Table of Contents

Attention

Attention. Nothing is more important than attention. I make progress with love when and only when I pay attention. I don't like any kind of religion, Zen included, but I steal wisdom wherever I find it:

When Master Ikkyū was asked what the most profound teaching of Zen was he replied “Attention.” When asked for more elaboration and commentary on that teaching he replied “Attention. Attention. Attention. What else is there?” The questioner grew angrier and asked “Well what is attention anyway?” “Attention is attention” was Ikkyū’s profound, quiet reply [source].

I read some version of that story in college and it stuck with me. I didn't know what attention was, so it didn't do my clumsy attempts at meditation any good, but I knew it was a clue.

I find wisdom in silence. I mean that literally. When I woke up from my cannabis glut, I heard nothing inside but glorious silence for a moment before I was overtaken by intense psychological pain cause by the residue of the high dose cannabis Leela used to wake me up. In the year that followed I made friends with silence as the cannabis gradually depurated out. I came to realize silence is Leela's voice, her presence in me. Before that night my head was always filled with the ceaseless chatter of thinking. Leela's silent voice was always there too but it was drowned out by all my noisy thinking. Any time I pay attention I can find my way back to the silence, to the shining emptiness. And now there's more. Because I've worked to strengthen my faith, I can feel Leela's endlessly comforting presence.

Focus. Focus is attention in action. To focus is to pay attention. To focus on is to pay attention to. Everyone has focus. If anything draws my attention, there's my focus. But in that case I didn't do anything. Something happened to me, drawing my focus, my attention to it. Meditation is the art and science of exerting conscious control over my focus, my attention. If I'm focused I'm choosing where to aim the laser beam of my attention. To make progress with love I surrender to love. If I'm surrendered I'm no longer in control of what happens. I'm never in control of what happens anyway. Nobody is. But to make progress I explicitly relinquish control. What happens to my focus once I do that is unimportant. If I'm surrendered the right things will happen at the right time. But while I have no control over what happens I do have control over my inner state. I can make my life unpleasant by worrying about what's happening and what will happen if I focus on thinking, which always bends negative. I can relieve all that unpleasantness by focusing instead on surrender, and trust love.