mind seems to gain access to only a very small amount of it. … …… Conscious access is, at once, extraordinarily open and inordinately selective. Its potential repertoire is vast. At any given moment, with a switch of my attention, I can become conscious of a color, a scent, a sound, a lost memory, a feeling, a strategy, an error – or even the multiple meanings of the word consciousness.” — p: 20.
2. “Out of countless potential thoughts, what reaches our conscious mind is la crème de la crème, the outcome of the very complex sieve that we call attention. — p:21.
3. ”[I]nattention can make virtually any object vanish from our consciousness. As such, it provides an essential tool for contrasting conscious and unconscious perception.” — p: 37
From: Consciousness and the Brain – Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts by Stanislas Dehaene, Viking, 2014, pp: 333 ISBN 978-0-670-02543-5
You may watch this 1:54 min YouTube video (thanks to the London Transport Dept.) to know how attentive you are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubNF9QNEQLA
Attention surely is timeless. If I am listening, I am all there. Being totally in the present, I am not thinking ‘about’. That may come afterwards. But in the moment of giving attention, listening, I am there, in the present; I am Presence itself. I am not in time; the past plays no part whatsoever in giving attention, in being aware, nor does speculation on the future. If I have even the least expectation (as desire or fear), I am not fully attentive but indulge myself within the realm of thought. I am indeed totally fulfilled in the moment. What prevails is a state of total freedom, and death has lost its sting.