Welcome back to Term 3. I trust everyone had an enjoyable, refreshing break. I said at the end of last term that I intend this term to press the issue of Attention. After Stillness this is the key to effective Action.
Attention is awareness, consciousness, mindfulness given focus and direction. And it is essentially very simple it means we see what is presented to the eyes, hear what comes to the ears and so on.
But mental distraction and emotional prejudice can colour this simple activity. We can look at someone and instead of seeing them clearly; we see an enemy or an irritation or, indeed, a friend. We hear sounds and label them annoying or desirable. Our attention is actually on our opinions and feelings rather than the thing itself.
Seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, and tasting with uncluttered simplicity and clarity all lead to efficient and effective action; and have the added bonus of allowing effective and efficient thought and emotion to flow as well.
One of my personal favourites among the practices taught in the School of Philosophy curriculum is to meet people and events as if for the first time, free of prejudice and judgment; to free people from my expectations and limitations. Mr MacLaren was adamant that we should not hold a person’s past against them. This does not mean we are unaware or unintelligent about a person’s propensities and history we just don t hold it against them, we allow them to be free to act in a way that might surprise us!
All of this is dependent on our ability to actually see what is right under our noses; that is to pay Attention.