Principle 7 Immediate Action 4 – 2020

The Future. This Week: Attention, The Theory of the Reverie, Sleep and Awakening… and Veggie Burgers (and a link to some reflections from Fernando Aranguiz)

If You Pursue An End You Enchain Yourself. If Everything You Do Is Realized As An End In Itself You Liberate Yourself.
Last time: Dictionaries, Definitions, Crafts and Card Games.
This time: Attention, The Theory of the Reverie, Sleep and Awakening… and Veggie Burgers. 

This Week:

Previously we concentrated on the general structure and scope of this principle. We then turned to how we applied, or could have applied, this principle in the past. Finally last week we considered the present. This week we try to relate it to the future and pending situations.

llustration by Coffeecookiecat found on the Internet
Note:
This principle can be applied to our every day activities. Many of us how found that is a key to transforming them into an ongoing dynamic mediation. But the principle can also apply to  those “internal works” that we do: the meditation, relax, the experience of peace, work with the force, the ceremonies in general, etc. Trying to apply it in those ambits has also proved immediately, and notably, useful.
General Considerations and Personal Reflections:
Here are some personal reflections. I offer them in the spirit of dialogue and exchange, and look forward to hearing your thoughts about, and experiences with, this principle.
 
It seems to me that one reason that pursuing an end leaves me enchained is that, as most of us soon learn, often what I think I want, ends up being not what I want at all! If that’s true, no wonder I suffer not only when I don’t get what I want, but even when I do. 
 
Attention! Attention!
In our last meeting someone brought up the relation between this principle and attention (what is now popularly referred to as mindfulness), or “being in theme” (being present), i.e. if you are walking, walk. If you are laughing laugh. If you are eating eat, and so on. As a slightly irreverent version has it: 
‘never whistle while you are pissing (just piss)”.
 
This becomes clearer when I try to pay attention. “Try” being the operative word. If you’ve done this experiment (of trying to simply pay attention) than I suppose that, like me, you quickly discovered that normally you don’t pay attention. Worse than that, if you are honest and persistent, you may have found —like I did— that you can’t! At least not for more than moments, and it takes a very long time and very consistent work to get any better at it. On the other hand, with some careful and sustained work we can manage to gain clear registers of  these varied but persistent states of inattention. 
 
One might object: of course, I pay attention! How else could I do my job, or even cross a busy street. But in those situations I pay attention automatically (and still only briefly). It’s as if the attention is called out of me by the stimuli. It’s a very different proposition than when I try to reverse all that, i.e. rather than the stimuli reaching me, I want to go out toward the stimuli. Not because these demand my attention but because I wish simply to be attentive — to be present if you prefer. Personally, I prefer the term attention though it is misleading in certain respects (more about that another time).
 
Sleep and Awakening.
I think that it’s only with such attempts and then only gradually that this idea expressed in Chapter 6 of the Inner Look really starts to make sense: “Only rarely do I perceive reality in a new way, and it is then that I realize that what I normally see resembles sleep or semi-sleep”.
 
That verse concludes: “There is a real way of being awake, and it has led me to meditate profoundly on all that has been said so far. It has, moreover, opened the door for me to discover the meaning go all that exists.”
 
Step 1. The theory of reverie becomes more than a theory.
Paying attention in this way — without strain but gently focusing on what is going on, simply trying to be aware, you very soon, discover that stray images, ideas, internal dialogue, etc. quickly intrude. An uninvited thought, or image, initiates a chain of associations that takes my attention, and soon I’m lost in full blown day dreams. Let us call those images (with the underlying climates and tensions which they translate) “reveries”. 
 
In Hot Pursuit of the Veggie Burger
If I study these reveries, as Silo taught us (see Self-liberation by Luis Amman), I discover that some are just passing images. We call these situational, or secondary reveries, because they compensate a temporary situation. For example, I’m hungry and an image arises to compensate the situation — in my case perhaps I find myself thinking of a veggie-burger (à chacun son goût) and jump to my feet to go out and find one. In this way resolving  the sensations of hunger. 
On the other hand observation and study reveals that there are images that are more persistent and not so easily resolved. These are the primary reveries and they often continue more or less unchanged over years, or even decades. Though unnoticed these images nonetheless drive my behaviour (a function of the image). Like secondary reveries they also attempt to compensate a system of climates and tensions but more complex and permanent ones. Sadly, they often don’t do this successfully. For example, consider a case that is more intriguing  than that of my veggie-burger. 
 
Sensations —> Reveries (Images) —> Actions (Behaviours)
A small child for the usual reasons develops a feeling, a mood, or climate, of isolation. The images that arise to compensate that loneliness will certainly change over time. The reveries of a 5 year old are not the same as a 15 year old — even though the climate they compensate might be. In this case the child imagines herself surrounded by friends and putting down the kids that (she feels) make fun of her. As she grows the scenarios become more sophisticated. Trying to move toward those images of being surrounded by many people affirming her — the child now a young adult — finds herself pursuing a career in politics. It’s easy to understand how she becomes enchained to that end. After all, she’s invested a lot of time and energy in this pursuit. If she loses this big election, she’ll be very unhappy. And if she wins? Since what she’s pursuing (political office) is not what she really wants (to feel loved and accepted) even winning will be a hollow victory leaving her disappointed for reasons she doesn’t quite understand.
 
It’s a sad tale. But somehow it’s the story of all of us. But it’s not totally sad. Not at all. — I got my veggie-burger!
 
Free Bonus: Some Practical Advice and A Link to an Old Joke.
This is important. When it comes to “attention” you don’t want to try too hard, or not hard enough. It takes experience to develop the adequate “touch”. Hold firmly but not tightly.
 
As for the old joke mentioned above, you’ll find it at the end of the letter found here: 
 
For some more thoughts on this principle here’s a link to a reflection from Fernando Aranguiz.
 
Coming Up:
Next week we’ll continue with principle 7 and further thoughts on enchainment. 
Remember:
Sometimes meditation requires you sit down and close your eyes — but that’s less than half the story. 
…you must be aware of two false arguments. The first holds that “I need to solve my personal problems before I can undertake any constructive action in the world.” The second leads you to declare “I am committed to the world!” while forgetting yourself completely.”
Internal Landscape IX:25
 
Worth Repeating:
…effortlessly focusing on what is going on, simply trying to be in the unfolding moment. You need a gentle touch. Hold firmly but not tightly.

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