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Total Attention


I wish to pursue even more the difference in between idea and our broader intelligence by taking a look at what Jiddhu Krishnamurti (K) called‘total attention’ K thought that our fascination with thinking was carefully gotten in touch with the human choice (no doubt provided by natural choice) to have an ‘occupied’ mind, a mind which, a minimum of in the waking state, is animated by idea. In his view such irreversible profession was preferable nor neither essential.

Of course, he acknowledged that idea is needed to pursue an useful objective or deal with a technical matter. But outside these particular and narrow goals he saw this desire for ‘occupation’ to be a recurring and mechanical human characteristic. In its location he recommended that the mind be allowed to experience repetitive states of non-occupation, missing however awake of active idea. In these minutes the mind makes no motion towards judgement or conclusion, rather it just addresses what is taking place, whether this consists of interior experiences or external occasions, feelings, ideas and understandings. He recommended that this act of attention or passive, unconcentrated, focus is the extremely opposite of believing, for all thinking is considering revers, about contrasting and comparing, determining and evaluating, examining and evaluating, presuming and concluding. These activities are important in technical thinking when some action needs to be prepared or figured out, however in the mental sphere they typically develop dispute for the thinker and end up being the source of department and condition.

In such states where believing falls quiet, there is exposed the mind’s capability for‘total attention’ The subject-object difference of the conditioned mind falls away; there is no ‘me’ over here and ‘you’ there. There is no effort to get something. Such attention permits the private mind to let go of the determining, self-serving self. K thought that if an individual might unlearn the routine of continuous thinking, booking it just for when it was required to attain useful goals, she or he would acquire the energy and intelligence essential to see life in the entire instead of as a series of fragmented images. Indeed, ‘unlearn’ is not rather the ideal word, since K believed that such a realisation might be accomplished, and certainly in his view needed to be accomplished, instantly.

What K suggested by this kind of attention is vital to an understanding of his viewpoint. However, it can appear an evasive idea, maybe unavoidably so considering that in K’s view total attention was less an idea to be understood and more of a method of being or seeing. As I will argue listed below, the mindset imagined is extremely comparable to particular kinds of meditation.

K saw attention as what the mind performs in the immediate it exists with a brand-new experience. We now understand from neurology that brand-new experiences are acknowledged at first in the ideal hemisphere of the brain prior to being passed to the left hemisphere for assimilation and classification. It is as if K wished to stop this procedure, and certainly that in him this procedure remained in some method damaged or weakened, so that something of the instant, undigested, awareness of an understanding or experience stayed present in awareness. He thought that a totally mindful mind might comprehend this, not verbally even instantly and intuitively, which in so doing the tourist attraction of conceptual thinking would be decisively damaged. As an outcome, the tyranny that memory and mechanical cognition has more than our behaviour would be changed with participating in, with a seeing of the entire in its immediacy and freshness. Such attention does not divide the observer from the observed and does not piece the psychological procedure into subject and things. There is just a participating in, a procedure in which the self, or representative, is not actively present. Attending is a method of just ‘seeing’ and staying still.

In K’s view the core function of such attention is to free the mind from its regular requirement of being inhabited with ideas, and for that reason allow it to take a look at a reality without being inhabited or bound up with it. If the mind is thinking about an useful issue which it wants to ‘solve’ it is undoubtedly inhabited with that issue. But continuous profession with issues, with puzzles, with regular ideas constrains the mind’s workout of its broader powers of intelligence. K’s view was that complete attention to any experience was the reverse of having actually the mind inhabited with it, in the sense of analyzing it, evaluating it, trying to find a service. Rather, attention should be the workout of a ‘choiceless awareness’, a passive reflection on a reality, a feeling, an experience, without evaluating, favouring or condemning, without tourist attraction or hostility.

Total attention for that reason is defined by a variety of qualities- watchfulness, silence, awareness of one’ s psychological procedures in the minute that they occur. It is an acknowledging of the reality that a person does not understand. Not to understand, to state, ‘I do not understand’, thus ends up being the start of real understanding. It is not simply that reality can not be revealed in words, it is that reality is not part of that which can be a things of understanding, understood in the sense that it can be the things of idea and memory, something that can be accessed, evaluated and devoted to words. Truth is beyond time and for that reason beyond memory, beyond what can be understood. Truth is not part of the sphere of understanding, and since of that it can not be taught, bied far or explained. K composed,‘The mind that does not know, is not in a state of knowledge, is in the only state in which truth could be discovered. But the moment you recognize truth, say to yourself I see the truth, you are back in the sphere of memory, the conditioned……to discover what is, the mind must die to that which it has experienced’ If reality lay anywhere, it lay in the subjectless act of viewing:-

‘To go for a walk in the fields with the cattle and the young lambs, and in the woods with the song of the birds, without a single thought in your mind, only watching the earth, the trees, the sheep and hearing the cuckoo calling and the wood pigeons; to walk without any emotion, any sentiment, to watch the trees and all the earth- when you so watch, you learn your own thinking, are aware of your own reactions and do not allow a single thought to escape you without understanding why it came, what was the cause of it. If you are watchful, never letting a thought go by, then the brain becomes very quiet. Then you watch in great silence and that silence has immense depth, a lasting incorruptible beauty.’

This is why in K’ s see reality can not be discovered by browsing or be pursued. Seeking includes a things and a searcher looked for. When the things of the search is discovered it is locked into memory and enters into what has actually been experienced by a topic. But then it is no longer alive, no longer a living thing. In K’s view you can just encounter reality when the mind is totally still, when there is no making every effort. For the mind to be totally still, and for attention to be accomplished, it needs to not be inhabited with conditioned idea, certainly should be empty totally. You can never ever reach reality through the understood, that is through idea which has actually been developed with time and rests. You can just ‘reach’ it by not attempting to reach, by attempting not to comprehend on to it, by an outright lack of effort. Truth lies outside the field of the understood, is unidentified, is entirely brand-new, is permanently developed and present, and can not be caught by idea. K composed that, ‘It is only when the mind ceases to think in terms of its own continuity that the unknowable comes into being.’

Total attention releases the mind from the repeated procedure of self-consciousness and self-analysis. For K analysis of self is simple terminology, completely depending on one’ s conditioning. It can never ever be an innovative force.

‘It is only the mind that is totally unoccupied, completely empty- it is only such a mind that can receive something new in which there is no occupation…Reality cannot be measured: therefore there is no occupation with it; there is only stillness of the mind, an emptiness in which there is no movement- and it is only then that the unknown can come into being.’

K typically rejected that he was a Buddhist, however it is maybe not a surprise that a number of his fans and pals saw this exposition of attention as basically Buddhist in nature. It resonates highly with modern descriptions of insight meditation. For example, the Theravada instructor Ajahn Amaro supplies a terrific account of this in his book The Breakthrough (see particularly pp. 98-107). Here he explains how Buddhist mentor divides our experience into 5 essential classifications- body, experience, understanding, ideas (consisting of feelings), and lastly awareness itself. Commonly, we recognize the existence of an ‘I’ which accompanies each of these experiences. Such recognition totals up to a ‘grasping’ that triggers sensations of frustration, alienation and incompleteness to occur. It is the source of the self-view, of the view that there is a specific being that is different from that which is experienced.

In this context Buddhism can be seen not mainly as a set of ‘truths’, that themselves can not be totally articulated in language, rather it is a set of tools which reveal us how finest how to live. These tools, especially that of insight meditation, assist us to acknowledge that there is no ‘thing’, or series of things, throughout the world to which another ‘thing’ (specifically us) might be connected. Rather, both within our minds and bodies and out there on the planet, all that develops is modification, minute by minute. Everything depends on something else, however there is no subject and no things. Conscious entities, such as people, just experience a few of these modifications as they occur in their minds.

According to Amaro, when the mind in meditation rests in today minute there is an ‘unentangled participation’ because minute. In these minutes of meditation (as in K’s ‘total attention’) our minds and bodies just address the circulation of experience. We see that circulation pass, however do not end up being knotted in it. We release the material of experience and rather just experience the procedure of what passes in the mind. Sensations, ideas, understandings, and feelings, the whole material of awareness at that minute, simply go and come. Such meditation is an approach, however a lot more essentially it is an experience of what is occurring in today minute. It is not an insight in the sense that it can be interacted or consigned to memory. Rather, it is just an awareness of the circulation of experience, albeit one that changes the experience of all that we come across.


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